Kungsleden - The King's Trail runs 450 kilometres through Sweden's most beautiful mountain scenery and provides one of the world's most famous hiking trails.

Kungsleden is a well marked trail which passes through four national parks: Abisko, Stora Sjöfallet, Sarek and Pieljekaise. The route includes seven boat crossings of a total of ~20km. Also there is a 30km road stretch which connects the trail between Vakkotavare and Kebnats, serviced by bus. The environment is very varied. From exposed passages over mountains to more sheltered sections in birch forests. At times the trail can be quite challenging. Uneven, big rocks and steep down/up-hills. In some places there are planks laid over bogs (very slippery when wet), and occasionally the vegetation is very thick. But mostly the trail is fairly smooth and runnable. The conditions of the trail will vary a lot depending on season and weather.

Preparations

When it comes to preparations my lifestyle is a huge advantage. Preparing for something like this takes a lot of time and doing similar things for a living is a huge benefit. (My job largely consists of walking far and carrying a heavy backpack.) I also exercise a lot, and since I was planning on doing Kungsleden I made sure to increase the amount of running.
More about me

Basic equipment

The basic equipment consisted of fairly light gear with potential for improvement. Many things could have been lighter and would I do something similar again I could probably cut away about a kilo. Overall I’m happy with everything I brought with me, it is equipment that I’m used to and know works. If you wish to see the detailed packing list there’s a link to it below.

Interested in what gear I used? 
⬇︎ Click the link below ⬇︎
My LighterPack

Food

The food for one day consisted of three freeze dried meals, a mix of nuts and raisins, snacks that I knew would be easy to eat no matter what and a few salt tablets. I also had a bar of Clif Shot Block to help me through the last 10km every day.

Packed and ready

I packed the bag with all the basic equipment, realised it was full even before I packed the food. So I made the daily portions smaller and put it all in a drybag which I then attached on top of my backpack. It felt a bit heavier than expected, but at least it would get lighter for every day.

Unsupported, solo, <7 days

I have always wanted to run Kungsleden. Me and a friend planned on doing it self-supported under 7 days in the summer of 2020 but just a week before start my friend got injured and we had to reschedule. As he went home to rehab I had an idea. Would it be possible to still make it under 7 days, but unsupported, solo? The date was already set several months earlier, and I couldn’t just sit and wait.
450 km in 7 days is approximately 64km/day. Not impossible, but with 14kg to carry it could be a bit too much. I made the first run during the night to give myself 8 runs in 7 days, which lowered the average distance per run to 56km instead.

Below is a short story from all 8 runs.
At the top of each run you'll see distance, altitude metres, people met, weather.

Travelplan
  • Hemavan - Serve
  • Serve - Rävfallsstugan
  • Rävfallsstugan - Adolfsström
  • Adolfsström - Vuonatjviken
  • Vuonatjviken - Kvikkjokk
  • Kvikkjokk - Saltoluokta
  • Vakkotavare - Tjäktja
  • Tjäktja - Abisko

Hemavan - Serve 

 ➔52km   ⬆︎2000hm   8ppl    rain/clouds

It started with a 5h bus ride from Arvidsjaur to Hemavan. With rain clothes on because of heavy rainfall I walked up to the start where I was hoping to get some indoor shelter for my last meal but everything was closed. I ate a pizza just next to the starting line, made the necessary starting picture-selfie (18:46), and then I was off!
The start from Hemavan offered a nice climb up the ski slope, at least I didn’t have to worry about overheating since there was both rain and strong winds. And with the evening the temperature started to drop. In the beginning I followed a stream rather than a path but after the 300m climb to the top of the slopes the trail became better. The rain subsided after 2h but the trail was soaked. I alternately ran/walked, without any exact goal for the night. Crossing the hill just 3km sv of Syterstugan there was a bit of snow and massive amounts of water. The downhill then offered really slippery planks mixed with mud and once again the trail looked more like a stream. I pushed on through the night, feeling strong, and eventually made it to Servestugan around 03:00. Set up camp by the river and made sure to get at least 8h of sleep.

