First canoe camping trip of 2020

In late March it was finally time put the canoe in the water for the first time this season. I had really longed to get back into the lakes, and the weather reports looked promising.

The lake was like a mirror when we first set off

I took C with me to our usual spot at Tolgasjön, loaded up the canoe and set off. I had planned to paddle to the northern parts of the lake, and check out the narrow passage between Asasjön and Tolgasjön.

C tried to grab reeds as we passed through the passage

We found it, but when we had paddled for a while dark clouds formed ahead of us, and we turned back. We paddled to a small island in the northern parts of Tolgasjön. We have camped here before, and it’s a nice spot.

We set up our camp, hung up the hammock, and had lunch. The rest of the day we mostly just hung out in the hammock and enjoyed the serenity of nature.

The Trangia stove set really isn’t UL, but there something nostalgic about it that just makes me want to use it.

For dinner we had macaronis and meat sauce. I’ve started to use my Trangia 27 HA stove set again. For hiking I prefer my Storminstove set, but I really like the Trangia. It might come down to nostalgia, from using it as a kid, but it is great for more advanced outdoor cooking. I made quite easy meals on this trip, but I have started to experiment with more recipes.

We went to bed, and once again I praised my Exped Duo mat LW. I sleep a lot better now that I don’t have to wrestle with C for space on my narrow HL mat.

We woke up to a sunny, but windy morning, and had a breakfast of tortillas, different cheeses and mini salamis.

We packed up camp and left the island. Unfortunately we had a strong head wind, and the canoe rocked quite a bit. C got really scared, so I decided to get to shore closer to the island, and the walk back to the car instead.

I walked along the shore, and at first there was a trail. But the terrain got more and more rough, and eventually I had to carry C. Finally I tripped on a stick, and while trying to fall in a way that kept C safe I twisted my knee. I could walk back to the car, and we drove back to the canoe to pick it up. When I picked it up I hurt my back. I felt like a broken old man on my way back home.

It was a nice first trip first trip, despite the back pain, and having to walk with a limp for a couple of weeks. And we got back to the island only a couple of weeks later.

Winter overnighter with my daughter

I haven’t been out camping a lot this year, and the last overnighter I had was in September.

I’ve been longing for the outdoors, but things have come in the way.

Last weekend I finally got out again, on a short overnight trip with C. She too had been longing for some time in a tent, and it was nice to get out together.

It’s became a rather sudden decision, so when we finally got out to our “secret” spot north of Växjö it was already dark. But the sun do set early in the winter up north.

C had fallen asleep in the car, so I set up camp before I woke her up. I had decided to film this trip, and the darkness provided some difficulties to the filming. But filming in the warm light of a candle light or a storm lantern gave its own feeling to the shots.

With darkness already upon us, and a cold windy weather C and I stayed in the warm tent.

With trial and error I’ve finally seemed to have managed how to keep the stove relatively warm for a long period without using up too mush wood.

We made a dinner of fried vegetable , pepper steaks and rice. Sort of out usual dinner while hot tent camping. But it is delicious.

After dinner C kept playing with pine cones. “Mommy pine cone and baby pine cone” She also “found a map” in the magic red light of her head lamp. It was a map of England and Beach Land, that she studied in the red light against the tipi wall.

We had Christmas porridge (rice porridge) before we went to bed.

I used the Exped Synmat Duo UL LW this time too, and I truly love it. It is such an improvement to my sleep. It’s super comfortable, and C always crawled up on my sleeping pad before. This way we can share a 130x200cm pad with lots of room. For camping with a kid this is really an awesome piece of gear.

For other gear I also used my Frost River Isle Royale Jr pack. For hiking I’m a light weight backpacker, but I do love traditional canvas- and leather gear, and for car- and canoe camping like this, I prefer them.

I had aligned the sleeping pad in a different angle than I use to, so when I woke up the next morning I first had trouble figuring out where the door was in my sleep drunken state.

I had chopped up small pieces of firewood last night to quickly get a hot fire burning. We then fried some breads for breakfast that we ate with salamis and cheeses.

