Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

UL Beginners Guide: Kitchen & Miscellaneous

The third installment of my UL Beginners Guide, and we will be talking about the kitchen and miscellaneous other items. The kitchen is an essential piece of equipment, and saving a pound or two is not so difficult. And also in the miscellaneous items department - from a knife over hygiene to 1st Aid and fixing - there are ways to cut weight easily, without giving up safety and comfort.

I am a
BushBuddy Ultra user. There is one new wood burning stove in development which caught my interest, with the fitting name of "Inferno" which I might be getting in the future, but for the moment the BBU and my little back-up MYOG top burner stove are all I take out into the wild. However, before starting with MYOG projects and getting a BBU, I had a Trangia as probably 90% of the backpacking population in Scandinavia. The Trangia + the full fuel bottle were about 2000 g, so here's a easy way to get rid of at least a kilogram.

The Trangia burner is good, but you need a pot holder for it which will add additional weight. There are enough MYOG guides out in the internet, so use your Google skills to find them if you need one. I instead would build a new side burner stove out of a Pepsi can, instructions can be found on
Zenstoves.net. It should weigh in at about 15 g max, and you don't need a pot holder. You can use on of the Trangia pots with your new stove, or get a lighter pot, preferably out of Titanium. The fuel bottle I would replace with a 100 ml or 200 ml bottle, these can be found in your outdoor store of choice or ordered online. Much lighter, and in case you're not out for two weeks in a row the smaller bottles should hold sufficient fuel for a day or two. Now you might want to have a lid for your Trangia pot, and some household aluminum foil is a cheap and easy solution for that. In case you're not using a Spork yet, now is a good time to get one - the LMF Spork is with 10 g one of the lightest ones available; and they cost only 2€ so you don't even need to rob a bank to afford one!

So, that should have brought down your kitchen to a very reasonable weight of not more than 400 g max excluding fuel. In case you're wondering where's the plate, cup, knife, mixer and whatnot in that list, let me enlighten you. You eat from the pot, as that also safes you doing more dishes. If you want to drink something warm, you drink from the pot. You use your knife for cutting, and your Spork for stirring and mixing. No need to carry specialized items with you. Salt and Pepper as well as sugar can go into a small Ziplock bag, if you need any of it.

Drinking is important, and you should drink plenty if walking - two to three liters minimum. I have a Nalgene 1l bottle, a sturdy piece of gear, but I didn't like that it was rather heavy and always takes away a lot of space, even when empty. So I invested into two 1l Platypus collapsable bottles, light as a feather at 23 g and they store away very nicely when empty. They fit perfectly into the side pockets of my ULA Ohm, and I can take them out and put them back while walking.

Another essential part of your equipment is going to be hygiene: toilet paper, tooth paste and brush, tooth silk, shampoo and shower gel. A photo says it often in simpler terms than words:

On the right my previous washing bag, on the left the UL approach, trimmed down to what I really need if I go out for a few days. I re-used some plastic Minttu liquor bottles for shampoo and shower gel, and have a very nice travel tooth brush box, where the tooth paste and a tooth pick are integrated. I can refill the tooth paste, and the tooth brush is protected from eventual dirt. Some tooth silk, which you also can use to fix something rounds out the hygiene bag. Toilet paper in an extra Ziplock bag, and the two together are under 200 g.

Finally, First Aid. Again a photo to illustrate my current 1st Aid kit:

In there is some spare guyline, some cord, medicines, band-aid and bandage, safety pins, some wet towels and an emergency whistle. Its all I need and I feel confident and safe with this in case something should happen. You might need a different kit depending on the season and where you're walking, so think what you need and be safe.

When it gets dark, you will need a light to see. I carry a Petzl Tikka Plus, not UL at 77 g but it does the job very fine. I would replace it with a Petzl eLite, which weights 23 g and also has a red LED, which is very useful if you're walking in the dark as your night vision doesn't get distorted. The 2009 version also has a whistle, so it will allow me to leave the other whistle at home.

Finally, a knife.
Dave reviewed just last week a Opinel knife, which weights 30 g and costs less than 10€, so in case you're carrying around a Leatherman Multitool or a Rambo knife, head over to Dave and see what he found out. I myself carry a German Army knife which weights 86 g. Besides the blade it has a saw which I find useful in case I can't break some wood for my BushBuddy, a piercing tool of sorts (I'm no knife expert =) and a bottle opener. The latter I rarely use outdoors hiking, but all the other tools come in handy regularly.

