TGO Challenge 2018 Trip report

My TGO Challenge was planned to take place between the May 11th to the 23rd. Thirteen days of what I could only hope to be great hiking in the Scottish Highlands. This is my trip report covering my start in Shiel Bridge on the west- to my finish at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, on the east coast.

It ended up being closer to 360 km in eleven days and an accent at the height of Mount Everest. That’s quite the challenge if you ask me…

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Getting there

My trip started well before the actual challenge. Down in the southern parts of Sweden I boarded a bus up to Stockholm and Arlanda Airport. I stayed the night at an hotel close to it. I arrive in Edinburgh the next day just before lunch I went to one of the museums, checked a few exhibitions and used their bathroom to change from my travel clothes into hiking gear, shorts and leggings, and a long-sleeved tee… Then I went to the post office and forward all of my travel clothes to Montrose before starting the hunt for alcohol (fuel). This sent me off to a few different stores before actually finding any. My train for Inverness was leaving at 5pm so I had plenty of time dine and stock up on food for the first three days of hiking.

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Day 1

I spent the night in Inverness and had a short walk to the bus station where I met up with a few other Challengers. We arrive at at Shiel Bridge at around 11am as the bus was about 40 minutes late out of Inverness. This far everything had been late and delayed. My bus to the airport in Sweden, the plane to Edinburgh, the transfer from the airport, the train to Inverness and now this. I started to see a pattern.

After a quick bathroom break most of us set off at 11:45. I put my right foot in the water just outside the Kintail Lodge. The weather is good, the sun is out and there’s a slight breeze.

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When I get closer to the stalkers path up Ben Attow I meet a man that also a part of the TGO Challenge. We chat a while before I take off up the Munro, he’s headed to the youth hostel. The wind started to pick up as I came to the first cairn off the stalkers path onto the lower plateau. Soon the rain got at it too. Getting to the top was quite exhausting, battling the wind and the ground was very wet. At the top I have to take refuge in the makeshift wind shelter and swap into my rain gear. It’s really windy at this point and I have to stop several times on my way here and hold on to all my gear and go down to a knee not to get pushed over by the wind.

My map says I’m to decent down the north east ridge but it’s too windy and dangerous. I have to turn back to the peak after about a 150m decent. Back at the shelter again, a quick break and then going back the way I came up.

The walk to the youth hostel is windy and rainy but not rough in any way and I make good time. I pitch the tent and make some food before going inside for a cup of tea and meeting up with a few other challengers.

Day 2

After a cold and rainy night, I sleep in and let the morning sun dry the outside of my tent. After 10am I’m off to the Affric Kintail Way and meet many challengers along the way.

As I reach the loch I meet up and hike alongside Barbara for at least 30 minutes. Listening to stories from former crossings and received a tip or two about local waterholes in different towns. She is the oldest woman on the challenge. It’s hard to believe that she’s 81 years old, hiking fast and with a steady pace, she’s on her 13th crossing. This makes me think that if I just take care of myself, I can hike for many years, something that felt very surreal before seeing her still going strong.

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Further up the road I stop at Cougie for about an hour. I order toast with jam and a beer. A few more challengers comes in as I’m about to leave and I linger a little longer just to socialize.

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When I come up at Plodda Falls where I’ve planned to camp for the night I see a sign “no camping allowed”. Bugger… I continue up the path east of Hilton Lodge and soon find a good spot as the forest comes to an end. I pitch my tent and sit and watch the sunset and enjoy the beautiful weather.

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Day 3

Another rainy night and a cold morning. I start hiking around 9 and soon catch up with a few I met yesterday. The rain started to let up after 1.5 hours and the sun came out and stayed for the whole day. Not too warm, just perfect.

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It’s easy hiking to Fort Augustus but the hard gravel roads were painful for many hikers. I caught up with Byron on the last accent and we hike together for the last hour to Morag’s Lodge. Alan, a hiker that I met on the first evening at the youth hostel is already there.

We dry out our gear in the sun on the lawn outside the lodge before going down to Londis to resupply. When I come back I get word about free sandwiches. Apparently a group tour that should have stopped by never made it and they’d ordered sandwiches. Yummy! I down two of them and they’re accompanied by a couple of ale.

Day 4

I got up in good time before breakfast at 07:30. Continental breakfast, ish. Porridge and toast with beans for me. I’m off around 8:45 and headed down towards the canal. The sun is up and it’s quite warm. I don’t know what I was thinking but seeing the town and probably suffering from sunstroke I take a wrong turn and ended up on a sightseeing tour of the canal before I got back on track. A few kilometers extra just an hour into the day, a good start! I pass the church burial yard exiting Fort Augustus and got on General Wades road through the Corrieyairack Pass. I decided to take an older path up the hill and after tree trunk climbing and some uphill heather bashing, I met up with Paul that just came down the top on the ‘main road’.

