Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Gear Talk: GoLite Ultra 20° Initial Review

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A few readers have been asking me about the GoLite Ultra 20° quilt and how I like it, and I told them I would like to sleep a few more nights under it before I write an initial review. I slept a few more nights under it, and am now ready to let you know my first impressions.

Ready for sleeping!

Lets start off with the important bits and pieces, which UL backpackers find interesting. My GoLite Ultra 20°, which is 175 cm long, weights 561 g including its packsack. Its filled with 270 g of 800-fill goose down, the turquoise outer is made of a very thin yet durable and down proof material, and in the grey foot and head area GoLite used Pertex Endurance, which is a waterproof material. The inside is very soft and feels comfortable on the skin - the outer as well.

The turquoise outer.

There were two bands which are supposed to go under the mattress, but I found this not practical and just took them off, and stuff the sides under my back when I go to sleep, that arrangement lets no warmth escape. Totally at the top there's a button, so you can close the collar around your neck and with the draw cord you can zip it tight - a smart system which functions very well for me. The quilt has a footbox, which means your feet are completely surrounded by down and will be toasty. Its a smart idea, because it adds a bit more insulation to the bottom, considering that the majority of UL backpackers sleep on a torso sized mattress. It also fixates the quilt. Finally, I got a bit extra space in the foot box, so I can dry stuff there or keep batteries and other equipment warm.

Button and draw cord = trapping all warmth inside.

Speaking of a mattress, I have been sleeping on a small NeoAir with my Ultra 20° and found it a very fine combo. The NeoAir did reach it limits on colder nights, though, so I'll combine it with a Z Lite for the next nights. The solution I used without the Z Lite with me was to put my Rab Momentum Jacket with the outside down under me. That worked excellently, and kept me also from underneath very warm. Multipurpose all the way!

Lets talk about pack size. The Ultra 20° packs very small, as you can see from the photo. That's for me a huge plus, because I do not like a big pack size (I'm looking at you, dear winter sleeping bag of colossal proportions). The packsack itself is waterproof to some extent, it leaks in at the seam so if you don't use a packliner or similar I recommend using a waterproof packsack for it. Forgot to weigh the packsack and am currently not at home, so let me guesstimate its weight at ~10 g.

Small, isn't it?

The Ultra 20° is supposed to keep one warm till about -7°C (or 20° Fahrenheit). I haven't yet experienced that low temperatures, given that it is September and we have night temperatures of about 5°C. Until those temperatures I was toasty warm, and could have done without the merino base layer I was wearing. I'm going to sleep under it tonight, and temps might drop to around 0°C (I'm a bit further up north and at the coast for the next few days), so I'll see how it goes and let you know tomorrow.

The bed is made for tonight!

So, what do I think? I had a few nights with quite a bit of condensation in the Scarp 1, and in the morning the areas with Pertex Endurance where nice and dry, but the turquoise material was wet and the down under it sticked to the outer material. Nothing that a while in the sun can't fix, though I think a complete shell outer of Pertex Endurance would be nice - this might make it more heavier, though. That's the only thing I can think of which could be improved. I'm really satisfied with the quilt so far, it doesn't lose down, it has plenty of space for movement, its warm and very practical in regards to weight and pack size. For people who are considering the switch from sleeping bag to quilt, the Ultra 20° is the perfect quilt as it is both high quality and affordable - 180€ including shipping from Ultralight Outdoor Gear is a very good price, much cheaper then other high quality UL quilts. I'm actually already thinking how I can make the Ultra 20° useable in deep Winter, because I like it so much!

Gear Talk: Nahanny Down Vest

"Another Vest?" you ask? Yes! This time from a small manufacturer from Romania, Nahanny, who is more known in mountaineering circles for producing top class equipment which will keep you warm, dry and safe under the direst of conditions. I got a Down Vest from them, which is mightily warm and comfortable. It has two draw cords at the bottom, which will hinder the cold from creeping up. Two hand pockets, which are easy to open with one hand, and a double inside pocket to keep those batteries for the camera warm offer plenty of storage area.

