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Blom-Cathra

By Phil 2015.02.03 in Lake District

Last weekend my Danish Fjällräven Polar friend Peter Blom Jensen came to visit while he is working down south for two weeks, with the plan to head to the Lake District to do a hike and a few beers.

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Due to the weather warnings leading up to the weekend, we decided to leave it until the last minute before deciding on whether to head over to the Lakes or not. We woke up early on Saturday morning to check the weather forecast and road conditions before agreeing that everything seemed ok and headed over. My initial plan was to take Peter up Scafell Pike, but due to time constraints and mountain weather forecast of very strong winds, I decided we would do Blencathra instead, seeing as it’s one of the first great hills you get to when travelling over from the North East.

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When we arrived at the car park at the foot of Blencathra we were greeted with clear blue skies and sunshine as we looked up at the snow-capped summit of Blencathra. Luckily I had done this walk only a few months ago, so I was confident we wouldn’t get lost, though you never know, so I took a map just in case. (Though as I write this I just realised I didn’t actually have a compass with me. Ah well, one key item out of two isn’t bad)

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As we started our ascent we could see some people coming down on the other side on skis. This was the first time I had ever seen a skier or snowboarder while in the Lakes and the conditions could not have been better.

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As we continued towards Scales Tarn the snow was starting to get very deep, up to waist height in parts, just how I like it. It was perfect for snowboarding, which we witnessed first-hand when a young lad came flying down from Scales Tarn towards us, cutting his way through the fresh powder.

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We finally arrived at a very frozen Scales Tarn for a spot of lunch, where I pointed out the notorious Sharp Edge to Peter, though there was no way I was going to attempt such a route in such conditions, especially as Peter had promised his wife that he would come home safely.

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We met two guys Stuart (from Adventure In Mind) and Steven who had also decided to have a break at Scales Tarn and who had also decided to avoid the Sharp Edge route, as we watched three people attempting it and who were very close to the top.

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As we headed off up towards the summit of Blencathra I suggested it was time to put our crampons on. My favourite part of winter mountaineering! Though I had made the schoolboy error of leaving my ice axe in my car, luckily I had my walking poles which we used instead. Peter was quite excited at the thought of using crampons for the very first time and it was perfect conditions for someone experiencing walking with them for the first time.

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The final ascent towards the summit wasn’t the easiest due to the very strong winds but made for some great photo opportunities of snow drifts and other amazing views.

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We finally made it to the summit of Blencathra where we were greeted with even more stunning views, though due to the strong winds, we quickly took some photos before heading back down in an attempt to get out of the wind, however the wind seemed to stay with us for quite some time as we headed down and it was so strong that it actually blew my snow goggles out of my jacket pocket and off the summit never to be seen again. Peter tried his hardest to run after them as they travelled quickly across the ground before disappearing over the edge, even Usain Bolt wouldn’t have been able to stop them in such strong winds.

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We arrived back at the car before heading over to Ambleside for some well-deserved beers, food and live music.

It was great meeting up with Peter (a.k.a. Doc) again and so pleased I got to show him the beauty of the Lakes District and to do Blencathra in near perfect winter conditions as well. I hope it won’t be too long before we meet up again. In the meantime I wonder who my next Fjällräven Polar visitor will be!

PS: If anyone sees a sheep in the Blencathra area wearing a pair of Julbo snow goggles, then please let me know as they will be mine!

Fjällräven Gutulia Anorak Review

By Phil 2015.01.23 in Product Review

I recently got to try my new Fjällräven Gutulia Anorak for the first time during last weekend’s trip to Scotland to bag another Munro.

I bought it late last year from my friends at The Sporting Lodge in preparation for the winter with the plan on using it for winter hikes as well as snowboarding.

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The Gutulia Anorak is made from Fjällräven’s G-1000 fabric which provides hard wearing, quick drying properties, wind and water resistance and excellent ventilation. The level of water resistance can be altered according to planned usage by applying the required level of Greenland wax to suit your needs.

The Gutulia Anorak has a large chest pocket, which is ideal for storing any items you may want easy access to, such as a map and other essential items. It also has a zip at each side just above the waist, which gives you access to another large area for storing more items and goes all the way through from zip to zip.

