Long term review Cumulus Quilt 250

On of my most linked and read posts here on Lighter Packs has always been the New sleeping system – Cumulus Quilt 250.

Therefore I’ve made this video where I talk about my experience with the bag and the general features of it and what I miss from a conventional sleeping bag.

 

Link to Cumulus product page.

I’d also like to share this blog post that shows a factory tour at Cumulus in 2017

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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Tramplite Shelter – First impressions

A couple of years ago I found Colins Ibbotsons page http://www.tramplite.com/ and read about his Tramplite shelter. It looked very interesting but it seemed more likely to meet a unicorn than to get my hands on one. So I let the thought of the shelter go.

Then in the winter of 2016 I saw on twitter that Colin was working on his shelters again. I sent him a message and asked if he was taking orders. Of course the books where full, but he promised to put me on the reserves list.

And behold! In November last year a mail landed in my inbox:

Hi Jon

Last year you contacted me about a Tramplite shelter and as you would get one from the next batch I’m checking to see if you are still interested?

Was I still Interested? Oh yes!

So now, finally I’m holding my new Tramplite Shelter in my hands.

The Unicorn

Continue reading

Exped Air Ultralight Pillow

It’s not that often that I get a real wow-feeling when buying gear but this ultralight pillow from Exped sure gave me that! Packs down super small, holes for attaching a bungee cord (which I did) or to a Exped compatible sleeping pad.

The two best things are the anti-slip coating so it doesn’t slide on the already slippery sleeping pads and the big valve so it’s super easy to in- and deflate.

Will probably do a review of this one later. Excited!

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Not much larger than a credit card and weighs 50 grams