A freezing overnighter

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The ice was just setting on Thursday morning

On Thursday I finally got away on an overnight trip. Last time had been in mid-November, and I had really missed having some quality time alone in nature. Spending a night out in the woods the first week of the year has become a sort of tradition. It was the third year in a row, and the coldest one yet.

Temperatures where down to -10°c when I left home. My sleeping bag had a comfort value of -6°c and a limit value of -13°c. My personal limit lies somewhere between those numbers. But I thought I’d be fine, and if it got cold I could just sleep with my fleece jacket on. This proved to be wrong though, as temperatures dropped down to -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. But more about this later.

After I got up on Thursday morning I drove out to Lerike. I hadn’t decided where to go until the last minute. But Lerike is beautiful, close to home, and I still had lots of parts to explore.

I got out to Lerike at 10.30, and parked at the same place as last time, at the far edge of the cape. But this time I decided to follow the shoreline north east instead of west, as I did the last time.

The air was really cold, and the skies where clear with just a few scattered clouds. After 20 minutes or so I stopped at a gravel beach. I decided to roll out my cellfoam mat and relax in the sun. I laid there for about half an hour, listening to the wining and singing sound the ice made as it was setting on the lake. The sun warmed me, and it didn’t feel like -10°c.

After a while I rolled up the mat and continued north along the shore. Parts of the time I was able to hike near the shore, other times the dense vegetation forced me to hike further inland. There aren’t any marked trails here, but every once in a while I stumbled on what looked like animal trails that I followed for a while. The route I took would have been challenging if it hadn’t been freezing. I hiked over marshes and parts covered with reed that would have been impossible to pass without being soaked if the lake hadn’t frozen over.

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The reed in the middle of the picture was taller than me

After a while I came to a small beach. There was a fire ring on the beach but I didn’t try to make a fire. I wanted to try my multi fuel stove and it was time for dinner.

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My first use of the Trangia Multi Fuel X2

I set up my stove and made dinner. I tried Knorr spagetteria, Pasta bolognese, and it tasted great. A lot better than I expected, and affordable with a price of ~15 SEK. I’ve never used a multi fuel stove before, and it takes some getting used to, to get a perfect flame that burns efficiently. As soon as I put the pot in windshield the blue jet flames turned yellow and produced a lot of soot and I had to fiddle a lot with the valve to get a good flame.

I continued my hike along the shore line. After a while I came to a road and passed three houses. After I passed them I turned back into the woods and followed the shore, this time going south out on another cape. I thought I’d start looking for a place to set up camp, But at the far edge of the cape there wasn’t enough open space with flat ground to set up the tent. I carried on further along the shore and finally found a great place to make camp. It was in a deciduous forest with a few scattered really old pine trees.

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My home for the night

I set up my tent, forcing the tent pegs into the frozen ground. After that I made a half assed attempt to make a fire. I had collected tinder along the way, dry grass and birch bark from fallen dead birches. A couple of times I actually thought I’d get the fire going, but it died out, and I gave up. I used my stove instead to boil water for the coffee. I took the water from the lake, and by the time I’d got the stove burning a thin layer of ice had already formed on water.

After I had my coffee I discovered a 7 cm rip in my pants. I guess it’s one of the hazards of hiking off-trail. I laid in my sleeping bag fixing the rip. It was the first time I had to use anything from my repair kit. The end result might not be pretty, but it does the job. When I got home I waxed the thread to make it more durable.

A risk of hiking off-trail

I read for a while and then made dinner. By now it was really cold, and I heated up some water and put it in my pet bottle to have with me in the sleeping bag as a radiator.

I’ve always thought Nalgene bottles to be a waste of money. Pet bottles are both cheaper and lighter. But after this trip I’m actually considering buying a Nalgene bottle for winter trips. Pet bottles, however great they are for three season use, does have a serious weakness. They can’t handle warm water well without deforming. Because of this I made sure not to heat the water too much, but the bottle still deformed from the heat. Nalgene bottles can take boiling water, and with that warm your sleeping bag for a longer time.

