Gear Reflections Lapland 2011

I thought I would describe the gear I used and how it performed for this instalment of the report of my trip along the Nordkalottleden. The final report on the trip will appear soon.


Aarn Natural Balance

The Aarn Natural Balance (NB) is the big brother to the Aarn Featherlite Freedom (FF), I recently wrote a review on the FF and many of the design features are also the same for the NB. Perhaps the major differences are;

  • Vertical bars form part of the frame on the NB as shown in the picture below
  • The NB has 2 compartments one accessed at the top of the pack and the other at the bottom.

For this trip I used the lower compartment of the pack for my sleeping bag and dry clothes, the upper section included all my food along with the GoLite SL2 and other odds and ends.

Similar to the FF the NB includes watertight inner sacks and thus there is no need for a pack cover.

For the trip I attached the Expedition pockets on the front, and the starting volume of the pack was 83 litres, which is similar to many packs seen on the Kungsleden. This volume enabled me to easily pack all my required gear and food in the main pack whilst the front pockets contained everything required during the day such as food, camera, stove, navigation equipment.

The starting weight of the pack was approximately 23kgs, which was heavier than I prefer but once the fit had been adjusted I found it to be comfortable with none of the sore shoulders or hips that can come from carrying big loads. By the end of the trip, the pack was too large but I was able to compress the pack to a smaller size as shown below.

Sleeping and Shelter

GoLite Shangri La 2

The GoLite Shangri La 2, was in my view perfect for this trip and no matter whether it was windy or rainy or there were mosquitos I was always happy to get into my shelter later in the day. The only downside of the shelter is if the wind changes direction and comes from the side, which happened to me on one occasion, interestingly it took little effort to get out of bed and rotate the shelter 90 degrees and using Dondo’s technique of angling the Pacer Poles towards the centre of the ridge line it was amazing to see how tight a pitch could be had once the shelter had been rotated. All in all this will be my shelter for longer trips for the foreseeable future.

I used Easton pegs (8″ and 4″) and at no time did they move once inserted.

MLD Innernet
Coupled with the SL-2 I used an MLD Solomid Innernet, whilst this may not have been the optimum set up, it worked. I had complete protection from the mosquitos, and it provided me with a “dry space” within in which to sleep, relax etc. I am considering having a custom made inner net that will utilise the design of half the SL 2 more efficiently.

PolyCro ground sheet

I used the PolyCro ground sheet (available from TrekkingLite ) under the inner net as I knew I would be camping on wet ground, the ground sheet had one small tear in it and was repaired with duct tape. Otherwise it was perfect and I will use this ground sheet for many more trips.

Exped Mat

I used the Exped SynMat UL 7 and though it was a little heavy (460 gms) it was sooo…..  comfortable as a consequence there were mornings where I could have easily stayed in bed. The Exped Pump Pillow made inflating the mattress easy. The pump pillow does have an advantage, it has self inflating foam inside and as a pillow it was better than pillows which are best described as shaped airbags. As a lighter alternative to the pump pillow there is the Exped Schnozzel (scroll down), which could be used in conjunction an Exped Shrink Bag thereby reducing the need for one of the bags in the pack.

Cooking and Hydration

Jetboil Sol Ti

The Jetboil was a star it worked perfectly and with a fuel consumption of 9 gms. per litre of water boiled I was very happy. This stove will be my gas stove of choice for the future. During the cooler weather the efficiency was decreased a little and as the canister empties it does burn slower but I was able to use the 100 gm canister effectively till the final drop of gas was used. However, I do not understand why there is a handle on the cozy, it is pretty much useless in my view. On a happier note the cozy fits nicely around a Fuizion freeze dried packet, so it does double duty.


A more detailed report on the Jetboil Sol Ti can be found at Lightweight Outdoors
For those interested in using wood stoves, I kept a note of the availability of burnable material and in my view 50% of the time a wood burning stove could be used, so with a back up fuel source it would be possible to use a wood burner such as a Back Country Boiler.


I used the Kupilka 21 and the Kupilka long handled spoon for the entire trip and whilst there are lighter options, the kuksa in my view is ideal. The spoon is a joy to use, it does not have that cold feeling of Titanium and weighs the same as a long handled Ti spoon. The Kupilka spoon is long enough to be scrape every last mouthful out of a Fuizion Freeze Dried food packet. If you have not used one, give them a try.


