Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Clikstand First Look & Video

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Since a while I have been using the Clikstand system to brew my hot chocolate when on a evening or day walk. It reminds me very much of the Trangia, but does away with the massive weight of the Swedish system. I have two of their combos, the Denali Titanium Combo and the Sierra Combo - the Denali being Titanium awesomeness and the Sierra being affordable stainless steel.

Before you read on, hit play and enjoy the video I made, in which I compare the two systems to each other:

The Denali Titanium Combo weights are as follows:

258 g Total
055 g Clikstand T-2
021 g Windscreen T-2
035 g Evernew Titanium Burner
118 g Evernew Titanium Ultralight 900 ml pot (Pot 82 g, Lid 37 g)
022 g Stuffsack

The Denali Titanium Combo packed.

The Denali is the top of the line set, everything made of high quality Titanium, and very high build quality. The whole set fits into the 900 ml pot. And the pot would be one item where I could see improvement - I'd like to see Evernew add a spout and holes into the lid, as they have in their pasta pots. Besides that, I believe this is as close to perfection as it is possible. Quality and perfection have their price, and the Denali Titanium Combo retails for $163,95.

Evernew Ti Burner in action.

Lets thus have a look at the Sierra Combo and its weights:

245 g Total
096 g Clikstand S-2
038 g Windscreen S-2
111 g Trangia Burner (Burner 67 g, Simmer Ring 24 g, Closing Cap 21 g)

The Sierra Combo sells without a pot, thus adding for example the above Evernew 900 ml pot would bring the weight up to 363 g. That is about one third of the Trangia 25-3 UL set (though it has two pots and a pan) which I see as the direct competitor of the Sierra Set. Anyway, the Sierra Combo is 134 g heavier as the Titanium version - the Trangia burner alone weights as much as the Ti Clikstand, Windscreen and Burner! However, at $51,95 it is also over one third cheaper than the Ti cousin.

Trangia burner in action.

I think both systems are great for the Lightweight and UL backpacker who are looking for a lighter kitchen setup. The advantages are that the parts can be bought separate, allowing the Trangia and Evernew Burner owners to just get the Clikstand and Windscreen of choice and keep on using the burner and pots they have. It is easier and more "normal" as some other UL cooking systems (beer cans ;), and a very stable system. Finally, the Trangia simmer ring allows you to actually cook and not only boil water.

The Evernew Burner is a lot faster than the Trangia, needing about 5 minutes to bring 500 ml of cold water to a boil, whereas the Trangia needs about 7 minutes. However, the Evernew burns only 7,5 minutes with 30 ml of alcohol, whereas the Trangia goes on for 10 minutes with the same amount of alcohol. As I said in the video, if you only want to boil water as fast as possible to pour it in our freezer bag, go for the Evernew - it is the speed machine. If you like to cook and simmer in camp, go for the Trangia, which has the added benefit that you can transport unused alcohol in thanks to the closing cap.

The Week in Review

It is July, summer is in full swing and there is a lot going on in the lightweight and UL community. The weather is perfect here in Finland, long, sunny and hot days - I hope to go out on a trip soon.

It is Sunday noon, so before you go and watch the above movie make yourself a cup of tea, some sandwiches and take some cookies along as you will not want to interrupt the one hour movie. It is about how to build a birch bark canoe, the old way. No spoken words mean you just can enjoy looking and taking in the sounds. Fantastic.

Talking trip reports, Gustav found the time to write his view on our Vålådalen trip, and he has some fantastic photos in his trip report and also is able to name all the streams and mountains!

Wondering what it feels like to walk on the Pacific Crest Trail? Check out Keith's thoughts on Gomez Meadow or why he feels guilty to be walking.

So what is the perspective of someone from the UK (or Scotland!) to go hiking in the Nordics? That is what Jörgen asked Chris Townsend, who walked the Scandinavian spine twenty years ago. Go have a read of this great article.

Caro & Tomie were preparing for the Fjällräven Classic with a walk on the Jurasteig, and their superb photos show that one doesn't always need to travel far to enjoy nice scenery.

James shows us the lush green hills and the blue sea around Beinn na Croise on the Isle of Mull and reminds us to eat fish and chips only there where you're save from seagulls!

Michelle shares with us her trip on the Dog Mountain Trail on Mount Seymour, and the photos look like they could come right out of Tolkien book - Magic!

