High Sierra and Big Trees

In 24 hours I fly to California in order to spend 2-3 weeks of hiking in the most spectacular surroundings imaginable, the High Sierra. I also plan to see some big Sequoia trees and camp under their arms. Something, perhaps, for every hikers bucket list?

By Jörgen Johansson
From my thru-hike of the John Muir Trail in October 2015.

Utveckla ditt vandrande - Walkshops i Stockholm

Se nedan för övriga, planerade tider under våren 2017. Notera att du måste anmäla dig via e-post info@smarterbackpacking.com i förväg. Du måste också avvakta en bekräftelse.

Mina After Work Walkshops går av stapeln centralt i Stockholm och innebär att en grupp på 5-10 deltagare vandrar i Nationalstadsparken, medan vi pratar om hur man kan utveckla sitt vandrande på olika sätt. Mycket handlar om att det inte behöver var tungt, besvärligt eller farligt. Efter en timmas promenad slår vi oss ned i gräset, jag bjuder på macka och kaffe/te, och vi fortsätter samtalet en stund.

Intresset för en sådan "walk-and-talk" har efterfrågats bland deltagare i Coast2Coast Sweden, men också genom mail och andra kontakter jag har med vandrare som läser min blogg och mina böcker. Dessa Walkshops riktar sig till personer som har vandrat en del, kanske dagsturer eller flerdagarsvandringar och upptäckt vilken källa till återhämtning och utveckling detta kan vara. Nu vill man veta mer om vad längre vandringar skulle kunna ge - och vad som krävs.

Att vandra långt, leva enkelt och utforska nya världar - och sig själv - behöver inte vara så besvärligt  som man lätt tror. Det behöver inte vara farligt och packningen behöver inte vara tung. Detta kommer jag att berätta om.

By Jörgen Johansson
Längs John Muir Trail, California

Pump your inflatable pad with homemade pump

I have begun using an Exped Synmat Hyperlite M. The synthetic filling can handle, but does better without, inflation by mouth. Alternatives av pump bags that Exped sells. Perhaps you can also adapt some other pump bag solution or pump from other manufacturers to fit the Exped Synmat nozzle.
It would be easier, cheaper and lighter to use something you already have in the pack. When I put my mind to this the conclusion felt pretty obvious.

By Jörgen Johansson

My solution to non waterproof breathables

In my own experience waterproof/breathables are not waterproof in prolonged rain, just as Andrew and many others have said. After day of rain in Brooks Range, Alaska the other year, rain had penetrated the double layers of my eVent smock and my rain pants under the pack waistbelt. My Icebreaker merino shorts/underwear were soaked. Rain had also penetrated from my chin downwards, leaving a long and fairly wide damp trail down to my waist. This made me look like I do in this photo.
After a day of rain in Brooks Range, Alaska 2014
By Jörgen Johansson

Seam sealing a tent

The newly arrived Lightheart Gear Solong 6 that I wrote about recently, needed some seam sealing. So I took the opportunity of doing that one sunny Sunday. Seam sealing is really pretty easy, once you know how.

By Jörgen Johansson

Lightheart Gear Solong 6 tent

I got a nice present from some friends who visited Lightheart Gear at the Friedrichshafen Outdoor Fair this summer. It was a Solong 6 tent from American company Lightheart Gear, seeking representation in Europe. This particular tent is especially designed for big people. Me, I am a tall guy, so it seemed a good pick. I could not resist putting the tent up in my garden and taking some photos. I have not used it yet, so my impressions are just impressions, probably  sprinkled with equal shares of experience and prejudice.

By Jörgen Johansson

Energy on the trail part 4

This is the final blog post about your only source of energy on the trail (and off): Food. These posts were initiated by some questions from a female backpacker who had suffered from calory deficit while on long hikes. She also was a bit worried about female hikers being more prone to this than male, because of a wish to lose weight. So she asked me a number of questions about food for backpacking that I have tried to answer in this series.
In this final entry I will add some variation and inspiration to the pretty austere dry food menu that I tend to use most of the time. Something for everyone, I hope, that will make the caloric intake on longer hikes more enjoyable.

By Jörgen Johansson

Energy on the trail part 3

In the earlier blog posts on this subject I have written about calory needs while hiking (Part 1) and about the calory content in different kinds of food (Part 2). Now I will talk about examples of how all this can translate into different menus on the trail. Starting with my own menu for the last couple of years.

By Jörgen Johansson

Light packs for test

Testing some lightweight (less than 1 kilo) backpacks from Nigor and Pajak.

