Locus Gear Khufu DCF-B in Red

A few weeks back I received my Locus Gear Khufu DCF-B in the magical color of red. Looking at their site right after I ordered it a few months ago, the red version was removed. I don’t know if they’ll put the red one back out on the market.

Due to the cold winter and all the snow that we got I haven’t gotten about to pitch it outside and take some pictures of it but the weather changed about a week ago so here we go.

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Aside from how it is delivered out of the box I asked for one modification. The same thing that comes standard with many other tens, a clip that secures the door at the bottom. This clip will relieves stress on the zipper while closing it up and in high winds. This wasn’t something that I paid extra for.

This particular tent with the extra guy lines weighs in at 369 grams rather than the 320 that it’s states on their page. Not an issue for me but might still be good to know that there’s some difference.

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The craftsmanship is very good and all the details looks great. One big difference from my Ultamid that I had before is that the ventilation brim up top is much stiffer and opens up way more. This will help with removing any condensation if I for example have to pitch the tent very close to the ground in high winds.

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Want more information?

This tent has already been showcased and given first impressions on here at LighterPacks but in an older model and another color back in January 2017. You’ll find that post here.

Maps & map cases – Do you need them?

With the technology available to us like smartphones, the good old GPS, smartwatches etc you don’t really need a map, do you?

Someone once said two is one, one is none. I think this very much could be the case if you for example only rely on your phone as your map. On a short hike it’s probably not going to be a problem, but if you’re going out over a weekend or a longer period of time then you most likely need something as a backup.

The good old map still works when your battery died or you dropped your phone and smashed the screen on a rock…

Map cases comes in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on what your intended use is. If you buy a map it usually comes in a plastic sleeve, it’s not waterproof in anyway but it’s better than nothing. Especially when you just shove in down in a pocket or on the side of your pack.

Sometimes it’s just more convenient to print out a A3 or A4 size map and laminate it. This is something I’ve done on numerous occasions over the years. The downside to this is that it adds bulk and it’s not too easy to fold over and put in your pocket. It’ll want to open up and expand to full size as there’s no give in the laminate.

If you’re like me, I believe in what the map manufacturers say when it’s written on the package that the map itself is waterproof. They’re usually made out of Pretex, Tyvek or similar material. They sure are waterproof but what they can’t handle is being shoved down a pocket, folded over and then repeated multiple times. They’ll tear and break up.

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8 days of use without a map case

Map cases

I decided not too long ago to get a map case for myself. Specifically for the maps I print. I wanted to be able to carry several map sheets of A4- and folded A3 maps. The map case should also be fairly lightweight and be able to roll up for easy storage.

I started asking around and many recommended the Ortlieb Document Bag. This one wasn’t available to me as I wanted to buy it locally. The ones I found were from Sea to Summit and Silva.

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After going to the store and trying them out with an actual map that I’ll be using on the TGO Challenge, I bought the Sea to Summit Guide TPU Map Case in size medium. At first I started looking at the size small but it was a very tight fit with A4 size maps. The medium however has some extra space that could accommodate several sheets of paper stacked on top of each other and also have the maps vertically and horizontally* inside the map case.

Getting the maps inside the case is really easy. The closure opens up really wide, this was not as good with the Silva Map Case. The see-through plastic was way stiffer on the Silva and it was quite difficult to get the map sheets inside. My maps are also printed in a thicker paper than your standard printer paper, so I guess with the standard paper it would be even harder to get it inside the Silva map case.

The closure is quite hard to open and close but then that’s a good thing because it’ll make sure that the map case is both water- and dustproof.

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A4 size map inside the map case.

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*To run a A4 size map horizontally inside the map case you need to remove about 2cm worth of material.

The Sea to Summit map case also comes with velcro on the back so that you can fold the case in half and doesn’t flap around when carrying it. This is not making it harder to roll it up, quite the opposite actually.

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The medium size map case weighs in at 72 grams. 78 grams if you’re using the included neck strap.

So do you need a map case?

I’d say yes, especially if you’re going to reuse your maps.

Without a map case your maps will be taking a beating and will start to fall apart quite fast. The good thing with a map case is that you can have it for a long time, if you get a high quality one, and you don’t have to laminate a bunch of papers.

Laminating maps will probably have a higher total cost over time when you include material and laminator machine.

Tips and tricks for your smartphone
To save battery when you use your phone as a GPS and a backup map, do the following:

  • Run your phone in flight mode, that way no other signals than satellite for the GPS comes through.
  • Close down all the apps that you don’t need apart from the map-app.
  • Put your phone in battery save mode. This will remove most and all of your phones fancy animations and thus minimizing CPU usage.
  • Download offline maps
  • If you have a newer iPhone remove the option to ‘Raise to wake’. Then your screen won’t light up when you lift up your phone. You find this option under Settings – Display and brightness.
  • Carry a power bank

This way your phone will probably last for 5-6 days depending on temperatures and how often you actually use the map-app.