C didn’t want to go home, but unfortunately it was time to go home after breakfast. We stayed in the tent while the stove cooled down, and packed down the rest of the gear.

As usual we had a nice time camping. There is less hiking nowadays, but I love camping with C. She longs for the canoe again, and so do I. I can’t wait to get out on a canoe camping trip with her again.

The video from the trip is up on YouTube. Both filming in the dark and filming with a tree year old was challenging. But I’ll try to film more this year. The editing is still rudimentary, but hopefully it’ll improve the more I do it.

Long absence and a few trips

I haven’t written here in a long time. Things piled up, and I just didn’t have the energy to write for a while. But I haven’t been totally idle, and actually done a couple of trips since my last trip report.

Canoe camping in June

In mid June I went on a canoe trip on Tolgasjön. Corinne joined me, and for the first time my wife also tagged along.

The weather was ok during our stay, but it was overcast a lot of the time. We paddled to my usual spot, on the cape with the scattered oak trees.

I brought the stove, despite being on a trip in June. While the heating wasn’t needed during the day, it did make it easy to cook. I made chocolate chip pancakes with the dry goods prepared at home, mixing it with eggs and coconut milk in camp. They where delicious.

When evening came I was actually glad I had brought the stove. It started to rain, and got a bit chilly. Having the stove to drive out the cold and damp air was nice.

Next day started with sun, but we packed up pretty quickly since rain was on the forecast.

It was a nice short trip, but I still don’t think outdoors stuff like this is my wife’s cup of tea.

Insomnia overnighter in July

For those who follow me on Instagram my insomnia is old news. I’ve struggled with poor sleep since as long as I can remember. It often gets worse during summer. Maybe because of the short nights and the warm temperatures.

I had a lot of nights this summer where I barely slept at all. In the beginning of July I had one of those nights, where I just tossed and turned without being able to get even a moments sleep so I went camping instead.

When I gave up trying to sleep the clock was 03.30. I packed my backpack with a water bottle, some instant coffee, my Hilleberg Niak, a quilt and a sleeping pad.

I drove to Helgö, a nature reserve 15 min from home, parked the car, hiked a couple of hundred meters into the deciduous forest and set up my camp.

There I was actually able to get a few hours of sleep, before I woke up and made some coffee before heading back home.

Canoe camping with C in late August

In late August me and Corinne was going to explore a new lake, Innaren. A friend of mine have bought a home close to the lake, and his father had talked about an island where he and his wife had camped that summer.

I packed the car with all the regular stuff: My Tentipi Safir 5, my Fjällräven Duffel with the GStove and cooking supplies, a bag of firewood and for the first time, my Frost River Isle Royale Jr backpack, with our sleeping gear. I’ve had my eye on this beauty for a long time, and when a pre owned but unused one showed up on a sales site for half price I had to get it. These things aren’t lightweight, but I love it for canoe camping.

We drove to Rottne, where we put in the canoe at a beach. There was just one guy there with a wet suit, who was exercising.

The day was perfect. Barely any wind, and not a cloud in the sky. Everything was set for a prefect outing.

We paddled to the island where we where told there’d be a camp site, but couldn’t find any suitable place. In the northern end there was a flat spot, suitable for a freestanding tent, but not for a tipi. The rest of the island was covered in brush, uneven ground and fallen trees.

This would be the theme of the day, and we paddled from island to island to search for good places to camp, without finding anything. It was hard to even get on to the shore at times.

We paddled for some 20km in our search for a campsite. Corinne wanted to help, which meant paddling backwards. Eventually I gave up, and decided to paddle back to the car and drive to our “secret” spot at Tolgasjön. Corinne fell asleep in the canoe on our way back.

When we packed up the gear the beach was filled with people. We met a guy who had a Tentipi of his own. We packed up the rest and drove towards Tolgasjön.

We where both tired and hungry, since we’d only been snacking in the canoe all day, and it was really nice to get the tent up and get some food going.

The rest of the evening we just played around the tipi. It was a beautiful evening and a fisherman circled the cape, and put in crayfish cages.

The next morning the fisherman came back to check the cages. We talked a bit, and then he asked if it was ok to check out our camp. He came ashore and asked questions about the tipi and the stove, and was interested in buying something similar.