Clothing Worn or Carried

Inov-8 Roclite 370

These boots were very comfortable and I had none of the foot and leg problems I experienced last year with heavier boots, but sadly after 200 kms, the instep of both boots was coming away. Fortunately I was able to sew them back together which I did twice before the end of the trip. Whilst doing this I recalled a Roman Dial comment about another brand of shoe where seam sealing before a trip ensured that the shoes held together, something I will do in the future. I will be having the boots repaired and expect to get many more kilometres out of them before they are finally retired.

Rab Demand PullOn

This eVent jacket was ideal for the wet and windy conditions experienced. When wearing the smock I never felt damp inside and as I have previously stated when there is a breeze blowing I find it cooler than the windshirt. The hood on the smock fitted well no matter whether I was wearing my Outdoor Research Radar Cap or a Possum fur beanie.

Montane Featherlight Pants

These pants are perhaps a little too minimalist for a trip like this, but it does depend on the amount of wet weather experienced. I wore them for 3 days when there was wind driven rain all day and at other times as wind protection. Overall, they were fine, though in extended rain periods they do wet through resulting in wet and possibly cold legs. However, once it stops raining they dry quickly and allow your body heat to dry you pants underneath. Probably on another trip such as this I would choose one of the following Rab Drillium trousers, GoLite Tumalo pants or the new Montane Minimus pants.

Silkbody Polo Shirt

Before I left home I realized that I would be spending about 24 hours on a train, so I decided to wear a Silkbody Short Sleeve Polo Shirt. This was a blessing in disguise. I wore this shirt several days as it was cool to wear in the warm sunny weather, it was easily rinsed out, dried quickly with no evident odour. I will use this shirt more often on summer walks.

Columbia Titanium Long Sleeve Shirt (Fossil colour)

There is no doubt that this shirt limited the number of bugs buzzing around my upper body, it was comfortable to wear, dried quickly and did resist odour build up. Some days I wore it over the Silkbody shirt as a windshirt, I found this arrangement comfortable and warm enough without recourse to windshirt.

Montane Terra Pants

Lived in them for 3 weeks, tough, quick drying comfortable pants.

Socks, I started off wearing Smartwool Adrenaline socks with Teko Liner socks, but found after 3 days of continually wet feet I was getting rub marks on my toes. I removed the liner socks and just used the smartwool socks for the rest of the trip. This worked perfectly for me and as I had two pair I would rinse a pair out and dry them on the side of the pack, I would then swap pairs every second day, occasionally I was able to start the day with dry socks.


One evening whilst relaxing after a long day I was reflecting on my gear I was using for the trip. I realised that I was very happy with my set up whether it was for this trip or for shorter trips. For me there was a right mixture of comfort and lightweight and the minimal amount of gear carried ensured that packing and unpacking was easy and could be completed efficiently with a minimum of fuss.

This entry was posted in Aarn, Gear, GoLIte, Nordkalotten Trail, Sleeping, Stoves. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Gear Reflections Lapland 2011

  1. It sounds like you have found perfect stuff for this trip. It's good equipment. Recently,I sold my Termarest NeoAir cause it was slippery and too thick. When I lay on theNeoAir, I feel that I am closer the ceiling of tent. Now I got Termarest SolarLite andI have slept on it for 3 nights. As far, it feels much better than NeoAir! You must have bought JetBoil Sol Ti just before the trip? I've read reports aboutJetBoil Ti and I like that it's very effective. It's very tempting to buy this stove.Actually, it is lighter than my gas stove with titan pot!!I agree, Inov8 shoes are nice. I bought Roclite 319 and did not have problem withmy feets yet. Concerning silkbody, is it silk? I too have shirt and pants of silk. They areairy and comfortable. Like them a lot.Your summary of the equipment was interesting and great to read, thanks./Jonas

  2. joenewton says:

    Hmmm, I find the SL2 strangely intriguing. Too similar to my DuoMid to purchase but I'd like to give one a go one day.Seems Jetboil has finally delivered the stove the UL community was waiting for. On my radar for sure.Despite my recent comments on rain pants I would have taken my GoLite Reeds on a journey such as yours. Open country, lattitude and length of journey. I took mine on my Jotunheimstien but used them only for bug protection!Thanks for sharing your gear choices Roger, always enlightening.

