On my first bigger trip in Romania I had to carry about 25 kilo (without camera equipment) through the Făgăraș which was just too much. So I decided that for this trip, although the way itself is much easier, I have to rethink my packing list. Here you can read what I chose to be on the packing list for Bohusleden and why.
Hint: If you’re not interested in all the descriptions and the whole planning/think process just go directly to the list.
Light or ultra-light – often a debate on principles
Leaving your ‘luxurious’ home in exchange for a hike through mother nature can be a difficult task. Not just in case of physical fitness, bad weather or rough terrain but simply in case of all the stuff you are used to that needs to be left at home. And trekking for several days or even weeks very often means that you have to carry a heavy load on your back that you are not used to. So you should figure out what you really need and what can be left at home. As someone once said to me: “When you’re going by bike every kilo matters, going by foot every 100 grams matter.” Which is true actually. Packing size and weight are important facts to consider to have a nice tour and not just a painful and exhausting endeavour.
For me one thing led to another and I have to say that a really like lightweight trekking but I’m not a total hardcore fan of the so-called ‘ultralght trekking. Don’t get me wrong here. I totally like the ambition to optimize packing size and -weight and very often ultralight trekkers do some kind of ‘gear hacking’ in their efforts to optimize every tiny bit. I’ve tried some advice and adopted them but others I found not suitable for me. Just as an example I tried different backpacks and although the gear itself was always great, my back told me different. Now I’m using a ‘heavy’ but also very comfortable Deuter AirContact 65+10. Same thing with my UL sleeping mat. Waking up very often in the night because a leg, an arm or the back hurts is just not what I want. Of course this does not mean that everybody has these problems. What I just want to say is that everyone has to find out what’s best for himself. And if this means to carry some more in exchange for feeling well on the trip, well that’s fine by me.
Shelter – you gotta sleep sometimes
First you might want to decide where to sleep. Have you selected a trail where it is always possible to sleep in a nearby village/city? Or is it possible to sleep in some nice and cozy cottages along the way? In both situations you can leave your tent at home, maybe even your isolation mat and your sleeping bag and easily save some kilo. But if you want to be on your own and sleep in the woods it can be a hard decision between weight and comfort.
Several people tend just to use a shelter-half also known as Tarp (or Tarpulin/Zelbahn) in german. Or they just sleep under the clear sky in their sleeping bag. Well this saves a lot of weight of course, but i like to have at least some more weather and insect protection. So we’ll take our newly bought MSR Hubba HUbba NX as a shelter for the hike and our Exped SynMat Lite 5 M, yes we did not choose the UL version here, with our sleeping bags as a comfortable bed.
As a sleeping bag I’ll use my Mountain Equipment Classic 750 which is in case of temperature protection (comfort zone -5°C) a bit over the line for Bohusleden in late summer. The problem is that the alternative, my old Anjungilak 3 Seasons compact, is a bit heavier, it needs much more space in the backpack and it is not that comfortable. If it is to warm inside the Mountain Equipment bag I’ll simply use it as a blanket. The bag is fine from +10°C to -12°C and I just sleep better in it. I’d love to use something like the Exped Ultralite 700 but lets face it, I don’t want to spend another 400€ for another new sleeping bag.
Clothes – no we don’t go naked
At first sight this seems easy. Just look at the terrain and the weather conditions you’ll be facing and as a result take the cloth you need to cope with everything. But if you’re not on a day trip the weather forecast can be the equivalent to looking in a magic eight ball. Even if it says ‘no rain for the next two weeks’ you should pack some raincover, at least in those parts of the world where rain is quite common. Of course this is nothing special and pretty logical.
But what about all the other stuff? How many shirts, socks and underpants are needed? And what about something to keep you warm? Or what if the weather is really nice and hot? For a hotel trip this is just a problem to fit everything in your luggage but you don’t have this kind of luxury while trekking. For me I’ve decided to follow some rules here which are quite common in ‘the trekking scene’.
