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Fjällräven Kaipak 38 Review

By Phil 2015.06.15 in Product Review

Here is my review of the Fjällräven Kaipak 38 rucksack following its first outing during my hike up Blencathra in the Lake District last weekend.

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I ordered my Kaipak 38 from my friends at The Sporting Lodge after watching the official Fjällräven YouTube video about the rucksack and liking the features it has to offer.

The Kaipak comes in three different sizes of 28, 38 and 58 litre versions, various colours based on the rucksack size as well as Male and Female specific models. The outer material is made from the G-1000 Heavy Duty Eco material, which means it can also be waxed with Greenland Wax to give extra water resistance and protection.

The first thing I noticed when wearing the rucksack was how wide apart the should straps were compared to other day rucksacks I have used in the past. This made the rucksack feel a lot more comfortable on my shoulders. I often carry anywhere between 10-15kg on my day hikes, as I prefer to carry more equipment and clothing than required just in case the unexpected happens and my first outing with the Kaipak was no exception and felt very comfortable with the weight I was carrying. It also felt more narrow and compact on my back to my other day rucksack, which could come in useful when having to scramble down rocks and reduce the chance of rucksack getting caught.

One feature of the Kaipak that I really like is the ability to strap your walking poles to the side compressions straps via a separate attachment loop, which means you can loosen the compression straps when you stop without your poles sliding out or having to move them out of the way, something which often happens with other rucksacks I have used when not needing to use your poles during a hike.

Another nice feature is the large zipped pocket on the front of the rucksack which is ideal for storing things such as sit mat, gloves, waterproofs and other things you may want easy access to without opening the main body of the rucksack. The fact it is a zipped outer pocket as opposed to an expandable outer pocket means things can be protected more during changing weather conditions.

My favourite feature of the Kaipak is the adjustable rucksack lid which can be adjusted and lifted to give enough room to store a tent or sleeping bag on the top, or just to expand the main body of the rucksack, a feature I haven’t seen on other day rucksacks and a feature I like on the Abisko 75 and Kajka 75 I also own. The lid also has a large zipped pocket on the outside for storing things for easy access and a smaller zipped pocket under the lid.

Although the Kaipak comes with a rain cover, when I got caught in a short rain shower during my hike I didn’t need to use the rain cover as the G-1000 Heavy Duty Eco material provided more than sufficient water resistance. I would only expect to use the rain cover in more heavy rain conditions.

Summary of key features listed below:

  • Wide apart shoulder straps giving noticeable comfort
  • G-1000 Heavy Duty Eco material which gave more than enough protection in light showers I experienced and can be waxed for extra resistance
  • Additional Walking Pole or Ice Axe attached attachment loops on the side compression straps to help keep them more secure to the rucksack
  • Two covered hip belt pockets ideal for small snacks or GPS device
  • Two mesh side pockets on main body of rucksack
  • Adjustable chest strap with safety whistle
  • Pockets on outside and inside of lid
  • Rucksack lid can be raised very high to give overall extra rucksack space or store tent or sleeping bag across the top
  • Hydration system compatible
  • Large zipped outer pocket on front of rucksack for extra storage of easy accessible items

Verdict:

I love the Kaipak 38 rucksack and is perfect for day hikes, though with the highly expandable lid you could easily use this on an overnight hike. I think the additional walking pole/ice axe loop attachments is an excellent feature, which I haven’t seen before. The amount of room the expandable lid gives you is incredible and an excellent feature. I was well impressed also with the comfort of the wider shoulder straps, which I have only experienced on much larger multi-day rucksacks. I would thoroughly recommend the Fjällräven Kaipak 38 to anyone looking for day rucksack. I’m now wondering if should go for the larger 58 litre version for longer multiday hikes, given the features mentioned. An excellent rucksack.

How Hiking Has Changed My Life

By Phil 2015.06.03 in General

Prior to the summer of 2012 my life consisted of weekends going out drinking with friends, trips around Europe and not really doing much with my life. In May of 2012 my step brother Ian asked me if I wanted to join him on a trek through the French Pyrenean foothills to do the 250km Cathar Way trek. He convinced me with the promise of good weather, fine food, cheese and wine as well as a good laugh along the way. Little did I know then, that what was meant to be a life changing trek for Ian, was to change my life as also.