We packed up after breakfast, and after the stove had cooled down. Even though the canoeing didn’t go as planned, we had a nice time out there.

Hiking and camping at Store Mosse in September

Last time I took Corinne to Store Mosse National Park she was a bit disappointed we didn’t camp there. I always planned to remedy this, and finally in September we got out on a hiking / camping trip.

We parked at the entrance near Lövö and hiked a circle trail from Lövö called Blådöpet runt, a 5,2km trail.

C hiked on in a good pace, but occasionally wanted to ride on my shoulders.

After the old houses at Lövö there’s a bird watch tower before the trail enters the mire.

We met a few people on our hike. The weather was quite chilly, but still very nice with sunshine and only a few clouds.

When we entered the woods again the forest was covered in blueberry brushes, filled with berries. At home it’s too late in the season for blueberries, but here they where plentiful.

We took a couple of Geocaches on the way, but when we came back to Lövö it was already getting late, and time for dinner.

We walked the last stretch to the campsite and set up our tent.

I have a Hilleberg Staika, that I bought to have a winter tent for future ski trips in the mountains, and also that it’s wide enough for two adults and a small child to sleep in. I also wanted a tent without a center pole to be able to use my latest purchase. The Exped Duomat HL LW, that I used for the first time. It took up almost all the floor space of the tent.

Corinne usually crawls up on my sleeping pad each night, and sharing a regular size HL mat is way too narrow for a comfortable sleep. I truly recommend this mat to anyone camping with a small kid or a spouse. It was super comfortable and I loved it from the start.

We had a descent nights sleep, even though Corinne woke up quite a lot of times. By morning we made breakfast and broke camp.

On our way back to the car we met a lady that had camped at another spot, and was going to hike north. We chatted for a short while, before getting on our way, and driving back home.

Summary

There’s been some nice short trips these last few month. I don’t know really what lies ahead in the future, but I would like to get out more. I do love fall, and I really want to get out on a hot tent canoe camping trip soon. We’ll see. I’m on parental leave for a few weeks in October, and if it works for the rest of the family I’ll bring my favorite outdoor buddy with me for some new adventures. I’ll try to get the blog back to business again, and write more in the future.

Spring canoe camping trip

Spring is finally here, and I’ve been longing to get out on a canoe camping trip again.

Last weekend was the first one for 2019, and I had a wonderful time.

At first I had planned to bring C with me, but she wanted to stay at home. My wife also thought I might need some alone time, so I went on a solo trip instead.

This was also the first time I filmed a trip, and I came back with almost 3h of video, that I edited down to a 37 min film.

Trip report

I started driving before noon on Saturday, and drove to Tolg, north of Växjö where I put in the canoe. The weather was great for paddling. Just a few clouds, barely any wind and comfortable temperature to paddle in.

Filming was a new experience, and though it was fun to film, it did take away some of the relaxation of being in nature.

I paddled slowly south, while enjoying the sounds of the birds singing. My goal was the little meadow where I had camped last summer.

Every once in a while I stopped paddling, just to sit still in the canoe and listen to everything around me. The lake was beautiful, and I really enjoyed being out on the lake again.

I paddled slowly past dead trees, laying in the water, but roots still attached to the shore.

Slowly but surely I was getting closer to the meadow where I would put up my camp.

I paddled to the shore, unloaded the canoe and put up my tent, the stove and the rest of the gear.

I was getting hungry, so I stared a fire right after the camp was up. I made a lunch of potatoes and reindeer stew. Unfortunately I forgot the lingonberry jam this time too.

While the food was cooking I set up the hammock between two trees.

I ate lunch while hanging in the hammock and enjoying the view. A lot of the afternoon was spent in the hammock.

When evening came I took the canoe out for a paddle around the area. I paddled to another cove, across the lake from my camp. It was really nice to paddle on the still silent lake. I paddled slowly, and just enjoyed the serenity.

Once back in camp I made a dinner of pepper steaks, fried vegetables, mushrooms and rice.

After sunset the calm was broken by two Canada geese that kept quacking really load. They kept at it endlessly, but eventually I fell asleep.

