I earned this vol V
Now about the stuff I carried with me to get through this month
Very pleased with this. Didn’t try it out much before the trip, but it’ll surely get more action in the coming outings. With 72 litres it had more than enough space for the rest of the stuff and I managed to fill it only after heavy shopping. Most of times I thought that I could have had a smaller pack, 50-60L seemed OK.
To go more into detail. I didn’t like how the foam “frame” got crumpled and maintained a fold through the trip. I didn’t feel uncomfortable to my by or anything, but I just wondered why the hell it’s going like that. I might ditch that and just use my sleeping pad instead. The only thing that broke was one webbing. I don’t remember when it happened, but I suspect that it wasn’t sewn properly and the somewhat rough treatment from the airport crew got the best of it. Didn’t affect the carrying a bit though. I think those are the ONLY two negative things I can come up with.
I wasn’t sure about the hip belt at first ’cause it looked so small, but it greatly surprised me and managed to get the load off my shoulders very effectively. One minor thing though. As soon as I came back from my trial walk with the pack I cut the length of the hip-belt webbing by about 15 cm on both ends. I just didn’t need the extra length, but I left enough to the pack can be carried with winter clothing. Still after half the trip I had to tighten the belt as much as I would go for it to be around my hips properly. Another indicating that I could use a smaller pack. The hip-belt pockets were great and I kept some smaller stuff there like my pocket knife, flashlight, fire steel in one and money (all those heavy coins) and credit card and ID in the other. They stretched very nicely and didn’t put any pressure or feel uncomfortable to my hips at all. The shoulder straps were also great, but they didn’t get much load.
The side pockets carried my maps, guidebook and notebook in one and water bottle and snacks for the day in the other. Again the stretching fabric made using them easy enough so I didn’t have to take the pack off to get anything out. The only thing I had difficulty to get in and out of the pocket was the thin map in the zip-loc bag, ’cause it I had to fold it and it got crumpled when stuffed into the pocket and therefore some damage while consulting it day after day. The used maps I threw away but the bag had to be taped more than once to keep it water proof. I really missed having pockets on my pants because of that.
The side compressors I didn’t use much, ’cause the lower one was flat on the side all the time and the upper tightened to the minimum most of the time. Occasionally they held the walking poles when I needed my hands free for scrambling.
The bottom compressor I managed to put into use on few occasions when I didn’t have to carry so much food with me. One thing that I noticed when using them was that I could use the side pockets even more easily.
The outer big pocket held various smaller stuff like first aid kit, tent pegs, wind-shirt, repair kit, gloves and toiletries. Didn’t manage to keep it very organized and therefore had to surf around in search for some random object.
The main compartment held the bigger stuff with ease and plenty room to spare. Didn’t find the small pocket useful and will cut off the strange webbing thing that is probably to be used with a Camelbak type water bladder. Used the pocket where the foam sheet is in to store yet unused maps and guidebooks. Nothing got damaged in there so it was fine.
The closing of the main compartment was a bit difficult when the bag wasn’t filled to some amount. Couldn’t tighten the top webbing enough and therefore the rolled top wasn’t that tight. Didn’t cause any problems though. After heavy use the coating around the mouth of the bag started to show some signs of wearing off.
When considering waterproofness then it held very good. Only on a very shitty day managed to pound rain through the fabric, but as I carried the most important things in separate stuff sacks, then it wasn’t much of a problem.
So in conclusion I’m very satisfied with the bag. I didn’t put it to the maximum weight carrying limit as you can see from the chart, but the space will definitely be used up more when I go ski touring this winter. I highly recommend it for longer trips.. when you have enough stuff to put in there. Otherwise, GoLite has similar, but smaller packs.
I bought these after three days of walking from a Salomon shop in Obersdorf. I actuallywanted to use trailrunners fromthe start, but the first pair I bought in Estonia turned out to be a disaster and I couldn’t find anything suitable after that. They weigh 960gr a pair and feel relly light.
One of my first concerns was toe protection, ’cause I tend to hit stuff occasionally with my toes and so far all the running shoes I’ve had, have provided almost no protection. The Ultra 2 had a very solid toe-piece and I didn’t have to use any foul language once after hitting a rock or something similar.
