ULTRALIGHT HIKING ADVICE
Crossing the Moroka 2012
NB:I KNOW this page is a mess, but I AM working on it. Nonetheless, when people tell me I should write a BOOK…Well, there are OVER 800 pages here, most things ARE in order, and just need a bit more polish to make them flow smoothly. However, I think you will find some useful hiking/hunting/canoeing advice, as well as gear recommendations, instructions and plans for homemade equipment, and descriptions of some of our more recent trips. PS: There probably IS some repetition; this is a draft. There is even more stuff at my other sites (above).
12/10/2015: This is my 500th post here on http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ I have still maybe a hundred posts to carry over from my old website, and many more which need editing, photographs etc. Some of you will be pleased to know I also still have many ideas for future posts, and future adventures! So, I hope you keep on coming back, ‘like’ my page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/theultralighthiker?ref=aymt_homepage_panel) and recommend it to your friends. There are also now nearly 400 pages of Hiking/Camping advice here: http://finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm so maybe you need a quiet afternoon to do a bit of reading! Hope you continue to enjoy.
River, Dusky Track, Fiordland, New Zealand, between
21/02/2016: And this is my 600th: Free Will/Determinism: We can choose to do anything. The corollary: we can do anything we choose. This is a priori. Truth. Though many people find it hard to choose, choosing instead the mob. (Horace: ‘odi profanum vulgus et arceo’)There is this other truth: Many of the best things which happen to us are serendipity, so it is unnecessary to obsess about personal choice. The most obvious example of the former is what we choose to put in our mouths. We re indeed what we eat – indeed mostly too much! Of course much of this (and the resulting overweight) is mere habit. For just shy a year now I have chosen to eschew booze. This strategy scythed 10+ kg from my waistline, but it was not enough. I have many adventures and interesting journeys I choose to undertake yet, (eg off-track travel in Fiordland in pursuit of the wily moose – Supper Cove to Herrick Creek; Jane Burn to Gardiner Burn, Big River to Cromarty, Slaughter Burn to Lake Poteriteri… spring to mind) and I cannot be http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ with an excess of avoirdupois. There is precious little left I can take off my pack weight – though that being said I have thought of a few wrinkles yet – so keep coming back! Three weeks ago (and ¾ of a stone) I chose to cease carbohydrates, milk products, nuts, sugar…I have no doubt that ‘health experts’ who tout 11 stone (70 kg) as being the ‘ideal’ weight for my height are right. Let’s see how long it takes to get there. Fortunately I love fresh fruit and vegies, so this choice is not hard for me at all. I do not understand why the Federal Government ‘chooses’ to spend billions on ‘health care’ for a population whose chiefest problem is that they are excessively overweight and underactive. It seems to me that if they ceased ‘benefits’ altogether for a few weeks/months the ‘problem’ would simply go away! May I remind you again of this delightful volume: ‘Moir’s Guide South: The Great Southern Lakes and Fiords’?
01/12/2016: 800th Post: There is really a lot to read on TheUltralightHiker, but maybe you didn’t realise there was quite this much. (And there are now also over 1,000 pages here: http://finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm, as well as more in the Archives section, & etc) ) What a lot of work it has been (keeping me from my hiking, hunting and camping too much, perhaps!) and I know I still have lots more to do. I have the next 50+ posts already worked out, and I’m sure many more will occur to me before I have completed them.
I have been very sick of late (since my trip to Everest – and have not fully recovered) which is why most of my posts lately have not involved any new ‘adventures’, but soon I will be off again, eg to complete my explorations of the Tanjil Bren-Noojee section of the http://www.finnsheep.com/THE%20UPPER%20YARRA%20WALKING%20TRACK.htm including a loop which will allow you to view (via public transport/foot) the three main waterfalls - and including a night camped at Mt Horsefall, completion of the track clearing from Downeys to Newlands Rd allowing a loop of the Baw Baw Plateau and Western Tyers, and of course completion of the exploration of the ‘Mystery Falls’ (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/upper-yarra-track-mystery-falls/) including maybe a (loop) route from the 18 Mile Road to the Forty Mile. I also plan some walks on sections of and posts about the Alps Walking Track (Victoria). Watch this space!
PS: Why not try a 'Search' using the facility at the top of the page? For example, try typing the words 'deer', or 'tent' or 'canoe' then pressing 'Enter'. You may be surprised what you find! Now might be a good time to 'Follow' The UltralightHiker (by clicking the button at the top right of the page), or by 'liking' our Facebook page, here: (https://www.facebook.com/theultralighthiker/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel).
‘My life was wide and wild, and who can know my
heart? There in that golden jungle I walk alone.’ Judith Wright, The
Sisters. This might as well be TheUltralightHikers’ motto as we march forward
into the evenings of our lives, ‘bowed but unbroken’. A young friend (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-friend-i-met-on-the-dusky-track-fiordland-nz/)
has invited me to come along with him on his (extended) Everest Base Camp hike
in early November in
And this: People are crap at understanding risks/stats.You have to figure risk against probable loss. When you are young you have the probable loss of your entire life to lose (a large proportion), so you ought be more careful. When you are old like me, you have much less life to lose, so you can afford to take more risks! I know, you may think that the morsel of life left is nonetheless more precious because it is all you have left, (but whatever is all you have) and it would not be much of a life if you spent it propped in a wheelchair at some Old Peoples’ Home mumbling inanities and pooping yourself. The high passes, whatever their risks gleam much brighter than that prospect.
It is also like this. Yet another friend’s widow was last week condemned to just such a fate as I hinted above, having been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, her husband having dropped like a stone from a cardiac a couple of years ago. ‘Live & learn or you don’t live long’ as the old saw goes.
‘Give Your Heart to the Hawks’ the old mountain men used to say. There
is a solitary rapture about gazing up at the seam where sky and mountain meld
which makes one’s heart exalt! The peaks that loom everywhere along the
08/08/2016: I felt quite rich when I found my knife, flint and steel in my shot pouch: Hugh Glass (‘TheRevenant’, ‘Man in the Wilderness’): ‘Although I had lost my rifle and all my plunder I felt quite rich when I found my knife, flint and steel in my shot pouch. These little fixens make a man feel righ peart when he is three or four hundred miles from any body or any place – all alone among the painters and wild varmints’ http://hughglass.org/sources/ - http://hughglass.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/09/1825-Hugh-Glass-article.pdf (See also: https://myfavoritewesterns.com/tag/hugh-glass/)
What are the essentials for survival? Clearly, the ability to light a fire and a tool such as a knife would be great. As would some sort of shelter &/or protective clothing – but ultimately it is what you carry in your head which is most important. Without what you need there your life won’t ‘be worth a hill of beans’! It is well worthwhile reading carefully something like Ray Mears book ‘Survival’ https://www.raymears.com/Bushcraft_Product/489-Ray-Mears-Bushcraft-Survival-Signed-Copy/ Ray is an internationally recognised expert on survival having taught the SAS for many years. His previous book ‘Survival’ is arguably better and should be sought – it is I think out of print.
EMMA ‘GRANDMA’ GATEWOOD: Back in 1955 (67 - mother of eleven and grandmother of twenty-three) was the first person to solo hike the (3,000km = 5 million steps ) Appalachian trail using her own home-made gear...She stood five foot two and weighed 150 pounds and the only survival training she had were lessons learned earning calluses on her farm. She had a mouth full of false teeth and bunions the size of prize marbles. She had no map, no sleeping bag, no tent. She was blind without her glasses, and she was utterly unprepared if she faced the wrath of a snowstorm, not all that rare on the trail. Five years before, a freezing Thanksgiving downpour killed more than three hundred in Appalachia, and most of them had houses....And she walked it THREE times...so what's STOPPING you: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/pick-up-your-feet-montgomery.html#.U7iX3rHm5dk Ebook here @ $16.95: https://books.jbhifi.com.au/Book/grandma-gatewoods-walk-the-inspiring-story-of-ben-montgomery/426687?gclid=CMy87qTJr78CFcIIvAodOaUA1Q
18/11/2014: If I ever think to feel sorry for folks in wheelchairs it is because they can no longer CHOOSE to pursue a path other than one already laid down by others. Some WHERE a wheel can go. Where a wheel can go is necessarily more constrained (less free) than where a foot can go. Most less (physically) constrained folk do NOT CHOOSE to travel farther than their ‘handicapped’ brethren. Though they may be quite peripatetic (and clock up many thousands of kilometres annually on their personal odometers), such migrations are almost exclusively on ways already prepared by others: defined routes: roads, rail, airplanes…So little of most people’s life journeys are where muscle and sinew alone will take them, through wilderness: on foot or by canoe, for example. My feeling is that NOTHING ELSE (except mayhap IMAGINATION) comprises a JOURNEY at all! Journey’s end is maybe a peak somewhere (Mt Darling?) or a shady spot by a river. Beyond EVERY such ‘end’ is another journey: other peaks extend over the horizon; around the river’s bend fresh vistas beckon, there remains yet another remote beach…all such travel is very simple: place ONE foot firmly in front of another. Repeat.
