Trail food – dehydrated tomato lentil soup

After a few years of Knorr powdered soup, ramen and pasta sides I was looking for a way to jazz up my hiking food pantry. So I bought a cheap dehydrator without a fan and it worked alright for some things, for others not so much ūüėČ But I was definitely sold on the concept so I eventually invested in a proper dehydrator. And I have made a ton of different hiking foods with this thing.

For an upcoming hike with some friends I needed a good solid filling tomato soup to serve with pasta. Carbs and protein, that’s what it’s all about folks. If you want you can bring along a little olive oil and fatten up the soup a bit. Great for extra calories on longer hiking trips, maybe not necessary for the weekend trip that I’m going on. We will be bringing along some parmesan though ūüôā

Important note on dehydrating and fats. At all cost avoid adding oil or other fats to any and all food that you want to dehydrate. They don’t dehydrate well and they spoil much more easily and faster than non fatty foods. Always add oil to your foods on trail, instead of before dehydrating.


  • 4-6 onions. Depending on size.
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic.
  • 2 cans of tomato pure
  • 2 cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 dl of red lentils
  • 1- 2 cubes of vegetable bouillon
  • oregano, basil, pepper and paprika to taste.


Chop the onions finely and saut√© them in a large pot in a splash of water, remember we’re avoiding oil. When the onions have turned transparent, add finely chopped garlic and all of the spices.

Once you’ve sweated the spices and garlic a bit, add the tomato pure. Mix well and saut√© a bit before adding the chopped tomatoes and lentils.

I also added a fair amount of water for the lentils to soak up. Just be mindful that any water you add will end up prolonging the drying time. So never add anymore than what is absolutely necessary for the dish to cook properly. The thicker your soup is now, the quicker it’ll dry later ūüôā

I had forgotten to add pepper along with the other spices. The fresh basil stems are not necessary I just had them and thought why not…

My better half and I had two portions for dinner – yum! And I blended the rest until smooth and spread it evenly onto the dehydrator trays. I then cranked up the dehydrator to max and then all there is left to do is wait.

There is definitely a limit to how thick a layer of soup you can have on each tray. Especially when you’ve got more than one tray in there. With my old dehydrator food would sometimes spoil because the drying time took too long.

Mine is quite powerful and I’ve purposefully set it to max, because I’ve probably put a bit to much on each tray. I also cycled the bottom tray to the top of the stack every 2-3 hours, because at max temp there is quite a temperature difference between the top and bottom.

And then after half a day, with a slight whirring sound in the background, you’ve got dry flakes of soup. Now they won’t actually rehydrate as well as you want. And since nobody likes lumpy soup, I always give it a whizz in an old coffee grinder that I use for grinding up spices. As you can see below I tried using my food processor, didn’t really work, so back to doing a little at a time in the coffee grinder.

End result from more than a litre of soup, a bag of powder weighing 185g(6,5oz).

A great resource for dehydrator recipes and how to is:


Patch kit frame bag

On my overnight bikepacking trip last summer I didn’t quite feel like I had enough storage space for a longer trip. I feel like I can remedy this by 1) making a slightly bigger seat post bag and 2) utilising some of the empty space still left on my bike. Like the space below my water bottles.

IMG_3549 kopi

So I’ve made a small bag that will fit a patch kit, spare tubes x2 and a multi tool. They will still be readily accessible when I need them, they’re not packed away. But they really didn’t need to take up space in the frame bag, space that could be used for things like food or other things that I need to be able to reach on the go.


The finished bag

As usual it’s of to the recycling bins for cardboard, the start of all my bikepacking projects it seems. Smaller piece this time though since I’m making quite a small bag. Other than that it’s business as usual.
I hold up the piece of cardboard behind my frame and mark the corners. Then I mark out the sides with a ruler and hold up the piece of cardboard to check that I’ve got the outline right. I then cut out away the excess cardboard and try out the fit of the model by placing it in my frame. I modify the cut out, slicing off a bit of cardboard here and there until it fits the way I want it. Finally I consider where I want the bag to attach to the frame. Honestly with all the cables and the front¬†derailleur there is a lot going on down there, it was quite a struggle finding room for just two attachment straps. Luckily the bag mostly rests in the frame and it’s a small bag, no more than two straps are needed.



I’m not sure the picture below is very enlightening as to the process of assembling the bag. To be honest it even confuses me a bit. I wanted the zipper sitting off to the side facing away from the chainset, for ease of access. I didn’t want to put it in the side wall though, the bag is so small it would make it fiddly to get stuff in and out. Getting in from the top of the bag would be preferable. So I ended up placing the zipper right at the join between sidewall and top of the bag. This made for some quite strange looking steps mid-process.



You can open the bag up a lot wider by placing the zipper as shown above, as opposed to sown into the sidewall as you would on a frame bag.


Left and right side of the bag. On and off the bike. Note that coffee is an important part of the bag making process.