The top is covered with mesh allowing decent ventilation, but also water and dust to come in, but also go out – at least the water goes out. Many evenings I found my feet rather dirty, but not awfully smelly. While the mesh allows good ventilation it is also something you should pay attention to when traversing roough terrain and sharp rocks. One evening I discovered that I had torn the fabric on both shoes at the same place. i suspect that it was because I let my foot come in contact with some rocks. Managed to sew it together, but it won’t be the same.
The lacing system is something I have never seen before, but it worked good enough. The laces won’t probably fail you like never, but as they are very thin and have direct contact with the mesh top they damaged it a bit. Loosening the laces might prevent that.
I usually wear sice 45, but this time I discovered that size 46 2/3 had the best fit. I’ve noticed it before that I need bigger Salomon shoes than usual. And it felt very comfortable around my feet. Best fit ever I think.
The inner soles were not good durability wise. When they were new ald held their form thay were very comfortable. I don’t know if it was because of the prolonged time of wet feet or something else, but the foam on one shoe got some fold in it that were uncomfortable. No matter how carefully I tried to put the shoe on the sole went wrong. Finally I had to stiffen it a bit with some duct-tape. Also the fabric covering the foam part came loose on both soles and kinda shrunk during the hike.
The soles provide a very good grip in all kind of terrain I had to walk on, even when wet. Or they did as long as there was some sole left. The sole material is very soft and not very wear resistant. I noticed after about 400km that about half of the sole was worn away. I might be a bit my own fault also, ’cause occasionally I dragged my feet a bit. After the discovery I took more care, but the terrain still continues to destroy the soft rubber. And as the traction got worse I slipped more than once on a steep descent. No problems on ascents though. Therefore I had to slow down a bit when going down and I didn’t feel as secure as I would have wanted. I consider that the most negative thing about these shoes and I probably won’t be able to use them next year, but I believe that they’ll be OK ofr easier trips in Estonia and where there isn’t so much steep ascents/descents. I definately will be looking something with a stronger sole next time.
Used as a poncho and a tarp I found it to be very adequate for my needs on this trip.
To me it worked better as a tarp than poncho. As latter it reached below my knees and occasionally obstructed my view to the ground. And as the fabric is very slippery, it wasn’t easy to stuff it between the hip-belt so that it remained there. I had to improvise with the press-studs a bit. I didn’t use the hood much, maybe few times for a short period, when the weather was extremely windy rand rainy. Couldn’t imagine using it for hours, because the rubber cord used to tighten the hood isn’t comfortable against my face. It held wate very good save the one particulary shitty day.
When used as a tarp it won’t hurt if you find a spot that support the way you plan to set ut the tarp. Different variations are numerous and I used about 5 different settings. It leaked ony a bit from where the hood attaches to the rest of the tarp or maybe I didn’t tie the hood tightly enough. I found it important always to have a plan how will I pitch the tarp in case the weather turns bad and it helped. As the tarp users know the key in pitching the tarp is to have it as tight as possible so it woun’t be noisy when the wind picks up and to avoid puddles of water gathering above your head. In one case, when I used the tarp to make an almost flat roof above me in rain, the water gathered in one place and then ran across the tarp and off it in regular intervals. One somewhat of a problem was that I couldn’t keep the guylines attached to the tarp all the time ’cause I used it as a poncho and then I didn’t want to have those flying around. And in the evening I had to re-attach the guylines often and it made me wish for some clips of somekind to make it more easier.
Acclaimed to be the lightest and most compact in the market and as it turned out also quite cheap considering that they came with a small backpack. It got a bit worried about the quality, but that didn’t prove to be a problem.. almost. I didn’t use the straps from the beginning and soon removed them at all. I odn’t like anything hanging to my hands whil taking pictures or looking at the map and I find it to be an unnessessary hassle to take them off and put on again all the time. I also used them to pitch my tarp when there was no suitable trees nearby. I still managed to bend one of the sections when leaning heavily during a descent, but I didn’t notice it until the evening when I tried to collapse the pole. Now it’s just harder to adjust in the section, but probably won’t affect the overall performance. On both of the poles the foam grip came loose from the shaft, but I used some super-attack and it probably won’t happen again.
I wasn’t absolutely 100% sure how this +4 bag will perform in the higher ground and therefore reinforce with a sleeping bag liner, bivy-bag and occasionally with some extra clothing. Up to 1500m with decent weather there was no problem and I had some very good nights. Still, although I sleep outside or occasionally in a tent quite often I find it not easy to have a good night’s sleep. I wake up several times at night and quite early in the morning too. The latter would be very good if I would actually get out of the bag an on the trail at first light, but there was no need for it.