23/03/2015: Photos you wish you had taken yourself:
the exact moment a bird flew across an eclipse: (In about 1976 we drove from
25/11/2014: Work Time: It is astonishing to me how many grumble about how much of a drag on their time work IS. Methinks: overmuch. I guess the ‘average’ Oz works @ 38 hours/week @ 48 weeks/year ie 1824 hours out of total hours per year of 8764 ie 20.8%. They do this for @ 50 of 80 years of their life (.625 of their time) resulting in a total of only 13% of their ‘allotted span’, giving them 87% of their time to be doing something else (worthwhile?) - And I am not counting: sick leave, maternity leave, long service leave…Maybe 90%? PLENTY of time for HIKING:
20/09/2013: Getting out into the world of people (which I do NOT often) IS interesting, though I feel a need for a goodly dose of wilderness to assuage it…It is pleasant that there ARE many sensible folks out there, but it is also unfortunate that there are so many who seem to have got their ideas from (perhaps a Greenpeace?) recycling bin, or as a job lot with a cheap set of steak knives…It IS bizarre to be lectured by folks about BOTH eg plastic bags, global warming and greed who drive to funerals in brand-new $60,000+ SUVs and who seem to be unaware that you can (if you feel THAT way!) eg brew your own beer , have a vegie garden, drive a Landrover which NEVER rusts/wears out as EVERY part of every LR ever made is readily available (cheaply), and who are evidently unaware that the world has cooled for 202 consecutive months or that it was MUCH warmer in the Middle Ages or that ‘resources’ are created by MAN and NOT by nature: eg John D Rockefeller CREATED the petroleum resource (in creating Standard Oil) a resource which had until then only ever been a curiosity or a nuisance and that in so doing HE SAVED THE WHALES (c 1880!). NEW resources are being created daily by human ingenuity and enterprise as old ones fall into abeyance. So mote it be! How such folks (others sustained handsomely on welfare yet who decry the evils of capitalism) fail to understand the immense benefits which human ingenuity AND capitalism have brought to the great bulk of mankind over the last couple of centuries, benefits which, if anything, are only accelerating (thank human Goodness!) today…
29/10/2014: Why ARE people POOR? I think there are a lot of people who would benefit from this advice (if they were willing to TAKE it!). Every day I see folks around me making the most spectacularly BAD financial decisions (only later to lament them as a form of victimhood - eg ‘Why/Poor me?’). The decision to not be poor can be as simple as deciding to grow/cook your own food (instead of take-aways/restaurants) or realising you don’t need a new shirt/pair of shoes; you don’t need to buy a new car, when yours has only done (eg) 150K, ie it is NEWER than any car I have bought in the last 30 years! You don’t need that large house; you don’t need someone ELSE to build it; you don’t need that expensive overseas holiday when you have not even seen 1% of Victoria’s Alps or rivers. And etc, etc: http://pjmedia.com/drhelen/2014/09/29/how-not-to-be-poor/?repeat=w3tc
16/07/2015: This is our rig. We have a Landrover Defender – the 1995-99 models with the 300TDI engines are BEST – after that vehicles all became electric and impossible to FIX when things go wrong, especially in the bush. In 2010 the camper cost us under $20,000 delivered.
This vehicle suits the pop-top camper we have which has living space of 8′ by 6′ with a Queen sized bed over the cabin. It folds down to being about the height which any 4WD would be with roof racks and a spare on top, meaning someone has usually already cleared overhanging timber. It is quite big enough for us, has stove, fridge, dinette for four, space heater, water heater, outside shower. Also, once you try to push out dimensions (you could probably go out to 6’6″ wide) you start to not be able to fit down 4WD tracks. Similarly length increases mean you can’t get over steep sections etc.
Our Landie has 2” lift, twin diff locks and winch so it will go most anywhere – and has! (I intend to install http://www.secondair.com.au/why.htm to extend its range even further). I may also add a side awning for socialising and a small rear one for the shower/toilet, etc. I have purchased four under tray boxes which will contain wheel chains, Alpacka rafts https://alpackarafts.com/ etc. These <2 kg rafts (suitable for Grade 3+ rapids) are a great way to access remote country. I have the Fiord Explorer which they also describe as a ‘moose boat’ for obvious reasons! If you have a take-down rifle (as I do) it fits inside my pack liner bag; otherwise Aloksak http://www.loksak.com/products/aloksak make a waterproof rifle bag.
I also intend to build a motorcycle carrier for the rear for my Postie bike http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honda-ct110/ so I can get back to where I started on canoeing/hiking trips http://www.theultralighthiker.com/motorbike-hitch-carrier/ . We often take it into remote mountain country where it make a great base for walks, fishing, hunting, canoeing etc.
We had our camper built by http://www.fourwh.com/ They now offer a variety of tray-tops – basically to my design (which I gifted them). See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/staircase-for-camper/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=camper I had to modify the suspension and tray to make the rig ride comfortably and safely. I will cover that in a future post.
02/08/2016: Top Posts: This site lists posts below in order of popularity ie how many ‘clicks’ each has received, but I have a different list. Here is a collection of my posts according to how important I think they were. Some of them you may have never seen (for the above reason). Some will have links which lead you on to other matters. With nearly 750 posts there should be something for the hiker, hunter or outdoorsperson to enjoy…
Finding Your Way: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/finding-your-way/
How to Light A Fire In the Wet: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/
Insects can ruin a camping trip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/
River Crossings: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/river-crossings/
How to avoid being wet & cold while camping. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-avoid-being-wet-cold-while-camping/
An Open Shelter: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/an-open-shelter/
Catching Your Breath – Walking Uphill: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/catching-your-breath-walking-uphill/
Foot Care: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/foot-care/
Cookset Woes: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/
Ultralight Pack: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/
Hunting Daypack: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-daypack/
Ultralight Hunting Daypack Update: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-hunting-daypack-update/
The Deer Hunter’s Tent: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/
The Egg-Ring Ultralight Wood Burner Stove: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/
Water: Hiking Desalinater or Survival Still: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/water-hiking-desalinator/
A Soft Pillow and a Warm Bed Under the Stars: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-soft-pillow-and-a-warm-bed-under-the-stars/
Tent Stakes and Tricks: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tent-stakes-and-tricks/
The Importance of a Roof: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/
Inflatable Insulated Clothing: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/
If you could only carry two things in the bush, what would they be? http://www.theultralighthiker.com/if-you-could-only-carry-two-things-in-the-bush-what-would-they-be/
Hole-less Poncho/Shelter/Hammock Tarp: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/
Pitching the Poncho: Warning: This may save your life: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/
Carry a Knife: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/
Rope – Don’t leave home without it: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rope-dont-leave-home-without-it/
Improvised Bow Saw: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/improvised-bow-saw/
We can choose to do anything: Free Will/Determinism: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/free-willdeterminism/
You Will Not Live Forever: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/you-will-not-live-forever/
Why you should get your feet wet when hiking. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/why-you-should-get-your-feet-wet-when-hiking/
Ultralight Personal Hygiene: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-personal-hygiene/
Get Lost. Get Found: Best Plb/Epirb: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/get-lost-get-found-plbepirb/
How to Treat a Gunshot Wound: Part 2: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-treat-a-gunshot-wound-part-2/
This Book May Save Your Life: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/this-book-may-save-your-life/
Not Quite Alone in the Wilderness http://www.theultralighthiker.com/not-quite-alone-in-the-wilderness/
The Last of the Mountain Men: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-last-of-the-mountain-men/
5/09/2016: The Twelve Woodlores: Ray Mears. Some excellent advice from the introduction of Ray’s excellent ‘The Survival Manual’. If you have not caught up yet with Ray, you should. He is the original of these poor copies such as bear Grylls having trained the SAS and others for years in survival skills. You can get a taste of his style here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RayMearsBushcraft or purchase his books and DVDs here: https://www.raymears.com/
1. ‘Don't challenge Nature, challenge yourself: Occasionally you will hear people talking about beating the elements by conquering a mountain or crossing an ice cap or some such brave deed. The truth is that the challenge is internal. Have you the skill? Can you overcome your fear? No one can beat the elements; all those who fail to heed the warning signs or have the stupidity to press ahead regardless, die. Instead of taking unnecessary risks challenge yourself to know when to turn back; learn to be more skilful; above all challenge yourself to better understand the way nature works.
2. If you're roughing it, you're doing something wrong: Any fool can be uncomfortable, you gain no points for carrying a heavy backpack, or for any deeds of self-imposed endurance. While you may train for an expedition by roughing it, if there is a way of making yourself more comfortable, without the effort becoming a disadvantage, do so. In emergency situations in particular, just a small amount of hardship can prove to be fatal once your level of morale has dropped.
3. Always give z00% effort the first time: Whether shelter building, firelighting, or whatever, if you don't set about it in the right way the first time you are wasting your energy and will simply have to start from scratch again..
4. Aim to achieve maximum efficiency for the minimum effort: To work you need energy; for energy you need food. In the outdoors finding food is work. When you gather your firewood for your fire do you carry large armfuls to the log pile or do you only fill your hands?
5. Never pass by an opportunity: This is very important. As you travel along, should you find suitable water, food or firelighting materials, gather them as you pass since you may not have the opportunity later when they are needed. This is particularly true of fire building materials where by the end of a day's travel it may be raining or have rained earlier soaking the available tinder. Many of my old shirts and jackets have birch bark pieces in the pockets that I gathered some years ago now.
6. As far as you can, adapt your expectations to a level which you can meet given the circumstances: If you cannot build a large comfortable shelter, be satisfied with a small shelter. If there is not a wide variety of wild foods available to you, be grateful for the one type you can eat. Make your psychology work for you. Be realistic—make yourself comfortable but do not overwork yourself to achieve this: it's no use building a palatial shelter if you then collapse with exhaustion inside it. But also do not underestimate what you can achieve.
