After a chaotic year coloured by the ongoing pandemic, I had the opportunity to spend two beautiful weeks solo trekking in Swedish Lapland. My trek would take me via the classic trail through Sarek National Park, which is part of the Laponian UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then north through Stora Sjöfallet National Park and onwards towards Kebnekaise Mountain Station and then to finish the trek at Nikkaloukta, a Same settlement close to Kiruna.
The goal of this trek was to spend some significant time alone in wild nature to re-centre and reground my mind, enjoy lots of landscape photography and read a few books.
I started with a 21kg backpack, which included 6kg (8 days) of food and 5kg worth of camera gear. I resupplied food and fuel at STF Saltoluokta Mountain Station and later at Kaitum Mountain Hut and Kebnekaise Mountain Station. This way I could keep the weight down to a minimum. 21kg starting weight with all the food and camera gear really is quite ultra-light with 10kg base weight. This is what I brought with me.
Patagonia sun visor (never using a visor in Sweden again as the mosquitos bite through the hair into the skull!)
Columbia Triple Canyon trekking shirt, 197g (new for this trip and I loved it)
Tierra Off-Course Pants, 414g (my third pair over the last six years, will not use anything else)
Icebreaker wool underwear, 70g
Nike Wildhorse trail running shoes, 980g
Darn Tough wool Socks, 74g
Black Diamond Distance Carbon FLZ Z-Poles, 298g
Jacket - Patagonia Micro Puff® Jacket, 280g
T-shirt Patagonia Capilene, 70g
Warm Tshirt - Patagonia Capilene® Thermal Weight Zip-Neck, 200g
Patagonia Strider Pro Running Shorts, 105g
Long Johns Icebreaker, 220g
2x Darn Tough Wool Socks, 74g
2x Icebreaker wool underwear, 70g
Black Diamond Midweight Screentap Gloves, 55g
Tierra Hat, 50g
2x Buff, 40g
Sea to Summit Rain Poncho, 200g (useless if it rains…but very light weight)
Petzl Bindi head torch, 35g
Anker 20000mah PowerBank, 367g
Cables for charging, 100g
Garmin Inreach Mini, 118g
Notebook and pen
Silva compass, 26g
3x Maps, 40g
Camping Gear etc.
ZPacks Duplex Tent, 550g
Cumulus 450 Quilt, custom made quilt for my large frame, 780g (new for this year and I am a quilt convert!)
Thermarest NeoAir XTherm Large, 570g
Butt Pad Thermarest Z Seat Sol, 60g
MSR Titan Kettle, 118g
MSR Pocket Rocket Delux, 78g
Primus 230g gas bottle, 382g
Titanium Long Spoon – Sea to Summit, 18g
Various Dry Saks, 300g
Hydrapak Flux Bottle 1L, 76g
Small first aid kit, 150g
The main backpack is new for this year, but it is the most comfortable backpack I have ever used for hauling heavy loads.
Osprey Aether Pro 70, 1800g
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack Nano 18L (hanging on the outside)
This is sort of the ultra-light full range kit that I use for trekking. For me this is really the (almost) ultimate trekking kit.
Sony A7rIII, 657g
Sony FE 20mm f/1.8 G, 418g
Samyang 35mm f/2.8 Sony FE, 100g
Sony Sonnar T* FE 55mm f/1.8 ZA, 281g
Tamron 70-180mm f/2.8 di iii vxd, 810g
Gitzo GT2543L Carbon Fibre Tripod, 1740g
Gitzo GH1382QD Ball Head, 400g
Various filters, Nisi ND 3, 6, 10, 15 Stops, Hoya Antistatic Circular Polarizer, 240g
Rode Video Micro Mic, 43g
GoPro Hero 8, 126g
Cleaning kit, 100g
F-Stop Wraps to protect the gear, 200g
4x Sony Batteries, 85g
Various Food, 6000g
So how did it all work? Well, perfectly. I have been honing this kit for years and exchange an item or two each year. By now it gets the job done with ease.
As on previous trips, I had some issues with the ZPacks Duplex Tent. I am too tall (190cm) to pitch it low to the ground which means that on the few nights I had strong wind and rain, it kept splashing into the tent from the bottom. If I pitch it low, my sleeping bag touches the tent fabric at the feet and gets wet, if I pitch it high I get the splashing. Definitely not a tent I would use in autumn or winter, but for summer trekking the huge floor space and light weight is a perfect mix and I can live with this slight issue.
New for this trek was the Cumulus 450 Quilt. I had it custom made for my large frame and I loved it. I was very pleased to not be restricted by a mummy bag and to be able to vent out excess heat. I predict many years of summer use with this quilt.
On the camera gear side, the Sony a7rIII continues to be a favourite camera body. This was the first year I did a long trek without a standard zoom and instead used only primes Sony FE 20mm f/1.8, Samyang 35mm f/2.8 and Sony FE 55mm f/1.8. This worked great. There was perhaps once or twice that I felt the gap between 20mm and 35mm to be a little bit too large, but it is always possible to crop the images to make up for this. I might consider getting either the Sony 24mm GM prime or the Zeiss Batis 25mm prime and then replacing the Samyang 35mm with the Zeiss Batis 40mm, this might be an ideal solution to cover the gaps, but that comes with a small weight penalty. I enjoyed having to pick the lens and work with the restrictions that primes gives and think I got better results from it. The Sony 20mm f/1.8 G is new for this trek and I love it – light and sharp, now I can leave the heavier Sony 16-35 f/2.8 at home. Having reviewed the images, I am totally smitten. It is such a sharp lens and I can’t wait for the darker nights to start to use this lens for astro and aurora (this trek still enjoyed the midnight sun). The Tamron 70-180 f/2.8 is also new for this year and is something I consider to me a major innovative development for tele zooms. It is a f/2.8 at the weight of a f/4, small, super sharp and an absolute pleasure to work with (you'll be seeing a lot of use of this one in my upcoming work). The Gitzo GT2543L Carbon Fiber Tripod with the Gitzo GH1382QD Ball Head is not a light set of legs but very stable. I always prefer stable support to light weight in this regard. The rest of the kit is tried and tested and gets the job done with plenty style!