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 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.

Change of plans and change of gear

As I’ve wrote in previous posts, my big trips this year was planned to be the Arctic Circle Trail between Kangerlussuak and Sisimiut in Greenland. I had really been looking forward to it, and basically everything was planned, except buying the plane tickets. The thing is though that I’m also going on a week-long hike with my childhood friend Fredrik, who hiked with me in Jotunheimen last year. Three weeks away from my family this summer was to much, and I decided to postpone the trip to Greenland. It actually felt like a hard choice to make as I was dead set on getting to Greenland, and my planning had to start from the beginning again. My wife has told me though that we’ll make sure I can go to Greenland next summer instead.

I still wanted to go on a two-week hike, but Fredrik wanted to hike for a week at the most. To make this work, I had to come up with a route that would make it possible for me to start hiking a week in advance, meet up with Fredrik and then continue together. I also needed to make sure there were shortcuts to our meetup point if weather or my physique would keep me from reaching it in time.

If I could make this work, I would still get the solitude I wanted the first week, and then a second week of hiking with a good friend. I started to look at Sarek, but I’ve never been there, and from answers in Swedens largest outdoor forum I came to the conclusion that it would be hard to put together a 1+1 week trip that didn’t include Fredrik flying out with a helicopter to a meetup point. I knew before even asking him that this wouldn’t be an option. I also felt that hiking for the first time Sarek, with no marked trails, shouldn’t be done with a timeschedule like that.

Eventually I looked at Kungsleden, the Kings trail, and the possibility to meet up at Nikkaluokta and hike to Abisko together. My plan was to start south of Nikkaluokta about a week before Fredrik. The starting point had to close enough to reach Nikkaluokta in time even if the weather forced me to have a rest day or I would hike slower than I had planned. But I also wanted to be able to take a longer route if I hiked as fast, or faster than planned.

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My planned route to Nikkaluokta

After looking at the maps and searching for places to get to by bus I planned to start at Vakkotavare, in the lower left corner of the map. I would then follow the green line to Singistugorna. Here, I could turn east and hike to Nikkaluokta (the red line). This route should take approximately 3 day. But my initial plan is to keep following the green line until 2,5-3 km before Sälkastugorna. Here I’ll turn east along Gaskkasjohka. I could turn south again and take a shortcut to Kebnekaise mountainstation and then hike to Nikkaluokta (the orange line), keep hiking to Kaskavagge and there turn south to Kebnekasie mountainstation (the yellow line). But the plan is to hike around the mountain Palkastak and then hike south along Visttasvaggi until I reach Nikkaluokta (where the red and green line meets in the right part of the map).

The planned route, following the green line, should take somewhere between 6-7 days. The rest of the hike, between Nikkaluokta and Abisko should take somewhere between 5-6 days.

I have also done a few gear changes. A few very large gear changes. I did spontaneously bought the Exped Expedition 80 backpack, but I realized that I didn’t want to go the heavier route, but instead will try to fit two weeks worth of gear and food in my Exped Lightning 60 pack. If I come to the conclusion that I’ll need a bigger pack I’ll probably just go with the Hyperlite Mountain Gear 4400 Southwest instead. A sub-1kg 70l backpack.

But I’ll do my best to get the gear to fit in my 60l backpack. I thought I’d use this summers trip to test it. Otherwise it would be easier to have just one weeks worth of food in the backpack and then post a food cache to Nikkaluokta and restock for the second week. We’ll see how I’ll do it.

Anyways, I’m a bit embarrassed to write about it, but I sold the Expedition 80 pack without even using it. I don’t want do start using heavier gear again, and I think I’ll be fine using the Lightning. I also sold two old backpacks that haven’t been used for a long time, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hexpeak.

I did get quite a lot of money for the gear I sold, especially the Hilleberg and the Exped pack, and I used the money to buy new gear. I’ve ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2, polestraps and a Gossamer Gear polycro groundsheet from Backpackinglight.dk. They have great service, and if you order for more than 5000DKK you get at 10% discount on your order. I also ordered a Borah Gear cuben bivy with a sidezipper.

With this setup my shelter, with polestraps, groundsheet, tent pegs and bivy will weigh ~900g. And it will be large enough to use with my wife or with two of my kids. Hopefully this will subdue my gear ADHD and I’ll stick with what I got.

The shortest trip

Last weekend I got out a short overnight trip, from Friday to Saturday. I had packed my backpack the evening before, and when I got off work on Friday I went home, changed my clothes, got my backpack and drove to Helgö.

I choose the same spot as I did on the overnight trip in early November. I parked at the entrance of the nature reserve and hiked on the trail for a short while, then turned away from the trail and into the forest.