7. Only eat that which you have positively identified as edible: Do not trust taste tests or in any way experiment with unfamiliar plants or other materials for use as food. The only real way to eat in safety and confidence is to learn what can be eaten and just how to prepare the food before you set out. If this seems like hard work you should not be eating wild foods.
8. Suspect all water as being infected: Even the cleanest, coolest most alluring water may well be contaminated; you cannot tell at a glance. Boil or purify all water—check in particular for signs of chemical pollution, this may be concentrated by boiling!
9. The state of your fire is directly proportionate to your level of morale: Whatever your level of morale, if you can light a fire it will be raised, but if you fail it will plummet like a stone. If you are not confident of your ability to light a fire in the rain it may well be better to wait until the rain stops before trying.
10. Whenever gathering your resources use natural selection as your guide, this is the `way' of nature: Leave the strong, harvest the weak; when gathering food you should always leave a proportion of healthy plants, shellfish or whatever to continue the line. By this lore stronger healthy creatures will have the best chances for survival and thereby proliferate in the future.
11. Take only memories leave only footprints: Wherever possible minimise your impact upon the natural environment, and always aim to leave a campsite in a better state than you found it.
12. Be fit, able to swim and do not give in: Every single skill or technique which follows is easier to learn and master if you are fit. The outdoors is filled with risks and the danger of unpredictable circumstances. Your fitness may well be your last line of defence in such circumstances.
These lores are the guide to successful backwoodsmanship, but in writing them I have assumed that you are able to carry out basic first aid. If you cannot you should attend a course run by an organised body such as the Red Cross. Almost invariably every outdoors man or woman will have recourse to such knowledge at some time or another. One aspect of first aid of particular relevance in the outdoors is an understanding of how hot and cold environments affect your body, these are problems you will face on a regular basis.’
24/11/2016: Backpacking Gear Advice: I wrote this in reply to a query from a reader about what backpack, tent sleeping bag he should buy. As you can see, I do not always recommend people buy.
Hi (Reader) -
and Thanks. As you can probably see from my light posting - and from my post
this morning (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pneumonia/)
, I haven't quite recovered yet from my trip to
I have had the old Mariposa (@600 grams) for years. For some reason GG have blown the weight out to nearly 1,000 grams. Mostly this is in the ridiculously heavy hip belt (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/ ) In contrast, my Zpacks Zero (previously called: Blast) pack in Dyneema weighs 380 grams with pad sleeve, rear and side pockets (one long for a tent), tie downs etc. Add @ 60 grams for the Air Beam pad. It carries about 54 litres inside. Della has sewn a handy inside pocket in mine for stowing important things like passports etc in a secure, easy reach manner).
If you use Sea to Summit Ultrasil Compression bags (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/ ) you can fit much more than this, and you can tie stuff on top as well (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/linelok-pack-tie-down/ or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=tie+down ). Plenty big enough even for a trip of once month carrying all your own food and even a pack raft for crossing rivers (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-paddle/)! Joe (says he) will not do the pad sleeve any more, but he has a shock cord pad attachment which will work just as well (See: http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml Scroll down). This will provide plenty of load transfer and comfort for a pack up to eg 15 kg - and you should try to keep under 10 (inc food) and say 6 for your lady!
I think you would be hard put to find something lighter and warmer than Zpacks double sleeping bag (or quilt). If you are used to a hood, you should buy (eg) two of these as well. they are also great for cold nights/mornings: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/goosehood.shtml Others make a similar thing. The Triplex tent is very good for weight, but I think my designs are better – and certainly cheaper. I have not yet completed them (I know) and when I do I think I will offer them to the public as a pattern to purchase – maybe as a kit Later I may think about having them made in a low labour cost country – I am getting ahead of myself here. However I will give you one/more for your own use, but I have not quite finished the http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ yet (Soon - I will get better!), but in the meantime I think you should have a go at this one (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/ ) in Tyvek yourself – which I think the instructions are transparent enough for the intelligent person to work out (with maybe a bit of prompting) See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-decagon-octagon-tyvek-igloo-tent-design/ ).
When you are happy with it, you can order the silnylon from http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/diy-gear and make an even lighter one. I think you will be happier with it, have a tent which goes up (and stays up) quicker than Joe's and which will cost you a fraction of the price. You will find it quite easy to make (the roof), and once you have that, you can play around with the floor to your heart's content – and will get it right (eventually). The roof (in Tyvek) weighs 607 grams. In silnylon it will weigh 560 grams with the poncho floor - a little more if you want a sewn in floor with overlapping mosquito net door, but still not much more than 600 grams plus pegs and guys (@100 grams). It will be much cheaper than a cuben fibre tent - and you can now make field repairs to silnylon with http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/ so that cuben is (almost) obsolete!
PS: Backpack Sizing: Some really good advice here: http://gossamergear.com/wp/how-to-size-and-fit-an-ultralight-backpack & http://gossamergear.com/wp/which-gossamer-gear-backpack-is-right-for-you . The advice applies equally well to other brands of backpack.
PPS: Your height/weight is not a reliable guide. NB: My opinion is that hip belts do not work well for everyone. Some folks may be more comfortable and walk more freely without them altogether. Fatter people (as I have been most of my life) will probably do better with a simple webbing (3/4’ even) hip belt. Thinner folks might benefit from a wider hip belt. They do not need to add much weight. Zpacks hip belts - available separately for sewing on yourself (enquire) weigh approx 50 grams! (See ‘Padded Belt’ here; http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml Scroll down).
PPPS: Instead of buying a pack, you might think of making one. I recommend Ray Jardine’s backpack Kit (http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Backpack-Kit/index.htm). As you will see, there are two options, one with a hip belt. Be careful which you order, as the hip belt can’t be added later (according to Jenny). If you are happy with it, you could always make a tougher one eg out of Dyneema at a later date. (Two weights of Dyneema available eg. here: http://thru-hiker.com/materials/coated.php You will notice they also have many other interesting projects – including a backpack/s. One advantage of making your own is that you will know exactly how to fix it in the field – should you ever need to!
PPPPS: Please also read: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/ For example, I really think you should consider Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus pack (though I have not yet owned one – I will), Zpacks Arc Blast (which I am going to borrow from my son-in law soon and review) and Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla backpack (which I reviewed here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-bush/) and which I will figure a way to put a lighter hip belt on (stay posted).
PPPPPS: You can readily shave around 300 grams off Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla (or Mariposa, etc) backpack by taking out the aluminium stay, removing the hipbelt and replacing it with an ultralight webbing belt, and replacing the Sitlight pad with an Airbeam pad. The pack will ride just about as well (well, just as well when you are only carrying a few kgs) and transfer weight to your hips, and you will have saved the weight of over half a day’s food! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pimping-a-gorilla/
I think if you utilise these: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/ or their heavier completely waterproof Event iterations or tie one on top as needed you can fit enough in a Gorilla-sized pack which is a much more comfortable size on shorter journeys. However, I reckon that I can carry all my gear and 30 days food in/on a 54 litre pack!
WHERE to start? I have spent THOUSANDS of hours soaked to the skin in wet, cold winter bush, (and LOVING it); AND I have endured:
Keeping your CHEST WARM is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. DRY is not so important. You MUST preserve your core warmth. Everything else is just discomfort, nothing to worry about! Cold wet feet are a normal part of life in the bush and will do you no real harm. You will have to cross streams lots of times. Do NOT think to take your boots off to walk across barefoot: badly injured feet many miles from safety are a real disaster which wet feet are not! Similarly, do not pussyfoot around trying to avoid getting your feet wet: you are just inviting a bad slip and fall. Just walk straight into the first stream you come to, and you can forget about worrying about wet feet from then on. I walked the Dusky Track with this guy who didn’t want to get his feet wet: it was excruciating – and impossible! Della does not always appreciate having wet feet, & I can remember bivouacking in an abandoned miner’s hut/ruin one snowy winter day with friends on the slopes of Mt Erica just to warm up Della’s snow-frozen tootsies with a small fire made mostly from rat droppings, I think. 40+ years into our marriage we are now informed these cold tootsies have a name: Raynaud’s Disease. There is a name for everything, but increasingly I cannot remember what it is! At the END of the day it IS nice to have dry socks. If I am not carrying a spare pair of eg Crocs (@300 grams/pair) for night attire, I usually have a pair of ‘Sealskin’ waterproof socks @80 grams/pair) which are a good way to have warm dry feet at night when your boots are soaked. Crocs are good emergency boots: a friend of mine walked 200 miles in his when his shoes gave out completely.