By Jörgen Johansson

Energy on the trail part 2

In part one of Energy on the Trail I talked about the need for calories while hiking and also approximately how many kilocalories the average male or female hiker need every day. In this blog entry you can read about how this translates into different food sources.

By Jörgen Johansson

Energy on the trail part 1

A female backpacker and friend sent me an e-mail about calories and hiking. She had been having problems with eating too little on her trips and felt other women were having similar problems. So she wondered if I could answer some questions she had. I said I would give it a try.

By Jörgen Johansson

Gear at Coast2Coast Sweden 2016 part 4

Another piece of gear new to me, and also a test for Backpackinglight.com, was the inflatable mattress from Exped, a Synmat Hyperlite M, that I used during Coast2Coast Sweden this year.

By Jörgen Johansson

Gear at Coast2Coast Sweden part 3

The pack I used on Coast2Coast Sweden was new to me. It is part of a series of tests of European lightweight packs done for Backpackinglight.com a k a BPL. This one was a Montane Ultra Tour 55 (55 stands for volume in litres).

By Jörgen Johansson

Gear at Coast2Coast Sweden part 2

The second piece of gear used on Coast2Coast Sweden in 2016 that I would like to comment on is my homemade tent. It had some good sides and some bad sides. The goal was to have a dry and comfortable sleeping area during circumstances that were prime for creating condensation in a shelter. Did I succeed?

By Jörgen Johansson

Gear at Coast2Coast Sweden part 1

I have just completed Coast2Coast Sweden for the 4th time, and it was a great experience, walking through spring across Sweden with a bunch of dedicated hikers. I will comment on some of the gear I used in a number of blog entries, starting with my sleeping bag.

By Jörgen Johansson

Shelter for the cool forest part II

During 2015 I used a Hilleber Enan on Coast2Coast Sweden in May. The weather was cool and nights were usually only a couple of degrees above freezing. So I was not surprised that condensation was actually dripping in my face some mornings.
In October I hiked the John Muir Trail in California. I used a Gossamer Gear The One for shelter. A single skin tarptent it weighs less than half of the Hilleberg Enan, which is classic double wall very stable mountain tent. The One, with excellent ventilation, usually is not very condensation prone. But temperatures around, and sometimes below, freezing made it drip on my face some mornings as well.
So I decided to construct the ideal shelter for forests, where there is less need for storm-worthy tents. And also for temperatures were condensation is very, very difficult to avoid. A lot more on the background for this tent you will find in this blog post.
Gossamer Gear The One with pack and bear canister on the JMT.

By Jörgen Johansson

For serious backpacking in demanding terrain

Here is something I will try this summer, on my trip to Ram Plateau. "For expeditions and heavy loads in challenging terrain, these offer the support you need for safe backpacking". Haindl is not a new company, but it is new to the backpacking and hiking community. I spoke to their International Marketing Manager at the head office in Kirchsanschnoring, Bavaria.

By Jörgen Johansson

Shelter for forest part I

As Coast to Coast Sweden looms nearer I have begun to think about the kind of shelter I will use this year. Last years event was cold and damp, moisture was literally dripping from both the inner and outer walls of the Hilleberg Enan I used.
The same heavy condensation was also a factor when I hiked the John Muir Trail in October, using a Gossamer Gear The One for shelter.

So I have decided to make a shelter that will beat both of those for use in protected areas, like the forest.

By Jörgen Johansson

The beginning of mummies

I am rereading Dick Turners book Nahanni, one of the inspirations for my own backpacking and packrafting trip down this marvelous World Heritage river in Canadas Northwest Territories. Dick Turner came into the area 1930 and spent the rest of his life there, trapping, trading, boating, flying. Anything that could support him and his growing family. It is a great story about those days. It also mentions in passing something that has evolved a lot since then, making the nights warmer for all outdoor people.
Packrafting the Rock Gardens of the South Nahanni River
By Jörgen Johansson

Skis in transit

Travelling with skis, especially on airplanes, can be a hassle. And my old bombproof  ski bag is not something I want to lug around in the backcountry. A couple of years ago I made a ski bag from some surplus materials. It weighs 42 grams, which is more like it.

Double up or not?

It is usually a good idea to save weight by sharing gear with a team mate. But not always. On our Finnmarksvidda trip a couple of years ago, Joe Newton and I did not share any gear, simply because with light gear the advantage is not so great. Or maybe just the opposite. It might be safer not to share gear. These are the pros and cons as far as we could see.

By Jörgen Johansson

On this winter trip we brought:
  • Two tents
  • Two stoves/cooking gear
  • Two rulks
  • Two sets of firestarting, medical, repair etc
Considering that our two tents only weigh about 2,5 kilos together, it is not easy to find one good winter tent that weighs less. A Hilleberg Nallo would, but we did not own such a tent. The Nallo is also too short for my 190 centimeters. My old Hilleberg 3-person Keron with plenty of space and bombproof  to booth, weighs over four kilos. And of course, with two tents we had one spare, we could have survived in one tent.

We could maybe have saved a couple of hundred grams by skipping one stove and using a larger pot. However, this would have made melting snow and eating more complicated, since we had most of our meals in our respective tents.

We both used top mounted canister stoves that are not considered winter stoves but work fine down to at least -20 C. Bringing two stoves, each weighing less than 100 grams, could be considered a safety measure.

We could have put all our gear in one big Paris pulk, instead of having two sawn off into Rulks, and taken turns pulling it. But that would have completely ruined the whole rulk concept.  It would have been impossible to carry this big pulk on our backs.

The two rulks could, in an emergency, pretty easily have been turned into one long pulk unit in which Joe could have pulled me to the nearest hospital. I have holes drilled near the tops of my skis to make it easier to turn the skis into an emergency sled. Coupled with the pulks this would have been a very good emergency vehicle.

As for our true emergency gear (repair, medical, firestarters etc) it only weighs about 100 gram for each of us. So in total there was little to be gained from combining that stuff. It can even be argued that there is safety in both of us having all the gear we needed, should we for some reason, like whiteout, become separated. That can in fact happen, and it almost happened to me years ago, that I lost sight of my team mate in hard wind and swirling snow.

More about the Finnmarksvidda trip here. You can also search www.fjaderlatt.se with that keyword.

The Incredible Rulk revisited

One of my absolute favorites for transporting gear and food when travelling in snow, is the Rulk. It derives its name from a combination of rucksack and pulk. It has the advantage of working (almost) equally well in both modes.

By Jörgen Johansson

Hands warm in winter

I am a bit shamed to admit that I have for more than 30 years used the same setup for protecting my hands during winter trips. Well, the setup is identical but 50 percent of the components have changed a number of times over the years. This is the where I start:

By Jörgen Johansson

To shovel or to claw?

I have used a number of different snow shovels while winter camping during the decades. None are perfect for everything. If you are serious about camping in the snow and building your shelter in the snow you need some serious stuff. If you bring it more as an emergency tool and for digging holes for your tent anchors you might be better of with a Snowclaw.

By Jörgen Johansson

Light up your winter nights

I just stumbled across a lightweight, solar powered lamp that looks interesting for winter camping. A brief video describes the functionality well. Worth testing?

By Jörgen Johansson

Water in winter

In winter you have to melt snow or ice for water. You also have to carry reasonable amounts of water in order not to get dehydrated during the day. I use a system with one large container and two small ones. The small ones also are very useful for another purpose.

By Jörgen Johansson

Top mounted canister stoves in winter

After having used alcohol stoves for decades I have for more than 10 years used top-mounted canister stoves both summer and winter.

By Jörgen Johansson

My Current Clothing for Winter Trips

The fact that I have proved to myself that I could use the same baselayer and shells in winter as in summer does not mean that I find this ideal. But they do add the perspective that even a very lightweight rain jacket in water-proof breathable is just as good for hard winds (and better for slush) in winter as an anorak from the 1950s. And people survived in those.

By Jörgen Johansson
With Rulk (rucksack-pulk) and Paramo clothing, heading into Sarek.

Lightweight clothing for winter trips
Some years ago I decided to test the theory that you could use the same lightweight baselayers and shells in winter as in summer. The only difference should logically be that you need more insulation in your middle layer(s).
Me wearing a Marmot windshirt in some biting wind. As could be expected it worked very well, windproof and did not collect moisture inside. Weight: 160 grams.
This  photo shows my storm shell, which came to use during this trip. It was my regular summer rain smock, Haglöfs Oz. It kept me dry and comfortagle as I retreated from above timberline to the birch forest in some hard winds. Weight: 200 grams.

The third photo shows an ultralight windshirt in a beta-version that I tested for Fjällräven. It never made the stores. It was special by having short sleeves (which can be glimpsed) and no back. The theory being that your pack would cover your back anyway. Weight: 39 grams.
Underneath these shells I wore a number of "undershirts' depending on how cold it was and how vigourosly I moved. The baselayer ("there can be only one") was my summertime merino one.

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