Wednesday, 17 December 2014

KS Ultralight gear daypack

KS ultralight gear daypack packed up and ready to go
Few months ago I got mail from KS Ultralight with their sweet little daypack included. I was surprised how tiny the parcel was and upon opening I recognized that the daypack is not that very small as I thought it was. According to the web page the pack holds 16L and its made from lightweight PU coated ripstop nylon which my non scientific eye can confirm. The weight is scant 140g and when you pack it into its own back mash pocket it takes the size of a soft ball.
Stuffed into its own mesh pocket
But don't let this small size frameless daypack fool you as its not just "the sack". It's packed with tons of features such as waterproof YKK zipper which runs vertically, the feature you don't see that very often on day/summit pack of the same size (GG Riksak, Sea to Summit Ultrasil Daypack etc.), two side pockets that can easily hold 1L water bottle, mesh back pocket big enough to hold your windshirt/rain jacket which also serves as backpacks own stuff sack when you don't need it. 

Six "strategically" placed webbing loops offer lot of different shockcord setup points so you can add more stability and compression to the pack if needed. Vertical zipper runs smooth and once the main compartment opens up there's inner pocket in A4 format that holds your water bladder or piece of extra foam to add some back support to the otherway frameless pack. Inner mitten hook holds your keys safe and secure. Shoulder straps are made out of 3D mesh padding and fabric and are easily adjustable. 

I have used daypack on numerous days over the last few months as my commute, trailrunning, cycling, dayhiking pack and my observations are.
Daypack used as cycling pack
Its very light, feels nice against the back and the vertical zipper is super easy to use. With zipper open all the way down you get nice access to all the stuff you carry. Side water bottle pockets hold nice and firm and are accesible with the pack on your shoulders, the shoulder straps are easy adjustable and with very light loads there's no need for extra chest or waist strap. The waterproof zipper adds more confidence when its raining and it has proved to keep the water out. I've used the pack in some heavy rain and there was no leaking from the zipper. Mind you the packs seams are not sealed nor the fabric is 100% waterproof but the waterproof zipper and PU coated packs fabric offer some protection from the water. Mesh pocket holds items you need on the go and offers good option to hold your wet waterproofs.

While the pack is very light and frameless which is a bonus if you are counting every gram it is limited in the weight you can comfortably carry. Load it up too much and you'll be in pain with underfed shoulder straps cutting into your shoulders. The lack of bladder hose opening means you need to pack your water into one of the side or back mesh pockets, but once pack is fully loaded its hard to slide 1L water bottle back into the pocket. I think bigger size pockets are needed. Since there's no back mesh or suspension that keeps the daypack off your back it can get clammy but that's normal with most frameless packs of the same built. 

To sum it up. KS Ultralight gear daypack offers nice balance between volume and weight for a daypack with so many features. If you are aware of its weight carrying limitations it is indeed very price affordable and nice daypack. Due to its short back size, narrow shoulder straps, vertical waterproof zipper and all the outside pockets there's lots of potential as Kids daypack when they carry almost "no" weight. 
If you are on the lookout for a new daypack that is packed with features and its reasonably priced you should throw KS Ultralight gear into the mix. To get more specifications about the daypack simply visit KS Ultralight gear web page



Saturday, 8 November 2014

White Mountains part I: Presidential traverse

Presidential traverse day two: The Perch to Nauman tent site via Mt. Washington summit 

During the night at The Perch weather changed. Morning was cold and I could hear the winds howling above us when we were packing up. It will be nice and clear day with stunning views I thought while chewing soft granola bar for breakfast. Soon as departed from the shelter we start climb into the mist.

Into the mist

Looking back from the cloud
Wind shifting clouds were blocking our views. It got cold and it was time to move to keep warm. With Mt. Jefferson ahead of us I was hoping wind will ease up but once at the summit I had to hid behind massive cairn to prevent getting blown away. We didn't stay long. Mt. Jefferson loop was cut short and we backtracked to where we came from.

Oh man thats crazy wind up here!
Naw its just White Mountains.
If it's cold and windy the only reason to keep moving is to stay warm. At 3.3 mile to Mt. Washington conditions got even worse and view was limited to only a couple of meters. By the time we reached the tracks of Cog Railway that takes tourist up to the Summit of Mt. Washington I was wearing all my spare layer bare sleeping bag and down jacket.