I have posted elsewhere about the importance of string: in this case it is for making ultralight thongs/sandals from shoe inserts (these are ‘Redbacks’): 58 grams the pair in Size 8. Great for camp shoes, river crossings (if there are only a couple, contrary to the previous comment) etc. Also: the Gossamer Gear Sitlight Pad @ 30 grams (apart from keeping your bum dry for lunches on wet days) will make two pairs of same with the addition of a bit of string if your shoes let you down – and may get you out of trouble if your shoes fail. See: http://www.trailquest.net/sandals.html My knots are different from Brawny’s: I pass a (doubled) loop up through the gap between the big toes and have an overhand knot under the thong. The two ends come up through each side of the thong towards the rear (as with normal thongs) and are joined to the loop with two overhand knots. To make them into sandals a bit of elastic (or a ‘clam cleat’ micro cord lock and string – as shown) either over the top of the foot or around the heel and joined to the strings at the rear where they emerge on the top side of the thong works well and would ensure they stay on during river crossings. Alternatively this guy has waterproof over-booties and down socks (each at under 60 grams) which are good around the camp of a cold night: https://goosefeetgear.com/products
24/10/2016: Cold Weather Hut Booties: I made two pairs of these (one also for my friend Steve Hutcheson who I am going with) for my upcoming Everest Base Camp and Three Passes Nepal Walk. They weigh 78 grams per pair (as you can see). They are a bit rough as I was in a hurry and they are prototypes really, but I’m sure they will work. (PS; They weighed 36 grams each next day after the glue dried)
I wanted something with plenty of insulation (3/4” of closed cell foam) as the unheated floors up there are bound to be pretty cold. I used this toughened closed cell foam intended for making workshop floors more comfortable. I reasoned that if it is up to a bit of wear and tear from walking on it should work well upside down on the bottom of a pair of shoes too.
I figure this pair will last many camping trips, and they cost next to nothing to make. I already had the 2 oz ripstop, the foam mat, the Velcro, the glue, the sewing machine…When I work out a slightly better pattern I will post it. I just cut this one by standing on the material (wedged between the two soles) and trimming it. They work OK.
No Sew Sandals: I made this pair as an
experiment as I know there are lots of folk who don’t sew. This pair can be
made with a pair of scissors, some blue hiking mat foam, a car inner tube, some
Velcro and some contact adhesive (eg Selley’s Gel Grip) Should take you less
than half an hour. They weigh 80 grams each in
24/10/2016: Toughened Foam Flip Flop: This foam which is toughened on one side making it suitable for quieting and insulating concrete workshop floors makes a more durable foam flip-flop which also has some grip.
You can cut it out in a minute with a pair of scissors. All you need is a little contact adhesive and some Velcro to finish the job. The result is a camp shoe which should last many trips which weighs just 30 grams (each)
Fifteen Gram Blue Foam Flip-Flop
Step 1: Buy a $4 Walmart blue foamy sleeping pad.
Step 2: Trace your foot and add little less than a cm all around (you can trim to fit later, though I find a little extra is kind of nice and you don't trip over it), and add wings so that when folded up together it looks like an Adidas shower sandal.
Step 3: Cut foam.
Step 4: Apply 1 piece of duct tape across the top – you may have to shorten the wings after trying on to get a tight fit.
Thanks to Chris Morgan at backpacking light forum: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/46709/
01/07/2016: The Ideal Camp Shoe: A recent entry to this tough competition are Skinners Socks http://www.gizmag.com/skinners-sock-shoes/43742/ They look interesting, but a Skinners sock weighs 80 grams ea.
For comparison a Croc Thong weighs 131ea, a standard Croc weighs 160ea and Sealskin Socks weigh 88 per pair! For years these had been my choice for dry feet at trail’s end (as you could slip your wet shoes back over them if you needed to go outside. They do not breathe all that well though. Your feet might benefit more from cooling down and drying out after a long day of slogging through creeks and bogs. For weight the sealskin Socks will take some beating.
You probably know already that I am not a fan of trying to keep your feet dry: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/why-you-should-get-your-feet-wet-when-hiking/
I have tried these Goosefeet Over Booties https://goosefeetgear.com/products/2-waterproof-over-booties
which weigh 20 grams ea. Their down Socks weigh 31 grams ea and are excellent if you have very cold feet (eg in bed). The over-booties do work but they work better with my home made thongs inside. See:
These reduce the side slipping you otherwise get. However, they are far too waterproof and tall so your feet tend to steam up in them.
I am working on a pair of Dyneema jiffies @ 20 grams ea to go over my shoe liner thongs. Here is a pic of one of six so far Tyvek prototypes of them:
I will soon get them perfected and will post instructions about them. Getting them to fit, stay on and be easily sewable proved harder than I thought.
I am determined to have a pair of shoes under 100 grams and which (in ann emergency) you can walk quite some distance in (eg 20* km before they wear through) – just in case your shoes completely break in half. If they just come asunder but the soles are still good you should try repairing them with some string - which you should always carry: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rope-dont-leave-home-without-it/
14/04/2016: UL Gaiters: I admit I had not just realised how much mud
(and grass seeds) a pair of lightweight ankle gaiters would keep out of your
shoes/socks. Della wore a pair of Sea to
3/06/2013: These new sandals/thongs look like the ‘go’ for folks wishing to have a spare pair of ‘shoes’ around camp, for river crossings or in case their hiking shoes die etc. Definitely on MY birthday list. At 3 oz (85-90g) they are a little heavier than my home-made pair I posted about on 20/12/2012 which weighed 58 grams, but may prove more robust being Vibram soles etc. I notice they also have special (http://bedrocksandals.com/ninja-socks/) socks to wear with them. Neat: http://bedrocksandals.com/earthquake-sandals-v2/
24/01/2014: Already a lightweight hiker, I have nonetheless managed to shave off nearly 2kg from my pack weight in prep for our next foray into the Fiordland wilderness. These were amongst the savings: http://www.zpacks.com/ cuben raincoat (save 334 grams), https://goosefeetgear.com/ waterproof over booties (save 365 grams), http://www.montbell.com/ Ex Light Down Jacket (save 200 grams), new pot & stove combo http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/toaks-1100ml-ti-pot-frying-pan-fissure-ti-tri-bundle (save 165 grams), new waterproof camera Sony Cyber Shot DSC-TX200V ( Save 170 grams), lightweight dry clothes eg Tachyon wind jacket (@ 1.6oz & Dynamo pants @2.6oz by Montbell (save 498 grams)…compared to our South Coast walk in Tasmania in 2011 my pack weight is down OVER 4.5 kg. I should be carrying UNDER 10kg at the beginning of our Fiordland walk (including 10 days’ food (& rum!) You should always be thinking about ways to (safely) shave weight off your backpack! PS: As it turned out my ‘no beer’ diet meant I did not take the nearly 1 kg of rum, si I fairly skipped along!
RAIN GEAR: To keep your chest warm and dry you either need a good raincoat or a
poncho. Most raincoats (eg Gortex) will NOT keep your chest dry (whereas a
cheap nylon poncho WILL, though it is more cumbersome to get through thick bush
and blows a lot in the wind – even the flimsy emergency plastic ones which fit
in your breast pocket WILL keep you surprisingly dry and warm, (though the bush
quickly shreds them). There is a new product (called ‘eVent’) which more
definitely WILL. I bought mine from rei.com for about $150 (http://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/rainwear-how-it-works.html)
and it is brilliant. Walking across
14/08/2016: Hiking in the Rain: This is a very useful article. The author (http://gossamergear.com/wp/rain-guide-to-backpacking) is certainly right that after a while you are bound to get soaked to the skin. This may mean you have to camp early to get yourself under a roof and warm up (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/) or it can be avoided by using an umbrella or (I have found) a poncho. If the poncho can double as a shelter See: (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/) or a ground sheet (see: (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/zpacks-hexamid-solo-plus-tent/) this will cut some of the weight penalty of carrying it (though at only 165 grams (for the Montbell) it might be worthwhile anyway).
Gossamer Gear Lifelex Umbrella 240 grams
16/05/2016: The Importance of a Roof: Getting dry, staying dry, that’s what survival comes down to. Alan Remnant pilot and Owner of Wings on Water, Te Anau, Fiordland (http://www.wingsandwater.co.nz/) who has flown me in to Supper Cove so many times (one of the world’s greatest trips) tells me he has often had to ferry deceased hikers out of there too, folks who could not understand a few simple lessons, like ‘Take a Tarp!’
Though all the DOC’s Walks’ brochures explain the necessity of this, eg ‘You may not make it to, or back to a hut’ every year folks turn up to hike in a pair of thongs, carrying a couple of shopping bags – or something just as injudicious. I have run into people all the time who are carrying half the house on their back, but no tent or tarp – indeed no knowledge of bushcraft which would help them find their way once they lost the trail!
On our recent South Coast Track walk (See eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/) on the last day Della and I were walking out in the rain (the only rain on our eight day trip, so not so unpleasant really). It rained steadily all day, not specially heavily, and was not specially cold, but it was so humid that before long we were soaked to the skin – a not infrequent experience despite whatever impossible ‘breathability’ manufacturers of raingear might advertise.
Being soaked is not such a problem whilst you are moving or if your insulation is up to it, but as soon as you stop you start to feel the cold as the rain is constantly stripping the heat from your body. You need dry air around you to prevent this. Air is a good insulator. We stopped for lunch in an old woodshed (just a couple of rusty sheets of gal roughly thrown up next to one of the huts at the Track Burn). Just getting out of the rain for a few minutes so that it was not continually stripping one of body heat was such a pleasure. It can be a lifesaver too.
Track Burn: Sharing the last of the 'Ambrosia' apples: As you can see, it was wet enough to drown a 'waterproof' camera!
