27 Nov 2012

Gear Review: Light windproof gloves from 'den Aldi'

It's time to write about a pair of gloves that's been my trusty companions for over 3 years.
The Windproof Upper
I believe that so many years of use deserve a review, even when they're not from a brand but were bought from Aldi. Sometimes, they sell something usable there, really!

Alright, time to hit the specs and what I think of them, go and read on...

1 Oct 2012

Eifelsteig: The Gear Overview

As promised you still have to get an overview of the gear we used on our trip, you can see a gear list further down. Do not count this as a gear review and enjoy :) .

The Backpack
First of all I want to start with the pack, this was my first trip with the Laufbursche Huckepack (Large) and thus my very first trip with an ultralight backpack. It sat comfy and packing it was easy thanks to the brochure that came with it and of course the movie Hendrik made, or this example.

I used my Thermarest Prolite Plus as the burrito and filled it. Trying it on was a revelation: It actually sat very good, I was not in pain and didn't grin over the weight. The HuckePack is a huge improvement over my old pack.
I can now move around, my back is more flexible, and my hip straps don't hurt, in fact I only used them when we just refilled water or to move the weight from my shoulders. Most part of the trip my pack was light enough for shoulders only-carrying.

The HuckePack on my back
(don't mind the garbage)

All in all I like the pack a lot! Its quality build, its details and its simplicity. I did need getting used to the lid because the sides are sewn on the the pack, still trying to figure out how to keep it open and upright.

28 Sep 2012

Hiking The Eifelsteig Lighter: Roetgen - Nettersheim

The vacation started drawing to an end, soon Sarah would be in school and time would become a scarse good. The perfect time frame thus for planning a last longer hike.

The first camping spot

Out of many hikes, such as the Wildnis Trail or the Müllerthaler trail, we decided we had time enough to do the first sections of the well known Eifelsteig. We started planning, booked our tickets and packed our bags. 

The lovely autumn spirit mixed with the last of summer made for a splendid setting and we hiked from Roetgen to Nettersheim where a train would take us back home.

Go ahead and read more about how our 5 day trip was...

23 Aug 2012

UL Hydration Packs: Daklapack

Hello dear reader,

Today I would like to share a new hydration system with you. Well, not really a system, more like a Platy Bottle but I think it might be better because it is a) cheaper and b) lighter.

The 2,5L and 1L Daklapack Spoutbag

Put everything aside and read on to learn more

19 Aug 2012

A Visit to the Laufbursche Workshop

It's Saturday morning, the 11th august,  and the train is leaving at 7:50, an early rise thus for a much awaited visit to the Laufbursche workshop in Cologne.

Get to know the man who makes great stuff, learn some tips and get some inside info, all after the break.

8 Aug 2012

Laufbursche and his Backpack

Hey everyone, this will be a short post which I write mainly because I'm going to visit Mateusz in his shop in Cologne this Saturday.
I'm still thinking of a Huckepack to become my main backpack after spending too much time with a heavy pack. I dread to put it on once more so a visit to the Laufbursche workshop cannot come soon enough for me and my girlfriend.

Read on and get 1 free spreadsheet of all his fabrics ;) (that has to work to get you in)

31 Jul 2012

UL Gear for Tour Du Mont Blanc

As promised on Twitter I visited my friend and ofcourse had a chat about the gear he bought for his trip to the Mont Blanc.

I've known Jonas some years now and he was the first one to bring up UL hiking, it is because of him that I know who Andrew Skurka and "den Dzjow" is and ever since we both admire their spirit and adventures. We've been on some trips together and he brings something new every time, I consider him a proper gearhead because of the frequency he updates his kit.
Jonas has also done some solo trips not far from home and the Tour du Mont Blanc was  his first big trip alone. But it's a good preparation because in september he's going to study in Rovaniemi until december, and when in Finland one has to go hiking. I'm trying to convince him to get a Twitter and/or a blog but he's just not that interested in being social online, which he compensates more than enough in real life (ask any bouncer in Ghent :D ).

"Enough with the intro, we're here for the gear!" I hear you, dear reader, and because you've managed to rhyme three times in one sentence I'll carry on to the gear part.