- One on the body and one ‘freshly’ washed
- If possible use ‘multi purpose clothes’
- Cold Protection through layered clothing (Zwiebelprinzip in german)
- Min-Max principal = best/most features for the least weight
The essence of this is that we’ll have two Merino Wool Shirts, one short arm and one long arm, two pairs of trekking socks and two ‘functional clothing’ underpants. One of each is worn and the other can be washed and, if it’s not raining, dried on the backpack while hiking. And we’re using Merino and special trekking products because they dry much faster, are sometimes a bit more comfortable to wear and also in case of Merino they don’t smell so fast.
For weather protection I’ll use my Firefox Pro Shell and my TNF Resolve Pant and additionally we pack Rab Latok Gaiters, which are the first thing that’s really arguable. Several people needed gaiters on the Bohusleden or made something out of plastic bags and tape to protect their feet and shoes from getting to wet. Others say that they did not need any of these things and everything was dry enough. And again others argue that gaiters are enough weather protection and no additional raincover hardshell pants are needed. This mean that the gaiters and the hardshell pants are choosing the ‘safety way’. But I’ll admit that the gaiters might be 250g that could be saved and in the need of better water protection for your feet and legs you could work with bags and tape.
For the all day use we’ll wear a zip-off pant (multipurpose) and if it is getting a bit colder we decided to bring vests (Ortovox Andermatt in my case) and a light fleece (Fjällräven Sten G-1000). This should be enough for two weeks and for every weather condition on the Bohusleden. If it is getting really cold several layers can be combined and everything is still pretty light. We don’t expect temperatures below 0°C and not above 25°C. Of course you never know but I think these choices of clothing gear should do the trick.
Additionally I can recommend to bring at least one Buff. Just choose a design you like, maybe one made out of Merino and with UV-Protection and you’re good to go. We will bring two of them each because they are so useful and really don’t weigh that much. One should never leave the house without one.
In case of shoes I’m a bit indecisive at the moment. My good old Meindl Air Revolution 3.1 or my Haix German Army Boots (older version), one of the best boots I ever owned? On the pro side for the Meindl stands that they are a bit lower and the sole is a bit better on rough terrain. But on the other hand the sole is pretty stiff, really not that comfortable on roads, and they are very warm. The only downturn on the Haix is that they have a pretty high shaft, 16cm from sole to shaft for the Meindl and 24cm for the Haix . But they are made out of leather which to my mind is much better for the feet than any specialized membrane stuff like e.g. GoreTex, they are waterproof and on ‘light’ terrain, like the Bohusleden will have to offer, more comfortable I think. As you might have guessed at the moment I’m favoring the Haix, but I’ll check both out again on little day trips and based on that I’ll make my decision.
In addition to the heavy boots I’ll pack some light sandals. Because it’ll be a real pleasure in the afternoon to get out of the boots and have something light for the camp.
Cooking – let’s have a barbecue
On some point you’ll have reached a nice place to set up your tent and you’ll be hungry. But what to cook with? On Bohusleden there are many huts with fireplaces so you might not even need a camping/multifuel stove. A Light my Fire Steel, tinder and some wood should be enough. In case the fireplace is blocked or there is none at all, I’ll bring my Primus Micron TI 2.5 with piezoelectric firing. It only runs on gas and some people like multifuel burners better to be independent, but in Sweden it should be no problem to get a compatible cartridge. The stove itself is very small, light-weight and has a lot of power. A 230g and as backup a 110g cartridge should be enough for two weeks for hot meals in the evening and some tea. Everything will be cooked in a Primus Litech Trek Kettle. A small 1 litrelitre kettle, easy to clean and very light. You could also use the lid as a pan if you like.
So one of us can eat directly out of the kettle and the other one will use a small bowl. Again some weight saved. As cutlery I can recommend using a Light my Fire Spork, a multipurpose and ultralight tool that will serve you nicely during your meals. For some nice and warm tea we have a thermo cup each.