If you are stuck out in the rain for any protracted period of time (especially overnight) you really need a roof so you can dry out and stay dry. Even on a long day walk or hunt you need to carry a tarp so that you can do this (or have the knowledge and ability to construct a rough shelter) because you never know when you might be spending an unexpected night (or two) outdoors. The river you need to cross might come up during the day (This has happened to me a number of times). You might lose your way, become injured (or your companion may – this has also happened to me a number of times); you can just seriously underestimate how long it will take getting back to shelter (walking in the dark is always fraught with danger - but if you have to do it you need to master the technique of looking out the sides and bottoms of your eyes - where you actually can see in the dark!) You may just become exhausted - wet shoes which unexpectedly take on too much weight have done this to me (See eg http://www.theultralighthiker.com/keen-shoes/) .
Whatever the reason, it is always wise to have some form of shelter. I often carry an 8’ x 8’ cuben tarp which weighs under 150 grams. (I am about to improve on this with a cuben version of this http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ and a 1 oz/yd2 silnylon poncho floor). I have slept peacefully under the cuben tarp in the rain quite a number of times. I would say a (cheaper) 7’ x 7’ (eg silnylon) tarp would be the minimum requirement, and can be used as a hammock tarp too. You would need 4.2 metres of eg this http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/xenon-sil-11) so it is going to cost you around $50 to make, it and it will weigh around 5.5 oz or @ 160 grams including tie-outs. Even my ‘Holeless Poncho’ may save your life erected as a shelter (and double as a raincoat) See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/ . In the above fabric (which I am very impressed with) it will weigh less than 130 grams I think including waterproof zippers and tie-outs. I will make one soon and weigh it. I will also do a post soon about constructing a rough ‘bough’ shelter. The ‘best’ shape is not at all what you might think! Watch this space!
Cold Weather Face Masks: A life saver:
I ordered one of these for my upcoming Everest Base Camp trek. It will keep my
nose (& face) warm, a plus as this is one of the things that most bothers
me about camping out in winter. More importantly though is that it warms
incoming air by more than 20C and keeps it humid. This really protects the
sinuses and linings of the lungs. The air up there is so really dry you need to drink at least 4
litres of fluid a day to keep up with moisture loss from your lungs, so it is
no surprise if your lungs take a punishing. At Gorek Shep (EBC) it will be
-14C! In the Everest region it is not all that uncommon to succumb to ‘Khumbu
Cough’ which can be so racking that you can break ribs! Definitely don’t want
that. Worse though is that it reduces lung function. This Cold Avenger face
mask has been independently tested to show that it improves lung function by
very significant amounts eg particularly in asthmatics who would suffer more in
winter conditions such as I am planning for. I am thinking that some of the
effects of altitude sickness are no doubt brought on by reduced lung function
which could be prevented with one of these. These little gadgets weigh less
than 100 grams (4 ounces) and cost around US$60: http://coldavenger.com/ I am thinking that
the face mask will get lots of future use sleeping out during winter deer
hunting expeditions in
is a map of our intended route. We plan to do the ‘Three Passes’ walk in
conjunction with the Everest Base Camp walk which will get us away from the
crowds. We are carrying all our own gear. We are walking anti-clockwise. I fly
into Lukla from
18/09/2016: Vapor Barrier: Whether in hot wet or cold weather humidity is one of the biggest problems. For example, you must never breathe inside your sleeping bag (or sweat). You are filling it with water which must be evaporated, so you are making it colder. There is a solution. The following information is from Stephenson’s Warmlite page. They also sell VB clothing: http://warmlite.com/vapor-barrier-clothing/
Stephenson's VB Sox
‘Ice, solid water, has very low energy. To melt ice to liquid water you must add 144 BTUs per lb. (BTU = British Thermal Units = heat energy needed to warm 1 lb. of water 1°F.) It takes 1080 BTUs to evaporate 1 lb. of water to water vapor. The amount of water vapor in the air is called humidity, expressed either as absolute lbs. of water per lb. of air, or as relative, % of the maximum that could be there at that temperature and pressure. It is common to refer to water vapor as humidity.
(Steve: I BTU is roughly ¼ of a calorie, so you need approx 18 calories (2.5 ml of meths) to melt 250 ml (1 cup full) of ice and 135 calories (19 mls meths) to evaporate it). If you think of that in terms of the amount of food you would need to eat to do the same work you will understand that handling humidity requires a serious expenditure of energy).
is the liquid water your skin exudes from sweat glands in your skin to COOL you
when you are overheated. Unfortunately, that sweat also contains oils and SALT!
Salt and soluble oils are moisture absorbents: depending on concentration and
type of salt and oil, it can take up to 3 times the heat energy to evaporate
water from such absorbents, and all that excess energy goes into chemical
change. You have noticed that initial sweat seems to cool you much better than
later sweat: dried salt and oil resist evaporation, and release heat to your
skin from contact with new sweat (see
Humans have a problem which we are told other animals don’t have: the moisture IN our skin evaporates in dry air, thus losing heat and water. That moisture loss is called “insensible sweat”, which term, like “military intelligence” is an oxymoron (ie, self contradiction). That “insensible sweat” is NOT sweat, and IS sensible: you FEEL it cooling you (but don’t feel it as wetness, thus the “insensible”). Water vapor from evaporation IN your skin, with it’s high energy, diffuses rapidly thru to outer clothes where heat is lost. Usually in cold weather the outside relative humidity is near 100% so outside air can’t accept more humidity, and thus most of that moisture condenses to cold water, soaks your clothes, disables your insulation, lowers humidity again, so more chilling evaporation occurs IN your skin, repeating the cycle of chilling and soaking your clothes. Even if outer fabric is completely porous the vapor WILL condense where temperature reaches dew point in the clothes. The outer layer (“breathable” or not) keeps water IN, out of sight, so you don’t realize you’re losing insulation until later, when miserably COLD. Evaporative cooling and water loss depends only on the relative humidity of the air next to your skin, so you have no control over it. Or do you? (think for a while).
Heat production and loss is not uniformly distributed over our bodies. We can sweat under our arms while being too cool elsewhere. We detect changes in temperature only on our skin, but can’t determine absolute temperature of our body by what we feel on skin: get cold enough to shiver, then get into a hot tub and you’ll feel too hot while actually being too cold. As you warm, your skin gets accustomed to the warmth so you don’t feel as hot! Get out of the hot tub when sweating from overheat and you immediately feel cold! Dry off and you feel warm. We rely ONLY on wetness of sweat to warn us of overheat.
If your heat loss equals production you’re comfortable. If activity then increases, overheat causes sweat, for evaporative cooling. WHEN (or IF) you notice wetness from sweat, you’ll vent or remove extra clothes, get cooling of evaporative or convective heat loss, stop sweating and you’re soon dry. Wickable underwear moves sweat from overheat away from your skin so you won’t notice it and it won’t annoy you, (which is fine for comfort indoors or for short periods). That wicking prevents cooling when and where you need it, and wets outer clothes so they won’t be warm LATER. Please note that it’s wickable and moisture absorbing fabric that aids comfort then, not just porous or so called “breathable” junk. Non wicking polyester, acrylic, Goretex and similar won’t provide any comfort, so YOU have to constantly adjust insulation or venting in response to wetness from overheat, (which can be an advantage IF you’re observant and intelligent enough to do proper adjusting). Heat stroke or heat exhaustion is caused by not being aware of and correcting for overheat. Wicking clothing makes you unaware of sweating, so can be dangerous. Instead of sweat cooling you when needed, it soaks your clothes, reduces insulation and chills you later when you need the warmth! You won’t notice overheat until soaked, so delay your normal reaction of venting or removing excess clothing, until too late. When you tire, slow down or stop, and need your insulation, you find it is wet and useless. Instead of the sweat which wicks out evaporating, humidity from within condenses, making outer clothes even wetter. That’s controlled by the temperature in outer layer(s), not whether they are porous or sealed. Before you die of hypothermia from believing false ads claiming their insulation is warm when wet, I suggest you soak your jacket, shake it out and wear it. Experience just how cold, wet insulation really is! False advertising won’t keep you warm.
Part of the idea of using wickable underwear for warmth is the insane idea that your skin continuously LEAKS, so they want to move leaked moisture away from your skin before it evaporates and cools you. Any kid old enough to talk can tell you your skin stays dry UNTIL you sweat from OVERHEAT, and then you WANT evaporative cooling AT your skin. NOTE: Just to confuse you more, several companies say their materials “wick moisture vapor”, but you know that wicking only applies to LIQUID, not vapor!
Most of this isn’t a problem if you’re going outside for short periods with steady activity and not overdressed. But for someone jogging, skiing, hiking, or mountaineering it can be a very serious matter.
Obviously wicking underwear can’t stop chill of moisture evaporating from within your skin (misnamed insensible “sweat”), since that moisture is not on the surface where it can be wicked away. The ONLY way to reduce that evaporative chilling is to raise humidity next to your skin by raising humidity in surrounding air (limited to dew point in that air), or by retaining humidity with vapor barrier (VB) next to the skin. A VB that blocks 95% of evaporative heat and water loss is excellent. (Goretex will block 97%. They call that 3% loss “breathable”).
If humidity next to your skin reaches 100% (meaning it can’t hold any more water vapor), evaporation stops, chilling stops, and “insensible sweat” stops. That’s why a humid day feels warmer than a drying day. (Note that it’s common to call low humidity dry when the correct term is drying, which low humidity causes.) A wet rainy day feels colder because the rain acts as a condenser, removing humidity from the air, leading to drying condition. Often a “dry” sunny day feels extra hot due to the high humidity the sun has caused by evaporating water that fell as rain before.