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We hike together to Blackburn Bothy where he stopped for tea. Just as we came up on the bothy a man comes out on the trail in front of me, sporting a Üla pack and Altras. I take up the chase and soon catch up to him. His name is Stefan and he’s also a first timer on the TGO.

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We have a similar pace and we hike together and stop at Garva Bridge where we setup camp. A few others come in to the campsite a little later, Brian, Alan and Rory. About one hour later a guy crosses the bridge. He comes up to me and shakes my hand “I read your blog!” he says with a big smile. His name Itai and lives France.

It was a good evening with laughter and chatting until after the sun set.

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Day 5

In the morning me, Stefan and Rory sets off together. We have the same route for the day and apparently even some parts of the next days.

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We walk into the Laggan Stores Coffee Bothy and stay for a while with a few other challengers. Then we’re on our way to Newtonmore.

We reach Ali and Sue’s, organizers, at 3pm and I book a room at the hostel and pick up my maps that I had sent there before hand. I even meet up with a fellow Swede. Stefan has got a reservation at another place and Rory talks me into going to a bothy to shorten our next day. So I cancel my reservation. We’re not leaving just yet, not before picking up some food at the grocery store and having a meal at the pub.

We get to the bothy and it’s completely empty. I get a fire going and we stay up till half past 10, chatting in the warmth of the fire.

Day 6

I wake up as Rory starts shifting around in his sleeping bag. I look at the window to my right and it’s completely fogged up, condensation running down one side of it as the sun hits the window. It’s damp and a little chilly.

Last night we decided that we wanted to get an early start to make up some miles before the sun gets up. The weather forecast says warm sunny days until the weekend when the temperature will drop. Going down from about 20C to 10C.

It’s 5am and we have a quick breakfast and start hiking toward Tormie Bridge up by Kingussie. We part ways a little further up the road as he’s off to Aviemore and through the Lairig Ghru while I’m going to the Glen Feshie stopping at the Glen Shiel Bothy.

I arrive at the bothy just before 10am. I’m greeted by a lovely family that’s currently taking care of the last bits and pieces of the restorations. I get a cup of tea and have lunch with them. The bothy is really a five star one.

Stefan walks in the door about an hour and a half later. He started from Kingussie this morning. We stay for a while and I’ve decided to tag along with him towards White Bridge where he’ll camp. My day is actually done, my planning says that I should camp here at the bothy, but my body feels good so I thought I might as well do two days in one.

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We push on and get to White Bridge but we don’t like the camping spots that it offers, hard packed ground and sheep. We decide to go a little further and we find a really good spot just outside Glen of Dee.

It’s been a long day and we’re both tired, about 48km today.

The tents come up fast and we go to get some water. Dinner is getting ready but mine isn’t too tasty as I’ve managed to burn some of my instant soup… Black flakes floats around in my pot… Good job! I guess it works as a type of odd seasoning. I’m to hungry to care so I eat it anyway.

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Day 7

The night was cold. The grass was covered in frost in the morning, so at least 0 degrees last night. We cook breakfast and Stefan sorts my feet out and kill my heel blisters.

We walk into Braemar around lunch time. Beer and burgers for both of us. I’ve booked myself into the youth hostel and he’s got another reservation so he’s off to that. I do some shopping at Co-op, 5 days worth of food, all the way to Stonehaven.

Before going to dinner I clean my socks and long sleeved hiking shirt. One could think that the green shirt has given colour to the water because it’s everything else but clear. I meet up with Paul and Paul and a couple from Holland. We have drinks and food at the hotel before going to bed.

Day 8

I wake up just before 8 and start to get myself ready. Paul is also up getting his backpack in order. I take my stuff and head down to The Bothy cafe for second breakfast.

Sitting there in the sun I finally decide to go up Lochnagar. For the past few days I’ve been thinking and quite determined to skip it. But last night during dinner they convinced me that I should do it, I’m a head of schedule, don’t be lazy.

It’s a bit of road walking before you get to the parking lot where the trail starts. There are plenty of people in front of me and we all come to the lodge at the same time.

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There are two guys just outside the fence, Bill and George, they’re putting up a sign “T.G.O. tea” and an arrow pointing at the stone houses.

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Apparently I’m the first Challenger to get there this year. After about 20 minutes or so Scott walks in through the door. I’ve actually met Scott and we had dinner together in Newtonmore. We have a chat and then we’re off. He to Jocks Road and I’m up the other side toward Lochnagar.