Cog Train going down from Mt. Washington

Few moments earlier we were eccompanied with other friend of mine Konrad and his hiking partner. It was pure luck they ran into us at that point on the trail. We were suppose to meet up on the summit but our timing was more to just perfect. Good times!
Steve & Konrad happy to meet up
At the very summit the weather conditions stayed pretty much the same. Amazed by how many people were up on the summit even in such bad conditions I soon found out either they've used the Cog or drove up in their cars. What cars? The mist was so thick that there was no sign of any cars up there.

Mt. Summit
Obviously Mt. Washington is very popular among US hikers and I had to queue to get to the summit post and take the picture. We all stop at the Visitors center and I found out that the Mt. Washington is know to record the fastest wind speed ever. There was no chance of weather turnning back "normal" so now the four of us continued along the trail passing the Lakes of the Clouds hut all the way down to Nauman tensite where we decided to camp for the night.

Shelters on Nauman tent site platforms
We had to choose the biggest platform to fit only three shelter. Fourth is pitched on right side of the platform on the tent overflow spot. Pitching tarp on wooden platform can be done with a help from few solid rocks.
Despite little extra weight I think my DIY KISS (keep it simple stupid) camping slippers were very welcome. My feet were never so happy after a long day on the trail.
Sporting KISS camp slippers

Thursday, 9 October 2014

White Mountains part I: Presidential traverse

Star Lake at Mt. Madison

I recently returned from beautiful White Mountains range in New Hampshire US. Thanks to my friend and hiking partner Steve I saw some of the nicest parts of the range and logged in some trail mileage accompanied with his lovely dog Lupus. The three of us finished what were supposed to be the hardest treks in the White Mountains range, Presidential traverse and Pemigewasset loop and here are my reflections on both of them in few series of write ups. Enjoy!
Vast forests of NH White Mountains range
Presidential traverse is a trek that goes over the summits in the Presidential range of White Mountains. Most notable summits in the Presidential range are named for former American presidents with Mt.Washington being the highest of them all at 1917 m. The mountain is know for its windy weather and it holds windspeed world record at winds blowing as hard as 372 km/h at the summit. And I sure felt what the wind was all about in White Mountains.

Presidential traverse day one: Appalachia to The Perch tent site

To do the Presidential traverse with one car only at the trail end we had to use Trail Angels Hikers Services (thank you Steve for the correction)  Hikers Shuttle to take us from our trail end (parked car) to the trail head at Appalachia. During the season Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) offers Hikers Shuttle to help hikers get from trail heads/ends along the Appalchian mountains. The Hikers Shuttle operates daily from 4th of June through September 21st, and on weekends and holidays from September 27th through October 19th. More info on Hikers Shutlle  More on the service can be found here. The service was on time and the driver knew all about the Presidential Range as we had hoped for.

Disembarking Hikers Shuttle at Appalchia trail head we were at the start of our trek. The day was sunny but very cold (I think it was around 2C) so we had to start walking right away to warm us up. There are numerous trails climbing up to the summits of Presidential range with Mt. Madison as our first summit in three days trek.

Even though the day was sunny but cold we decided to start our trek following Brookside trail. Leading along very fresh mountain brook the Brookside trail proved to be our right choice. With fresh water readily available we kept our packs weight down to bare minimum so going uphill was lot easier for all the three of us. With numerous stops to pick up water and to enjoy the beautiful nature around us our climbing was slow but we gradually climbed higher and higher. 
Brookside trail
Soon we were over the brook and with steepness raising there was only one path but to start climbing higher and higher. I knew the climb will be very long but comming from subAlpine country myself I was surprised to feel how difficult the climb actually was.

Steep climbing. Steven and Lupus following me with ease
Forest around us started to change.With more pine trees in the mix I felt we are higher up and forest will soon change into mostly pine wood. Welcome to the Alpine zone!

Warning sign Alpine zone
At the Alpine zone entrance sign I felt surprised. No such thing in my neck of woods and I thought why would you put up a sign like this? Isn't it that we all know how to behave in most fragile Alpine environment? Soon I will learn why. Terrain really changed as we emerged from the woods and the horizons open up for us.

Climbing hard to the next boulder field ahead of us
Our footing changed from soft rooty forest soil to hardwearing rocks and boulders. Our going got slower but both of us felt tempted by nice and calm weather at our first summit glowing in the sun above us.

Looking back over at the long bouldering field Steve and Lupus still need to pass
Summiting northernmost peak in Presidential range Mt. Madison I felt tired but very happy to be there. With fantastic views all around us our spirits were high. Soon Steve and Lupus joined me. Cracking day up on the mountain!

