Tweaking gear and shedding weight

It’s no secret that I really like my Tentipi Olivin. It was love at first sight, and I don’t regret buying it. It is however a lot heavier than my the Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2 that I owned before I bought this shelter.

The Ultamid, with pegs, all the guylines attached, polycro groundsheet and polestraps weighted just under 1000g.

My Tentipi Olivin with the 3F UL Gear floor weighs 2325g.

The gram geek in me just couldn’t let that stand, so I looked at ways to reduce weight.

There are 12 perimeter anchor points, and 6 guylines. I had 18 Y-pegs, but changed 6 of them to Toaks Shepard Hooks. They weigh less than half of a Y-peg.

I also ordered Hyperlite Mountain Gear polestraps to use my trekking poles instead of the dedicated center pole. The centerpole with its bag weighs 484g. The polestraps weighs 36g.

I’ve switched the original tent bag for my Luxe Outdoor stuff sack that weighs 22g instead of 67g.

I’ll also skip the bag with the repairkit and the pitching aid, which saves me 29g.

With this setup my shelter weighs a lot less:

  • Tentipi Olivin fly: 1161g
  • HMG polestraps: 36g
  • Pegs + bag: 214g
  • 3F UL gear floor: 320g
  • Tent bag: 22g
  • Total: 1753g

I could save 220g more if I use my polycro groundsheet instead of the silnylon floor.

That’s it. With a few simple moves I could reduce 572g from my shelter system, with another 220g easily removed if I want to.

It still not a UL shelter if you count it as a one person shelter. But it’s still quite a lot lighter than before. I’ll try this new setup the next time I’m out.

Other than that I ordered a Hyperlite Mountain Gear stuff sack pillow when I ordered the pole straps. The stuff sack pillow weighs the same as the old stuff sack that I used to store my down jacket in, but I can skip the inflatable pillow, which sheds another 49g of my base weight. Hopefully it’ll also improve my sleep, as the air pillow isn’t that comfortable.

Over and out from the gram geek.

Woodcraft and camping – UL in the 19th century

A couple of weeks ago I finished reading “Woodcraft and camping” by George Washington Sears. The book was first published in 1920, and is an instructional book on outdoor life, with described trips from 19th century North America.

The book can be downloaded for free as an ebook at Gutenberg.

In many aspects it feels like it could have been written today. The author describes the need to get out in the wild to de-stress, how fewer people have to do more in shorter time, and describes burn-outs as a result of an ever increasing work load. This as early as in the beginning of 20th century.

The book describes how one can enjoy themselves a lot more with a lighter pack and lighter shoes, and that the outdoor magazines try to sell you a lot of stuff that you don’t need, and that might only make the trip into the wild a misery because of the weight.

He describes in the book that his own base weight never exceeds 26lb (~12kg), and that includes a canoe. He did however have a custom made canoe.

It’s an interesting book, but it’s far from “leave not trace”. The weight is kept down from making shelters by cutting down trees, long fires, fishing and hunting. All aspects of it might not be applicable today, but it is an interesting read, and much of the lightweight principles can be applied. In some aspects it reminds me of today, with the author buying expensive “cottage gear” to get the best custom made lightweight gear, to the amusement of his friend.

A big part of the book is about fly fishing, but since I’m not that interested in fishing, I only glanced through those pages.

A thing that’s a bit sad is how he describes how much land and wilderness that has been destroyed in the name of development, in his lifetime already. He writes a detailed trip report and ends it with how the forest he described is now gone.

It’s an interesting book, and I recommend it. If not for actual instructions, but for trip reports and history of hiking.

Stora Mosse in March 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After breakfast I packed up and left my camp site.

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

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

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

Tresticklan – first trip of 2018

For a few years now I’ve had a tradition to go on a hiking-/ camping trip the first week of the year.

This time I had planned to do a two-night trip, and I really wanted to go to Tresticklan National Park as I really like the place, and hadn’t been there since May 2016.

Tresticklan is a ~29km2 National Park in Dalsland, just at the border of Norway. Together with Lundsneset nature reserve on the Norwegian side you have 55km2 of protected lands. The area consists of rift valleys, with vast pine forests, small lakes and ponds and bogs.

I have been in Tresticklan and Lundsneset two times before, and if you like solitude this is the place for you. It’s far away from any larger towns. The closest town is Ed, 15 km south of Tresticklan, with just under 3000 inhabitants. Apart from the occasional airplane passing by, you don’t hear any man made sounds. Being far away from towns also means that there aren’t that many visitors, at least in my experience.

I had taken a few days off from work, left the youngest kids at my parents and in laws so that my wife wouldn’t be left alone with the young tornadoes but also get some lone time, and left home early on Thursday morning.

The weather changed between rain, sleet and snow, and it was a 6 hour drive to get there. I can’t say I enjoy having to drive so far alone, and I can’t wait for self driving cars to be common (and affordable).