The climb is quite easy and with a slight breeze and the sun at my back I’m up on the plateau faster than I expected. When I reach the top there’s actually cell reception and I manage to call home and give them the grand FaceTime tour of the top.

I start heading down toward the Queens estate and it’s a very steep decent and my feet are really feeling it. But I just put that away because the views are just stunning. I reach the house at Loch Munich and have some snacks and air my feet on the lawn.

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I make up my mind to push a little further to Shielin of Mark bothy. I go fast on the gravel road and Spittal of Glenmuick is in front of me in no time.

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I start the climb toward the bothy and after some encounters with heather and peat I’m there. There are also three women from Holland here and a few hours later, three more hikers in from Aberdeen join us. I let them have the bothy so I sleep outside in my tent by the burn.

Day 9

The sun woke me up around 6am. Shining straight into my tent. I pull down my buff over my eyes and manage to fall asleep. At 8 the tent is too hot, I need to get up. I start to get out of my sleeping clothes that consists of a merino t-shirt with more holes in it than I can count. An R1 fleece and my tights and shorts. On my feet I have a pair of short down booties.

I break down the tent and just before I’m to set off one of the Hollanders comes down to me and offers me a piece of banana cake that I happily accepts.

At 09:45 I start walking and set my compass almost straight east up the hills. There’s a large rock or similar that I aim for. The ground isn’t too wet and I make good progress. I come to the ridge and find the land rover tracks and I go left to see the Muckle Cairn.

Then I go back and down towards Glen Lee and past the stables, which is a beautiful decent down all the way to Loch Lee.

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I arrive at St. Drostan’s at around 1pm. The old church sits just at the outskirts of Tarfside. The two route vetters/organizers Anne and Alan has just arrived a few minutes earlier and are surprised to get a TGOer so soon after getting there. I get offered tea and toast, I also book a room for the night, shower and food!

Not too long after, Roger Smith and his wife arrives. It’s nice to meet the one who you’ve corresponded with via e-mail to get the most out of my planned route. I get to ask Roger about my planned descent down Ben Attow as I believe I miss understood his directions and he says that what I tried to do is quite hard even in good weather and that he meant that I should have followed the ridge all the way toward the youth hostel just as I suspected, in hindsight.

Paul arrives after a few hours. We have dinner around the big table in the kitchen, two challengers and six vetters. After dinner Scott shows up and he’s had a rough day via Mount Keen. Heather and peat bog sums his day up pretty well. He also decides to stay the night at the church.

When dinner is over Roger Smith and Alan goes through the list of retirements from the challenge. Number after number, sheet after sheet. You really start to notice it’s not all that easy.

An hour passes and the phone rings at 8:45. It’s from Challenge Control just as planned. They’re expected and it’s just for a quick update of the lists, more retirements maybe. It’s a quick call and Alan comes back to the common room and stops in front of the fireplace. He stays silent for a moment and then says
– We’ve got one AWOL.
The whole room shuts down. Everyone is quiet.
– He’s been found by other challengers and is well, but he’s a part of a group and we don’t know if they’re still looking for him. There’s no phone reception in that area…
The vetters look at each other, they can’t do anything about it, it’s just facts.

Conversations are on the topic about routes and how this can happen and the mood is definitely changed. They’re expecting an update later tonight about the rest of the list. Challenge Control is currently busy handling the situation.

Day 10

My alarm rings at seven and I drowsily walk to the kitchen. Breakfast. I meet Scott in the hallway and when I get to the kitchen Paul is already there. I have tea and toast.

Paul leaves first. He has to finish in St. Cyrus today, a pretty tough road walk for him. Scott and I have the same route over the hills and Mount Battock so we leave about 30 minutes after Paul.

We start the climb and it’s a nice morning with overcast and the sun shines through in the distance. The climb up Craig Soales is steep and the wind is picking up. We get to the top and stop to enjoy the views and take some photos.

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It’s getting cold when we stand still as we’re both in shorts and base layer shirts. When we start the accent up Mount Battock the wind is really picking up and we guesstimate 45mph or there about. After another kilometer Scott stops and asks if we’re to put on our wind trousers and I agree. Smart move!

We continue up toward Mount Battock and at this point the wind hits us sideways and I have to lean into the wind not to loose my footing. As we reach the top we both hurry into the wind shelter and sit down. Sitting on the small bench everything is very quiet compare to the howling wind that hits the stone walls. Scott offers me some homemade trail mix and I happily accepts. Going down the wind is at our backs and it’s quite easygoing but you really need to hold on to your trekking poles because the wind is eager to steal them from us.

