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Comprehensive Gear Guide: Expert Reviews on Outdoor Camping and Hiking Equipment

In my "52 Weeks of Wilderness" blog posts, I've committed to offering a more detailed description of the equipment I use in my outdoor adventures, along with my personal insights about each item. Here, I will present the gear and explain the reasons behind my choices. It's important to note that I am not sponsored or paid for any of these endorsements. Everything described here is entirely based on my subjective opinion and personal experiences.


Please note: The list is not yet finalized, but currently includes the items detailed below


Tent Solutions


Backpacks


Camping Gear


Cooking/Food Equipment


Multi-Tools and Knives


Tent Solutions

I have quite a diverse collection of tents, which is incredibly practical as each has its specific use. Here, I'll outline the different tent solutions I utilize, detailing on which trips I use each and why:


Hilleberg Unna

My Go-To Solo Tent and my most frequently used tent is the Hilleberg Unna, a solo tent that can accommodate two people in a pinch. I rely on this tent for the majority of my solo trips, whether they are short jaunts or longer excursions.



Advantages of the Hilleberg Unna:

  • Lightweight: The tent weighs approximately 2.6 kg, including an extra groundsheet, making it an ideal choice for lightweight travel.

  • Interchangeable Inner Tent: The Unna allows me to switch between a mesh inner tent for summer use and a solid one for winter, providing versatility across seasons.

  • Simple and Sturdy Design: With just two poles, the tent is not only stable but also quick and easy to set up. Its design strikes an excellent balance between convenience and resilience.

  • Freestanding Structure: The self-standing nature of the tent makes it easy to move around. It can be pitched almost anywhere, offering great flexibility in campsite selection.

  • Spacious Interior: Though the Unna doesn't have a vestibule, its design offers ample space inside. There’s plenty of room for a sleeping pad, backpack, and gear. By slightly adjusting the inner tent, I can create a bit of extra space in the vestibule area if needed.

  • Durability: The Hilleberg Unna is known for its high-quality materials and construction, which contribute to its durability. It withstands harsh weather conditions like heavy rain, strong winds, and even snow, making it reliable for use in a variety of environments.

  • Excellent Ventilation: Despite being a robust tent, the Unna offers good ventilation options. This is crucial for reducing condensation inside the tent, especially in humid conditions or when camping in colder weather.

  • Compact Packing Size: The tent packs down into a relatively small size, which is a significant advantage for backpackers and hikers who need to optimize their pack space. This feature makes it easier to carry over long distances or when space in your backpack is at a premium.


Disadvantages of the Hilleberg Unna:

  • Price: Hilleberg tents, including the Unna model, are typically on the higher end of the price spectrum. 

  • Limited Space for Two: While the Unna is marketed as a spacious one-person tent, it can be a tight fit for two people. This could be a drawback for those who plan to use it occasionally as a two-person tent, as it might not provide enough room for two people plus their gear comfortably.

  • Single Entrance and Vestibule: The tent has only one door, which might limit accessibility and convenience, particularly when used by two people. Additionally, having a single vestibule can restrict storage space for gear outside the sleeping area, which can be a drawback for those needing more storage space while camping.


This tent stands out for its practicality and comfort, making it my top choice for solo adventures in various conditions and terrains.


Helsport Reinsfjell Superlight 3

My go-to tent when I'm camping with a companion or when I want to indulge in a bit of luxury with ample space all to myself. This tent is ideally designed for two people, featuring dual entrances which is a convenient setup. Each person has their own entryway, eliminating the need to climb over each other when entering or exiting the tent.


What stands out about the Reinsfjell Superlight 3 is its thoughtful design regarding storage space. The vestibule area in the outer tent is generously sized, offering ample room for backpacks, shoes, and other gear. This means you can keep your equipment sheltered from the elements without crowding the sleeping area, ensuring a more organized and comfortable camping experience.


Advantages of the Helsport Reinsfjell Superlight 3:

  • Dual Entrances: Each person has their own entry, enhancing convenience and privacy. This design eliminates the need to climb over each other, particularly useful during night-time exits.

  • Spacious Vestibule: The tent provides a large outer area for storing backpacks, shoes, and other gear, keeping the sleeping area uncluttered and comfortable.

  • Lightweight Design: As the name suggests, this tent is designed to be super light, making it easier to carry on hikes and reducing the overall burden for backpackers.

  • Easy Setup: The tent is designed for simplicity in setting up, which is advantageous in bad weather conditions or when arriving at a campsite late.