Apps

I can recommend Viewranger if you’re looking for a cheap alternative to a GPS unit.
If you’re in the UK then OS Maps is a great alternative. If you buy their paper maps you also get the option to use it digitally within the app.

Toaks 650 ultralight cook kit setup

 

This is my Toaks 650 cook kit setup. I made the pot stand myself so that it would fit inside of the mug. Toaks do sell one too but total cost with shipping to Sweden is too high and this thing is basically the same.

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The setup

  • Toaks 650 pot
  • Trail Designs 12-10 alcohol stove
  • Trail Designs Measuring cup
  • DIY pot stand
  • Fire steel
  • Bic lighter (rarely use it)
  • Sponge for cleaning
  • DIY Pot cozy
  • Titanium windscreen
  • Bamboo spoon (missing in the video)

The weight of this kit is ca 220g and packs down small. The windscreen and the spoon doesn’t fit inside of the mug like the rest of the kit but that’s not a problem for me.

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This is what it looks like all setup


Why the fire steel?

The reason I carry a fire steel and not only a lighter is because a couple of years a go my Bic lighter died on me. It was the second day into my 7 day trip and some pretty nasty weather decided to show up in the morning. I had my lighter inside the backpacks hip pocket which is mostly waterproof apart from the zipper. Water came in and soaked the lighter and it wouldn’t start up again for the whole week. Luckily I’d packed my fire steel, actually almost forgot it at home, and from this day I don’t go out on a trip without it.

However I don’t just leave the lighter at home because it’s quite hard to light for example a candle with fire steel…

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First impressions – KS Ultralight KS50 backpack

Almost four years. That’s how long I’ve been using the Zpacks Arc Blast for my hiking adventures. The Arc Blast is very sturdy, lightweight and has got an external frame to give you the opportunity to carry heavier loads, up to 16kg.

For the past couple of years I’ve not really been using or rather needing that extra weight range. Pack weight has gone down. Not really by changing out many of my items but more because of learning what works for me; leaving things at home and picking better food to match the kind of activities I’ve been doing.

I’ve also had some issues with the Arc Blast that the frame comes undone. This was something I had seen and heard prior to buying it. He who showed it to me was also frustrated about this with his pack. When this happens you’re not using the frame at all and it carries somewhat like a frameless backpack.

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Not looking too happy with the Arc Blast at the moment.

Therefore with these things in mind I started looking at a replacement. Or truth be told not really a replacement but a adaptation of my backpack to what I want in my pack. Still very happy with my Arc Blast.

Enter, KS Ultralight KS50 backpack!

What I wanted in a new pack was the basic features of the Arc Blast. Waterproof outer shell and big mesh pocket on the bag. These things are not too hard to find on your average lightweight backpack nowadays.

I’ve seen KS Ultralight backpacks in the flesh before as Jon got himself a KS Ultralight Gear Imo Pack a few years ago. I knew that these packs would be just as well made as Zpacks or even better so the choice to pick one up was a little easier. It doesn’t hurt either that the owner Laurent, is a really nice guy.

Customizations is a very big thing with KS Ultralight packs. Back in the day, Zpacks would make you custom fits too but not anymore as they’ve grown. Customization or rather, a lot of options, are available to you when picking your KS backpack. Everything from what type of fabric, colors (yes that’s plural) and additional bells and whistles. It’s all there for the picking. If you’re missing something in particular, just drop an e-mail and it’s probably doable.

All of this is still within reasonable money! It’s still cheaper or around the same money as your average off-the-shelf backpack.

So what is my setup?

I went with a KS50 backpack. As the name suggests it holds 50 liters. There’s also a KS40 if you want to go even smaller.

There’s no Dyneema Cuben Fiber option but there’s VX-21 fabric that I was told would be the equivalent of DCF. VX-21 feels very durable and is softer than DCF and thus I guess it’s not as likely to break if folded and pinched. Keep in mind this is not something that I’ve had happen with any of my DCF items but it’s something I’ve read about that can happen with prolonged use, read multiple thru hikes.

VX-21 comes in a variety of colors and can be mixed as you see fit to get your own one-of-a-kind backpack design. I went with coyote brown for the main body and red side pockets.

Hip- and shoulder pouches is something that I wanted. Two of each but I think I’ll only be using one of the shoulder pouches, the one with the mesh. The reason I ordered two is because it’s a good option to have and while ordering it would be more of a hustle to order an additional pouch later on if I decided it’s something I’d want.

