Sweden survival

Backpack 101

Everything you need to know about your backpack, what to pack and how to pack it!
Safety over comfort
The hyperlight hype that is causing risks for unexperienced hikers
The last years UltraLight backpacking has become a significant hype. A few days ago I was watching a video where a well known experienced backpacker was explaining what you could leave behind when hiking. Like a knife, a compass, towel and even drybags. Seriously people, DO NOT DO THIS!

Sure, the less you carry the easier it gets...........in the ideal world. This is fun and stupid at the same time. A hike never goes as planned especially not in the mountains. Mountains have their own microclimate like beaches and lakes. Weather can change in a heartbeat.

If you can't carry 18kg than you are not physically ready for a hike. It's as simple as that. Go out and exercise more before you go. Walk the stairs with your backpack on, do lunges with your backpack on etc. Whenever mother nature decides to have a bad day, your gear and your physical condition becomes your enemy or your lifesaver, it is your choice!
« Safety is more important than comfort, but they can go hand in hand »
Sweden Survival
What to pack
Remember, safety first, than comformt
What to pack is very personal and also very much relying on your experience and budget obviously. Good outdoor gear comes at a price, however I have some very expensive stuff but also very cheap stuff!

I made this list a long time ago and I also use this as a checklist before I leave. I advice you to do the same.
Outdoor survival checklist
This list is based on summer conditions and is what I consider baseline need.
Physical map(s). Good practice is to add 'checkpoints' to validate your position twice a day for example.
Learn how to use the compass with the map, continue to use it once in a while. Basic survival skills!
Learn how to use and and keep practicing! Try different weather conditions as it's really really hard to get a fire going in the winter or rainy conditions!
Always carry a little rope. Doesn't have to be more than a few meters. Multi-purpose gear! Just to hang your cloths or make a shelter.
Sleeping pad
Buy a good sleeping pad. Check the R-values and weight of course. Or take a hammock with a quilt.
Polar shield / rescue blanket
Always carry this! Always! This is your last resort lifeline.
First aid kit
Make sure you buy a multi-purpose version. There are different types of FAK. Make sure there is a whistle in it.
Rain clothing or poncho
I hate rain trousers but that is personal. Rain jacket or poncho are both multi-purpose. It can stop the wind and keep you dry.
I don't carry this but I have loads of experience that you might not have. Safety first! If you have it, take it with you can practice. Don't forget to take spare batteries with you!
For your headlight and maybe GPS. Can be important.
Spork or spoon
I have 2, a short one for coffee and thea and a long one for outdoor-meals.
Like toothbrush, toothpaste, some take soap and even deo with them :) Think about subscription lenses (and cleaning water) etc.
Insect repellent (with Deed)
Don't be stupid not to bring it. You can get sick of mosquitos and ticks! Use it.
Trail food
Breakfast, lunch and dinner. You easily burn 3500 kcal per day! Also think about little snacks like a snickers, sweets and nuts or dried fruits.
Cooking stove
You have different types of stoves on Gas, Biofuel etc. Pick your poison. I have gas, bio and a wood stove. You are not allowed to make fire in most national parks in Sweden!
Insect face protection
Like in the tropics, mosquitos can be very annoying. It can literally break you down and make you go home. Buy a cap with a mosquito net around it. Make sure you bring your inner tent with you to Sweden in the summer!
Cup and cooking can
I find it easier to use a cup for tea and coffee and a separate can to prepare and eat food.
So, take a water-bag or sack >= 2L with you! You probably won't use it after a while BUT; When water is scares you might need to carry water for 2 or more days! Bring a water bottle (1L or so) for daily use.
Head lamp - light
Always bring a headlight. You might not use it a lot in the summer in Sweden but you probably need it in other countries. Make it a habit to always carry the same gear! This prevents you forgetting critical items. It also serves as a strobe in case of emergency.
Toilet paper - wet wipes
Some prefer wipes, some use paper. Wipes can be more hygienic and they can be found bio-friendly.
Bring your personal medication. Don't forget paracetamol, anti-histamine and such. If you go a long way, it might be good to bring anti-biotics BUT; follow your doctors orders! Don't use it with Facebook wisdom!
A knife is a multi-purpose tool. It can be used for many things. Like a weapon for hunting and protection or to cut wood and even as an anchor.
Just bring a towel. If you think this 4 grams will safe you from devastation than just stay home. Hiking is not for you. 
Water filter
Now, this is personal. I drink unfiltered water in Sweden and I still manage to became 42. Follow survival 101 rule; BOIL if you have doubts! Saywer has super lightweight, easy to carry water filters.
This is such an underestimated item. Sleep is the most important factor of an enjoyable hike. Not only is sleep important for your endurance, your basis of health but also your overall mood! Just buy the best you can get.

My sleeping bag is 3kg, I kid you not. Carinthia has the best and most affordable sleeping bags I have every tested!
Yes, I am going to make the UltraLighters more angry here. I do have an UltraLight backpack. However, its not capable of carry a lot of weight simply because it's not designed for that purpose.