I went to bed, read for a while and also watched parts of Beasts of no nation as I downloaded it before to try Netflix new offline mode. But at 20.30 a started to fall asleep. I woke up at 22.30, already feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and fell asleep again. I woke up on and off, feeling cold. Outside the tent I heard something screaming once in a while. I don’t know what kind of animal made the sound, but I haven’t heard anything screaming like that before. I woke up later with it screaming louder, and with the sound of a fight. I guess what ever was screaming, it got eaten by a fox or something. Is was silent after that. At around 4 in the morning I was really cold and had trouble falling asleep again. Eventually I decided to fire up the stove and reheat the water in the bottle. I did this, and went back to sleep.

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It was a great morning to wake up to

I got up around 8.30 and made breakfast. It was really cold and I was freezing a bit, despite wearing two fleece jackets. I made bannock for breakfast and then packed up and left camp. I walked back to the car in a faster pace than when I hiked out. I had to be back home rather quickly, and didn’t stay for any breaks, despite the weather being perfect. The hike back to the car only took roughly 75 minutes, and I was soaking in sweat when I got to the car.

When I got back home I found out that the temperature had dropped down to between -17°c to -18,5°c during the night. No wonder I was feeling cold and had slept bad the entire night.

Despite being cold I’m glad I got out. I learn a little every time. I could have had a comfortable night even with the temperatures being below the sleeping bags rating, if I had brought a silk liner, a pair of thick wool long johns to wear over my thin base layer and a water bottle that handles boiling water. Next time I’ll be better prepared.

The hiking year 2016

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The New Years Eve is closing in, and it’s time to sum up the past year. My goal for the year was to get out on at least one overnight trip every month of the year.

I didn’t succeed with this though, but I did get out on quite a few trips.

January:

Februari:

  • My third child was born, so hiking was not a priority in Februari.

March:

  • A two night trip on John Bauerleden north of Jönköping in the beginning of March, that nearly ruined my feet.
  • An overnighter again in the end of March on Vildmarksleden near Åseda. I got sick during the hike and spent the next few days in bed after this hike.

April:

  • I didn’t get away on a hike this month.

May:

June:

  • No trip this month either.

July:

August & September:

  • A two night hike on another trail called Vildmarksleden, this time east of Gotherburg. It was a wet rainy experience and not a trail I’ll visit again.
  • The “big” trip this year begun in late August and ended in the beginning of September and was a week-long hike in Jotunheimen in Norway. It was a great trip with mostly good weather. It was very windy though. But I can’t wait to get back to some real mountains again.

October:

  • In late October I finally got out on a trip. I had planned for a two night hike in Tiveden, but really poor weather made me change my mind, and despite the long drive I ended up with a short overnighter.

November:

  • In the beginning of November I got out on an overnighter on Helgö, just outside Växjö. It was one of the first cold nights, and I woke up to a white layer of snow. I did have some serious condensation on this trip.
  • In the middle of the month I got out again. This time on an overnighter in Lerike, at the north end of the lake Helgasjön. Everything was covered in a thick layer of frost, and the nature was absolutely stunning. I tried to make a short video of the trip, but it got quite short since I had forgotten to bring a larger memory card. I haven’t decided if I’m going to publish it or not.

December:

  • No trip this month, but in the first week of January I plan to be out in the wild again.

When it comes to gear I both added and changed a few things. My biggest purchase was the Hilleberg Enan. I actually like it better than I thought I would. I was afraid I’d find it too small and cramped, but it felt a lot roomier than expected.

I also bought a down quilt from Cumulus. This was my first time using a quilt instead of a sleeping bag, and I’m still not sure if I like it. I might end up selling it, and buying a Liteline 400 instead.

I also bought an Exped Winterlite sleeping pad. I really like my Synmat 7 UL, but as soon as the temperatures drop below freezing I find it too cold. It was comfortable and warm, but the mummyshape takes some getting used to.