  • Good Ventilation: With multiple entrances and potential for cross-ventilation, the tent can maintain a comfortable internal climate, reducing condensation inside.


Disadvantages of the Helsport Reinsfjell Superlight 3:

  • Price: High-end tents like the Helsport Reinsfjell Superlight 3 tend to be more expensive, which might not be ideal for casual or infrequent campers.

  • Durability Concerns with Lightweight Materials: While the lightweight nature is an advantage, it can sometimes mean a compromise in durability, especially in harsher weather conditions.

  • Space Constraints for Three People: Although it’s named for three people, like many tents, it might be a tight fit for three adults, especially with gear.

  • Limited Insulation: Being a superlight tent, it may not offer the same level of insulation as heavier, more robust models, making it less suitable for extremely cold conditions.

  • Stability in High Winds: Ultra-light tents can sometimes struggle in very high winds or severe weather, lacking the stability of heavier, more sturdy designs.


Frisport Skogshorn Lavvo (Tipi)

My Go-To solution for group camping. When I'm embarking on trips with a group of friends or family, I opt for a larger, multi-person tent solution like the Frisport Skogshorn Lavvo. This tent is a game-changer for group camping, as it offers significantly more interior space. This spaciousness is not just about comfort; it also facilitates better group interactions and allows for shared equipment storage without feeling cramped.


The Lavvo design is particularly well-suited for accommodating 5-6 people comfortably. Its ample interior space means that everyone can move around, sit, or sleep without feeling squeezed in. This is especially useful in scenarios where you might be confined to the tent due to bad weather. The communal aspect of the Lavvo's design makes it ideal for social camping experiences. It’s a tent where stories are shared, meals are enjoyed together, and memories are made.


Advantages of the Frisport Skogshorn Lavvo:

  • Spacious Interior: The Lavvo offers a large interior space, comfortably accommodating 5-6 people. This makes it ideal for group camping, allowing everyone to move around freely without feeling cramped.

  • Communal Experience: Its design fosters a communal atmosphere, perfect for group interactions, socializing, and shared activities like meals and games.

  • High Ceiling: The tent's high ceiling creates a more homely and airy feel, enhancing the overall comfort, especially during extended stays.

  • Robustness: Lavvo tents are generally known for their robust construction, making them suitable for a variety of weather conditions, providing reliable shelter.

  • Easy Group Management: With ample space for shared equipment storage, managing camping gear for a group becomes more organized and convenient.


Disadvantages of the Frisport Skogshorn Lavvo:

  • Size and Weight: The tent's larger size and heavier weight make it less ideal for solo trips or situations where portability is key.

  • Setup Time: Due to its size, setting up the Lavvo can be more time-consuming and might require more than one person, which could be challenging in adverse weather conditions or when arriving late at a campsite.

  • Price: Larger tents like the Lavvo tend to be more expensive, which could be a significant consideration for casual campers or those on a budget.

  • Ventilation Issues: While spacious, large tents can sometimes struggle with ventilation, leading to condensation buildup inside, especially with a full group.

  • Space Requirement for Setup: The Lavvo requires a larger footprint for setup, which might not be suitable for camping sites with limited space or in areas with rugged terrain.


North Face Mountain 25 

This is my go-to tent choice for trips where I anticipate facing particularly harsh conditions. This tent is adept at providing reliable shelter in extreme environments, making it an ideal option for more adventurous and challenging outdoor excursions.


Designed to comfortably house two people, the Mountain 25 comes with two entrances. This dual-entry system is not just about convenience; it also provides critical functionality in severe weather, allowing for easier access and better airflow. One of the standout features of the Mountain 25 is its storm flaps that run along the entire perimeter of the tent. These flaps are designed to offer extra protection against wind-driven rain, snow, and even sand. This feature ensures that the elements stay out, keeping the interior of the tent dry and comfortable, no matter how bad the weather gets outside.


Furthermore, this tent is engineered to withstand hurricane-force winds, a testament to its robust construction and thoughtful design. It's equipped with strong poles and reinforced guy lines for stability, ensuring that the tent remains secure and stable even in the most extreme conditions.


Advantages of North Face Mountain 25:

  • Durability in Extreme Conditions: This tent is built to withstand harsh weather, including high winds and heavy snow, making it ideal for extreme outdoor conditions.

  • Dual Entrances: Having two entrances not only offers convenience but also provides vital safety in case one entry is blocked, and improves ventilation inside the tent.

  • Storm Flaps for Added Protection: The storm flaps running along the tent provide extra defense against wind, rain, and snow, ensuring the interior stays dry and comfortable.

  • Hurricane-Ready Construction: The tent is designed to endure hurricane-force winds, thanks to its robust poles and reinforced guy lines, offering peace of mind in volatile weather.

  • Comfortable for Two People: It offers ample space for two people, making it a good choice for pairs seeking a reliable shelter in challenging environments.


Disadvantages of North Face Mountain 25:

  • Weight and Bulkiness: Being a robust, four-season tent, it is heavier and bulkier than many three-season tents, which might be a drawback for backpackers who prioritize lightweight gear.

  • Complex Setup: Due to its sturdy construction, the tent can be more complex and time-consuming to set up, particularly for those not used to dealing with advanced tent structures.

  • Limited Ventilation in Mild Conditions: While it excels in harsh weather, in milder conditions, its ventilation might be less effective compared to tents designed specifically for lighter use.

  • Price: High-end, durable tents like the Mountain 25 tend to be more expensive, which might not be cost-effective for casual or infrequent campers.

  • Overkill for Mild Conditions: For those camping in less demanding environments, this tent might be more than what's needed, both in terms of features and the effort to transport and set it up.


Snugpak Stratosphere 

This is my go-to solution when I aim for minimal packing, expect fine weather, and don't need a full tent setup, but still want the option of a shelter in case it becomes necessary. One of the main advantages of the Stratosphere is its lightweight and compact design, making it incredibly easy to carry. Despite its small size, it offers a comfortable shelter, providing enough space for one person to sleep and protect themselves from unexpected weather changes.

Furthermore, it’s a versatile option, sitting somewhere between a bivy bag and a tent. It offers more protection and space than a standard bivy bag, making it a more comfortable choice for overnight stays, yet it's more streamlined and less cumbersome than a traditional tent. This makes the Snugpak Stratosphere an ideal option for solo adventurers who value speed, efficiency, and the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions.


Advantages of the Snugpak Stratosphere:

  • Lightweight and Compact: Ideal for minimalist travelers, its lightweight and compact design make it easy to carry, perfect for backpacking, hiking, or bike touring.

  • Quick Setup: The Stratosphere is designed for fast and easy setup, a crucial feature for those who need to make camp quickly, especially after a long day of travel or when racing against changing weather.

  • Moderate Weather Protection: While it's not built for extreme conditions, it offers sufficient protection against light rain and moderate weather, making it suitable for fair-weather camping.

  • More Spacious than a Bivy Bag: Offers more room than a standard bivy bag, allowing for a more comfortable sleeping space while still being more compact than a traditional tent.

  • Versatility: Sits between a bivy bag and a full tent, providing flexibility for different types of camping trips where weather conditions are not extreme.


Disadvantages of the Snugpak Stratosphere:

  • Limited Space: While more spacious than a bivy bag, it's still quite confined compared to a regular tent, which can be an issue for those who need more room to move around.

  • Not Suitable for Extreme Weather: Not the best option for harsh weather conditions, as its protection against heavy rain, strong winds, or cold temperatures is limited.

  • Condensation Issues: Like many single-wall shelters, it may have issues with condensation, especially in humid conditions.

  • Limited Ventilation: The compact design might result in inadequate ventilation, which can be uncomfortable in warmer climates.

  • Solo Use Only: Primarily designed for single occupancy, making it unsuitable for trips where you're camping with a partner or a group.


Sydvang Tarp 11 and 9 (medium and small)

Theese models are incredibly versatile pieces of equipment for outdoor adventures. A tarp has an extensive range of uses in the wilderness, and I often find myself relying on one for various purposes.


One of the primary uses of a tarp in my outdoor excursions is as a rain shield, especially when gathered around a campfire. It acts as an overhead barrier, protecting against unexpected rain showers, and allows for a comfortable, dry area where you can enjoy the warmth of the fire without getting wet. This setup is particularly valuable in unpredictable weather conditions or in regions where rain is frequent.


Additionally, I often use a tarp as an extra layer of protection over my tent. This not only adds an additional barrier against rain and wind but also creates a dry space outside the tent entrance. This area becomes a convenient 'outdoor' room where you can store gear, put on or take off muddy boots, or even cook under shelter. It effectively extends the living space beyond the confines of your tent, which can be a significant comfort and convenience on longer trips or in wet conditions.


Tarps like the Sydvang 11 and 9 are not only functional but also lightweight and easy to pack, making them an essential part of my camping gear. Their flexibility allows for various setups depending on the terrain and the specific needs of each trip, from creating windbreaks to forming makeshift shelters. Overall, a tarp is an indispensable tool for enhancing the comfort and versatility of outdoor living.


Backpacks

Occasionally, I might use different backpack solutions than the ones mentioned below, but for the most part, I've found that these are the ones I turn to for 95 percent of my trips.


Norrøna Para Ranger 

This is my preferred choice of backpack when I need ample space and plan to carry a lot of gear. This backpack is designed with generous capacity in mind, making it ideal for longer trips or expeditions where a substantial amount of equipment is necessary.


One of the key features of the Para Ranger is its robust and spacious design. It offers a large main compartment and multiple pockets, providing plenty of room to organize and store all your essentials, from camping gear to clothing and food supplies. This makes it particularly suitable for extended journeys, winter trips requiring heavier gear, or any adventure where you need to be self-sufficient for several days.


Additionally, the backpack is built to endure tough conditions. It's made from high-quality, durable materials that can withstand rough handling and challenging outdoor environments. This durability ensures that your gear stays safe and the backpack itself remains a reliable companion over many trips.


The comfort of carrying is another important aspect of the Norrøna Para Ranger. It's designed with an ergonomic harness system that helps distribute weight evenly, reducing strain on your back and shoulders. This feature is crucial for maintaining comfort and mobility during long treks or when navigating challenging terrain.

Overall, the Norrøna Para Ranger is an excellent backpack for those who need a combination of space, durability, and comfort.


Atmos AG 65 

This is my preferred choice for both short overnight trips and day hikes. While some might consider it a bit large for a daypack, I find that its exceptional fit and carrying comfort more than compensate for its size. In my experience, the benefits it offers make it a standout choice, regardless of its larger capacity.


What sets the Atmos AG 65 apart is its advanced design focused on ergonomics and comfort. The backpack features an Anti-Gravity (AG) suspension system, which contours to the body and distributes weight evenly. This system reduces the strain on your back and shoulders, making it easier to carry heavier loads without discomfort, a crucial factor for longer or more strenuous hikes.


Another advantage is its versatility. Despite being on the larger side, it offers flexibility in how you pack and organize your gear. With multiple compartments and accessibility points, it's easy to keep your essentials within reach. This makes it suitable for a variety of trips, whether you're packing light for a day hike or carrying extra gear for an overnight stay.

Moreover, the Atmos AG 65's build quality is exceptional. It's made with durable materials, ensuring it can withstand the wear and tear of outdoor adventures. This durability, combined with its comfort and versatility, explains why it stands out as the best backpack I've ever used, and why I haven't found a better option.


Camping Gear

Today, there are many great solutions available that make life in the outdoors a bit easier and more enjoyable. Here's some of the extra equipment that I've grown quite fond of and often bring along on my trips, provided that space and weight allow it.


Helinox Ground Chair 

This chair has become one of my constant companions on overnight trips and day hikes that involve longer breaks. It's amazing how much more comfortable it is to sit by the fire with back support. 


Advantages of the Helinox Ground Chair:

  • Comfort: Offers significant comfort by providing back support, which is particularly beneficial during longer outdoor stays, like relaxing around a fire.

  • Lightweight and Compact: Weighing only 620 grams and with its compact design, the chair is easy to carry and takes minimal space in a backpack, ideal for both day hikes and longer trips.

  • Easy to Assemble: The chair's design allows for quick and effortless setup, a major advantage when you want to establish a comfortable seating area swiftly.


Disadvantages of the Helinox Ground Chair:

  • Price: Helinox chairs tend to be pricier than other portable chairs, which can be a significant factor for budget-conscious outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Limited Durability on Rough Terrain: Although the chair is sturdy, it may be less durable on very uneven or sharp terrain compared to more robust seating options.

  • Low Height: The chair is designed to sit close to the ground, which might be less comfortable for some users, especially those who prefer a higher seating position or have difficulty rising from a low height.


Cooking/Food Equipment

Navigating the vast array of cooking and beverage-making equipment available on the market for outdoor adventures can be overwhelming. While there are many excellent products out there, there's also a fair share of subpar gear, some of which are excessively expensive. Over the years, I've tried a variety of options, and here I will share some of the equipment that I currently use and trust on my trips.


Coffe Kettle

I use a sturdy and affordable (about EUR 20) coffee kettle from Eagle Products, which holds about 1,5 liters. This kettle has been with me for a long time, and I've put it through some rigorous use. It often finds itself right in the middle of the campfire to speed up the water

heating process, and as a result, it turns completely black. However, a quick scrub with steel wool at home and a cycle in the dishwasher gets it ready for new adventures. Of course, I don't necessarily need to do this; the blackened exterior doesn't affect its functionality. But if I don't clean it, there's a tendency for the soot to rub off on all my other things too.


Whether it's for brewing a morning coffee or just boiling water, this kettle has proven to be both reliable and indispensable in the great outdoors.


Multi-Tools and Knives

As with many things, simplicity often proves to be the best approach. In my younger days, I had a fascination with knives and have probably taken over 100 different types on my trips. However, my interest in knives has since waned, and I've narrowed down my selection to these two essential ones:


Leatherman Wave 

The Leatherman Wave multi-tool is a versatile and reliable choice that I've settled on after trying various options over the years. It offers the functionality I need, is robust, and is of a convenient size. This particular model is renowned for its durability and practicality, making it a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts and professionals alike.


The Leatherman Wave features a variety of tools, including knives, pliers, wire cutters, a saw, and screwdrivers, among others. Its compact design belies its functionality, allowing it to serve multiple purposes without the need for carrying additional tools. Another advantage of the Leatherman Wave is its all-stainless-steel construction, which provides excellent resistance to rust and corrosion. This is particularly important in outdoor settings, where tools are exposed to the elements. The Wave's locking blades ensure safety during use, and its ergonomic design makes it comfortable to handle for various tasks.


On extended mountain trips where there is limited forest and weight is a critical consideration, the Leatherman Wave is the only knife I bring along. Its versatility is unmatched – it can function as a filleting knife for preparing fish, a whittling knife for carving wood shavings for the fire, and even as a makeshift tool for minor repairs.


Sami Knife

On trips in the woods or short mountain hikes where weight is not a major concern, I always make sure to pack my trusty Sami knife. This large knife is a solid piece of steel, capable of handling a wide range of tasks. It's easy to sharpen, maintaining a razor-sharp edge that effortlessly cuts through most materials. Additionally, its heft makes it suitable for chopping down large branches or small trees when gathering wood. The Sami knife can also function effectively as an axe for splitting logs.


The Sami knife, has its origins in the indigenous Sami people of the Arctic Circle in Northern Europe. Traditionally, it was an essential tool for the Sami people, used in daily tasks such as hunting, fishing, and crafting. The design of the Sami knife is distinct, featuring a wide, curved blade that is excellent for carving and cutting.


In summary, the Sami knife is more than just a cutting tool; it's a versatile and durable companion for outdoor adventures, a reflection of Arctic cultural heritage, and a reliable tool for bushcraft and survival skills. Its ability to perform a range of tasks from chopping wood to precise carving makes it an invaluable tool for any outdoor excursion, and I love it!



Other Equipment

As mentioned earlier, the list is not yet complete and I will continue to work on it in my spare time. The equipment that I plan to include in the overview is listed below. If there's anything missing or something specific you would like me to prioritize, please feel free to leave a comment.


Camera Equipment

  • Camera

  • Tripod

  • Drone


Navigation

  • GPS

  • Maps


Solo Stove

  • Small

  • Medium

  • Large


Sleeping Bag

  • Winter

  • Spring

  • Summer


Sleeping Pad

  • Air sleeping Pad

  • Sleeping Pad Cover

  • Electric Pump


Cooking and Cleaning Supplies

  • Frying Pan

  • Washing Sponge

  • Toothbrush


Eating Utensils

  • Cup

  • Plate

  • Cutlery


Clothing and Apparel

  • Shoes

  • Pants

  • Jacket


  • Headwear

  • Hat

  • Cap

  • Buff

  • Gloves

  • Winter

  • Spring/Autumn

  • Fire Gloves


  • Warm Clothes

  • Socks

  • Vest

  • Pants


Outdoor Essentials

  • Power Bank

  • Burner

  • Gas

  • Gasoline

  • Saw

  • Axe

  • First Aid Kit

  • Toilet Paper

  • Sunglasses

  • Sitting Pad

  • Clothesline

  • Shovel

  • Mosquito Protection


Sport and Activity Equipment

  • Fishing Gear

  • Packraft

  • Hunting Equipment

  • Ski Equipment

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