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.

Is Fjällräven feeling the lightweight competition?

In the latest number of Fjällrävens spring and summer edition the first pages are seriously pointing out that lightweight materials and lightweight gear isn’t a must to have a great time in the outdoors.

“Lightweight” isn’t lightweight anymore…

“To chase experiences and not grams”

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Even though there’s some truth to this I can’t instantly start thinking that Fjällräven and simliar “heavy weight” material brand are starting to feel some pressure of the lightweight community. All this boils down to that they want to point out that their gear is super durable but still “lightweight enough” to not make you feel cumbersome on your trip. Sustainability is their leading word. I don’t blame them at all. I love that Fjällräven are one of the leading companies towards environmental sustainability just like Patagonia. That is one big factor for me when buying new gear. They must be durable enough to last for years but yet lightweight. On that last point Fjällräven fails but not according to them.

“But lightweight isn’t everything”

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On the next text filled page in the latest number they’re pointing out that it’s well know for Fjällrävens items to be passed along from generation to generation. I still feel that many of my lighter weight items would still be able to do just that.

Fredrik Hyltén-Cavallius, product developer,”For us lightweight isn’t everything, really, and we think that the products of the future will separate on this point. Our focus has always been on simple light and functional tents.”

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Well yeah. I can’t argue with that but that’s just saying that, all of our stuff will outlive everyone and everything. Sustainability again. I dig that stuff but lighter items be it a tent, a pair of pants or a jacket will still last for a very long time if you care about it. A “heavy duty item” will surely suffer the effect of time if not properly cared for.

I personally own two Fjällräven jackets, a heavy duty sweater, pants, a backpack, duffle and have previously owned a tent (my kids have a small Kånken each) and I can still say that my Patagonia items and similar brand feels just as durable as the Fjällrävens ones even though they’re much lighter and more often have smarter features. Right now, writing this, I even wear my Fjällräven Sörmland Roundneck Sweater, but I would never bring it on a backpacking trip.

What I’m going for with this is that you can be outdoors with both traditional, heavier, items or more lightweight stuff. But from my personal experience I prefer the lightweight option as I feel more comfortable and get to experience more with it as it’s less cumbersome. I do hope that these traditional brand takes a serious look at the cottage manufactures and changes their direction towards lighter but still durable items. I’d love a super lightweight Fjällräven jacket/pant on one of my future trips. But right now I can’t see that happening.

So, I chase the experience with grams. Even though it takes me some more time preparing before going on a trip rather than just visit the local outdoor shop and buy everything they have on the shelf to feel safe and secure.

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Lightweight isn’t less durable, if you’re not setting of to go to war with those items which I guess is not the case for most.

 

 

All the quotes in this article are freely translated. 

 

Mini adventure – out canoeing

Sometimes it’s not important to go on long pre-planned trips but to get out at all. Mini adventures can change your everyday life in to something exiting and give you an energy boost to survive the next week.

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This weekend we had one of these mini adventures. By my house I have a lake and it’s connected with two smaller lakes, great for canoeing. We left around midday and quite soon after we reched the middle of “Sörsjön” the sky darkened far away and big lightening struck the sky. But as it was north of us and not that close we paddled on.

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After we reached or final destination where our plan was to stop and have a cup of coffee the bad weather had moved closer to us and the rumbling was telling us it was time to head back. With the wind at our backs we paddled on with ease and we were soon back on Sörsjön. But this time we kept close to the shore, you don’t want to be out on the middle of the lake when a thunder storm passes by…

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We jumped a shore and the weather started to act up with high winds but no rain. Fortunately it all passed by to the west of us. We pulled out or backpacks from the canoe and started to boil some water and unpacked some Swedish “fika”.

After our break it was time to have some fun and pitch Jons one man shelter, Six Moon Designs Gatewood Cape with their Serenity NetTent.

Here’s a short video of Jon pitching the tent.

After all this it was time to head back to home base, filled with energy. Now everything was calm after the storm and the water was almost like a mirror.

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Bankerydsleden revisited

Jon and I went on a short hike today, May 1st, nice to have the day of from work and spend some of it in the woods. This was my second time walking this trail but last time it was winter and really cold and snowy so it was nice to see it in color. Rain was on the forecast but we managed to get back before it started. We walked about 20km, starting at 09.00 and finished around 13.45 with an hours break for lunch.

