Monday, March 26, 2012


                 One of the ways I enjoy camp while backpacking is using a hammock at camp. It has multiple uses for comfort and sleeping at night. Weather is a big concern when we backpack in slot canyons. If there was a threat of rain we would not have been able to go, so with a good weather report I would leave my tent at home and just sleep on the ground with a ground cloth sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. 

I read some articles on people backpacking with hammocks and thought I would give it a try. I liked the idea of getting off the ground and not wake up in the middle of the night with large Beatles crawling on my face. I looked at the system I had and wanted it to be lighter as well. In our slot canyons camping spots are hard to come by. We have spent multiple nights on either a sloped slab of rock or on a screed of medium sized rocks. My thought was with a hammock I could get above the rocks and have a good night sleep. The first night I tried it and just slept in the sleeping bag and my butt got cold. The second night I zipped my sleeping around the hammock and my feet were very uncomfortable. 

My Grand Trunk weighs 9.6 oz
 The next step I took was to cut a hole in my sleeping bag at home. It worked great, It was warm and comfortable, I was able to sleep on my back or side and relatively flat, and my favorite part was my butt was not freezing, a good night sleep overall. My system is still evolving as far as rain fly/ tarp and bug nets which can be as light and easy as a bug head net which may not be as comfortable as other options but has more than just one use at night. It can be used during the day when the ceder gnats are not detoured by any other bug repellent we throw at them. The rain fly I was using did not fair well as far as repealing water the last time I tested it, and am working on making a new one out of sillnylon. I wish I could say that I was making it out of Cuban Fiber but can't find enough funds to go that direction. Hopefully I will be able to give you more info on the tarp after I fabricate it. The hope there is that I will have the ability to stay dry in the hammock and have an ultra light system if there are no trees to go to the ground and have an effective tarp to use as a shelter with a few guy lines and a hiking stick. I like the hammock the best for its comfort around camp. I am able to have a nice seat to relax in and eat my dinner and a warm comfortable place to sleep at night. It also opens up the possibility of places to camp that I would not have considered before. I have setup camp where no one has ever camped before suspended over large boulders or on slopes that would send you rolling like a mummified burrito if you tried to sleep on the ground. For me, I will keep working on the system and reading the hammock forums.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012



No I am not talking about taking a keg of beer on the trail, we are looking at a lightweight and inexpensive way to cook on the trail. This stove can be made with a pair of aluminum soda cans, which is great so you can play around with different designs and ideas for cans that would have been tossed in the recycle bin. The one I made here came in weighing just .3 oz.
Not bad for free and lightweight. There are a number of fuels you can use in this stove. First off just because it is called an alcohol stove doesn’t mean you can use bear or any other kind of alcohol drink in it. The fuels you can use are,

1. Heet this fuel is great for the stove, it burns hot, clean, leaves little or no soot. You have to make sure you buy the Heet in the Yellow Bottle the Heet that they sell in the red Bottle is isoHEET , make sure you only get the Yellow Bottle.
2. Denatured Alcohol, this fuel would be second on my list. It can be found a bit cheaper than Heet and burns hot but may not be as consistent from batch to batch
3. Isopropanol, is the cheapest fuel but not the best. The pros are it can be used as a first aid antiseptic, it is cheep and readily available. The cons are it does not burn as hot and leaves soot on your pots.
     If you plan to use an alcohol stove you should plan on using a wind screen, you don’t want the wind to take all your heat away or blow out your stove. The stove that I built here is one that you would need some sort of stand to elevate your cooking pot above the flame. If you put the burners on the side of the stove you can put your pot right on the stove with no stand. The issue with that is your pot would have to be a bit on the wider side for the flame to be effective in heating. All this said I like looking at the options and playing around with these stoves but I am going to stick with my Crux and Minimalist Cooking system. Slightly smaller and lighter than a Jetboil system

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Think Outside the Bottle

As we move from winter to summer my mind wanders throughout the day of spring trips I would like to do. Time to dust off the equipment and see what fun I can have. Half of the fun can be a game of what can I do with the equipment I have. I am always playing the game of what equipment can drop a few ounces. I picked up a small, cheap scale from harbor freight that does the trick for me. There is always a use for it from testing new equipment or new ideas of equipment. Today's test revealed how I could shave off a half pound.

 For our canyon hikes typically we need about three liters of water for our ridge hike. I have used three nalgenes . I weighed them this week and discovered one nalgene weighs 6.2 oz and the three altogether is 18.6 oz. In the past camelbaks had a bad taste to the water that I did not like. I tested one recently and could taste and see many new features. The taste is good even if you let it sit over night and the arms already installed on them for drying is very convenient. The quick link click off tube is nice for loading and filling the reservoir. The Camelbak Antidote holds the 3 liters that I typically do.

That said it weighs in at 6.9 oz. The one last hurdle I had was that I like to have a separate sports drink at dinner once we have set up camp. My solution to that is the platypus water bottles. They collapse nice and compact for storing dry while hiking and then can be used for around camp. The one liter platypus only weighs 1oz. I also like the idea of having more than one way to hold water just for insurance if I break or puncture one. This year for camping it looks like I can shave off 10.7 oz just by changing how I carry my water, and have the capability to have more water once I am at camp. Not a bad change up.