Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

First Look: Klättermusen Loke

Dear aficionado of all things made of down, please take a seat, strap yourself in, I'll bring you the ultimate temptation. Ready? Here we go, the Klättermusen Loke:

Weights 428 g in Size S, of which are 95 g 750+ white goose down. Fabric and lining from recycled polyamide with a PFOA free impregnation. Its super warm, packs into its inside pocket, and the tunnel pocket in the front is very useful. The elastic bands at the hems keep the warmth inside, the hood is comfy and keeps your head warm. I'm planning to combine it with the GoLite Ultra 20° to push the quilt into the minus degrees, and keep me warm at camp after walking. Initial review after I spent some days and nights on the trail with it.

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Gear Talk: Smartwool Microweight Zip T & Bottoms Initial Review

Smartwool scored high in my article about environmental performance, and the company also makes some very comfy, warm and good looking merino baselayer garments. I will introduce you today to two garments out of their Microweight Series: The M's Microweight Zip T and the M's Microweight Bottom.

Lets start with the top. If you're living on the Northern half of this planet, then its now slowly that time of the year where leaves turn yellow, red and brown and fall from the trees. That means for me its time to get the baselayer out of the closet. However, its not yet so cold as that a heavy layer is needed, and so the Smartwool Microlight Zip T is what I take. The Zip allows me a good possibility to ventilate, and if its one of those windy days or cold nights, then there's nothing better than zipping it up to the top and feeling toasty.

Great ventilation for on the go.

Zipped up for the break.

The Zip T weights 196 g in Size M and works great on its own. With my Rab Microlite Vest its very warm for the breaks and nights, and the merino wool keeps what it promises: After a weekend out I came home and asked my girlfriend to have a sniff, and lo and behold, she didn't find me smelly at all! The quality it top, and I very much like the colour, Willow is what the guys from Smartwool call it (I would say olive).

The bottoms are of the same high quality, and weigh 154 g (Size M) on my scale. They got a fly, which is pretty handy because so you don't need to pull your complete underwear down if you heed natures call, giving the last surviving mosquitos no chance to bite you in your bottoms. The fly is a tunnel system which works well. The waistband is perfect, it doesn't push but sits comfortably on my waist without falling down.

Warm, zipper, flat seams and light.

I've been wearing the Zip T and the bottoms already a lot in the past weeks, and they will see more action in the next months. I also will use them in everyday life, as they are so thin and light that they are perfect for under my jeans and shirt in the winter (we have about -15°C minimum at daytime in the winter where I life, and with the wind it often feels like -30°C = you need to wear long underwear). On the last few trips I have been wearing the longsleeve and the bottoms, and they performed admirably.

In Finland you can get Smartwool garments at Partioaitta and Partiovaruste. If you're a shop owner and would like to add Smartwool garments to your collection, you should contact Greendoor Oy.

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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!