Got to field test some new gear too. Jon had his Montbell wind jacket and I had my Fjällräven Fold Sack.

Map of the area.

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It was really foggy when we got there, only +2 degrees Celsius.

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Walking into the unknown… Not really 🙂

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Power lines

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Got to meet some Canadians on the trail – we also saw a really beautiful fox but I couldn’t get my camera up in time before it was too far away.

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Mystery-box, what can be inside? Stay tuned!

Save the Artic fox

“We want to see more arctic foxes in the Scandinavian mountains

The arctic fox, or Vulpes lagopus as it is called in Latin, is one of Scandinavia’s original inhabitants – it has been found here since the inland ice first began to recede. The arctic fox is unfortunately under severe threat of extinction in Scandinavia and Finland due to overhunting for its beautiful fur coat at the beginning of last century. Despite the arctic fox becoming a protected species in 1928 in Sweden and 1930 in Norway, the population has had a difficult time recovering. The primary reasons for this include insufficient access to food and competition from the red fox which is pushing the arctic fox away from its natural habitat. Climate change, with its shorter and milder winters, also affects living conditions.”

The application period starts on March 16th at Fjällrävens website.

New backpack

Got my new Fjällräven backpack today, the Foldsack No.1 in autumn leaf. As the No.1 points to it’s part of their Numbers series which means that all materials and details have been carefully selected to minimize environmental impact. They’re also constructed so that it is easy to repair and replace exposed details which may wear out before the backpack does as a whole. Great thinking! As with all Fjällräven gear they’re made to last but that also reflects on the price tag which sometimes makes a lasting hole in your wallet 🙂

Foldsack No. 1 in autumn leaf.

Foldsack No. 1 in autumn leaf.

I’ll use this backpack as a everyday carry bag and for small adventures, no overnighters, well maybe in the summer if it’s warm. One thing that’s great with it is that it has got an integrated laptop sleeve that I’ve been needing for some time. It’ll take a 15″ laptop.

The bag is at 16L so it’s not too big. I think it would be great as a backpack for school or going to the office.

You can read more about it here at Fjällrävens product page.

Fjällräven Keb Loft Jacket

Fjällräven Keb Loft Jacket appeared on the market in August 2014 and looks to have hade some nice feedback since then. It’s a good looking jacket but the color choices are slim as it only comes in autumn leaf (below), black, tarmac and the classic, uncle blue.

According to Fjällräven this is a light and convienient reinforcement jacket with warm synthetic padding. It has got a two-way zipper, hand pockets and mesh pockets inside.

Material

  • Fabrics: 100% polyester ,G-1000.
  • Lite: 65% polyester, 35% cotton
  • Lining: 100% polyester
  • Fill: 100% polyester
  • Weight: 350 g in size M

Features

  • Lightweight insulation jacket, perfectly worn under a shell or by itself.
  • Filled with 60 g/sqm G-LOFT Supreme.
  • Reinforcement details in G-1000. Lite.
  • Two-way front zip with buttoned placket.
  • Two interior storage pockets.
  • Adjustable at bottom hem with draw cord.
  • Elastic binding at sleeve cuffs.
  • Regular fit.
  • Leather details on the zipper pulls.

If I compare this jacket to my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket I’d say that they’re very similar in both functionality and specs. My Nano Puff weighs in at about 345 grams in size small so the Fjällräven jacket should be a little lighter than the Nano Puff as the weight in the specifications above is for a size medium.

I’m not really looking to replace my Nano Puff even though I’ve had it since 2011 and used it on a daily basis and for many trips it looks very good and has held up really well. I’ve only gotten a rip or two in it, one happened when I accidentally managed to get the fabric stuck in my front zipper and pulled on it, which was a bit odd. But if I were to replace it in the future I guess this jacket from Fjällräven would be a good option. Fjällräven garments are really good and made out of supreme materials to keep them lasting for many, many years.

So if you’re in the market for a lightweight non-down-jacket this might be a good option for you.

G-Loft Supreme is Fjällräven’s new synthetic padding which should perform very good even in wet conditions. The material was developed exclusively for Fjällräven.

I’m not sponsored in any way by Fjällräven nor have I gotten a compensation to put this on my blog.