Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

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.

Interview: John Stultz From Bear Paw Tents

A new Monday, a new cottage manufacturer interview. Bear Paw Tents is a newcomer and I am sure a new name for some here, thus it is nice to shed some light on this young company and their fine UL products! Coffee and cookie ready? Good. Enjoy.

John, please briefly introduce yourself and tell us who you are.

My name is John Stultz and I am the owner and operator of Bear Paw Tents, LLC. My first career was an engineer working in different manufacturing environments, including fabric mills. About 3 years ago, I decided to combine my interest in ultra-lightweight backpacking and bike touring with my knowledge of fabrics and modern designs.

Since when are you backpacking, and how did you start? How often are you outdoors on a trip nowadays?

I started backpacking as a kid in the 70’s with my boy scout troop. I have hiked/camped extensively in the Cascade Mountains in the northwest US, western Sierra Nevada Mountains, and the eastern Appalachian Mountains. Currently, most of my hiking/camping trips are shorter in duration (2 to 3 nights), due to time restraints. I also get out on numerous multi-day bike touring trips.

Are you a UL or lightweight backpacker? If so, what is your typical baseweight?

When I first started backpacking in the 70’s, it was common place to carry over 50 or 60 lbs of gear. Now, I know a lot better how the lighter the weight the more I seem to enjoy the trip. I try to limit my gear to around 25 lbs and the rest would be food. With today’s technologies and availability of ultra-lightweight gear, that weight is easy to achieve and even to reduce farther.

Please tell us where the name "Bear Paw Tents" comes from, and what it stands for.

Like I said earlier, I have hiked/camped extensively in the Appalachian Mountain throughout Tennessee, North Carolina, and Virginia. Black bear sightings, bear paw prints, and tree markings are extremely common. To me, the bear paw represents the courage to follow my inner voice or strength.

Bear Paw Tents makes innovative lightweight shelters and tarps. Can you tell us how the idea to start the company emerged, if it was easy to quit your previous job and how you see the future of the company?

Well, I didn’t have to quite my previous job because the economic environment made that choice for me. The choice to start a company came out of necessity to find meaningful employment, the inner drive to work for myself, and the desire to do something that combine my desires in life. I see this company staying a cottage industry that is small enough to change direction quickly but large enough to have the resources to go where my customers want it to go.

The major issue that I practice here is customer service. If you are not happy with the product for any reason, you can return it for a full refund, replacement, or repair. We want our customers to be happy with their purchase and not regret it. We are here to build a company based on dealing with people fairly and honestly.

You offer some very innovative gear, like the PyraTent & Net Tent - can you tell us a bit how you went about the design process of these two pieces, and where the inspiration came from?

I originally started marking just canopy/tarp types of tents. A lot of my customers were asking me to design and manufacture the bug tents for these types of tents. However, pyramid tents were common, and I started experimenting with these tents. Intially, I was looking for an excellent bike touring tent that was roomy, lightweight, and could pack in a small size. The pyraTent came out of the desire to have a single man tent that could be comfortable for 2 people when needed. That is why I came up with the attachable vestibule.

John, we love to be let in on the work-in-progress stuff! Can you let us know what kind of new products you're working on at the moment?

This past year I started working with Cuben Fiber. I think that it is perfect for the ultra-lightweight backpacker. It is completely waterproof, tear and cut proof (except a knife point with go through it), extremely lightweight, packs small, and can be easily repair in the field if needed. But it is expensive. I have a 1.5 man and 2 man asymmetrical Cuben Fiber tent coming out real soon. I have made these tents as special order for a few of my customers. I also now offer all my tents and net tents in Cuben Fiber.

How works the R&D at Bear Paw Tents, do you have a need yourself that you try to fix, or do some of your clients inspire you for new products and ask you for solutions to their problems?

Most of my original designs came from my own experiences. Now, since a lot of my customers know that we are willing to design and manufacture custom work that they need, many of our designs come from these ideas. Customers are always sending us design ideas that they would like to have. Also, a lot of customers want us to duplicate other cottage industry designs, but we resist doing this. There are a lot of great cottage industry designers out there, and I respect them and their products completely. We do design and manufacture net tents for other manufacturers’ tents, modify their tents with netting and extended vestibules, and make modifications as the customer warrants.

What is the Bear Paw Tents bestseller, and where do your customer come from?

Right now the pyraTent and some of the inner tents are our best sellers. We sell a lot of custom net tents to customers in Australia and the United Kingdom. It seems that many of the net tents that we manufacture for the UK customers have partial ripstop nylon and netting instead of all netting. We sell all over the world, including Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America, Europe and the UK.

Are you in touch with other cottage manufacturers in Europe, the USA, Japan or other places?

I see other cottage manufacturers at trade shows, trail days, and similar events.

What is your own favorite backpack, sleep system and shelter? Any other favourite piece of gear which you always carry with you?

I have two pack systems that I use: Osprey 34 and 46. I prefer down sleeping bags: Mountain Hardware and Big Anges. Right now I have fallen in love with our new Cuben Fiber 2 man tent. It sleeps 2 people easily and weighs only 8 oz.

