Revised/Updated Jan 2019
This is my first blog post for Brian Outdoors. I grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia but I have lived in Denmark for some 25 years. As a teenager I did many “Boy Scout” hikes in south-east Queensland, Australia. My old Scout master was ex-army and we were put through all sorts of tests including night hikes through thick brush that had to be cut through with a machete whilst we were sucked on by huge leaches. In those days we slept on a ground sheet on the ground in our heavy synthetic sleeping bags; there was no such thing as air beds. We slept in open tents with no insect nets. You also had to find fallen trees in the bush and make a tent pole to support the shelter as it had none.
That was quite a few years back and since I have lived in Scandinavia I have not lived in the outdoors as I did when I was younger. Therefore I decided to join a refresher course with a group called Opdag Verden. I participated in this workshop for several reasons:
- I have never slept or hiked in this part of the world before and I need some advice on gear choices for the Nordic conditions
- a lot has changed since I did this when I was a young man; clothing, backpacks, footwear, sleeping systems etc.
- I needed to re-fresh my map reading skills
Just after and before this course I purchased traditional heavy gear including shelter, backpack, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, water bottles, pot, stove, clothes, footwear etc. I did this on the advice that I received in the outfitter and through reading literature available to me at the time. To be fair, the tent that I purchased was lightweight. It was a Nordisk Telemark 2 LW and weighed about 1 kg. The problem with this tent is that it only has one opening for a vent which is not enough. This tent has huge condensation issues so it was one of the first bits of gear that I sold quickly again.
When I started out again in October 2015 my pack weighed about 16-17 kg. I had a Osprey Atmos AG 50 back pack which alone weighed about 1.96 kg. I’m a little guy with back issues and so I could not manage. I quickly decided that if I could not drastically reduce my base weight then this “hiking thing” will be very short-lived for me. I soon got involved in forums on the internet and watched hours and hours of YouTube videos. I read a lot of books about lightweight and ultra-lightweight backpacking. Over the next six months, and I guess that I work on it all the time, I reduced my base weight by over a whopping 10 kg! Today my base weight in the summer months floats around 4½ kg and in the colder months is normal at 6 kg.
Gribskov (Grib Forest) is Denmark’s fourth largest forest stretching over 50 sq km. Located about 30 km northeast of Copenhagen, it’s a great woodland walk situated close to Lake Esrum (Esrum Sø). Lake Esrum is the largest lake in Denmark by water volume and the second largest lake by surface area.
Friday October 9th, 2015
We agreed to meet at Kagerup train station which is situated on the west side of Grib Forest on Friday afternoon. I picked up a couple of other participants who lived not far from me and I guess it was about 15:00 pm when we arrived. Soon the others arrived by train and car and we were on our way. The first night we made camp about 2½ km walk from the car park at a place called Multiberg. It consists of four shelters, a fire pit, a couple of tables and chairs and a compost toilet. We had to have our own water with us and on advice I had 3 liters with me which would be enough until the next day where we could top up before the next camp. The shelter site is reserved for groups and you have to book it in advance. One of the shelters is really two shelters joined together. I would estimate that you could comfortably sleep twenty people in the four shelters.
The sun went down just after we had pitched our tents. We all met up at the fire pit and introductions were made while we prepared our respective dinners. Someone got the fire going too. After a pleasant evening we made our way to bed.
I had purchased the following sleeping system:
- Robens Air Impact 3,8 cm self-inflating air pad R-value 3.1 (610 g)
- Yeti Tension Mummy 500 sleeping bag comfort temperature 3°C (1100 g)
Now this time of the year the night temperatures can be hovering around zero ℃. I could feel the cold rising from the ground through my pad and the sleeping bag’s loft wasn’t enough to keep my body heat from escaping either. Keep in mind that in Australia I used to sleep on the ground on top of a ground sheet so I thought that I would be fine. I could also hear my neighbour tossing and turning all night. She was obviously also feeling the cold.
Saturday October 10th, 2015
After a cold night’s sleep we all met after breakfast and our workshop begun. The topics covered today were:
- choice of backpack including correct sizing and fitting
- packing a backpack correctly
- footwear & care
- clothing & care
- choice of a shelter & care
- choice of a sleeping bag & care
- choice of stove
- map & compass
The session finished off with a quick practice exercise using the map and compass. Once completed and over some quick lunch we were given a new task. We had to bushwack about 2.8 km in an easterly direction towards Lake Esrum and arrive at a place called Graverhus. I was placed in a group with two other participants. We worked together and quickly worked out that we needed to leg a course or bushwack at 80 degrees for 2.8 km. We were working with poorly copied black & white maps. The map was not easy to work with. Measuring the same exercise today on my BaseCamp program I can see that we should have headed 91 degrees at 2.7 km. So we were a little off but we did arrive eventually at the correct location at Graverhus where we could top up on our water supplies.
After that we headed as a group towards our new location for camp number two.
Bolandshus was just a large camping area with a water tap and a fire-place. Once again a fire was organised and someone, who had joined camp that night, had taken along some beers which were shared amongst us. We had a nice evening and soon we all retired for the night.
Sunday October 11th, 2015
It was a cold night and the temperatures plummeted to below 0℃. You can see the frost on the grass below. I had to supplement my sleeping system with my puffy jacket. It helped only slightly as it was actually a summer jacket. So I made a mental note that I needed to not only replace my new backpack and new tent but also my new sleeping bag and new sleeping pad which were all, in my experienced opinion, useless!
After breakfast we continued with the workshop. We received instructions on the following topics:
- considerations with choosing a camp site
- where you are permitted to walk in Denmark, rules and regulations.
- Rules for camp locations in DK. We also discussed “allemandsretten” which is used in Sweden, Norway and Finland. It basically means that you are permitted to sleep nearly wherever you want. This was very interesting news for me and something which had a huge influence on most of my hiking career for the next many years.
- next on the agenda was how to make a fire and the different types of fires
Then we were once again divided into groups and we set about trying to light and build different types of fires. The weekend turned out to be a success and I was happy with the experience I gained especially with my gear. Basically, none of my gear worked and since October 2015 I have changed out every bit of gear that I had packed on this adventure.
Photos on Flickr
Thanks for reading