New gear for Sarek

I am preparing a trip to Sarek, a week in mid September. Sarek is probably the jewel in the crown of Swedish National Parks and September is a terrific month for hiking in that area. Few people, few mosquitos, clear and cold mornings with the peaks dusted in silver. Of course it can also be rain and sleet and ice cold creeks to ford. 
For this trip I will be using some new gear that I would like to introduce.

By Jörgen Johansson

 The Power Pot charges your electical appliances (strange word for the outdoors, but undoubtedly here to stay) in the bush. The main advantage compared to similar products is, in my opinion, that you can use it on any heat source. It is simply a pot with an extra thick (and heavy) bottom.

Pot and cord weigh 420 grams (I will not be using the 105 gram lid/cup but will use a piece of foil as lid.
The first test in my kitchen indicates that the Power Pot does not differ much from solar chargers. That is, they charge, but boy, does it take time...

My conclusion so far is that it is probably not feasible to use fuel that you carry, at least not for longer trips (which is when I feel the need for this way of re-charging). But if you can have the pot over a fire/slow coals for a whole evening you will at probably have something that can bring your smartphone, camera or GPS back from the brink.

I have also invested in a new pack, a Hyperlite Mountain Gear biggie, Porter Pack 4400 which gives me some 70 litres of volume. This is way more than I need for my week in Sarek. But for packrafting trips and longer expeditions with the necessity to carry food for several weeks it should be an excellent companion. This is why I want to see how well it works. It is also amazingly compressible down to some 30-40 litres, making it a very versatile pack (but with a weigh penalty unnecessary for most trips if you travel light).

I will add some extra pouches on the outside, since I prefer to carry my tent and rain gear there. More on that later. The size Large that fits my torso weighs 1050 grams, but it can reputedly carry 25 kilos without suffering internal breakdown and total loss of load transfer capability.

The third piece of gear in for a serious test in Sarek is the Mountain Laurel Trailstar. It weighs 570 grams. I am currently working on a solo innertent made of Cuben and netting that will probably turn the scales at 220 grams or so. So far I have only spent a couple of nights in the Trailstar, but it gives every impression of being an extremely sturdy lightweight shelter with lots and lots of room. In fact I think it is quite handy that I, thanks to switching between a solo and double innertent, can use it for both one and two people.

16 comments:

Mark Roberts said...

Nice new toys :)

A pity I only found out recently you were heading there. I was planning to go too in early September, but things fell through and I made a different plan to go somewhere in Finland. it would have been nice to meet you in Sarek, or at least bump into you by accident!

I've also been testing a Brunton Ember solar charger - it's laughably slow at recharging.

Jörgen Johansson said...

Mark, meeting in Sarek would have been something:-)
Yeah, chargers are of course getting better every year, but you can still carry a lot of batteries to equal their weight. Still, for very long trips charging becomes interesting. As I think I have written elsewhere, the solar charger I for three weeks along the Nahanni a couple of years ago just barely kept my phone alive during the three weeks.

Philip Werner said...

Pretty much given up on portable charging devices. I just carry the Powermonkey extreme battery now.

Jörgen Johansson said...

Philip, sooner or later these chargers will deliver. Probably later :-) However, it would be nice to have an alternative that is not that heavy and that gives you an option to being completely stranded when all batteries have run dry.

Nielsen Brown said...

It is always nice to hear about new gear. I have played with the Trailstar, but in my attempt to reduce what I use/need I feel that the Cricket is a better option. Why? Smaller footprint, it provides shelter and bug protection for one without any excess. It works for me in the lowlands, in the highlands it is a mid. As for power management way back I never used an electronic device, why do I need one now? My iPhone can last more than 7 days with careful power management. HMG pack I am sure you will not regret, they are great packs.And yes I m jealous you are going to Sarek in Autumn.

Jörgen Johansson said...

Roger, Yeah, we both belong to a generation that survived the wilds without electric power. Flashlight batteris excluded :-)
I was very interested in the Cricket, but unfortunately missed yours at Coast2Coast Sweden, for the reasons you mention. However, I wanted something that I felt was reliable above timberline, and you are not using your Cricket there?
Maybe I should get an Iphone, I find my HTC sucks battery life something awful and will be completely drained after one week of none use. Maybe I should simply take the battery out when not using the phone. What I want to do is evaluate if the Power Pot could be useful either for very long trips in wild areas or for less wild trips like C2C, where the need for Facebook updates is part of the deal/mission. For my Nahanni trip a couple of years ago I bought 7 camera batteries (and only needed about 3-4 for three weeks)which still weighs less than the extra weight of the power pot. But with a GPS and a GoPro camera, well, power needs increase.
I am planning a long walk for next summer (hence the HMG Porter)and my hunch is that I will bring a bunch of batteries form my cameras and GPS. And use the GPS, not for navigating, but sparingly for dead reckoning and pinpointing positions from known "mileposts".