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After a short while I got to the same spot that I had camped in on my last overnighter on Helgö.

The ground was covered in snow, and I quickly set up my tent. This time I used my Luxe Outdoor Sil Twin Peak. I have sold a lot of gear this last month. Two old backpacks being sold, my Hilleberg Enan and my Luxe Outdoor Sil Hex Peak to.

I did like both my Hilleberg and my Sil Hex Peak. But I’m planning on buying a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2. And when I do, I’ll use that on my solo trips. Together with the Twin Peak the whole family can go hiking together. The one-person tents would just be collecting dust. I’m trying to clean out my gear closet and only keep what I need and what I will actually use. (I guess I could sell a few of my many stove-sets to)

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When I had set up my tent I realized that I had forgot to bring my cell-foam mat. And since I had planned to bring my cell-foam mat I didn’t bring any sit pad.

I made a quick dinner before I crawled down in my sleeping bag. Many times when I sleep outside I can hardly keep my eyes open when I’ve crawled down in the sleeping bag, even when it’s early. But this time I actually stayed awake for a few hours reading.

I went to sleep, but woke up in the middle of night from the sound of an animal outside of the tent. From the rhythmic thumps it made I suspect it was a hare or a rabbit.

I woke up several times during the night, feeling cold from the ground. It felt like the sleeping mat didn’t insulate enough.

When I started packing up my gear I realized why. The floor in the tent wasn’t completely waterproof, and my body heat had melted the snow under the tent floor and the sleeping mat had been soaked in the middle. The sleeping mat itself should be waterproof, but I guess the insulation gets compromised by having it in a puddle. The next time I’ll use this tent I should bring either Polycro or have my cell-foam mat under the sleeping mat.

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Before I packed up I stayed in my sleeping bag boiling water for coffee. It was nice to get some warm coffee before I left my cozy sleeping bag. After breakfast I quickly packed up and headed back to the car.

It was just a really short overnighter. Driving out after work, hiking for 15 minutes or so, setting up camp and leaving directly after breakfast the next morning. It wasn’t as relaxing as I had planned to.

Next weekend I’ll probably get out on an overnighter with the local outdoor group on Facebook. I have also planned to hike Sigfridsleden from Asa to Växjö one weekend in March. It’s 53 km and I think it’s possible to do it comfortably from a Friday afternoon to a Sunday. I know I made a previous statement of my feelings towards these low-land trails in dark spruce forests, but I’ll use it as an exercise for the summers longer hikes.

 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!

A cold night at Lerike

I decided to get out this weekend too. I had just purchased an Exped Winterlite sleeping mat, and I wanted to try it. The weather report predicted lows of around -5º C and it seemed like a good time to try it out.

I had planned to go to Lerike, at the north end of the lake Helgasjön. It’s a short drive from home, and the nature is beautiful there. There aren’t any marked trails, but I planned to hike off-trail and just see where I ended up.

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The trees were covered in frost

At around noon, I parked as far out on Lerike as I could get. There is a lean-to here, but I don’t like to camp on spots like these, but prefer to get away a bit. I hiked out on a cape, that becomes an island when the water rises. It’s just a small cape and I followed the shoreline around it and got back again. On the far edge of the cape there was a homemade lean-to covered in branches and leaves. I remember going here as a boy-scout when I was a kid, so may it was made by scouts.

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Yeah, thats what Småland Outdoor looks like

I kept hiking the shoreline westbound. I’ve mostly hiked on trails, and it is somewhat constricting to just follow the trail, and have a designated goal to reach. Hiking off-trail gives you more freedom to explore, and without a trail to follow, even smaller areas can take time to explore. I didn’t put many kilometers behind me, but that wasn’t the goal with this trip. I just wanted to get outside and enjoy nature.

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Hiking, with the lake Helgasjön to the left

As I hiked I looked for good places to set up my tent. There were good places everywhere on the first streach, so I planned to get back there later if I didn’t find any other spots.

After a while I came to a beach. There was a fire ring there, and I made a poor attempt to make a fire. But I really didn’t put much effort into it. I don’t have any mad firemaking skills, and I didn’t take the time needed to find dry firewood, and as I didn’t want to get a lot of sand in my gear I continued and found another great place to make lunch.

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Another view of the beautiful forest

After my lunch I continued along the shoreline. The forest changed, and eventually the forest consisted of mainly spruce and pine.

