Review of Exped Scout Hammock UL

First of all I need to put in a disclaimer, I have only tried two hammocks for real. This one and the Sea To Summit Ultralight which is a totally different product than this one.

The Scout Hammock is a (almost) complete system with a hammock, tarp, and bug net. In addition you need some kind of insulation to sleep warm unless it’s really hot outside. The system weighs just under 1kg which is not superlight, but light enough for most people. The bug net is a part of the hammock so it’s not detachable, the tarp is seperate so it could be left at home. I use the Scout Hammock system for solo trips in forested areas regardless of if I’m expecting rain or wind. It has handled that well, although living space is limited in rain.

Exped Scout Hammock UL
Exped Scout Hammock UL setup.

My biggest likes about hammock camping in general is sleep comfort and the ease to find a camp spot (in mid and south Sweden). I sleep on my side and in tents on a nice inflatable mat I still twist and turn and wake up alot during a night, in a hammock lying diagonally sleeping on the side is no problem. Set up right and with the correct insulation I sleep great the whole night. Correct insulation means that I use an underquilt and a topquilt, which is the best system I’ve found. Using pads works OK, but it is not the best comfort. The ease to find camp spots is of course depending on the place you hike I have found the forests in mid and south of Sweden.

The Exped Scout Hammock UL is a great hammock with some versatile uses; is has a sleeve for camping mats, it is possible to turn it up side down to get rid of the bug net, you can pitch the hammock on the ground as a bug net and with the tarp over for rain protection. The ground pitch is not something I would suggest for frequent use.

Exped Scout Hammock UL
Exped Scout Hammock UL, without tarp. No poles in the bug net guy out points

Review of Leatherman Squirt PS4 Review

For a long time I was a strong believer in carrying a real, full size knife on outdoor adventures. For example a Mora kniv, EKA Fällkniv or similar. But when I’ve analyzed what I mostly use a knife for I’ve decided that a small multitool is my way go. I cut string, open plastic packaging, cut a sausage or cheese, file nails, bend stuff with the pliers etc. Only when I go out and need to work with wood to make fire I need a real knife. (But mostly I get along with just breaking twigs and sticks and logs with my hands)

Leatherman Squirt PS4 Review
Leatherman Squirt PS4

So the Leatherman Squirt has been my friend for a couple of years. I use the knife, plier and file mostly. The small screwdriver has come in handy at some times. The blade is really small but works for cutting string, cheese, salami, climbing rope etc. The second most used thing is the pliers which come in handy to bend stuff or cut thin wire. My absolute favorite thing is that it’s so small you don’t even notice it in your pocket.

Toaks Titanium Alcohol Stove Pot Stand Review

This pot stand weighs in a 35 grams, in four pieces. I only use three pieces when I use my small 375 ml pot. With all four sides the pot risk falling of inside the pot stand. For any bigger pot all four pieces is best to use.

Toaks Pot Stand without the pot in place.

The real magic is that the pot stand is ~8cm high which mean you can stack some small branches and twigs inside it. And suddenly you have a wood stove with unlimited fuel. Yes it takes more time and fiddling around, and yes a lot more smoke. And you need to secure the parts together with a thin wire. For me this is invaluable, I bring some alcohol fuel for when I can’t start a small fire. And the rest of the trip I can try to boil water with twigs and branches. Multipurpose (but not it’s intended use)

Likes

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Multipurpose

Dislikes

  • Assembly is a bit fiddly
  • When assembled it is not super sturdy and can fall apart if you don’t handle it gently. Can be fixed with a thin wire.
  • It’s titanium which is not cheap. Not sure what the weight would be in aluminium.

Inov-8 All Terrain 35 Backpack review

All terrain 35 Inov-8 sells this as a fast packing backpack. And that is how I used it for the first test. A four day hike/jog/run in the Swedish hills in Jämtland. I had a load of almost 11 kg and that was a bit too much for actual running in my opinion. With a few kg less in weight I think running would have worked fine. I have now used it during a week alpine climbing and glacier travel in the north of Sweden aswell. The size is really good, it fits what you need for a day. Both summer and winter. The pack is not the sturdiest and I think it wouldn’t survive heavy (ab)use for long time.

The backpack is a little different from other packs, it is not a vest-style system or a normal backpack. The shoulder straps connect to a strap above the waistbelt and can be moved along the strap. This works well, but the position changes when you loose the pack from your back. Each shoulder strap has a small pouch for snacks, gels or a small water bottle. It has a rolltop closing and the back has a zippered opening for access to the bottom of the pack. That ‘lid’ has a flat compartment for keys, money, paper etc.

Inov-8 All Terrain 35 backpack, back lid

Along the sides of the pack on both sides are zippered compartments that don’t give access the the main pack but a side pocket. The side pocket get very cramped if the main bag is stuffed full. There is a slit band that runs on the shoulder straps and on the backside. On the back a shock cord runs all over which is very convenient. One buckle on the bottom and one on top for connecting ice axe, trekking poles etc. On the slit band you can connect whatever string, carabiner or shock cord you want.

detail of Inov-8 All Terrain 35 backpack
Inov-8 All Terrain 35 backpack. Connection possibilites

On each bottom side there is a decent sized stretch pocket. I really like the pack. It is minimalistic but versatile, lightweight and big enough.