This is my complete order

  • KS50 X-Pac
  • X-Pac VX-21 Coyote Brown body with VX-21 Red side pockets
  • Removable hip pouches
  • 20mm sternum strap with whistle
  • Internal pad pocket with pad
  • Quick trekking pole holder
  • Load lifter straps, lineloc+cord
  • Shoulder pouch
  • Shoulder pouch (mesh addon)

Total cost excluding shipping: ¥31 850 JPY (~299 USD)

True customization

With many packs you have ice-axe loops located on the back of the pack. Many use these for storing your trekking poles while road walking or going up steep climbs when they’re just in the way. I don’t like taking off my backpack just to put them there and then again when I want them. So I asked if he could make trekking pole holders on the side, just like the Osprey packs have. Sure thing, not a problem! It’s now even a standard option for you to pick with your KS backpack.

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Ordering

The only real downside with KS Ultralight packs is their website. But once you get used to it there’s nothing complicated with it.

You pick your pack and then add what ever options you like to have. Fabric is picked in a different place from where you get all your pack accessories and options so this is what I found most confusing. However if you manage to order something that doesn’t work or that can’t be combined, everything is proofread prior to manufacturing so there’s no risk of you getting a non-working backpack.

Final thoughts upon delivery

Wow, just wow! What a backpack!

It’s super comfortable and feels very durable. Knowing that “this is my pack” adds to the wow-feeling. I could probably have gone with the KS40 but as the weight difference is minimal I still decided on the KS50.

Note: KS 50 is the most versatile: highly compressible for almost same weight and price.

With all of the things above it weighs in at 583g. Removing the shoulder pouch (non mesh) you’ll skip an additional 25g. This compared to my similarly outfitted Arc Blast (623g) they weigh about the same.

A more in-depth review will come around May/June of 2018.

 

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The hypocrisy of Leave No Trace

So you’ve just bought that new cheap super-light mini pocket gas stove from China. Two pair of trekking pants and this years edition of trail shoes with that crazy cool color scheme. A pack of 5 charging cables for your phone (because it was cheaper than one) and you’ve upgraded your backpack – all set for this years hiking adventures!

Sounds familiar?

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So what is Leave No Trace?

Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It consists of seven principles:

  1. Plan ahead and prepare
  2. Travel and camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

These principles have been adapted to different activities, ecosystems and environments. Since 1994, Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics, a non-profit organization also known as Leave No Trace, exists to educate people about their recreational impact on nature as well as the principles of Leave No Trace to prevent and minimize such impacts. Source: Wikipedia

Breaking it down

If we try and break these principles down in terms of a trip into the wild to make it more realistic and what you as an individual can do.

Plan ahead and prepare

It’s hard to plan ahead for all trips you want to do in life but what you can do is choose your big three, backpack, tent and sleeping bag as carefully as possible. Looking at reviews on blogs, YouTube etc you can start building a good idea of what you’ll need. For example, if you’re not too keen on winter hikes you can probably get away with a three season sleeping bag or less. You can still do day trips during the colder months.

Choose something that you know will last. Even the lightest Dyneema Cuben Fiber items will last for a very long time. Also try and get multi-purpose items, e.g. a compass with a mirror will double as – yup, a mirror. A buff will be a hat, scarf, bandana etc.

Picking gear from companies that are aware of their impact on the planet is also very good. Today we have multiple companies like Patagonia, Fjällräven, Houdini and Arc’Teryx that try to spearhead in terms of sustainability and environmental impact when producing their items. Cottage manufacturers are small and have usually already made good decisions based upon these principles. Being smaller they can adjust faster too. If you’re unsure, you can always ask.

Food, isn’t this the most boring part? It shows that making good decisions of what you eat will also have a very big impact on how far you can go and also what waste you’re bringing with you – pack in, pack out.. We’ll leave the food industry out of this one.

Travel and camp on durable surfaces

Stealth camping or just being able to pitch your tent wherever is very liberating but you can still pick a spot with care. Avoid sensitive areas if the trail information tells you to and use designated campsites. If you’re allowed to wild camp then make sure not to put your tent on plants/flowers if possible and do not dig into the ground for fun.

At the same time, use the trails that are available to you. If there’s no trail and you’re up in Alaska or another very remote area don’t disturb trees, bushes etc just because you wanna plow through. Look at the map and make good decision. This will save you calories too! Win-win.

