On Monday 5th February this year, I flew out to Sweden to spend 10 days with four good friends doing a snowshoe trek across the frozen lakes of Kloten, in the Malingsbo-Kloten Nature Reserve.
The weather was expected to be in the -20c range and as we were going to be pulling our own snow sleds behind us with all our gear and canvas tents we needed to make sure our clothing and kit would be up to the task and very importantly keep us warm.
Kit choice was a big part of our pre-trip planning. Sleeping bags, sleeping mats and warm clothing were vitally important.
Being an ambassador for Snugpak I was very keen to try out as much of my Snugpak gear as I could. In my kit I took the following Snugpak items:
We started out from Nordic Discovery, based in Kloten. http://nordicdiscovery.se/sweden/ Mikael, the owner, is a friend of ours and he runs both summer and winter trips from his school in Kloten. Mikael took us out onto the ice the first day to make sure we were all familiar with the possible hazards of ice travel. One of the most important facts is that you must stay warm but not so warm that you start to sweat, so layering is vital to temperature regulation.
I was wearing a base layer set of merino wool at all times but my outer layers were altered a lot. When pulling the sled, you warm up very quickly so you want a thin but windproof layer as an outer garment. I found the SF Shirt perfect for this task, along with when I needed to fell trees and cut up fire wood, the SF Shirt was warm enough but kept the wind out and if I was overheating it could easily be slipped off and back on when needed.
When you stop you must put on warm layers or you will quickly get too cold. For this I found the Pile shirt perfect to put on over the top of the SF shirt. Instantly feeling the benefit of its warmth and wind resistance, along with the hood which could be pulled up to keep my head warm. The fleece beanie was worn most of the time, even when sleeping, but whilst asleep I tended to pull it down over my eyes and nose to keep my nose warm and black out some of the light so getting a good night sleep.
Regarding sleep, the Antarctic sleeping bag was AMAZING, never was I cold in that bag, our coldest night was -23c and I was totally toasty in it. If I needed to get up during the night my Softie Jacket was my go to garment to put on over my base layers whilst I nipped out to answer the call of nature without freezing in the process. Just wearing this item over my base layers kept me warm enough to get things done!
The one item I was dubious about was the Antarctic sleeping mat, I just couldn’t see how such a thin sleep mat would keep me warm and insulated from the snow. But it did, I was absolutely amazed at how it performed. Danny who was on the trip with me also couldn’t believe it was working, so he tried it out for a couple of nights and he too was amazed that it worked so well. It offers no comfort or support so you need to compact the snow to your shape but it sure does keep you warm and insulated from the snow. I’ve no idea what fairy dust or magic is inside that mat but it works.
On day trips out from our fixed camp, I would pack my Pile shirt and Softie jacket into my Snugpak rucksack along with all the other vital kit needed, knowing that if we got stuck or a storm blew in, I could put both these items on over the SF shirt and be warm even if forced to hunker down in the open.
So all in all I was extremely impressed with all the Snugpak kit I took, especially when some of the other guys had taken kit that cost 3 or 4 times the price of the Snugpak gear and it performed just as well if not better than their kit.
Oh yeah! The SF shirt, packed into its own storage pocket make a great pillow for the flight on the plane too, so keep it in your carry-on luggage.
Massive thanks to the folk at Snugpak for producing such excellent kit. Keep up the good work.