25 Jul 2012

Mammut Ultimate Hoody (2010 model) Review

This is my first review, and to be honest it is more of a writing exercise than helpful because it's the 2010 model and no longer for sale. There is an updated version of it which solves some of the few issues I've encountered.
Posing felt weird, so a weird face was allowed

I bought the Mammut Ultimate Hoody in 2010 I think in Ghent so I can say this is a long term review. It is my principle jacket from March to October, from 5°C to 20°C. It's been with me on many trips including the Ardennes in winter, wet Scotland and Finland. It keeps me warm and dry in bad weather and in summer it is light enough to wear over a T-shirt when temps go down or the wind picks up.

17 Jul 2012

A Million Biting Bugs - The tale of a Finland trek that became a city trip

I'm back home from Finland, landed in Frankfurt Hahn and drove all the way back to Belgium in pouring rain, what a summer it is.

Before you start reading expecting a report from a trek, I should warn you that this is only a minor report since we had to abort already on day 3 and got back to Tampere instead, the biting bugs were that bad (really!).

2 Jul 2012

I chose the wrong blog name

Hello everyone.
To start off with an apology: I know I don't write much, I had a lot more planned but things didn't get planned on time and with Finland eating away the minutes I did not achieve the number or frequency of posts I wished for.
So tomorrow me and my girlfriend are leaving to Germany, a short visit to my aunt there and the next morning we'll drive to Frankfurt Hahn to jump on an Irish low cost plane and fly to Tampere.

I am very excited about the trip and this blog post mainly has the goal to inform you of my absence and to let you know what will be here to read when I get back.

So why did I chose the wrong blog title, you ask? Because of this:

27 Jun 2012

MYOG Raincover

Hello everyone, today I'd like to share a little MYOG project with you.

It is a raincover that is ultralight, cheap and offers imho more protection from rain.
The idea came when my girlfriend asked whether she needed a raincover for Finland, I told her it would be a wise choice. But instead of buying a bulky cover, weighing you down, I got the idea of using a trash bag (or cheaper PMD bag if you're Belgian).

After the jump, I'll share some photos with you...

25 Jun 2012

Good reads: Andrew Skurka's Gear Guide and Don Ladigins Lighten Up!

Today I would like to do just a short look on two books that I have had in my possession for a while now: Andrew Skurka's The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide and Don Ladigins and Mike Clellands Lighten Up!.

Both books were much longed after and when the postman finally brought them, I was excited like a kid in a candy store. Already feeling sorry for the moment they were going to be out read, what was I going to do then? Cry in a corner? Jump off a bridge? Nope, write about it and wait for Skurka's Yukon-Alaska book is published (can't wait for that one!).

So I will be writing here, in short, my thoughts about both books and what I liked or disliked about them.
Firstly, Don Ladigins Lighten Up!.
Saving you the trouble
I really enjoyed this book, it was my first printed guide into the UL business and having read lots of good reviews, I definitely did not hesitate to give it a try. It is a short book but each page contains a lot of information and tips. Combined with very fine illustrations of Mike Clelland to make the words even clearer, this was an informative guide with the right amount of fun, which is symptomatic for hikers, taking things lightly (pun by accident).

It covers most of the subjects a backpacker would encounter, from sleeping systems to cooking and the different weights of a pack. Extra handy are the example gear list, the index and an interesting bonus is the foreword by Jim Blachard and the small afterword by Glen Van Peski.
I do recommend it, it is a clear and comprehensive intro into lighter backpacking and states all the gear options you have with tips, pros and cons.
The only 'drawback' is that it is read out so quickly.