The hem has an adjustable draw cord and also has a crotch strap should you need to secure the anorak to you more securely in more extreme conditions.

The cuffs are adjustable and the hood has a detachable fur trim and a strap at the back for tightening the hood. The neck part of the anorak also includes a few options, where you can fasten the extra material in in front of the neck area right up to your neck in colder weather conditions or wear it more loosely and with the front zip pulled down should you need to cool down.

There is also a side zip to on one side of the anorak near the bottom, which can be opened to make it easier when putting the anorak on or taking it off.

The underarm two way zips on each side allow for further ventilation and can be opened fully underarm and by the side of the chest or independently depending on your needs.

I wore my Gutulia Anorak on top of my Fjällräven Keb hooded fleece jacket and Aclima Woolnet top during my recent hike up Scotland and these 3 layers were more than enough to allow me to keep to a comfortable body temperature for the conditions.

Often when hiking you can sometimes wear too many layers, or not enough and as soon as you start hiking it’s not long before you need to make adjustments. I can say I didn’t need to do that at all during my recent hike and just by adjusting the ventilation under the arms or fastening the neck and hood up was enough to allow me to adjust to the conditions we encountered.

I’m looking forward to using it a lot more on the hills in the coming winter months.

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Me in my Fjällräven Gutulia Anorak at the summit of Ben Vorlich

A Joint Effort (High Above the Clouds)

By Phil 2015.01.19 in Munros

Last weekend I decided to head up to Scotland to meet up with my mate Rory who I met during our Toubkal trek last October and attempt a few Munro’s and the first winter hikes of the year.

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We had been checking the weather leading up to the weekend and after the recent windy weather we have been having, everything looked good for Saturday and Sunday. Though I should have took a bit more notice of weather for the drive up to Scotland, as I hit a blizzard on the M74 as I approached Glasgow and delayed my journey by 2 hours. I honestly thought I was going to have spend the night in my car on the M74 after coming to complete standstill for almost an hour. I think a dog sled and six huskies would have been a better choice of transport than my car.

Eventually I arrived at my favourite B&B, Coppice House in Callander owned by my mate Pete, also a fellow Munro bagger. Was good to catch up with Pete and talk Munro’s before spending the night in the new super deluxe room he had kindly put me in.

After an early breakfast I drove to Invergulas to meet up with Rory to start our hike up Ben Vorlich. It was a stunning day with clear blue skies with the sun lighting up the snow-capped mountains we were heading towards.

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I had been so looking forward to getting back on the Scottish mountains in the winter, as I hadn’t been up since last February and the failed attempt of Beinn Dorain and Beinn Dothaidh. It was also a good opportunity to get some additional winter mountaineering practice in before next month’s Winter Skills course at Glenmore Lodge.

The hike involved a long walk in before turning right at a tiny snow covered cairn, which luckily Rory had managed to spot, as I certainly didn’t. Opposite the cairn was a tiny green snow covered tent looking rather out of place and not the location I would have chosen if I was camping out in winter. More on the tent later…

As we started the very steep ascent up towards Ben Vorlich, we met a girl from Northallerton who had travelled up on her own to bag a Munro. She didn’t have a map and was quite happy to just follow our footsteps up to the summit.

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It certainly wasn’t an easy ascent up, as the snow was so deep it made it very hard going, certainly the deepest snow I have ever hiked in and was often waist height. Luckily some others had gone up before us and had cut steps in to the deep snow, which you try to follow the best you can, but doesn’t always mean your leg won’t sink deep into the snow.

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At about 600 metres up you could start to feel the hard ice under the snow, which is usually a good time to put your crampons on. Though I wish I had done it 10 minutes earlier before I had slipped on icy rock and ended up snapping one of my Leki Titanium micro trekking poles in half. It was at this point I suggested to Rory that we should put crampons on and get the ice axes out.

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As we ascended the last 200 metres the sun broke through and the skies cleared and opened up stunning views of all the mountains around us. It was easy to see why the area we were in is often referred to as the Arrochar Alps, as it really did look and feel like you were in the Alps. It was awesome. Without doubt the best winter weather conditions I have ever experienced in Scotland. Simply perfect!