Frame bag slim 1/3 size for bikepacking

The first bikepacking bag I made was a frame bag. Almost a full frame bag, it allowed for a single bottle cage to be mounted on the seat tube. Last summer I wanted to go on a weekend bikepacking trip to test out if it was something I wanted to do more of. And even though I already had a frame bag I doubted that a single water bottle would be enough. I considered using a bladder or maybe keeping one bottle up front in a stem bag. But in the end I resolved to make a 1/3 size semi-rectangular frame bag that was slim enough that I could fit one 600ml and one 800ml bottle on my frame.
While Scandinavian summers can be sunny and wonderful they’re not exactly scorching. In addition water is positively everywhere so I think that almost a litre and half of water should be absolutely fine for conditions here. Has anyone been touring in central/southern Europe where the temperatures soar during summer? Have you found that you needed more than 1,5L at any point?

As usual I turn to my tried and tested “cardboard method” of bag design. Having found a suitable piece of cardboard I place it behind the frame and loosely outline the corners of the bag. I then take a ruler and mark out the sides, I check the fit by holding up the cardboard again and mark any changes I want to make. When I’m satisfied I’ve got the outline spot on, I cut out the model and fit it into my frame making adjustments if needed. When it fits perfectly inside the frame, note that it is sitting inside the frame unsupported in the picture below, I mark out where I want the velcro straps to attach to the frame. This will depend on where your brake and gear cables attach to or enter the frame.
Think about the distribution of weight in your bag, where will the bag be pulled away from the frame. Some straps will mainly be there to hold the bag in place, while others bear most of the weight. Will you be carrying something very heavy like a water bladder? Well then you might need to have three weight bearing straps attaching the bag to your top tube. Looking at the picture below you can see I went with two straps. I was carrying my tent, tent pegs, tent pole, some spares, my lights and other misc items in the top tube bag, nothing really heavy.


I didn’t get lucky with the length of my tent pole, I actually bought this one to fit. When I go hiking I use one of my hiking poles to pitch my tent. Even collapsed my hiking poles won’t fit inside my frame, so I really did need to come up with another solution. In the end I just bought three tent pole sections online, for an insignificant amount money, and saved myself 103g(3,63oz) of weight to boot. *Insert way too enthusiastic fist pump*

The first frame bag was admittedly a bit of a rush job. I’m trying to be a bit more thorough, this time adding touches like covering the zipper. But already I can see that this could’ve been accomplished in more neat and aesthetically pleasing way. Ah well… next time ūüôā

Frame bags are really very easy to make. Once you’ve done the zipper you’re mostly done. But for sowing the sides onto a long slim middle piece.
Keep in mind that the bag will be able to extend quite a bit in the middle, it will have a tendency to bulge. More so with a full frame bag than this slim version. If you find that you’re hitting the bag with your knees/legs because of this. You can always slim down the bag by turning it inside out and resowing the circumference a bit further in on both sides.


Once you closed up the bag and turned it right sight out, you just need to attach the velcro straps to your bag and hey presto you’re done.

MYOG seatpost bag for bikepacking

I’ve said it before, but the best thing about making your own gear is that you get to design it just the way you want. In my case I wanted something that was easy to detach from the bike when I got to camp and easy to put back on in the morning. I quickly realised looking at the different takes/solutions out there, that I really didn’t want to have to take of the entire bag very often. Furthermore the hassle of making and waterproofing a full bag didn’t really appeal to me. It seemed to be a lot of work for uncertain returns. If someone out there has tried both the harness type bag and a full bag, I would be very interested to hear the pros/cons of the two in comparison to each other.

Side by side look of the finished bag with and without drybag.

So what I opted for was a harness type setup with three points of contact with the bike. two velcro straps attaching the harness to the seat post and one attaching the bag to each of the two saddle rails. See the close ups below for details on attachment points. The harness bag means I need only loosen one side strap and undo the single buckle on the back in order to remove the waterproof bag from the harness. It also means I can pack the waterproof bag inside my tent, on days when it’s raining or the ground is wet and mucky. And if the waterproof bag should starts leaking it’s really not that big a deal to go out and buy a new one, compared to reapplying seamsealant or patching up a full bag.


Size and dimensions
I’m not a trained seamstress or designer in any way or shape. So I use a very low tech approach to bag design which starts with a raid on the recycling bins for some big pieces of cardboard. I then lean my bike against a wall and hold a piece of cardboard up behind the space where I want my bag to sit. I mark out an outline of the space between the wheel, the seat post and the saddle. This is the space I’ve got to work with, yours will likely be different from mine, unless you’ve got my exact bike and saddle height. The taller you are the bigger the bag you’ll be able to have, due to the increased clearance between tire and saddle.

Now that I’ve¬†got an outline to work within, I overlay that with a sheet of baking paper and begin working on the design of the bag itself. I had quite a clear idea of how I wanted the bag to look and work by this point. So I was mostly focused on placing the “contact points” correctly. And how far along the “wings” should be placed. In hindsight I would place the “wings” further up towards the top¬†of the bag, I feel like this would provide even more support and structure.

After finishing the design I transfer each of the three different shapes onto another sheet of baking paper and cut them out so that I can transfer them onto cardboard and use as these as guides to draw around. Do remember to flip the cardboard model to get a left and right side, it’s surprisingly easy to forget ūüėČ

I double layered the sidewalls to create more structure, but I’m not sure that it was really necessary. Maybe if I was working with fabric that was less stiff I would’ve really needed to double up.

It’s a bit of a fiddle going around the narrow bit, but it really does need to be quite narrow. Of course it will depend on the width of your saddle and indeed the width of your thighs, but still for most people I suspect it will be quite narrow.