That's it for today. Tomorrow or the day after I will wrap up this little series, and post a complete packlist of mine for a long weekend trip to give you an idea of what I have with me on a usual trip out. I'm looking forward to your comments!

UL Beginners Guide: Interlude

There have been fantastic comments on both UL Beginners Guide articles (1 & 2) so far, for which I would like to thank all my readers - you're great and keep me writing better and better with every comment!

A point which slipped my mind, which I wanted to mention already in the first article, is that if you decide to go UL try to buy 2nd hand. Its not only cheaper but also better environmentally, as less stuff is thrown away and hence less garbage is produced. I bought for example my Scarp 1 used, and it was over 100€ cheaper as if I would have bought it directly from Tarptent. Also my NeoAir was bought 2nd hand, and saved me over 40€. Both items are in perfect condition, like new to be exact.

The best spot for buying UL 2nd hand gear is backpackinglight.com 's Gear Swap Forum, where you find almost everything you might need - be quick though, good offers are usually fast gone! Signing up at BPL.com is for free for a normal account, so no worries. Also check your national selling & buying forums, and see what you can find. and if you can't find it, post a "WTB" (Want To Buy) thread where you say what you want!

Finally, because I will be off till Monday, have a look at Brad Groves' Ultralight Economies of Scale: Budgeting for Your Pack & Wallet article, its for free (no Membership needed). He writes beautifully about how he started with UL backpacking and how he thought about the purchases he needed to make to lighten his load, balancing money vs. lost weight.

Have a nice weekend!

UL Beginners Guide: Clothing & Footwear

After having covered the big three yesterday, lets look today at clothing, another possibility to safe kilograms on your skin and in your backpack. The first principle in an UL approach to clothing is to take less. Yes, a very easy step to take - carry less clothing around with you. On my trip last autumn I carried everything at least in double quantities with me - "In case something goes broken or it rains" was the idea. Of course nothing went broken, it rained but you can dry clothes on the trail, so no need to have five shirts and two hiking pants + a rain pants with you - one of each is fine.

Clothing and footwear are a very individual area, as everybody is different. Some like natural fabrics, others swear on synthetics, some have long legs and others have small torsos - every body and person is different. Obviously you need different clothes in winter than in the summer, so be safe in your choices - better too warm than too cold! I'll give some ideas on clothes which work for me and what I would like to try. Too keep the prices in reasonable boundaries is the idea here again.

I still am wearing my Fjällräven Greenland Trousers when I go hiking - leftover from my non-UL times. They are not especially UL at 537 g, there are lighter pants out there, but I walk in forests and fjells and this pant is made for this area. The Greenland pants is completely wind resistant and holds water off fairly long, and if it doesn't it dries quickly. No mosquito is able to penetrate the G1000 material, and the many pockets are very handy. I'm not planning to replace this pant, as I am very comfortable in it. If I would replace them, I would try the Rab Alpine Trek Pants. My reasoning is that they're light (320 g in a Size S), quick drying, is reinforced in the important places and is cheap at 45£ (51€). The Montane Terra Lite Pants is another candidate I could try. Finally, for the MYOG Faction I would like to put your attention towards the Koruoma Pant from Shelby. A very nice pant, which you can customize to your liking, and Shelby sells all the fabrics and materials needed to very good prices. This is going to be MYOG project of mine in the future, so stay tuned!

I'm usually wearing a longsleeve or T-Shirt made of a synthetic material, as it wicks sweat quickly away from the body and dries quickly. Living in Scandinavia I like Scandinavian manufacturers, and in this case that is Haglöfs. I wear Haglöfs since I moved to Finland in 2002, and it never has let me down. My Dryskin shirt weights 130 g and I feel very comfortable in it, and it looks casual enough to walk into a store or Café after a day on the trail and not stand out. However, in the last year or two Outdoor manufacturers have found a new material for shirts, and that is Bamboo. I have a few Bamboo button down shirts which are superb, they never smell even if walking for hours on end in the sun. Trekmates make a Bamboo Long Sleeved T-Shirt and a Short Sleeved T-Shirt which I really would like to try, because besides the good properties Bamboo is an environmentally friendly material. Those Trekmate shirts cost 16£ (18€) for the short sleeved one, and 20£ (23€) for the long sleeved one.

