– my personal views on all walks of outdoor life

Gear for the upcoming packrafting trips

At this time next week I will be walking into my first serious packrafting trip, the FPE2011. Starting with a 45km walk in followed by likely the most remote and wild rivers in Finland: Valtijoki, Poroeno and Lätäseno totalling over 140km of packrafting. The Valtijoki sounds quite intimidating with its big drops, class IV rapids and stuff but, well, man has to do what man has to do. Because of mundane concerns we had to squeeze the trip into eight days meaning that we will likely skip the Halti fell and Govddajohka…

"Last minute" trip planning and trying to get a better understanding about the various challenges of the Valtijoki.

This post deals about my gear choises for the trip with a quick look on the menu and little information about another packrafting trip following immediately after this one…

The gear

First, here (FPE2011_gear) is a detailed pdf gearlist for you to inspect and criticize. The weights followed with question mark are estimates as I haven’t yet weighted that stuff. There will be an updated list later with exact weights.

As usual, the list comes in a little late for me to do any major changes to it, but all feedback is very welcome, so please leave a comment if something comes into your mind.

There is some new stuff in the clothing section. Instead of my normal synthetic long sleeve I’ll be hiking in a buttoned Haglöfs shirt as it seems like a perfect hiking shirt: cool, quick drying, wind resistant and mosquito proof! The other major change is that inspired by Joe’s Death to Rainpants I decided to take only Montane Featherlight pants (new to me but seem good). So I’ll leave my usual hiking pants (very old Haglöfs Mid Fjell) and shell pants home. This saves me a lot of weight and has relatively low impact as I’ll spent six days out of eight paddling in a dry suit instead of hiking. There’s quite a lot of warm clothing as the night time temperatures have been occasionally around +4C and freezing temps are not especially rare even though it’s July. In July 2009 we had temps near 0C, accompanied by some snow and freezing winds from the Arctic Sea. That’s the summer in the North. But it might as well be +25C with sun and horrible hordes of mosquitoes…

The forecast makes me reconcider the rainpants... At least there should be enough water in the rivers.

For footwear I’ll be taking my trusworthy La Sportiva Wild Cats with Inov8 socks (very nice socks but not too durable) and Inov8 debris gaiters. And as the primary mean of travel we will naturally have packrafts. I’ll be riding my new 2011 model Alpacka Denali Llama and Tuomas will be having an older model Alpacka Yokun Yak. Both of the boats have spray decks. As a paddle I have 215cm long 2-piece aluminum one from Finnish Welhonpesä. It’s a bit on the heavy side but it’s sturdy and cheap.

Unrelated picture of my Llama at the near by island this weekend.

As we will be rafting for about 75% of the time and the river is very challenging to us, we wanted to have good boating kit. We decided to go for full dry suits, the Finnish made Ursuit AWS 4-Tex suit. Jörgen is using a lighter Ursuit MPS for his trip to Nahanni, but we wanted a bit beefier suits to suite also other uses because a drysuit is quite an investment. In addition we’ll be having helmets, foam PFDs, throw lines and the whole usual white water kit. This weight while hiking in might save our asses later when boating, so for us the it is very acceptable.

Carrying and packing stuff is quite the usual: Golite Pinnacle and Ortlieb Aqua-Zoom for my EOS 550D. But I decided to take a bit heavier 100% waterproof Ortlieb PS 17 dry sack to line my rucksack with as the light ones from Tatonka that I would normally use do leak a bit under pressure. The Ortlieb should keep my gear dry even if capsizing.

In camp we will share a light propane stove and 1,4 liter pot in addition to Golite Shangri La 3 tent with MYOG inner tent to protect us from bugs. We will use a paddle as a center pole to save some weight.

Quite horrible picture of my Golite Shangri La 3 with the MYOG inner. Pic from last summer's trip to Käsivarsi where I drowned my camera on the first day.

I had plans about making all the kind of cool new stuff for this trip but the reality is that I haven’t found any time to spent with the sewing machine so instead of a new cool Pertex Endurance & Primaloft quilt I’ll be taking my old and weary summer sleeping bag. I might even take my girlfriends Haglöfs Zensor bag which is a bit heavier but a lot warmer as the forecast show night-time lows around +5 Celcius.