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Frost covered basically every branch, pine needle and leaf in the forest
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Despite the mist, I had a great view overlooking Helgasjön

I went on for a while, but then came close to a farmhouse. I didn’t really hike far, but since I took it slow, and hiked off-trail, it took some time. I went through the forest and back to the shoreline on the side that I first hiked. I’d like to hike around the entire lake someday, but today I cut it short, and with the sun setting it was time to get the tent up.

I found a good spot that I had passed earlier and set up my Hilleberg Enan. It was starting to get colder and around 17.00 I made dinner, Mint-couscous with feta. It was delicious.

Wise from last weeks wet experience with condensation I decided to sleep with the fly-door open. And I didn’t have any problems with condensation, but it did get colder that with a closed door.

I wish I could say that I slept good, but I had a bad pain in my upper back even before I went out. And it got worse during the night. I toss and turn quite a lot at night, and every time I changed position I had to brace myself for the pain of moving. But despite the poor sleep I was glad to be out there.

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It was a wonderful morning to wake up to, with clear skies

When I woke up the skies were clear and the air was cold. I laid in my sleeping bag for some time before I got up and made breakfast.

This trip I brought my 120g cellfoam sleeping mat to use on breaks. In an effort to praise the UL god I had skipped it on most precious trips. But it was perfect to have one a cold trip like this. It was very comfortable to roll out the mat, and lay on it as the water was coming to a boil. I’ll definitely bring it on trips in the colder season, and probably on other trips to. It’s tricky to balance weight vs comfort as too much emphasis on either one of them will reduce comfort.

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Ready to leave

After breakfast I packed up and left. It was around 10.30 and it was only a short hike back to the car.

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Winter hikes does have its perks

I was considering hiking a while longer, but eventually I decided to get back home.

On this hike I did try to make a short hiking movie. Unfortunately I didn’t bring a large enough SD-card so I didn’t film a lot. But I’ll try to put something together from the clips, and put it on Youtube.

 

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.

Long drive – short hike

So last weekend I was finally able to get away on a trip. The weekend before it had been very nice weather, and now in the upcoming weekend it’ll be very nice weather. The weather last weekend was, well, not so nice. I saw on the weather report that it would be rain the entire weekend, but decided to go anyways. I’m fully booked this weekend and I couldn’t wait two more weeks to get out. So last Friday I drove to Tiveden, a national park located between Vänern and Vättern, the two largest lakes in Sweden.

I drove from home a little before 16.00, and I had three hours in the car ahead of me. It rained until I had approximately one hour left to the park.

I arrived around 19.00 and by then it was dark outside. I drove to the park entrance near Vitsand and parked the car there. The moment I parked the car, the rain started falling. I saw a campfire nearby, and met a couple with a dog that had left the fire. (It was in a concrete circle with no risks of spreading).

The park entrance is being rebuilt, and it’s being prepared for an expansion of the park. By spring 2017 the park will be 50% bigger than it is today. This is both good and bad. I like that they will make the park bigger, but since you’re not allowed to camp inside the park the new borders will make me have to choose new camp spots next year.

But by now it was ok to camp near the lake Stora Trehörningen. I hiked out of the park and found a nice camp spot to set up my tent. There was a fireplace there, but no firewood. I decided to just put up the tent and start the stove as I was to tired to try to find dry firewood.

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My camp-spot with a view over Stora Trehörningen. (photo taken the next morning)

I had mashed potatoes with smoked gammon and a cup of tea and then got to bed. I read Chris Townsend’s “Out There” for about an hour before going to sleep at around 21.00. I woke up sometime early in the morning when I heard a rustle. I thought it might be mice eating up my tent. It took me a while to figure out that it was the sound of the wind in my trash-bag that I had hung up in a tree. Bears, even though we have them, aren’t a big problem in Sweden. However mice can be a problem and wise from experience I hang up the trash-bag outside the tent to minimize the risk of having them inside the tent at night.

 

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Vitsand

As soon as I understood where the rustle came from I could sleep again. I slept until 9.00 and didn’t get up until 9.30. The rain had stopped during the night, but by the time I got up the rain had started again. It was also really cold outside and the rain mixed with snow. It rained quite heavily. I made a quick breakfast and then broke camp. I couldn’t decide if I was going to stay the entire weekend or not. The weather was awful with a lot of rain, the temperatures around freezing, and the weather report showed that it would rain even more the next day and the temperatures would stay around freezing. I didn’t really feel like staying any more. I hiked a few of the trails, but around 13.30 I decided to cut it short and get back home.

It felt bad to get back early, but at the same time I felt that if I would have stayed, it would only be for the sake of it.

I’ll get back to Tiveden again. I don’t know if it’ll be again this year, but it’ll be nice to see the expanded park and the new trails next spring.

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.