Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

The Week in Review

While I am at the Riihimäki Outdoor fair - the biggest Outdoor fair in Finland - and will be searching for lightweight and UL goodies from the Nordic manufacturers, you can lounge in your favourite chair and enjoy what happened this week in the outdoor blogsphere.

To start off, you might have realized that I did a little re-design of the site (obviously not if you read it via RSS =). I want the design to be light, easy and less cluttered, just as I like to be on the trail. I sorted some stuff out, and you now can access all gear reviews & first looks, the interviews and my reading list - which now includes books and the blogroll - via the above links. And I also did a little change to the About / FAQ page, so go check that out if you're of the curious kind!

Secondly, I'd like to encourage you to share the content here more - this can easily be done with the share button under each post. Move your mouse over it and choose among Facebook, Twitter, Google, Delicious and other social networks to share it. You can start with this article! If you like the content please feel free to Flattr me - here you can sign up for Flattr and start using it, it is a great idea and I hope that many more start to use it on their blogs. Finally, an easy way to follow the developments here is to become a Follower by clicking the "Follow" button on the right; that brings the articles here right into your RSS Reader of choice and you let me and others know that you like this site!

Video is the medium of the internet - I have said this before - and Londonbackpacker confirms this with his videos of the TGO Challenge. Really cool stuff, so check them out!

The Shed Dweller took his boys out for fishing and wildcamping, and it looks like they had fun.

Minimalgear took his son and wife on a family trip, with them the Tarptent Hogback, and realized that UL is perfect for such occasions.

Knilch, MYOG-man extraordinaire, has little time but the time he has he spends running up mountains behind his house. Nice weather, great view.

Trailblaze went on a five day trip to Knoydart in Scotland, and reports about swamps, lochs and mountains in his trip report.

Also the Auld Blug went on a trip to Scotland and took along his DIY kajak Sedna - what a beautiful boat!

Do you like clouds, mountains, interesting rock formations, wildlife and waterfalls, all with plenty of sunshine? Then check out Down The Trail's trip in Phantom Creek and the Miners Route, which is fantastic.

James from Backpackingbongos did a south to north traverse of the Rhinogs and the scenery was epic while the findings were Metal!

In the gear department video is also on the advance, this week Darren gave us Episode five of his Stove Talk which is about the Vargo Titanium Woodburning stove.

Richard has a look at the GoSystems Fly Ti and wonders if it is the worlds lightest gas stove, while Roger tested the Monatauk Gnat and got pretty similar numbers. The smart person knows that it is one and the same stove just with a different brand written on it, as Roman points out.

New tent needed? Maz, new to the blogsphere (Go say welcome!), reviewed his Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 and Seedhouse SL1 and compared it to the Vaude Power Lizard.

Joe wrote a review on the Inov-8 Terroc 330 and concluded that he would buy a pair again if this one went broke today, so go read his reasoning!

And also I did a short review on the gear that worked and the gear that didn't while being in Sweden. A good discussion going on there, please join in!

And also in the "Others" section, Video reigns supreme as this one shows:

Dressed in Dirt gives us some insights on why we should hike in a skirt - or at least think about it. If pee-ability is something you're looking for, give it a read.

If Bushcraft is your thing, I reckon this Guide on "How to make primitive kilns" is right up your alley. Now I just need to find some clay...

Are you something wondering about the people you meet on the trail? Here's a run-down of the 11 Types of people you meet on a hike - though it seems they missed the elusive lightpacker!

I recommend you check out Traverse Japan which is the epic upcoming trip of a coast to coast in Japan with a visit to all the peaks over 3000m. And while you're there, give Hamilton some feedback on his shelter, will ya?!

Finally, inspired by the Nordic Fellowship of lightweight & UL bloggers, hrXXLight has some thoughts on creating a European scene - maybe you want to let him know your opinion on that matter?

Gear That Worked and Gear That Didn't II

Gear used on the Vålådalen trip had one thing to cope with: Water. From above, beneath and the sides, it was wet all the time, and up in the fjell also the wind was very strong - good conditions to see if the lightweight kit I took can stand these conditions. For starters, have a look at my complete gear list.

Weather forecast for our trip.

My LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK performed as I expected it to perform - excellent. Bushwhacking did nothing to the material, which kept the rain out and the stuff dry inside. Plenty of space for food and gear for a week. Love it.