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After completing the Cathar Way I wanted more, so I started heading to the Lake District most weekends. I then joined the Edinburgh Young Walkers and Scottish Ramblers to be among like-minded people striving to complete the Munro’s. Though so far I have only managed 5 out of the 282. Still some way to go but plenty of glorious Scottish countryside explored.

In the summer of 2013 I set out on the 170km Tour du Mont Blanc. Walking around Mont Blanc through three different countries was yet another amazing experience. Seeing Mont Blanc in all its glory during the trek made we want to ascend it someday, which I’m hoping to achieve in 2016.

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During my new found love of the outdoors I discovered the Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven. After buying a few of their products I saw an advert for the Fjällräven Polar. A competition to win a place on a unique, once in a lifetime 300km dog sled trek north of the Arctic Circle. I was determined to win a place, so I planned my application well in advance of the competition opening. Thanks to the help of family, friends and work colleagues I came first for the UK and became one of only twenty people from around the world lucky enough to take part in 2014.

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The Fjällräven Polar in the winter of 2014 really was a life changing experience where I got to meet some amazing people from around the world, who I still keep in regular contact with. We have had many reunions, doing some amazing adventures together. Many of them have visited me here in the UK and we often go hiking in the Lake District, with many more reunions to come. Our reunions have included doing the 110km Fjällräven Classic trek in Sweden, hiking Trolltunga in Norway (one of my most eventful weekend hiking experiences I have ever had and also got to fly a plane!), wilderness hiking to a friends log cabin in Finnish Lapland for New Year and snow shoeing/ski touring in Norway.

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Since getting hooked on trekking and outdoor adventures, I decided that all my holidays and spare time has to involve some kind of hiking adventure where possible. There are so many places I want to hike and experience. Last October I did the Toubkal Two Valley trek in Morocco with Exped Adventure, where we summited at 4167m, my highest ascent so far.

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Before I started my hiking adventures I had always preferred winter holidays as opposed to summer ones, this encouraged me to attended two winter skills course in the Cairngorms in Scotland and try to get out in the winter as much as possible. I really don’t think you can beat hiking with crampons and an ice axe and the stunning views you experience in the winter. I hope to continue this and take it to the next level before attempting Mont Blanc.

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I’m also a member of international blogging community Outdrr where I blog about many of my adventures at http://philyourboots.com and where I like to share my experiences and photos to anyone interested. I have also become a product tester for Suunto and Peak Design outdoor camera accessories as well as writing product reviews on the Fjällräven clothing and equipment I use.

In the last year I have had two eight page articles published in outdoor magazine Trek & Mountain on my Fjällräven Polar and Toubkal Two Valley adventures.

I really can’t believe how much my life has changed since the summer of 2012. It has certainly helped improve my overall fitness and wellbeing and given me a new lease of life as well as meeting lots of amazing like-minded people from all around the world. All I want to do is get out on those hills, which I try to do most weekends, whether it be the Lake District, Scotland or even closer to home in Northumberland, while always thinking of my next big adventure abroad.

I really can’t imagine not living the life I have now and having the experiences I have had to date and which I hope to experience for many years to come.

It’s never too late for anyone to have their own outdoor epiphany and I would urge everyone to give it a go to get outdoors and Phil Your Boots!

Blencathra and Fairfield Horseshoe

By Phil 2015.04.26 in Lake District

Last weekend I headed to the Lakes with some friends to do Blencathra and the Fairfield Horseshoe. It was a cracking weekend and we were blessed with great weather. I’m not going to waffle on about the whole weekend, so will just let the photos do the talking.

Blencathra

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Fairfield Horseshoe

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Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket Product Review

By Phil 2015.04.26 in Product Review

Last weekend I got to try the new Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket during a trip to the Lake District and here is my review of the product.

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The jacket is made from a waxed polyamide and organic cotton material and is very light and breathable. As the name suggests, this is a windproof jacket as well as being shower poof so will keep you a little dry should you get caught in light rain showers.

My first use of the jacket was during a hike up Blencathra. It was a clear day and quite warm when I started the hike, but as I got higher up the wind started to pick up and started to feel a little colder, so on came my High Coast jacket. The jacket certainly did its job of keeping the wind off me and help maintain a comfortable body temperature.

Although it was windy as I got closer to the summit, my Aclima LightWool merino baselayer top was damp with sweat in the usual places where you sweat when on a hike, however I was surprised how quickly my baselayer seemed to dry under my High Coast jacket and how breathable the jacket actually was when wearing on top of a damp baselayer. I often find when hiking that you always seem to be taking layers off or putting layers on in order to get the right body temperature based on how strenuous the hike conditions are, I was very pleased with the combination of my baselayer and jacket and just pulled down the jacket zip if I felt I need to cool down or let more air to my upper body.

When I finally got to the summit and stop for lunch, it was a lot more windy and cooler, yet I didn’t need to put any extra layers on, I just zipped up the jacket and hood and pulled the chords to tighten the hood around my head.

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The jacket has a single zipped chest pocket on the left and two zipped hip pockets either side. The cuffs are elasticated and the hem of the jacket can be tightened by hidden chords at either side.

I continued to wear the jacket for whole of the descent and I just unzipped/zipped up the jacket as and when my body temperature dictated it. I also wore the jacket for most of my hike the following day in warmer, yet more changeable conditions while doing the Fairfield Horseshoe, both times the jacket protected me from the wind when needed and helped maintain my body temperature at all times.

The biggest thing that impressed me with the Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket was its breathability. I have worn lightweight windproof or showerproof jackets in the past and one thing what always happened was condensation/sweat inside the jacket. This never happen once with the High Coast jacket. Even when the temperature increased as I got lower down towards the start of my hikes, I never once felt condensation or sweat inside the jacket. I was actually amazed how dry the jacket was inside when I took it off.

Although I never got caught in any rain showers during the weekend (which makes a change for the Lake District), I’m sure the High Coast jacket would keep me dry in any light rain when the time comes. The waterproof level of the jacket can also be enhanced a bit by waxing it with the Greenland Wax as used on the other G-1000 based Fjällräven products, though I will wait to see how the jacket performs in light showers before giving it the waxing treatment.

I would thoroughly recommend the Fjällräven High Coast Wind Jacket as a perfect jacket for Spring or Summer adventures and look forward to putting it through its paces more over the coming months.

UPDATE 7th May 2015: Last weekend I got to test this jacket in more wet and windy conditions. Last Thursday I got caught in strong winds, hail, snow and light rain for nearly 2 hours during a hike in the Lake District. The jacket held up very well in the light rain, snow and hail showers, in that the jacket kept my Aclima LightWool merino baselayer completely dry. Two days later I was caught in much stronger winds and heavier rain while on another hike for a period of over 5 hours. This time the jacket did become a lot wetter than previously in lighter showers and shorter time. The jacket was wet through but I was wearing it on top of my Keb Loft down jacket. Although my Keb jacket was damp on the outside, it still kept my Aclima LightWool merino baselayer completely dry. So basically the High Coast Wind Jacket certainly does its job in more moderate conditions over a shorter period of time, but if caught out in more heavier rain and for longer periods then the jacket will get wet, but it’s not designed for such conditions and would be best with a more heavy duty waterproof jacket.

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The Lang Weekend

By Phil 2015.04.09 in Lake District

Last weekend I decided to head to the Lakes without a plan and just play it by ear and let the weather dictate. I packed all the essentials such as my Fjällräven Abisko Lightweight 2 tent, maps (and compass this time), guide books, 3 bottles of red wine, stove and some freeze dried food meals.

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The weather on the Friday wasn’t great, with light showers most of the day but was forecast to improve over the weekend, so I decided to chance it and headed over to the Langdale Nation Trust campsite. I managed to arrive at the campsite fairly early and just before the long Easter Weekend rush of people and found myself a good spot to pitch my tent.