When skin moisturizing can’t keep up with rapid drying, your skin gets dry, chapped, and is more likely to suffer frostbite. Evaporative chilling makes 32°F feel like 12°F.
It’s reported that you lose up to four pounds of water each night thru evaporation of “insensible sweat”, when sleeping in a porous “breathable” sleeping bag. Weighing of such bags in the morning shows 2 to 4 lbs. increase, confirming that statement, and also showing that sweat and vapor don’t make it out of those bags: sweat wicks in, and vapor condenses in the insulation, leaving the bag wet. The 4320 BTU of heat stolen from you to evaporate 4 lbs. of sweat is lost at outer surface of your bag, as that sweat condensed to soak your insulation. It takes 144 BTU to melt one pound of ice. Thus the heat to evaporate four pounds of sweat is enough to melt 30 pounds of ice! (4 x 1080/144 = 30). Would you take 30 pounds of ICE to bed with you? That’s the effect you get by not using vapor barrier interior in your sleeping bag.
If you lose 4 pounds of water during 8 hours of sleep you can expect to lose much more during 16 hours you’re awake and active. That dehydration can lead to serious impairment of circulation due to thickened blood, increasing risk of frostbite (thus the good advice to drink LOTS of fluids in cold dry weather). You can create a warm humid condition around your body all day with VAPOR BARRIER (VB) clothing, and thus reduce dehydration.
During World War II US cold weather troops used Vapor Barrier (VB) socks to totally cure frostbite and trench foot. Those led to the vapor barrier “Korean Bunny Boots”, still the standard for cold weather use. We started promoting use of VB socks (baggies, bread bags, etc) in 1957, then gloves, shirts, and in sleeping bags since 1967. Others have sold VB clothes and bag liners on and off, but the bad response to uncomfortable coated fabrics, poor education, and problems with tie in bag liners, led most to drop VB. Manufacturers and retailers want to sell what is EASY, and avoid anything that requires educating customers. Heavy promotion of “breathable” materials makes some retailers unwilling to risk big markup sales by telling customers the whole truth. Often they won’t tell you anything about things they don’t sell. The most common excuse we hear from manufacturers and sales persons for not selling VB lined bags and VB clothing is they can’t take the time to explain it to their customers. Mighty inconsiderate! If you want an honest evaluation of VB, get it from someone who uses it. If you want to avoid it, ask someone who hasn’t used it, or sells only “breathable” gear, thus avoiding getting confused by the facts!
VB in a sleeping bag gives no added warmth when vented but always protects the insulation from condensation and sweat soaking, thus it’s advisable to have VB in your bag for ALL seasons. The surface wickability of Stephensons FUZZY STUFF makes it especially desirable for summer use when you’re sure to overheat, (even if nude.)
A common argument against VB is actually excess praise FOR VB: they say VB will ALWAYS overheat you! Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get ALL needed warmth simply by controlling humidity! Physics limits us to maximum of 20° added warmth from VB. It’s the overheat DETECTION SERVICE that VB provides (by making you immediately aware of sweat when it starts) which “they” think is overheat caused by VB: don’t blame the messenger for the message!
Will Steger used “breathable” Quallofil sleeping bags for his much advertised dog sled trip to the north pole: those 17 lb. bags (almost as thick as our 4 1/2 lb Goose Down bags) were carried loose on top of sleds “for best drying”, yet weighed over 52 lbs. in a few weeks from sweat condensing to ice. Luckily they were flown out from the pole. Meanwhile a Canadian – Soviet team cross country skied across the pole, using WARMLITE bags they had purchased, which stayed dry and warm for the whole trip. Will Steger bought FUZZY STUFF Vapor Barrier liners from us for his Quallofil (read, $500,000 support from Dupont!) bags for the much longer south pole trip and thus kept the bags dry and warm the whole trip.
VB clothing that doesn’t wick sweat over it’s surface is likely to be uncomfortable and lead us to frequent insulation changes, or sadly mislead some into rejecting VB and the benefits it can give them. Proper comfortable use of VB requires more intelligence and awareness than some people have, but is made a lot easier with modern VB material having wicking inner surface, such as FUZZY STUFF.
With VB keeping water vapor and wet sweat out of your sleeping bag and clothes, you can use ANY fabric, ANY insulation without concern for wickability, and can use ANY exterior wind breaker without concern for “breathability”.
How do users of VB react? Generally with orders for more VB clothing and sleeping bags, and recommendations to their friends. From 1967 to 1998 we sold about 9500 VB lined sleeping bags, and only about 1/2% of customers objected to having to consciously adjust insulation. But even they agree that VB is good for extra warmth and insulation protection, and most of those became best promoters of VB! We’ve found many of those people have low metabolism, need more insulation to stay warm, and thus NEED VB the most! No matter what one’s metabolism is, the extra heat produced from activity is the same, and thus the person who wears thicker clothes for warmth when inactive will sweat more when active due to those extra clothes. To stay dry they must adjust clothes more. VB underwear helps them notice the need to adjust, and keeps all outer clothes dry even if they fail to control sweating.
When you are awake and active it is easy to adjust insulation to avoid overheat without venting VB clothing. When asleep the normal reaction to overheat is to push covers away, reducing the extra warmth, while VB still protects the bag from condensation and sweat. Sleeping bags rarely get wet from outside. Bags without VB ALWAYS get wet from INSIDE condensation and sweat!
Most of you are aware that wind can chill you. If nude, wind reduces the insulating air boundary layer on your skin, increasing conductive heat loss thru that layer. Stop the wind, or block it with wind tight fabric, or get inside a structure, and that chilling stops. Then as you all know, adding ANY layer of even the most porous clothing makes you warmer. At some point any additional layer overheats you, which you notice only when you start to sweat and feel wet. Do a test: In a wind blocking shelter when it’s cool enough to need a warm jacket, replace the jacket with two thick bulky knit sweaters (as open a knit and thick as you can find). Soon you’ll start sweating from the overheat (note that it is only the sweat that tells you that you’re overheated!) Mere porosity or “breathability” clearly can’t keep you cool. Replace the thick sweaters with a light raincoat (after you cool down). Soon you will feel too cool, clearly proving that a simple waterproof coating is not enough to keep you warm or overheat you, but it can help. Assuming condition cold enough so you are wearing an undershirt, 1 or 2 insulating shirts, and the warm jacket: replace just the innermost shirt with a vapor barrier shirt (lacking a proper one, use a plastic bag with holes cut for head and arms). Soon you will notice sweat from overheat and will need to remove the jacket to stop overheat (if smart you’ll speed up the test by not putting the jacket back on after changing to VB shirt, and will then notice you are as warm as before and not sweating.) The VB shirt reduces loss of humidity and thus reduces evaporative cooling at your skin, much like a humid day in summer.
In each case if you carry test to point of overheat, notice that it is the wet feel of sweat that told you “you are overheated”. Our bodies are very poor at telling us how warm or cold we are, and skin senses changes more than absolutes.
VB clothing has many other benefits:
Elimination of condensation in your tent. People who regularly over dress and rely on wickable clothing to carry away sweat, add much more humidity to a tent.
If you must change your shirt in less than 3 days due to sweat odors you will also likely cause excessive condensation in any tent you use. Wearing VB helps you recognize and correct overheat and unnecessary sweating.
Elimination of sweat odors on clothing and yourself. It’s obvious how outer clothing is protected. Apparently quick sensing and thus avoidance of sweating, plus blocking of air circulation that causes sweat to turn rancid, reduces or eliminates sweat odors on you and the VB clothing as well.
(Polypropylene underwear is infamous for terrible sweat odors: apparently it passes sweat so well that people sweat excessively with it without realizing it. BUT it absorbs all the oils in the sweat, and those oils turn rancid, stink, and stick to the polypro.)
Reduces dehydration and amount of water you must obtain and drink. Dehydration is a major contributor to frostbite, hypothermia and altitude sickness. It thickens your blood, impairs circulation (thus decreases proper heat and oxygen distribution), and reduces oxygen intake. It’s especially difficult to drink enough fluids when not wearing VB clothes and ALL your water most come from melting snow! In several days the weight of fuel saved due to use of VB can greatly exceed the weight of the VB clothing.
With 1st layer VB you can then wear any kind of material for outer layers, no matter how uncomfortable or impractical that material might be otherwise, since you’ll have no concern with it getting wet. Your outer windbreak layer can be any coated or laminated fabric, preferably NOT “breathable” so you don’t have to be concerned with dirt causing it to leak. When weight is a consideration, chose your layers for the most thickness per pound. Use coated Nylon rain wear windbreaker.
Avoiding winter “colds”: most medical writers say a “cold” is only a “cold virus infection”, (typically with symptoms of irritated nose and throat and clear fluid from your nose), which your body self cures in 3 to 7 days. But, your nasal and throat passages usually have lots of all kinds of infectious bacteria in them, which are harmless to you as long as they can’t get past mucus surfaces. Virus infection, or bad allergy attack, or dry irritated nasal passages due to excessively dry air, can ALL let those bacteria attack, resulting in what we usually know as a “cold” with greenish yellow nasal discharge, sore throat, cough. Untreated that can last a whole winter, or be stopped in 3 days with antibiotic. Wearing VB clothes at home allows you to keep air temperature about 10° cooler resulting in less drying and irritation of throat and nasal passages.
For some of us with poor circulation to hands and feet, VB gloves and socks are essential to keep hands and feet warm enough to function (other common solution is to move to warm climate!)’
