Hi, my name is Isko Salminen.
I'm an adventure seeker and I love exploring nature with my camera and Australian Shepherd called Fire

HMG UltaMid 2 and UltaMid 4 size comparison

I had been wanting to lighten my shelter for a while now and when Hyperlite Mountain Gear had a -25% sale in December, it was finally time to pull the trigger. Since my brother needed a shelter as well, we joined and bought the UltaMid 2 and UltaMid 4.

My brother needs a bigger shelter as he often hikes with his family (wife + two kids), and I usually need a smaller shelter as I hike solo with my dog, Fire.

When looking at reviews online, we never found any size comparisons between the two, either when packed or when pitched. So once we finally received our mid's a side-by-side comparison was in order.

Outer dimensions

Just by looking at the specs you can see there's an obvious size difference between the two. The four-person UltaMid 4 is 281.9cm × 281.9cm (111'' × 111'') wide and 190.5cm (75'') tall, whereas the two-person UltaMid 2 is 210.8cm × 271.8cm (83'' × 107'') wide and 162.6cm (64'') tall.

While this will give you some idea about their sizes, I find it hard to capture the size of a shelter just by looking at the specs.

When pitched side-by-side, you can clearly see the UltaMid 4 is quite a lot larger than the UltaMid 2. The larger dimensions also mean the UltaMid 4 requires a larger area to pitch.

Interior space

While the two-person UltaMid 2 is very spacious for its weight and packed size, the four-person UltaMid 4 is humongous. You could almost park a car in there.

The UltaMid 2 is a palace for me and Fire. You can easily get all your gear inside, and there's ample room for Fire to roam around during the night (he likes to switch spots every few hours).

The UltaMid 4 will easily fit three-person plus their gear, even four. If you value space in your shelter, or you need something that'll fit a family, this is perfect for the size and weight. The 190cm (75'') center height means you can almost stand up inside.

Packed size and weight

As I mostly need a shelter that fits me + my dog, the UltaMid 2 seemed just the perfect size for us, plus our gear. And it's still big enough to fit an extra person if I was hiking with a buddy who wasn't carrying a shelter. Also, while the UltaMid 4 seemed too big for most of my needs, the biggest reason for going with the two-person version was the weight and what I thought would be a smaller package in your backpack.

HMG states the weights for the UltaMid 2 and 4 with guidelines as 499g (16.6 oz) and 618g (20.8 oz), respectively. In real life, I had a hard time telling them apart by their weight.

Originally I had thought that as the UltaMid 4 has much more fabric, it would also require a lot more space in the backpack. Imagine how surprised I was when I picked both of them up and on my way to take the picture above, I couldn't tell which one was which. I literally turned around and asked "wait, which one is the four-person one?". The weight difference is so small, and they come in the same size stuff sacks, that unless you compress them properly down, you can't tell a difference.

While I was really impressed by the weight, size and space of the UltaMid 2, what really surprised me was how packable and light the humongous four-person UltaMid 4 is. It's easily small and light enough to carry as a solo shelter, still spacious enough to fit a family of four.

Two thumbs up for both of them!

15 life lessons I've learned in 2015

As we’re wrapping up this year, here’s one last post. These are the fifteen life lessons I learned in 2015:

  1. Never compare yourself to others, there are always people who are better or worse off than you.
  2. You’re never too old to start something new. Thinking “this will take me, at least, a year to learn” might sound intimidating now, but if you wait, you’re going to look back in a year and think “man I wish I had started this a year ago”.
  3. Never say anything when angry. Words said in anger can only be forgiven, not forgotten.
  4. There’s a great quote by Jon Acuff: “Never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle”. It's very tempting to compare the start of your new adventure to the middle of someone else’s. And it’s demoralising. Just remember that this is your beginning and you’re going to suck at it for a while. Just give it time.
  5. If you have any doubt about committing, something's missing. When you know, you know, and there will be no doubt.
  6. The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. You’re giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.
  7. If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff.
  8. Never ever say anything bad about your Ex. Nothing good comes out of it. If you have something to say, write it down on a letter and address it to yourself in the future. All those things are going to seem petty and meaningless later on.
  9. It’s better to spend more time listening than talking.
  10. If you think highly of a person, tell it to them immediately. Don’t wait until their funeral because by then they won’t be around to hear it.
  11. Never try to win a fight or an argument with your loved one. While you might win the fight, you’ll end up losing something way more valuable. 
  12. Sometimes good things do happen after 2 am.  
  13. Always choose personality over looks, style, and hype.
  14. Confidence is a funny thing. Too little confidence and you’re unable to act; too much confidence, and you’re unable to hear. Finding the right balance is the key.
  15. It’s much better to be interested than to be interesting.