I have used this on more than one occasion already and it’s works a treat. I’m so pleased I’m going to make a slightly larger version to take on longer trips. I was worried when I made this smaller version about how stable it would be and how much weight it would be able to support. And so I limited myself to a quite short and small waterproof bag. I’ve since grown more confident and honestly for a longer trip I could do with the extra space.

Bonus packing advice
It’s quite important to pack the waterproof bag so that it keeps its narrow profile at the end that attaches to your seat post otherwise your thighs will rub against the bag. And while it’s not the end of the world, it’s quite abrasive and I feel sure it might over time ruin a nice pair of bib shorts.
Looking at the first image below, you can see that I’ve not quite got the packing right, it sort of bulges a bit. But what I’ve found is that my cook pot actually has the perfect dimensions for filling out that space just at the front end of bag. It’s got just the right size and width, and of course it keeps that shape.
I’ve also found that using a waterproof bag with a little valve that lets out air as you compress it, really helps get a good tight fit. I was able to get quite a good fit with the blue bag below after a bit of practice. But with a valve bag I was able to get a better and tighter fit and it was a lot easier and faster to do so.

Winter hiking on Hallandsleden – part 1

Day 1 – Passport controls and a very late arrival on trail

Now I’m not saying that I’m the most organised person in the world. In fact I think I’m what is commonly known as a time optimist, meaning I always think that everything is going to take far less time than it actually does. So packing did not go as smoothly as it could have. For one I was working on a new pack that I desperately wanted to take with me on trail, to the point where I’m still sat at the sewing machine an hour and a half before my bus departs. Having been brought back to reality by my better half, who is much better at time keeping than I am, I abandoned the new pack and went for my old reliable 32L pack. Fortunately I had a detailed packing list ready for the trip. But even with an excel sheet to go by, I still managed to leave for the station without my gloves, run back and get the gloves, run back to the station and get on a train, realise that I haven’t got my poles with me, get off at the next station take a train back, run back to the apartment to get my poles… well you get the picture. In the end I made to the bus stop with 15 minutes to spare. So I’m all riled up for no reason and then the f…ing bus isn’t even on time. I end up waiting 45 minutes for the bus to come. Apparently there’s been extra passport checks at the German/Danish border and that has delayed the bus. Little did I know this would not be the last delay of the evening.


Oh well at least I wasn’t going to the airport like the group of, by now slightly panicking, Estonian tourists who were calling the bus company to enquire about the whereabouts of the bus during our wait. I sat quite a bit further down the bus and consequently didn’t see their faces when the bus was stopped yet again at the Danish/Swedish border for both toll and passport controls. But I can imagine their distress.

In the end we’re more than an hour late on arrival in Gothenburg and of course I was still a train ride and a road walk out town away from the actual trail head. In my rush to get everything ready and get out of the door back home, I’d neglected to eat both lunch and pack something for the four and a half hour bus ride. So I was really counting on having time to get something – anything! – at the Gothenburg train/bus terminal. In the end there wasn’t even time to stop in at Burger King. The train ride from Gothenburg to Lindome is really very short, so all I had time for was a short nervous pondering of my choice of layers and sleeping bag. The shock of cold that had hit me when I stepped out of the bus and into the night at Gothenburg station had me a bit worried. I really wasn’t expecting it to be quite this cold. I tend to forget how much difference even a short travel north makes in winter. It seemed a cold front had moved in since I’d last checked the weather forecast. I reminded myself that I’d hiked in winter before, that I’d arrived late and that temperatures would not be this low during the day. I opted to break out the extra long johns I was saving for sleeping in at night and put them on for the night hike to the first shelter on trail. I figured temperatures would drop even more before I could make it out of town and into the warmth of the forest. And I didn’t fancy walking through town and across open land in the wind getting chilled to the bone, before I could get a chance to walk myself warm. I scolded myself a little for not having taken the time to eat remembering how much of a difference food makes for keeping warm.

In the end it didn’t take long for me to get warmed up. I left my poles stowed away on the side of my pack, tucked my hands into my sleeves and got myself settled into a good fast stride out of town. At eleven o’clock you certainly feel slightly out of place hiking through suburbia. I always feel painfully aware that I’m out of place going to and from trail. I’ve got to say doing this at night in the freezing cold also made me worry someone was going to think I was in need of help ūüôā “Are you alright miss? You seem to be out hiking, alone, at night, it’s -10 degrees celsius and you’re wearing long johns and running shorts… Does your mother know where you are?”. Now I don’t actually think that what I’m doing is silly, but I’m aware that other people do and it does make me feel awkward. Also I’m 28! why people feel the need to enquire whether I’ve double checked with my parents that it’s all right, is really quite beyond me. And I have actually been asked that more than once.