Mt. Madison with Mt. Adams in the distance.

Steve memorizing the view.
As the wind picked up it was time to head on. Following the trail sign we started our short descent to the mountain pass down to the Madison hut.

Madison Spring hut operated by AMC.
Soon I learned that dogs are not welcome in some of the huts in Presidential range and I felt very sorry for Lupus. I thought we could all enter to enjoy it's cozziness. Have a snack inside. We filled up our water and soon the hut was left behind as our journey continued to the summit of Mt. Adams. 

Big, warm and nice but not very dog friendly Madison Spring hut
Entering the Great Gulf Wilderness at the Star lake we started to climb up our next summit for the day Mt. Adams. The bouldering field ahead of us proved to be to much for Lupus and his heavy bags so we took the bags off and help him to the top.

At Star Lake
Ice build up on Mt. Adams
It was cold and windy at Mt. Adams. Ice build up on the rocks proved it was cold night but that is not unusual for the White Mountains so I was told. The rocks were great to walk on and my Inov8 Terrocs gave me enough protection from the ground so I was able to descend over the rocks with ease. With day getting shorter it was time to find next trail cut off and start walking towards our campsite for the night. The Perch shelter and campsite it was.

The Perch Adirondack style wooden shelter. Restroom next to it.
The Perch shelter is log style cabin that can fit 8 people. It is located just below tree line and protected from the wind. There are four additional wooden tent platforms on which you pitch your tent. There's clean running water 10m away from the shelter. The toilet is water free. Once you are done with your "Poop" you simply chuck some wood mulch over it to speed up decomposing process. At the end of season all toilet made compost is used to feed the surrounding forest. When we reached the Perch there were few hikers taking up the space inside the log cabin but there was enough space to fit the two of us in.

Chef giving out the orders

With days shorter it was time for us to make warm dinner and get ready for the night.

Presidential travers day two: The Perch to Nauman tent site via Mt. Washington summit 

To be continued....

Monday, 28 April 2014

Six loooooong years

I can't believe it finally happen and that it took long Six years to do so. Six years of me wondering alone, thinking about how to start, hoping it will come true and asking if it'll ever happen. And it finally did. And I hope I just found new hiking partner, a buddy, a new friend with whom I can enjoy the outdoors Son!
Using one of his dad's walking pole
Last few days we had really good time outdoors. Walking, exploring, listening to the birds, running away from the rain and checking out little animals we saw while wondering about. There are so many of them you pass by. Not even noting them in short timeframe you got left to enjoy outdoors after your hard working day's over. But if you take it slow, as going with Kids is, you are able to see and hear so much. And it brings back all the memories of the sounds, colours and the little critters you knew from your childhood and somehow forgotten in this fast&forward lifestyle. Kids are different! They take it slow, they take time to enjoy and to explore. If you are willing to tag along, take it slow and go play Kid again you can really have great day out.

I took him out to the local woods. We go there almost daily so he is comfortable with the area. I knew short uphill sections that are leading to top of the hill will not do him too much discomfort if only I don't push him to hard and fast. So we took it really slow to reach our goal. Two little peaks to bag was the plan. On the way up we saw so many different kind of animals and plants. Snails. All different in their shape, size and colour. Some homeless and some with nice houses on their backs.

Black Slug
Yellow house Snail
We try to feed this one with some flower but he got a bit shy
All going slow. Enjoying their day as we did! On the way we didn't only look for snails and listen to birds but we took some time to check the flowers and other plants to. Flora and fauna!

Fungus colony on dead tree
Field flowers
Once at the top we hid ourselves from light rain under the arc of tinny little church. I knew he was getting tired and he needed some rest. Well earned snacks went down and it was time to take a short nap. Sitlight pad was just enough to keep his back from cold tile. He dozed off for few minutes.

Cat nap at the sound of the Crickets
The sound of the Crickets down on the field was so noisy and intense we had to go and look for their little homes. Hopefully we'll catch one so we could check it up from close. After few fruitless tries we finally got hold of one. He had only just shed his old too tight skin and his new one was fresh and somewhat fragile looking.
Checking out the Field Cricket. See Dad I am not affraid holding it!    

He did try and hide under the sleeve
With time passing by it was time to continue and bag another small peak close by. The Spirit was high and in few minutes we were up again. This time at 740 m. We put our names in a small booklet at the top and stamp our hands so we can show where've been today.

No proof no glory
It was time to get going and with only downhill from here we were down by the car very fast. 

Going down
With days like today I get more confident that taking it slow is the way to get Kids to enjoy their time with you outdoors. He now not only talks about where he has been but asks where and when he'll go. Maybe an overnighter soon?

Into the green

Happy I am!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

For sale


over the years I've accumulated some kit that just doesn't get used hence I am offering it here at very competitive prices. PayPal is my preferred method of payment. Prices are given in Euros and do not include shipping. Prices are negotable! Happy to ship worldwide at the lowest cost I can get from local post office. I am happy to accept payment in any of the major currencies beside Euro.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Here is my email: velimir(dot)kemec(at)gmail(dot)com.
1. PHD minimus down jacket in size mens Medium. It's in green/teal Drishell fabric (more water resistant) with black MX liner and removable hood, two hand pockets + single inner chest pocket. I bought it new directly from PHD few years ago and used it maybe handfull of times. I look after all my kit and this jacket is no exception. All zips work, there are no tears or marks, all press studs are present. It's realy fantastic piece of kit but I like my other down jackets more. Always stored uncompressed in pet and smoke free home. I think I can find a stuff sack it came with as well.

New Minimus from PHD in same fabric combo and removable hood will cost you roughly 280 EUR + postage. Since the jacket is in very good condition I am selling it for 150 EUR and there's no waiting time! 

Here are some photos:

Sunday, 10 November 2013

KS Ultralight Gear waistpocket

KS ultralight gear waistpack full of big Chestnuts
My two decades as a dedicated runner went by nearly as fast as you can blink your eye with. From early days as an evening road runner, to shave some kilograms from my overly obese body, I developed into running "junkie" and moved my ways from road to trails. As mileage and altitude increased so did my needs to carry extra food, water and clothing. I went through many diferent pack arrangements in which I carried all the extra goodies, from simple waistpack as PeteBlands bumbag to more volumenous backpack such as made by Golite and all in between. They all had their pros and cons but the biggest issue for me was that bumbags had to be chinced down too much and started jumping about when half full, also they rub and fell apart very easy. The biggest plus while running with a daypack was volume that alow to take lots of extra clothing, food and water and proved to be stable on my back no matter if full or half way loaded. But I had issues with it being too sweaty at my back or too big if taking only minimum of extra clothing, food and water. I sweat like a pig while working hard so sweaty back wasn't that great in cold day runs or winter. I truly missed versatility to add or remove the volume according to my needs.  

With a bit of research I found one man cottage factory in Japan KS Ultralight gear owned  and run by Mr. Laurent Barikosky. His waist pocket looked exactly what I was looking for and after few emails he sent* me one to test it out.

KS Ultralight gear waist pocket in full configuration at water source
Before I go to more specific techical details about the waistpack I would like to share that workmaship is immaculate as you would expect from cottage makers in Japan. My friend Mr. Jotaro at Locusgear has shown me his superb work last year and I got firsthand impression that "guys" in Japan know what the gear making business is all about. The work from Mr. Laurent is no different. Superb with all honesty. There's no single missing stitch, any loose thread or anything that could make you say: "that guy was in a hurry putting this up". complaints at all. The design is also very meticulous, not just some usual waistpack and you can tell that there was tinkering behind. Not just copy this copy that.  Also communication with Mr. Laurent went smooth. He was very responsive on my questions and e-mailed all the information I asked from him. 

Wearing the waistpack. Side view, and fatty belly:)

Here are my observations:

main material is Dyneema nylon fabric which ensures extra strenght of the waistpack and longetivity of the product. Overall weight of waistpack with two extra side pockets is 190g. All zippers are YKK brand and made in water resistant version. Money well invested I will say,
- waistpack consist of 25mm waistbelt to which one 5L main compartment and two mesh side pockets are permanently attached,
- there is a simple pull drawcord at the top of the main compartment to adjust its volume or to hold lightweight items like windshirt (on the picture above you can see it holding my windshirt). Nice long zipper on the main compartment opens up both ways (two pull tabs) and give you option to take out what you need on the go. The zipper operates smoothly and two pull tabs open it up both ways independently,  
- mesh side pocket perfectly holds one 0,5L water bottle. There are two so you can take lots of water on the long stretch. Bottles are secured with a lenght of elastic drawcord which works great and adds extra security on the bumpy ride. I've also put beanie and gloves into one of them if taking only basic waistpack configuration. Extra elastic draw cord helps you to close off the mesh pocket so you don't loose your items. There's minimal stertch in mesh. Once loaded with heavy water bottle it holds its shape very well.