Gear, one thing that sent ripples through the German UL community was LAUFBURSCHE's XUL packing list with a Full Skin Out - Base Weight of 2268g. What is really fantastic about this list is that the majority of items are MYOG and thus LAUFBURSCHE knows pretty well where the limits of this list are. Great, inspiring stuff!

Shed Dweller shares his thoughts on the gear he used on his recent (S)UL trip to the Lakes, so if you wonder if it is possible to go so light and still be safe and comfortable, please have a look.

Thomas shares his initial impressions on the Ti Caldera Keg-H with us, and for everyone who fancies cooking with a beer can and a woodfire this is required reading.

If you prefer titanium pots for cooking with a wood fire on the other hand, have a look at Joe's first look at the Bushcooker LT1 (and also at the accompanying Evernew Titanium Pasta Pot review!), which is something to consider if you want to go (S)UL.

Nibe, who walks in the Dutch mountains (!) shares his thoughts on his gear from his last trip, and it is interesting for all those who are lightening up and trying lightweight gear one step at the time.

Showing that 24h trips and lightweight/ UL gear are not exclusive to backpackers, we here see that Sub 24hour Overnighters with lightweight gear are also common in the cycling community.

And in case you haven't yet read my Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn review and video, please go and have a look if you're in the market for a tarp!

If you forget your pot on a trip in the future but don't want to go without your cup of tea or a hot meal, check out Nick's how to boil water in a birch bark container, learn the skills and in future you can go without your titanium pot hiking, saving another 100 g.

Japan has a very active UL scene, and some very worthy note-worthy Shops: Locus Gear, Moonlight Gear and the ulgear weekend store. While Locus Gear is a cottage manufacturer and a shop, the last two are dedicated UL shops. I really like the layout of Moonlight Gear, it is beautiful! ulgear weekend store on the other hand is a a shop and blog, and the owner always makes very interesting posts with lots of photos - often from cottage gear! So if you're located in Japan and need some new UL toys, support these shops!

The view into LAUFBURSCHE's workshop which Benjamin gave us already wetted the appetite of the up coming launch of the company. Bets are being made how many hours it will take that the company will be sold out of its initial stock after opening - if you want to take part, leave a comment here with your guess ;)

And by now you know that I love Japan. It was thus with gusto that I read Hamilton's latest article, Which asks "Do You Need Permission to Enjoy Nature?" and is a absolute fantastic piece, which showcases how different our (backpacking) cultures are. For everyone who is hiking in Japan or by the tiniest bit interested in the country a must read.

Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn Review + Video

In my effort to lighten my load, I decided to try out tarps. It took me a while to decide, after all we are so used nowadays to be inside that it seems very common to stay inside if it comes to shelters when backpacking. By the time I made the decision the temperatures were already under zero and the earth was covered in snow. Not being shy or scared of a challenge, I decided to try them out just then in winter, because I might as well collect these experiences right then and there - after all, tarping in summer is relatively easy.

Besides the aim of going lighter it was also the idea of being closer to nature and enjoying the views. Being in a tent, even a tarptent, puts you in a confined space away from nature and your surroundings. That can be a nice thing when the air is buzzing with insects or if a snowstorm is going down, but only very few folks will find themselves in the latter conditions outside and for the former there are also solutions when tarping available.

A palace for one.

So I got a Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn, which is including guylines 282 g. Lets put that into perspective with this list of shelters I own (I reckon I will get rid of some of them soon, no need for that much):

MSR Hubba HP: 1385 g (all included)
Tarptent Scarp 1 Mk I: 1347 g (all included)
Lightheart Gear Solo tent: 754 g (excluding pegs, poles & stuff sack)

It is thus fairly light, but to be honest one needs to add to the SpinnTwinn the pegs and the poles. Now, I am not a big user of trekking poles - I rather walk hands free - but for crossing streams and for pitching a tarp they are mighty useful. The poles I have for the SpinnTwinn are 80 g for front and rear pole, versus 200 g for a pair of Gossamer Gear LT4 trekking poles, the difference ain't too bad and the user of trekking poles will certainly use them. Add in your favourite set of pegs, which can be anywhere between 5 to 33 g for a peg, and you're looking at a trail weight of about 400 - 450 g for the SpinnTwinn, which is over two thirds less than the above two tents and half of the LightHeart Gear Solo tent.

I had some time on my hands during my spring trip to the north and made this little video of how I set it up on snow, have a look.