I woke up to the same sound of the geese at around 6 o’clock, but managed to get back to sleep again. When I woke up the next time, the geese had stopped.

I got up, started a small fire in the stove and fried some pita bread and made some coffee.

After breakfast I packed up camp and paddled back to the car.

I had a nice time out, and I really like canoeing in weather like this. I can’t wait to get back out again.

Spring overnighter in Skåne

A couple of weeks ago C and I got out on a trip in Skåne, near Söderåsen National Park. We stayed outside of the park though, to be able to camp freely.

Söderåsen is a two hour drive from home, and we arrived around noon. Weather was great, and though there still wasn’t any leaves on the trees, it felt like spring was in the air.

When we arrived at the parking lot, we met another couple that was going on a day hike. We started to hike down the trail, but they soon passed us, since we hiked in C:s pace.

We came down the canyon, passed a stream and then continued up on the ridge on the opposite side of the canyon. When we reached the top we left the trail and hiked off-trail along the ridge instead.

The forest was really beautiful, filled with really old deciduous trees. Even though we hiked on the ridge it was hilly. On one small valley the ground was pierced with rabbit holes and tunnels. It was interesting for both of us to find the different entrances and imagine what the vast network of tunnels beneath us looked like. The forest was also filled with lots of dead trees, with fungus growing on it.

Camping is still more important to C than hiking, and after a couple of hours she wanted us to set up camp. We found a beautiful spot, where we had nice views, and somewhat close to water.

Once again I’ve bought a new tent, in my never ending chase for the perfect shelter. Basically everything else in my gear is dialed down to be almost perfect for me, but when it comes to shelter I never seem to find the perfect balance between weight, size, comfort and the more subjective “homey” feeling.

This trip was my first try of the Hilleberg Niak. Considered a 1,5 person tent, it’s aimed at solo travelers who wants a lot of space, someone bringing a dog, or a parent with a kid. At 1700g everything included it’s an acceptable weight for a gram geek like me, while offering a lot of protection from both weather and bugs.

C was less than impressed though. All of fall and winter we’ve been camping with a big tipi and a wood stove to keep us warm. A small 2 person backpacking tent didn’t impress her.

We made lunch, put up the hammock between two trees and just hung out.

Below us in the canyon, a stream was flowing. I wanted to resupply our water, and in a valley next to our camp there was a way down the canyon that wasn’t as steep as on all the other places.

Getting down to the stream was an adventure though. The ground was covered in slippery leaves, that also hid rocks and holes. After a slow and controlled descent we finally reached the stream and filled up on water.

I was a bit worried about how we’d be able to get up again. But after a lot of work we managed to get back up to our camp.

The rest of the afternoon was spend around camp and in the hammock.

When it was time to go to bed we made dinner, brushed our teeth and crawled inside. It sure was more cramped than we where used to, but I think this will be a good backpacking tent for us.

C had a restless night, and wanted to sleep on my sleeping pad. My sleeping pad is a narrow Exped Winterlite HL M. I can’t say it was a comfortable night, as it felt like she was trying to push me out of the tent.

We woke up to bird song the next morning. C wanted to get up and play, but I preferred to stay in my quilt and continue sleeping. But you can’t really control a three year old who’s filled with energy, so it was time for me too to get up. But I did stay under the quilt when I boiled water for coffee and prepared the tortillas for breakfast.

When we where done, we packed down camp. I wanted to hike some more, but C wanted to get back to the car. But I managed to persuade her that we would hike back on the opposite side of the canyon, instead of taking the shortest route back.

We continued along the ridge to find a better route down to the canyon than the one we used to get water.

When we came across a crest we startled a group of 30-something fallow deers in a valley. They run up the next hill, stopped to watch us, and then left over the next crest. It was an impressive sight, and they had been pretty close to us.

We continued along the ridge, and when we reached the place where we had camped last year, we stumbled upon the herd of deers again. This time they didn’t see us, and we slowly sneaked closer to watch them. Eventually they saw us, and ran away across the ridge. When they had come pretty far from us they turned down on a trail leading to the canyon, and one by one they passed between the trees. It was like something from a Disney film.

