I wrote a post about the list of gear I was going to carry hiking the Kevo canyon in Utsjoki, in the upper north of Finnish Lapland. The gear list was mostly accurate, with some last minute changes, like a lighter head lamp. This post is a quick retrospective into the gear: what worked through a four day hike up and down the sides of a steep canyon and over the northern tundra and fjellsides.
Overall, the kit worked great. There were (almost) no major omissions, and (almost) nothing I carried, I would now leave home. It will surely be a prototype for any hiking trips of up to four days in autumn weather.
I’ll split this retrospective into a few categories to ease the analysis. First, let’s look at clothing worn during hiking.
Worn while hiking
|Haglöfs L.I.M shell jacket||218g|
|Merino sleeveless undershirt||105g|
|Inov Roclite 275||634g|
|Särmä TST L1 merino boxer briefs||120g|
This kit stayed almost unaltered all throughout the hike. When the sun was shining (rare) or we were climbing steeply, I would shove the shell jacket under my limitless netting at the front of the Osprey Talon 33 liter and go with just the running tights and sleeveless undershirt. At my weight, not a pretty sight. But hey, everyone is there to look at the vistas and sights.
Running tights and merino boxers
I have to start with the tights. They are a pair of running tights from Lidl, costing under 10€. They worked perfect the whole way through. When they got wet, they dried quickly. They stayed in place, allowed perfect movement and were not too hot nor too cold. I am not sure if I will ever be able to hike in anything but tights from now on.
The only downside is that tights look ugly on (overweight) men. Fjällräven would sell a pair of more trouser like tights, but at 169€, it’s hard to justify the price difference just for the reinforced knees and backside plus some pockets. But if that’s what it takes to get you to try hiking in tights, then I highly recommend even the hiking tights for men.
For the Särmä TST L1 merino boxer briefs, I have mixed feelings. Initially it felt they would not stay high enough. Maybe because of the cut, or maybe they were a little too small size. With the tights, they did in fact stay in place even in tough situations and worked as expected (i.e. no smell even after a very sweaty day). But still, I would rather have worn my Devold or Icebreaker merino boxers.
Haglöfs L.I.M. shell jacket and merino shirt
Nothing much to say. The jacket performed it’s job admirably. Good pockets, ventilation mostly through controlling how open the front zipper was (we only had light rain). Zips up high, so with the tight hood you have protection in more adverse weather. Can absolutely recommend.
I was initially planning to wear the thick, long sleeved Devold Expedition merino shirt, but instead went all the trip with a very thin, sleeveless merino undershirt from Varusteleka (combined with the Jacket). It was the perfect shirt, warming when it was cold, but thin enough to let me regulate heat comfortably. After a climb, it was soaking wet at times, but dried very quickly while hiking.
Inov Roclite 275 trail running shoes and socks
The two sock strategy with a very thin liner sock and a tougher hiking sock worked well. Was not too hot and worked when wet. From ultralight perspective, having two pairs of socks was a bit unnecessary, but it was a nice luxury to switch to dry socks at the camp, so 5/5 would do again.
The Inov Roclite 275 was a very recent addition to my kit. My other trail shoes are the Hoka One One ATR Challenger Wide. For the type of technical trail in Kevo, on the canyon sides and slippery tor, they did not have enough grip, and the soles were too thick for a good feel of the terrain. So I went browsing for a trail running shoe that would fit my wide last, have an excellent grip, some comfort with the padding and protection against hitting my toes on rocks.
And the Inov Roclite delivered in spades. It was all those things, in a light perfect package. I never felt like I wanted more sideways support. Stepping on sharp rock edges, I felt the edge but it was padded enough to not make it uncomfortable. I never slipped.
Now, I have to add a disclaimer that it was very dry. We did have rain almost each day, but it was just a drizzle. Some of the watering holes were completely dry and many creeks ran very low. The wet patches rarely got my feet wet. On wetter conditions, the rocks might have been more slippery and I my feet might have been wet more of the time.
Sleeping and Camping
|Cumulus Quilt 350 + drybag||631g|
|Exped Synmat Hyperlite M sleeping pad||371g|
|Cocoon mummy liner||124g|
|Marmot Twilight 2 Pegs and ground cloth||1000g|
The quilt worked well together with the Synmat Hyperlite pad. Temperatures during the night stayed quite high (5-6 celsius most nights), and it allowed me to regulate heat. I used mummy liner the first (and coldest) night and it helped. Rest of the nights, I did not bother with it.
The sleeping pad was extremely comfortable, even with the weight I have added over the years. I guess I have grown wider as well, since it could have been a bit wider at the shoulder region. Also I sometimes threw my feet off to regulate heat. The foot end was narrow enough to do this with ease, maybe just a little bit too narrow for my liking.
Pocket towel was excellent. Got my feet wet after crossings and dried in the belt pocket of the backpack in a couple of hours.
Food and Cooking
|Titan pot and cover||90g|
This category holds most of my regrets. First of all, the 700ml titan pot from Toaks worked well. But now, I think I could have gone for a 0,8l or 0,9l model. The water (0,7l) was enough barely for a coffee and a freeze dried meal. But just barely.
Second, I had planned on eating porridge in the morning and evening. But I did not pack a cup (planning to drink from the pot), so making porridge and coffee at the same time was impossible. I ended up not eating most of my porridges. Note to self: pack the cup next time.
The tiny Fire Maple FMS-300 gas cooker worked well. We always cooked at designated camping areas, so I mostly had level surface to hold the somewhat unstable combination of gas canister, stove and pot. Weighting the gas canister after the hike shows I burned 88g of gas. So the small, net 100g gas canister was enough for four days of single person cooking. I would not stretch it to five days, and even expecting colder weather might make me go up a size.
|Goretex Infinium gloves||50g|
|Light padded jacket||299g|
|Endura MT500 shell shorts||230g|
|Devold Expedition merino underpants||225g|
|Merino tube scarf||40g|
|Devold Expedition merino shirt||314g|
|Särmä TST L1 merino boxer briefs||120g|
|Running tights (extra)||273g|
Considering I already covered clothing worn during the hike, this may seem like extra. But I did use each and every item on this list at some point.
The gloves worked fine. The light padded jacket I was planning on using during the breaks in hiking, but ended up not needing it. I was producing enough heat to keep warm through the breaks. But it was a luxury at the camp and during the coldest night, I wore it as an extra blanket. So it stays on the list.
The shell shorts were too hot for me to wear most of the trip, but I did wear them for an hour or two. They are planned for mountain biking, but worked ok as hiking shorts. And were light and compact enough to shove into the front netting of the backpack. Also the feet were wide enough for me to be able to put them on without removing my shoes: a huge benefit when wanting to regulate heat without too much hassle. So these too stay on my hiking kit.
The Devold Expedition long underpants (and the shirt as well) I only wore at camp. After a day of hiking, switching to warm dry merino felt like heaven. Also I wore them when sleeping as extra heat. They are required for the warm during night, and had first snow fallen, I think I might have worn them also during the hike.
The rugged Crocks I had were so good as creek crossing shoes and at the camp that my friend also plans to buy a pair. Enough said.
Extra running tights was not strictly necessary. It was nice to get clean pair of pants on after two days, but as quick drying as they were, one pair would have sufficed for even longer trip. This I might eliminate from my packing in the future.
Hygiene / Various Items
|Leatherman Wingman multitool||194g|
From this list, I only used the matches. I did not use a lighter as stupid me had forgot to check the gas level, and the lighter ran out almost immediately. Still would pack every item on this list. Better safe than sorry.
|Medicine, bandage, blister plaster||114g|
Hygiene and first aid is self explanatory and never optional.
|RX100 II pocket camera||280g|
|GoPro 9 + 2 battery + clip-on mount + selfie stick||391g|
|Garmin Etrex 20x GPS||145g|
|Mavic Mini + controller + 2 batteries||600g|
|Garmin Inreach satellite messenger||200g|
I carried a lot of electronics, which almost by definition is a luxury, not a need (with maybe the exception of the head lamp, although I could have managed without it).