Not Playing By the Book

When I woke the next morning the whole valley was covered in clouds with the sun trying to break through. I could see it was going to be a good clear day once I got up the fells.

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Although I had maps with me, I decided to do a route from the new Lakes Walks guide book my friend Rhiannon had bought for me. The route was Bowfell and Crinkle Crags which I could start right from the campsite. After I viewed the route, I thought it would be a better idea to end the walk closer to the nearest pub, the Old Dungeon Ghyll, so I decided to reverse the route detailed in the book. How hard could it be!

As I headed up the fells away from the campsite, the clouds soon cleared and the sun appeared with crystal clear blue skies. Spring had certainly arrived.

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My first summit of the day was the Pike of Blisco (705m). I was surprised that I was the only person doing the route I had chosen on such a stunning day, as I didn’t see another person until I reached Pike of Blisco, which seemed a perfect spot to have my lunch.

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After lunch I headed off towards Crinkle Crags (859m), where I started to see a few more people coming from the opposite direction. As I got closer to Crinkle Crags there were a few patches of snow about, though not enough to require any winter boots of crampons.

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After a short break on Crinkle Crags I headed to my next and highest summit of the day, Bowfell (902m). Again as I got closer to Bowfell there were more patches of snow and a few more people coming and going.
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When I reached the summit of Bowfell I found three guys there drinking a bottle of beer celebrating their 214th and final Wainwright summit, as they took it in turn to hold up their 214 Wainwright banner and posed for photos. You could also still see the summit of Scafell Pike and the hordes of people who had decided to ascend the highest summit in England.

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I started to descend back to Langdale and thought I had better check my map & GPS to make sure I was heading in the right direction, as due to the snow around Bowfell I couldn’t really see any distinctive path. Sure enough I had gone off my supposed route back down. So I headed back up towards Bowfell and headed towards Hanging Knotts as described in my guide book. However I had gone a little too far and ended up towards Esk Pike and at the other side of Angle Tarn. Despite my little setback in getting slightly lost, it didn’t really bother me as the sun was still shinning and made for some stunning photos around Angle Tarn. Once at the tarn it was easy to pick up the path along Rossett Gill all the way back to Langdale and the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub.

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I finally arrived at the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub dying for a nice cold pint. Arriving at the pub felt like reaching another summit. The guide book said the walk was 14km in distance and would take 6 hours and 20 minutes. Well thanks to my little detour it took me just over 8 hours and was 20km in distance. Still it was worth it and the drink soon made me forget about the extra time and distance. Despite the detour, it was a cracking walk and would certainly do it again, though next time I may play it by the book and do it in the direction described.

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The photo above of my 4 summits of the day. Can you guess which was my favourite!

Haway the Lads/When Philly Met Jilly

After my epic hike the day before, I decided on having a rest day and a bit of shopping before heading back to Langdale for Sunday lunch and a few beers at the New Dungeon Ghyll while listening to the Sunderland v Newcastle match, which Sunderland won 1-0, which was their 5th win in a row over Newcastle.

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Following Sunderland’s great result over our local rivals I decided to stay out for a few more celebratory beers and headed along the road to the Old Dungeon Ghyll pub which is a little closer to the campsite and easier to stumble back to my tent.

While there I finally met up my friend Jilly and a few of her friends and who now lives in a Tipi tent as well as running a Tipi rental business in Langdale called Base Camp Tipi. You can also read Jilly’s blog about her amazing cycling adventure where she spent two years cycling around the world, taking in five continents, though 30 countries while surviving on just £5 a day.

Jilly had just got back from doing Bowfell for the 11th time as part of her personal mission to do Bowfell 100 times via as many different routes as possible. When I asked her why do Bowfell 100 times, she told me: “Why not!” Which is a good enough answer after seeing the views from Bowfell for myself the previous day.

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Celebrating Sunderland’s victory over rivals Newcastle

Sharp Edge Take IV

Once again I woke to the valley covered in clouds, but my plan was to head away from Langdale and attempt Blencathra (868m) via Sharp Edge for the 4th time, hoping the weather was better than my previous three failed attempts.

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Luckily when I arrived at the foot of Blencathra the weather was perfect. The sun was shining, hardly a cloud to be seen, clear blue skies and no wind. It was certainly the day to give it another go.

I decided to unpack all my unnecessary gear from my rucksack, like tripod, walking poles and other gadgets, so they wouldn’t get in the way or add unnecessary weight on the scramble across Sharp Edge.

I don’t think I will ever get tired of the view of Blencathra as you head towards it. It’s a stunning sight as I quickly made my way up towards Scales Tarn. I usually stop at the tarn for lunch, but had made such good time and just wanted to get on with tackling Sharp Edge.

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The weather really was perfect for doing Sharp Edge as I scrambled my way across it behind three others, stopping occasionally to let some people past who were coming in the opposite direction. It was tricky in a couple of places where you are exposed and would certainly not want to get caught by any wind or doing it in wet slippery conditions and risk falling on either side.

I finally made it to the top and was great looking down on Sharp Edge as well as seeing Scales Tarn from the opposite side. I then carried on to the summit of Blencathra for lunch and to chill in the sun for a while before heading back down via Scales Fell.

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It was great to finally do Blencathra via Sharp Edge. I would do it again, but only in similar near perfect conditions and I will certainly never tire of doing Blencathra.

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I had a great weekend going solo with no real plans and was great to get my first camp of the year under my belt, as well as being good practice for this year’s adventures, with one confirmed and a few other in the pipeline… Bring on the next one!

Fjällräven Keb Gaiter Trousers Product Review

By Phil 2015.03.30 in Product Review

I bought my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers last April from my friends at The Sporting Lodge and have used them for many activities since then and in various conditions, so thought I would write a review.

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So far I have put my Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers to test during the Fjällräven Classic, Atlas Mountains in Morocco, Snowshoeing and Ski Touring in Norway and many weekends in the Lakes and Scotland in both summer and winter conditions.

The Keb Gaiter trousers are trekking trousers made from a breathable stretch fabric with G-1000 Eco and G-1000 Heavy Duty (HD) used in the places which need the most protection like the backside, around the ankles and the front of the legs and knees. They also have side leg ventilation and large thigh pockets making them an excellent choice for all year round trousers in any weather conditions.

The heavy duty gaiter part of the trouser can be unzipped to slide down the leg and tighten via the drawchod around the calf to help protect boots and ankles and at the same time allowing ventilation to your legs or just to keep them in place around your ankles for easy access should you need to attach them back to the rest of the trousers should the temperature change suddenly. In the warmer climates the gaiter part of the trousers can be zipped off completely to make them into a pair of shorts. Both these features were most useful when trekking during the Fjällräven Classic and Morocco last year where the temperature can change dramatically.

The side ventilation zips from hip to knee allow excellent ventilation when wearing as shorts or full length trousers.

I also own a pair of Fjällräven Vidda Pro Winter trousers which I usually wear for winter hikes, but this winter I decided to try my Keb Gaiters to see how they compared. With part of the trousers being made from the breathable stretch material, I wasn’t sure if they would be suitable for winter conditions, but I was very surprised how they performed during my recent trip to Norway. They certainly kept me as warm as my Vidda Pro Winter trousers and the heavy duty G-1000 material used around the ankles in the gaiter part of the trousers was most useful when snowshoeing through deep snow.

The large thigh pockets are large enough for storing a map and other accessories you want easy access to, as well as two small hip pockets.

The leg endings also include boot hooks for connection to your boot laces to help keep the gaiter part of the trousers in place and protecting your ankles and boots from snow or wet conditions.

I find the Fjällräven Keb Gaiter trousers an excellent all year round pair of trousers and would seriously recommend to anyone looking for such trousers. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people in the UK wearing these as they are perfect the British climate and the changing weather conditions we can often experience when in the outdoors.

I like my UN Blue pair so much that I’m planning on buying a black pair very shortly.

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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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