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.

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Quilts vs sleeping bags

When it comes to reducing your pack weight, reducing weight on the big three often has the biggest impact with just a few items. The big three is the backpack, tent/shelter system and the sleep system (sleeping bag and sleeping mat).

One thing that saves a lot of weight and bulk is to choose a down sleeping bag instead of a synthetic one. Down weighs less for the same insulation, compresses better and have a longer lifespan without loosing loft. A way to save even more weight is to switch from a sleeping bag to a quilt.

In the ultralight community quilts have become more or less the standard. A quilt, as opposed to a sleeping bag, doesn’t have a hood, and is also open in the bottom, where your sleeping pad insulates you from the cold.  This saves weight as it uses less material. For colder weather a down hood can be used, which add warmth but is more flexible than a sewn hood on a sleeping bag. Another great feature with quilts are that it’s easy to regulate temperature and they’re easy to get in and out of.

Quilts come in different versions. There are ones without the sewn in foot box. These can be opened up like a regular rectangular quilt at home, which gives great ventilation and an easy way of regulating temperature. The foot box can be closed with zippers, buckles and draw stings. One negative thing about these quilts is that in theory the foot box doesn’t get as warm as a sewn in foot box since it’s not completely sealed.

The other version is a quilt with a sewn in foot box. The bottom of the quilt looks like a sleeping bag, which makes it a bit warmer than an open quilt, but you also loose ability for configurations and ventilation.

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The quilts can be used as a regular quilt at home, where you just wrap it around you, but for colder weather you’d want to prevent drafts. To do this most manufacturers have straps that you wrap around your sleeping pad and then secure to your quilt. This will make the quilt stay in place when you move around in your sleep.

Quilt modification

I switched to quilts for three season use in 2016, but it took a while for me to get used to it. My quilt was a Cumulus Quilt 350, and I had a hard time getting the straps to work good without getting cold drafts. I was close to selling it and go back to using sleeping bags when I finally found a way that works; Using the lower strap around the pad, with the quilt above it, move the upper strap to the middle of the quilt, securing it under the pad with the quilt down to the sides.

Since I got it to work without drafts I started to really like quilts. Especially since I toss and turn a lot at night, and also like to sleep on my belly. Having a quilt, that doesn’t have a hood and that you don’t get tangled up in, works very well for this.

Manufacturers

Below is a list of some of the most known quilt makers.

Cumulus is a polish brand that makes sleeping bags, quilts and down clothes. They make high quality gear at a reasonable price, and their products are common in Sweden. I’ve bought several items from them over the years and I’m very happy with both the products, the service and the price. They recently (2018) updated their line of quilts, so they now come without a sewn foot box and with an updated strap system.

Katabatic Gear is by many considered to be the best in the industry, with very high quality on their products. There are a number of different configurations you can do, with both width, length and fill. They are, however, a very pricey.

Hammock Gear is another company that often gets recommended. Especially their Econ quilts when it comes to recommendations for getting ultralight on a budget. For us Europeans customs and sales taxes would probably push the price up a level where it’s not price worthy anymore.

Enlightened Equipement is an American cottage brand. Unlike most other companies Enlightened Equipment uses vertical baffles instead of horizontal. I’m not sure if there’s any benefits with the design, but if I remember correctly it’s designed like that to be able to push the down up and down to where you’d want the most warmth. There is a bit of a lead time to get the quilt, but they regularly go on sale on Massdrop.

As Tucas is a small European cottage brand founded in 2013. As Tucas makes both synthetic and down quilts, as well as bivy bags and clothes.

Second two-night trip with my daughter

I had planned to do an overnighter or a two-night trip with Corinne, my two-year old, in the end of this week, as it’s a holiday on Thursday and I’ve taken time off from work on Friday. The plans changed however, as my wife needed to study last weekend and needed some peace and quite at home. My son was already away, so I decided to take my youngest daughter on the planned trip a bit earlier instead. My oldest daughter wanted to stay home with her mother instead.

I had planned to quit work a bit earlier on Friday, pick C up from kindergarten and then drive to Skåne in the early afternoon. In the end it didn’t work out as planned, and we ended up driving down in the early evening instead.

My planned location was a two hour drive from home, and we arrived at the parking lot at 19.30.

It was still sunny and bright when we arrived, and the fresh green leaves of the beech forest almost seemed like they where glowing.

I was instantly struck by how beautiful the forest was.

We started to follow Skåneleden, but after a short while we took off into the forest instead. We found a nice flat spot and set up our camp. There where blueberry bushes underneath the floor, and old parts of the bushes where really sharp. I was a bit worried about my inflatable sleeping mat, but it did survive the trip.

This was the first time I used my Storminstove system, and I really liked it from the start. It felt really efficient, stable and safe to use around C. I had brought a Toaks frying pan with roughly the same dimensions as my pot, but it didn’t work good. More on this later.

We had bought a couple of burgers on our way down, so I just made tea and we ate snacks when our camp was ready. We explored the area closest to the camp and then went to bed. C fell asleep pretty quickly.

We both slept good and woke up to the birdsong the next morning. The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning.

We made a breakfast of tortillas, sausages, cheese and smoothies, and coffee for me.

After breakfast we packed up and left. We where going to hike off trail from now on.

When you’re used to the dark dense spruce forests of Småland, beech forests like these almost feel exotic.

We took a lot of breaks, and C walked a lot on her own. But she likes to ride on the shoulders, and a lot of the times I had her up there.

We hiked until we came to a small stream, where we filled up on water. After our water supply was restocked we searched for a nice place to make lunch. This time I had brought home dried meals, and my West African stew was a success.

I had really hoped that C would take a nap after lunch, because I was really tired myself. Unfortunately she was anything but tired so there was no nap for any of us.

We hiked for a little while longer, but when we found a beautiful spot for a camp at 15.30 we stopped there and set up our camp, despite the early hours.

When our camp was up we had a lot of time left until sundown. We had a lot of snacks and explored the nearby area. C got to set the pace and we walked where ever she felt like.

When it was time for dinner I made falafel with couscous and Ajvar, from a premade falafel mix. I think I had too much water in it, as it got too runny, and the frying pan didn’t really fit the Storminstove, as it was just a bit too narrow, and the frying pan slipped down into the stove.

In the end my falafel became a mash of burned parts mixed with uncooked batter. It still tasted ok, but I won’t try to make it on the Storminstove again. I never seem to be able to get the good at frying stuff on lightweight stoves, and I’ll probably just stick to freezer bag cooking on my hiking trips.

C felt really tired pretty early in the evening, and since she hadn’t had her nap that day I thought it would be good idea to put her to bed. It wasn’t.

When we had changed into our sleeping clothes, and crawled into bed she was anything but tired. She roamed around the tent like a small barbarian about to sack Rome, and had no intention of going to sleep. At first I was super tired, but when she eventually had fallen asleep I couldn’t sleep. I ended up tossing and turning the entire night instead.

The next morning we aired out our gear when we had breakfast. We packed up, and then took another route back to the car.

The forest was almost radiant in the bright morning sun. We passed another family that had been camping a few hundred meters from us, and then continued on a trail back to the car.

The trip had been great, and the forest was really beautiful, with the bright green spring leaves, the countless small hills and and the soft leaf covered ground. And since it was pretty early in spring we weren’t bothered by bugs.

The last morning C said that she wanted to sleep at home next night, so I guess two nights in a row is enough for her. But today when I picked her up from kindergarten she asked if we could sleep in a tent tonight again, so the interest is still there. Next time I’ll probably go out on a solo trip, but I can’t wait to get out with her again. It can be hard work, but it’s rewarding to see how much she enjoys playing and camping in the forest.

Summer of car camping – Gotland

In my post about my hiking plans this year I had loosely planned to go to Femundsmarka this summer, hopefully with my family. We never ended up doing that, but we enjoyed some nights in a tent anyways, as we went on a few car camping trips during the summer.