We took a closer trail down to the canyon. We then crossed the stream on a fallen log, and continued on a trail. We walked up to the opposite ridge and continued back towards the car. The trees where even larger on this side. The place felt magical.

C was beginning to get tired on the last stretch, and wanted me to carry her at first. But with a little play and admiring the surroundings she continued to hike back to the car.

It was a great trip, and I really love this place. I want to get back here soon again.

First trip of 2019

I’ve been pretty idle here lately, and in December I didn’t get out on any trip at all. But the first weekend in January I finally got out again, on my traditional camping trip the first week of the year.

The temperature here had been pending around freezing for a a couple of weeks, and I thought the lakes might be ice free and that maybe I could make one last canoe camping trip for the season.

My plan was to drive up to Tolgasjön, and put the canoe in on the same place as my last trip with C. But when I arrived there the road was closed off with a gate, and I couldn’t pass with the car.

I kept driving, and found a small logging road that wasn’t marked on the map. I followed it, hoping for the best, and eventually it ended up next to the lake, with a nice place to park the car too.

Once there I saw that the lake was already frozen over. There would be no canoeing for me. At first I thought about driving to Asa, where I’ve camped a few times before. But then I saw that there was a trail out to a peninsula next to where I had parked the car.

The peninsula turned out to be a prefect campsite, with a fire ring and a couple of makeshift benches. This was probably used by the people that lived nearby, or by the landowners.

I carried my gear out to the peninsula and set up my camp. I haven’t had a bag for my Gstove before, but recently I bought a Fjällräven Duffel no. 6 medium. This was perfect for the stove, heat shield and the more voluminous cooking gear I bring on hot tent camping trips. The main reason I choose this was that it has shoulder straps and can be carried like a backpack.

The weather was perfect. Sunny and below freezing with crips cold air. I had liked to do some paddling, but the campsite was great.

I set up the tent and the stove, inflated my Exped Winterlite, fluffed up my sleeping bag and got the fire going in the stove.

There was a large partly downed tree hanging over the trail on the peninsula, and it hung loosely on a thin tree at the end. Just touching it made it rock a lot, and it was dangerous to keep it there. It could fall any time, and maybe while someone was walking on the trail. I put some more pressure on it, and the whole thing crashed to the ground. At least no one will have to have that tree falling on their heads now.

For lunch I made pepper steaks with rice and fried bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. It was delicious, as always. The rest of the afternoon I just relaxed.

I had brought a spoon knife, and planned to do some wood carving, but I ended up making a fire in the fire pit, and reading by the fire instead. The where a lot of larger pieces of wood laying around, and I made a star fire to not having to spend a lot of time collecting firewood.

I’m reading “One bullet away, the makings of a marine officer” by Nathaniel Fick. In the HBO-series Generation Kill, he’s one of the few officers that are portrayed in a good light. I found the book is well written, and well worth reading.

When the sun set I returned to the tipi and heated up the stove again. I laid in the tent, and kept reading with the warmth of the stove keeping me comfortable.

When it was time for dinner I made Reindeer stew with potatoes that are eaten in rolled up flatbreads. Unfortunately I had forgotten the parsley and the lingonberry jam, but it still tasted great.

I read for a while longer before I retreated to my sleeping bag and let the fire in the stove burn out. I watched Netflix for a short while, before going to sleep.

The next morning I woke up to the sound of snow falling on the tipi. It’s always hard to get out of the warm cozy sleeping bag when it’s freezing outside. I mustered all my willpower to open up the zipper and crawl out into the cold.

I had a bunch of smaller sticks prepared from the previous day, and quickly got a hot fire going in the stove. Soon it was warm enough for me to start ditching my layers. I boiled some coffee and had a breakfast of salami, Brie and the left over bell peppers and flatbread.

The world outside had changed during the night. The brown ground covered with pine needles, and the icy blue lake had both turned white, covered with a thin layer of snow. The clear blue skies had turned grey. I prefer the weather I had the day before, but I do long for some real winter weather, and the possibility to do some snow shoe hiking. I plan to gradually upgrade my gear with more winter gear.