Second we have Skurka's The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide. 
This book had a lot of attention on different blogs, received lots of positive tweets and was generally considered a well written guide. So you can imagine the agony of waiting for it :)

The Gear Guide is an absolute eye opener and it will prove very helpful if you're willing to follow the tips Andrew proposes. If you rather stay in GTX boots and feel more secure packing that extra 'just in case'-item, you might not enjoy the enlightenment of this book to the full.
It contains everything a hiker and ultralighter can encounter and he tries and succeeds to be as complete as possible on each item. He explains the different options you have, he tried them all over hundreds of miles and so I feel safe to say that you can rely on his pros and cons. Of course, you should still listen to your own needs. He also tells you what to use where and in what conditions, so don't burn your GTX boots right away, as you'll see on page 73.
I absolutely learned a lot from this book, from planning a trip, assessing my true needs and learning about the different drawbacks of gear. It is definitely a book I will look in again when buying something new. I like the style of writing, it is all very personal and open, like he's talking to you over a beer. It's approachable and he doesn't expect you to follow him blindly, but rather explains why he does it like this and how you might benefit from this approach. It's so helpful to have the insights and techniques that are proven through miles of hiking. You sometimes encounter some insights that are not mainstream or gear that you thought was never going to relive again.

What I like about it: It is very complete, has a nice writing style and offers bang for the buck. I learned a lot by reading this book and I will reread it anytime I buy something or plan a trip. Skurka's Picks and the Tried and True sections are my favorites. Furthermore, the book features nice photos, uses clear explanations and the tables where different gear is compared are awesome. How many times did you not make a table comparing products?
It also has an index and five example gear lists, for each environment one.

Cheating table
Some minor drawbacks of the book are that units are not in the metric system, I would've like to see metric units next to the imperial measures. It is confusing when he talks about 20° Fahrenheit, I think, oh that's doable, not so bad... then I convert it and see it is -7°C, which makes me look entirely different at his clothing system. Now I've written most of the weights in gram or kg next to the text and I've made a tiny cheating table for the temperatures (wow, daytime highs in the -20's eh, let me see now.... ).
And something Andrew can't help: the USA still is leader in cottages, so some brands he talks about do not ship to the EU, and when they do it'll cost you not only shipping but the import costs are often so high, it's twice the price of the product.

This is however no reason not to buy the book, I recommend it and it's available on Amazon for a steal.

There you have it, both books were a joy to read and offered tried and true knowledge. I can't wait for new books about trips or tips to be published.

Disclaimer: The Gear Guide was bought by me, using hard earned cash. Ladigins Lighten Up! was a gift from my girlfriend.

24 Jun 2012


Hello and welcome to my new blog!

Before I start off telling you how I started to blog, I shall explain the mission and main subject of this blog (sounds serious, no?).
I will try to write good, objective and critical reviews about light gear used for outdoor activities, also I will post trip reports and hikes here that are worth mentioning. Furthermore I will use this blog just to inform everyone what we are doing or what's new.
I say 'we' because this is a shared blog, but don't expect lots of writings of my significant other ;), the blog was mainly my idea.

So how did I start to write?
Well, I have been following the UL-community for about a year now and I love how everyone is sharing their thoughts and opinions about gear, trips and sharing tips. A blog is almost the perfect tool to do this. But I'm more of a reader/listener than a writer/talker.
However, when I came across Hendrik's blog, I started to become interested in going to Finland during the summer vacation, it was going to be the first backpacking trip with my girlfriend and with a low cost aviation company having an airport nearby, it seemed a perfect destination.

Who better to ask for tips than Hendrik? I sent him some mails and he answered them all, taking time to check things, look stuff up and answering me. I appreciate that he did this, considering he is quite the busy man. If only I could thank him... and the came this:
No pressure there whatsoever eh?
So that was the primary reason for this blog, to write about the trip to the Pirkan Taival trail in Finland. Ofcourse, being inspired by so many different blogs on the subject (check the Blog List out if you need some fine examples), I started pondering what I could use it for.

So in came the idea of sharing my vision on the UL philosophy with the community, talking about gear and reviewing it, writing about trips and also asking for tips.

That's about it, that's all I wanted to say in this first message.
I hope I can keep this blog updated but that is easier said than done and I do not expect to achieve the quality like Hendrik or Basti do. I will, however, do my very best and when I start working (=get paid), one of the first things that's on my to-buy list is a proper DSLR, so I can at least deliver some nice pictures to you, dear reader.
(Photography has always been a great passion, at the age of 14 I bought a nice Nikon F 55 and enjoyed it so much, I plan on refinding that joy once again.)