Basic configuration. Main compartment with mesh bottle holder, drawcord.
- 3D mesh at the main compartment back side and most of the waistbelt (note the fin shaped design below) offers super comfy padding so that the waistpack sits comfortably on small of your back and it doesn't bounce or rubb your waist. Think nice padded backpack waist harness and smooth comfy ride.

Back side. Note comfy mesh padding and long fin shaped waistbelt.

- to all this you have the option to add or remove single 1L side pocket if more or less volume is needed. Two side pockets are available and are huge bonus when you plan to take more. They are box shaped and thus hold a lot. Nice smooth running zipper opens up easily to give you access to the pockets volume (the zipper pull tab below was replaced with glow in the dark version so I can see it in dark) and internal glove hook is handy to secure your car keys.  

Extra waist pocket. 
Note boxy shape, two vertical attachment straps and two hooks
There are two ways you can rig the pockets up. One is to use two vertical straps and slide the pocket on to the waist belt and the other is to slide the waistbelt through the vertical straps and use two pack hooks to attach pocket to its dedicated loop. Loop is made of cord and permanently attached to the waistbelt. This way is super safe and pockets don't bounce.   

Two cord loops. Anchoring points for extra side pocket.
Showing attachment loops and vertical straps that hold side pocket.

What I find unique and very meticulous in extra pocket desing beside its boxy shape is that the attachment pack hooks are not placed at the same level like on most extra belt pockets but are placed in such a way that once pocket is attached to the waistbelt it doesn't curve with your waist curve but holds its boxy shape very well thus not reducing its volume or giving hard time to unzip and access. Once you wear the waistpack you can see how well this works.  

Wearing waistpack. Note how well the extra pocket holds it boxy shape!
Since I got the waistpack I've done several runs and day hikes and I can say it works wonderful. The volume adjustment you get with extra side pockets means you can configure it to suit your needs and that's a big bonus to me. It wears nice be it loaded with heavy stuff like full of Chestnuts I picked up while doing a run or loaded very lightly. It just sits there. Quiet on your waist so you don't realy note wearing it until you need to reach for something extra be it main compartment or extra side pockets. Water bottle is easy to reach while working hard for ever needed sip and is also easy to be put back without stopping. Main compartment drawcord works wonders when your main compartment volume needs to be downsized. Simply pull the elastic cord and it pulls compartments insides closer to your body which means closer to the center of gravity so it stabilize the waistpack even more. As mentioned above, drawcord helps to attach things on the outside of main pack which is handy and works great.

Waistbelt buckle is easy to adjust and it holds very well. If you have small day pack and need to add a bit more volume to it you can easily use extra side pockets on your pack waist belt as well. I'll add anchoring points on my Golite Ion to attach waist pockets secure and easy.
Extra side pocket on day pack to add more volume!
I am very satisfied whit what this little waistpack offers. Very versatile, volume adjustable and sturdy. Just what I was looking for. As with most things there are some points of possible improvement: main comparment zipper pulls can get noisy banging agaist each other so exchanging them with something more silent like piece of dyneema cord would be welcome. Also I have rather large hands and find tiny zipper pull tabs that the waistpack came with simply to tiny and thus hard to handle especially while wearing thicker gloves. I'll probably exchange that with a bit bigger zipper pull tab as seen above. What I would also like to see on the main compartment is outside mesh pocket big enough to hold pair of gloves etc. if you aint rocking two extra side pockets and your main compartment is bursting full. Or add glove hook to my gloves and hang them to the extra side pockets ancoring points. Maybe Mr. Laurent can shave more weight without compromising waistpacks sturdiness by choosing lighter nylon dyneema fabric. 

With winter pushing in I am happy to own this little gem as my needs for more volume will be getting bigger. Also I started XC skiing last year so additional volume in the waistpack will be handy while plodding about in full out winter. 

If you are looking for your next waistpack or would like to add extra volume to your current pack I would suggest you look at Mr. Laurents work. He offers lot of customization on the gear he makes and beside waistpack he designs, tests and makes lots of high quality backpacking gear. Check him out. A true cottage manufacturer. All thumbs up!  

*I pay for the shipping cost of the waistpack. Thank you Mr. Laurent for your generosity and helping me out with your waistpack.