During the fall I started to stock up gear for my planned ACT hike. After the trip to Jotunheimen I realised that I would have a hard time fitting 12-14 days worth of food in my 60l backpack (it’s not like it can’t be done, but I’d have a hard time making it work). The hike takes somewhere between 9-11 days, but I might also start at the Ice cap, with will add 40 km to the trail. I also want to do some more advanced outdoor cooking than just eating my freezer bag meals. It also seems to be really hard to get gas canisters in Greenland and a multi fuel stove seems to be the best way to go. For this I purchased an Exped Expedition 80 backpack, a Trangia 27 ULHA and the multi fuel burner X2 to the Trangia. I did put some thought down before I bought the Trangia, considering it’s weight and volume. But in Norway, where I was constantly above timberline and with really strong winds most of the time I did miss having a sturdy stove with a better windshield. Cooking was a pain in the ass when the windshield almost blew away and much of the heat escaped because of the wind.

I’m constantly trying to improve my gear and find the perfect gear for me and for the designated trip. I try to conserve my shopping in my everyday life, but when it comes to outdoor gear, I think I have a problem. 🙂

All things considered, I had a great hiking year. I do want to get out a lot more than I do. But it is a balance between familylife, work and my need to get out on hikes.

Next year I’d really like to buy a pair of Åsnes Sondre and get out on a winter trip. I also have loosely planned to buy a canoe, and if so, it’ll most likely be an Esker Wood Ki Chi Saga. It was love at first sight, and I’ll go to their showroom next year and look at one up close. There aren’t that many good hiking trails close to Växjö (if you don’t like dark spruce forests), but Småland is littered with lakes, and with a canoe I can do a lot of trips in beautiful scenery close to home. It’s a really big investment though and I don’t know if I can prioritize the cost.

I wish you all a happy new year, and I hope that you have a lot of great trips in 2017!

The new backpack (confessions of a gear junkie)

Yes, I am a gear junkie. I can’t deny it.

In the last few week I’ve been slowly starting to prepare for next years trip to Greenland. As I’ve wrote before I plan to hike the Arctic Circle Trail in late August – early September next year. I’ve started to make a packlist, e-mailed questions to the Greenland Tourist bureau and the Arctic Circle business, and started to make a list of the food I plan to bring, and what ingredients I need to dry.

I will bring food for 12 days, and I actually plan to do some more cooking then usual, as I’m starting to grow tired of my freezerbag-meals. For this I’ll bring a Trangia 27-1 ULHA. It’s not UL at all with a weight of 760g with the gasburner. But it’s a real stabile stoveset suitable for more cooking.

Bringing that much food calls for a bigger backpack. My 60l Exped Lightning is a great pack. But I filled it up with only one weeks worth of food. And I also want to be able to take food that takes more volume to and not feel restricted by the volume of the pack.

That’s why I ordered an Exped Expedition 80 from komplettfritid.no. It normally cost around 4500SEK on most places i looked, but komplettfritid had a discount and sold them for less 3200SEK. I was too slow to order though, and when I finally decided to buy one the discount was gone. I e-mailed komplettfritid and told them that I had planned to buy the pack but was to slow to order. Today I got a reply, with a link to the backpack, and saw that they had lowered the price again. Now that’s costumer service.

If you’ve seen my packlists and read my trip reports you can see that I have a thing for Exped. I have an Exped Synmat 7 UL, a Synmat Winterlite, the UL Pillow, the Schnozzle pumpbag and the Lightning 60 backpack. I really like their lightweight products and their great quality.

The Expedition 80 isn’t really lightweight, at 2450g. But it’s somewhat light with the volume it offers. It’s also waterproof with a PU coated fabric and taped seams. I think it will be a great pack for longer trips and for wintertrips. I love my Lightning pack, but for extended trips I think this will be great.

On another notion, I have applied for Fjällräven Polar 2017. I was late to complete the application, and I’m really far behind the leader. But as a wise person said, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” 🙂

Please vote for me, and spread the word, and I’ll be ever grateful. Every vote counts.

Short overnighter on Helgö

My last hike, in Tiveden a couple of weeks ago, didn’t go as planned so I still had the need to get out again shortly. So this weekend I decided to take the Friday off and do a short overnighter on Helgö, just north of Växjö.

The weather report predicted nice weather on Thursday evening and snow during Friday morning. Perfect weather for a night outside in other words.

I got off work early on Thursday and hurried home. I still had summer tires on my car and quickly changed them for winter tires. My backpack was already packed so all I had to do was to take a quick shower and then jump in my pants and drive the short distance to Helgö.

