Packing for 450km in Lapland

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.

Kungsleden_trailMy 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 herelightest-backpacking-tent-solplex-angle_l
  • 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!TR NeoAir_XLite
  • 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.  813621Together with the stove I only take a light spoon and my deejo knife and one sea to summit expandable cup (500ml)ANC62RR0J8V_smallI 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 straps1460727819-55167300

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, andInReach1
  • an outrageously heavy 300g solar battery to charge the delorme.   such is the price you pay for a happy husband ūüôā

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

How to pack for 18 days of hiking in less than 5kg

So, as most of you know, I am attempting to hike the GR5 from Lake Geneva to Menton next week.  It is about 620km with 2000+m of climbing every day .  At the best of times I go lightweight, but when hiking these kind of distances every gram counts.   A few of you have emailed me about my travel packing list, so I thought I would share the choices that I have made for this trip and have attached the full packing list below.

I am hiking from refuge to refuge in the alps, which means I don’t need to take my tent, sleeping bag or cooker so will be able to keep the weight right down. ¬†However, it does mean I have to be prepared for smelly snoring bed companions in the mixed dormitories.

The pack

I have two terrific hiking packs, both of which are much loved.  If I was doing any running on this trip, I would take the Ultimate Direction Fastpack 30, which is light, easy to pack and super comfortable.  Given the state of my shins, I am pretty sure I will be fast hiking the whole way, so am taking the wonderful 580gram Gossamer Gear Pilgrim Rolltop.  This is a great pack, lots of room, very light, extremely comfortable and well designed for thru hikers with capacious external pockets for wet gear and a mostly waterproof interior.




the clothes

It is tough, but the best way to keep weight down is to take very few clothes. ¬†That means take one set of gear to hike in, and one set of gear to change into in the evenings. ¬†At night, rinse or wash your hiking gear if you can. ¬†If it is dry in the morning, happy days! ¬†If it isn’t dry in the morning, put it on anyway and it will dry as you walk (if it is sunny) or just stay wet (if it is raining). ¬†As I always hike in merino, I am not cold even when I am wet.

So, the full set of clothes are

  • Icebreaker underpants x 2 (one to wash, one to wear) – yes it is not many, but it won’t kill you
  • Socks x 2 (same principle) – I love my merino injinji toe socks
  • 2 xu compression shorts – good for looking after the legs at night
  • Trail running skort from montane – just cos I am going bush doesn’t mean I don’t fancy looking a bit like a lady
  • A merino t-shirt, singlet and long sleeve so I can layer up or down as I need to during the day
  • An icebreaker dress which I can sleep in and wear in the evening, with some phd smart wool leggings to wear underneath if it is cold
Montane Trail Skort



And then for rough weather I take

  • Merino hat and two pairs of gloves
  • Waterproof pants – RAB minimus
  • Goretex jacket – mine is the amazing montbell torrent flier which only weights 250 grams
  • My trusty mountain hardwear ghost whisperer down jacket which has kept me warm on so many occasions
THE Toiletries

As I am on the road for 2-3 weeks I am carrying more than I might for a short hike so have

  • A few sleeping pills (for the refuge dorms), nurofen and paracetemol
  • P20 all day sunscreen – enough for three weeks weights about 40g
  • Moisturiser for three weeks (38g including the pot)
  • Industrial strength deodorant – Mitchum – it weighs 80 grams but will be worth it on days that I don’t get to shower (on a shorter trip I would take the salt deodorant which is lighter, or squeeze the mitchum into a recycled chapstick container)
  • Tooth brush head and tooth powder
  • Shampoo soap (60 grams) is enough for three weeks and can do as normal soap too
  • Rocktape for strapping my leg
  • Compeed, plasters and foot fleece for the blisters
  • Nail clippers – it is essential to keep those nails short when¬†taking on big descents every day as it really hammers your toes
Other essentials
  • FFRP guides – Annoyingly the books and maps weigh 600 grams – even after I have ripped out all the pages I didn’t need. ¬† It will make book purists happy to know that I rip out every page as I have finished with it and throw it away – so at least this will weigh less as time goes by
  • Black diamond ultra light hiking poles – yes I know I look like a weirdo doing nordic walking, but honestly these things will save your knees on rocky descents, and keep your arms in some sort of semblance of shape if you use them going uphill.
  • Petzl Tikka headlamp – for early departures, late arrivals and evening visits to the loo
  • Unbelievably small hiking towel from Green Hermit
  • Silk sleeping bag liner from Rab (required by the refuges for sleeping in the dorms, and you wouldn’t want to touch those blankets anyway)1360339083-60144300
  • Earplugs – for snorers in the dorm
  • A trigger point massage ball – my shins are old and battered, my ankles pronate and I am constantly getting injured. ¬†Using the weird ball helps
  • Spoon – always helpful if you buy yogurt at lunchtime, and only weighs 12 grams
  • Knife – the wonderful Deejo weighs 17 grams and is great for cutting cheese and salami that I will hopefully procure from some mountain shopdeejo-knives-caffin-1
    Luxuries I forego
  • A decent towel – the trek towel is the size of a handkerchief, you don’t really get dry, enough said
  • A small sleeping bag – if it is cold and there aren’t enough blankets in the refuge, I put all of my clothes on
  • Shoes for the evening – lots of people bring flip-flops, but they weigh 300 grams. ¬†Many refuges actually provide crocs or shoes to wear inside as you aren’t allowed to wear your boots inside. ¬†If you can get over the fact that a million other people have had their sweaty toes in the crocs (I can), then they work just fine
  • Anything that will look remotely stylish – there is the odd night in the alps when I will be in a town with a good restaurant. ¬†I will look like a feral cat turning up for dinner, but I will still go! ¬†I can live with looking bad as long as they let me in and feed me.

So thats it, the full packing list is attached for anyone curious as to the specific grammar!   Base weight of all gear excluding food and water, and what I am wearing is 4.7kg.   Let me know if any questions

201606 GR5 gear list

You can buy most of the gear at your normal outdoor store.   I tend to buy a lot from as they have the weight of everything clearly marked on the site and you can sort from lightest to heaviest.

Happy hiking!