A good backpack is the one that fits your body best. It doesn't matter if its UltraLight or not. If you hike for 3 days or more, you gonna want >= 70L. This will give you enough space, without have to push or vacuum stuff all the time. Don't spare money on this but also don't be stupid. Kelty has amazing backpacks but hard to get!
Yes you need drybags! ALWAYS. You sleeping bag will most likely not function when its wet, and when its wet its not going to dry! Same for your extra cloths and your medical supplies.

Most backpacks are not waterproof. Whatever they say online, they are not because they are not designed for this. Unless you have a military background in the navy then you probably have a waterproof bag.
Hiking socks
You gonna need wool socks. 100% wool (merino, alpaca or sheep). This is a natural deodorant and prevent your feet from getting wet. Dry feet, no blisters! Smartwool is your friend here.
Well you can safe on a tent with a hammock but then you assume you can find a place to put it right? ;)  Also, a tent with inner-tent is what you want in the Nordics but also near the equator. Insects are everywhere.
Groundcover (Polycryo)
Incredible stuff and also multi-purpose. Its insanely strong and doesn't weight a lot. Just bring it!
Mountain shoes or boots
Don't go in the mountains with sport shoes unless you are trained for this and experienced. You will brake your ankles its just a matter of time. I swear by Meindl but take category B/C. Whatever brand you buy! 

How to pack your bag
What items to put where. Distribute the weight properly.
Copyright © MSR
MSR has a very good image showing how this works. However, everybody has it's own version of this. I find the MSR setup the best and I have done numerous hikes with up to 25kg. This is a proven concept from people with years of experience and also scientifically proven. Your back can carry a lot ....as long as the weight is distributed correctly!

How to fit your bag
If it fits well, your body can handle the weight better
Your back only works in full when it fits your body. If its to small, to large or the shoulder straps are to short for your shoulders it's not going to function as you would expect.

You get bruises, you get extreme pain in your shoulders or even worse, in your back. Many beginners but even experienced hikers use a backpack that doesn't fit properly. How do I know? I was one of them and my mate taught me what to look for and how to adjust my backpack. Not all backpacks are adjustable like mine!

Shoulder width and shoulder straps

Now, what you need to know from top to bottom. First, the shoulder straps, they need to be roughly 1/2 of the total width of your shoulders. So for example; my total shoulder width is 43cm. The outside width of my shoulder strap on my backpack are 21cm.
Measure shoulder width
The shoulder straps and hip straps

This a even more important than your should straps. This width, between the top of your shoulder straps and the bottom of your hip straps can never exceed the length measured between the top of your shoulders and the center of your hip-bone. Now what am I talking about?

Measure hip distance
If this length is to short your backpack will carry the total weight on your shoulders. If the weight is significant you will get bruises. If its to long, the same happens but, you will also get bruises on your hips because the straps are probably pulled tightly and this creates friction on the wrong places. Eventually you will have enough pain to not be able to carry your bag.

Do a buddy check to validate if your pack fits your back or use a mirror. A mirror can be deceptive as it might have some form of curving in the glass to amplify for example.
What size you need?
The volume of your backpack is important
Now the volume of your backpack is important. This is totally depended on how long your trip will be. I have a 60L and a 100L backpack. Most of the time I take the 100L.

The extra liters doesn't have to make a big difference in weight. Just read the technical description properly when you buy your backpack. Compare them with other brands and types. Also check for rain-cover and waterproofness! You can use 15:1 ratio, so for example; 1 day = 15L. If you go on a 5 day hike, you need 75 liters etc.

Going out with mother nature
Your luck can run out faster than you think. Never assume!
I have had many examples where I pushed a little to far. Stranded in the mountains in freezing conditions, stuck with my sno-scooter in the middle of nowhere and so on. I know how fast your luck can run out.

You will be very happy when you know that whatever happens, you survive the night warm and safe because you brought your firesteel and your emergency/rescue blanket. Your knife is both a tool and a security measure. You can cut meat and wood but also protect yourself.

If you assume you are safe and sound on a well known trail with good signs and markings then you are playing with fire. Disaster always strikes when you are over confident and we all know; assumption is the mother of all failures.
In the ditch with my Lynx
Stuck in the middle of nowhere, in the afternoon without a winch. To far to walk back, not enough daylight anyway. Just an example how fast things turn for the worse.

Its no different with hiking. You can slip, break your ankle or stupidly take the wrong turn and get lost. Even weather can change an you have put yourself into a survival situation. Don't assume people will find you, don't assume the rescue helicopter can lift-off when you mange to press SOS on your Garmin. Maybe your batteries died or your Garmin died or you simple lost it somehow. Stupid things happen. Your gear is your lifeline and it can also make your life, your hike, your world a lot easier and enjoyable without ever having to worry.

In the military they say:

"Better have it with you and not need it, then not have it when you need it"