On every hiking trip – no matter its duration – the stuff carried in our backpacks ( clothes, equipment, food and water supplies ) can contribute – to some extent – to a safe and enjoyable experience.

The way that the pack’s contents are organized does play an important role as well to the quality of the experience.

The article was written having multi-day backpacking trips in mind ( where the equipment used is way more ),  but the tips outlined below can prove useful even for organizing a pack for a day-hike.

Safety / Stability 

First and foremost, everything should be placed – if possible –  INSIDE the pack. A plethora of items strapped to the outside – an image often accompanying people new to hiking / backpacking – should be avoided. 

These items are at risk of being damaged or lost ( dropped ) but most of all they affect our stability, thus compromising our safety in challenging terrain !

A loaded backpack is pulling us backwards, so we automatically lean forward in order to get back to our neutral position. The heavier the pack, the more energy is required to put things into balance.

The backpack’s negative impact on our stability can be minimized by efficient load distribution.

Load distribution 

Bulky but low-density items ( sleeping bag for instance ) should be placed at the bottom of the pack. 

The heavier and denser items should be placed :

  • at the pack’s middle height 
  • close to our body ( against the back panel )
  • centered to the spine, dividing equally the weight on both sides.

In contrary, the lightest and low-density items ( such as clothing ) should be placed:

  • at the top of the pack 
  • away from our body 

Comfort

Waste and shoulders straps should be adjusted in a way that the weight is “resting” more on the hips (~70%) than the shoulders (~30%). During the hike we readjust accordingly in order to release pressure.

Organization 

Similar items ( clothing for instance ) as well as bulkier items ( shelter, quilt / sleeping bag, food supplies ) are better organized in ultralight waterproof stuff sacks !

Ultralight dry sack with clothing for the Pindus crossing ( Greece-September 2020 ).

Items that we’ll probably use during the day’s hike should be stored in external pockets and the top of the pack to be readily accessible, thus to avoid stopping every once and while to open our backpack.

More specifically, our stuff are better organized by height inside the pack as follows:

Bottom 

Bulky but low-density items that we won’t use until setting up camp ( quilt / sleeping bag, air sleeping mat, clothes worn during sleep ).

Middle height 

Our food supplies ( by far the heaviest we carry during multi-day unsupported backpacking trips ), our cooking system, paper maps for the remaining days and our shelter ( if it fits and it’s dry ).

Food supplies -those that could fit on the table- for the unsupported crossing of Iceland ( 2017 ).

 

Top of the pack 

  • clothing ( with waterproofs, insulating jacket / fleece, gloves and beanie placed on top )
  • first aid kit, toiletries, repair kit 

External pockets 

  • snacks for the day’s hike 
  • water bottle 
  • paper map, compass, GPS
  • sunscreen, lip balm 
  • poop kit ( toilet paper, trowel, lighter, antiseptic hand sanitizer )
  • the tent’s fly ( if it’s wet ). 

Waterproofness

A waterproof liner containing all our stuff should be placed inside the pack – no matter the weather forecast – in order to protect them from getting wet. Backpack rain covers are unreliable in driving rain, so even if we use one, our backpack should be lined as well.

Wet environments… extra protection ( Norway-2019 ).

A reliable and cheap solution that I’ve been using for many years now is a trash compactor bag that can be used for multiple times.

Backpacks: My personal choices 

 

Thruhikes ( Multi-day trips ) : Salewa Alptrek 55+10L


Full autonomy for up to 2 weeks ( lightweight clothing and camping equipment plus all the food supplies ).

 

Overnights ( 2-3 day trips ) : Salewa Alptrainer 35+3L 

Autonomy for 2-3 days.

 

#Speedhiking excursions (day-hikes) : Salewa Ultra Train 22L


Super light and efficient for the short in duration but yet so rewarding day hikes !


During the last 15 years I’ve been having the privilege to spend considerable time in the outdoors, including hundreds of nights of camping in a wide range of environments across the globe.

For that reason, choosing a trustworthy shelter  is of particular importance to me!

My current tent, which I am using since May 2018 in nearly all my  trekking /mountaineering outings ( winter excluded ), is SALEWA Litetrek Pro II , a shelter which, according to SALEWA, is the pinnacle of their 3-season tents for 2 people, aimed to withstand the harsh weather conditions encountered in the mountains.

I have used it in various mountains in Greece ( mostly on mount Olympus ) as well as on my most recent thruhikes and treks in northern Europe ( Scottish highlands, Lofoten archipelago, Swedish Lapland ). Half of the times I shared it with another person and the remaining half I used it alone, as the trips/outings were solo.

My impressions are the following !


Design- Performance

Stability 

Stability was the characteristic that -along with waterproofing- impressed me the most, especially for being a 3-season shelter. 

It has a semi-geodesic design, using 3 ultralight and durable aluminum poles that allow it to withstand high winds. It was tested in a wind-tunnel for stability by the Technical University of Munich and was proved that it can withstand winds of at least 90 km/h, something that I can also attest from personal experience !

The overall stability can be further improved by the use of 4 reflective Dyneema guy-lines. These did the job on their own actually when it was needed on extremely rocky terrain, where pegs couldn’t penetrate the ground.

Waterproofing 

Water droplets never entered to the inner tent, despite the tent being exposed in prolonged rainfalls and 2 storms.

Its fly is made of tear resistant ripstop nylon with polyurethane/ silicon coating and has a 3000 mm water column.