A fleece jacket is, I believe, the most common garment you will find in any backpackers closet. Mine is from Haglöfs and weights 403 g. I haven't really used it lately, because I got a Rab Microlite Vest which is nearly half the weight (214 g) and packs very small, plus its a lot more comfortable as a pillow than the fleece jacket. I wear it in the evenings in camp, as I am warm enough while walking (in the summer). For the autumn and winter I am looking at something with sleeves for walking on the trail and in camp, and the Klättermusen Liv looks like a very promising candidate. 290 g light, of which are 90 g goose down, its recyclable, and packs very small. Another great Scandinavian outdoor manufacturer, who knows what we need up here.

I know a lot of folks like to wear Smocks. The most common one seems to be the Montane Featherlite Smock, light at just over 100 g and not overly expensive at 40£ (45€). The Norrøna bitihorn aero100 Jacket undercuts that by 20 g, but costs a whopping 120€. However, the jacket is made completely from recycled materials, so if you're an environmentally conscious shopper this is a very good alternative - and hey, its 20 g lighter than the Featherlite!

That leaves us with long underwear. A lot of folks seem to use Icebreaker, however, I again trust our Nordic manufacturers. Smartwool, Woolpower and Devold are the companies I let close to my skin. Merino wool is the way to go for me, I like the feel and its properties: warm with low weight, wicking moisture quickly away and not smelly.

Finally, rain gear. A real necessity in Scandinavia (and Scotland, so I hear =), you need reasonable rain gear. There is a new kid on the block, and that kid's name is eVent. This very breathable fabric is highly waterproof and makes it at the moment the best material for rain gear on the market. My choice thus is a lightweight eVent jacket like the Rab Momentum, (340 g) together with a lightweight eVent pants like the Rab Drillium Pants (275 g). A Scandinavian alternative would be the Lundhags Atlas Jacket (290 g) and Atlas pants (315 g), which are made of a similar material as eVent - both have a 10 000 mm water column and a 8000 G/m2/24h Vapour permeability.

I look down from top to bottom, and see trailrunners at my feet. Yes, jogging shoes some call them. I walk faster and just as confident as the folks in their Meindl boots, if not even more. Inov-8 and Montrail are the shoes you'll find on most UL backpackers feet, or Adidas like on my feet. Less weight on your feet = more energy, faster and longer walking, more exercising of your ankles, feet and legs, and less prone to injuries.

Alright, now I gave you a list of a ton of clothing, you're confused and need clarification, I get it - I'm confused myself by now. So, in a easy list, here is what I will wear and take with me on a trip in the autumn:

- Fjällräven Greenland Pants, 537 g
- Berghaus longsleeve, 169 g
- Bamboo boxers, 54 g
- Socks, 60 g
- Adidas Supernova Trailrunners, 745 g

In the backpack:
- Smartwool Lightweigh longsleeve, 209 g -> I put this own as soon as I arrive at camp after I washed myself. I'll wear it to bed as well.
- Smartwool Lightweight bottoms, 193 g -> if going to sleep, I will wear these long johns. Warm and comfy.
- Rab Microlite Vest, 214 g -> Put it over the longsleeve at camp to insulate.
- Socks, 68 g -> fresh, warm woolen socks, I put them on once I arrive at camp after I washed my feet.

Easily accessible on the trail:
- Rab Momentum rain jacket, 340 g -> if it rains or if I get cold at camp as extra insulation.
- Rab Drillium Pants, 275 g -> if it rains, I might switch these for the Greenland pants.
- Klättermusen Liv, 290 g -> if I get cold or its windy. Could leave the vest at home and just use this. Some take a smock instead.

Equipped like that you should be warm and protected. If something starts to smell, wash it, let it dry over night and wear it again the next day - no need to have three shirts with you, you will only wear one, believe me! Some new, light clothes and shoes will slash weight from your back and body, and make your outdoor experience more enjoyable.

Next week I will look at the kitchen and other little necessities on carries on the trail in the next installment of my UL Beginners Guide. Enjoy the autumn - its finally here!