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We finally made it to the summit of Ben Vorlich and I had bagged my 5th Munro! Only 277 to go. It was Rory’s 58th Munro, so I still have a way to go to catch him. As we sat admiring the views eating our lunch, we were joined by a couple who had been following us all the way. Usually when people bag a Munro, they usually celebrate with a wee dram of whiskey, however this couple decided to roll up a celebratory joint. Well I guess that’s one way to celebrate bagging a Munro.

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We chatted to the couple for a short while, though the guy just seemed to laugh at everything, but they did tell us the little green tent we had seen earlier was in fact theirs. Which explained a lot, before they headed off back down before us.

We left not long after them but we couldn’t see them anywhere in front of us. They were probably so high from their joint they probably just rolled themselves down.

The descent down was a lot harder than I was expecting due to the depth of snow and we somehow managed to veer off the path we had come up and went down a slightly different route where the snow was even deeper. While side stepping down some of the more tricky bits, my leg went so far down into the snow that it was well above my waist and at one point felt buried under the snow, before comically trying to get back on my feet.

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We made it back to the cairn at the bottom, opposite the little green tent. It was obvious our joint loving friends had made it down safely and were having another celebratory joint as we walked past their tent which smelt like Bob Marley’s kitchen.

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We finally made it back to the car park after a good 6 hour 40 minute hike. It was great to have our first winter hike of the year under our belts.

We then headed to the Crianlarich Youth Hostel for a shower and change before heading to the nearest pub for food and plenty of beers. A great end to stunning day.

We had hoped to do another Munro on the Sunday and we drove towards Ben Chonzie but had to abort as our cars couldn’t make it up the single track road due to snow and black ice and we had to turn back, along with a few others who had also hoped to bag Ben Chonzie.

It was great meeting up with Rory again and bagging another Munro and hopefully the first of many with him, as he has the maps! I will be meeting up with him again next month when we attend the Winter Skills course at Glenmore Lodge along with 10 others for what should be another awesome winter weekend on the hills. A cannae wait!

You can view our route which I recorded with my Suunto Ambit2 by clicking the link here: View route

Snow Excuse

By Phil 2015.01.13 in General

I’m known amongst my hiking friends as “gadget man” (amongst other names) and I’m always the one with the heaviest rucksack, whether it be for a day hike or long distance treks. I won’t lie, I love my gadgets and I also like to be prepared for whatever can be thrown at you.

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One of my first winter hike photos taken from my first ever winter Munro in Scotland. Brilliant day!

Now winter is here, this gives me the opportunity to pack even more! With things like crampons, ice axes, shovels, snow goggles and many more. I love it! I actually prefer hiking in snow and colder conditions than in the summer. The scenery can often be spectacular during snowy winter hikes as well as the feeling of walking on hard ice in your crampons as the teeth dig into the ice with every step. A great feeling.

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I love wearing these!

As I often get asked “What have you got in your rucksack Phil? Why is it so heavy?” I thought I would do a post about what I carry in my daysack during the winter months.

I am by no means an expert on winter hiking, so please don’t take my thoughts and rucksack contents as the definitive answer on winter hiking as I still have lots to learn! This is just from my experiences and from doing a winter skills course in Scotland last year which you can read about here. There is still so much for me to learn about winter mountaineering, so much so that I have booked on the same winter skills course next month as well as taking along some friends and introducing them to the wonders of winter mountaineering.

The rucksack I use for all my day hikes is the Fjällräven Friluft 45, which you can read my review of here.

Carried Items (along with item weight where significant and known):

Always take spare of key items such as hats, gloves and socks, as these are things which can easily get wet while out in the snow. It’s also useful to store all your items inside a rucksack liner, as even though you might have a rucksack cover over if it’s snowing, you will be surprised how easily your rucksack can get wet is such conditions. You might also want to consider taking additional waterproof jacket and trousers depending on the quality of jacket and trousers you will already be wearing.

