Lapland - Summer Hike 2012 - Pack animal

Yes I know - I am a nerd - a packing nerd (that you can see well enough from the photo) and someone who first likes to plan well ahead and organize; and second allow enough room for changes to the master plan knowing that the common denominator in all this is food and shelter.

Nothing makes for easier planning than wilderness hiking above the Arctic Circle in summer. You have a couple of variables in great abundance that will never change in their basic form.

The first is light. It's the land of the midnight sun of course so even in July after the longest days have gone you still have sun 24/7 and even if it is cloudy at 3am it is sunny behind the cloud and therefore not dark.

The second is landscape. There is a ton of landscape up there and you should have everything you need wrapped up and water tight. We won't be doing any serious rock climbing as the mountains were all flattened by the last ice age but still we have a glorious mess of rubble to scramble through in vast open treeless tundra and the best case scenario is that it doesn't snow and leaves us with a week long window of sunshine to enjoy Lapland at its very best.

So with just under one week to go, and Sakari driving up north able to take a couple of gas canisters with him (which I can't take on the plane), I thought it would be a good time to put my gear together and see what it looks like. Sakari is the hiking veteran of our team and can do a quick inspection and make suggestions if there is anything I have forgotten.

Most of the items you can identify from the photo above. Everything we need for a week needs to be carried on our backs. We won't have access to any wood for a fire so I use the jet boil and a small gas canister for cooking. It's incredibly light weight and handy, boiling half a litre of water in two minutes. With a collapsible bowl, metal cup and plastic spoon, knife and fork I've got everything I need.

When it comes to food I like to plan a daily ration that delivers enough protein and energy with as low a dry weight ratio as possible. Starting with a breakfast of quick porridge and dried berry powder, Gatorade energy drink and coffee I'm set for the start of a day's hike. After a week on the trail this breakfast will have lost its charm but hunger is a great way to sustain interest in whatever you have in your pack and you need to leave camp on a full tank.

Each mini grip bag contains a porridge sachet, one quick noodle meal, 200 grams of dried nuts and raisins, 4 dried pieces of Finnish rye bread, a cup-a-soup, and 2 energy drinks and 2 coffees as well as a main meal and 50 grams of 70% dark chocolate. There is also a bag of dried apricots and I might still add some hot chocolate and boiled sweets but the basics are there and it is enough for 6+ days if necessary. With the main meal the daily food pack weighs 600 grams in the dry state so the total is close to 7 kilos give or take.

There will always be plenty of fresh water in the area we're walking but I still like to fill up my water pouch situated in the back support of my backpack.

Next we have my 2 man tent to be shared with Stuart, an arctic down sleeping bag, silk liner and inflatable mattress. The tent is a replica of the one I lost on Mont Blanc a few years ago suffering from mental fatigue and physical exhaustion on the way back down and is a 'Rolls Royce' in quality and comfort - more on that later.

Good hiking boots are essential and I have the Haglöfs Grym High and a really lightweight pair of Crocs for crossing the deeper rocky streams and evening wear.

There is also waterproof and warm clothing, first aid and navigation tools as well as an interesting array of solar power phone chargers provided by the Finnish company Suntrica to keep my iPhone up and running long enough to shoot some video and possibly update this blog with pictures if my solar power phone chargers keep me powered up. The whole backpack weighs in at just under 20 kilos and with a little fine tuning still to do I'm ready for the (hopefully) unfrozen wastelands of the north.