Out hiking Friday to Saturday

This Wednesday I started wanted to go on a short hike this weekend and I asked Jon if he was interested. At the time he didn’t know if he could make it or not but on Thursday evening we decided it was a go.

I was browsing a few folders that I had laying around the house for some time that I’d taken home with me from different information stands around town. About a year or so ago I made an x-mark next to all the different trails that I was interested in and this particular one was more interesting than all others.

As we were short on time because we had to go as soon as I came off work I wanted something close to home. We moved about 6 months ago and when I’ve been out running I’ve seen different trail markings but not given that much thought to it as I’ve never ever seen anyone come down one of them before. But now it was prefect, we could simply just walk out of my backyard and on to that trail!

The trail, Södra Vätterleden, stretches pretty far and we opted for the non-city route, stage two to stage one. Map links are here below in the order we walked. We started down south of marker 15 by the lake.

Stage Two, part two
Stage Two, part one
Stage One

As usual I did’t think I needed to print more than the stage two parts because I thought we wouldn’t get that far in the short amount of time we had… But, we tend to walk much farther than expected every time we’re out and about so I guess I’ll have to get used to that 🙂

On the trail

On the trail

We started walking around 5.30pm and didn’t stop until 11.30pm and at that point we’d covered roughly 25km and found a really good camp site too. We made camp due north-east of marker 2, stage two, part one map. When we arrived it was almost pitch black so without our headlamps on we wouldn’t have been able to pitch the tent in such a good spot as we did. And luckily enough we pitched it right before the rain came down on us. I slept like a baby the whole night but Jon said it rained so heavily that he was worried that we would have water flowing in under the tent and get wet as we didn’t have a bathtub floor.

Coffee break in the woods. It was really warm weather, rain was expected but we only got a few drops under 5 minutes.

Coffee break in the woods. It was really warm. Rain was expected but we only got a few drops during 5 minutes.

Day two started just as good as when we started the day before. We woke up around 7 and broke camp around 8.

Lake Stråken where we camped.

Lake Stråken where we camped.

We had a deadline for our pickup and that was around noon. We started walking and covered some ground quite fast even though our legs were sore from yesterday. Jon had new shoes on, his Salomon Fellraisers and that was his curse with blisters and all. Even though I have walked quite a bit in my Inov-8 Roclite 295’s I’d never walked this far in them before so I guess that was what got me. Also the higher pace due to the fact that we both used trekking poles surely made an impact on our muscles and feet.

Lunch break by marker 14.

Lunch break by marker 14, stage one map. Mashed potatoes with soy-stuff in taco mix was on the menu. The freeze bag recipes are coming together quite nicely!

Backpacks, Granite Gear Crown V.C 60 and Üla Circuit.

Backpacks – Granite Gear Crown V.C 60 and ULA Circuit. We could most definitely go with smaller packs as we have downsized our gear so much. Jon packs his Z-lite pad inside the pack and still got a lot of room left. I had to put my Z-lite pad on top of the pack to have the internal frame covered.

This was the first time I had the opportunity to try out my new Crown V.C 60 backpack and the HMG Ultamid 2 tent and I liked them a lot! Also my new Patagonia Houdini jacket was really good keeping me warm when the wind was blowing. One thing that will be changed are my pants. My Fjällräven Vidda Pro’s will be put in storage for those moments when bush-wacking is a must. They will be replace by a pair of Arc’Teryx Palisade lightweight pants. Also the sleeping pad will be swapped out and replaced with another Therm-a-Rest pad, the X-Lite. I think that both the Z- and X-Lite will do very good as a combo for really cold winter nights. I hope to get both of these things before next weekend and maybe even the new innernet as bug season is around the corner.

All in all during this hike we covered about 38km. We didn’t have time to complete the last bit of the stage as we ran out of time. We ended the hike at marker 11 where a narrow bridge crosses Stråken. I guesstimate that we had roughly and hour to go from where we stopped to reach Mullsjö, the starting point of stage one. But that part was mostly asphalt anyways so I don’t really think we missed anything 🙂

A huge step towards ultralight backpacking

Here we go…! I’ve made a huge step towards ultralight backpacking when I ordered a new backpack. For the past weeks I’ve been thinking about getting a new backpack. Not that I’m in anyway unhappy with my Mystery Ranch NICE Wolf Alpha but it’s heavy at 3.9kg. It’s built like a tank and sometimes I need that but for those lighter hiking/trekking trips I need something lighter.

I looked at a bunch of different packs – everything from Arc’Teryx to Fjällräven. I went to two different stores that holds quite different sets of brands and tried a couple of them out and finally made the choice to bring home a Fjällräven Abisko 65, 2.2kg. That pack is not a ultralight backpack but it’s still lighter than my Mystery Ranch. I packed it with everything I normally bring and had it on my back for a few hours at home walking around the house. It was quite good but not really what I wanted.

This last Saturdays hike with Jon didn’t help either… When you’re out in the backcountry you have loads of time to think, chat and trade ideas. Sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s bad in a good way 🙂 It usually gets you in a state of mind that you really need this and that thing and it ends up hurting your wallet…

packs

From left to right: Blaze, Circuit, Crown.

Well after we got home we started chatting and looking at different packs and everything still pointed towards a ultralight alternative. The packs that kept popping up in our searches was the Granite Gear Crown A.C 60, 1kg(!), Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60, 1.3kg and the ULA Circuit, 1.1kg. After ruling the ULA Circuit out after some YouTube reviews and stuff I was quite hooked on the Crown but the thing that bothered me was the fact that it had a “soft” frame so to speak. I’ve known about Granite Gear before, since I’ve seen their tactical-series especially the CHEIF Patrol pack. ULA was something new to me. The Granite Gear Blaze has more of a traditional type of plastic frame which I like. I’ve had quite a few smaller frameless backpacks or with a softer frame and I’m to lazy to pack everything super tidy to not have anything poke you in the back. Or that makes the pack “round” towards your back and it starts to roll. So I slept on it, watched a few more reviews and finally decided what to get…

Here are a few good reviews on the different packs that I considered.

linelid3The pack that I finally choose after some great contemplating and with some help from Jon was the Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60. I also bought the Lineloc Lid which adds another 255 grams to the pack finishing it of at a total of 1.55kg which is not bad. That’s almost a third of what my Mystery Ranch pack weighs!! I don’t think I’ll be using the lid all the time but the way I see it it’s a nice to have feature and as it’s not that much money – hey I’ll buy that too!

The total money spent on the pack and the lid was 2 270 SEK, which is roughly about 350 USD with shipping included and free returns. Compared to the Fjällräven Abisko 65 that I brought home for testing this one is only 70 SEK more expensive which is about what I paid for gas to go to the store in the first place…

Granite Gear Blaze A.C 60

Torso Sizes: short | regular
Weight: 1.3kg | 2lbs 14oz
Capacity: 60 liters | 3660 cubic inches
Suspension: Air Current (A.C.) Internal Frame
Load Capacity: 35lbs | 16kg

100D Ripstop
210D Nylon Cordura
Stretch Mesh Fabric

Here are some good pictures from Outdoor Gear lab and I think that’s quite similar to what my pack will look like besides the fact that I didn’t order the Cactus/Jave color but the Tiger/Java. The main difference between the two is the color on the reinforced Cordura running on the front Click the link above to see the rest of the pictures and a short review.

It’s gonna be real interesting to see how it is, first hand, when it arrives. It was on backorder so I’ll get it in April as far as the initial reports are. I’ll get back with some more info as soon as it arrives!