15/05/2016: Tumble Hitch: A really useful knot particularly when doing temporary tie outs eg of guylines, boats, dogs etc. You can always ‘lock’ it by passing the end back through the top loop so it can’t unravel: http://www.animatedknots.com/tumble/#ScrollPoint
26/12/2016: Best Deer Hunter’s Cap, Best Ultralight Cap: At 76 grams in 61% Merino wool, 19% Tencel, 14% Nylon, 6% Lycra these are just the best caps I have ever found. (Black colour only) Your head stays drier and either cooler/warmer (depending on season) than any other head wear I have worn when you are working hard: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/mens-hats-neckwear/cool-lite-quantum-cap/102249.html?dwvar_102249_color=001
They are on special now (Boxing Day) at A$39.96, so snap one up; I did. You will note they also have a camo version in a slightly heavier, warmer merino fabric for winter hunts: 111 grams & A$29.97: http://au.icebreaker.com/en/accessories/explore-hat-real-tree/102359_WS.html?dwvar_102359__WS_color=901
21/09/2016: Montbell make some awesome Ultralight gear. Mostly I like their sleeping bags and insulated clothing. For many years I have used the UL Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 now called Down Hugger 800 #3 & available at Larry Adler Australia for A$329). Mine was 624 grams and rated -1C. Montbell have even improved this bag by moving to 1 oz more (and) of 900 fill power down. This is the Down Hugger 900 #2 at 690 grams and -5C, which is just awesome! This ‘spiral stretch’ construction means that they are the roomiest sleeping bags you have ever used. You can even cross your legs and sit up in them.
Speaking of jackets and vests: I am particularly impressed by the
warmth and lightness of their ‘
22/01/2014: My new raincoat. 154 grams (in my size) in waterproof, 40,000ml breathable cuben fibre from http://www.zpacks.com/ It IS spectacular. Rolls up to the size of a pack of cigs. It comes in this attractive white colour only. Can hardly wait for some rain so I can try it out! It has Spot’s seal of approval, as you can see.
31/03/2015: CLOUDKILT: If you get too hot in rain pants (I certainly do) this might be the solution for you at only 54 grams and $59 – if you can put up with looking a little silly! (Still girls wear them all the time)! http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/cloudkilt.shtml
29/04/2015: RAIN KILT: This interesting zpacks innovation worked really well for me, keeping me warm (but not too) and dry above the knees, and providing a dry seat whenever I wanted to rest on a log. At 54 grams you are hardly going to notice it in your pack. I don’t CARE if they look silly. Della craves a pair of their ‘Challenger Rain Pants’ as she feels her nylon Mountain Laurel Designs rain chaps have outlived their usefulness. They are VERY hard to keep up. Her wish is my command! http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/cloudkilt.shtml
Men in skirts: ask the Scots; ask William Wallace!
17/07/2015: Ultra-cheap, Ultralight Rain Gear; neat idea: Jacket =149 grams; Chaps = 74 grams: http://gossamergear.com/wp/tip-of-the-week-make-a-hooded-tyvek-rain-jacket-and-chaps-for-under-10 Youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=39chVyur8Lg
The finished Tyvek hooded rain jacket is extra long and weighs just 5.25 ounces. The chaps weigh 2.6 ounces. You may get some comments about the white color (like “where did you park your space ship?”), but it is actually quite functional because it stays cooler than a darker colour.
31/08/2015: Tyvek Jack Russell (Rain) Coat: 13 grams! My little chaps can get quite wet and cold if we are in the bush for long days in the winter so I thought I would treat them to some waterproofing. Surprisingly, my first effort worked very well - you can see Spot modelling it here. He was quite happy wearing it for all of our 5km walk (run for him!) this afternoon and didn’t want me to take it off when we came home and I wanted to make Marque #2 using it as a pattern. He needed a little more cover at the rump, along the back of his neck and along his sides. I will just keep using the last one as a pattern for the next one until I get it just right, then will post the pattern, so be sure to come back and check, but you can probably figure it out from the pix. I just used stick-on Velcro for the four attachment points: seemed to work OK.
Stand up & show off Spot. OK!
Do you like it Spot? Yes, Sir!
Can you still run fast in it Spot? My Word!
Tiny: I am not amused. Where's my magic cape?
Left: Marque#1, Right Marque#2.
28/07/2015: Poncho/Shelter: Here is the pattern for my poncho/shelter which I promised some time ago. When we first made this (back in 2000 – for my first ‘moose hunting’ trip to Supper Cove, Fiordland) there was no such thing as a waterproof zip. As you can see we used 2 oz ripstop and Velcro. Della made three of them in such a way that they two or three could be combined to make a bigger (and bigger) shelter by joining them edge to edge (which I still think is a good idea if you sometimes tramp with friends).
Pitching the Poncho as a Shelter: Just enough room for a man and his dog – an essential on a cold night!
Now that there ARE waterproof zippers (eg here: http://www.zpacks.com/materials.shtml scroll down – 13 grams and US$4.78 per metre) you can make a far more waterproof poncho using (probably) 1.3 oz/yd2 ‘silnylon’ (eg from here: http://www.questoutfitters.com/coated.html#SILNYLON%201.1%20OZ%20RIPSTOP ) – US$10.49/yd = 2.5 needed) OR .51oz/yd2 cuben fibre from either of the above if you want it ultralight. (NB zpacks have .67 oz/yd2 cuben avail. In camo!) In silnylon it will weigh a little over 150 grams; in cuben it will weigh less than half that – about 65 grams! That is a SERIOUSLY lightweight raincoat AND tent! You would make the tie-outs out of Grosgrain ribbon (available from both of the above).
You can see how to wear it as a hooded/hoodless poncho in the pix, and how to pitch it as a shelter here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/
Space Blanket Poncho
Instructions: Feel free to make ONE yourself, but (as with my other patterns) if you are going to manufacture them for profit, I would appreciate something in return! Cut the material to size. Hem all around. Sew zippers to close AB to AC, BD to DF & CE to EG (leaving openings of the approximate size shown. You might run a thread around inside the hem of the ‘hood’ with a drawstring/s, having left an approx 1 cm gap in your hem stitching at each side for that purpose, so that it can be closed tight around the face. Sew (approx 1” – 25mm) grosgrain tie outs on all four corners and half way along each of the long sides. NB: If you form the grosgrain loop with one end sewn to one side of the material and the other end to the other side with an 180 degree ‘twist’ in the middle it will be easier to peg out.
If you find these directions a little difficult, try making the poncho out of a space blanket with sticky tape as illustrated here:
31/07/2015: Fun with Sticky Tape: Mylar Poncho: 49 grams and five minutes that may Save your Life: Follow the instructions here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/ As you can see you can sit down against a tree in front of a fire wearing it and be perfectly dry - with a little help from your small dog, Spot!
07/08/2015: More Fun With Sticky Tape: 23 grams Ultralight Mylar Vest: Pattern will follow.
30/07/2015: Tyvek Bivi, Poncho, Tent Floor: 7’ x 5’ of ‘Tyvek Homewrap’ (and some waterproof zippers (eg here: http://www.zpacks.com/materials.shtml scroll down – 13 grams and US$4.78 per metre) is all you need to make this multi-use piece. Most people who use a tarp use a Tyvek groundsheet/footprint anyway. If it can double as a bivi, before bed you will have a spacious comfy floor, and when you turn in you can be confident that however the rain and wind may blow you are going to be snug and dry, and your sleeping bag will stay clean.
Tyvek is breathable so your body ought not saturate your sleeping bag so long as you don’t overheat. The fact that it cuts any cold draughts and ought to reflect some of your body heat back at you should also mean that it will substitute for a sleeping bag thermal liner (taking your bag down probably another 5C), and it WILL keep you dry.
If you configure it as a poncho as well (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/) , it should also cut down your pack weight by replacing at least these three items for an overall weight of approx 200 grams. Given that you would have had an approx 100 gram groundsheet anyway, plus an approx 200 gram thermal liner and at least 150 gram raincoat, you should be saving about 250 grams! In an emergency you could no doubt sleep in it right out in the rain! You might carry it in your daypack along with your lightweight sleeping bag with this eventuality in mind!
You will have to configure the zippers in such a way they do double duty. There will be two 3’6” zips which will become the chest zip of the poncho; the shorter zips will do double duty as the arm closures. When you go to lay it out you will see how many (separating) zips you need and which way/s they have to run.
14/10/2015: Inflatable Space Blanket Quilt: I applaud this chap’s ingenuity. I have purchased two space blankets and some ‘Gel Grip’ contact adhesive (works well on mylar) and a baby food juice container for the valve and intend (time permitting) to construct an inflatable space blanket which should weigh about 120 grams and help one survive down to sub-zero temperatures providing you can construct some ground insulation (Neoair or pile of ferns, grass leaves, etc): http://www.instructables.com/id/Survive-without-style-the-ultimate-garbage-bag-she/
01/08/2016: If you could only carry two things in the bush, what would they be? Now I mean: if you suddenly found yourself there, having fallen out of a boat, after a plane crash which you miraculously survived - or if you were just magically transported there from your living room in just your shorts.
I think they should be things which you could just always have in your pockets if ever such an eventuality happened. So helicopters, motorbikes, flamethrowers, satellite phones and delectable members of the opposite sex are out – OK?
I’ll just leave you a minute to think about it…
There are lots of things which might come in handy, aren’t there?
