Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Planning a UL Backpacking Trip - a How-to

Planning a trip, UL style. While I like the spontaneousness of 24 h trips and overnighters, some trips require some more preparation. Currently I am planning two trips, one solo trip of four to six days, and together with three classmates one school expedition for fourteen people with a duration of 11 days (two travel days, nine days solo skiing trip). As I like to go prepared I like to plan ahead, and as there are also a bunch of readers here who might just ponder how to go about their first winter trip, I thought to share with you how I go about planning a trip. This should be a good set of guide lines to follow if you're setting out to plan a trip and hopefully helps you have a great outdoor experience!



Location is the first thing I think about - where do I want to go? I go about this in a multitude of ways: Being inspired by trips which others have done, browsing through books and maps in the library, reading blogs, and checking out the Finnish Outdoors.fi website. Usually one leads to the other, if I read about a trip in a magazine I go to the library to loan the maps and a book if available, and also check the Outdoors.fi site. Once I have settled on a location, I move on to the second step.

Transportation is a tad more difficult. I don't have a driving license nor a car, so I rely completely on public transportation (or a friend with a car on rare occasions). Checking bus and train timetables and picking the best connections is thus next. Being an entrepreneur I have the advantage just go during the week, when also busses and trains are driving much more often than on weekends. When going to Lapland I am tempted to go by plane - it is fast and sadly way too cheap - but the emissions and that I usually would need to travel to Helsinki first means I skip this option. I reserve my tickets online and mark down possible connections back home - though hitchhiking home is often faster and cheaper! With that out of the way, I move on to the next steps.

Weather is important for a UL trip. yr.no is my favourite weather forecast service, as it actually does a good job of forecasting the weather. I don't own a TV or Radio, so those means, also being in my experience very unreliable, fall flat. Agricultural weather forecast services are great as well, farmers need to be well informed about it so that are sites to check if you go on a trip. Usually predictions get more accurate the closer you are to the trip, so having a quick look at the long-term forecast and then starting to plan gear, food, route and safety in general, so that they are ready and can be adapted the closer you get to departure is a good idea. Once you're closer to departure you check again, and pack accordingly.



Route planning is good fun - who doesn't love to spent looking at maps and thinking about possible routes, how the view would be from that ridge or mountain top, would the camping spot at this lake be fine, or is a high camp here feasible? I love maps, and can spend hours over them, thinking about routes, calculating distances, were I could bail-out, where to camp, etc. However, as here in the south of Finland most of my trips are in National Parks or on the Pirkan Taival Trail, planning routes as we did for Russia is not necessary - you just follow the established trails, which also in winter are well maintained and often prepared for skiing. But if your journey takes you into the wilderness, where there are no trails, then planning your route is an exciting part of the trip ahead. Think about where to start, where to stop, how to get back to civilization in a case of emergency, how easy/ safe it is to go through certain areas (fjells, mountains, crossing rivers, swamps, etc.), where to get water, where to camp, where to have lunch breaks, interesting features to see (old grown forests, ridge walks, hill tops with wide views, etc.). Consider the speed you're walking and the altitude you plan to gain/ lose on those trips, and better be conservative with your estimates - you might be able to walk 6 km/ hour on asphalt, but that can quickly decrease to 1 km/ hour if your traversing a boulder field or swamp. I plan with 25 km/ day, with a walking time of six to seven hours, to give you an idea of what is realistic.

Gear is next. Look at the temperatures to expect during your trip - is it going to be warm, cold, rainy, dry, snowing, windy? Plan accordingly to what to expect, and if you can not be sure and want to play safe, best prepare for the worst - if the forecast says it is going to be +5°C at night and your caught out at -3°C but didn't have enough of a safety cushion it is not going to be a nice trip. That said, this is of more concern on a longer trip and in an area where temperatures and weather can change dramatically, the forecasts for a weekend are usually pretty spot-on and you can rely on them. Depending on the conditions to be expected I think about what kind of quilt and sleeping pad I need together with the clothing to be worn and carried. I have a few basics which are always coming, these include a wood stove, FA & fixing kit, Hygiene, puukko, kuksa, compass, firesteel, and a tarp as a shelter. Depending on the length of the trip the size of the backpack is chosen, considering that there needs to be sufficient place for food and gear but there doesn't need to be too much space - I might take a smaller pack and have it a bit overpacked for the first day rather than take a too big rucksack. Laying out all the gear and packing it is a good way to see that everything that is important comes along.

Food is the next step. Starting at noon or in the evening, and planning on finishing at noon? Then you don't need to carry a breakfast and lunch for the starting day, and no dinner for the final day - those are consumed at home/ on the road. A healthy mix of bought and homemade meals is my diet, müsli and coffee for breakfast, noodles/ pasta for lunch, a freezerbag meal in the evening and snacks like nuts, dried fruits and bars in between meals - I carry about three bars/ day and around 50 g of nuts & dried fruits, that is plenty for me but others might go hungry with that and need more/ less. Think what is your energy need if you hike for a whole day, and pack appropriately. Going a bit hungry on a weekend hasn't killed anyone yet, but on longer trips you should make sure you get all nutrients that your body needs. If you're just starting out with backpacking and have no idea what your energy need is, have a look here for inspiration. I highly recommend to re-pack your food to the needed portion size and leave all the unnecessary packing at home - it is just more rubbish you need to carry out of the forest and mountains.