I hit trail a quarter past eleven. To my surprise the first part of trail is lit by street lamps, it must be a part of a local park. While the street lamps and the wide gravely trail make for fast and easy progress it also creates an eerie feel to the forest. The darkness seems to deepen and loom just out of sight. It must be a base human emotion, fear of the dark, of what might lurk just out of sight. Certainly I’m so far south-east that the only predators around are humans and as previously stated I’m alone out here. I follow Hallandsleden off the well maintained and lighted park trail and into the forest where I turn on my headlamp. Now, the darkness is all around and shadows move in the light of my headlamp. Yet somehow it’s less like looking out at a dark window, a dark eye in a lighted room. It feels less alien and more like I’m in the darkness. Moving through it, with it and not waiting for it to pounce on me from beyond a lighted safe haven. You can have the weirdest thoughts when you’re alone on trail. Bereft of the safety in numbers, that even being alone in the city affords, you feels so much more fragile and at the mercy of nature. I even feel more inclined to superstitions, I’ll hear a rustle in the undergrowth and I imagine someone or something moving through the forest towards me. My monkey brain filling in the unknown void with fear of being eaten. Alone in the darkness I understand my ancestors fear of elves and lantern men, fear of being lured out into the dark and lost there. It must have seemed so very real to them.

Skærmbillede 2018-01-08 kl. 09.43.49

I bypass the first shelter not wanting to go off trail when there’s another shelter so close by that offers the same access to water and isn’t a whole lot further along the trail. By this time I’ve settled into a good stride and the strangeness of being alone and on trail have receded. I’ve acclimatised, I’m neither cold nor hungry enough to stop short of my planned target. I arrive half past midnight and roll out my sleeping gear so my sleeping bag has time to fluff up properly. The lake is frozen over and it’s so dark that at first I have no idea that the shelter is facing directly onto the lake. I use the shelters saw to slash, stab and saw a hole in the ice. The water I brought with me has frozen solid in the short time since I got of the train at Lindome. So I boil lake water for a late night dinner and hot drink. My latest craze is rice noodles with powdered coconut milk, dehydrated peas and a squeeze of soy and siracha sauce. I find rice noodles much superior in texture and taste to ordinary noodles especially when cooked on trail. The coconut milk adds a nice fatty round feel and taste. And who doesn’t like salty soy and spicy siracha sauce. I add the spice packet from the noodles, but not the oil and garlic pack since it always taste a little rancid to me.


Day 2 – Winter wonderland

I sleep in this morning. For one I got to bed quite late last night, but more importantly it’s winter in Scandinavia so the sun doesn’t really grace us with its presence until late morning. Unlike in summer where you can really get in the kilometers, hiking from early morning till late at night. This time of year, late fall edge of winter, I only have 6 good hours of sunlight. I really felt the short days on this trip, constantly feeling that I was running out of sunlight.


Once out of my warm cocoon I quickly pack up, snap a few pictures and fill my water bottles in the lake. I opted to skip a stationary breakfast wanting to get my body moving in the cold. Even in summer I mostly prefer snacking on dates and homemade trailmix in the morning or at least get moving first and eat later when I find a good spot. Either way it just feels good to get moving, but then I’ve never been a I-need-breakfast-first-thing-my-body-is-screaming-for-sustenance kind of person.


Temps were below freezing this morning and out in the open the winds were quite brisk. In exchange for the freezing cold you get beautiful views, crisp winter air and a wonderful pervasive quiet.


In order to keep warm I keep moving all through morning and early afternoon occasionally snacking on dates and trying to tease water out of the slush ice like contents of my water bottles.
I’m not forcing the pace, preferring this time to just let the ground move along beneath me not really thinking about pace. It’s been a while since I was last on a proper hike, the ground is covered in snow and ice and it’s not like I’m going to win at the mileage awards with the sun setting a little after three o’clock.
I purposefully planned this trip with town stops in mind, a first for me. But I’ve got to say, stopping in at the local cafe/bakery for coffee and cake after 16km(10miles) of snow, ice and freezing temps, definitely not a bad idea. I arranged myself in a cozy spot next to a radiator, ordered hot black coffee with¬†p√•t√•r(refill) and first one and then later another piece of pastry. I felt cheeky enough to dry out my gloves and buff on the radiator and then just hoped for some rapid defrosting in the foot department. It might be worth looking into some sort of gaiter solution for winter hiking, because I really did get very wet this trip from wading through snow.

When I finally managed to heave myself out of there it was already far to late in the day for my liking. Having had a slight surprise and a quiet curse in the bakery restroom, I quickly stopped in at the local shop before heading out of town.


As the trail leaves¬†Fj√§r√•s Kyrkby, it heads up and over some very exposed hills where I quickly lost most of the heat I had regained in town. Even so I did stop briefly to admire the view of the sun setting before tucking my hands into my sleeves and powering on into dusk. I did not get far though before I had to get out the headlamp and resign myself to what can best be described as night hiking. Although calling 4 o’clock in the afternoon night feels a bit grandma-ish to me. If pressed to describe the 10km(6miles) from¬†Fj√§r√•s Kyrkby to the next shelter I would say: crunchy, cold and slippery. Nothing says – I really should’ve hurried more in town rather than taking my time eating that kanelsnurre¬† – like having to navigate iced over rock slopes in the dark. Also even with a map and GPS I was walking around for a good while in the dark looking for a shelter that I knew should be right f…ing there.



When I do finally find the shelter on top of a slight rise it is fully stocked with fire wood. Turns out there is a light at the end of this tunnel and that light is a heart warming fire. I usually bring a small amount of fire starters, two or three blocks just in case, this time I haven’t. But no worries because luckily I’ve just purchased a pack of tampons and they are highly flammable. Just unwrap and unfold a little, I promise you they burn like there’s no tomorrow.

After getting a good fire going and stacking up a little wood in the shelter for later use. I unpack my sleeping bag and mat and get started on dinner. I opt to save on fuel and use the fire to cook my dinner. Tonights special is instant rice with homemade dehydrated tomato, cashew and chickpea sauce. After dinner I dry out my shoes and socks over the embers before adding more wood to the fire and going to bed. I wake up halfway through the night freezing and covered in a thin layer of snow. It has started snowing quite heavily and the wind is blowing snow in through the opening of the shelter. I shift my sleeping gear to the other side of the shelter and get out to pee, I’m awake so I might as well. Before going to sleep again I wrap the end of my space blanket ground sheet around the foot end of my sleeping bag and cover that with my rain jacket. It will help keep me warm and make it easier to sleep through the rest of the night. I really should have brought warmer sleeping gear if I wanted to be comfortable.

…To be continued.

My beginner bikepacking setup

I’ve been hiking for years, more than a decade, two if you count from when I was in the scouts. But in all fairness there was a big gap in there where there closest thing I got to hiking was the odd spot of camping here and there. But I’ve never tried any kind of cycletouring or bikepacking before. I know my dad used to go cycletouring when he was younger. More than once he’s told the story of that one time he was cycling around Scotland or Ireland.. Or maybe both, broke his leg in an accident, didn’t tell his parents about it and just came home with one leg half the size of the other. Now, I do like that story but I did wonder what the take away was supposed to be. I would certainly be in for a stern look from my mother if she found out I’d broken my leg in some foreign country and hadn’t told them about it.


I cycle every day, have done for all my life, here they put you on a bike the moment you can walk… Actually they put you on a bike as soon as you¬†can hold your own head. My mom had a child seat mounted on the back of her bike, and my dad had one on the front – the front one was more fun, you hold on to the handlebars and it feels like you’re the one steering the bike.

Until a couple of years ago though, cycling was just a means of transport, something you do because you have to get to work or to school or you’re going out. In all honesty mounting heavy panniers to my city bike and trundling along at slow speeds never really appealed to me.


Then a couple of years ago I got a racing bike and I cycled out to my parents place from the city quite often and wanted to bring a set of fresh clothes that I could wear for dinner, but didn’t want to carry a backpack, so I made the frame pack. Later I started doing some even longer rides, once with a friend to a beach house we were going to for the weekend and later to my parents summer house. That’s when I really started looking into bikepacking bags and bikepacking in general. Because clearly the frame bag alone was nowhere near big enough to carry all of the stuff I need for a weekend trip. But after a bit of googling I rather thought it might be entirely possible to fit it all onto my bike, and I admit I was beginning to like the idea.

It’s taken a little time but I think I’ve got a working setup going. I’ve now got a frame bag – actually I’ve got two, a handlebar roll with a detachable pouch, a seat post bag and a top tube bag.

With this setup I can squeeze all my gear and a little food on to my bike.
I’ve got a few ideas of how to extend the setup a little. I’ve made one little stem bag that fits a bottle, a can or some snacks, but really isn’t very accessible when I’ve got my phone attached to the stem and using my map app. Another little stem bag on the other side will fit more snacks leaving room in the handlebar roll pouch for more dinners.
Also I’ve got an idea for a small bag that sits below my bottle cages. I’m thinking I’ll put my tools and spare tubes in that since it really doesn’t need to be accessible on the go. And it’ll free up some room in my frame bag for.. yup you guessed it – more food.

Right now I’m carrying warm clothes, cook kit and bike lock in the seat post bag. Tent and tent pole, tools, spare tubes and lights in the frame bag. Power bank, cables, ipod, knife and wallet in the top tube bag. Sleeping bag, inflatable mat and ground cloth in the handlebar roll. Food and snacks in the front pouch.
And of course a smattering of bits and bobs all over the place how else would I raise my base weight just over the limit I’ve set for myself.

As I said it’s a working setup, but of course it’s a beginner setup, it can and will be improved. I’ve already got a few ideas for the next generation of some of the bags. Feel free to comment with tips and ideas… or questions. Next year I want to take a longer bikepacking trip, either down in the alps or up into northern sweden or possibly norway, I guess we’ll see what time and money will permit.


MYOG Solo tarp tent

My one stop solution(actually there may be two stops, but more about that later, look out for something like “turning your sleeping bag into a quilt”) to not pissing my pants whilst trying to wriggle out from under my not so sufficient, made in a hurry a-frame tarp.

As you may be able to see from the somewhat blurred picture below, it’s not a bad rush job at that but it has a number of limitations. At the time I was trying to see just how minimal I could go – notice how I’m using my rain jacket as a groundcloth¬†– ¬†the answer: not that minimal. For one this tarp was not nearly wide enough to give adequate coverage in a Scandinavian environment(read rainy as f..k). Secondly, to form a ridgeline, I just folded over the fabric, this was mainly because¬†I couldn’t afford the loss of width a catenary cut would’ve meant. It really could’ve done with one though.


So what do I want from my new tarp? Well… first and foremost I want more coverage. Secondly I want a side entrance. I want to be able to sit up, swing my legs out into the vestibule, put on my shoes and get out of the tarp feet first. What I don’t want, is to crawl out of the tarp on my hands and knees, fighting to get my shoes on, getting muddy in the process and possibly soaking my back in condensation as it scrapes against the inside of the tarp. What I do want is to be able to get out¬†of my tent in time to not pee my pants – even if it was just a little bit of pee. Because frankly I get disgusting enough when I’m hiking, there’s really no reason to add pee to that fragrant mix of sweat and grime. Also I’m a grown up and grown ups¬†are not supposed to pee their pants.

