Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Book Corner: Snow Walker's Companion by Alexandra & Garrett Conover

If there is one book that stood out in the last weeks, it is this one. It came as a recommendation from Don Kevilus, though because I didn't write the name down right away I didn't remember it when I went to look for it. Good that Nick from Skills for Wild Lives mentioned it in an article, so I found it again and have been thoroughly enjoying it.

The Conovers remind me a bit of the Jardines, though I find them (Conovers) much more likable. The book is excellently written and captures the reader's interest, so that it is difficult to put it down. Good photographs, excellent drawings and even patterns for making your own gloves, anorak, tent and moccasins are included - a tomb of knowledge! I wish I would have read this at the start of the winter, and not at the end.

I took a lot more than ten things away from this book, but here are those that stood out:

1. Reading ice on rivers and lakes
2. Good winter foods
3. An axe is a useful tool
4. About traditional snowshoes & footwear
5. Winter clothing
6. The three Ts: Toboggans, tents & trail stoves add comfort and security to a winter trip
7. Navigation in winter
8. Leadership of groups (applies also to my professional life)
9. Appreciate your surroundings while being at inner peace with yourself
10. Develop skills to feel at home in the wilderness

It is an outstanding book, and I am going back to it all the time to look up a thought or idea. While you won't hear Garrett and Alexandra talk about Ultralight gear - they value traditional materials and craftsmanship, based on by native Americans - they have lightweight principles in every aspect of their gear. Very fascinating is also their two month journey across Labrador in the depth of winter, and which beauty and also hardships they encountered. I was so fascinated by the book that I ordered the "Making The Attikamek Snowshoe" book and am planning to try to build it during the summer, and also will try to build my own toboggan. If this sounds like a departure from UL for you, so rest assured, that is not going to happen - it is more to broaden my horizon and learn more. The idea of stove-heated tent in winter is very appealing to me, and with companies like Four Dog Stove and Titanium Goat producing UL alternatives for stoves and tents, I am certain this is possible and can enhance the winter hiking experience.

If you plan to get your winter camping skills up to par, I highly recommend this book. Its promise of letting you know of "How to sleep warm, travel safe and enjoy the white season" is not marketing BS, the Conovers impart their years of experience, and the skills from the natives with whom they have talked, with the reader, in an excellent book.

To buy your own copy, click the photo:

Disclosure: I have an Amazon Affiliate account and would earn a few cent if you buy the book via the link.

Gone Hiking & Fly-Fishing

Yes, Phil and Steven will arrive in about two hours in Finland, and in three more hours we will take the bus to our starting point. I will take them off to explore the Finnish forest and lake scenery while camping and fly fishing with our tenkara gear, hopefully we'll be able to report about a catch or two at the end of the trip!

Phil is technically very skilled and set up this site where you can follow us: Click! So if you're curious to see where we'll be walking, check that link =)

Wild camp on a ridge near Ruka last week.

First Look: Monatauk Gnat Video + Passaround

Yesterday I received a rather big package and I was wondering what could be inside it. I opened it, and after going through some styrofoam chips and blister film, I found the Monatauk Gnat, currently the world lightest gas stove. And that is also my first, and only complaint: the excessive packaging for postage. The Gnat comes in its own very sturdy plastic case, so a normal, small package without styrofoam and blister film should be more then enough protection, and also makes shipping a lot cheaper - not to mention the benefits for the environment of less plastic going in the dumpster.

The world lightest stove - Monatauk Gnat.

Besides that it is a very nice piece of gear. 48 g on my scale, made of titanium & a pretty orange aluminum foot (tomorrow is the Dutch "Koninginnedag" ;). 11.000 BTU which is about 3.300 W according to Q who has the Gnat already a bit longer than me. I had three tests with the Gnat, and boiling times were for 1l of cold water between 5 and 8 minutes. The faster boiling times were achieved with a full cartridge, the slower ones with a nearly empty one, and outside temperatures were between 7°C and -1°C this morning. I had the Lumix GF1 with me to make a HD video, thus enjoy:

To watch in HD, click here and choose 720 p / HD.

I'd like to pass the Gnat around to five different readers and have them test it. If you're a total newbie to gas stoves or a seasoned veteran, anyone can apply for a test of the Gnat. So how does this work? I send the Gnat to the first reader, and he gets to play around with it for two weeks. You need to have access to gas cartridges (I can't send those) and a fitting pot (something like a SnowPeak 600 cup or bigger) and you need to be willing to pay the postage to send it to the next person, but besides that it is completely free to you and allows you to test the stove without shelling out the money first. After your two weeks of playing you send the stove forward to the next in line, and drop me a short email about what you thought of the set, which will be published here on the blog. In that way we can collect different viewpoints on the Monatauk Gnat, see how it performs in different environments, and get a nice review together.

You want to take part in the Passaround? Great! What you need to do is leave a comment underneath (preferrably not anonymous), and next week Tuesday (4th of May) around noon I will randomly pick the five people who get to test the Gnat. Because the Gnat is so light and tiny, this passaround will be open to the whole world - from Japan & Australia over the USA, Mexico & Argentina to Spain & Sweden (and everyone in between!). Before you hit the comment button, I'd like to remember you - you should be able to get a gas cartridge for the test in your town, have a suitable pot, you need to be willing to pay the shipping costs to the next person, and you're fine with sending me a short statement of your opinion with a photo or two. If that sounds like a good deal to you, please comment!