Clothes I generally wear during winter (may differ depending on conditions):

Note: If going out in the winter where crampons and ice axe may be required, please ensure you know how to use them correctly. If you have no previous experience of using them, then I would strongly advise attending an Intro to Winter Skills course, where they will cover the correct use of such items. I was lucky enough on my first winter outing to go with some experienced guys and the conditions we would be encountering would be a great opportunity to try crampons and ice axe without any training. We probably could have done the hike without them, as it was borderline as to whether they would be required, so it was a great opportunity for me try for the very first time. After that I booked myself on a Intro to Winter Skills course as I planned to do further hikes in much tougher conditions.

So don’t let the snow and winter weather put your hiking adventures on hold! Take the opportunity to learn new skills and experience the hills in different conditions. Having the right equipment and clothing allows you have just as good an experience on the hills in the winter as you would in the summer.

If you are venturing out into the winter for the first time, make sure you go with someone who does have some winter experience. Winter mountaineering can be such an amazing experience. Try it!

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Below are a couple of good articles on staying safe and enjoying the winter:

How I learned to stop worrying and love winter

Stay safe in the winter hills

Winter mountaineering can also be fun! Check out this video from my first ever winter mountaineering experience when doing the Scottish Munro Meall Ghaordaihd in January 2014:

So there’s no excuse to not get out there in the snow!!

I can’t wait to get out on those Scottish hills over the next few months!

Enjoy and be safe!

Walking in a Finnish Wonder(lap)land

By Phil 2015.01.06 in General

Last week I visited Finnish Lapland for a mini Fjällräven Polar 2014 reunion with Tuija (Finland), Manon (Netherlands), Melanie (Germany) and our mini reunion organiser Tuomo (Finland), along with Tuija’s boyfriend Tero, Melanie’s boyfriend Stevie and my friend Rhiannon.

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Manon, Melanie, Stevie, Rhiannon and myself arrived at Helsinki airport at around 23:00, which meant we had just over 6 hours to kill in the airport before our very early flight to Kittilä. Luckily me and Rhiannon had brought a supply of mini bottles of Grey Goose vodka, Whiskey and Brandy to help pass the time in the airport.

It was great to meet up with Manon and Melanie again at the airport, though we had already had our own individual Polar reunions when Manon came to visit me in the Lakes in May and Melanie came to visit in August, where I took them both to Scafell Pike during their visits. You can read about Melanie’s visit here: Eine Polare Wiedersehen, Pet (A Polar Reunion, Pet)

“One Night in Levi, One Night in Levi”

At around 5am Tuija and Tero arrived to join us on our early flights to Kittilä. The flight to Kittilä was just over an hour and took us further north into Finnish Lapland, where we were greeted by Tuomo and an outside temperature of -25! It was so cold, that each time I breathed through my nose it felt like my nostrils were freezing. Quite a bizarre sensation.

We landed in Kittilä at around 8am and it was still very dark. I knew they didn’t get much daylight in Lapland at this time of year, but I was expecting it to be a bit lighter. Tuomo then taxied us to our luxury cabin in Levi for the night, which he had managed to get access to from a family friend, so we could get a few hours’ sleep before planning our hike to Tuomo’s wilderness cabin deep in Finnish Lapland near Saattopora.

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The cabin would be the last time we had access to running water and electricity before we headed north. After a few hours’ sleep we woke around lunchtime and ventured out onto the frozen lake behind the cabin. Luckily it was a bit lighter than when we arrived in Kittilä, but only just. It didn’t last long before we were in darkness again at around 3pm.

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On the night we ordered Pizza’s while Tuomo took Manon, Melanie and Tuija to the supermarket to get supplies for our next few days in the wilderness. We had to choose carefully what we would take as we would be carrying all the food and drink during our 15km hike to the cabin. Luckily the girls got their priorities right and spent more money on alcohol than food. It was New Year after all!

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“Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Off To The Cabin We Go”

The next morning Tuomo arrived with a journalist who had previously written an article on him during his Fjällräven Polar 2014 campaign and wanted to do a follow up interview with him, Manon, Melanie, Tuija and myself about our time during the Polar.