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The sun was already on its way down when I started hiking

I parked at the entrance of the nature reserve at around 15.00. There were two other cars parked there, but I didn’t see any people. The sun was low, but I hiked for a while.

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I was on Helgö the weekend before with the family and a lot of leaves had fallen in just a week

I followed the southbound trail from the entrance for a couple of hundred meters and then left it and bushwhacked instead. (No worries Länstyrelsen, I didn’t whack anything). Being a relatively small nature reserve and so close to Växjö it was nice to get off the trail and just hike through the forest. I first hiked through a deciduous forest and then left it for a forest with old pine trees.

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There are lots of different types of forests on Helgö. This patch had mostly pine and a few sprouse trees and a lot of moss.

I had no special goal, but just hiked where I felt like. Another good thing about leaving the trail. I hiked around for about an hour before I turned back to the deciduous forest where I had passed a nice open area where I could set up camp.

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Great camp spot with a lot of flat surfaces to choose from.

The area had lots of open spaces and I choose a nice one and set up my tent. I had my Exped Synmat 7 Ul sleeping pad, but I think it’s too cold when it gets below freezing so I brought a thin cellfoam mat to have on top of it. I have ordered an Exped Winterlite but it hasn’t arrived yet. I also used my winter sleeping bag, the Cumulus Panyam 600, for the first time of the season. It’s a great sleeping bag and now that the temperatures drop below freezing it’s time to store my quilt until next spring.

I made dinner and sat in the tent watching the forest. There’s an airport nearby, so every now and then the tranquility got ruined by passing planes. But for the most part it was calm and relaxing. I continued reading Chris Townsend’s Out There but was soon to tired to continue. A little after 19.00 I fell asleep.

I woke up at 01.00 when I heard loud noises. I head the sound of hooves in the leaves, and something heavy jumping and then a thump as if it threw itself down in the leaves. This was just outside my tent. At first I was a bit worried that it would be a boar. There are lot’s of them in Småland, and they can be dangerous. But as the animal was outside my tent I heard a roe deer bark in the distant, so I came to the conclusion that it was most likely a deer outside my tent too. I wanted to take a peek outside, but I didn’t want to startle it. Eventually I fell asleep again and woke up at around 07.00.

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The view I woke up to
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The snow transformed the forest

When I woke up I saw snow in the small gap between the foot-print and the fly. I opened up both the inner- and the outer door to get a view of the forest. I wasn’t ready to get up yet, but laid in my sleeping bag for more than an hour just looking at the forest and the snow falling.

It had been a great night, but there hadn’t been even a breeze the entire night. This, combined with wet leaves made a perfect match for condensation. Despite the fact that I had both short-end vents open the inner roof was filled with water drops from condensation.

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There are worse places to spend the night

Eventually I got up and made breakfast. I boiled water for coffee and had a few tortillas with peanut cream and hazelnut cream. I took it slow and enjoyed the solitude and the tranquility of the forest. I packed up, left camp and headed back towards the parking lot. After a few hundred meters I heard branches breaking, and then I saw a roe deer that came jumping towards me. It stopped when it was 50 meters from me, stood still, started walking in one direction , stopped again and then changed back to the other direction and quickly disappeared into the woods again. It was a nice way to end the short trip.

Post-hike gear review

Most of the gear I used during the Jotunheimen-hike have been used for a few trips now. The frying pan and the pillow got used for the first time. I’ll do a short review of the gear, and my thoughts of it after the trip. I feel that I’m close to getting the perfect gear for my needs.

Backpack – Exped Lightning 60 + flash pack pocket
This is a great pack that weights just over 1000g. It has one large storage with a roll-top closure and waterproof fabric. The pack isn’t waterproof though since the seams aren’t sealed.

Inside there is a mesh pocket where I store first aid kid and the repair kit. Underneath it there is a solid pocked that is reachable from the outside through a zipper. I store electronics and extra batteries here. There are also two mesh pockets one the side of the backpack and on the side of the waist belt. I also bought the flash pack pocket which is a bigger mesh pocket to have on the outside of the pack.