Photo courtesy of Joe Newton / Thunder In The Night

My GoLite Ultra 20 quilt kept me warm and comfy at night, and as it got slightly moist it was easily dried at the campfire. For summer tours I will stay with quilts, no doubt.

Sleeping mats: Mulitmat Adventure & six segments of a Therm-A-Rest Z Lite made for very comfy nights. They function also as a frame and backpanel for my pack, so serve double duty. I can't forget them thus and they also can't break.

Shelter: I continue to use the Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn and really like it. Easy to set up and to fine-tune, plenty of space and great protection from wind and rain. I'd feel comfortable to pitch this on the fjell on a rainy and windy night if need to. Review forthcoming.

Bivy: A LAUFBURSCHE tyvek bivy is my bivy of choice. Tyvek is super breathable and under a tarp I don't need much more protection from wind and water. Review forthcoming.

Camp Night 1.

Shell clothing: No surprises here, I continue to use the Rab Momentum jacket and Drillium pants and think they're ace. Dry and protected from wind while walking up hills is all I need. And they dry quick after fording as well.

Base layer: Also no surprise, Woolpower long johns and longsleeve keep reigning supreme. Kept me warm in the wind and at night, without smelling. The socks also were excellent, great cushioning and warm feet, even when fording ice cold rivers.

Shoes: Inov-8 Mudclaw 330 were the shoes I used on this trip, and they were great for the conditions we experienced. Great grip in the mud, rock, forest path and riverbeds, though on overflooded duckboards they were a tad slippery. Maybe I like the sole of the Roclites a bit more. Review forthcoming.

Camp & Sleeping wear: Because I knew it was going to be wet I took the Montane Fireball Smock to wear it in camp around the fire, and I continue to like heaps. It is light and takes minimal space in my pack, and has no problems with the rain & wetness we were constantly in. To bed I wore the Klättermusen Loke, as downy goodness from Sweden with a hood is what lets me sleep tight at night. Really like this garment, review forthcoming.

First lunch break.

Kitchen-wise there were the usual suspects: BushBuddy Ultra and Tibetan Titanium 1100 were used for cooking, and now my fire-making skills are so far that I also feel comfortable to use it in the wet conditions we had. LMF Firesteel, puukko, kuksa and a LMF Spork were used for eating, cutting and drinking, and I continue to find them excellent.

Food wise I had an assortment of cereal and chocolate bars for quick energy on the trail with me, corn spaghetti & chili tomato sauce as well as polenta for lunch and Real Turmats for dinner. Dessert was a finnish organic blueberry "kissel" and the obligatory Minttu cacao. Real reigns supreme in the ready-made sector, while the corn spaghetti and chili tomato sauce was ace. I had a Spanish chorizo sausage with me for that high-energy fat, which was delicious.

All other small stuff - first aid, gloves, buffs, mitts, socks, platypus, compass et al worked without problems and I will review a couple of the items when I find the time. To conclude, I felt warm, save and well-fed the whole trip despite the rain. With 1863 g for the big three (Rucksack, shelter, sleeping system) I was the lightest of us six, and including food for three full days I started with 6547 g on my back. I see no need to carry more than that, and think it could even be pushed lower if I would switch some items.

The UL Fellowship


Concerning lightpackers

This story is largely concerned with lightpackers, and the reader may discover much of their character and a little of their history. Lightpackers are an unobtrusive people, with small backpacks of surprisingly fine materials and light weight. They love to walk in the outdoors, and know their way through the wilds. They like to keep their trail life and gear simple, and shy away from what they call the "Ultra Heavy" backpackers.

Six of these lightpackers set out on a quest to forge a fellowship and walk the wild lands of Vålådalen, enjoying camaraderie on the trail and around the campfire. Like many other backpackers, they enjoy a hearty meal and firewater, the wide views from mountain tops and the sound of rivers. The sound of hooting owls and ptarmigans flying through their camp, reindeers eyeing them cautiously and mountain hares running away were sights to be enjoyed in this remote area, and made them smile.

Example of Ultra Heavy backpackers, staying in huts, mind you.