After breakfast I packed up, and headed back home.

It was a short trip, like most of my overnighters are now, to fit in with the rest of the everyday life. But these short breaks, with the possibility to just wind down, relax and enjoy the silence, solitude and beauty of nature is really valuable. For me it’s one of the best way there is to recharge energy and to keep my spirit up.

Stora Mosse in March 2018

Last weekend I drove to Stora Mosse National Park for an overnight trip. I hadn’t planned to be out this weekend, but my wife had seen how stressed out I was from work lately (lots of co-workers have quit or gotten burn outs which leaves an ever increasing work load for us that are still there), and thought that I might need some hiking time to wind down. She knows the outdoors is the best way for me to reduce stress and recharge.

Right up until the point where I sat down in the car it was still undecided where I should go. Stora Mosse National Park, Norra Kvill National Park or Raslången Eko Park was the places I had in mind. Eventually I decided to go to Stora Mosse, as I had only been there on a day hike before, and wanted to do an overnighter there.

Stora Mosse National park is located just north west of Värnamo, about an hours drive from Växjö, and was formed in 1982. Almost the entire park consists of mire, and it’s the largest untouched mire in Sweden, south of Lappland. Together with Brokullen och Långö Mosse it’s almost 8000ha of protected land. There is a system of pine forest “islands” within the mire, and there are 40 km of hiking trails in the park. Some of them are possible to use with wheelchairs or a baby stroller, while other trails cross the mire on 30cm wide foot-bridges. If you want to leave the foot-bridges it’s possible to use snow-shoes to hike in the mire. From 2013 it’s also allowed to camp in certain areas in the park. Detailed maps can be found here. If you’re lucky you might spot one of the White-tailed eagles or Golden eagles living in the area. You get here by road 151 between Värnamo and Gnosjö, and the road cuts right through the park. In the middle of the park there is a visitors center, but be sure to check the opening hours before you get there.

I drove up pretty early and arrived there a little before 11am. It was roughly a 1 hour drive from home. I decided to hike in the southern parts of the park, and had planned to camp near Lövö.

The temps where slightly below freezing, and it had been cold and snowy for a few weeks. This meant that the mire was frozen over and I didn’t have to walk on the foot bridges. I did however follow the trail. There where ski tracks on the foot bridges and I walked beside them to not ruin the tracks. I worked up a good sweat while hiking in the deep snow. I turned right at the first intersection of the trail, which meant that I would be hiking through the forest instead of going through the mire. Hiking in the forest was effortless, compared to the sometimes knee deep snow in the mire. I hiked for about 1,5 hour before I stopped for lunch. It felt good to be out in the forest again, and I was really enjoying myself.

After lunch I kept hiking south, but stopped once in a while, rolled out my cell foam sleeping mat and just laid down, watched the trees and enjoyed the silence. The forests here reminds me a bit of Tresticklan national park, with the old scattered pine trees. After a while the ski tracks stopped, and I kept hiking on the trail. There where no other foot prints, so I was alone in these parts of the park.

After a while I passed the campground near Lövö on my left, but continued south to hike in a circle. I hiked the circle trail, past the hut at Lövö and then came back to the camp site from the other direction. It was only around 14.00 but I set up my camp anyways.

It took a bit of effort to flatten out the deep snow, but eventually I got it flat enough to set up my tent. I inflated my sleeping mat, rolled out the sleeping bag and made cup of coffee.

After that I decided to keep exploring the park. I went back to Lövö and hiked the trail towards Anderstorp.

I came to an observation tower at the edge of a forest, and climbed up. For being in the middle of Småland, the views where amazing, and you could see for several km.

I kept hiking south for a short while, but quickly lost track of the foot bridges.

I turned back to my campsite and made dinner once I got back.

I slept with the top vent and the door fully open, and had no condensation at all. I had a pretty good nights sleep, even though I toss and turn a lot.

As usual, it took some mental effort to get out of the sleeping bag. I like winter, but now I’m really looking forward to the warmer seasons.

I made a nice breakfast of chili Brie and salami in tortillas. It was delicious.

After breakfast I packed up and left my camp site.