Likes

  • Perfect size and weight
  • Looks good
  • Affordable
  • The lid on the back gives nice access

Dislikes

  • The pouches on the shoulder straps are too small. Make them bigger and stretching.
  • Should straps are will move during the day, and when you take off the backpack. They also twist within the buckle when you load the backpack with more than a couple of kg.
  • I am missing the hole for a hydration bladder tube
  • I don’t see the use of the zippered pockets on the sides

Inov-8 All Terrain 35 backpack detail picture of buckle and strap
Inov-8 All Terrain 35 backpack. Problematic shoulder straps.

Inov-8 All Terrain 35 backpack. Loaded with a rope

Inov-8 All Terrain 35 First Impression Review

This is a first impression review. I will get back with an update and more pictures after more extensive use.

All terrain 35 Inov-8 sells this as a fast packing backpack. And that is how I used it for the first test. A four day hike/jog/run in the Swedish hills in Jämtland. I had a load of almost 11 kg and that was a bit too much for actual running in my opinion. With a few kg less in weight I think running would have worked fine.

Inov-8 All terrain 35 backpack

The backpack is a little different from other packs, it is not a vest-style system or a normal backpack. The shoulder straps connect to a strap above the waistbelt and can be moved along the strap. This works well, but the position changes when you loose the pack from your back. Each shoulder strap has a small pouch for snacks, gels or a small water bottle. It has a rolltop closing and the back has a zippered opening for access to the bottom of the pack. That ‘lid’ has a flat compartment for keys, money, paper etc.

Along the sides of the pack on both sides are zippered compartments that don’t give access the the main pack but a side pocket. The side pocket get very cramped if the main bag is stuffed full. There is a slit band that runs on the shoulder straps and on the backside. On the back a shock cord runs all over which is very convenient. One buckle on the bottom and one on top for connecting ice axe, trekking poles etc. On the slit band you can connect whatever string, carabiner or shock cord you want. On each bottom side there is a decent sized stretch pocket I really like the pack. It is minimalistic but versatile, lightweight and big enough. I would have done some things different if I could change the layout. The weight according to my “rough” scale is 700g (will be updated when I can weigh it better).

Likes

  • Perfect size and weight
  • Looks good
  • Affordable

Dislikes

  • The pouches on the shoulder straps are too small. Make them bigger and stretching.
  • I am missing the hole for a drinking tube
  • I don’t see the use of the zippered pockets on the sides

Inov-8 Trailtalon 235 review

I really like Inov-8 Terraclaw 220, but I needed a pair of shoes with a little more cushioning for longer runs and fast-packing trips. The solution seemed to be the Trailtalon 235 which offers the same drop (4mm) but alot more cushioning. Inov-8 call it 6 mm power footbed. Weight is 235g (in size 8,5).

I have used them on a four day hike in the northern Swedish hills. Wet and muddy and a few patches of hard rocky trails and 10kg backpack. Also during a short trip, running 40km per day with a 4kg backpack. The shoes worked great on both trips. They are comfortable for long runs, the grip is fine and they are still pretty light weght. That makes for a perfect combination for longer runs and would be better on asphalt than the Terraclaw 220. Although none of those shoes are really road running shoe, but I use them both for that because I need to limit the amount of shoes I have.

The tongue is symmetrical and the shoe laces are really long. I find the asymmetrical lacing more comfortable. Trailtalon 235 is compatible with the All Terrain Gaiter so no need for a o-ring under the sole.

Likes

  • Comfortable but lightweight
  • Gray and red color scheme looks good
  • Gaiter-compatible
  • Breathability

Dislikes

  • Symmetrical lacing
  • Not the cheapest (buy them on sale!)

trailtalon235

Petzl Micro Traxion review

The Micro Traxion is a simple and efficient rope pulley. It is also a progress capture device. This makes is an ascender and pulley in one which makes the Micro Traxion a really versatile piece of gear for any climber and alpinist. I only leave it at home when I’m doing single pitch sport climbs. The device consists of a pulley with a toothed cam that is the progress capture. The cam can be locked in open position with a button to release it.

Petzl micro traxion.
Petzl micro traxion. For top rope solo, crevasse resque, hauling and rope ascending.

Since the Micro Traxion is a little bit of a multi use tool, it is not the best performing if compared to specialist tools. Personally I can live with that and I’m using the Micro Traxion for ascending rope, top rope self belay, crevasse rescue etc. It is the fact that the Traxion is multi use that makes it problematic in some uses. The toothed cam and it’s mechanism to lock it open that can cause problems. If used as a pulley with the cam locked open, a simple touch of the button will release the cam and lock the rope. The opposite could happen if you forget to release the cam for example when top rope soloing. I haven’t had the cam open and lock by mistake and I think that would be an unlikely situation.