The RX100 II is an excellent hiking camera because it starts up fast. You can power it on, take a couple of pictures and then shut it down. Battery lasts forever. I carriedI the camera in my hand or in my pocket most of the trip. More zoom range is something I would have loved to have, both at wider and longer end. But it is excellent as it is.
GoPro also worked great. The horizon leveling and stabilization in GoPro 9 is unreal. Three batteries were easily enough for the hike. Most of the hike, I had the RX100 II in one hand, and the GoPro on the stick in another.
I flew the drone (Mavic Mini) in three places. I feel it was worth it, and love the light weight.
I used the Inreach Satellite Messenger to track our GPS trail and occasionally send messages home. Battery held on very well. It looks like the battery could take a 7-8 day hike. We never had any problems on the trail, so the SOS function was not needed, but the GPS trail and possibility to call for evacuation justify carrying the Garmin Inreach messenger.
Could we have managed to call for help with the cellphones? Maybe. I did not see a proper cellphone network the couple of times I tested, but text messages came through. But at the very least, it would have required you or your buddy to be able to climb up from the Canyon, so I would not rely on it at the Kevo canyon, especially if hiking alone.
|Osprey Talon 33||916g|
The Talon 33 was stretched to it’s limits at the start of the hike. So four days, maybe five with less electronics is the most I would do with it. But it handled the load with aplomb. The backpack is durable, light and extremely comfortable to carry. My friend was constantly amazed at what I could fit in the front netting pocket. At times it held (at the same time): my jacket, shorts, cooking pot, the GoPro on the stick and my gloves. Everything I needed to have quick access to. You just keep shoving things down the netting. Absolutely perfect score for the Talon.
Food and Water
|Food bag 1||752g|
|Food bag 2||722g|
|Food bag 3||872g|
|Food bag 4||599g|
|Extra candybars, salt, magnesium, zinc, caffeine||325g|
The feedbags contained the following:
|Chocolate with nuts||50g||278 kcal|
|Lunch freeze dried||100g||555 kcal|
|Dinner free dried||110g||611 kcal|
|Quick oatmeal morning||35g||134 kcal|
|Quick oatmeal evening||35g||134 kcal|
|Hot chocolate||28g||102 kcal|
|Morning coffee||17g||71 kcal|
|Lunch coffee||17g||71 kcal|
|Energy gel||100g||250 kcal|
|Chocolate bar||36g||178 kcal|
|Oat, Spelt & Seasalt crispbread||62,5||320 kcal|
|Processed cheese||75||215 kcal|
Chocolate always works. Freeze dried food bags were also extremely handy and I will base my nutrition on them in the future. Most of the oatmeal was not eaten due to the pot being used for coffee (priorities!). I may still carry oatmeal in the future (and bring a cup), but I may also go for oat cookies.
Coffee was a three-in-one (coffee, milk, sugar) single serving type. It was terrible (I never use sugar) but was necessary for the calories and the caffeine.
Energy gels I packed for when you need a quick boost of energy. For this, the gels also had caffeine. I often consumed them mostly for the caffeine, my energy never ran low enough to need the instant boost the gels provide.
The hit of the show was the Oat, Spelt and Sea salt cripbread. With the processed cheese, these were the perfect “waiting for the dinner to cook” snack that provided salt and crispy mouthfeel that was otherwise lacking.
At various times I carried 500-1000ml of water. There were enough creeks that 500ml would be enough for at least 90% of the hike. I used a water filter (or boiled the water) when drinking from (almost) standing water and there was swimming or hand washing going on near the spot I took water from. Most of the time, the water is good enough to drink as is.
I was surprised how well everything worked, I only had only a few minor niggles. It is almost as if planning ahead really works.