Before the first trip we decided to upgrade from our old, broken, butt ugly four person camping tent to a six person tipi. XXL had a sale on tents just before we went, and we bought the Helsport Nordmarka 6, which is a relatively cheap Lavvu that Helsport makes specifically for XXL. It’s spacious with 250cm of head room and a diameter of 450cm. And you could even have an open fire inside. We bought a floor to it too. I thought my wife would have issues with it since it’s not an enclosed two wall tent, and she has an even worse bug phobia than I do. But in the end she was the one who pressed on about buying it instead of our old one to get more space since we’re a family of five now.

Trip one – Gotland

This was a pretty spontaneous trip, and we bought the boat tickets just a couple of days before our trip. Gotland’s is Swedens largest island, and located in the Baltic Sea. The island capital is Visby, an UNESCO world heritage site. A lot of the houses from the middle ages are still well preserved, and the ring wall still surrounds the old parts of the town.

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Waiting to get on the boat

We took the boat from Oskarshamn, and buying the tickets late meant going on the night boat. The boat left at around midnight, and arrived in Visby at 03.00 in the morning. Despite being at an unholy hour the boat was still packed with people. Gotland is a popular place for tourists. I had planned to sleep on the boat over, but my youngest daughter refused to go to sleep, so I stayed awake the entire trip.

When we arrived to Visby we started driving north, towards the nature reserve Hall-Hangvar. It was the only nature reserve I could find that allowed wild camping, and I had looked up a spot before our trip.

It was a 40 minute drive, and we found a nice spot with a great view a couple of hundred meters from the parking lot. When we arrived the sun had already come up. There were steep cliff near the camp site, so we knew we had to keep an eye on the youngest kids.

I set up the Lavvu and we all went to sleep. It was really quick and easy to set it up. Unfortunately there was an ants nest nearby, and my wife had some ants crawling on her face during the night (morning). She was cool about it though.

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Just set up the tent, with a great view of the ocean
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My kids enjoying flat bread for breakfast

We slept for six hours and packed up again. I wanted to check for a place to stay the next night, and we drove further up north in Hall-Hangvar to find a spot, before we continued. My wife wanted to do a lot of Geocaching, so we spent a lot of time on the trip to do that.

After driving around the norther part of the main island we went back to Hall-Hangvar in the evening. We had found a nice spot just by the ocean, where we could park the car just next to our tent. By now the good weather had turned for the worse, and by the time we set up our tent it started to rain. There wasn’t anything blocking the wind either, so the wind blew hard. I used all the guy lines on the tent, and also put some rocks on the storm mats to keep the breeze out.

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The ocean wasn’t as idyllic as the first night
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View from our tent

It rained a lot during the night, so we had to keep the top vent closed. But the wind kept condensation at bay, and we had a dry night inside.

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We had better weather the next day

This day we went to the Blue lagoon, an old water filled limestone quarry. The water was really beautiful, and it was packed with people. But it was cold and really windy when we arrived, so we decided that we wouldn’t bathe there.

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The blue lagoon

We also took the boat to Fårö, an island just north of Gotland. It’s a short boat trip, and the boat is free of charge. We drove around the island and stopped in the north at a field of “raukar” in a nature reserve. Raukar is a form of lime stone formations that are spread out on Gotland and Öland.

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Fårö
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A rocky beach, with raukar in the background

This night we drove to an organized camping in Slite, on the eastern side of Gotland. We wanted to take showers and freshen up, so we thought it would be worth the money to pay for a camp site.

The day after we drove around to different spots and did some Geocaching. We saw a lot of beautiful old churches, and basically all of them had Geocaches nearby.

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Lärbro church

We also went to Bunge museum. It wasn’t a traditional museum, but rather a large open space outside where they had built farms from the bronze age up to the 19:th century, and the kids could roam free there. I was amazed that most of the tools could lay open in the houses without people steeling it. One of the staff told me that they fortunately had only had a few things stolen over the years, but most stuff was allowed to be left alone. She told me that there was a similar museum in UK where they had to glue everything to the tables and shelves to keep them from getting stolen.