Top Rope Solo: 2 ropes, 2 devices
This is how I use the Petzl Micro Traxion the most. My setup is focused on security and might be overkill. But it works good for me.
I use two ropes on a top rope anchor; one static 10mm line and one dynamic rope 9,5 mm. On the static rope I attach the Micro Traxion with a oval carabiner on the belay loop. The Traxion is held up by a shock cord around my neck (do not use slings or something that can hurt you in a fall). This makes a fall minimal, just a couple of centimeters. That is why I use static line for the Traxion, a potential fall length is minimal. If I would have used the Traxion on the dynamic rope there would be more movement of rope in the cam and I think that would wear the rope more. The cam consists of several metal teeth and I’ve seen videos of big falls on rope where the teeth shears the sheath of the rope. On the dynamic line I connect a GriGri2 (no modifications) with a DMM Belay Master 2 on a short sling girth hitched to my harness tie in points. I weigh down the rope with a half empty water bottle or similar, and when climbing the rope feed through the GriGri flawlessly. This would not work with an old scruffy rope with a worn sheath. So the dynamic like is my backup to the Traxion, and they are totally independent on each other. At the top I can rapell down with the GriGri and lock the cam in open on the Micro Traxion. On the way up I do a few backup knots.

Single Rope Technique: Ascending a rope with a Traxion and a GriGri
This is place where the Traxion is good, but not comparable to a designated ascender device. No matter what I have used it alot, and it works great. Connect the rope to your GriGri (or similar device, an atc guide can be used), connect the Traxion with a oval carabiner above on the active climbing rope. Take the passive end from the GriGri and put it in the oval carabiner. If you have a pulley attached to the Traxion that helps out alot. Connect a foot loop to the traxion and away you go. Use a fairly big oval locking carabiner so you can grab it.

Crevasse rescue: Micro Traxion as progress capture
If you have one Micro Traxion, use it at the anchor to get the benefit of both the pulley and the cam. If you happen to have two (or another pulley) use the pulley with a prusik to create a 3:1 system. The rule of pulley systems is to put the most efficient pulley (a normal carabiner is a really inefficent pulley) closest to the source of power, ie the force that pulls. But in a crevasse rescue (with one Micro Traxion) I think that you would loose to much of the benefits (simplicity, ease of use etc) if you didn’t use the Traxion at the anchor. I’ve read that a 3:1 pulley system with pulleys (Traxion, mechanical pulleys, etc) is the same effectiveness as a 5:1 system with only carabiners

Likes

  • Multi functions / Versatility.
  • Lightweight.
  • Easy to use.
  • I really like that I have one piece of gear that I want to bring on almost any climbing trip.

Dislikes (actually not dislike, more trade-offs for being multi use)

  • Cam can be locked open, which can be forgotten.
  • When you want the cam to be locked open, I always somehow press the button to lock it.
  • Expensive. You can buy an ascender and a couple of pulleys for the same price.
  • A bit fiddly to use with thick gloves.

Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 Review

I have used Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 for almost a year and have around 450km of use in them. They have been on gravel roads, asphalt, forest trails, mud and snow. They still look new! The shoes are fairly minimalistic, lightweight and not alot of cushioning. 4mm drop, weight 220g (size 8,5 i think).

There is a lot of room for the toes to move around, and when your feet swell after a long run, there is space in the shoe to fill. Laces work great, they lock in when you tighten them, the shoelaces are really long so I have to tuck them forward under the shoelaces on the toe. The assymetrical tongue is really comfortable and you can really tighten them hard without restricting/chafing your tendons. I haven’t used them for runs longer than 25km but they are fine for that. They are even OK on asphalt road, although trail are what they are made for and where they shine. I would imagine they are a bit thin and light for use on heavy mountain trails with a lot of sharp rock and possibilities to bang your toes in rock. For that I would look at other shoes.

After being soaked with water they don’t keep alot of water, drying fully takes time (as with most shoes).

Likes

  • The design, I like the black and red. Stylish
  • Assymetrical tongue
  • Lightweight
  • Seems durable

Dislikes

  • Cost (bought on sale so not a big thing)
  • Color schemes on the non black ones. Looks like spaceships..

 

Inov-8 Terraclaw 220 black red

For similar shoes but with more sole check out Trailtalon 235

Toaks woodstove review

I am in love with a stove. It’s the Toaks titanum woodstove. The stove is made of titanium and is durable and lightweight, and it burns on small sticks, pine cones etc. So you will never run out of fuel. The con is that it takes time and there will be smoke. There is two versions of the stove, small woodstove 151 gram and normal size woodstove at 225 gram. You will have to learn how to use to stove and what you can put in it. The stove is made to take air/oxygen from the outside to get the wood gas to burn.

This is the stove I use when I know I will be in forest areas (everywhere in Stockholm) and have time to fiddle around with sticks and fire. It consumes some time and energy, a normal gas stove is much quicker and cleaner. But the gas will run out and you will have to carry the extra weight.

Toaks titanium woodstove

Toaks titanium woodstove from above
Fire in the woodstove.