“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 not including my newly purchased photography kit.”
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 up until 2015 I hadn’t “lived” in the outdoors as I did when I was younger in Australia. Therefore I decided to join a refresher course in October 2015. I participated in this workshop for several reasons:
- I have never slept in the outdoors 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
First purchases of kit
Just after and before this workshop 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.
I now pack either a Zpacks Duplex weighing 595 grams without stakes (pegs)
or a Tarptent Notch weighing 836 grams without stakes (pegs).
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 now use a Hyperlite Mountain Gear Windrider 2400 weighing 799 grams. I have published a gear review here.
I purchased the following sleeping system in October 2015:
- 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)
When I first used my new sleeping system in October 2015 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. It was a cold night and the temperatures plummeted to below 0℃. 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 newly experienced opinion, useless!
I now use several types of quilts, sleeping bags and sleeping pads. I adapt to the conditions. My summer sleeping system for example weighs 630 grams total. You can read about it here.
Other times of the year one of my favourite pieces of gear is the As Tucas Foratata Down Quilt. I published an article about it here.
I’m a little guy with back issues and so I could not manage that 17 kg pack weight. I have a severe, active and progressive rheumatoid arthritis in my spine and therefore take medicine for this. Once a week I inject a 50 mg solution of Benepali etanercept from a pre-filled syringe which helps reduce the rate of progression of joint damage.
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 not including my newly purchased photography kit.
The workshop that I participated in back in October 2015 was informative and I was happy with the experience I gained with my gear. Basically, none of my kit worked for me and since October 2015 I have changed out every bit of gear that I had purchased.
This is my story and what has worked for me! It might not work for you and you might be happy with your heavy kit.
I regularly publish gear reviews or just write about my gear choices. I like to share with others my experiences and purchases. I also prefer to buy from the smaller cottage companies and my preference is to purchase within the EU, although it is not always possible. More info about my gear choices here.
Thanks for reading