Many of you will have read the (children’s) novel ‘Hatchet’ by Gary Paulson or seen the film based on it (‘A Cry in the Wild’ 1990). A hatchet might be handy – or a knife? What sort of knife? Folks of my generation no doubt recall ‘Hatchet’ was (loosely) based on Robert Heinlein’s novella ‘Tunnel in the Sky’ about a group of future scouts sent to a wilderness area on a far planet as a survival test – both excellent reads – as well as providing various suggested answers to my introductory question.
Heinlein would have voted ‘knife’ pretty high up any list. If only I had said ‘five things’. Or ten! This is how your pack gets filled up with all sorts of junk and ends up weighing half as much as you do!
now you are all recalling all the other ‘castaway’ books and films you have
known. It all started with Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ (a must-read if you haven’t yet)
or maybe with
You might say, ‘It all depends on the season’. Well, No. It does not. Your experience may be different in different seasons it is true. More folks die of cold in the wilds than from any other single thing. Exposure can strike in any season. We nearly lost some clients a few years ago who decided to come down to buy some sheep by coming over the ‘hump’ from Jamieson to Licola in midsummer. They found themselves bogged in a 60cm snowdrift! Blizzards can occur at any time in the High Country. Fortunately for them they were smokers. Be careful. You might not survive giving up the durries.
it comes in cold and wet you can suddenly be very cold. The coldest I have ever
been was when I was 16 coming back from a droving trip in Western NSW for Xmas
A bazooka might come in handy if you just suddenly find yourself on the planet of the carnivorous elephantine monsters – but it might be better to hide! You will run out of ammo eventually anyway. Should you carry a gun? But what if it rains? What if there’s a fire? A warm coat perhaps?
Remember though that people have lived on this continent for many thousands of years carrying much less than you could probably easily fit in your pockets. And they didn’t even have pockets! But carrying some essential knowledge between their ears which you might not have. Perhaps a book on survival? Well, read one anyway. Nothing you carry in your head will be cheating.
recommend Ray Mears’ ‘The Survival Handbook’. This guy has trained the SAS for
years and years. He has taken extreme trouble to really work out how to do it.
All. He has also made a number of TV programmes about related matters. Get hold
of them. So much better than Bear Gryls. In one episode he makes a long bow
(with stone tools which he first makes), a string for it, then the arrows,
arrow heads, glue and binding for the arrow heads, then the fletching. Then he
stalks and harvests a
So what would I take?
I would opt for a mini Bic lighter and a mylar poncho. The ability to light a fire (either to keep warm or to backburn to create a refuge during a wildfire) is really essential. Remember more people die of cold than anything else. Again the mylar poncho. Coghlans have one. (http://www.coghlans.com/products/emergency-survival-poncho-1390) So should you, ever in your daypack or pocket. It will keep you dry and warm. If you have to stay out all night you can hunker down in it like a mini tent (as illustrated here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/inflatable-insulated-clothing/) – with a warm fire out the front to make your disaster experience just about perfect! You will have plenty of time to figure out food, water, finding your way home & etc whilst you sit dry in front of a warm fire. Tomorrow is another day!
Oh, and my third thing would be a knife!
30/07/2016: Inflatable Insulated Clothing: I am surprised this idea has not taken off more given that it is (trapped) air which is the insulator in all warm clothing, the more air trapped per unit weight being the yardstick for cross comparison. A product known as Aerovest (http://www.survivalmetrics.com/store/Item/id_aerovest_emergency_survival_vest) was available a few years ago. This provided a waterproof inflatable mylar vest weighing around 2 oz (60 grams). It was a little difficult to inflate (and particularly deflate and the closure and re-use features were not all that they could be – however it could certainly save your life for a very modest weight in your pack/pocket.
This product Xerovest is the current iteration (http://www.xero-gear.com) on Kickstarter where you can pre-order yours from US$10 ea. (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ianbruce/the-xerogear-emergency-cold-weather-vest?token=c2c732ad) Again it weighs around 60 grams. It can be deflated with a straw and reused.
Klymit (https://gearjunkie.com/pump-it-up-jacket ) started making a more durable one which morphed into Nudown (https://www.nudown.com) a much more high-end inflatable products. These combine a rain shell with an insulated jacket in one lightweight garment.
Of course a garment does not need to be inflatable to provide a degree of protection from the elements. Some folks such as Blizzard have a ‘bubble wrap’ approach for example (http://www.blizzardsurvival.com/) . Then there are those which utilise simple mylar such as in the mylar poncho http://www.coghlans.com/products/emergency-survival-poncho-1390.
You can make your own as illustrated here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/more-fun-with-sticky-tape-ultralight-mylar-vest/ and here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fun-with-sticky-tape-mylar-poncho/
Emergency shelters such as the Blizzard bag: http://www.blizzardsurvival.com/product.php/100/blizzard-survival-bag are also a good idea. Some examples: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/survival-shelter/
Nudown Whitney vest
Blizzard Survival Vest
Coghlans Emergency Poncho
28/07/2016: Rain Skirt: If you are like me and find rain pants too hot and restrictive to walk in you may find a rain skirt or kilt will keep your lower body from the knees up much drier and more comfortable. You can buy one from various suppliers such as I did (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rain-kilt/) or you can make your own. Here’s a useful Instructable on how to make your own. http://www.instructables.com/id/Rain-Kilt-Skirt-for-Hiking/ See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/
02/05/2013: Now HERE is a GREAT idea: Lifesystems’ Thermal Jacket. I bought some at Bogong in Little Bourke St yesterday. Here is a fetching photo of me modeling one. It MAY never catch on as chic apparel but WILL no doubt have a place at fancy dress parties & etc. BUT what a great idea for a day hike or the footie: http://www.lifesystems.co.uk/products/outdoor-survival/thermal-jacket.html I think their ‘Survival Shelters’ are a great idea too. Many more people should be carrying them: also great for demonstrations and parties: http://www.lifesystems.co.uk/products/outdoor-survival/4-person-survival-shelter.html
25/06/2011: The Perfect gifts? Blizzard sleeping bag and jacket eg from: http://ps-med.com/products/detail.php?p=12 and Aerovest: http://www.amazon.com/Aerovest-Survival-Emergency-Insulator-Inflatable/dp/B000Z960LO
28/11/2016: Are You Beautiful in the Buff: Sleeping out in the mountains you often get a cold nose which is annoying. Obviously you can’t tuck your nose and mouth (unlike the rest of your face) in your sleeping bag otherwise it will become saturated from your breath and no longer keep you as warm. Until now I just put up with it. Recently though I discovered this wonderful product which when worn over your nose and mouth of a night warms the air (and your nose) so giving you a much more pleasant night. The Buff: It can also be worn in a bewildering array of other combinations. It weighs only 37.5 grams. Stow one in your pack. You will not regret it. It is made of 100% pure merino wool. As you can see, it improves my appearance no end! This is a good camo colour too! http://buffusa.com/ & https://www.buffwear.com/
19/10/2014: You would think Himalayan trekkers would all carry something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=al4UUSAd5yQ ‘Live and learn or you won’t live long’! http://www.lifesystems.co.uk/products/outdoor-survival/4-person-survival-shelter.html The new breathable ‘Escape Bivy’ (http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/survival/survive-outdoors-longer-escape-litetm-bivvy-1.html) @ 157 grams is surely a must in your day pack along with (eg) something like this to keep your dry and warm (http://www.adventuremedicalkits.com/survival/survive-outdoors-longer-survival-poncho.html) @ 65 grams. Surely a small price to pay (both in weight and dollars) to save your life.
24/08/2016: Klymit Ultralight Pillow. I have not tried this pillow. I have been using the Exped UL for some time and find it great. It is a lot pricier than Klymit’s offering though, which is available for <US$20 just now on Massdrop if you are on a budget. It weighs just 48 grams. Certainly looks comfy. The ‘X’ should cradle your nhead nicely. I have been using Klymit’s Air Beam Pad and their pack raft, or Light Water Dinghy. They are fine products. https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-klymit-pillow?mode=guest_open
11/06/2016: A Soft Pillow and a Warm Bed Under the Stars: Comfort. That’s what it’s really all about. A few extra ounces ought not to be sacrificed to inadequate rest. That’s why we always carry our Cyclone Chairs (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/) @ 180 grams so we can really enjoy the time at the end of the day. We use Thermarest Neoair Xlite Women’s (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-hiking-mat-425g/) sleeping mats @ 340 grams and Exped UL Pillows @ 45 grams (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/exped-ultralight-pillow/)
It is important to always have enough clothes/adequate sleeping bags so you are toasty warm all night (without sweating, which will ruin the insulative ability of your clothes, bag etc). We have found the Montbell range lightweight and excellent (http://www.montbell.us/) such as their ‘Thermawrap series of coats and vests in synthetic and their ultra light down range such as the ‘Superior’ and ‘Ex Light’ eg http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=2001&p_id=2301218&gen_cd=1 which can weigh as little as 156 grams. For sleeping I like their Ultralight Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 bag (@-1C & 595 grams) myself.
the temperature drops below freezing I put a coat on the top half of my body
and a vest on the lower half. This takes pone down at least another 5-10C
without carrying any extra weight. A warmer sleeping bag will also likely be
too warm for usual camping conditions in
Of course we have a dry tent (such as this http://www.theultralighthiker.com/honey-i-shrank-the-tent/) and a warm fire out front, and of course two dogs for when it is a ