It's been fifteen months since my last backpacking trip, or, indeed, a single night spent outdoors. Plenty of time has been spent outdoors, though most if it was in the saddle or tethered to an ageing and increasingly blind dog. And certainly, it has been an incredibly active year – I can't think of a moment when it would have been possible to sneak off for a night, and on the few occasions where I had hatched a plan, a cold or other illness would magically appear to put an end to it.

So, what has happened?

Gimme Some Liebster

Gimme Some Liebster

The Liebster Award is an award given by bloggers to bloggers. It's a nice idea, in which the awardee answers a set of questions posed by the awarder. David Lintern and WoodTrekker kindly awarded Backpacking North a slice of Liebster, and in humble appreciation of their generosity, I hereby offer my answers (and a few photographs from way, way back in time).

Tromsø Bound!

I was very excited a couple of weeks ago to be asked to go an an artist residency to Tromsø, Norway with my wife. We don't often get the opportunity to go on residencies what with a dog and a daughter to add to the equation, but happily things have worked out this time and we'll be spending the whole of June in one of my favourite northern cities,

This of course means there will be some hiking/backpacking going on, so I'd like to take this opportunity to ask any Tromsø readers for tips.

Tromsø is fantastically located on an island in the sea surrounded by mountains. When I've been in the past is was only for a couple of days, and I always felt a little anxiety from the tug of the mountains, and the sight of smiling, healthy Norwegians carrying their skis over the spectacularly high bridge.

We've also only ever been in winter, so it will be interesting to see the area under the light of the midnight sun.

With mountains plunging from the sky to the sea, I've always found the whole area spectacularly enticing.

So, I'm hoping to revisit the Lyngen Alps, but also explore the hills, islands, and mountains nearer to Tromsø.

It be really nice to meet some local hikers, and perhaps go hiking or backpacking together so I would get to see some of the local places that you don't get to see on whistlestop visits. I'd love to meet some more like-minded people, and discuss the differences in the ways Norwegians engage with the countryside. So, if you're in Tromsø or nearby, please drop me a line or leave a comment - I'd love to hear from you.

I'm looking forward immensely to photographing and writing posts from a little further north in June!

(If you're artistically bicurious, check out our artist site atwww.rainioroberts.com)

Poll: Vote on the Future of Backpacking North!

It's time for a change.

Ever since the blog began I've been using some variation on the "arrow" logo which you can see in the main banner photo above (or here, if you're reading via RSS/email). It was "designed" (and I use that word in the loosest sense possible) to look both like a compass pointing north, and the outline of a pitched tarp. I threw the initial design together in an hour, and even after giving it a polish last year it  looks, to put it mildly, a bit rubbish: a logo designed by somebody with very limited skills in design, vector graphics, or drawing in general.

It's time to put it out of its misery, and send it where logos go to die.

This time, I wanted to do it right, so I asked a very good friend of mine, Antoine Verhaverbeke (who just happens to be one of Finland's finest designers) to help me out. I've known Antoine since I worked as a copywriter at Satama Interactive, where we helped make Nokia into the great company it once was (shortly after I left things started to go downhill for the giant – I'd love to believe that my absence played a part in that, but in reality, it probably didn't).

Anyway, I was thrilled when Antoine agreed, and overjoyed when I got the initial designs back from him. After some comments, and a round of revisions, we've narrowed the choice down to three potential candidates.

And this is where you come in.

I love all of Antoine's designs, so it's very hard to pick the one that best represents

Backpacking North.

So we thought we'd run a poll amongst readers to get some feedback, and see if a favourite emerges.

The logos and poll are below, but first, here is the list of the design criteria which I asked Antoine to consider – basically the things about Backpacking North that the logo might in some way represent:

  • Hiking / Backpacking
  • High-Quality Writing
  • Photography
  • Lapland / Arctic Circle
  • Compass Pointing North
  • UL Tarp / Shelter
  • Ultralight / Lightweight

And so to the logos:

Logo 1

Logo Number 1 is a sultry little number that combines warmth and darkness, light and shadow, airy lightness and a grounded firmament. The trail is being written. The image is in focus. The circle is complete. Logo Number 1 loves puppies and hopes to bring world peace through the international medium of contemporary dance.

Logo 2

Logo Number 2 is cool and breezy and made of snow – but don't let that frosty exterior fool you. Logo Number 2 likes nothing more than to curl up by a warm fire, toasting marshmellows as the northern lights dance overhead. Number 2 loves chocolate and would use its postition, should it win, to bring an end to world hunger by lobbying for s'mores flavoured Pop Tarts.

Logo 3

Logo Number 3 is a dynamic individual. It has as many faces as the seasons, and has the ability to adapt and change to suit the time of year and the environment. Its favourite imaginary pet is a half-chameleon, half-camel called George


  Logo Number 3 signifies change, and is inspired by the colours of Sámi Lapland flag. If chosen, Logo 3 would bring harmony to the world and an end to violence by teaching the world to sing the popular


Camel Chameleon.


You can vote once using the poll below. There's only one vote per person, so consider wisely. Voting is open for one week, after which a decision will be made that may or may not follow the popular vote, depending on how democratic or dictatorial I'm feeling next week.

Backpacking North Logo Poll