Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

The Week in Review

The times, they are a-changin.

News & Various:

Pig Monkey created the latest and greatest Gear Tracker.

Grant has 5 tips on How to save money on skiing.

Mungo was shooting the moon. I wonder if he also was barking at it?!

Read Jill's account of her first ultra-marathon, the Rodeo Beach 50K.

David captured trees in many beautiful angles.

Stick lets us know the recipe for a natural winter drink.

Richard reflects a bit on the past and shares some cracking winter photos with us.

John had the great idea of looking back on the year soon to be over with the photos of where he has been hiking in the past twelve months. Great idea, I imagine we'll see some more of these kind of posts soon =)

Brawny has some wise words for all those of you who are planning a long hike in 2011.

Dunko explains how to bring back an axe.

Ross presents part 3 of cheap, lightweight backpacking food, this time the topic is baking.

Joe made a MYOG Stove pad.

I reviewed Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book last Monday, and if you only got rubbish for Xmas go and get your copy now.

Trip Reports:

Jim walked the Chatfield Trail in Killingworth.

Sonya and Andy visited Ben Lomond and Lui - it looks cold!

Casey went for a hike at Backbone State Park in Iowa.

Gustav visited Svarthamrane.

YohonP, who's planning an AT thru-hike for 2012, went to scout the AT in Maryland.

Jason visited Red Hill.

Kelley and her owner John went for a walk around Harbor Brook and Elliot Mtn. Pretty!

Karl went for a day trip around Echo Lake State Park.

Steven and his daughter went for a daytrip on Saline Bayou Hiking Trail in the Kisatchie National Forest, Louisiana. Lovely photos.

Mike, Brian and Charlie spent the Solstice Morning on top of a hill with a great view.

The Alpine Ridges of Glencoe which Gary visited look mighty fine to me.

Scott and Ryan went fishing amongst Bikinis. Very nice, enjoyed that post a lot.

Jeff and Jason started their Sedona Traverse.

Anne went to Rialto Beach and brought back stunning photos.

Chris' Lonesome Lake trip report is really nice and worth your time.

Chris visited Big Pine Canyon in the Inyo National Forest last year and shares some superb photos with us.

How about some mid December San Juan packrafting? This weeks recommended read.

Gear Talk:

Check out the Bushman of Yukon's Inferno II stove including a video!

Phil reviews the Pacific Outdoor Equipment Peak Elite AC and raffles one off among those who comment.

Rio shows off his latest moves in his fresh Patagonia R1 Hoody. Sweeeeet!

Blogger Zed givves us the latest on the Evernew Ti DX.

Still wondering about footwear for the winter? Check out what the Adventure in Progress Family uses!

Al fin, I reviewd the Finisterre Bise MkII vest.

Finisterre Bise MkII Review

Finisterre is a company to my liking. Ethical and sustainable principles are written big in this business, and instead of greenwashing and proclaiming things, they actually walk the talk. Check their Philosophy to see what I mean. So on to the actual star of this post, the Bise MkII, a synthetic vest for those cold & active days.

Looking sharp.

So yeps, Hendrik has a vest. A vest? A vest! Splendid for those crisp n' cold autumn and winter days where you're active, but not so active to keep your core warm enough. Splendid under a hardshell when hiking. Great for standing around at camp in spring, summer and autumn. 255 g it is on my scale, that's for a Size S. It is filled with Primaloft Sport, has a Riri 2-way zipper, the collar is lined with Microfleece and has two elastic pockets to store stuff or put your hands and look busy. It's mighty warm. Do I need to mention that it is black?

Double zippers.

I wore the Bise in Kvarken, during school and on various day trips. It is a good looking garment, something you can wear without a problem to the Café or Pub after a hike and look smart and not nerdy. But looks aren't Number 1. Priority, function is. Glad to report that in that department the Bise can convince as well.

Longer in the back.

The cut is slim, sporty, and longer in the back to keep the buttocks warm. Two elastic cords in the hem keep the heat inside, and the cuffs/ armholes are elastic as well and let no warmth escape. The collar is nice high, and means you can leave the Buff for the neck at home. Those pockets are fine, big enough to store a pocket camera or a small-ish DSLR like the Sony NEX-5. Ah ja, hands without gloves will find the pockets of use also on a windy day.

Trap that heat!

So what's not so good? Well, I think the zipper is overkill. It is massive, a smaller would due the job just as fine. The function of a two-way sipper is also lost on me. I like it simple. Like a simple, small, one-way zipper. The dual draw-cord adjustable hem is nice, but I wonder if one would be enough? I'd mention Primaloft Eco as a filling for superior environmental credibility, but the Bise Mk III has it, so no need to point that out.

Freedom to drink coffee without losing heat.

What's good. The piece of fabric on the zipper is perfect, robust, big enough to operate with mitts and looks nice. The pockets are also very well made, and I like them a lot. It is black. Even when walking at a good pace and perspiring, it keeps me super warm. It is actually so warm that my girlfriend likes to loan it from me. It is made in Portugal, thus it didn't travel halfway around the globe.

Conclusion? Well, while I prefer to start the day's walking with only my baselayer and maybe a hardshell, autumn and winter mean that a bit of extra insulation will make me more comfortable. My arms are not in need of much extra insulation, but the core is - that is where a synthetic vest shines. With a down vest I'd be worried that my perspiration makes the down collapse if I don't take it off once start to perspire; with a synthetic vest I can be a bit more careless (read: lazy) and walk in comfort. The garment being black means it dries a bit quicker in the sun as well, but as we know, synthetic fill retains 75% of its warmth when wet so it is no biggie when drying isn't a option. Which means the Bise Mk II is a great garment to bring along in any season, where a bit of extra, good looking warmth is needed!

The Bise MkII is currently on offer at Finisterre, so go get one while they last. If you're too slow, you might want to get the Bise Mk III which comes in new colours, received a inside pocket and Primaloft Eco for insulation.

Book Corner: Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book

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Time for another book review, it even fits with the season and your upcoming needs. Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book, the "Revised and Even Better!" version, is a superb, humours read worth your time. It doesn't take long to read cover to cover - I needed an afternoon, and English ain't my mother tongue - but you will go back many times to look up the great illustrations and useful advice.

The book has 120 pages full of the funny & informative illustrations of Mike Clelland and the knowledge of Allen O'Bannon. Both have been working for NOLS for many years, and know how to be warm and comfortable in winter. I have been out in winter plenty of times, but still picked up some useful advice from their book - I for example wasn't aware of the way to keep water unfrozen overnight in the snow. The highlight for me is likely their extensive section on how to build snowshelters - from quinzees over dugloos to doghouses.

Even if you belong to the folk who carry a double-wall tent in winter, the book will have some tips for you. My list of useful tips which I took away:

1. Avalanche safety
2. How to sh!t in the snow
3. How to build a comfy snow shelter
4. How to build a pimped-out kitchen in the snow, including a place to keep water from freezing
5. Backcountry manners in winter aka Minimum Impact & Backcountry Ethics
6. Snowmobilers are morons (OK, I knew this already!)
7. Snow camping tips & tricks - how to dry wet gear & useful pockets in undergarments
8. Basic ski techniques
9. A shovel in winter can be a very useful tool

If you're planning to be out in winter, in the backcountry, on skis, snowshoes, splitboard or snowboard, I think this is a great book to have read. Besides that the two authors know how to disclose information in an easy and understandable way, the illustrations clear up some questions which you might have and make you smile.

To get your paperback or Kindle copy, click the underneath photo or link (Updated link to an affordable copy!)

Disclosure: If you buy the book via the link I will earn a couple of cents, as I have a Amazon Affiliate Account.