Serve - Rävfallsstugan

 ➔53km   ⬆︎1600hm    40ppl      clouds/rain 

I started around 13:00 with many heavy steps and altitude metres up to Lill-Aigert. So far a very nice trail and the stretch down to the Aigert hut offered a perfect slope for running. From there I could enjoy a beautiful view of Ammarnäs which I reached just an hour later. Again, heavy steps up the ski slope, followed by rain. My legs was not in the mood for more running this day so the next 20km became a slow and boring walk. There was other people camping at the only good ground close to Rävfallsstugan so I continued for another 2km or so until I reached a nice open field with the sign “Svennes Valln”. Put up the tent close to a stream, and with hurting legs I immediately fell asleep.



Rävfallsstugan - Adolfsström

  ➔48km   ⬆︎1000hm   10ppl    rain/cloud

Woke up to the rain which had been pouring all night. Luckily it stopped just as I started running, but it made no difference. I was met by a wall of vegetation for the next stretch, following a vague path flooded with water. After another 300m of climb I exited the forest wet and a bit irritated. Above the tree line was a beautiful trail, and after a few minutes I was greeted with a few glimpses of sun. The downhill about 10km later was muddy and wet, impossible to run without risking an injury so I had to take it slow. For me the remaining 30km trail from there to Adolfsström was the most boring part of the entire Kungsleden. In heavy rain I made camp by the lake a few hundred metres before I reached the village.


Adolfsström - Vuonatjviken

  ➔57km  ⬆︎1600hm   20ppl   cloud/sun

My body felt broken and I continued limping the first 2km of the day. Not sure if I could make it I decided to only stop if I sustained an injury which prevented me from running. A long and beautiful birch forest with a nice winding path showed the way to Jäkkvik. I had quite a lot of sun this day and immediately felt how the ground and trail recovered. Continued past Jäkkvik in nice pine forest and arrived at the first boat-crossing. Of course there was only one boat on my side so I had to row 3 times. Fortunately it was only 300m across even though it was quite windy. The next boat crossing over Riebnesjaure was a ferry which was scheduled for 18:00, I had plenty of time to make this therefore I continued really slow, saving my legs. From Vuonatjviken I made another 9km before I made camp by the bridge, close to water. It had been a warm day without any rain so I took a nice and cold bath in the stream trying not to get too eaten by the millions of mosquitoes as I crawled back in to the tent.

Vuonatjviken - Kvikkjokk

  ➔65km   ⬆︎1600hm   17ppl   rain/cloud

Felt really good climbing the first mountain of the day in moderately strong winds. As I passed Tjäurakåtan, which looked like a small hobbit house, I had 222km on my GPS and had thus completed half the distance. A nice run down the hill followed and then crossing the bridges of the majestic Tjeggelvas towards Västerfjäll. A varied path with planks, rocks and gravel led up to the next mountain which I passed accompanied by rain and wind. From the Tsielekjåkk-hut the trail was flat and nice and I could move really fast all the way down to the water. I had a nice lady picking me up by boat in heavy rainfall. Due to all the rain the last couple of days the water levels were extremely high and as the picture shows the bridge in the lake was about 25cm below surface. I had to continue past Kvikkjokk a few kilometres because there was no good spot to pitch my tent (besides from the parking lot) and also I was really cold after the boat ride. The rain kept pouring down and the trail again was more like a stream. Eventually I had to rest and found a good spot next to a river and a bridge.

Kvikkjokk - Saltoluokta

  ➔67km    ⬆︎1700hm   115ppl     rain/mist

I started the day by being stung by a wasp.. In terms of weather this was definitely the worst day since I had rain more or less all day. The first 15km from Kvikkjokk is a truly frustrating trail when it’s wet because there is nowhere else to put your feet except from rocks. Usually I like going uphill but the trail up the first mountain this day was like a stream filled with big rocks. I passed the mini-mountain-hut “Jågge” in heavy rainfall surrounded by a thick mist. It was kind of beautiful with the mysterious mist although I had preferred a nice view. I arrived for the first boat crossing of the day where it was two boats on this side of the lake so I only had to make this 3km row once. After a struggle against the wind out on the water I arrived to, and passed, the Aktse-hut. A beautiful trail across Njunjes led me to the next lake and boat crossing, Svine. The wind had picked up and as I arrived by the shore I was met by a motorboat giving a ride to another hiker. There was only one rowing boat on this side of the 3,5km lake and also there was a lot bigger waves here than on the previous lake, so I took the ride back with the motorboat. The driver told me that you are not supposed to row this lake unless maybe if it is completely windless.