What’s my way of achieving these goals you may ask – enter the new and improved tarp 2.0

It’s 2,5m(8.2feet) long which should be long enough¬†to cover my height of 1,74m(5.7feet). It’s 1,2m(3,93feet) wide not including the vestibule, which adds another 0,5m(1,64feet) of cover. The height is 1,2m(3,93feet) which is enough that I can sit up comfortably.

Step 1 – Design and sizing

One of the strong points of making your own gear is that you can choose exactly the size and the design features that you want. For me that means I can save a bit of weight by going for quite a minimal design and by tailoring the width, length and height to my needs. For a taller person it might mean not having to always make themselves smaller in order to fit in a standard tent. My point is that your tent need not be one size fits all and mine certainly isn’t so keep that in mind. If you’re taller than¬†1,74m(5.7feet) or you want more coverage, I can do with less than most I think, you might want to size up.

Step 2 – Fitting your design onto your fabric

The most important thing is of course that you get enough fabric. I cannot stress this enough, you wan’t to make sure you’ve got enough. Coming up ten centimeters short is not worth saving a penny or two. That being said there’s no need to buy more than you need. What I like to do is lay out my tent design flat, factor in seam allowances and fit it onto the fabric that I want to use. Usually the fabric that you buy comes off a roll so you’ll have a set width and “endless” length to play with.

For the design above there are only three different sides or panels but you need two of each. If the fabric that you buy has a very pronounced right and a wrong side, meaning it has the coating on one side and not the other. You’ll want to think about laying out the panels so that the right side is alway facing out. For some fabrics this is important for others it’s more of a cosmetic concern.

Step 3 – Marking and cutting out your pieces

I used a protractor for the angels and measured out the lengths in between the corners with a ruler. Then I cut out the pieces and marked out the cat cuts using a template made out of cardboard I found in my buildings recycling bin.

(Fixes for the 2.1 shallower cat cuts it’s beautiful when I pitch it really tight and wonderful, but it does take away a bit too much height at the foot and head end of the tent.)


Step 4 – Seams

ffseam2I recently bought a new special foot for my sewing¬†machine that makes this step a lot easier. But it’s still just a flat felled seam, you sew once where you’ve marked the seam, cut down the inside flap, fold the other side over, lay the the¬†fold down and stitch through again.

Step 5 – Working yourself into a tight spot and wishing you’d thought things through a bit more… or as I like to call it “ideas for future design improvements”

Next time instead of all of the panels joining in one very tight fitting spot I would fashion the peak out of one piece of fabric and sow the panels onto that piece. That way I’ll feel less like killing myself.


Step 6 – Reinforcing corners


Step 7 – Seam sealing your tarp/tent

Pitch your tent inside out and seal the seams with seam sealer. Leave it to dry, preferably in a dry place. If for a example it starts to rain shortly after you’ve sealed the seams, move it into your parents green house instead.


Step 8 – Use your tent in the wild

More on that later… ūüôā

Finished weight ended up at 244g(8.6oz) for the tent alone. 287g(10.12oz) for the tent with pegs. 335g(11.81oz) for the tent with pegs and ground cloth. 390g(13.75oz) for the tent with pegs, ground cloth and tent pole. The configuration that I will likely use the most for hiking is the tent with pegs and ground cloth, but without the pole because I’ll use one of my hiking poles instead. For bikepacking I’ll bring the pole as well. If I get around to trying my hand at fastpacking I might leave the pegs at home and use sharpened sticks for pegs. Also I will quite likely trim down my ground cloth to fit the tent, it’s a bit big right now. Incidentally if anyone is looking for a light weight ground cloth, I can recommend using a survival blanket. It’s light, it’s surprisingly sturdy I’ve had mine for years and if you get chilled during the night you can use it as it was originally intended.


Handlebar bag 2.0 – now with added snack pack

I really like the handlebar roll, it just works. It could only really be improved by one thing – a detachable snack pack.

What I needed was a place to store food where it was easy to get at during a ride. I basically want to be able to graze continuously without getting off my bike any more than I have to. I need all the help I can get making up the miles.

I also wanted the handlebar roll to work independently of the snack pack. So that I didn’t necessarily need to take the snack pack on every ride where I used the handlebar roll. As it turned out I had buckles lying around that where the same size as the ones I had originally used on the handlebar roll. So I quickly worked out that I could just add the pack in line with the two webbing straps furthest from the center of the harness. In order for this to work I had to move the webbing straps and buckles back from the front edge of the harness. Otherwise the pack would end up sitting too far away from the handlebar, hindering easy access and possibly hitting the front wheel.

As you can see from the pictures below, the outer straps now sit considerably further back on the harness.



Since the snack pack was already easily detachable I thought why not use that. So I added a shoulder strap, that way I can remove the pack, snap on the shoulder strap and take the pack with me into a shop if I want to. Might come in handy for keeping any valuables with me while I’ve left the bike. And you know for keeping my shopping in.

