The idea of hiking in Swedish lapland has always appealed. There is tonnes of drinkable water everywhere, you can camp anywhere you like (provided not too close to someone’s house), the daylight goes on until early morning, and in some places there are well equipped huts to sleep in if you are too lazy to pitch your tent. Hence my next adventure is a solo jaunt along the full length of the Kungsleden (the King’s Way), 450km from Hemavan to Abisko. Apparently it is supposed to take a month, I reckon it will take 8-
10 days. Most people don’t walk the whole thing, they just do the 25% of the trail near Abisko, so hopefully it will be quiet for much of the trail.
My logic for hiking towards the people (versus away from them) is actually pretty simple. Most people hike southwards. Why does that matter? Well there are quite a few lakes you need to traverse in a rowboat. This being Sweden there is a wonderful honour system where every lake has three boats. If you arrive at the lake edge and there is only one boat on your side, you need to traverse the lake (some of which are up to 4km across) THREE times. Why? well you need to make sure there is ALWAYS a boat on each side of the lake so no-one gets stranded. So if there is a single boat, you need to row to the other side, tow a boat back, leave it at your original starting point and row back to the other side again. I don’t want to do that, as I am a completely inept rower who will end up going around in circles on one crossing let alone three. Hence am hedging my bets that I will avoid this problem by going North.
I will be posting as I go, but given the response to earlier packing posts, I thought I would do an update on what I am taking on this trip. Obviously this is a fully self sufficient trip without the benefit of french refuges and mountain cheese shops. There are huts in some parts of the trail where you can buy dehydrated food, but I am a pretty fussy eater so am packing my own in, and sending myself a resupply package to the a mountain hut half way. You can also stay in huts for about 60% of the trail, but there is a long stretch from Ammarnus to Kvikjokk without huts so I will need a tent, bedroll and cooker.
Core camping kit
- My beloved compact lightweight tent is from ZPacks – the soloplex. Used by the holder of the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trail fastest known time records – Heather Anish, it is a great tent weighing in at 440 grams (including pegs, and instead of poles you use your hiking poles). Her review here
- Thermarest sleeping mat – the original and in my view the best. These are expensive but very comfortable. I know fast packers who go without, but I love my sleep, so always take a mat!
- ZPacks sleeping bag. This was custom made for my height and weight specifications. I love it so much I slept in it at home for a few days when I got it. I love it so much I bought another one so I have two for different temperature ratings. On this one I will take the lighter version.
- Sea to summit pillow – weights 30g, stops me getting neck ache, enough said
- Jetboil stove – the personal titanium one. There is an endless debate about alcohol stoves (easier to get fuel, less waste of gas canisters) versus the new generation of gas stoves (lighter and able to boil half a litre of water in under 60 seconds). For me the jetboil is a no brainer, it is so easy to use, and so fast. I have properly embraced the french way of living, and unless I am on a tight deadline, I eat hot food 3 times a day if I am in the back country. With the jetfoil, I can get a cup of tea ready in a minute. Together with the stove I only take a light spoon and my deejo knife and one sea to summit expandable cup (500ml)I don’t need a fork or a plate!
- Mosquito headnet – apparently the mozzies are vicious, and one area is called the bloody peninsular because of the mozzies. While I look like a complete dork in a mozzie headnet it really works
- I will be using Fizan adjustable hiking poles, so I can also use them as tent poles.
- I am still taking my Gossamer Gear pack, but am tweaking the set up to enable me to get all my gear into it, so instead of taking a camelback I will add to raid light bottles to the shoulder straps
MANDATORY MARRIAGE CONCESSIONS
Out of deference to my darling husband I will also be weighing myself down with an extra 600g that I wouldn’t normally bother with, principally as there is a 100k stretch with no huts or comms, and he is worried I will break a leg (a not unfounded concern given how clumsy I am). So I am also taking a
- Delorme in reach so I can text via satellite if I break a leg, and
- an outrageously heavy 300g solar battery to charge the delorme. such is the price you pay for a happy husband 🙂
The rest of my kit is pretty much the same as I took on the GR5 which you can see here
I have to carry 7 days worth of food with me. That is about 4 kg worth at 600grams per day. While I am pretty basic, I won’t compromise on what I eat, and am pretty good about optimising my calories and macronutrients when out on the trail. Unlike some hikers, I cannot survive on carbs alone, so need to make sure I get plenty of fat and protein in all my meals and that is actually harder than you might think. I burn about 3000 – 4000 calories a day when doing hard long days in the hills, but only take about 2500 with me as make up the deficit when I hit a town and eat big burgers and icecream. I will post separately on my food strategy for anyone super technical.
For more information on the Kungsleden check out the STF page or this pdf Kungsleden_eng. Note that if you wanted to only do a shorter section of the trail, you could probably do without the full camping kit – this is only necessary on the section between Ammarnas and Kvikjokk. And the full gear list is – 201608 Kungsleden gear list
Ps. Things I would not have taken/ did not use – sunscreen, sun hat, Smartwool leggings, ultra lightweight waterproof
Things I bought/would take – one pair heavy waterproof pants