That’s it, let’s hope 2016 is a more eventful year. Happy New Years everybody!

Red Wing Style No. 3140 Heritage Work Chukka boots

Over the past few years I've grown from only wearing sneakers to a lover of leather shoes. This all started few winters back when I bought a pair of Saint Vacant Derby boots and fell in love with them. I loved how they felt and how, even with all the slosh and mud, you could make them look like new with just a little bit of spit and elbow grease. 

Last winter, to adhere to the "never wear the same leather shoes for two days in a row" rule, I wanted to find another pair of shoes. While searching online for high-quality leather shoes, the Red Wing brand kept coming up again and again and again. It seemed that everyone had nothing but great things to say about their shoes.

So when I happened to notice that our local shoemaker and general store Pinkomo was stocking a really nice selection of Red Wing boots, I had to go over and try them on.

I immediately fell in love with the No. 3140 Heritage Work Chukka boots.

red-wing-heritage-3140

Fit

The second I put these on, I knew I wanted them. They fit perfectly and were extremely comfortable to wear. This despite the many warnings online, and from Pinkomo, that these shoes require a long breaking-in period.

So, after I purchased these, and since they felt so comfortable to wear, of course I disregarded all the warnings and took them on a weekend trip to St. Petersburg. As my only shoes.

Big mistake.

As a word of warning: these boots do require a long breaking-in period! It took me a good month or two of wearing these to get them properly worn in. Now, after being properly broken-in, they are the most comfortable shoes I own.

isko-salminen

Quality

I really enjoy the quality of my Saint Vacant shoes, but the Red Wings are on a whole new level! I've worn these almost exclusively for the entire past winter and they still look like new. And they've seen some pretty hard use: I've worn them in dog-parks, had my dog scratch them, stand on them and generally do everything you're not supposed to do with nice leather shoes. I've walked in mud, slush, rain, forest and almost every kind of foul weather you see during a typical shitty Finnish winter.

No matter what I've thrown at these shoes, after a year of heavy use they still look like new and they feel like they will be around for many winters to come. Actually, with a proper care, they will be around for decades.

Conclusion

What I like: The Red Wing No 3140 chukka boots look and feel amazing, they are actually one of my most comfortable shoes. They are long lasting and keep looking like new with just a little care and maintenance. No need to buy new winter boots every year. 

What I don’t like: Only thing I can think of is that they need a long breaking-in period.

Weekend in Nauvo

We spend this past weekend in Nauvo at my friends new summer place. He needed a pair of extra hands to build few things and I was happy to spend a weekend in a new place. Between building and working, we left our names and few easter eggs to be found for the persons who in the future work on this building.

I’ve never been to Nauvo and I have to say, it’s beautiful! Exploring this area of Finland is definitely on my to-do list for next summer!

Fire and the baby bird

This summer we – like thousands of others Finns – traveled to our summer cabin to celebrate Midsummer. 

This is also the time of year when birds start to leave their nests and learn to fly. So while doing the usual yard work, we weren’t surprised to find a baby bird resting on the ground.

Later during the day, we noticed that the baby bird was in a really bad shape. She was clearly not strong enough to fly, and by the looks of it, was already abandoned by her mother.

Few hours later we were checking on her from afar and noticed she had wobbled to an area in our yard which is covered by ants and they had already attacked her and were about to eat her alive. As she was too weak to even move anymore, we simply could not stand by and watch this.

We gently picked her up, moved her on a moss covered rock closer to her nest, and gently brushed the ants away so she could be in peace.

This was when Fire saw her and, as we were brushing the last of the ants away, curled up on the rock next to her like this. I quickly took these photos of the two unlikely companions and then asked Fire to come down so that we’d leave the little bird alone.

Sadly, few hours later we found her dead :( hopefully we managed to make her short life on this earth even just a little bit more enjoyable.

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Notice:

You should never touch or interfere with a baby bird that has fallen to the ground. Even if they might seem like they are alone, their mother is usually around and your actions might cause them to abandon the little bird.

In this instance, as soon as our parents noticed the baby bird, we notified everyone and actively avoided the area where she was last seen as much as we possibly could. We only intervened as we saw her totally helpless, covered by ants. 