The quilt as it is if a great idea, but I like to turn throug the night and prefere sleeping on my stomach, but I got more and more used to sleeping on my back. Fixing the quilt around the bag wasn’t very easy while in the bag and I ended up fixing the starps around the pad, putting the bag and pad into the bivy-bag and then crawling feet first into the bag. Wouldn’t be the best solution when you’d have to get out of the bag very quickly or many times during the night. As I tend to perspirate quite a lot even when sleeping (feet especially) the footbox was often damp if not wet from the outside. Inside remained dry. But that might also be the bivy bag failing not quite managing all the moisture. I think I’ll replace the originalt straps with some stretch-cord. The pad I used wasn’t actually very good for this quilt.
I can see myself getting a bit warmer quilt someday.
I wanted something compact and for a full lenght non-inflatable pad you probably can’t go more compact. Yoga mats don’t count. I did cut off two sections, ’cause I planned to use the Pinnacle under my feet. I found it difficult to keep my feet on the bag, because as said I twist and turn during the night. Now as the pad is divided into sections to make it more foldable I find it actually too foldable. I often had to re-adjust it. As I have already knifed it once I’ll probably will cut the part that goes into the footbox also a bit narrower, before my next outing.
One more thing I noticed was that as it is a closed cell pad there was some water in the holes in the morning. and that’s me sweating again. Didn’t find it very awesome. No water came through from the ground though. Could be stiffer, but otherways OK
BPL Vapr Bivy
Another item I used every night when sleeping outdoors. It has a water-resistant bottom (silnyl is think) and breathable top (quantum pertex).
The thing I dislike the most about it is that it has THREE zippers. I really think that the net part could have only one zipper and be permanently attached from the other side. Of course this allows you to take the net away at all but I can’t imagine fully closing myself into the bag. I like me some fresh air. They designed away the third zipper in their new model.
As said it didn’t manage all the moisture on the lower section. Did some reading and the best reason I can come up with is that because of my sleeping pad is uncut and therefore too big by my feet the air carrying the moisture is getting too cold to evaporate through Quantum. Time to get the blade out again perhaps.
The bug net came handy on few occasions, when I was pestered by huge ants and mosquitoes. Do you have any idea how much noise ants can make when they crawl on the Quantum fabric?
It has some loops to stake it onto the ground and a loop near the net part so you can hang it off you face. Used the ground loops on some occasions and they were fine. You can say that I’m satisfied with it for now.
Although I had planned to convert to alcohol stoves.. well no excuse actually. The EtaExpress is basically my whole kitchen kit as I cook in it and also eat from the pot. Have used it for about 3 years now The only item I don’t need from the original setup is the lid ’cause I doubt I’ll start frying up some bacon and eggs although I craved for an omelet more than once. The plan is to replace the lid with some foil instead. The piezo igniter broke down basically on the first days it was already dead from some previous hike. Have to find out if it can be fixed, although I can manage with the fire-steel. I used up one full 230gr canister and had to buy another one the same size ’cause the store didn’t have the smaller one. . Gave it away in the end. Next time will buy the smallest one from the start in similar conditions. The 1L pot is quite enough for a decent dinner.
I won’t be buying the plastic spork again ’cause I’m way too strong for it and don’t want to break another one. Maybe a titanium one or something from the Kupilka line.
Various smaller stuff
Chinese copy of Photonlight worked as a charm and went beyond my expetations in dark nights.
Lorpen Merino socks are a certain keeper and I’ll get a pair or two in addition. The Smartwools didn’t get that much action on the way back home so they have to be tested some more
I really wished that I had pockets on my short trousers, so I could keep the map in there
Victorinox pocket knife had all the bases covered
Panasonic TZ4 got me some nice pictures, although it scared the crap out of me when going absolutely bananas on the second day. When switched on the zoom just kept going in and out and in and out. Miracously repaired itself the next day. I wish only that it had a bulb function for longer exposures and a wider aperature so I could get the night pictures better. 60 seconds just doesn’t do that on moonless night.
The table as some very minor items missin like the plastic water bottle and knee support, but although “everything weighs something” as they say I just can’t be bothered to add them in here. Not that lightweight yet.