What else does it offer? Well, how about 270 g of down? Yes, that's a lot of down, and it will keep me warm till -10°C easily. Some fear that they can't keep their down dry from rain. That's less of a problem with the Nahanny Down Vest, as it has a 7000 mm water resistant outer, which should keep the warm down dry. The reinforced shoulders allow me to wear the vest also with a backpack on, and the protective flap at the top keeps the zipper from coming into my beard =) The reflective line at the top is nice for when I'm walking on roads in the mornings or evening, as it improves safety.

What I really like about the vest is the colour - black (the one on their website in orange certainly would be something for
PTC*)! The guys at Nahanny are quite flexible when it comes to special wishes, and as I am writing about lightweight gear they went out of their way to make the vest as light as possible - it clocked in at 480 g on my scale, which I find an excellent warmth to weight ratio. After all, autumn is in full swing and its just a matter of time that the first frost will arrive, and winter will be quick on its heels. Then I'll be happy to don my Down Vest in the evenings at the fireside, or just for a walk to the supermarket to fetch some groceries. The Down Vest is priced at a very reasonable 80€, considering its hand made and every piece is unique a cheap price. To get one, you should visit the Nahanny webshop. Make sure to let them know your preferred colour!

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Gear Talk: Trail Designs Ti-Tri + Inferno Stove Initial Review

Beginning of the week the postman rang the doorbell - he had a package which didn't fit through the post box. A sticker on the side said Trail Designs. Wow, that went fast, I thought! I opened the package to find the Ti-Tri and Inferno stove in it, together with the Caddy, two Titanium stakes, the Gram Cracker and a few Esbit tablets, the 12-10 Alcohol Stove, and a little bottle + measurement cup. I immediately started playing around with it, figuring out how it should be put together and reading the instruction leaflets.

However, I can't make a fire in the house - I would need to hack up the parquet flooring which I'm sure my rent lord wouldn't approve of. So I went on a mightly long trek of 500 m to the nearby lake, collected wood on the way, cleared a space and started my experiment. And because I wanted to try something new, I decided to make a video of it.

Because new gear always is put up on the weight scale (much to the amusement of my girl friend), here are some cold, hard numbers for the Mathematicians out there. UL backpackers also seem obsessed with numbers, so they might as well enjoy them ;)

Caldera Cone 51 g
Gramm Cracker + underplate 6 g
12 - 10 Alcohol Stove 16 g
Inferno stove 65 g
Caddy 75 g
Fireplate 24 g
Titanium Stakes 17 g
Alcohol bottle (full) 146 g
Esbit Tablets 43 g

Makes for a Grand total of 443 g. That allows you to cook with either esbit, alcohol or wood. However, I reckon no one would carry a double back-up around, so taking only the Gram Cracker and esbit tablets as back-up with the Ti-Tri, Inferno, stakes, fireplate and caddy you would have 281 g for your stove and back-up. And while I throw around numbers, I should say this: I have a TT 1100 pot, and the Ti-Tri and Inferno are made to fit that one. If you got a smaller pot, say a 750 ml pot, the Ti-Tri and Inferno will weigh less. Then there is the Caddy, a might 75 g, though it protects its contents well and can be used as two cups. As the Titanium edges are a bit sharp, I am hesitant to put the cones like that in the backpack, too big the probability that the backpack or something else takes damage. So for the moment it comes along.

What else is there to say? Don't make the mistake and put the Inferno cone down the right way. It belongs upside down (wide end up), which makes feeding it a lot easier and it burns hotter. The fireplate has holes in it, so you can stake it to the ground. I used two nails for that, as I don't have titanium stakes. It gets easier to use with every time, and also folding and getting it out of the caddy is easier with every use. The Inferno is hungry, and uses quite some wood. But damn, it is fast! 7,5 minutes is a record time for boiling a liter of water for me, my BushBuddy Ultra takes longer. Finally, the Inferno isn't yet on the Trail designs website. If you want one, you need to contact them and they will hook you up. Contact is fast and friendly, excellent customer service to be precise.

Well, so much for my Initial review. When Joe is here in two weeks, the two of us will be able to make some comparisons of BushBuddy Ultra versus Ti-Tri + Inferno, and the Ti-Tri + Inferno will get its first trail test.

/edit: Roger from nielsenbrownoutdoors.com wrote an excellent comparison article of the Ti-Tri versus BushBuddy. If you're on the fence about either of these stoves, head over and have a read, it should help you decide =)

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