The ground material performed superbly as well, even on the excessively saturated , boggy ground of the Scottish highlands. It’s made of durable ripstop nylon with polyurethane coating and has 10000 mm water column ( whereas the model’s basic version has 5000 mm ). 

Living space 

Interior 

Height – Satisfying. I’m 1,90 and I can sit at the area with the maximum height ( 1 m ) without the need to bend. I’m fine with that !

Longitude– I can lay down comfortably and stretch my feet during sleep without getting in contact with small items placed beyond my extremeties.

Width– I would characterize it just normal for 2 people. When used just by myself it’s really roomy – as you would probably assume – something that I really enjoy !

Vestibule 

The vestibule doesn’t seem very large ( 0,56 m² ) at first, but as the space between the two walls is remarkable, we store our backpacks between them at the side of the tent ( without losing considerable living space ) and the vestibule can easily be used for cooking when conditions dictate it.


Footprint 

Its small footprint enabled me to pitch it in areas where flat space was limited.

Ventilation

Really remarkable for a tent designed for harsh mountain conditions. Ventilation is regulated via a rear panel with zippers , which can be operated from both inside and outside.

As a 2 wall shelter, it performs better in moisture management than single wall tents. 

In conjunction with the other items of my sleeping system, I sleep comfortably no matter the area’s relative humidity level and temperature ( heat, frost ).

Packability

Weight 

Its total weight is 1980gr. 

Gram savers can cut 280 gr by removing the inner wall . Personally, I’ve never done that ! On the other hand, on short ( 2-day ) speedhiking outings with fabulous forecast I prefer to leave it back and take with me just a bivvy to stare the stars!

Bulk

When on the move, I keep it packed in its small waterproof bag (40 x 19 cm) and, when not carrying a lot of days worth of food, I usually place it in the main compartment of my backpack.

Pitching 

It can be pitched super fast ! It usually doesn’t take me more than 3 minutes when I’m by myself and 2 minutes with another person !

Most importantly, the inner tent does not get exposed to rain during pitching, as it’s attached to the fly.  

That’s something that most of double wall tents lack. A “detail” that can partly make the difference between an enjoyable or a miserable camping experience .

Durability

After 2 years of regular use I haven’t noticed yet any signs of wear or tear on the fabric and its coating, the poles, the zippers or the guy lines. The only loss in the field was 1 out of 10 aluminum pegs. The repair kit is still unused for the time being.  

Tips

Durability also has to do with how we ourselves treat our shelter !

I personally choose the most appropriate camping spot available ( with good drainage, avoiding extremely rugged ground if possible and by orientating the tent in accordance with wind direction ).

I’m pitching it tightly, I don’t put too much pressure on the garments, I don’t let it exposed all day and for many days in a row to UV radiation and the day following a rainy night I lay it down during a break to dry.

Finally, when I get back from the trip / outing, I clean it with a wet cloth and let it dry thoroughly before storing it. By doing this, I prevent mold being built on the fabric, thus extending its lifespan !

Value for money

A tent of such a class, that can perform superbly for the better part of the year in both harsh and mild conditions can only be seen as an investment !

The reviewed model ( Litetrek Pro II ) costs 500€, but its characteristics are found in much pricier tents on the market !

It’s the improved ( Pro ) version of Litetrek II, which is – among other differences – 320 gr heavier and costs 290€. 

Conclusion

An excellent choice for the mountain enthusiast who enjoys traveling light in the mountains but also values the protection against severe weather offered by a top class 3-season tent ! Design, materials and workmanship are all top notch !

More details about the product ( specs, videos etc ) are available on SALEWA’s website.

*Note: I was given the reviewed tent by SALEWA as part of our collaboration. Despite that, I didn’t have any obligation to write anything about the product if I didn’t want to. I have never recommended a product ( nor I will do in the future ) without priorly checking it thoroughly in the field and being really impressed by its performance !


 

RELAX …

Imagine yourself wandering in a dark forest at night …

The forest is really vast and dense  …

Within this mystic environment YOU are constantly moving …

Sometimes you walk … sometimes you run …

And everything is so quiet that the only things that you hear are your own breathing and the crackling sound of the rotten branches as you pass by them … (more…)


 

In the summer of 2018 I participated in the 7th edition of SALEWA Olympus Mythical Trail, known as the toughest Ultra Trail race in Greece !

Even though my explorations on the “Mountain of the Gods” are more than frequent, I thoroughly enjoy participating – as well as other fellow athletes – EVERY YEAR in this great event.

So, after another memorable participation, I thought I should write down a few reasons why perhaps YOU TOO should add it on your bucket list:

(more…)


 

 

I am more than happy to announce my collaboration with SALEWA, one of the worlds leading outdoor brands.

Since 1935, SALEWA made a name in the outdoor industry for the legendary reliability and durability of their products.

Nowadays, with their headquarters in Bolzano in the heart of the Dolomites, SALEWA is a world leader in alpine products, offering highly innovative and functional clothing, footwear and technical equipment!

SALEWA’S innovative products surely meet my needs -especially the “Speed Hiking” collection- and will help me on the long distance upcoming projects in some of the world’s remotest alpine lands, where lightness and reliability are crucial !

I would like to thank SALEWA for their trust in me and I hope that all of their expectations from this collaboration will be met !

 @Salewa @SalewaGreece #PureMountain

 

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