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Melissa made traditional flat bread at Bunge museum

In the afternoon we stopped at another field of raukar, but when we were going to leave the car wouldn’t start. Electricity in the car worked fine, but nothing happened with the engine. Not even with start cables.

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Melissa and Midas at the field of raukar

Eventually we able to pull-start the car with the help of a passing car with a tow-line (I have a manual gear box). We then drove back to Visby where we parked the car outside a Toyota workshop, left a note in the wind shield and dropped the keys in the key-slot. After a lot of calling we finally found a hotel that had an emergency apartment that we could rent for the night. Apparently we had gone to Gotland during the Stockholm-week. The annual week when all the rich and famous from Stockholm travel to Visby to party, so basically all hotels where fully booked.

The next morning the mechanics called, and told us that the start engine had gotten stuck somehow. . He also showed us how to sort of jump start it, if it was to happen again. We spent the end of the last day on a beach, and camped in Hall-Hangvar again during the night. We parked at the same place as the first night, but carried our gear down to the nearby beach instead. We had a nice camp in the sunset.

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A nice ending to the trip

I would have liked to see more of Visby, but the car trouble had brought too much stress on my son, who has Downs syndrome and is very sensitive to sudden changes like these. We decided to drive around a lot instead, as the car and the tent was his familiar place.

The morning after we woke up early and took the morning boat back to the mainland. We really liked Gotland, and will get back here in the future. Finding good camp sites with the car was harder than we thought though since theres a lot of houses everywhere. But Hall-Hangvar had a couple of nice places.

Gear

When it comes to gear I was really satisfied with our Lavvu, except a couple of small details. The pegs where regular folded tin, which is heavy and bends easily. The 18 pegs weighs in at almost a kilo. I ordered 18cm aluminum tripegs on AliExpress instead, that weighs 300g in total. The center pole is also made of regular steel, and weighs a whopping 1,8 kg. I’ve ordered one in aluminum for one of Helsports more expensive tents. It’s five cm to long, but I will saw it down to the right size. In only weighs 1 kg. Even though we only plan to use the tent on car-, bike- or canoe trips I still like to keep the weight as low as possible. Other than the things mentioned above I liked the tent. It’s really roomy, handles wind well, feels durable  and is easy to set up. It’s also fairly cheap.

For sleeping we had self inflatable sleeping mats, except me, who had a CCF-mat. I didn’t want to use my expensive fragile Exped mat when camping with the kids, since they are pretty rough on the gear. My wife and oldest daughter had comfortable 38mm thick mats, but the younger kids had old uncomfortable 20mm thick mats. My youngest daughter and my wife used the Wind Hard Tiny quilt and the Aegismax G1 sleeping bag. We liked them, so we ended up buying two more so we would have light down bags and quilts for the entire family. We also ordered two more self inflatable sleeping mats, Multimat Adventure 38, and sold the two uncomfortable “self inflating” 20mm mats.

For food and water we had a large Trangia 25 stove set that we’ve had ages, a cooler that you could connect to the 12v outlet in the car and a 20l water can with a tap. It was nice to be able to bring heavy canned food, instead of just dried food like when you’re backpacking.

I’ll soon post more trip reports from the two other car camping trips we did this summer.

 

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.

Corinnes first overnighter

In June I finally got out on an overnighter with my youngest daughter. I’ve thought for a long time that I would bring her out, but it wasn’t until now that I actually got around to it.

I had several different places in mind, but in the end we ended up driving to Helgö, very close to home. Being her first overnighter I thought it was better to play it safe, and don’t drive to far away if it wouldn’t work out.