All the other gear – what else do you need?
Now we can sleep somewhere, or everywhere you can put up a tent if you like, we have clothes and can cook, so what else?
Bring Trekking poles! They are not in your backpack for most of the time so their weight doesn’t really count. And if you think they are just something for old people well you are wrong. These things are great if you carry a bit more than a small daypack and you want to hike for several hours a day and in several days in a row.
Of course you’ll also want to bring a knife with you. I always carry a Victorinox SwissTool Spirit Plus I multitool with me. You can argue that much lightr knife like a Opinel Jardin N°08 and I have to say yes/no here. In case of saving weight you are right but there is always this ‘what if…?’ in my head. What if you need tongs or a can opener and so on? Again I’m choosing the safe road here and like to be prepared.
A headlight for each one of us will also be in our backpacks. It is just very nice to have some light and your hands free. Especially when you know it is how to shit in the woods a headlight can come in handy.
Being prepared is also good point for a few other things that I wont miss to pack. Some cords, to replace a bootlace, serve as laundry line and so on, tape (who leaves the house without tape?), some plaster and bandages, Ballistol and something against midges and suncream, toilet paper and two or three (large)plastic bags. Save at least one to wrap your backpack at the airport!
Orientation – lost in the woods anyone?
For orientation I’ve recently bought a Recta DS 50G but I’ll also take my Garmin etrex 30 with me. On Bohusleden it is possible to leave both of them at home and again save some weight because the path is said to be marked pretty good. This is more or less just for my personal fun, although I think you should at least always carry a compass on such trips.
Hygiene – where are the showers please?
Let’s face it we will smell! When you are in the woods for two weeks it is nearly impossible to always be fresh and clean. But there should be several lakes on our way we can wash our clothes and ourselves. Of course we don’t to harm nature so we chose to bring special trekking soap that is bio-degradable and can be used to clean humans and their gear.
And to get dry again we have some special ‘ultra-light’ trekking towels called PackTowl UltraLite. They absorb more water than normal towels do, dry much faster, the packing size is very small and as the name says don’t weigh much.
Of course we’ll bring toothbrush and toothpaste but that’s pretty much it. Just enough but belive me you really appraise the value of a real shower or even a bath, the comforts of life, much more than before.
Food and Drinks – Bel’Cuisine on tour
There should be plenty of water on our way so this shouldn’t be a problem. We’ll use Nalgene Canteen 32 ounce (or 1 liter) bottles because they are light weight and very flexible. If we have to filter dirty water we’ll use the Sawyer MINI filter. It uses no extra chemicals, is small and leight, not that expansice as Katdayn or comparable filters and seems to be just perfect. Again some people say that you don’t really need a water filter on Bohusleden the water just tastes a bit ‘muddy’ sometimes. Well both of our stomaches are sometimes not that friendly to us and we don’t want to risk diarrhea for several days and gladly carry the 208g for the filter.
In case of food i’ll write an additional article because we want to try out some recipies to make some on our own. At the moment we try to reach a maximum weight of 14 kilo for both of us with a ratio of 2.200 kcal a day.
Camera – of course I’ll make some photos
This can be kept short. For this trip I’ll use my Nikon D5100 with a Tokina 11-16mm and a Nikkor 18-200mm lense. Additionally two extra accupacks and some SD Cards. All for a total of about 2,5 kilo. And yes this is pretty much but this is the only equipment that I got. A nice and small micro-four-thirds (MFT) cam like the Fujifilm X-T1 would be very nice and i could save space and about 1 kilo i guess. But a new camera system would cost me arround 2.000 € and I don’t want to sell my D5100.
I’ll gladly carry this because I really want some nice pictures and memories from this journey.
The conclusion of all the things written above. Here is the simple list what I’m about to carry: