Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

New Gear From the Cottages

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With the Outdoor Retail Show in Utah just over, and the ISPO in Munich in full swing, I'd say we lightweight and UL backpackers should look to the true innovators not attending these shows - the cottage manufacturers who produce since years real ultralight and lightweight gear for our needs. Consider this a current report on new gear from cottages the world around!


The new Katabatic Gear Blackwelder quilt.

Katabatic Gear came out with two new quilts, the Blackwelder 0°F, a serious winter quilt filled with 610 g of down for a total weight of 935 g; and the Alsek 22°F for the warmer summer months months. My me, that looks so cozy warm that I wanna go sleep in it!

enLIGHTened equipment is on a break at the moment, developing new gear. They should be back in business in a while, so don't worry!


The New SMD Skyscape shelter.

Six Moon Designs announced the new Skyscape shelter which will become available this coming spring. Ron is also working on a smaller sized pack which he will announce in a couple of weeks, and the Haven is undergoing a re-design. Finally, with the release of Skyscape, the Vamp will be discontinued. Ron says it's too costly to make and difficult to setup correctly, and that the closeout sale will probably be next month.

Jacks 'R' Better now offer 900 fp down as a filling for all their quilts. All quilts with 900 fp are a tad lighter than before, with the same performance. JRB also brings out three new hex tarps and a new summer quilt, and they will debute at Trail Days in Damascus Virginia the second week of May. Furthermore, in case you missed it, last autumn the worlds flattest hammock, the JRB Bear Mountain Bridge Hammock, got a makeover and now comes with an attached bug net with three sidezippers so that it can be completely rolled back and tied out of the way when not in use.



Fritz from Bushbuddy has been kept busy by making the normal and Ultra BushBuddies, and hasn't had time to work on new projects, though they're still on his mind. So those that want to see a Ti BushBuddy should practice themselves in patience.

Trail Designs has currently a lot to do as their new website created a lot of demand for the products. New gear might appear during the year, so keep an eye on their site.

Gossamer Gear came out with the CubicTwinn Tarp a few weeks ago, the popular SpinnTwinn made even lighter. The Lodge should also make an appearance in the next months on their website, so check "The Week In Review" when the info is out, or keep an eye on the GG website.



AntiGravity Gear has a number of new products in development, and George disclosed that they're working on a new alcohol stove based on their Tin Man BCS2 stove - this should be ready in a couple of weeks so keep an eye on their website if you're in the market for a new stove.

Titanium Goat is cooperating with a few other cottages to offer some interesting new products, such as the Sierra Sniveller Special and Cyanocitta quilts. In-house they continue to make excellent lightweight gear, with the new additions to the family being the Raven Omni bivy, carbon fibre lids and tent poles. Goosefeet, made by Ben Smith, are also available through them. Hmm. Goosefeet. Warm.

Alpinlite Gear has no new products to announce for 2011, but in late 2010 Gen released the Terraform tarp and Bug Shelter 2.0. In a few weeks he will be releasing a small version of the Terraform tarp sized to fit the Bug Shelter 1.25 (so a new product after all =).



Hyperlite Mountain Gear has updated their Windrider packs with wider hip pads and larger hip pad pockets, an increase in volume of the back mesh pockets, a switch to a lighter, stronger aluminum stay, an added hydration sleeve to the inside of the pack, and a new size for a total of 4 sizes, S, M, L and L-tall. HMG also added an ice axe loop and keeper & an additional compression strap to the bottom of the pack. Puh, that's quite an update! Two different packs are in development and will be launched during this spring as well, fleshing out their line. Another interesting development from HMG is a cuben ground cloth which can double as a tarp and a hex cut hammock tarp should also be coming soon. The Echo shelters will get an increase in headroom for the inners, and finally, Hyperlite Mountain Gear will soon offer COLOURS!

Warbonnet Outdoors likes to shred itself in mystery and keeps its cards close to its chest. What Brandon was willing to tell me was that there's a few new products coming out in the months to come. We shall wait and see. Pokerface.


A look out of the new LightHeart Gear Awning Tent.

LightHeart Gear introduced a few weeks ago the Solo Awning Tent, and it isn't yet certain if it will be available with one door or two or have options on these. Still coming is "The Wedge", which will allow existing solo and duo tents to be set up as an awning tent.

Mountain Laurel Designs just announced the 2011 version of the Alpine bivy, now called eVent Soul Bivy and it sports a cuben floor. And in January MLD announced the Cirrus tent, a four to eight person single-wall shelter. Additionally Ron let me know that they will have Cuben LW packs back soon, and a new, lighter series of Cuben fiber tarps and shelters, made from lighter Cuben, the AIR SERIES. They also started makings quilts again and some other gear with the new Momentum 5o, a 10d fabric.



ULA Equipment will have some slight changes in future Circuit and Catalyst packs (see on the ULA Facebook wall) and all other packs stay the same. The Epic now includes a 55 l Drybag and sports an interchangable hipbelt.

Elemental Horizons came out with a new pack, the Aquilo. It is a lightweight frameless pack that weighs about 709 gram and is designed to use your sleeping pad as the support system inside the pack, and it is also compatible with the aluminum stay from the EH internal frame pack, the Northern Lite. They're available in Medium and Large Size with a volume of 42 liter. Matthew also is working on another pack, about which we might hear more in the future!


The LAUFBURSCHE Cuben Laavu.

LAUFBURSCHE from Germany sets the bar high for Laavus & Tipis with his newest creation. At an height of 195 cm, a diameter of 330 cm and a trail weight of 500 gram we have a serious contender for the title of "Lightest Tipi Shelter". The material is cuben, and my Samurai heart skipped a beat as I heard it also will be available in black. You can get various groundsheets and inners for it, suiting any condition. He's also working on expanding his backpack offerings, and, most importantly, hopes to have his Webshop online soonish, to be found under http://www.laufbursche-gear.de/.

Mountainfitter brought out some nifty small pieces of gear which usually are overlooked but are essential for an UL backpacker. Their titanium stake which is called the Ti-eye and is designed to replace the titanium shepards hook; it is currently offered as a 5", 6" and 8" version. Lawson will also soon offer a 6.5" long, 13 gram headless Titanium nail stake called the Ti-spike, made from a piece of 6AL-4V 4.75mm rod which has a hole drilled in it and comes with some of his guywire 100% dyneema cord. Speaking of cord, a 2mm solid braid 100% dyneema cord rated to 850lbs is also new; the solid braid holds knots better which is a real plus with the slippery dyneema. You also might want to take a look at the bear bag system he offers, which is the lightest in the world. Finally, also new is the "Tarmock", a silnylon hammock tarp hybrid weighing in at a mere 369 gram including a stuff sack and two CAMP carabiners, and for which an optional setup kit will be available.


The new HexaNet Solo Bug shelter.

ZPacks also will come out with a bunch of new gear, including waterproof breathable jackets, a non-breathable rain cape to go with their cloud kilts, an inner bug net ("HexaNet") for the Hexamid tarps, a vapor barrier liner quilt, a hammocks and hammock shelters and several miscellaneous accessory projects. All that and some new weights of cuben fiber material and new colors are also coming. On a side note in that matter, ZPacks is working together with TrailLite Designs to make available the cuben CloudKilt and CloudCape, and a cuben UL Ebira tenkara rod carrier.

Locus Gear from Japan also has some new gear coming out. First, we'll see eVent, Pertex and a secret ultra light breathable fabric being used in future creations. Second, Jotaro works on a limited edition of a tipi shaped shelter set which includes a inner mesh and bathtub floor shelter, pole and stakes. A new, green-ish color SilNylon for the Khufu and Khafra series will be coming this spring, making those shelters very stealthy. There's more in the pipeline, so keep your eyes and ears open!

Finally, Henry Shires from Tarptent has been busy working on their office expansion, so product design has been on hold for a while and we likely won't see anything new before the autumn from him. However, a new website including setup videos should be online soon, so you might want to regularly surf to Tarptent to check it out.