A Long-Expected Party

When Legolas of Finland announced that he would be searching the companionship of fellow nordic lightpackers with a hike of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement. Five fellow lightpackers were invited, Gimli from Denmark, Aragorn and Gandalf as well as Merry from Sweden and Pippin from Norway.

Much preparation went into this party, and the six heros of this tale spent countless hours planning and communicating about their journey. Merry went to great lengths to acquire fine rucksacks and walking poles made by Gossamer Gear, while Aragorn and Gandalf brought a stealthy home away from home. Merry and Pippin welcomed the days in their yellow shelters while Legolas' shelter was the same colour as the sky, and his rucksack was made of the lightest & blackest threads from a much sought after southern craftsman.

Six Is Company

"You ought to go quietly, and you ought to go soon," said Gandalf. But the party made no sign of getting ready to leave the trailhead, where they were repacking their backpacks. To tell the truth, they were very reluctant to start - the sky was grey and the clouds were full of water, and the comfort of a warm building seemed a more desirable residence. After much deliberating the party left the trailhead, and walked off into the wild.

"I have been so taken up with the thoughts of leaving the trailhead hat I never even considered the direction," said Legolas, and Gimli and Pippin agreed. "For where are we to go? And by what shall we steer?" Gandalf calmed down the three, and together with Merry and Aragorn explained that they shall take the lead on this journey. "We travelled these lands before, thus do not worry" he told them, and they relaxed.

The Old Forest

After walking for an hour, they approached the first ford which brought them away from the path. For Legolas this was the first time to ford a river of such width, and after watching Gandalf cross it without problems he and the rest of the group followed him. The fast flowing, cold river made their feet numb, and after a short stroll to warm up they sat down and had lunch - an important element for the group, to refuel and exchange thoughts.

Strengthened the group continued, through smaller fords until they reached the shore of the mighty Vålån river. They stayed on the same side of the river and followed it up, passing majestic falls and fast rapids. They followed old game trails where there was a possibility to follow them, and kept the river to their right. Tea was had, and little breaks to regroup - some could not keep up with the long-legged Swedes, needing to take two steps where a Swede took one.

"Now let the song begin! let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather
Light on the budding leaf, dew on the bivy,
Wind on the open hills, bells on the heather,
Reeds by the shady pool, lilies on the water."

In The House Of Tom Bombadil

And with that the six lightpackers arrived at their first campsite, and stood still, looking for places to pitch their shelters. They were in a long swamp and boulder area along the mighty Vålån river. After searching for a while, each of our six heros found a comfortable place to sleep, and soon they gathered around the hearty fire which Legolas and Gandalf started. Meals were prepared and firewater made the round. Lively conversations were had till the fire nearly went out, and also the last ones retired to their shelters.

In the next morning Gandalf came knocking on the porches of the members of the Fellowship, he already had the fire going and was waiting with breakfast for the others. The Fellowship ate and after packing up continued their journey, looking back on the fire and trees which gave them warmth and comfort from the rain. The day was wet, from beneath and above, and the group continued upwards, towards the mountains, where snow still covered their paths and reindeers eyed them cautiously.

Courtesy of Joe Newton / Thunder In the Night

After a welcomed, sheltered break besides a warm oven the Fellowship continued its trek, even further up the fjell. A final ford of deep cold water later the group reached the desolate plateau. The barren land was unfriendly, the strong wind sweeping over it with no place to hide from it. Before long, the group descended to the valley, where a long forgotten King's hunting lodge was located, but the ruin was not welcoming and so they continued further down the valley, towards the protection the forest would give them.

Courtesy of Joe Newton / Thunder In the Night

Aragorn and Legolas discussed till late in the night around the campfire, and only the hooting of owls - a sign that the day had changed - made them depart to their shelters. In the morning Gandalf again woke them up, waiting with a breakfast and fire for them. While there were no planned fordings this day, a flood had covered the trail in water and so the Fellowship again walked with wet feet. Their goal within their mental sight, the weather started to change. The clouds were blown apart, and the sun came for the first time out during their trek.

Courtesy of Joe Newton / Thunder In the Night

Their Spirits lifted, they forgot their hard task ahead - to bring the knowledge of lightpacking towards the north - and enjoyed the sun shining down on them. Under the blue sky our heros continued towards their goal, a small inn with a steam room and a good ale. Forgotten their worries of rain and greyness these last days, a Fellowship was born.