The snack pack is basically a box shape with curved sides so that it fits the handlebar roll better. It’s not too hard achieving this curved shape but if you think it will be easier to just do a straight box shape then by all means do that, I’m sure it’ll still work.

When considering size the pack can be just as wide as your handlebar roll. And at least as long as the handlebar rolls diameter. Meaning that depending on the clearance you’ve got below your handlebar roll you can maybe stretch you luck a bit and let the snack pack hang a bit lower than your roll does.

And that’s pretty much it – the handlebar roll with detachable snack pack. Take a look at the post¬†Myog handlebar roll/bag¬†if you want a look at how to make a handlebar bag.

Myog handlebar roll/bag

So… Eh it’s been a while and I’m sorry for that. I certainly didn’t think that it would be this long, events conspired, as they say.. But I’m here and it’s time to write up some MYOG projects for all you lovely people out there. First up is my take on a handlebar bag.

Quickly after getting my racing bike I realised I’m very much the kinda person that likes to use my bike as an alternative form of transport, after all I am a dane and cycling as a means of transport in daily life is very much a thing here. And so while a ride across town, to or from work, or down to the grocery shop won’t necessarily leave you sweating profusely. A ride from the city and out to my parents in the suburbs certainly will. Also and don’t get me wrong I love me some lycra when I’m riding, it’s just that sitting down to dinner in sweaty and rapidly cooling bib shorts is much much less lovely. So not long after I got my bike I made a simple frame bag for it, so that I could bring a change of clothes for those occasions when wearing lycra is either not practical… or indeed socially acceptable.

Of course once I’d made that first bag… I soon started to think about how it would be nice if I could maybe bring a pair of shoes. And maybe a bit of other stuff… Well to be honest a lot of other stuff. Which brings us to the here and now and the handlebar bag or roll. Which I judged to be the easiest bike bag project right after the frame bag, which is both easier to make and impacts the handling of your bike less than the handlebar bag. And yes I do realise that with that in mind the logical thing to do would be to post about making a frame bag first. Unfortunately either I didn’t think to take any pictures or they might’ve perished along with my old phone.

Step 1 – Size does matter

And more so if you have the classic road bike drop bars because the bag sits in the space between your drops. On a mountain bike or any bike with straight bars you’ll have more freedom to choose a length. But if you want to keep using those drops without the bag getting in the way you will need to measure the space between your drops and factor in a bit of space for your hands to grip the drops.

Aside from length there’s also a question of girth or diameter. This too will depend on the geometry of your particular bike. Here you are limited by the distance from the top of your bars to the top of your wheel. You won’t get anywhere fast with your handlebar bag resting on your front wheel. Although it will of course add extra breaking power on long descents… But I wouldn’t recommend it.

So first up measure the space between your drops and the distance from the top of your front wheel to your handlebar. Or alternatively you can fill one or more dry bags of different sizes(volume) with clothes and experiment with what size will fit best and base your harness on that dry bag. Given that this style of handlebar bag is based on creating a harness for a dry bag it’s an easy option if you already have one or more dry bags lying around. If you have a long head tube and/or haven’t slammed your stem you might have more room in that case you can experiment with using a bigger size dry bag but only filling it half way to make a short fat handlebar bag.

Step 2 – Measure and cut your fabric

Remember to factor in a bit of seam allowance. I went for quite a wide one in order to stiffen up the edges a bit. No need to think too much about right and wrong sides of the fabric since the design is completely symmetrical.

I chose to round the corners because I like the look of it. But I don’t think that it affects the function of the harness in any way. So you can leave out this step in the process it’s entirely up to you.

Step 3 – Get out your sewing machine

Place the fabric right sides together, pin it and sew the pieces together along the marked line. Remember to leave an opening for later when you have to turn the fabric inside out. If you cut slits along the corners the rounded edge will come out looking better with no bunching or overlapping of the fabric. Turn the fabric inside out, pin it along the edges and sew along the edge taking a bit more care to make the seam straight and even since this is the seam that will show. I did two seams about a centimeter apart, again trying to stiffen up the edges a bit.

Step 4 – Webbing, buckles and spacers

I chose to have three straps but you could probably get away with having only two. If so I would however choose to place the two straps closer to the center of the “roll” so that there’s less risk of the straps sliding of the ends of the slippery silnylon dry bag. For me with where I wanted to attach the roll to my handlebars, it made more sense to add an extra strap in the center of the roll instead. If you have a dry bag made of a less slippery fabric there might be no need to worry about this. I know that they come in a more sturdy version made from what I would describe as a rubber coated fabric and these are much less slippery.

To make room for your fingers to grip the tops on your handlebar you will need some form of spacer between the handlebars and the bag. Here I’ve used some pieces of an old foam sleeping pad. It works fine but i don’t doubt that something less easily compressed would work even better. It’s actually something that I’m looking into for my own bag. Finally it’s worth thinking about the kind of webbing that you choose to use for attaching the harness to your bars. You want to be able to cinch it down tight and for it not to slip over time with the movement and bouncing of the bag. And that’s about it. Although I do have an update coming for this bag sometime soon.

Myog projects coming this year

I’ve worked up quite a backlog of myog projects, which I’m going to try and get done this year. I’ll probably do a write up on most of them with sketches, measurements and costs, but for now a quick presentation of the different projects.

