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Gear: put your back into it; the most comfortable backpack on the market

In November of last year (2022 that was, in case you're reading this in 2034), I was about to start a new job. I still had around 7 unused vacation days left from my previous employer, which I was forced to take out before leaving in December. However, it was November, and I live in Norway. That means it gets quite dark early, and there might already be snow in many of the more mountainous areas. It's like an in-between month—not quite autumn, not quite winter.

Secretly, I really wanted to spend some time outdoors. I started checking the snow depths and, to my surprise, found that in an area I know well (Hemsedal and Valdres), there was hardly any snow, at least not below 1000 meters. I decided that this would be my plan. I started planning my route and, more importantly, gathering everything I thought I would need. Without going into detail, here's a brief list: a sleeping bag comfortable down to -10°C (which is really chunky), a tiny light-weight tent, a hammock, a tarp, extra shoes, 6 days' worth of food, a sleeping pad, an axe, a saw, and enough dry clothes. As you can imagine, the amount of stuff started piling up.

Three people hiking in a Norwegian Mountain landscape

The thing with these types of trips is that depending on the season and the duration of your trip, the size of your backpack can vary greatly. In November, for instance, I need more volume due to the need for warm and extra dry clothing. I also bring a thicker sleeping bag (I have two). Additionally, you require more energy to stay warm, so you need to carry more food because you simply burn more calories.

Moreover, I need equipment for making a fire, and so on. In the summer, you can get by with fewer clothes, and in many cases, making a fire is prohibited. Anyway, you get the idea. I'm not sure if it's a hard and set-in-stone rule, but I've noticed that for hikes longer than 5 days, I need about 10 extra liters of baggage space. So, that's important to consider when choosing a new backpack. You take into account whether you'll be going out only in the summer and how many nights you expect to spend outdoors. That's how you decide on the size of your backpack.

Since I'm one of those idiots who prefer spending longer periods in the outdoors, I bought the largest one: 70 liters. It sounds big, but believe me, it fills up really rather quickly.

I have one from Osprey. Those backpacks are simply the most comfortable I have ever had on my back. I especially like how the hip belt feels, and you hardly feel like you're carrying 35kg on your back. As for its appearance, I couldn't care less. It just needs to be comfortable and practical. But if you're planning to go on some long hikes here in Norway, I highly recommend packing a backpack instead of a suitcase. It provides so much more flexibility.

Besides, it's often much more expensive to buy one here in Norway than online, so it's better to get it beforehand and test-pack for your trip. I'm not a brand ambassador or anything, I just genuinely prefer Osprey. They're just so comfy on spots where it would otherwise start to hurt after a few days of hiking. What I can really recommend before you head out, is

Now, let me tell you how my trip went. Well, it was pretty cold in the beginning with temperatures dropping to around -10°C at night. I started from Hemsedal and ventured into the mountains towards Tisleifjorden. It was amazing; I encountered a massive herd of wild reindeer that initially paid little attention to me. It was truly awe-inspiring to see and I think I spent almost an hour just observing them. I also came across quite a few 'ryper' (I think that's a type of grouse in English). They turn white in winter to protect themselves from predators. It was 6 fantastic but quite demanding days. Eventually, my Hanwag boots didn't really stay dry anymore, and I ended up with some nasty blisters that got some rest when I reached one of the DNT cabins on the last day. But it was unbelievably magical. I hope you get to experience something like that during your stay too.


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