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After the interview and photo shoot, it was time to start our hike to the cabin. As usual I had the heaviest rucksack, but this time it wasn’t because of all my usual unnecessary gadgets I usually carry, it was all the frozen meat and sausages I had sitting on top of my new Fjällräven Kajka 75 rucksack. All the extra weight we were all carrying, made the hike a lot harder, especially in the very deep snow and darkness.

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After a 5 ½ hour hike through the wilderness and avoiding 100 mph skidoos along the way, we finally arrived at the cabin. Luckily Tuomo’s Dad had been earlier in the day to get the fires going in the cabin and get it warmed up prior to us arriving. Which is a good job as Tuomo said the temperature inside the cabin was just as cold as outside if not colder, as the cabin had not been used for quite some time.

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While we all unpacked and settled into the cabin, Tuomo started the most important task of getting the outside sauna ready for us for later, which requires a lot of wood burning to get the temperature right.

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After a few hours it was time to hit the sauna, and wow what a sauna! It was one of the hottest saunas I have ever experienced. Keeping with Finnish sauna tradition, Tuomo told us that once you reach your limit in the sauna, you have to run outside and dive in the deep snow while naked to really get your blood pumping, before returning to the sauna and repeat as many times as you like. I have to say he was right. The worst part was walking out of the sauna before hitting the snow, once you dive into the deep snow you can instantly feel the blood pumping around your body. It brought back memories of the ice hole dip after the Polar, though this was much more enjoyable.

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After our slap up meal prepared by Melanie and Tuija, we headed outside to see if we could spot some Northern Lights. Despite the clear skies, there were no Northern Lights to be seen, as some headed back to the cabin. Then just before the rest of us headed back, Rhiannon spotted the start of some light starting to appear above the tree line around us, shortly followed by flashes of green Northern Lights! It was amazing! Tero ran back to the cabin to get the others as we all stood and watched them for a good 45 minutes. Luckily Tero is an excellent photographer and managed to capture some great images. A perfect end to great first day at the cabin.

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Happy New Year!! (Onnellista uutta vuotta!)

The next morning I slept in and missed the sunrise which the others managed to see. After breakfast we all headed out on snowshoes to the hill behind the cabin where we could see Levi in the distance. Tuomo suggested this would be where we would return just before midnight to see the New Year in as we would also be able to watch the fireworks from the Levi resort.

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As we wandered around the forest on the snowshoes we also got our first glimpse of reindeer wandering around our cabin. We managed to get up very close and take photos without them running off.

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Again it soon became dark as the moon started to appear between the trees at around 2pm. This really messes with your body clock when you aren’t used to so little daylight, so we headed back to the cabin where Stevie and Tero would start building a snow shelter, while the rest of us played the card game Uno with involved the loser of each round drinking shots of vodka and other concoctions, with Melanie adding new rules throughout. Though playing “Silent Uno” was one of her better rule changes, which resulted in having to take a shot if you made any sound other than laugh.

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After a few hours we headed out to see how Stevie and Tero had been getting on with their snow shelter. What started off as something fairly small ended up being a mansion for 4 people. It seemed the bottle of Raspberry Vodka they had managed to finish between them while building it helped them exceed their initial plans. Very impressive! So much so, that Manon and myself decided we would attempt to re-create our last night on the Polar later and sleep outdoors in the snow shelter.

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Following another great meal cooked by Melanie and Tuija it was time for another sauna session before heading up to the hill behind the cabin to see the New Year in with a bottle of Vodka and Champagne. We made it just in time for a countdown to New Year and to see the fireworks over Levi, while sharing the drink between us. A perfect end to an amazing year.

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“For love we’ll give it a (Blueberry) shot. Whoa, livin’ on a prayer”

Following our early morning wakeup call by Tuomo, it was time to clean up the cabin and sauna before starting our hike back to Levi, which we could have done without, following the little sleep and amount of drinking done the day before.

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At 11:30 we headed off back to Levi. It was a stunning day and possibly the lightest day we had experienced during our stay. It was great to see the route we had walked two days prior in daylight. Some of the colours in the sky were amazing.

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Despite us not having to carry food or drink back with us, it didn’t seem to make the hike any easier, though this was probably due to hangover and feeling slightly fragile.