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The weather was great when we got out. We drove out in the late afternoon, and the sun was shining. It was very windy though. I parked the car on the far edge of Helgö, near the nature reserve Jägaregap. I didn’t bring the child carrier for this trip. Corinne walked by herself, and at such a short distance there was no need for a child carrier. This was more of a camping trip than a hiking trip. A chance to get out, and to let her get used to sleeping in a tent.

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After a while we came to a nice flat area and I started to set up camp. Camping with a small child was a lot more work than I thought it would be. I’ve camped with my oldest daughter, and tried it with my son. But I found my outdoor-passion pretty late, and when I first started taking my older daughter out she was eight or nine years old, and at that age she was old enough to help me setting up camp. I’ve never camped with a one year-old before.

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It was like she had been pumped full of Red Bull or something. She was all over the place all the time in full speed. Ramming through the tent, running on the fly, running into the fly when it was set up, wrestling with the guy-lines.

Cooking dinner was a similar experience, as she wanted to help, and the stove was super interesting. It took a lot of effort, but I managed to get it all together safely after all.

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We had dinner, washed the dishes, brushed our teeth and went to bed. The ground was soft, and it was windy, so I used rocks to anchor the tent pegs.

It wasn’t time to sleep yet, so we layed in the tent, looking at stuff and playing music. I had brought a mosquito net for her, but we didn’t need one. Since it was windy we didn’t have any issues with bugs. Both her and I slept without any bug protection. This is new to me, and slowly but surely I’m getting rid of my bug phobia. Hopefully getting her used to sleeping in a floor-less shelter from the start will make sure she never gets any bug phobia at all. As a sleeping bag for her I used the Aegismax Windhard quilt, and it worked good.

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She tossed and turned for a long time before she finally fell asleep. No wonder, since it was her first time in a tent, with all those new impressions.

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I slept pretty bad though. I woke up a lot, worrying about her being to cold or to hot, but she slept soundly through the entire night. By morning she woke up, crawled up on my sleeping pad, and fell asleep again for an hour, burrowed down next to me.

After we both woke up, we made breakfast and packed up. This time she didn’t want to walk, so I had to carry her back to the car.

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It was nice to get out again, and fun to bring her with me. But it took a lot more effort than I thought to camp with such a young curious child. But hopefully she’ll keep enjoying the tent-life.

Modification on the Quilt 350 straps

A little over a year ago I took the plunge and bought myself a quilt. A Cumulus Quilt 350. Cumulus is a Polish sleeping bag and quilt maker, that makes high quality gear at an affordable price. For a few extra euros you can get your quilt or sleeping bag with hydrophobic down.

I had a hard time deciding on whether to go with a quilt or with a sleeping bag. The main contender was the Cumulus Liteline 400, but eventually I went with the quilt instead and bought it last spring. I already had a Panyam 600 from Cumulus that I really liked.

I’ve really tried to like the quilt. I do like how easy you get in or out of it, by just pushing it down, since there’s no fabric under your back, and it is lighter than a sleeping bag. But I haven’t found a way to get the strap system on the Cumulus quilt to work good, without getting drafts.

I toss and turn a lot when I sleep. If I secure the quilt to the sleeping mat the way it’s intended, the quilt follows me when I turn,  which leaves me with the gap in the back when I sleep on my side. Every time I turn I have to readjust the quilt. This could also have to do with the quilt being quite narrow.

I’ve searched the web for solutions, and I know some people don’t use the straps at all. This is something I’ll try, if my modification doesn’t work as intended.

What I did was to untie the shock cord on the quilt, tie rings to the quilt in four places, put mitten hooks on the shock cord and separately strap the shock cord around the sleeping pad and secure the rings on the quilt to the shock cord with the mitten hooks. Kind of a DIY version of the Enlightened Equipment strap system.

I can move the mitten hooks closer to the center of the sleeping mat, or out to the sides, depending on how tightly I want the quilt to be.

I did these modifications last night, and haven’t tried it outside yet. If it doesn’t work I’ll try it without straps, and if I still keep getting cold drafts I’ll probably buy a Litelite 400 instead.

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.

kungsleden
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 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!