We will take an Iridium sat phone for extra safety. This is something that I don’t usually carry with me but now it feels appropriate. It also helps communicating with a group of Tuomas’ friends who we plan to meet along the way. They will be rafting down the river in a big white water raft (flown in to the beginning of Poroeno).

As for camera gear, I decided to take only one lens for my EOS 550D and that is naturally the magnificent EF 24-105 4 L IS. And as we will spent a lot of time in the water I’ll take waterproof Olympus Though 3000 point&shoot and a Gorillapod to attach the camera to the packraft or to myself.

Then there is a big bunsh of small stuff pushing the total skin out baseweight to 16,7 kilo! It’s not especially nice but there is a big pile of boating equipment in that weight. Top that with consumables and the full skin out weight will be around 23 kilos meaning a heavy rucksack in the beginning. It might be a bit uncomfortable with the Pinnacle… When we start packrafting at the source of Valtijoki my pack atatched to the bow of my Alpack should weight around 14 kilo which should be tolerable bow load for white water. We will likely portage a lot of the harder stuff (there are some class IV and V rapids on the river) but might occasionally try to run a harder rapid or drop without the extra load if we think it’s safe enough. Most of the class II and III should be doable with the planned load. Or at least we really hope so!

Any ideas or criticism? Feel free to drop a comment!

The food

I didn’t bother to pay too much attention on the food for this trip, i.e. I didn’t too a comprehensive spreadsheet. I think I have enough experience with one-week-long summer trips and on trip this short the nutritional aspects are not as important as on very long trips. But I hate to be hungry so I ended up to about 850 grams of food per day meaning maybe 3500-4000kcal per day. Less would have been likely sufficient but I decided to play it safe. I could have also gone with only two different dinner options but my mate Tuomas wanted a bit more variation so now we have four different types of dinners. The weight/day figures are somewhat questimated average figures.

I did some shopping this week. The stuff just needs to be re-packed.

The menu includes the following:

– breakfast: oat meal with sweet blueberry soup OR muesli with powdered whole milk (total 150g/day)
– lunch: tortillas with chocolate spread and home-dried bananas OR flapjack bar and mini salami (total 150g/day)
– dinner: a delicious home-dried cook-in-one-pot candle light dinner (175g/day)
– snacks: M&Ms, a small chocolate bar per day, beef jerky, chilli nuts and some chocolate chip cookies (200g/day)
– drinks: one cup of tea, coffee and hot chocolate for each day and some sports drink stuff if it gets really warm (50g/day)
– and in addition: butter, oil, hard rye bread and some more salami (around 125g/day, mostly fats)

Oh, and a bottle of Scoths for the evenings… It’s worth it, especially if it’s rainy and cold. 😉

The follow-up trip to Sweden

After ending the FPE2011 trip to Markkina on Saturday, Tuomas will head to South with his friends and I will take a bus back to Kilpisjärvi where I will meet my girlfriend. I’ll spent the Saturday at Kilpisjärvi resupplying, washing clothes, etc. and on Sunday morning we’ll be heading for a 6-7 days long hike to the Swedish side of the lake Kilpisjärvi.

Skiing the Kummaeno in April 2010. Now we plan to packraft it down to the Finnish border.

We will take a boat ride (a boat named Malla makes threertrips a day in the summertime) to Koltaluokta on the western side of lake Kilpisjärvi. Instead we could follow a 15km trail thru the Malla National Park North of Kilpisjärvi but we will save little time when taking the boat. From Koltaluokta we will walk West to the Pältsan and Moskugaisi fells. If the weather is nice we might climb to admire the views from the top but the main idea is to traverse the fells via the Isldalen valley. The travers will take us near Pältsastugan hut and the upper part of Kummaeno river which floats all the way to the Finnish border to the Southern end of Kilpisjärvi. The plan is to float down the river in one packraft. We have tried it on a lake and despite being very cramped, it works. With the new 2011 model Llama both rucksacks go on top of the new big butt and we sit on our sleeping pads in the “honeymooner position” recommended in the Roman Dials book Packrafting! The river is very easy with only couple of harder white water sections that I might ride down alone with Nina walking past them. The trip should end to the road side at Keinovuopio some 10km South from the Kilpisjärvi. After that we’ll try our luck in hitch hiking or take a little run along the road with out the gear. I’ve done it earlier. A nice way to stretch you legs…

For the second trip I’ll do some changes in the gear: I’ll ditch most of the white water kit and instead take rain pants and neoprene socks (neoprene shorts would be cool but I didn’t come up with the idea early enough). I will also strip the Llama down by removing the spray deck, seat and backrest to save some weight. I will probably also leave the satphone behind as unnecessary weight.

