Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring/Summer Updates 2015

Warmer weather is here, flowers are in bloom, and every day I daydream of getting back out into the woods again.  Thought I would give a quick update on what is in the works and what's going on this summer.

I recently updated the post on my 2nd prototype of a summer bag/winter overbag after testing it out on a section hike recently.  The short of it is that it worked well, but there were a few small improvements I'd like to make, and recently ordered a professionally made version.  I'll be sure to write up a post and probably do a video once I receive this refined and improved version of this project of mine.

I have section hikes planned for both June and July on the E1 Trails, and looks like I am down to the final three big sections of the entire trail!  I am very excited about this, and also excited to try out a few new pieces of gear on these section hikes.  

In addition to the (hopefully) final version of my design of a summer bag, I will also finally get to test out a net/inner tent that I ordered from Trekker Tent.  Unfortunately it has taken a long time for my order to go through, due to the company moving locations, and also the 1st tent they eventually sent got lost in the mail!  Marc at TT has been helpful and kept good contact with me, so my replacement he assures me will get to me before June.  

I had been thinking about getting a net tent for a while now, especially because my bivy is beginning to show some wear and tear from a few years of regular use section hiking.  To my surprise, it wasn't the Cuben bottom that has been worn down, it's the netting and M50.  But I bought it used, modified it, got good use out of it, so I can't complain really.  Anyhow, rather than get another bivy I decided to try out a net tent.  Part of it was to see what the hype is about, as I've read good things about several different net tents (e.g. MLD Serenity, Yama Gear Bug Tent, etc.).  But part of it is also to have a shelter system that for me would be more suited for longer trips and/or trips to more isolated areas.  

You can "hang out" in a net tent but not in a bivy, for instance.  Now I don't really do much hanging out in camp on my trips, which are mostly solo section hikes on more isolated trails as of late.  But when the weather is crappy, and the bugs are in full force, and you're in the middle of nowhere--yeah, I can see the appeal of a net tent.  I've been doing trips further and further away from home on pretty isolated trails, so I've been craving more of a sanctuary the past year or so.  And a net tent also offers the same flexibility of a bivy, in that you can set it up on its own if the skies are clear, or inside a trail shelter.  Anyhow, I'll do a first impressions write up and video on my net tent when I get it, and looking forward to testing it out this summer.  I will be pairing it with my Zpacks flat tarp and/or my Golite poncho/tarp.

Back in February I made a flow chart for how I go about picking a shelter for a section hike, and in the future I'd like to do a video and/or post to elaborate more on this process.  I'd also like to do something similar for my sleep systems too, but one thing at a time.  Both of these breakdowns will also depend on the two key pieces of gear I just mentioned, so after I receive my net tent and summer bag/winter over bag as well as field test them both, then I'll figure out how to go about a video/post report on both shelters and sleep systems.

I recently did a Back 2 Back episode with Stick, but don't have any plans at the moment for my next episode.  I am open to suggestions for topics and/or collaborations.  Perhaps I will be able to do a "live" Back 2 Back if/when I get to hang out with Christine AKA The German Tourist here in Sweden?

Finally some bad news.  For years now I've been wanting and trying quite hard to plan a trip to Kungsleden, a trail up in northern Sweden.  I've had to postpone it a few times, and I've had to do it once again this year, much to my disappointment.  My wife really wants to come with me on this trip, which would be a big section hike of roughly one third of the trail.  Well we were all set to go together this summer, but family obligations as well as getting time off of work just made it impossible this year.  Let me tell you, being a backpacking couple planning a trip sure is tricky.  My wife promises me that next year (spring or summer 2016) we'll finally get up there.  We'll see.  I told her that if things don't work out next year, that I'm going on my own no matter what, and that she can come with me on my 2nd section hike the following year if possible.

But at least we were able to work out a compromise this year.  We can't make it to Kungsleden, but we were able to work out a section hike together on the E1 in July.  So I'll finally have my wife's company on the Vasaloppsleden from Mora to Sälen, which should still be a great time.  Very much looking forward to this trip, but of course longing even more for Kungsleden.  Such is life--make all the plans you want, and things can still not turn out the way you want.  But if backpacking has taught me anything, one thing that it certainly has is patience.

Okay, that's about it for this update.  More content is in the works and on the way, and as always feedback and questions are welcome.