Nielsen Brown said...

I would use the cricket for a short (5 days or thereabouts) walk in the high fells, but for long walks I like a bit more space to escape the weather and to air/dry things out. The advantage of the cricket (mids, trailstar etc.) is that they can be easily erected as a lunchtime, bad weather shelter, which I missed on my last trip. I use an Olympus Ep2 and carry 3 batteries, I find I can get about 400 photos out of one battery. GPS, the etrex 10 is very light on batteries. As for my iPhone, it is only turned on once or twice a day for messages and all extraneous apps, wifi, data roaming are off, thus its longevity.

Jörgen Johansson said...

Yes, in most cases extra batteries will go a long way weightwise, compared to different charging solutions.
Since my walk along parts of Nordkalottleden in very poor weather 2012 I have been looking at, as you write, a roomier and more stable alternative shelter compared to the very light, homemade Cuben version I carried at that time. For C2C I had a keen interest in the Nordisk Telemark 2. Instead I was so favourably impressed by the Trailstar, having plenty of time to familiarize myself with it, that I decided to buy one. An added bonus was when I realized that I could have a shelter with an innertent for two people, and comfortable at that, for 1200 grams.
And of course a palatial one person shelter with a solo innertent for 800 grams. Much roomier and better ventilated and also lighter than the Nordisk Telemark 2.

korpijaakko said...

Some nice kit here, and even more so, a nice trip in planning. Sarek is gorgeous in autumn.

I'm quite sceptical with the Powerpot. It might be good for some trips like long tours during the polar night where other power options are suboptimal and you need to melt a lot of snow anyway (Alex Hibbert's Dark Ice) and for example on long canoeing/kayaking tours where firewood is readily available and weight doesn't matter. But other than that I think spare batteries and/or solar power are better ways to go. But interested to hear you opinions after some field testing.

And as an interesting side note: I have the "original" HMG Expedition pack and it weights some 100g less in size L. Quite a big weigth difference.

Jörgen Johansson said...

korpi, I have the same reservations about the Power Pot, that is why I want to test it :-)
Interesting how gear, especially packs it seems, tend to get heavier and heavier, even from lightweight manufacturers. Added value often means added weight...

Mark Waring said...

Enjoy Sarek. What's your route? I find Sarek trips are dictated by the 'entrance' and 'exit' I use and normally means an east to west crossing for me (I live in the UK and normally go home via Norway as it's marginally easier). That said next time I fancy 'entering' from Kvikkjokk and wandering up to have a look at the observatory at Parte (not many buildings in Sarek as you know!). I think as well any Sarek trip must mean one meal at Saltoluokta as well ...

Jörgen Johansson said...

Mark, Thank you!
You are quite right about entering and exiting, in this case reinforced by the season and the decline in communications. I like to go by train (can bring my gas canister and enjoy a beer... well, maybe two)and this time of year feasible solutions only exist on weekends and fairly limited to Kvikkjokk. I have not exactly decided my route, but I will walk to Aktse which I have only done in the winter befor. And then I will go up to the top of Skierfe, also never done by me before. From there I will go down in the Rapa valley and follow the river upstream. Also only done in winter before. I might ford the river and head up Sarvesvagge and go back to Kvikkjokk via Njåtsosvagge and Pårek. Or via Vallevare. Or I might venture into Pastavagge instead and loop somehow. Depends on the weather and the progress I make. No Saltoluokta this time, although I find it the most enjoyable STF lodge of them all.

Mark Waring said...

I can see your route! Kvikkjokk to Aktse will be a good warm up on the KL (should be fairly quiet now), I know that bit well. However, I haven't gone in via Rapa myself but arguably (so I am told and I think Claes Grundsten says so as well) it's the finest route into the centre of the park. I will have to do that one day (and Skierfe for the classic Sarek photo, there's perhaps the best chance of spotting bears and elks there as well that way too).

Again enjoy. I left Lappland only last week. Autumn came so fast, summers deep greens went to yellows/browns in almost only 7 days. Amazing!

Jörgen Johansson said...

Mark,
Yes, I am really looking forward to the trip up Rapadalen. I have done it winter a couple of times, but that is different. With fall colors in place and few people the chances of seing elks should be pretty good.

Mark Waring said...

I'll look forward to the trip report in due course then. My favourite Sarek book is the excellent Annika Berggren's 'Vildmark's Vandring i Sarek'. I know you've met Annika because I read a feature in UTE when you, your son and Annika (Hakan too?) backpacked around Abisko!

Jörgen Johansson said...

Mark, Annika will be happy to hear this :-)
Yes, HÅkan was along as well for the trip around Abisko. Here is an entry about them both in Fjäderlätt: http://www.fjaderlatt.se/2011/03/cool-couple-in-cold-climate.html

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