I got up to Tresticklan around 14.00. There was a small uphill from the main road to the road leading to the parking lot. The uphill was covered in ice, and my car slid down on the main road again. But with enough gas, and having the left wheels a bit in the ditch, I could get enough grip to get up the hill. The road wasn’t plowed though, and I almost ended up in the ditch a couple of times, even though I drove carefully.

When I came to the parking lot my car was the only one there. It was cloudy and snowing, and there was quite a lot of snow on the ground. The temperature was just below freezing, so the snow was quite wet. I put on my rain gear before I left the parking lot.

I knew from my earlier trips that it’s hard to find campsites for tents here. The rift valleys makes it hard to find level ground, and when you do, the ground is often to shallow to peg a tent, with rocks just underneith.

I hiked the trail west towards Lundsneset, and then turned south on western end of the circle trail in the middle of the park. I had camped here during my last trip, but I couldn’t find the location in the snow. I lost track of the trail several times, since it was covered in snow, and wet snow had stuck to the trees, covering the trail markings.

It was getting dark fast, and eventually I felt that I couldn’t keep hiking any longer, and had to set up camp somewhere. I left the trail and hiked straight up a hill, and found what looked like a somewhat flat place, with lots of undergrowth. I tried to compress the snow and the undergrowth to make it somewhat level, and set up the tent. It wasn’t level by any means. I had to put my sleeping pad in the wrong (shorter) direction in the tent, and stow my backpack and clothes under one side of the sleeping pad to make it level enough not to roll off it.

There was a heavy snow fall with wet snow, and I started to make dinner. I’ve seen one of the people I follow on Instagram bring premade rice porridge on her trips, and I had to try it, and brought it with me this time. I was a bit tired since I had barely slept the night before, and made just rice porridge and glüewine for dinner.

I had brought a twig stove with me. There is a fire ban in the park, but I had asked the authorities about it before the trip, and a twig stove was ok. But you’re not allowed to break any branches from neither living nor dead trees, which left me with already fallen twigs laying on the ground. Since everything was covered in wet snow I didn’t even bother. I used my gas canister stove, but since I had brought cheap gas it didn’t work well in the cold, and I had to hold the canister in my hands to keep it warm enough to give a flame. Next time I’ll be smart enough to bring either Primus Winter gas or my Multifuel stove.

Bringing rice porridge is far from UL, but it was super delicious. After dinner I crawled into my sleeping bag and watched Bright on Netflix. I didn’t sleep well, as the sleeping pad still wasn’t level, and it was pretty uncomfortable. I also think I might have set up camp on, or near someone’s toilet. There was a slight smell of… poop. But I was too tired and it was too dark and snowy outside for me to wanna move camp.

Next morning I tried to find the source of the smell after I broke camp, but didn’t find it. I was prepared for a nasty surprise under my floor, but fortunately it was clean.

After breakfast I kept hiking south. In the southernmost part of the circle trail there is another trail that leads down to the southern end of Tresticklan. I hadn’t been in the southern parts before, and decided to go as far south as I could before 13.00, and then turn back. I had planned to get back home early on Saturday, and wanted the next camp to be pretty close to the parking lot.

It was a lot of snow here, and sometimes it was knee deep. It was hard to follow the “trail” and I lost track of it several times.

At around 12.30 I made lunch at the shore of the lake Stora Pylsan. I took my time, enjoyed the solitude, and then turned back north. The forest was beautiful, with snow covered trees, freshly formed ice on the lakes and the tranquility you get when no other humans are around. I walked around with a big smile on my face, and really enjoyed my time there.

When I came back to the circle trail I followed my foot steps back towards the trail to Lundsneset, and then back towards the parking lot. When I came to a section between the lakes Lilla- and Stora Tresticklan i left the trail and hiked up a hill. There I found a perfect campsite, and was able to make a perfect pitch of my tent (unlike the night before).

It had been getting colder during the day, and I put on my fleece, down jacket, wind jacket and my down booties. Boiling water was a pain, and my fingers got numb from trying to heat up the gas canister. Despite me having under my jacket to keep it warm. I was however able to make dinner eventually. I also boiled water to keep in a bottle wrapped in socks as a radiator in my sleeping bag.

I went to bed and slept quite well during the night. As so often, I woke up around 4-5 o’clock, feeling cold. I put on my fleece jacket and went back to sleep. I think the temperatures dropped down to around -7 to -8°C during the night.

When I woke up I really had to struggle mentally to make myself leave the comfortable warm sleeping bag and get outside in the cold. I did it gradually, and boiled coffee while still in the sleeping bag. I had brought Growers Cup coffee, which tastes really good, and can be reused. I had brought one, and the refilled it with regular coffee during the trip.

I left camp around 9.30, and hiked through the forest in beautiful weather. I could see the sky for the first time this trip, and the air was really crisp and cold.

I walked the last stretch back to the car, and at the parking lot I met three peoplewith a dog, that was going to do a short day hike. My footsteps had been the only once I’d seen in the park, which means that during my time there I’d had 55km2 of beautiful forest all to myself. I really wish I could get back here more and I would have loved to stay here a couple of more nights.

It was a great start of the year, and I hope it only gets better.