Light breakfast - or how I start a lightweight day

Teori-praktik I plan to write a number of articles summarizing how I use my light equipment during an ordinary day. Of course, there are no ordinary days. And I'm not saying that my way is the best. In fact, I seem to continually change how I do things, always trying to improve on my (never ending) road to perfection. So perhaps how I do things today might give you, as well as me, inspiration on how to improve your gear and the use of it tomorrow. And since this is a forum for lightweight backpacking I've included the weights of much of my gear in the narrative. In case you wonder.
Av Jörgen Johansson


I don't sleep that well outdoors. Usually there is a period of an hour or two in the middle of the night when I toss and turn. But around 06:00 I usually sleep very well, because that is when my alarm goes of. I have my watch tied to the strings of the sleeping bag hood in order to keep it as close to my ear as possible. If I have it on my wrist I don't hear it.

I have in fact slept better than ever using the soft Thermarest Neo Air Small, that keeps my shoulders and hips in a soft embrace, and using a inflatabe pillow that is actually a bag from a 2 liter wine box.

If it is a reasonably warm morning, with little wind and rain, I drag my foam sleeping pad outside, pull on my thermo jacket with the synthetic filling and hood, and sit down with a nice view. If the weather is inclement or the insects particulary bothersome I have breakfast in bed, cooking in the vestibule of the tent. Unless it's raining or extremely windy I always sleep with the door to the vestibule open to ensure maximum ventilation and minimal condensation.

If I don't sit in my sleeping bag, which I might even outside if it's chilly, I spread it or hang it to let some of the moisture from the night dissipate. Then I fire up my gas stove and boil 0,2 liters of water for my morning cocoa. The water is in my collapsible 2 l water bottle, filled the night before. If I fill it to the brim it is usually enough to last both my evening meal and my breakfast.

After the lifegiving hot drink I take my prepacked plastic bag with 100 grams of muesli and dump it in my cup. I add a couple of liberal tablespoons of dried milk, stir and then I add water so that the cup is almost full.
While eating this, spoon by spoon, I enjoy my surroundings. Like a steep slope still covered in a stubborn layer of snow, dirty and disheveled after a long summer, but still hanging in there, due to a combination of altitude and the absence of direct sunlight during most of the day.

Another 0,2 dl of water are boiled for a cup of instant coffe, supped while munching a soft mini tortilla rolled around some 15 grams of cheese or salami. During these proceedings I also transfer 100 grams of milk chocolate, 100 grams of hazel nuts and 50 grams of raisins from my pack to the goodie bag kept handy in an outer pocket, together with the cup.


By now it's time to be more mobile, so I slip out of my warm socks, pull on my thin nylon walking socks and my light mesh shoes. I collect my 685 gram sleeping bag and stuff it into it's 13 l drybag. Depending om the space available in the pack I compress the downbag a little or a lot. It goes in the bottom of the pack. On top of it I stash all the remaining food I won't need during the day.

On top to this goes the small plastic bag containing repair gear, fire starters and medical supplies, as well as assorted things more useful in more civilized surroundings, liket tickets, credit cards and mobile phone.

Extra clothing; warm socks, dry socks for the night, long underwear and longsleeved merino hoody goes in the blue 8 l dry bag. If it's raining or otherwise wet, like when packrafting, the thermo jacket will also go in this bag. This drybag accompanied by the collapsed Neo Air pad goes on top of the food.

Now I'm usually at the top of my 50-60 pack. If it's the first day of week long trip it is definetely so. If it's the last I have compressed the pack before filling it, in order to keep the gear as close to my back and center of gravity as possible. This ensures minimum energy expenditure for transporting my gear.

At the top I add the pot and foil lid, as well as the titanium foil windshield for the stove and the gas canister. Then I walk over to the tent, pull out the pegs and roll it a bit haphazardly to a loaf that goes into the big outer pocket, mesh or fabric, that sits at the back of the pack. If it's wet, which tents and tarps usually are more or less, it won't wet down the rest of the gear but rather dry out a bit. On top of the tent in the outer pocket I stash rain jacket, rain pants and waterproof socks so as to have them easily available.

I roll up the thin cell foam sleeping pad I've been sitting on, the one that keep my legs warm at night since I only use a short Neo Air or some other inflatable pad. It is held on the outside of the pack with a couple of short, pretied bungee cords, which are lighter and easier to handle than ordinary packstraps. Of comes the warm jacket which is lightly stuffed around the top of the pack and the gear there. I pull the cord, closing the pack and then tighten the top strap and the compressor straps to ensure that the framless pack is a tightly packed "sausage" that won't sag on my back, but allow transfer of weight to the hipbelt due to the structure given by the gear inside and the way that it is packed.

I hoist the pack, grab my walking poles, take a last look around and take of across the tundra, a new day with new vistas, views and the old and new thoughts that only come when you are alone with expanses of land and time in which to wander.

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4 comments:

Hendrik M said...

Very nice article about your mornings, Jörgen. My mornings are similar, though if it is not raining I usually pack together before I eat breakfast. Even so, I usually still need around one and half to two hours to pack up, eat breakfast and start walking - how long do you need?

On another note, we (http://www.nielsenbrownoutdoors.com/, http://thunderinthenight.blogspot.com/ and me) were discussing a Scandinavian UL outdoor bloggers meet up next year, and there's no representative of Sweden yet! Would you be interested to join us? We were thinking to meet in Sweden, as its in the middle.

Jörgen Johansson said...

Hi Hendrik,
Just goes to show that things can be done in different ways and if it works for you, fine. I'd have a problem packing up before I have breakfast, but that might just be habit.
The less gear I have, the faster my morning ritual is. So I usually spend 1-1,5 hours before I start walking. But then I regularly remind myself that I'm on vacation, when I fell an urge to hasten this.
A meeting sounds really interesting. Let's keep in touch on this, I'm at jorgen@fjaderlatt.se

Anonymous said...

Great stuff great read as always, Jörgen!Looking forward to forthcoming articles.

I wondered if you now have converted from being a torsolite fan to the thermarest neo air small? (you never slept as well you said!)

Also will you put up gearlist on this trip you think?

Kindest regards
Magnus

Jörgen Johansson said...

Thanks for the kind words :-)
Yep, I have become a NeoAir fan. I will write about my impressions of that product later.
This is sort of a "general" day I'm describing so a "general" packlist would be for instance:
http://www.fjaderlatt.se/labels/packlista.html

Jörgen

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