I hiked back towards the car, but stopped once in a while to lay down on the sleeping mat, look at the tree tops waving in the wind and enjoy the last silence before I got back to the city.

On the parking lot I met the first people since I left home on Saturday morning. A group of maybe 10 Danes where preparing for a day hike.

As usual, I had a great time in the outdoors. I really like the simplicity of hiking life, the serenity of the silent empty forest and the monotony of hiking. My mind wanders as I move silently through the trees. It was a great trip, and I can’t wait to get back out on another trip soon.

Exped Lightning 60 – review

I bought the Exped Lightning 60 in October 2015, and it was my first lightweight backpack. I bought it as a replacement for my previous backpack, a traditional pack that weighted around 3kg.

Exped Lightning

This pack is made from a 210D ripstop nylon with a 1500mm water column. It’s not considered to be waterproof, but water repellent. The seams aren’t sealed either, so you need waterproof stuff sacks or a waterproof liner, like a track bag. You could also use Mcnetts seam grip to seal the seams.

img_8587
The pack turned inside out for seam sealing

The Exped Lightning is a clean backpack without many bells and whistles. It has a large main compartment, with a small mesh pocket inside. On the opposite side of the mesh pocket there’s a pocket with solid fabric that can be accessed from the outside, through a waterproof zipper. There are also two hip belt pockets and two mesh water bottle pockets on the sides. That’s it. Exped also offers an optional shove-it bag that can be strapped in the outside of the pack. It’s got one mesh side and one solid side, and is attached to the pack through four bungee cords with hooks. I use this for rain gear, toiletries and other stuff that I like to have easily accessible. I like the simplicity of the design, and I wouldn’t want or need more pockets than this.

John Bauerleden 2016
Compression straps, adjustable load lifters, and the optional Flash pack pocket.

The pack has a roll top opening, which means you open and close it like a regular water proof stuff sack. Compression straps goes zig zag from both sides of the pack to a strap in the middle. This, and the roll top closure, makes it really easy to expand or compress the size depending on your pack volume. The straps are also long enough to be able to be used for strapping larger gear on the outside of the pack, like snow shoes or a shovel etc.

This is a framed pack, and it uses what’s called a T-Rex suspension system. It has one aluminum stay in the middle. The shoulder pads are attached to the stay, and you can adjust the back length with sliding it up and down if you open up the lumbar pad.

The pack weighs 1170g, which should only deter the most hardcore ultra lighters. The design of it though makes it able to haul loads comfortably up to 24 kg. The size, the ability to strap large bulky gear on the outside, and the capacity to carry heavy loads makes it suitable for longer unsupported trips, and trips that require special bulky gear.

It comes in two sizes, 45l and 60l. I’d recommend buying the 60l, since it gives you the possibility to pack more if you’d need it, but you could still easily compress the pack when you pack less.

I’ve had this pack since late 2015, and used it on a number of trips, both long and short. This is my favorite pack, and it is the most comfortable pack I’ve used. It’s durable, lightweight and has great capacity. I highly recommend it.

Sarek in August; Part 2

Day 2

I woke up a few times early in the morning as it was already bright as day outside. I was using my Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, and a thin layer of white, semi transparent Dyneema composite fabric doesn’t do much to block the sunlight. When I looked at my clock, it was only 04.30. I went back to sleep, and we got up at around 09.00 instead. We made breakfast, broke camp and went up to the STF cottage to pay for our stay. A couple of hikers had pointed us to the right cabin. The lady who smoked when we arrived sat on the stairs of the nearby cabin, looking at us.

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My Ultamid 2 and Fredriks Bergans Trollhetta 4 in the background

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My gear: In the bottom of the pack I have an Exped Schnozzle bag (the yellow one) with my sleep gear. After that two large Pack pods with food. Above those I have toiletries (neon bag) and electronics (zip lock bag). Tent (white bag) and extra clothes + down jacked (red one) next to each other and at the top I have a small Pack pod with my stove set and food for the day. All packed in a HMG Southwest 4400

When we got hold of the hut warden, he told us that it was prohibited to camp where we had pitched the tents. The ground, and the hut near it, did not belong to STF, but to the Swedish Nature Conservation Association. We did not have to pay because we did not camp on STF’s land. However, it felt a little embarrassing to have camped where we weren’t allowed to. But since the woman in the hut didn’t say anything, perhaps it didn’t matter. She had heard us talking about paying and looking for hut warden, both during the evening and during the morning, so I suppose she understood that it was a misunderstanding.