I contacted Aarn from Aarn Design, Don from Four Dog Stoves, as well as CRUX and Lightwave if they have any news, but there came no reply.

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I hope you enjoyed this run-down of new gear from our beloved cottage manufacturers. In case I missed something, please leave a comment and I will amend the post!

The Week in Review

The original, impeccable "The Week In Review".



News & Various:

I enjoyed Issue 11 of the Backpacking Light Magazine, as there's a article about Skiing in Finland in it, in an area where I will be next week for six days.

You're a young grasshopper and want to collect your first experiences in the outdoors in winter. Don't look for self-proclaimed "experts" which fiddle around in their backyard (the only backyard fiddling I approve of is Shug's!). Learn from folks like Johan, who show you how to light a fire on snow.

Another real expert whom you should listen to is Chris Townsend. David Lintern from Selfpowered interviewed him for a Radio show, here's the rundown with links.

Brian went the extra mile and made the ultimate Cord Weight/ Strength/ Cost Comparison tables.

Trail Blazes is a new Podcast from Compass Points, and in their January edition they talk about winter hiking in Colorado, some winter hiking tips, and what the podcast is all about.

If the name Sage Clegg doesn't yet ring any bells, then you better head over and read this interview with a remarkable triple crowner - she is the first woman to complete the AT, PCT and CDT in less than 18 months!

If TGOC means anything to you, head over to Kenburg's blog and see the great map he made. It gives an overview of where everything is along the TGOC, from bothies to views and pubs!

Karl collected Great Nature Quotes! Me likey.

Simon makes lovely stuff out of wood. Check out his tools if working with wood is something that sounds like a worthy past-time to you.

Richard wrote an excellent post on how to pitch a tarp with paddles. All packrafters, canoe and kayak folks (and people who like to carry paddles) should immediately head over and check out the superb photos.

John played around with Spreadsheets and found out that Heavier is Sometimes Lighter.

Izzy is musing on why we document and share our adventures.

Ultralight bikepacking is a new German blog, and it started off with a MYOG snowpegs article.

Adventure in Progress writes on the one thing every family needs to be successful in the outdoors.

Ausgerüstet compares NiMH, Li-Ion und Alkali batteries used in flashlights.

Vegetarian thru-hiking can be done. Sweet!

Rio wrote a MYOG Guide for a UL sunglass case.

The Velo Hobo has a very important post on towels on his blog, aptly titled "Always Know Where Your Towel Is".

The Backcountry Boiler is Made in Pittsburgh. I think that's really important to know as well.

I wrote this week on my love for the forest, and interviewed Daniel Galhardo from Tenkara USA.



Tripping:

Antti concluded The Alpine Pass Route 2009 movie. Before he sells the rights to Fox Searchlight, view it for free on his blog!

Dave writes a letter in order to packraft the Grand Canyon.

Tomie and Caro went with friends through the Wimbachtal to the Funtensee.

From the European Alps to Hawaii and Kahekili-Kauhi, the crouching Lion.

I enjoyed Around Scotland's Cramond photos.

Also Atom's Utah photos are superb, even more so as there was a freak blizzard covering the red rocks with white powder!

A fine day hike is documented by Barbara, and the Parker Ridge in Banff National Park, Alberta has fine views and funny Mountain Goats.

Bigbananafeet discovered that it's lonely at the top on a weekday in typical Scottish weather.

The Blethering Blonde went for a Weekend Wander, and if you fancy a fine sunset at Ailsa Craig and some wildlife, you might want to take a peek.

Granite & Ice visited Cornucopia. That's some though climbing there.

Creep and fellow Japanese ULers went on a Stealth Snow Hike.

Kenburg hiked Ardgour and Ardnamurchan, lovely photos.

John and Kelley enjoyed a crisp, clear day along Park Loop Road.

Laurent hiked up Mt. Watamuki, great photos of beautiful Japan.

