In only a few weeks I am once again heading towards the north of Sweden and Fjällräven Classic! I think Sweden without a doubt has two (not so hidden but great) treasures really worth living for. The archipelago along the coast and the mountain areas in the north. Two places where you can get lost in your own mind and just find your inner peace and compass. If the Swedish mountains are still an unknown treasure for you, Fjällräven Classic is a great way to open up the box and get familiar with the area.
Even though Fjällräven Classic is an organized trek with a lot of volunteers along the way, you should not take away the fact that this is a 110 km long trek in very different terrain and no one but yourself is going to keep your feet moving. Preparations in terms of fitness and gear is a good was to lift up the trek to pure pleasure in contrary to pain and irritation.
I have walked the Kungsleden trail, or at least part of the trail many times. But even so, depending on the weather and season, the experience is always new and different that’s why I love it!
A few weeks ago, I met up with the Swedish outdoor expert, Johan Skullman and asked him about his 3 most important and valuable tips for a trek like Fjällrävan Classic. This is what he told me and I think this is great for both the beginner as well as the more experienced trekkers. Johan also gave me the advice to look at some of his films clips about the subject. At the end you can find some of the clips I found useful!
1. The backpack! Or at least, what you put in it
When you head out on an adventure by feet, Johan advice that you should always think through the complete set of gear you want to bring. First of all, put your mandatory equipment together. During Classic, there is already a “must have-list” made by the organization, but there might be some more personal equipment you have to add, that you will not manage without for your own safety. So start the packing by thinking this through wisely. As Johan said, “the items can in various conditions make the difference between safety and danger. If you really think of each of these items with their different purposes and why they are so important, it will make you put a greater value to it. When you have these items on your back, you can feel comfortable knowing, that this is the weigh to carry for keeping safe in all situations. The rest of the grams and kilograms you put in the backpack is pure luxury.” Like the camera, extra chocolates and pump for my mattress I carry. So this year I’m going to put my backpack on twice, to really feel the difference between safety and luxury and then evaluate how much the luxury items are worth.
Last of all, Johan advise to keep everything in the backpack, nothing lose on the outside and I agree. It can be really bad for your body having something hanging outside the backpack, shifting the weight of the pack while trekking.
2. The hygiene in 1-2-3
Taking care of your hygiene during your trek is super important, for you and your friends! Johan highlights the important basics that every hiker should know. Either you wash yourself or your gear, don’t do it directly in the streams. Remember, other people or animals might drink that water further down the streams. But cleaning yourself is important! The 1-2-3 is a good rule to follow. Hands, groin and feet. Bring fresh water from the stream and clean yourself with soft soap twice a day.
When I’m out trekking, I usually take off my shoes and socks during breaks to get some fresh air around my feet, that also helps to keep the feet in good condition. This is also a good time to give your feet a quick massage to get the circulation going Johan reminds me.
When talking about feet and hygiene, it’s hard to leave out the subject of wet socks. A good advice I have gotten before from Johan, is to bring 2 small drinking bottles of each 500 ml. If your socks are very wet, fill up your bottles with hot water by the end of the day, creating two small heaters and pulling your socks over. By the morning you have a set of dry socks (considered you haven’t left them out in the rain will say). But try, it really works.
3. The tent
I wanted to know Johan’s best advice choosing a tent for a longer trek like Fjällräven classic. What do you think was the answer? It’s not so much about choosing a specific type of tent as much as your own actions. The best part about talking to Johan is that you realize, it’s just this! All about your own actions. So regarding pitching tent there are a few things you can think about that will make the stay more enjoyable and safe. First of all, pitching your tent just by the water, lake or stream, always seems like a good idea in your mind and will give you some great photos, but! Also remember, close to water there can also be a gazillions of mosquitos and it will also be damp and cold by night. A much better way is to pitch the tent a bit further away from the water and more important, pitch your tent as you would on a stormy day. The weather in the mountains change so quickly so even if the sun is shining one moment, the storm can be just around the corner. So anchor the tent properly and put your guy lines out. You never know what is going to happen during the night. Also put your tent in the direction of the wind or if no wind, try to look at the surrounding to figure out the most likely wind direction.