PS. Does anyone of you know a good online map service for Sweden? If I’d find one, I could put the planned route online.


12 responses to “Gear for the upcoming packrafting trips

  1. sabi 02/07/2011 at 23:18

    Hei Jaakko,

    nice to see your list – mine should come these days … I can’t see any potential to reduce weight – maybe except for the buff and fleece hat. And doubling the photogear!
    The sleeping bag doesn’t sound really cozy to me 😉 – imagine as the best place after a windy, cold and wet day on the river… that you hopefully will not have!! Me neither 😉

    I can’t see any maps on your list – maybe they are included somewhere? On the photo you have a map print in 1:25.000 – do you have them for the whole trip and considering necessary that scale?
    Retkikartta is a great service and I have knit together (MapMaker is a perfect tool for that) my trip in 1:50.000 and 25.000 – makes more than 50 prints in A3 %-). Sorry, don’t know any similar service for Sweden, only for France 😉

    Have an epic and exciting trip!

  2. korpijaakko 02/07/2011 at 23:33

    There would be some potential for weight reduction by acquiring new gear (lighter: dry suit, paddle, dry sack, sleepin bag, etc.) but that’s not a possibility at the moment. Or leaving most of the camera stuff (1,5kg?) back home but I don’t want to do that. I could leave the Buff or the fleece hat home. Maybe the Buff as I switched my brimemd hat to cap that fits under a helmet.

    Old 900 grams synthetic sleeping bag isn’t quite enough for temps near 0C. I should manage between 10…5C but below that might require some sit-up-training so I might switch to 1100 grams synthetic bag. I’m mentally quite prepared for long, wet and cold days on the river. I hope that the dry suit will do wonders.

    I forgot to list the maps! We have, hmm, 10 A3 pages of maps (one sided print) and there are also few A4 pages of river notes. Some are copies of the 1:50000 Kilpisjärvi-Halti map and some 1:25000 prints from Retkikartta.fi. It’s truly a great service! Though their 1:50000 should have the same amount of details as the printed hiking maps in that scale but you can always shrink 1:25000 to 50% size. GPS works as a backup and to mark the difficult spots for possible future runs.

    I think it will be exiting as I’m a bit intimitated already while just watching the maps and pics from Valtijoki

  3. Joe Newton 03/07/2011 at 11:24

    Packing food for these kinds of trips is always a challenge and a learning experience too. I’ve just finished packing for almost a month on the trail and I’m already thinking about what I would do different next time, especially in relation to packaging. My menu clocks in at around 700g a day (I’m older and lighter than you!) for the first week and ends up at nearer 850g a day by the last week. I’ve always thought that I have a high tolerance for repetition in my diet, on this trip I will find out!

    Have a great trip Jaakko.

  4. korpijaakko 03/07/2011 at 14:51

    Thanks Joe! From what I learned from the three weeks in Svalbard is that repetition doesn’t actually seem to be a problem, even though I thought it would have been. Especially if you are little low on calories and hungry at the meal times. Having a few options is good but you don’t need that much variation. And if I remember right, you have a nice possibility to buy some extras on few spots along the way. A month is a long time and it’s good to pay some attention to the food, and it’s a great possibility to learn if you plan to do more long trips (and who wouldn’t?)

  5. -maria- 03/07/2011 at 16:11

    Have a great trip!

    The Shangri-La looks nice. Even if I’m on the short side, I like to have some headroom. Some fabric hanging too close to my face is very irritating.

  6. Mark Roberts 03/07/2011 at 17:05

    Reittikartta is great!

    When I was up around the three border area (where you’ll go with your GF) it was also July. We planned to walk by the river you’ll mentioned (I think), but decided to change our route because of the mosquitoes. There were so many that spending any time at lower levels near water was an extremely unattractive idea. In the end, we even cut the trip short by a couple of days as we were bitten to hell. My wife said we looked like we had the plague when we got back.

    On the plus side, you won’t see many people. We saw one other hiker. We eventually–too late–realised that no Finn in his right mind would go hiking in Kilpisjärvi in July 🙂 From this logic, then, I deduce that you are in fact English, and only pretending to be Finnish. Your real name is Jack, and you live in Stoke-on-Trent.