We finally arrived at our hostel in Levi before a quick shower and change and to hit Levi to party! We were all starving and dying for more alcohol after such a long walk and had not eaten anything since breakfast, so we headed out for lots of food and drink!

Later Tuomo and his wife Tiia joined us for more drinks, where we were introduced to some amazing new shots. Especially the Blueberry shot. Awesome! As well as a Finnish version of black Sambuca. The drink was certainly going down nicely.

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Later Rhiannon, Manon and myself went to IHKU, which is a karaoke/nightclub. I have to say it was the funniest karaoke place I have ever seen, as we watched the locals singing numerous familiar sounding tunes but in Finnish and singing very badly! So we decided to do a song in English to get the crowd going and opted for Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer, which seemed to go down quite well as we were joined on stage by a group of German’s amongst others, before being kicked out at closing time at 4am.

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It’s Really Poo Saying Goodbye

As the first of our flights home, via Helsinki wasn’t until around midnight, we spent the day wandering around Levi recovering from an even worse hangover than the one from New Year’s Eve.
Before heading to the airport for the first flights, we all went for a traditional Finnish meal where most of us ordered reindeer dishes, with Stevie opting for the one where you can eat as many of them as you like, for which he ate 3!

Before saying our goodbyes to Tuomo and Tiia, Rhiannon gave my fellow Polarists a handmade Fjällräven Fox Christmas decoration as a thank you present before Tuomo gave us all a packet of reindeer poo for our journey home.

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After arriving in Helsinki after 1am, we said our goodbyes to Tuija and Tero as they headed to their home in Helsinki, while the rest of us spent the next 6 hours camped out in the airport before me and Rhiannon said goodbye to Manon, Melanie and Stevie before our flights back home.

Finnish Lapland is an amazing and magical place in the winter. It was bizarre how little light there is during the winter months, which can often make your body disorientated and confused with what time of day it is and what you feel or think you should be doing at that time.

The scenery was breath-taking at times and is exactly how I had seen it on many photos I had seen previously and which I thought had been enhanced, but they had obviously not been.
It was great meeting up with my fellow Fjällräven Polarists as well as being joined by Rhiannon, Stevie, Tero and Tuomo’s wife Tiia. We had such a laugh the whole time and all had a New Year we will never forget.

I would love to spend all my future New Year’s in the Finnish Lapland wilderness, as it was without doubt the best New Year I have ever experienced. Hopefully some more Fjällräven Polarists will join us next time.

We all can’t thank Tuomo enough for how well he organised our visit. It was perfect from start to Finnish! (See what I did there! ;) )

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You can view a lot more photos from our amazing time in Finnish Lapland in my video montage below:

You can also read my review on my Fjällräven Kajka 75 rucksack I used during our time in Finland here.

Fjällräven Kajka 75 Review

By Phil 2015.01.06 in Product Review

Here is my review of my Fjällräven Kajka 75 after using it during my recent Fjällräven Polar 2014 mini-reunion in Finnish Lapland.

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I already own and still use the Fjällräven Abisko 75, but after hearing so many good things about the Kajka 75 I decided to purchase one of these also. I ordered it from my friends at Sporting Lodge last December and as usual their super-fast delivery allowed me to get it in time for me to use on my recent Finnish Lapland Polar reunion.

The Kajka comes in various litre sizes of 65, 75, 85 and even 100 in both Male and Female designs. It is made with a unique wooden frame which gives it a very sturdy and rigid feel while on your back which I think helps keep the rucksack from moving from side to side while trekking. The weight distribution of this rucksack is the best I have experienced to date. I was carrying just over 20kg during our 15km hike to our cabin and it felt very comfortable and evenly balanced.