I was pretty tired after a long day in bad weather but had to continue to be able to keep the schedule. The 19km from Sitojaure to Saltoluokta felt heavy but thankfully the surface was flat and good so it went fast anyway.

Vakkotavare - Tjäktja

   ➔60km   ⬆︎1900hm   155ppl   rain/cloud

The rain continued through the night and as I woke up everything inside the tent was wet. Not from water though, but from sweat. My body was burning a lot of energy during the nights in order to repair itself. Too tired to wake up from over heating in the sleeping bag the result was sweat.

I also had a bit of food poisoning which made it impossible to eat any breakfast and all food from yesterday went straight through the body. After the brutally long day before my right knee was starting to give up and I limped down to the docks and the first boat over to Kebnats that left around 10. From there I had to take a bus to where the Kungsleden continues, Vakkotavare, where I stopped for a while to repair my knee with tape. On the way to the bus people walked faster than me, but after the taping I could run past them again!

I crossed the next mountain with new energy (even though I continued to have stomach aches from the food poisoning) and made the last boat crossing by rowing 1km to Teusajaure. From there I continued on a streamy path in rain all the way up to the Tjäktja-pass, the highest point of Kungsleden, where I pitched my tent for the last time.

Tjäktja - Abisko

  ➔51km   ⬆︎600hm   315ppl    cloud/sun

I woke up at 7, stressed about having slept for too long I was on the run just 35min later. With a light pack on my back, a beautiful view and the sun in the sky I started the last day of running on happy legs. Almost all climbing was behind me and I could run pretty much the entire day. It felt like a never ending downhill, and with dry feet for the first time of the entire trail I could cross the finish line in Abisko feeling strong and joyful!

Summary

6d, 21h, 22min
450km, 12’000 altitude metres and an average speed of 6km/h.

It was not fun all the time. Mostly because of the bad weather that made the trail really wet and the visibility really bad. But also because light will always be more fun than heavy, and I started this trail with quite a lot of weight in my backpack.

I was on the move for an average of 10.5 hours/day and as long as I made sure to get 8h of sleep I knew I could make it.
I’m really impressed by the body’s ability to repair itself and I have proven that my body can handle more than I think .

When I started I weighed 79kg and at the finish it was 71kg left. I ate 3000 kcal/day but probably burned around 9000 kcal/day.

Since my feet was constantly wet I made sure to lubricate them with a greasy ointment every night before bedtime. Also I slept with a tight pair of socks to increase the blood circulation which accelerated the healing process.

FKT

What is an FKT?
Fastest Known Time (FKT) – attempts are normally split into supported, self-supported or unsupported. Supported means you can have a support team that meets you along the way. This generally allows for the fastest and lightest trips and add an element of camaraderie and safety. Self-supported means that you don’t have to carry everything from the start of the trip, but you can stock up in shops along the way. This would normally be the style that “normal” hikers do it. However, it is not recognised as a self-supported attempt if you travel with another hiker/runner. Unsupported means you have no external support of any kind. You have to carry everything you need from start to finish.


You can question the use of boats and a buss, but in my opinion these vessels are a part of the Kungsleden trail. I took the rowing boat where possible, but you still have to make some of the crossings with the help of a motorboat and a driver. 


After Kungsleden

The recovery time after a challenge like this is at least three weeks. I lost about 8 kilos but hope they will come back soon. To celebrate the success of this adventure I signed up for Kullamannen, the longest and toughest running competition in Sweden. It's a 168km technical trail with 4300 altitude metres. Also I’m looking forward to start doing what I always dreamt about —> adventure racing.

Don't hesitate!
If you have an idea, try it!