Thursday, December 19, 2019

Best Gear of the Decade and Long Term Reflections on Ultralight Backpacking


*First let me get the same old disclaimer I've been giving over and over again this past decade out of the way: I am not sponsored.  Never have been.  I get no free gear, and never have.  There are no ads on this blog, i.e. this blog is not monetized.  I am not a Youtube partner, i.e. no ads on my channel and I make/made literally no money off of it. 

Introduction and Reflections

The beginning of the 2010's saw me discover and then quickly transition into ultralight backpacking.  It was a pretty fast transition because I saw and felt the benefits of UL for myself in practice right away, and I was soon a die-hard UL convert.  The problem was that at the same time I went back to university and was a struggling student again, so I didn't have much spare cash to put into my rediscovered hobby.  But that didn't stop me, of course.  I had been backpacking well before that, and had used a lot of old army gear and traditional and heavy K-Mart camping gear--both of which are pretty cheap.  I was determined to go UL.

By 2011 I designed and had my wife help me make my first key piece of UL gear, a MYOG backpack that only weighed 445g/15.7oz.  And while of course it had its shortcomings and was pretty minimalist or even a bit crude, it actually worked--and I put it to good use as well.  And it only cost around 10 bucks.  That same year, and for a few years to come, I rocked a cheap but decent MYOG tarp, and my instructions on how to make this tarp still remain one of the most popular posts on my blog.  And I was happy with my makeshift but fully functional UL gear, and went on plenty of great overnighters and section hikes.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

2020 Updates and My Updated, Current Gear Lists

Introduction and General Updates

Another winter is just around the corner, and a new year soon after.  So I thought I'd give some quick updates as well as show off my new and improved gear lists.  These gear lists I don't see changing very much for the next few years at least, and that's how my gear lists have been for the past few years, with a few exceptions.  Overall I am very happy and confident in my dialed in kits, and hope to continue to get good use out of them.  

I still go out backpacking about as much as I have been doing the past half decade or so, which is not as much as I would like.  But this is changing, as most of the reason I had to cut back on my time spent on trail has been due to being a proud father of two.  Well the kids are growing up and slowly but surely I'm getting more free time back, so more solo trips are in the works for the future.  But of course my family and I all love nature, so we also spend a fair amount of time out there together, doing car camping, day hikes, and shorter backpacking trips.  All in all, I can't complain much.

But because I've had less free time due to family and work obligations, combined with the fact that my gear hasn't seen as many changes or experimentation due to being pretty contented with my kits, this has resulted in much less content here on my lil' old blog.  But there will still be trail guides and trip reports to come, and the occasional gear ramblings, some of which I will get to shortly.  

I will continue to slowly but surely chip away at The Troll Trail, which was/is a big project to undertake.  I am looking at this project as a long term commitment.  After I finish hiking and documenting the whole thing, the next step will be to spread the word and raise awareness.  This will probably take another half a decade at least, and perhaps more.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Cesar's Guide to Glaskogen Nature Reserve




Introduction

Glaskogen is a large (240 square km) nature reserve in Sweden's Värmland county.  The reserve has a variety of marked and unmarked hiking trails throughout its wilderness, as well as many backwoods dirt and/or gravel roads, lumber roads, and some normal roads as well.  The reserve is also a popular destination for canoeing/kayaking and car camping due to its many lakes/ponds and rivers/streams.  There are a variety of ways hikers can choose to get to Glaskogen, and the best way to think of hiking this nature reserve is to treat it as a "choose your own adventure" type experience due to its many options.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Our Ultralight and Deluxe Cook Kit for Two



My wife and I are getting ready for another section hike, putting the finishing touches on our gear and food.  One kit we've been quite happy with over the years has been our cooking set-up, and we recently added a small but amazing upgrade to it: the option to drink fresh-brewed, real coffee!  So I'll break down all the items in the kit and offer some brief commentary as well.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

How I Pitch Tarp Shelters

A few weeks ago I watched a great how-to video on pitching a tarp by Joe Brewer that inspired me to finally get around to making my own take on this type of video, which we'll get to soon.  But first some context can be helpful.  I mean, if there's already one good video on this subject, why bother making another one?  Well, there are all sorts of different versions of this video on Youtube, because if you ask 10 different outdoor enthusiasts how they pitch a tarp, you'll likely get 10 different answers.  

There are a lot of details and nuances that go into setting up this kind of shelter.  For example, there are all sorts of different kinds of tarps, from a wide variety of fabric, to what size they are, and then down to nitty-gritty details like number of tie out points, flat or cat-cut, weight, etc.  Adding location and application to the mix, and one can see just how complicated this can be, especially for someone who is inexperienced with the outdoors.