My hiking gear overview 2014

This is how it all began back in 2009, me carrying a huge backpack through the Swiss Alps for three weeks. And we didn’t even have camping or cooking gear with my friend!

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(photo by my friend mr. Wolfskin)

I am not a gear enthusiast by any means – I don’t even have a scale to measure the grams, but I have learned to appreciate right type of clothing and equipment. Within the years I have slowly updated what I have and tried to look for lighter alternatives. I’m especially happy with my Big 3 nowadays: the backpack, shelter and sleeping system, weighing 3,3 kilos in total. I know those could be still lighter, but compare that to the old monstrous backpack which was 3 kilos alone!

Here’s an overview of my hiking gear and what I usually wear on trail. I hope you’ll find some useful examples, inspiration and please feel free to recommend something better! (click the images to see them larger)

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The main difference between a summer hike and autumn/spring hike is that in colder weather I’ll wear the Rugged Mountain Pants instead of shorts. However, they are way too heavy to carry around, so I need to be sure that weather stays cool enough to wear them while walking. Otherwise I usually have pretty much the same set of clothes with me, whether going to the Alps or coast of UK. For example the shield jacket is so light and useful in windy conditions that I have it always with me.

I usually feel chilly in the evenings after a hard day of walking, when the air cools down and sun is setting. At the camp I’ll have my Rab baselayer on, fleece (taking either the micro or thicker one), down vest, rain pants and thick gore-tex shell jacket. The jacket is quite old and not very useful in the rain (too hot), so I’ve used it just when in camp. I’m dreaming of having a down jacket some day.

In West Highland Way and GR5 I used a cheap poncho as my main rain protection and despite its obvious defects, it worked well enough. But when it pours water the whole day and strong wind tests your spirit, going gets tough. So my latest gear update was to replace the poncho with a proper rain jacket and I found a good offer for that Montane Air. I recommend to check Ultra Light Ourdoor Gear that offers very good service and selection.

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Here are some small items: tiny bottle of shampoo, minimum amount of toothpaste, cut toothbrush. I found that plastic capsule for my camera charger and batteries inside of a giant choko eastern egg! 🙂

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I carry usually a small survival box with me. I have never needed to open it while on trail and hopefully no need to do so in the future either. I have customised what’s inside, not sure if everything is useful or if missing something important but it has for example a signal mirror, wire saw, sewing kit, water purification pills and painkillers, flashlight, tinderbox, money, tampon (for making fire), some gauze, glukoce pills…

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It sure looks like having lot of stuff, but my base weight still stays under 10 kilos and usually with weeks food the weight settles somewhere around 12-13 kilos.

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Vaude Power Lizard is like a palace for one person; you can easily take even the backpack inside.

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Here’s a list of my hiking gear. The weights are estimates and taken from manufacturers web sites, as some of the cut gear images.

At the moment I’m looking for walking poles as I had to leave the old ones to France. But most telescope models have clumsy and big mountaineering type of grip. For fast and light movement I want to have slimmer and similar grip than those used in cross-country skiing. (check the photo here)

Also I need to replace my loyal Lowa boots in the near future.

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And in winter?

I’m not (so far) a huge fan of winter camping and as you might have noticed I lack some proper gear (and skills) to survive in Nordic winter. Daily hikes and cross-country skiing are the best ways for me to enjoy the white and cold beauty.

Montane Air Jacket & RAB Kinetic Pants

I got today a package I had been waiting for:

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Ultra Light Outdoor Gear had some nice winter sales (they still do) and I thought to make the Gear Purchase of the Year right away. I’ve been long wanting to update my rain gear so I grabbed a nice new jacket and pants from the sales.

I used to have very light Columbia over trousers (Omni-tech) combined with a simple rain poncho. I used these for example in the West Highland Way and the GR5 the last summer and although they had worked pretty well the combo is far from being perfect. The poncho has a crappy hood and unprotected arms whereas Columbia pants didn’t keep the rain out that long and after years of use they are now breaking down.

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So, after some research the Montane Air Jacket sounded to be able to do the job. It’s extremely light (314 g size M) and has the eVent fabric. RAB Kinetic Pants in the other hand uses the Pertex Shield+ fabric (185 g size M). I haven’t really used either of these two technologies, my eVent gloves being the only exception, so I’m excited to see how they will perform.

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I got size S jacket and pants (I have finally admitted to myself that I’m a small man) and they fit very nicely. First thing you’ll notice with the jacket though is that the front feels quite short but luckily the jacket is longer in the back. I don’t think it’s too short, just an impression. The pants have nice over the knee length zippers.

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The jacket passed the initial shower leakage test without any problem. I stayed complitely dry inside as water drops had impossible task to penetrate the fabric. The pants worked also well, but as they have lesser HH than the jacket, I got a bit moist inside. (Air Jacket has 30.000mm HH and pants 15.000mm HH)

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I’ll give my final verdict after using them outdoors but both feel well made. I have always fancied the black color but I’m absolutely loving the tangerine tone of this jacket!

GR5 – DAY 0, Advent Calendar

In July 2013 I solo hiked the most famous part of the GR5 long distance walking route, The Grand Traverse of the Alps, from Lake Geneva to Nice, roughly 600km over the beautiful French Alps. I have finally finished editing the photos so it’s time to post them here. As the amount of trail days goes almost hand in hand with the days before Xmas Eve, I’ll post every day one trail day, like an advent calendar. Don’t forget to check the one and only, true outdoor advent calendar at Hiking in Finland!

I won’t be writing much to these posts because I’m currently working with a book about my hike. So let’s save the details and some writing energy into that!

Here’s the day zero, the day of travelling to the starting point of the GR5:

 

DAY 0, HELSINKI – GENEVA – ST.GINGOLPH – LA PLANCHE

Ascent: 800 m

Descent: 0 m

Distance: 7 km

Time on trail: 15:30 – 18:00

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All my gear got nicely into my Osprey Exos 58. The most important gear being my RAB Alpine 400 down sleeping bag and Vaude Power lizard tent, both weighing about one kilo. My idea was to sleep in a tent as many nights as possible. I took dry dinner food and snacks for a week. In total the weight of the backpack was around 13 kilos, plus the water.

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I took an early morning Finnair flight to Geneva, then a bus to Evian and finally a taxi to the village of St.Gingolph at the border of France and Switzerland. Feeling confident at the beginning of the trail. I had read about a nice meadow couple of hours further on the trail…

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Hard day of travelling behind but finally began to feel relaxed between the first line of mountains. From now on it would be easy; there’s the trail, just keep walking. Heavy rain in the evening.