You don‚Äôt know this about me, but I love projects. As in I really really like having a project. I like researching the project, I like planning out the project and I like the execution. I think I‚Äôve always loved working out how to do things. This may all stem from some kind of early childhood conditioning. I mean we all know that primary socialization plays a crucial role in shaping ones personality. And so I suspect it may be a result of all of my fathers do-it-yourself home improvement projects. Oh the dangers of being born to parents who thought it would be a good idea to buy¬†a house that hadn’t been renovated since its construction sometime in 1944-45. You really haven‚Äôt lived until you‚Äôve scraped 50 years worth of old wallpaper off your stairwell walls using only an atomizer(waterspray thingy?) and a putty knife. Child labour was always very popular at my house. I swear that house was renovated mainly with the help of my siblings, my 80-something year old grandfather and me.

Sure all of these MYOG projects started out as a way of lightening my load and getting exactly the gear that I wanted for not much money. But oh my are they fun to plan out and make. To date I’ve made two tarps, one tent, one double-quilt, a hammock and¬†whoopie slings, two backpacks, a frame bag for my road bike, a stove, a shit load of windscreens and a pot cozy or two… Tarps are cheap, light and so easy to make. The tent was a bit more of a challenge. The quilt was a hassle, not difficult to make as such, it’s just that dealing with down is a bit trying. But oh my are backpacks a shit storm, so many overlays, so many details, undoing stitching, redoing stitching, reinforcing stitching… Backpack no. 1 was no good at all. Backpack no. 2 was better, much better, we took that one up the alps and all around Europe the summer before last. But still it lacked stability and it didn’t carry as well as I would’ve liked.

So naturally I have to give it another go. This time I’ve been a bit more thorough in sketching out the pack before hand. I’ve done more reinforcements and I’ve gone for a more stiff and heavy fabric. This will of course add weight, which bothers me, but so be it.
Further more I’m going to add extra padding to the hip belt and shoulder straps. I’ve got a foam mat lying around which will do nicely. To save weight I am however going to punch as many holes in the foam as I can possibly manage without compromising its¬†structural integrity. The hip belt and back piece will be padded with 3D netting. But¬†I’m not going to use this in the shoulder straps unless I can find some way of searing or laminating the edges so that it doesn’t scratch my neck and collarbone. Because that s**t is enough to drive you halfway crazy on anything more than a long walk, trust me!
As seen in the sketch-up below the backpack will have one big compartment with an internal volume of about 33L. A small front pocket, that can be removed completely if I should so wish, with a volume of about 1,8L for maps, that days food and my phone. Hip belt pockets hold my knife, extra snacks and my headlamp. On the outside of the backpack, two mesh pockets on the front will most likely hold my rain gear and tent/tarp. Large side pockets slanted for easy access will hold my water bottles and my poles when I’m not using them. A large inside pocket next to¬†my back will hold my sleeping mat, preferably slightly inflated for extra padding.
Not shown on this sketch are details, which are too time consuming for me to want to draw in such as a sternum strap, buckles and the like. Still I’ve written in most of the buckles and straps that I’m going to need.

With 2cm seam allowance added for all pieces of fabric the backpack will fit nicely on a piece of fabric 1,55x2m. I guestimate the cost of the backpack will come to approximately 35-40‚ā¨/30-35¬£/37-42$. But I will tally costs when the backpack is actually done.




As if one backpack project wasn’t enough, I’ve actually got another one in progress. This one is a bit less planned out. As the sketch below shows I’ve not got as far along in the disintegration of all the layers of the backpack¬†as I have for the one above. It’s not exactly a loosely formed idea either though I have got quite a clear image of what I want for this backpack.
What I want is a running pack that will bridge the gap between my hiking packs and my trail running pack. I recently got into trail running and signed up for a few races with a friend. Subsequently I had what I would call a slight epiphany and I now want to try my hand at fastpacking. I need it to be light, tight fitting, enough volume for a light load, yet not so much that it wont stay put when I’m¬†running. I’m undecided as to whether I want bottles up front or just snack storage. But I’ve definitely decided on a vest-like design, it works great for the running pack I’ve got already, I swear that thing does not move an inch when you run.

I’ve also got plans and have indeed already started to make a single person side entrance tarp/tent. The design is approximately the same as the two-person tent I made the year before last for the aforementioned hike in the alps and trip across Europe. The design is sound, it’s lightweight and the side entrance will hopefully keep me from pissing myself whilst trying to worm my way out of the front of an a frame tarp in the middle of the night. No traumas about that at all… well maybe just a little.
The tarp is made of 3,5m of 36g/m2 ripstop nylon. Who among us doesn’t love ripstop nylon, it’s cheap, it’s light, it’s lovely. Cost of fabric 11,9‚ā¨, total cost of tarp approximately 14‚ā¨/12¬£/15$. I’m going to have to get back to you with the exact weight and cost, when it’s done.

Last but not least I’ve got plans to beef up my summer sleeping bag with¬†some left over down from a¬†double quilt project. I’d intended to use the down for a down vest or two, but even summer nights in Scandinavia are somewhat chilly and either the temp rating was a bit optimistic or maybe I was, I no longer remember. Either way I’m always too cold in that bag so I’ve decided against the down vests in favour of the sleeping bag. The plan is to turn the bag into a quilt and at the same time beef up the fill a bit.