She was in such a bad condition, and by this point clearly abandoned by her mother, that we knew we couldn’t rescue her but also couldn’t just stand by and watch her being eaten alive. We made a judgement call that if her short life had to come to an end, it would be nicer for her to spend her last moments in peace and comfort. This isn’t always the case so, unless you know what you’re doing, it’s better not to interfere!

Also, unless you really, REALLY, know how your dog is going to react, you should never allow them this close to wild animals! We’ve encountered many baby birds and other small animals by accident while hiking and I’ve seen how Fire reacts to them so I was sure he wasn’t going to harm the little bird. But while he saw a helpless animal in need of help, other dogs might see a quick and easy snack.

This wasn’t staged. We avoided touching or moving the bird as much as possible. Fire curled up this close to her on his own and was clearly protective of her.

Asana Mac application

Few weeks ago we started using Asana as our project and task manager at work. I loved it so much that after just one week, I moved all my personal to-do's from OmniFocus to Asana's personal workspace.

So far I've only found one real drawback to Asana, and it's the lack of a proper Mac client. Their iPhone app is really well build so it's odd they don't have one for desktop use. I can't be the only one who doesn't want to use their task manager through a web browser?

Luckily there's a way to fake it on a Mac. Here's how.

1. Download and install the Fluid app

Fluid is an applications that let's you create Mac apps out of any website or web application. In this case, from Asana.

Go to FluidApp.com and download the app. There's a free and paid version available. If you use Fluid for only this, the free version is more than enough (but if you can, please support the developer by opting for the paid version).

After you've downloaded the app and opened the .zip file, drag the Fluid application to your Applications folder on your Mac.

Fluid installed in Applications folder

Fluid installed in Applications folder

2. Creating an Asana app with Fluid

Next we need to create the application. Double click the Fluid icon to open the app and add these details: 

URL: https://app.asana.com/
Name: Asana
Location: Applications (leave as is)
Icon: Use any icon you wish. This is my favorite

The icon

To get a proper icon for the app, you can use any icon or image you wish. You can use any icon you want, like this Asana icon

Right-click on the icon and select "Save Image As...". Save the image somewhere on you computer and select it on the Icon: part of settings. After you've pressed Create, you can delete the icon file from your computer.

And we're done!

After you've pressed Create, it takes few seconds for Fluid to create the app. You can now quit the Fluid app and open the new Asana app from your Applications folder. You can also drag the Asana icon to your dock to have it always available.

Note that you don't need to have Fluid app running in the background to use the Asana app.

The absurdity of toilet paper

For certain reasons I've recently spend a lot of time thinking about toilet paper and the reasoning why we in western countries use it. The more I keep thinking about it, the less it keeps making sense to me.

Here's why.

When I was twenty-something and traveling around Asia, I remember the first time I happened upon a toilet with no toilet paper, just a water hose and a bucket of water. I remember thinking "how uncivilised, they don't even have toilet paper here". After that I was carrying a roll of toilet paper in my backpack everywhere I went, as a some sort of token of being civilised.

Then in 2005, I was studying in Shanghai for awhile and while there, happened to read a book about the cultural differences between East and West. The book was written for western business travelers coming to China and it used stories to highlight the sometimes funny differences between these two cultures.

One of the stories in the book particularly struck a chord with me and I still keep thinking about it every time I sit on the toilet. The story was about the use of toilet paper and how absurd it is to use paper for, well, cleaning after the 'number two'.

The story, as I remember, went something like this:

A western business man is traveling around rural China for the first time. On his first day of travels, he happens upon a small village where he and his entourage stop for a dinner. Afterwards, the business man goes to look for a toilet and the restaurant owner, an old man, takes him behind the restaurant to show him where the toilets are.

Upon entering the stall the business man sees there is no toilet paper, just a bucket of water. He goes back out to find the old man, and with the translators help, comments about the lack of toilet paper:

Business man: "How uncivilised are you here? No toilet paper? How do you expect me to wipe my behind after I've done my business in there?"

The old man calmly listens to the translator and then explains:

The old man: "If you would fall face first into a pile of shit, which one would you choose: a paper towel or a bucket full of water?"

***

If you're wondering about the book, I think the name of it was something like "Why Chinese mice don't eat cheese and other cultural phenomenons". Sadly I can't seem to find it anywhere online, and I've lost my copy of the book. I might also remember the title wrongly so that might be why it won't come up in any searches. But anyway, if you happen to find this book somewhere, buy it and read it. It's well worth the read! And send me a note about the title!

And if you're wondering what Chinese mice do eat? Well it's rice. Apparently mice don't like cheese because it's bad for them.