When and where was your last longer backpacking trip, and what was your baseweight? Are you planning to get out for a trip soon, and enjoy the winter season?

Two summers ago, my wife and I hiked Mt. Whitney in California and on up to the Kings Canyon National Park area for 15 days. I think that my base weight was around 40 lbs or so. We camped ever night way below the tree line so extremely cold gear was not needed. Mainly we carried a lot of lightweight store bought food and some special backpacking supplies.

In the winter, I prefer to cross country ski and snow shoe.

Do you think ultralight backpacking will become more popular and break into the mass market, or will it continue to be something for a small group of people?

I believe that ultra-lightweight backpacking has caught on with the mass market and is growing steadily each year. I think that people are seeing and experiencing the benefits of carrying only what you really need. And with the availability of the new fabrics and equipment, it is getting easier and easier to go ultra-lighweight.

Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions, and all the best with Bear Paw Tents!

The Week in Review

I'm off to Scotland tonight. Edit: My flight got cancelled due to the heavy snowfall in Edinburgh. The option I had was to fly to London on Monday, but there's no flights to Edinburgh or Glasgow that day, so my wee trip to meet Steven, Johnny, Peter and Phil are off. I'm pretty bummed :(

News & Various:

You know what is so awesome about UL backpacking? The people. The people, who, driven by their desire to make something unique, more light, more perfect, create with much blood, sweat and tears a great product, with plenty of input from the UL community. Guys like Devin from the boilerworks, for example. Go read his blog and bookmark it. It's awesome.

Locus Gear has a 1st Anniversary Sale going on, so now is a good time to get those fine shelters and bags.

Titanium Goat, that elusive cottage manufacturer in Utah which doesn't want to be interviewed, has a bunch of new gear. The Yagi tenkara fly rod for trekking poles is awesome - you may buy me one!

Nibe gives useful advice on how to pass your time and includes a Optimus Crux Lite Solo Cook set review in between!

Fishing in Finland is an article I wrote for the Helsinki Times newspaper a while ago, go have a read if you have a passion for angling!

Coiling ropes - with a twist is a great video for the folks among us who carry ropes in the wilderness and need a quick and easy way to coil their ropes.

This week also saw another cottage manufacturer interview, this time with Eric Parsons from Revelate Designs. Bikepacking your thing? Definitely check this one out then!

The guest post on terrybnd's blog - Can Extreme Hikers Learn To Love Germany? - is a very nice read, and worth your time.

Also news-worthy this week is that both Phil and Martin joined Joe and me as Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors.

Andy Kirkpatrick tells the truth about breathable waterproofs.

Goof-off Tuesday started this week, and economies the world over collapsed within minutes of me publishing this disruptive article as people stopped working and thought about what they'd rather do, like Dave from Bedrock & Paradox and Tookie's A paddle and a walk.

Eric would like to know how to fix his puukko knife - can you help him?

The MYOG community will fancy a read of Michael Krabach's My Cheap Snow Camping Sled.

With all that festive stuff going on, we should remember those who aren't as fortunate as we. Beads of Courage is a recommended read and reminder to cherish what you have while thinking how you can help others. Same goes for James' Photo Voices article, which you also should check out.

Gear Talk:

Basti and his wife finally finished their MYOG Down Duo quilt. Looking for a project to do over the cold days? This could be it.

Jason does a Solid Fuel Burn Time Test, and pitches the likes of WetFire, Trioxane and Esbit against each other.

Phil went to the coast to shot some photos for the Mountain Hardwear Hooded Compressor PL Jacket and I am sure that the photos now also are used as the desktop background of female UL hikers the world around.

Mike shows us how to make a Bushcraft Winter Kitchen. Great stuff.

Joe talks about the Kupilka kuksa and alternative drinking strategies, lovely photos and great writing!

Mark shares his first impressions of his Laufbursche huckePACK with us.

Richard shows off the Berghaus Pro Trek Shell Jacket.

Maz showcases his First Aid kit and asks what you carry - go check it out, a good post!

Philip is selecting a bivy for winter, read his great article on this top if it is of importance to you.

Yours truly did a review of the Rab Demand Pull-On, an ultralight hardshell made from eVent.

Trip Reports:

Roman goes to Kimberly Australia, down the King Edward River and into the Bungle Bungles, hunted by snakes, crocs and bulls, sleeping with scorpions, flown over by fruit bats, yes, Epic stuff. Recommended read and see!

Dave enjoyes early winter.

Maria enjoys a winter day in Nuuksio.

Also Yeti reports more about winter!

Thomas and Glenn are going onwards, on snow. Winter is here =)

Mike Knipe met Martin Rye on Red Pike who met James Boulter on Mellbreak.

In case you missed it, Sam reminds us that winter is here and went Splitboarding and Backcountry Skiing.

Finally, forget Mini Bull Designs - this is the future of UL cooking (the video might not work everywhere due to copyrights!).