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How to pack light for long-distance hikes and avoid being a donkey

Hiking north on Kungsleden trail with snow covered Keron + Giron (1543m) mountain peak in distance, Lappland, Sweden
Enjoying the sun on Kungsleden trail, Lapland, Sweden.

Enjoying the sun on Kungsleden trail, Lapland, Sweden.

 

One of the best things about my recent move to Germany and a change of lifestyle, is that I can travel the way I like. Being able to spend days, even weeks in one area makes me appreciate places more and allows me to learn a little bit more about them. Well, of course I also need to work but I’m trying to raise to a challenge and combine the two aspects together.

 

Kungsleden Autumn 2015 Dream Team

The Kungsleden is one of these longer-term projects which have been on my mind for quite a few years. I hiked a northern part of the Royal Trail in 2012, and I attempted to ski tour it in 2014, with no luck. And finally, in less than a month I’m going to walk the entire trail together with Cody – my favourite photographer, Theo – the filmmaker and his partner Bee – the writer. What a team!

 

Kickstarter campaign

This time we have an ambitious project in mind, to photograph and film the entire trail experience. We will start in the north in Abisko and finish (weather and other conditions allowing) in a month in Hemavan. Rare access to electricity means extra weight (all this camera gear and batteries we need to carry without being able to charge them as often as needed). Theo and Bee created a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds towards pre and post production costs. It has been doing really well.

 

 

Packing

Talking about weight, when hiking, especially long-distance, proper packing is a paramount. It is not easy to find a happy medium – to balance what you need with what you can actually carry on your back. In general I am a pretty slow hiker and adding extra weight slows me down even more, which is not good when planning 440km hike. Below is the list of things I’m going to take.

 

Packing list:

Disclosure: some of the links below are affiliate links. If you click on the link and buy an item, I earn a small commission with no extra cost for you.

 

Clothing and footwear:

– Grassbow Sport Mid GTX Merrell boots – very light and 100% vegan boots. (Although I’m not vegan, I know that some people are looking for this type of footwear – wait for my review after the hike). I typically prefer trail runners, but nobody knows what the weather brings and I want something mid height, lightweight and waterproof. I’m planning to do some hiking in the boots beforehand as it is not very good to start a hike with the new footwear (#blisters).
Merrell Grassbow Mid Sport Gore-Tex®, Women’s Trekking and Hiking Boots, J48334, Black, 8 UK

– Norrona Svalbard Flex1 soft shell trousers – (previous version). Very comfortable and flexible, enough pockets to keep necessary stuff easily accessible. And they fit me really well which is not easy to achieve with my “short and square” figure.
Norrona Women’s Svalbard Flex 1 Pant –

 

Enjoying Lofoten in Norrona trousers, Mountain Hardwearr jacket and Osprey backpack.

Enjoying Lofoten in Norrona trousers, Mountain Hardwearr jacket and Osprey backpack.

 

– Marmot minimalist shell trousers – very lightweight and waterproof, already tested on Kungsleden in 2012. When it’s raining and the temperature is low, I often wear long underwear as well to keep my legs separated from the cool feeling of a hard shell.
Marmot Women’s Minimalist Waterproof Shell Pants – Black, Medium

 

Wooden planks in Tjäktjavagge on Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden. Marmot minimalist pants kept me dry.

Wooden planks in Tjäktjavagge on Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden. Marmot minimalist pants kept me dry.

 

– Norrona Narvik fleece with hood – warm but lightweight (and love the red colour).
Norrona Women’s Narvik Warm2 Stretch Zip Hood –

 

Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. My favourite Norrona fleece.

Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. My favourite Norrona fleece.

 

– Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer jacket – extremely lightweight jacket (about 180g) which gives just enough insulation for cooler days.
Mountain Hardwear Ghost Whisperer Down Ski Jacket Steam Womens Sz L

 

Midnight at Nonstind mountain peak, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Ghost Whisperer jacket kept me warm.

Midnight at Nonstind mountain peak, Vestvågøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Ghost Whisperer jacket kept me warm.

 

Mountain Hardwear Seraction shell jacket – lightweight waterproof jacket which should also give me wind protection.

Winter dawn on way to Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Mountain Hardwear jacket.

Winter dawn on way to Ryten, Moskenesøy, Lofoten Islands, Norway. Mountain Hardwear jacket.

– 3 x synthetic T-shirts – breathable and lightweight
– 2 x long underwear bottom and top – 1 set combination of merino wool and synthetic for cold days/nights. 1 set lighter synthetic for cooler temperatures and often used to sleep in when camping.
– 5 x underwear
– 5 x hiking socks
– beanie
– gloves
– knee and ankle brace – just in case

 

Gear:
– REI sleeping bag sub kilo -7°C – weighs around 1 kg and hopefully will give me enough warmth.

– Thermarest Neo Air sleeping pad – light and small when packed.
Thermarest NeoAir XLite Mattress – Regular

– MSR Hubba Hubba tent
MSR Hubba Hubba NX –

– MSR Wind Boiler Stove – boils water with the lightning speed.
MSR WindBurner Camping Stove System

– Osprey Talon 44 backpack – my favourite backpack ever. Doesn’t hurt my shoulders even with more heavy loads.
OSPREY Talon 44 Backpack, Black, M/L

 

Hiking over rocky terrain in Tjäktjavagge on Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden. Nothing beats my Osprey backpack!

Hiking over rocky terrain in Tjäktjavagge on Kungsleden trail, Lappland, Sweden. Nothing beats my Osprey backpack!

 

– Black Diamond Ultra Distance hiking poles – love them, very lightweight and fold so easily.

– Toiletries: toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, shampoo, hairbrush, camp soap, face cream sunblock. All if possible in mini/sample sizes.

– Lifeventure camp towel
Lifeventure Soft Fibre Medium Trek Towel – Blue

– Spork (knife, spoon and fork in one)
Light My Fire Spork, various colors (Colour: black) cutlery

Plus weekly amount of food for no-hut sections. Mostly:
– nuts, chocolate, BF bars, salami, instant asian noodles, cous cous, instant mash, instant soups.

 

Still thinking about:
– Rab Neutrino Endurance down jacket – for this extra insulation as winter is coming… But it also adds 590kg of extra weight (as I wouldn’t hike in it, it would be just for sitting at campsites, waiting through storms, etc.)
Rab Women’s Neutrino Endurance Jacket

 

Hiking north on Kungsleden trail with snow covered Keron + Giron (1543m) mountain peak in distance, Lappland, Sweden

Hiking north on Kungsleden trail with snow covered Keron + Giron (1543m) mountain peak in distance, Lappland, Sweden

Helpful info:
Cody Duncan Photography
STF – Info about the huts on the Kungsleden http://www.svenskaturistforeningen.se/en/
Save Kungsleden

 

All photos © Cody Duncan

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