The pack is dimensioned to handle up to 24kg. I’ve had it up to 15kg and it is super comfortable. You hardly feel the weight on your back. I really love this pack and would definitely recommend it

Tent – Hilleberg Enan with foot-print
This was only the second trip that I used my Hilleberg Enan. I’ve said in earlier posts that I’ve been looking for the perfect shelter, and considered  a lot of different tents. I finally ended up with the Enan. It might not be the perfect shelter (I don’t know if there is one) but it turned out to be a very nice tent. It first launched in 2015, with a fabric called Kerlon 600, developed just for this tent. Hilleberg changed the fabric to the stronger (and heavier) Kerlon 1000 in 2016, partly because Kerlon 600 turned out to be very hard for the seamstresses to handle.

I bought the 2016 version. It weights 1200g (1452g with the foot-print). The fabric feels very thin, but it very strong. It’s a tunnel-tent with one 9mm DAC Featherlite pole in the center. The design is built on Hilleberg Akto but is a lighter 3-season version. It is also similar to Tarptent Moment. It has built in ventilation in the short-ends, with sil-nylon flaps that can be used to close the vents in poor weather.

I really liked the tent. I thought I might find it to small, but with the footprint and the big D-shaped door open I had a lot of usable floor-space. It was also strong, and handled severe conditions with rain and strong winds in exposed areas. I would recommend it, but I know many lightweight hikers prefer mids. I for one is happy to not have to crawl around the center-pole anymore. I might change my mind again though and end up with a mid again sometime.

Sleeping bag – Cumulus Quilt 350
I bought the Quilt earlier this spring. I had never used a Quilt before but only used sleeping-bags before. I still can’t make up my mind on what I think about it. On one hand, I think it’s a bit of a hassle setting it up with the straps around the sleeping mat and getting it tight enough, without being to tight. It’s also had to not get a gap where cold air get in when I toss and turn at night. On the other hand I love the lower weight (585g) and how easy it is to get in or out of it (just push it down). I have a Panyam 600 from Cumulus that I use when I hike in the winter, and I’m really pleased with the sleeping bag. It hardly leaked any down. The Quilt however leaks quite a lot of down. I don’t know how much is normal, and I’ve understood that some down products leak a bit in the beginning, when the feathers comes out. I’ll see after a few more uses if the leaking stops. The quilt had only been used 4 nights before this trip, and it appeared to leak less in the end of the trip. I do recommend Cumulus, but if I were to buy a new Quilt I’d probably try Enlightened Equipment since I like their strap-system to fasten the Quilts.

Sleeping mat – Exped Synmat 7 UL
I’ve had this sleeping mat for a couple of years. It was the first UL product I bought, and actually the thing that got me in to UL and interested in lightening my pack weight. It weights 450g and it’s 7cm thick. I had cellfoam mats and inflatable 2cm pads before, but this sleeping mat is a dream to sleep on compared to those. It is super comfortable and I wouldn’t want to sleep on a cellfoam mat again. When it’s time to get a new one I’ll probably go for the Hyperlite and save a 100g more. I definitely recommend this mat.

Pillow – Exped UL Airpillow
This was the first trip that I used a pillow. Before this trip I’ve just used my fleece-jacket piled up. It only weights 45g and I like to have a designated pillow so I can wear my clothes on my body if it would be to cold in the Quilt. At first I inflated it to hard and it wasn’t that comfortable to sleep on. After that I let some air out and it was a lot better. There are two points on the pillow where you can tie shock-cord, and I’ll probably do that to get it to stay on the sleeping mat. I like the pillow, but it was still less comfortable than I thought it would be.

Exped Schnozzle pumpbag UL M
I use this bag, both as a drybag to protect my sleeping gear from water, and to inflate my sleeping mat. It works great for both things and I really like it.

Sleep baselayer
Just a regular cheap synthetic baselayer. I use it so that I always have a dry fresh layer of clothes to wear when I go to sleep.

Stove set – Fire maple 117T and Toaks Titanium pot
Both the burner and the pot is made of titanium. I’ve had both for a while now and they work without any issues. I like that the burner is made of titanium. It’s light, 98g, and it cools down fast after you’re done using it. I prefer using a spider burner instead of a top mounted burner. I think it gives me more control and stability.