Watch it in HD - click the link and choose 720p from the drop down menu.

Its fairly easy to set up with the two poles, with the trekking poles I find it less straight forward because you'd need to find the right height for them - I don't carry a tape measure with me outdoors, so it is by trial and error that I find the correct height. Other than that I can nowadays pitch it in about three to five minutes until it is nearly perfect.

Mucho espacio!

Side view, pitched high.

So how do I like tarping? Short answer: I love it. It is absolutely fabulous, I sleep far better than in a tent, I enjoy that I can right away see and hear everything that is happening around me, the fresh air, minimal condensation, lots of space - there is plenty to like about tarping.

Sitting under the SpinnTwinn in my sleeping bag.

The SpinnTwinn is a fantastic shelter. Fantastic, because at 175 dollars it is very affordable and allows the beginner as well as the pro to gain a great shelter made of Spinnaker. Spinnaker is lighter than Silnylon and does away with the sagging that is so common of silnylon shelters. I also find it very resistant against abuse, it is not easily pierced through, and there's also not any problems with water spraying through it. My subjective feeling is that it sits right between cuben and silnylon and combines the best of both: affordability of silnylon, lightness, zero sagging, no water spraying and the abrasion resistance of cuben.

SpinnTwinn next to a MLD Cuben DuoMid and a MLD Silnylon Trailstar.

Same shelters, different view. Phil checking out the SpinnTwinn.

I know that some stay away from tarps because they life in areas with heaps of insects, especially the blood sucking kind. In those environments you're glad if you can stay in a shelter where you can keep your sanity and blood. Going lightweight doesn't mean that you can not stay away from the insects and need to go mad. The solution is a bivy or a bug net, the latter being a simple tent made of mesh, giving you that insect free zone. Another argument against tarps is that they can't stand adverse weather conditions.

My tyvek bivy protects my sleeping bag from eventual snow or rain which might be blown under the tarp, or insects in the summer.

Inside loops allow for the hanging of a line, or as in my case, an attachment point for my bivy.

I get that. In Finland, and much of the Nordic countries, we have plenty of forests which are great for keeping the wind at bay and thus allow one to often find a sheltered camping spot. The scenery is different in the north, though, where treeless fjells will allow the wind and elements to run free and you won't find any protection besides your shelter. That is where the majority of folks will take their "bombproof" shelters, because the wind and rain/ snow could make life hard. Not having camped under those conditions yet, I nevertheless believe that the SpinnTwinn would be just fine and offer sufficient protection from the elements - if pitched correctly. That would mean to pitch low and with one side into the wind, make sure your pegs are well dug in and don't come out, and you hopefully have a bivy to protect your down quilt from rain/ snow.

Morning view.

Evening view.

There will be those who might disagree, and because of my lack of experience of tarping in the fjells I can only speak hypothetically. And I would trust the SpinnTwinn (or any other tarp) to protect me also in more adverse conditions when out on the fjell. I will keep this opinion until I have gathered sufficient experience to proof this right or wrong, but for me UL backpacking has as much to do with skills as it has to do with the gear.

Back to the SpinnTwinn. As you can see from the photos, I have used the tarp during winter and spring, on snow and on earth, in rain & snow and in sunshine, with strong winds going and without even a breeze. Once I learned to pitch it correctly - that took pitching it once or twice - it is easy and fast to set up. While it is a two person tarp I haven't yet tried it with someone else, but I am very confident that two could be very comfortable under it, even in the rain. As you can see above, it offers sufficient head room in the front (I'm 175 cm tall, no idea how tall I am when sitting) and changing clothes or packing your rucksack is no problem.

I also like that it packs very small, and it fits perfectly in the front pocket of my LAUFBURSCHE huckePACK besides all the other stuff, where it can dry out when it is wet - that allows me to take it without stuff sack as well, saving a further 11 g!

As you can see, I like this tarp a lot. For the price you're hard pressed to find something lighter which has so much features. And as far as I know Gossamer Gear is one of the two companies which makes tarps out of Spinnaker (the other one being MLD which have usually an eight week waiting queue), and the benefits of the material I already discussed above. My conclusion is: If you're looking for a light tarp which is affordable, doesn't sag and offers a lot of space, look no further than the Gossamer Gear SpinnTwinn. It is your cheapest start into lightweight tarping (MYOG aside) and lets you find out in the best way if tarping is something for you. I really love it =)