Sonny Kjærside reveals why he love trekking in Lapland and how he prepares for his adventures in the wild.
• What do you look for in the equipment you use and how heavy is your pack?
Unfortunately my rucksack always tends to start out a bit heavy – about 30kg. With a good rucksack it is no big deal, but my goal is always 25kg which I find more comfortable. And after a week I have eaten my way down to a more comfortable weight.
I always look for low weight durable equipment without going to the extremes. I don’t fancy tents and rucksacks where low weight seems to be more important than durability and comfort. Such equipment may be good for fast runners on short trips but I prefer a tent that can give me comfort and protection for weeks.
• What tent did you take with you this time and why did you pick this tent?
I used the Robens Osprey 3EX tent. This is without doubt my favorite kind of tent for trips in the Lapland fjells. Compared to the size of the tent it is quite lightweight – 3.4kg, which I find is okay for such a comfortable tent. For two people it is luxury with enough room to sit out bad weather without feeling crowded. The porch is excellent – good sitting height and enough room for two or three big rucksacks and cooking gear. I prefer not to cook in the tent, but in very bad weather it can be necessary and here the large porch and the four-zipper side door come in very handy. I love the door – you can open up a little at the top to give extra ventilation, especially when cooking in the tent, you can open it all up or slide in and out at the left or right side of the door. Very versatile!
The tent is easy to pitch, dries quickly, very stable in tough winds and takes up very little space in the rucksack – gets even smaller when using a compression pack sack.
Along with the tent I brought the Robens lightweight tarp which is good for lunch breaks in bad weather or as an extra porch on the tent. It is good for shelter while pitching or taking down the tent in the rain.
• How did you prepare yourself for this kind of tour?
First of all I try to keep myself fit all year long. I usually take a 15- to 20-minute walk after lunch; go for an hour of fast walking or a 30-minute run in the woods four to five times a week. I always have a packed rucksack ready for at least one weekly hour walk. I do a lot of weekend trekking all year round – especially winter trekking I find useful. I find it very important to know what to do when the weather is less comfortable. Then life in the arctic fjells will be just fun and joy.
• What kind of food did you bring and how did you prepare it during your trip?
For breakfast I make a special mixture of two kinds of Müsli, then you don't need to carry sugar. I pack the Müsli in 3dl packs – one for each person a day. The Müsli goes with powdered milk mixed with water and then we have some cups of instant coffee. For lunch we have a cup of soup (remember to boil water for the half liter thermos in the morning) and then Swedish rough Knäckebröd with variations of soft spread cheese on tube with Reindeer, Ham, Shrimp, bacon or sea food etc.
For dinner we have first a cup of warm chocolate with a bit of rum to open up the appetite or just to get warm and comfortable. Then we have a freeze dried meal that is mixed with boiling water – preferable the Norwegian brand Real Turmat.
I don't know if I am in the right shape or the food is proportioned well but I never lose any weight on my fjell trips.
• How do you pick a camp site and what do you look for before pitching your tent?
I'm always looking for good campground. I guess that you kind of get used to look for camping possibilities. Sometimes we decide to stop for the day a little earlier than planned if we find a good campsite that we cannot resist or we have even turned back a bit to a campsite that we saw earlier on the route. Campsites are often hard to find up in the fjells, especially early in the season where all plain spots are still very wet.
The view from the site is not an unimportant factor but the most important is the direction of the wind and not to forget the access to water. It is very important to be sure that the campsite will not be over flooded in heavy rain. The complicated part is often that the plain spots are where the rain – and melting water tends to gather. In August and September this is no longer a big problem.
• What advice would you give to others planning to go to Lapland?
Be in good shape. Know your equipment well. Do not bring more than necessary! Think about what you can do without. Mostly half of the cooking set can be left home. Do you need two pots? Do you really need a kettle? Etc.
You will need clothes for all kinds of weather but not one pair of trousers for sun, one for snow and one for in between. One pair of trousers and a pair of shorts or even just a pair of zip-offs will do. If it gets very cold – which it mostly does at night, you can build up with layers like, long johns, trousers, rain clothes etc.
Take care of the sun! It can be very, very tough up there. Remember you are outdoors most of the time. Bring a good sun blocker and leave all your deodorants and other urban luxuries at home.
Plan your trip carefully and be prepared to change plans if something unforeseen comes your way. If it is your first trip it is a good idea to stay on the marked common tracks like the famous Kungsleden. If you go away from the common tracks you must be prepared for crossing streams and rivers in often very cold water. This can be dangerous at times and many trekkers have lost their lives here.
Trekking in the Lapland fjells is not dangerous if you use your common sense. I have crossed a lot of rivers, been into quicksand, fallen off rocks into the water, climbed some steep fjell sides etc. if I have ever been in great danger or taken unnecessary risks I can't say. I have been forced to turn back and find another way because of too much water in a river, too much snow and crevasses or just bad weather. Maybe it has not always been necessary but I don't want to know. I always try to take care without being too mothered.
It is always a good idea to bring a good small first aid set.
There is one extra very important tip! Avoid using blue jeans – they are too heavy and will never dry once they get wet.
And one more advice – June, July and part of August can be very troublesome with mosquitoes, midges and flies, so bring good repellents. The Swedes have a lot of good ones like Nordic Summer and Jungle Oil and last year I tried the Smidge Repellent that I got from a good friend in the UK – works very well.