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When we arrive at Charr Bothy, which is where Scott is staying for the night we have some snacks and a cup of coffee. I’m to continue on into the Fetteresso Forest to setup for a short 19km (actually 27km) walk into Stonhaven and Dunnottar Castle tomorrow. He’s looking at almost a 40km day so after some contemplating on his part he decides to tag along. I got a nice tip from Anne, one the vetters, last night about a good camping spot and that’s what I’ve drawn fresh lines on my map towards.

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After a nice walk through forests and up Cairn Kerloch past the wind farms, we end up at a sort of meadow. Not to many spots to pitch at but we manage to find two good ones. We both start to boil water and enjoy an evening meal by the burn and stay up chatting till 8pm.

Day 11

The night had been calm and warm. I guess being camped in the Fetteresso Forest the trees help to retain the heat. I slept really good, the sound of the wind turbines in the distance wasn’t as disturbing as I first found them. Rather soothing actually.

When I get out of my tent Scott was already sitting outside enjoying the morning sun, scribbling something into a book. I eat a few breakfast bars while I break down the tent. We filter some water and then we were back on the trail. The forest was still and the sun trickling through the tight knitted canopy and the birds receipted a well known tune.

This is the last day on the trail for us, The Great Outdoor Challenge of 2018…

The forest is littered with small tracks and bigger logging roads. Unfortunately we’re soon on to the latter. As we’re about to exit the forest and onto the tarmac a cuckoo said goodbye. There’s always a cuckoo close to camp for whatever reason.

We have a quick stop, coffee break, just before hitting the road and mixing with the vehicle on it. Not too long after we have our eyes on Stonehaven in the distance and I say that it looks like there’s smoke coming out from the forest. When we get closer it’s quite obvious that it’s not a fire but rather a pretty dense fog rolling in from the North Sea.

When we get closer to Dunnottar Castle it’s soaked in the fog and visibility is poor. The temperature has also plummeted. Previously it was a really warm day. There’s a lot of people here, feels really busy compared to the hills.

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As we start descending down to the beach I’m trying to understand what I’m feeling so close to completing the challenge. I ask Scott who’s also a first timer
– So this is what it feels like?
He responds with something like “aye”. I think he’s just as empty as me. It’s low tide and we go out on the sharp rocks covered in seaweed and kelp. Scott takes off his boots and socks and puts his feet in and I take his picture.

I ready my camera, set the aperture, check exposure, puts it down on the rocks and hit record. The red circle comes on. I take a few steps and go out as far as possible. Then a wave roles in and I try to jump up and escape it but it completely soaks my shoes up to my ankles. I look at Scott and say
– Does that count?
– I think so, he says with a grin on his face.
I put my hand in just to be sure and we start walking back up to beach and follow the coast into Stonehaven.

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If I were to summarize the TGO Challenge it would be:

  • Challenging
  • Friendly
  • Character building
  • Weather dependent
  • Heather

My route that was logged from my Spot Gen 3 tracker. There are more tracker points but this was the only way I could export it. The map/track functionality on their web is not the best in the world. Their iOS app is better but then you can’t get an image you can actually zoom in on and showcase it as one.

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Ps.

I saw this just as I came home and much of what’s in it could also be what I experienced during the challenge. You should watch it too, it starts at 1:04.

TGO Challenge 2018 Video

 

This was my TGO Challenge (The Great Outdoor) starting on the 11th of May in Shiel Bridge and finishing at Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, on the 21st of May.

Special thanks to Stefan, Rory, Paul and Scott that help me film and pushed me to do things I otherwise wouldn’t have done.

This video will be followed up by a trip report and more video from a day-to-day basis.

Hiking Holavedsleden

Hiking Holavedsleden (59km) from Tranås to Gränna in the last days of April. The numbers and letters showing up through out the video are map reference markers.

Pleasant walk but a lot of roads and not enough trails through the forests. Water was an issue at times but not so much that it was holding me back.

Number of ticks attached, four. A few crawlers too.

For maps and more info about Holavedsleden click 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.

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.

Episode Three – The Horn | Hornstrandir, Iceland, August 2017

Trip report of my solo hike in the remote area of Hornstrandir, north western most part of Iceland in August 2017.

This video shows the fourth and fifth days of eight days.

  • Day Four: Hlöðuvik – Hófn
  • Day Five: Hófn (Hornbjarg)

Episode Two – The Fox & The Bird | Hornstrandir, Iceland, August 2017

Trip report of my solo hike in the remote area of Hornstrandir, north western most part of Iceland in August 2017.

This video shows the first three of eight days.

  • Day One: Látrar – Hesteyri
  • Day Two: Hesteyri – Fljótavík
  • Day Three: Fljótavík – Hlöðuvik