Our goal for the day was to get to Skierffe. A mountain with an almost 700 meter vertical wall right down the Rapadalen.

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Me, on our way towards Skierffe (photocredit Fredrik Storm)


We got up through the woods, which gradually changed from spruce to birch forests, and then disappeared completely as we reached above the timber line. 

Fredrik and I have a different hiking philosophies, where I am a lightweight hiker who like to march on at a fairly good pace, and hardly even want to stay for lunch. Fredrik packs quite heavily, likes to stop more often, and wants to spend more time chilling and just enjoying the moment, instead of trying to get a lot of km behind him.

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The snow covered mountains of Sarek

 

It was important to me to get back home in time, since my wife took the kids to visit her relatives in Greece and I was to pick them up at the airport when they got back. I realized that we would probably not be able to do our planned hike without having to stress it in the end, so we agreed to skip the plan and instead just go where ever we felt like for the day, take a lot of breaks and not care about the mileage. The only goal was to be back at the car at least 10 days later. It was a bit of a change of philosophy for me, but still felt nice. However, it meant that I had packed way too much food. But it still felt ok, although it meant carrying some unnecessary weight.

When we were coming close to the top of Skierffe we ​​decided to start looking for a camp site, even though the clock was only around 14.00. We passed the trail and continued towards the western side of Skierffe. There we found a really good camp site, with flat ground for both of our tents, and a lot of stones to anchor them. We could have saved weight sharing tents, but both Fredrik and I prefer to have our own space.

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One of our best camp sites ever

The camp site had a very nice view over Sareks snow covered peaks. The wind blew hard when we were setting up camp, so we anchored the tents well. I wanted to go to the top of Skierffe, but Fredrik preferred to stay in camp so I went by myself. When I got up at the top there was a young family there with their child in a child carrier.

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The river delta in Rapa valley

The view from Skierffe was amazing. It was uphill almost all the way up to the cliff. Then came the long cliff all the way down to Rapa Valley. It was a majestic view, and well worth the effort to get there.

I walked back to the camp and after a while we made dinner.

We went looking for water, and found a little stream a couple of hundred meters away from the camp. Fredrik went to bed quite early, but I laid on the CCF mat and read for a couple of hours. When the wind stopped, it was almost completely quiet around us. It is not often you get that silence when you live in a town. Traffic, sirens, lawnmowers, people talking, airplanes. There’s always noise, and it was refreshing to hear nothing like that.

I went to bed around 21.00, but went out for a while after 22:00 to check out the sunset. By then it had already disappeared behind the mountains, though it was still bright outside.

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The sun had just disappeared behind the mountains


I went to bed and sleep pretty well. The new way of attaching the quilt has worked very well, and I have not had any drafts, even though I tossed and turned a lot and it was cold in the morning.

Seam sealing the backpack

I’ve had my Exped Lightning pack for over a year now, and I really like it. Lightweight, waterproof fabric, comfortable and able to handle somewhat heavy weights. My main concern with it though is that it isn’t seam sealed. Even though the fabric is waterproof water still gets in through the seams.

I sent an e-mail so Exped last spring, asking them if it was possible to seam seal the backpack. They responded and said that I could use seam grip to seal the seams.

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The backpack turned inside out, and put on the backrest of a child car seat

I turned the backpack inside out, and put seam grip on all the seams on the inside. It wasn’t a pretty job, but since it’s on the inside of the back I really don’t care. I hope I got enough seam grip on the seams to make sure no water comes through. I did do this process last summer, but that time I didn’t use enough seam grip, and water still came through.

I always use dry bags for my sleeping gear and for my spare clothes / extra layer. But I still want the backpack to be waterproof so I don’t have to deal with the added weight of getting water inside the backpack. With the seams sealed I think I’m starting to get close to having a perfect backpack.