John and Jean go back to the mountains. Wow, what a scenery.

Odinus went camping on the beach. I'd love to do that as well this summer!

This weeks recommended read goes to Fils' mountain bivouc trip with friends. Gorgeous photos of a star-filled night and dawn, you won't be disappointed!

sbrt quit running and blogging and is now actively pursuing a career in music. I'm a loser baby, so why don't you run me? is the first single, out now!

Ellen hiked up Mount Moosilauke in some proper winter-snow-cold-conditions.

Gary and his mate went to Creag Meagaidh and climbed up Easy Gully. Proper winter climbing adventure.

The 2nd recommend read trophy goes to none other than Mr. Roman Dial, Packrafter extraordinaire. Roman visited the Grand Australian Canyon, The Franklin with Bill & Cody, and beautiful photos and videos will make you wanna travel to Tasmania asap.

Grizzly Adam is living in paradise.

Pig Monkey was walking along the wild coast. That is a seriously nice coast, with seriously nice sunsets.

Mark on the other hand was snowshoeing up Buckden Pike. A mysterious man was following him, appearing as a shadow in his photos. I hope Mark is fine.

Dondo is a mysteriously strong man, and I don't know why he became a UL backpacker, as he obviously has no problems carrying massive boulders, as seen on his last trip in the Rampart East Roadless Area.



Gear Addicts confess:

Mungo Is Still Mad About Wool Blankets. I approve of wool blanket madness.

Dave reviews the Marquette Backcountry skis.

Dennis and family reviewed the Mountain House Lasagna with Meat Sauce. Nom nom!

If spoons are your métier, check Alan's MYOG Spoon article and collection.

Hike, Bike, Dale! is soon setting out to hike the AT. Preparations are nearly done, and to get an idea what they're going to eat, have a look at their Dinner production video.

Dental Floss is not only essential for healthy teeth on-and-off trail, but also a useful multipurpose item. Brawny gives you the details.

Thomas takes a peek at the Woolpower Full Zip Jacket 400.

Jill discloses some wisdom on gear for cold-weather running.

Maz gives us the Fells in Winter: Gear Debrief.

Andy reviews a new book from Cicerone, Lightweight Camping by John Traynor.

Jack reviews the Tarptent Moment after using it on the CDT. That's about 2650 miles of testing. That is good.

Mr. Horner reviews the Terra Nova Laser 20L Pack.

terrybnd takes a first look at the Rab Exodus and Rab Drillium pants.

Mr. Newton <3 quilts and got himself a Mountain Laurel Designs Spirit quilt, at which he takes a first look.

An ultra-secret teaser.

Many Trees Make a Forest

As a child, I went to spend the afternoons in the forest with my little brother and friends, constructing shelters, playing games, building spears and bow & arrow, and once in a while also playing with fire. It was a great time. We lived less than five minutes walking from the forest, and it was our home away from home.



The forest. An important part for our life on this planet, an integral part of our ecosystem. Luckily, here in Finland - the country in Europe with the most trees - forest is abundant. While much of it is commercial forest, destined as ending up as paper in books, packages, toilet paper, in furniture and toys, or in a sauna stove, it still is beautiful. Old-grown forest is protected, showing what real forest once looked like. Lets hope it stays that way, for our children to enjoy.



By day, it is that place where you are a basic, simple, human being again. You are you, walking, skiing, snowshoeing or biking through it. Following game trails or making your own prints. You're alive, breathing fresh, clean air, seeing the goshawk chasing a hare, the tracks of an elk and hear the call of the cuckoo.



When night falls, you are still you, but something primal awakes in you. The fear of the dark creeps up your spine. You look at the trees, which during the day gave you shadow and were friendly, and see different shapes forming. The call of a Pygmy Owl scares you. The flickering flames of the fire give you warmth and comfort, but you feel that they attract a lot of eyes. Then, when dawn arrives, and the first light blue and orange hues appear over the black tree tops, you feel an inner peace and calmness flowing through you. The forest protected you.



I like the forest.