Safety is closely related to route planning, in my opinion. Leave a copy of your planned route and estimated times & places with your partner/ family/ friends - this benefits you twofold, your partner knows where you're supposed to be (it can give them peace of mind) and in case of an emergency/ you going missing, SAR can have an idea where you should be searched. I usually let my partner know in written form from where to where I plan to go, and where I plan to stay at the nights. I also inform her about my arrival at the camp site via a short text message, this gives again important peace of mind to those who care about you. A further important part of safety is to think about how to bail-out in case the weather is getting worse, you overestimated something, or you injured yourself. Look at close by roads/ houses/ signs of civilization and have an idea what would be your shortest route to safety in case something goes wrong. Additionally, if you're in a group on the trail, make sure everyone has a copy of the map, and possibly mark into the map the boundaries of the area you plan to traverse - if a member gets lost, and ends up at the big river in the east, it should know that it shouldn't cross that river but backtrack the river further up/ down to a emergency meeting point and hence safety. Discuss these with the group and make sure they understand the procedures before you start hiking.

If you follow these simple steps in planning a trip - from a two night - three days weekend trip to a five weeks expeditions in Greenland - you should be well prepared for a great time in the outdoors! If you have additional hints or tips, or questions, please feel free to ask in the comments =)

The Week in Review

In case you didn't see last week's amended post - Scotland fell through.

Standing at the bus stop to the airport here in Tampere, the bus driver said that the Ryanair flight to Edinburgh was cancelled due to the snow storm in Scotland - two minutes later I also received a text from Ryanair themselves. I could have flown on Monday to London (no connection flights to Glasgow or Edinburgh, though) or on Tuesday to Edinburgh - but with a lecture I was holding on Friday the time would have been too short for the walk Peter had planned for us. However, we plan to meet in the future and are now looking at our calendars for a suitable date =)



News & Various:

Nordic Lightpacking has grown (scroll down to read the post!) during the last weeks, and we're now nine! We have some more interesting developments to share with you in the near future, so be sure to follow us closely!



Earlier in July I did a first look on the Clikstand alcohol cooking systems and offered a Passaround. There was only limited interest at that time, so I'd like to put the two sets up for grabs once more - just comment underneath if you're interested.

So you have been on a long trip - Nordkalottleden or PCT, for example - and now you're back in civilization. Guthook's Readjustment Blues is a great piece for all those that need to settle back into a "normal" life after a long walk.

Royal Wulff, fly fisher extraordinaire, is huge in Europe. If you like salmonids, a must read!

Simon enlightens us on how to dry Kayak kit in a very small house.

Trotten mit Hut introduces us to Mike Horn and his Arctic Circle Adventure. Make sure to watch the videos.

Ross found more cheap, lightweight backpacking food.

The Dude Abides informs us that ViewRanger comes now with Open Source Maps.

Presents for the holidays make you sick? Yeah, me too. Hiking for the holidays, as advocated by Adventure in Progress, however, makes me smile!

Alastair gives some tips for winter cycling.

Backpacking Light is having a competition. What you need to do? Make a one page 24 hour trip gear list. This would be a great task for a working day next week ;)

Darren writes about the 2$ Kindle issue which was discussed a bit on Twitter and Phil's blog last week. I wholeheartedly agree with Darren, and don't understand how people have the guts to complain about something like that.

John Stultz from Bear Paw Tents answered my question in this weeks interview.

Kupilka conquers the world, and is now already available in Japan via Locus Gear!

Q is back from hibernation and started an "Lightweight Adventskalender" where he every day writes a short article about going lighter.

If you need more entertainment for your work days next week, check out Nibe's post on The Alaska Experiment & Out of the Wild. Those videos should bring you through a days work in no time!

Why you need a duck on tour - essential reading and reasoning by the Beuteltiere.



Trip Reports:

Looking for photos about winter? Check out Gustav's blog, showcasing some amazing Norwegian Mountain scenery!

Fan Fawr was visited by Kenburg, who trains for the 2012 TGO Challenge.

Because I didn't make it to Scotland, it was nice to be at least virtually there. Jay's Glasgow article was great, it looks like a city I definitely would have enjoyed.

Phil lets us know that its not all bad (that snow, that is) and went skiing.

Paul visited Grisedale, a superb post as we have come to expect from him.

Beer, bikes and snow sound like a good time to you? I knew it, for me too. Yeti and friends met for the 2010 Vajosuo beer ride and a good time was had by everyone. Two Pugsleys in a small car = lol!

Markus had an ambitious plan of 21 peaks in two days, but because of the massive amount of snow it didn't go according to plan. Recommended see!

