Germany – Switzerland- Austria – Lichtenstein – Italy – France

by Christian

Mer de Glace Glacier at Chamonix, France

We have returned from our Multi-Day Italian-Franco Road trip and it was a blast. After the long winter it was great to be out again. We’ve travelled through 5 countries, saw different parts of the Alps and visited great cities like Milan, Zürich, Verona and Chamonix. While we were going by car, it felt like cheating a bit but we (mis)used Social Hiking to record and publish our location and routing. This was a great addition to our trip as our family was able to follow our progress in realtime, see how we were doing and even give us advice about the upcoming weather or interesting spots to see. Especially as we didn’t have a fixed route planned, Social Hiking added an interesting and helpful layer to our trip.

Our route tracked by Social Hiking

 

Highlights of our trip

Chamonix While Chai was enjoying visiting all the interesting cities on the way, I particularly enjoyed our stay at Chamonix. This french town is located right below Mont Blanc in the heart of the Alps and the air of Mountaineering, Skiing and Hill walking is all around. Center of the down is lined with little restaurants where you can have Crepes, Raclettes or Fondues dinners or update your kit at one of the many outdoor shops to be found. A couple of cable lifts or the historic Le Montenvers train take you right up into the mountains to give you a head start into your adventure. There are activities for just about anybody from serious guided mountaineering up the summit of Mont Blanc and neighboring peaks, mountain bike routes, of course the skiing and lots and lots of beautiful hill walking routes.

Chamonix - lovely little town at the foot of Mont Blanc

 

The prices are reasonable, especially if you go there while off-season. We stayed at the La Mer de Glace campgrounds which was at about € 20 per night our cheapest stay despite the beautiful location.

Italy was great, too. We stayed a bit in the Dolimites region and then drove down to see Verona and Pisa. Charming little cities!

At the house of Romeo & Julia in Verona, Italy

Much fun at the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Gear thoughts: Edelrid Hexon

Not critical on such a car camping trip, though still part of the joy, was the usage and testing of different parts of our gear. While my partner puts lots of emphasis on the Trangia cooking system, I decided to bring along the Edelrid Hexon stove. For one, you can also use the Hexon in the Trangia and I like being able to use gas or gasoline with it. As it turned out, Chai sticked to the well behaving Trangia gas stove and it was just me firing up the Hexon when I was cooking or when we needed a second stove while preparing dinner. The Hexon is a nice little package. Light and uncomplicated to use, it is fiercely powerful and has the sound to prove it. Not sure our neighbors enjoyed it much when I prepared the morning coffee with, though.

Edelrid Hexon

The pump is made of metal, not plastic as with some of other manufacturers and I don’t see any other potentieal weak spots on this stove. If you want super easy, screw a gas canister to it, unfold the legs and you are ready to go. As I’ve tested before this set up will also work for lower temperatures as you can flip the canister over and feed liquid gas. The only fault – if you can really call it that – is the aforementioned operating noise (which is the case with every roarer type burner) and the lack of simmering control. This stove is either on or off. Even cooking rice is a bit of a challenge as you have to keep an eye on the pot (either the water boils over, or is all gone and you have to add water again). But keeping that in mind, or you primary purpose for this stove is to boil water or snow, the Hexon will get the job done nicely.

I will post a little pictorial about priming and operating the Hexon (gasoline mode) next. It is not difficult, but a bit more involved, compared to a normal gas stove, or using the Hexon with a canister.

Shangri-La 3

We had pretty good weather, so any Decathlon pop-up tent would have been adequate, but we wanted to travel in style, and were using the beautiful Shangri-La 3. I marvel whenever I use it, just love the design and look of a pyramid, I guess. As we are two persons (one slightly taller than the other) and a mutt (that tends to get wet and dirty) the space of the Shangri-La 3 is a joy. On some nights we moved the center pole a bit to the side, to be able to sleep next to each other, even pairing our sleeping bags. The dog occupied part of the other side with a folded up eva mat and the rest was for bits of our clothing, food, drinks, etc.

The Shangri-La 3 (Dog-Proof version with Inner)

We were using the inner as well, mind you, to have a piece of mind from insects and ants and such, but mainly to prevent our dog from dashing out at night. Before she always tried to sneak out from under the fly, but with the inner, she doesn’t. I think, she realizes she is in a enclosed space and thus can be more peaceful as well. I don’t quite know, but it works.

One morning it was raining and we folded back the inner to allow for a dry space to cook and enjoy the view, and this reinforced my belief that a half inner is the way to go with the Shangri-La 3. You see, when it is raining and you open the door or leave it open, it rains directly onto your groundsheet. Now, using a half inner still gives you plenty of room, plus a huge porch. Actually I had been designing and even starting to sew one last december but I haven’t finished it yet. I admit I got discouraged by the whole effort and my mistakes.

But in the meantime you can order a similar design from a UK cottage manufacturer called OookWorks. Another very good MYOG project – also one that has been finished – along the same lines was done by Ove which he describes in great detail over at his blog. Maybe I’ll find the time to finish up my nest, too..

Alpkit Pipe dream 600

These bags are a thing of beauty, if a little bit on the warm side. Very reasonable priced I find no fault with these bags. Using a GoLite Ultra 20 before and freezing more often then not, I actually like being on the safe side of the temperature scale with this bag. We had nights with lows at 3 degrees Celsius and we were both toasty warm. I have great confidence that even after a long day of walking this bag can take us still quite a bit lower still and we will be fine. The bags are of high quality and we liked the hood and draft collars. Great stuff.

 

Our mutt on the other hand was not fine during these cold nights and shivering a lot, especially early morning. Poor thing. A few times I let her crawl side by side with me. Not my preferred sleeping arrangement. We did have a Eva mat for her plus a thin down blanket, but that wasn’t enough apparently. Luckily we found a nice little kids sleeping bag at Chamonix Decathlon for 10€ and this seems do to the trick.

This concludes my thoughts on our recent trip. Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze another proper walking trip in later this year. Until then I’ll keep myself busy with a few one or two nighters, I hope!

As mentioned above, I have a little report on the Hexon in the works. Two other stoves will follow, namely the Optimus Svea 123 and the Primus Eta Solo. Two lightish choices for the solo hiker. If you interested in these kinds of articles, make sure to subscribe to the RSS feed or bookmark the page and drop by again.

Cheers, Chris

  • JD

    The Edelrid Hexon Stove is an excellent stove for one or two people backpacking or mountaineering. It primes relatively fast using Coleman type gasoline fuel. I primed my stove in 40 seconds flat running Coleman fuel. It is light and compact and exudes fine German craftsmanship and attention to detail. I would avoid using Kerosene and automobile gasoline if possible because of soot formation. Use either Coleman type fuel (white gasoline) or L.P. gas canisters.

    JD from Texas

    • Anonymous

      I agree. It’s a great powerful little stove.
      I use it a lot with gas canisters, also in lower temperatures in liquid feed mode (canister upside down).

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