The pot I use got a bail handle. When I bought it I planned to do more bushcraft style trips and wanted the bail handle for times when I have a campfire. Haven’t been a lot of those, but I do like the pot. It’s light, 133g, and large enough for coffee and water to the food.

The windscreen is a cheap titanium windscreen bought of eBay. Very light and does what it should. Not much to say about it.

Baby wipes
I can’t say enough good things about it. I can’t remember which forum I read about using it, but nowadays I bring them on every trip. Before putting on my sleep baselayer I clean my body with baby wipes to clean off the days sweat and dirt.

Headlamp – Black Diamond Cosmo
It’s a light headlamp that only weights 87g, but I’m not entirely happy with it. The hatch to close the batteries seems flimsy and I wonder if it would be waterproof in hard rain. It also tuned on accidentally in my legpocket several times. It was ok, but I’ll keep looking for a better one that’s still very light.

Battery pack –  Brunton Revolt 4000
It’s a good battery pack that does what it should at 139g. It feels sturdy and has enough juice to keep my cellphone charged.

E-book reader – Adlibris Letto
My luxury item. I always bring it, and I really like to lay in the tent and read after dinner. It’s light, and can store countless books. Definitely recommend an E-book reader if you like to bring books on your hikes.

Camera – Canon Powershot S95
I bought this camera used for only 600SEK. It’s small and light, but I expected more from the camera in terms of image quality. But it’s ok and I’ll keep bringing it.

Camp socks – Sealskinz
I brought these to have dry waterproof socks to wear at camp. My feet stayed dry almost the entire trip though. They were a little wet one time after we set camp, and that was the only time I used the Sealskinz on the Jotunheimen trip. They do their job, and it’s nice to have warm dry socks on if the shoes are wet.

Fleece jacket – HH Workwear
At 500g it might not be the lightest option out there. But it is super warm and keeps you warm even in wet conditions. The weight is almost the same as if I should pack a down jacket and a thinner fleece.

Rain gear – Montane Minimus & Itab packaway pants
Lightweight and a small pack size. I haven’t tried it in hard driving rain yet, but so far it’s done it’s job without any issues. I recommend it. The rainpants are cheap, but lightweight. I’ve heard good things about them, but I haven’t used them that much so I can’t say much about how waterproof they are in the long run.

Gloves – Hestra work glove
A thin leather glove that only gets better with age. I’ve had my pair for a long time, and after every use I saturate them with leather balm to keep the leather soft and waterproof. I can fill a bottle of water in an ice cold lake without getting my hands wet. I bought a pair that was large enough to wear a pair of thin knitted wool gloves under them when the weather is cold. I really recommend these gloves. They’re great.

Hiking poles – Black Diamond Expedition 3
When I was looking for a new tent I expected to buy a tent that used the tent poles to erect, and wanted to have sturdy poles. I also plan to buy skis, and these poles are 4-season poles that can be used with skis to. They are sturdy and easy to use with the flick-locks and Black Diamond costumer service is great.

Wind jacket – Karhu Ultrarun
It weights nothing and cost nothing but still blocks wind to keep you warm. I bought it for less than 200SEK (~20€) and it’s great. The only downside is that there are no strings for the hood. Other than that it’s a great jacket at a great price.

Knife – Buck 327 Carbon fiber
I’ve had this knife for a few years now. I basically only use it to open food bags so I can’t review any harder use. It’s very sharp and very light.

Trailrunners – Inov8 Roclite 295
This was my first longer trip using trailrunners instead of hiking boots. It was great, and with the weather being good most of the time I kept my feet dry for the most part. When they got wet it only took about an hour of hiking to get them dry again. In the sections of the trail where there was a lot of sharp boulders I would have wanted thicker soles, but other than that they were great. I used Inov8 gaiters to keep dirt from getting into the shoes. I really like my boots, but for hikes in the snow free season I’ll probably keep using trailrunners.

Shemagh
I bought a shemagh on eBay and use it instead of a buff on my hikes. It’s lightweight, and works as a substitute for a buff, but also like a towel to wipe off condensation on the tent.

I didn’t review every single gear I used, but this is a summary and short review of most of the things I used. In general, I’m really happy with the gear I  have today.