Alberto lets us know that the Alpine Skiing season in the Dolomites is open!

John visited Zion National Park West Rim Trail and brought back superb photos of snow covered, red mountains. I want to go!

Roger did what I recommend to everyone reading here: Going for a local walk (in the snow). Yes, right now, GO!

Roman Dial is teasing us. He and his family will visit Borneo in a few weeks, doing all those awesome things which we dream about on goof-off Tuesday. Recommended read and see, the video is Epic!

Richard was on skis in the Antrim Hills, a recommended read as well, great photos!

All Gear Reviews and no trips makes Joe a dull boy. That is why he went for a wee trip. You know Joe has a great eye for photos. Go see them.



Gear Talk:

The Jolly Green Giant looks at a UL Rain Kilt.

John reviews the Backpacking Light Firelite Mini Firestarting Kit.

Chad did an awesome video review of the Kupilka 21 cup.

terry reviews the Exodus Jacket, a new softshell from Rab.

The Petzl Charlet Snowalker is a lightweight ice axe and was reviewed by Peter.

The LAUFBURSCHE huckePÄCKchen, the small brother of the huckePACK, was reviewed by Benjamin.

James did a long-term review of the Rab Cirrus Pull-on, a lightweight windshirt.

Dave reviews the LaSportiva Crossleather trailrunners.

Al fin, Senñor Morkel de "Hiking in Finland" escribó una evaluación del Haglöfs OZO Pullover.

Haglöfs OZO Pullover Review

And there we go again. A brethable hardshell for the UL community, brought to you by the chaps from Haglöfs in Sweden. The OZO Pullover is from Haglöfs' intense series, made for trailrunners, fast & light mountaineering folks and of course us, the UL backpacker. It would thus be rude of me to not check it out, even more so as they're neighbours.


Reflective details all around.

Hello, my name is Hendrik and I am an Ultralight backpacker. My Haglöfs OZO weighs 196 g in Size S, it has a fine graphite colour with blue details. It ain't black but I like it nevertheless.



What has it to offer? It is made of Gore-Tex Paclite, has an outstanding hood and visor, a huge front pocket, a deep front zipper, and thumbloops. Yes, thumbloops, those highly practical details on a range of garments. I like them. Joe doesn't.


Perfect, this is how hoods and visors should look like!

Lets start with the hood. I have a bunch of jackets with hoods in all kind of shapes and sizes, but the OZO has by far the best. Very well designed, it hugs your head nicely, the visor is massive and keeps wind, snow, rain at bay. Yeah, this is how hoods and visors need to be. I am not sure if a mountaineering helmet can fit under it, tough. Anyhow. Other manufacturers, please buy a OZO and be inspired by their hood design - you can learn a lot.



The pocket is as big as on the Rab Demand Pull-On, as I often wear pants without pockets I need to store essentials like my puukko, map, compass and a chocolate bar in my jacket's pocket. The OZO pocket is big enough for that, with some room to spare. As with the other pullover, put your phone in a waterproof bag if you carry it in there and it will be fine.



Gore-Tex Paclite then. It keeps rain, snow and wind out, and is very breathable. As breathable as eVent? I really can't say. I didn't have any problems with it getting sweaty and moist inside, and I do perspire a lot. I was considering doing a bit of a scientific study with both garments in the sauna, but decided against it. If I am hardpress to decide on one, I might say eVent is a tad more breathable.



The cut on the OZO is even better than the Demand, in my opnion, the back is nice long, it's a good tight fit but allows for puffy insulation to be worn underneath it. The long back allows for supreme protection of my back, but I yet have to find a jacket or pullover which stays in place - they always seem to travel a bit up. The drawcord in the hem is good, as are the elastic cuffs with thumbloops. Yeah, I like them thumbloops, a bit of keeping the jacket in place when moving and a bit of additional protection are always welcome.



So it is lighter than the Demand, a good 56 g in Size S, has a superior hood, thumbloops, but is not as breathable than the Demand (enjoy that with a tad of salt, YMMV). It is also nearly a Euro/ Dollar/ Pound per gram saved more expensive than the Demand, but given that Haglöfs has a superior sustainablity approach to business than Rab (which, we remember, has none Edit: See comments, click here), that might be worth it for some - for me it is.

I can't think of shortcomings of the OZO; though I have heard from some friends who have made not-so-good experiences with Gore-Tex Paclite, those are welcome to speak up in the comments (play nice!). Keep away from fire, treat it carefully as all your UL gear - though as I was running through the undergrowth on my orienteering exam, it withstood it all. Improvements, well, the drawcord closing thingy on the hem could be a bit stronger, it seems to be too UL to do the job properly. Otherwise it gets from me two thumbs up (through the thumbloops, of course!).

The guys at the Outdoor Warehouse have the Haglöfs OZO Pullover on offer, with a 10% Discount. If you want to check the OZO out in a shop, check Haglöfs' list of Retailers for one near you.