Dispose of waste properly

Pack in, pack out! How many of you haven’t seen trash on the trail. Be it something that’s “accidentally dropped” to beer cans or worse. I don’t understand how hard it can be to put your trash in your trash bag and bring it back. Sure it’s bulky and might even smell a little, especially in hot weather, but you brought it there, make sure it gets out and is recycled. Burning it in the fire pit is not recycling or disposing of it properly.

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Plastic waste and a heart shaped piece of grass.

Poop, we all do it. Make sure to dig a hole for your business at least 50m away from a water source. Don’t be the person that just go around the big rock next to the trail and do your stuff on the ground and leave some toilet paper as a souvenir for others to see, smell, step in or worse, for animals to eat. We’ve seen some really nasty stuff…

Leave what you find

You’re in a very barren place. It’s super windy and you’re afraid your tent will wanna make a run for it during the night. You see a bunch of rocks in the ground. That will work! You start plying them out of the ground and put them on your tent stakes. Aaah, safe and sound, you sleep like a baby during the night in the high winds.

You wake up and break down your tent and walk away. No! You pause and remember; I need to put the rocks back first because it could take up 20 to 50 years for the vegetation to recover to a pre-removal condition.

This goes without saying but don’t mess with cultural artifacts.

Minimize campfire impacts

If you just need to make a fire (non emergency) use a fire pit if there’s one already. Don’t just pile stuff up wherever and light a fire. If you don’t really need that campfire just don’t make one.

We also have many wood burning options in a lightweight package today. When you use these make sure to use the wood burning floor that’s usually supplied with them so you don’t damage the ground or worst case, making roots catch fire and you have a underground fire resulting in a forest burning down.

Respect wildlife

Arctic Foxes, elks and birds etc are indeed beautiful. But leave them alone. Don’t scare them off and for the love of – don’t feed them with the stuff you brought. They were there long before you and will still be there when you get back home and sleep in your comfy bed dreaming of your wonderful time in the outdoors.

Be considerate of other visitors

Remember, you’re (almost) never alone in the wild or going to a place where no one will ever go. This is just like karma – you get what you give.

The hypocrisy

Fast fashion is a thing and the outdoor companies still needs to make a living.

I’m in no way better than anyone at this, even more so in the past. I’ve even stated “whoever has the most things when he dies wins”. Let’s say I have a different perspective nowadays.

Much of the traffic on this blog is coming at different products that we at Lighter Packs have bought in the past and reviewed and showcased. Hopefully we’ve given something back so that you can and could make the right decision to buy or not.

I believe that some companies are better than others in taking pride in their gear, offering to repair items on warranty or even when you just break them.
We at Lighter Packs have had multiple experiences with sending in gear to have it repaired and restored, be it a new zipper or similar, even repairing it ourselves. If they can’t fix it, they’ll usually give you a “new” item and your broken one will be recycled and reused in production of something new for someone else to enjoy.

I believe that it’s never too late to start making a change and hence making a difference.

So if you leave here with one message; Before you buy something, take a step back and ask yourself – Do I really need this item? Will it add value to my life for what I’m intending to do? Or will I be equally good off with what I currently have?

Also if you have used items that still have some life left in them. Sell them, gift them to a friend or drop them off at your local second hand shop. Just because you don’t need it anymore doesn’t mean it has to go to waste, pun intended.

The lightest things are the ones you don’t bring.
So maybe you can skip that third, oh so cheap tent from AliExpress?

We have one planet. Don’t forget that. There’s no reason not to let people enjoy it as much as we have.

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Happy trails!


Disclaimer, this is focusing on a “lighter pack”. Hence gear to carry very specific or heavy items might require different sets of i.e. backpacks to get the work done. There’s no ‘right way’ – all I ask is that you think first, buy second.

TGO Challenge 2018 | Route planning – Viewranger vs OS Maps | Vlog

Talking about my route planning and the tools that I’m using.
What is better, Viewranger or OS Maps?

http://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/
http://viewranger.com/

I don’t mention the OS Maps app because it requires the subscription to be available offline. You only get the standard map with the ‘free’ version.

If you buy their maps you should be able to download that part that you’ve bought (I have not tested this) so I it could be an alternative to the Viewranger app. I feel that the OS Maps app is better at some things but more clunky to use. I also haven’t field tested is like I have with Viewranger hence I can’t make any recommendations based on experience.

 

Episode Four – Low Tide | Hornstrandir, Iceland, August 2017

The last episode of my trip report of my solo hike in the remote area of Hornstrandir, north western most part of Iceland in August 2017.

This video shows day six to eight of eight days total.

  • Day Six: Horn – Látravík – Veiðileysufjörður
  • Day Seven: Veiðileysufjörður
  • Day Eight: Veiðileysufjörður

 

Spot Gen 3 tracking and check-ins

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