Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Gear Talk: Tarptent Scarp 1 Initial Review

I hear you, dear reader: "Why does that bloody bloke not yet write an review about the Tarptent Scarp 1 - he has it nearly one and half weeks!?" Well, I simply didn't yet have time to sleep in it - "Excuses, excuses!" I hear you say. Yes yes, though this weekend, hopefully, I will be able to take it out for a night or two, and then in September for a bit more. But until then, read on about my initial views on the Scarp 1 from Tarptent! "About bloody time!"

TT Scarp 1

James wants one, Martin has one, Dave even would get one and Chris is testing one already since a long time. Yes, I am talking about the Scarp 1 from Henry Shires Tarptent. I got mine one and half weeks ago, and have had the chance to put it up already twice, to take some photos and convince myself of the fine craftsmanship that went into this tent.

Let me start with the reasons why I wanted this tent. I love the design: two entries, two vestibules, a large interior in which I can sit comfortably in, four season capable and storm worthy. Ah ja, there's also the low weight - mine is 1347g light, and that includes the stuff sacks, eight stakes and the pole. I also have the extra crossing poles which weigh in at 342g, and the Tyvek ground sheet which is 111g.

The crossing poles give me flexibility, which I really value. I could for example decide to just take the inner on a hot summer night, if I know its not going to rain but want protection from insects. In the autumn and spring, when there's no insects around, I can just take the fly and the ground sheet and have a tarp-like tent. And in the winter I take the crossing poles with me and should be able to take whatever the weather gods decide to throw at me.

Putting it up is easy, the first time I put it up I needed eight minutes, the second time six so I guess the next time I can get that down to four and then start to aim for the two minutes with which Tarptent advertises it. You need six stakes, though I carry eight with me and some extra guyline in case its extremely windy or that I lose one. The free-standing option with the crossing poles is great if you're in the hills and can't find a spot where to stake out the tent - very handy for the Fjells in Lapland.

Another reason for me getting the Scarp 1 was that I like to support the cottage industry if I can. My backpack was made in a garage in Utah, my stove in Canada and my tent was made in Seattle. I know where my money went, and I can contact the owner of the company directly if I have a question. That is something I value. Finally, the tent was cheap if I compare it to other tents with its capabilities. For a Hilleberg or a Terra Nova tent I easily would have paid double of what I paid now.

TT Scarp 1

Finally, if you're talking about the Scarp 1 you can't finish without mentioning Franco. I consider Franco an expert on tents, and he has the Scarp 1 already quite a while and was able to play around with it extensively. He has a variety of very useful articles published on the BPL.com forum, and here are his Scarp 1 articles in one spot - Enjoy!

Storing the Scarp 1
How strong is the Scarp 1?
MYOG Scarp 1 wind curtain
Scarp 1 for two people
Tarptent Kocheda - a Scarp 1 mod (Franco doesn't recommend this mod anymore because of possible friction of the crossing poles with the fly, but I included it for completion's sake)

A big "Thank You!" goes to Franco who gave me permission to link to his articles.

TT Scarp 1

I'm looking forward to take it out into the hills and forests and spend some time sleeping and living in it. Until then I hope you found my initial review useful, and if you got questions, comments or observations - leave a comment!

MYOG Meth Stove

My Sunday afternoon project today was a MYOG meth stove. I am very happy with my BushBuddy Ultra, though for those very rainy and wet days or when I would be too tired to go and find dry wood, a small top burner stove would just be what can have me sit down in my tent and boil a cup of water. I followed the Basic Top Burner stove instructions on Zenstoves.net but also had a look at The Other Face's (in German) stove.

Go get the following tools, I'll walk you through this! You need:

- two Redbull cans
- scissors
- this template from Zenstoves.net
- a sharp cutter knife
- some tape
- a hole punch
- a needle or similar

MYOG meth stove

Take one Redbull can, and start cutting the bottom out of the can. I found it most simple to mark out the the place to be cut a few times and then add more pressure for the cut. The material is very thin, and this method has worked well for me.

MYOG meth stove
Finished hole in the bottom.

Next I turned the can with the hole down, took a book of 2,5 cm height and marked the can where I want to cut it off.

MYOG meth stove
Marking the can.

MYOG meth stove
Cut bottom piece.

Next I set the just cut piece on the other can and widened it carefully. The more effort you invest now here, the easier its going to be later. I then took my trusty Bundeswehr knife and marked the holes, and then opened them with a needle. After that I went once more back with the knife and made the holes a bit bigger.

MYOG meth stove
Widening the top piece carefully.

MYOG meth stove
Making holes.

I put the finished top piece aside and took the bottomless can, made a cut straight down the can with the scissors and along the top to get the big piece of aluminum.

MYOG meth stove
Cut down...

MYOG meth stove
... and you end up with such a piece.

I cut a 2,5 cm strip of the aluminum and punched four half holes in the bottom, made two cuts and had the finished middle piece.

MYOG meth stove
Punching holes.

MYOG meth stove
Middle piece finished!

Next I took the other can, and cut the bottom of, again at 2,5 cm height. A book is a good guide for your cutter knife, as you saw already above, and makes the cutting substantially easier.

MYOG meth stove
Three finished pieces, time for assembly.

Before you start assembling, its a smart move to make a dry fit, and see how the ring fits in the top and bottom part.

MYOG meth stove
Almost done.

Set this inner ring in the bottom piece, and then carefully and precise fit the top piece with the holes over it. If you're not careful enough a piece might rip, and you need to redo it, so restrain from using force and try it gently. If you got the top piece over the bottom piece, gently slide it down and look that the inner ring goes where its supposed to be. Zenstoves.net even glues the whole thing and lets it dry over night, which I didn't find necessary.

MYOG meth stove

MYOG meth stove
It works.

MYOG meth stove
Its ultralight: 6g!

MYOG meth stove
It fits inside my BushBuddy Ultra together with my FireSteel and cotton balls!

I hope you found this little guide interesting and inspiring to try it yourself. Its an easy task and takes around 30 minutes, and doesn't need special tools. I know there are a few
(new) BushBuddy Ultra owners out there, so this could be an interesting project for them ;)

Gear Talk: Rab Microlite Vest

I got myself a Microlight Vest from Rab, and I had it with me on last weeks trip and was thankful for the warmth it gave me in the fresh morning. It also functioned very well as a pillow at night, the 130g of goose down make a very comfortable and kept my head warm at night. Multipurpose items are one of the ideas of UL backpacking, and this piece of equipment will keep you warm and makes a superb pillow, what else do you want?!

Rab Microvest

I really like the weight of this beautifully constructed piece of clothing, at 214g in my size S its ridiculously light, and the pack size, as seen in the next photo is what any UL backpacker will like. It packs easily into its own chest pocket, and the elasticized hand pockets are above the hipbelt of my ULA Ohm, allowing me to warm my hands in the pockets. The Pertex outer protects you from the wind, and the collar is useful if its windy as well, protecting your neck and keeping it warm without the need for a scarf or buff.

Rab Microlite Vest
Comparison to a 1l Nalgene.

Rab Microvest

The long-term test will be on my autumn trip, about which I will tell more soon. You can get one at Ultralight Outdoor Gear or check for a stockist near you.