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Although the Kajka 75 is 880g heavier than the Abisko 75, the extra weight is worth it for the extra features the Kajka gives you which I will detail below:

  • The rucksack lid has two external zip zipped pockets, one which I use to store the rucksack rain cover and other small items and the other to store items such as gloves, hat, sunglasses/goggles, snack food etc. On top of the lid there is also an elasticated cord which can be used to stuff a light waterproof or fleece should you need quick access to it.
  • The lid also has in internal small zip pocket which was ideal for storing passport and wallet.
  • Another great feature of the rucksack lid is how high it can be extended above the rucksack to allow storage of additional items such as sleeping mats, tent or in my case a large bag of food and alcohol for our trek. It really does give you a lot of additional rucksack space. More than I have ever seen on other rucksacks.
  • The best feature of rucksack lid is that it can be detached completely from the top of the rucksack and connected to the front of you across your chest giving you easy access to items stored in there during your trek. Being able to detach the whole of lid in this way, allows you to use it as a small daypack for shorter hikes.
  • The rucksack can be top or front loaded with the front loading lid having rigid poles at each side which I found helpful when zipping up a heavily packed rucksack.
  • It also has the usual side compression straps for tightening once the rucksack is packed. This combined with the rigid poles in the front loading lid really helps to compact the rucksack and avoid bulging.
  • There is a lower section of the rucksack which is ideal for storing your sleeping bag and also has the option of using a mesh zipped cover to store any wet clothing while trekking.
  • The lower section can also be opened up by the zipped separator to give one large internal compartment if required.
  • There are two very large side pockets on the main body of the rucksack which I used for storing camera tripod, walking poles, extra gloves and hats and other things I would want easy access to. As the zip to these pockets are facing your back, this allows easy access to those pockets without having to remove your rucksack.
  • The are also two mesh pockets below the side pockets on main body of rucksack for storing things like water bottles or other items you want easy access to.
  • There are two hip belt pockets, one mesh and one solid with enough room for things like handheld GPS and snacks.
  • One of the front chest straps has a plastic clip which allows you to securely clip the tube from a water reservoir you might be using which can be stored inside the reservoir pouch within the rucksack. A really useful feature and one I haven’t seen on other rucksacks.
  • The rucksack has the usual back height adjustment which is easily changed.
  • Another great feature of the Kajka being able to adjust the location of the shoulder straps. There are three settings of Small, Medium and Large. Again something I haven’t seen on other rucksacks and ideal for people with large or small shoulders and to give additional comfort.
  • All the zips have a rigid loop hole while allows you to easily open and close even while wearing think gloves. Which is ideal when using in winter conditions.
  • The adjustable chest strap also includes an emergency whistle.
  • A large adjustable rain cover is also included.
  • The back of the backpack has a handle at the top which is really useful when moving backpack in transit.
  • There is also a neatly hidden Owners Info section where you can write you basic contact details. Could be useful if it gets lost!

Verdict:

Overall I think the Fjällräven Kajka 75 is an excellent rucksack for long multi-day trekking and/or shorter camping trips. A lot of thought has gone into the design of this rucksack to give it some great features, some that I haven’t seen on other rucksacks as I mentioned above. The amount of room the expandable lid gives you is incredible and the option of removing it completely and connecting to your chest is another excellent feature. The comfort and stability of the rucksack while on your back is the best I have experienced. I will still use my Abisko 75 for treks where I don’t need to carry as much gear such as sleeping bag and food etc. like when staying in accommodation where food and bedding is included, but when having the right equipment is more important than weight, then I will always choose my Kajka 75. I would thoroughly recommend the Fjällräven Kajka 75 to anyone looking for feature rich, multi functional and comfortable rucksack and I’m really looking forward to using it during many future adventures.

Welcome

Welcome to my blog about hiking, trekking, Fjällräven Polar 2014, in fact anything where you require boots and the outdoors.

My name is Phil, and following my outdoor epiphany which started in the summer of 2012 I’m now hooked on everything outdoors. So far my biggest treks have included the 250km Cathar Way, the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc and best of all, winning 1st place to take part in the Fjällräven Polar in April 2014.

I plan to use this blog to write about all my adventures, which will include my personal goal of becoming a Munroist (completing all 282 Scottish Munro mountains), summer treks, weekends in the Lakes and many more.

I like to try and make my blog posts humorous so I hope you enjoy reading and that I can put a smile on people’s faces while showing you some amazing places.

If you have any questions about the blog or the places I'm writing about, don't hesitate to contact me on: phil@philyourboots.com

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