  3. Roger, I have only glanced at the Aarn NB pack, but I think they maybe worthy of more consideration. totally agree with you on the Exped synmatUL 7 – just about the most comfortable mat around apart from the Exped Downmat I have as well.  Montane Terra Pants  I have found are excellent and quick drying.  Good informative post. Thanks

  4. Robin says:

    Cheers some interesting observations. Must have a cold shower to prevent me buying anything else, especially a new sleeping mat!

  5. nielsenbrown says:

    Hi Jonas, I have the original Thermarest which I like but for comfort the Exped is much better, though it is slipperier than the NeoAir which I will use on short trips. I personally prefer the long tubes of the Exped mat and the non slip of the Neo Air so I am still waiting for the best of both worlds. The Jetbol Sol Ti is definitely worth a look, it will be the only gas stove I will use for the foreseeable future as it is light, efficient and compact.Silkbody is about 70% silk, with a some merino and cotton, I definitely will be using them more in the future.

  6. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Joe, I like the SL2 because of its two pole configuration, which gives easy access to the sleeping area and provides some flexibility in pole location. The double ended zipped door also allows for opening the upper half and closing later at night something I did a lot in Lapland.Yep Jetboil seems to be the best option at the moment. As for rain paints I agree something more waterproof than the featherlights would have been a wiser choice. The Montane terras worked well as bug protection.Re gear choices I just like to describe what works for me and may work for others.

  7. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Mark, yes if you need a big load hauler the NB is certainly worth a look, mine is the 2009 model and there are still a few around at good prices which is also nice.

  8. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Robin, you can never have too many mats, I have tried most and the Exped UL 7 and a short NeoAir are all I use for different purposes.

  9. Martin Rye says:

    I reckon the Sol is the new must have.   I rate my Flash so I am saving hard for a Sol.  Improved burner as well as lighter.   LIke your kit selection and it gives some good ideas for me.  

  10. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Martin, the Sol Ti is the only gas stove I will use in the future. Reading other hikers kit review provides inspiration, and my kit list has been informed by many other lists, including yours.

  11. Hi Roger,I've slept on Termarest SolarLite for four nights now. As far, I've slept well and don't missing inflatable pads. I have heard too that some people prefer Exped because the long tubes that follow the line as the body. Not horizontal like Termarest. My Brunton Flex suddenly stop working at my latest trip (Östafors-Vesslarp at Skåneleden). I don't know why but I am going to take a look at it. Otherwise, Jetboil Ti is very interesting. Soto RD1 is also of interest.Concerning terra pants, were they not a little too warm? 

  12. nielsenbrown says:

    Jonas, the terra pants were a little warm on a couple of days though the side vents did make them comfortable most of the time. There were other times I was very happy I was wering the terra's. Overall I think I would prefer to hike in terras than any other pants.

  13. Greg says:

    Great write up!  You've got me really intrigued about the Aarn pack you used.  Looking at another way to carry gear after a neck injury and the front pockets seems to be a great idea for balancing a load.  Hopefully it suits me as much as it does for you!

  14. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Greg, in my view Aarn packs are worth a look, and BPL in Melbourne has the full range so trying them on is possible. They may even have one you could use on a trip. The front pockets in my view serve two purposes the balancing the load but also providing access to the needs of the day thus eliminating the need to open the main pack especially in inclement weather.

  15. Fu says:

    >I am considering having a custom made inner net that will utilise the design of half the >SL 2 more efficiently.Have you tried putting your sleeping pad diagonally between the poles?   It gives you more room if you put your mat diagonally.  You could get a very cool diagonal mesh nest made.

  16. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks Fu for your comments, I have never thought of sleeping diagonally as you describe, I will need to check it out. It would make for a very different nest : )Thanks

  17. Nice write-up Nielsen – gotta get me one of them Kupilka cups & long-handled spoons!Andrew

  18. nielsenbrown says:

    Thanks for the visit Andrew, yeah the Kupilka cups are great I take mine on all my trips, including day walks.

  19. Mary says:

    Hi Nielsen,can you tell me where I can order the long handled spoon? I have looked and lokked but my searches lead to nothing.

  20. nielsenbrown says:

    Hi Mary thanks for stopping by, Kupilka cutlery is hard to find you could try Tamarack Outdoors they are in Lancashire and their website indicates they have stock. There are many Eu resellers that pop up on a google search, such as Outnorth (choose the EU page it is in English)Good luck in your search.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s