    So, Jack, some more info… The temps when we were up there were unusually warm for Lapland, in the high 20s. The nights were chilly, but pleasant. As soon as the sun rose our brains melted from the heat in the tent. In the evenings, we would scramble up the sides of mountains to get as high and as far away from mosquito hell as we could. But note that some hills are inexplicably covered in mires, and there is no escape.

    The huts look nice, and in autumn would be lovely. Unfortunately, if people staying in them leave the doors open all the time, guess what: mosquitoes move in, and secrete themselves, waiting for unsuspecting Englishmen like us.

    Lastly, I recommend doing the walk from Kilpisjärvi to the border hut. It’s a lovely bit of trail: a nice waterfall, a talus slope, some good views. Well worth it.

  7. korpijaakko 03/07/2011 at 17:28

    Maria: Thanks. The SL3 is very nice but only really fits two people with gear, and maybe a dog, but not three adults. Yeti (Peter) has a SL5 which looks good if you want to fit in the whole family or just have palatial space for two. Both are relatively light, especially without an inner tent.

    Mark: That’s an interesting idea… The name might as well be jackass. 😉 I’ve been trying to avoid Lapland in mid-July for all my life but it seems that now I has to face it. I’ve had some unpleasant mosquito experiences there in the end June but they were managable even without a head net. Now I have a headnet and mosquito proof shirt. I’ll have to hope for colder temps to kill the little bloodsuckers. We plan to take a high route except for the Kummaeno. No hut-nights planned at the moment. I’ve skied thru the Malla national park in April but it wasn’t very nice with a pulka. I believe it would be a good walk but we have no idea wether the packrafting part with two in one raft takes a day or two so we may save some time in the beginning and take the boat…

  8. Väinö Vähäsarja 03/07/2011 at 22:25

    This you probably know already, but here you go: http://kso.lantmateriet.se/kartsok/kos/index.html
    The map window is quite small, but in most cases it’s adequate. Or at least tolerable…

    Btw, I first read the name of your new home town “Stoke-on-Tent” 😉 Not too far from the truth, anyways.

  9. sabi 04/07/2011 at 08:29

    With MapMaker (from Xander, a french guy who wrote this little utility) it is easy to combine even the small screenshots to a customized printable map, automatically if you don’t want to sit in front of your computer and shift by hand. Only one thing: it is in french, but not so difficult to understand.
    1. Step: configurate by press F9 (and have the right window open, confirm with enter.
    2. step: define your window, confirm.
    3. step: press “print” for every screenshot you want. Overlap of 100 pix at least – thats the most common error.

    Automatically: press F10 – decide how many moves in which direction – and do not move the mouse after this moment until it is ready!

  10. Sven 05/07/2011 at 16:03

    Jaako, what is the weight of the Drysuit? Honestly, I think you can skip that. I do not remember the water damn cold in the Lätäseno (it is not glacier fed and snow melt should be over after all).
    On the other hand, you are a young guy, what does ist possibly matter to walk 2 days with upto 25kg. That was the norm in them earlier days 😉 Next to this, a Drysuit is the best mosquitio protection possible. You might find to wear it arount the camp too 😉 The second trip sounds actually more appealing to me 🙂 It expresses the core idea of packrafting even better!

  11. korpijaakko 06/07/2011 at 12:49

    Väinö & Sabi:
    Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to take a look at them later on with more time. I have a printed map (Fjällkarta BD1) for the latter trip so I manage fine with it. Digital map would have been to illustrate the trip in the blog.

    The suit is heavy, nearly 1500g in XL (I’ll put an updated gear list online today/tomorrow). According to mixed sources the water should be around +10 Celsius at this time of the year and the air temperature seems to vary between +20C and 0C in the forecasts. 25kg rucksack is a bitch to carry (especially as it’s frameless pack in my case) but I feel that the suit gives an extra safety and comfort factor, especially as it is six days in a packraft and only two days of walking.

    The first trip is actually more a boating trip than a packrafting trip. People have done the same route with white water kayaks carrying them for a bit over 20km to the Somasjärvi from a road on the North and then paddling down the river. We have a longer walk-in via different route and more camping along the way, but it’s still pretty much white water boating. At least it hopefully is as the option is a hell lot of portage.

  12. Pingback: At the moment: Hiking & packrafting in Lapland « Korpijaakko

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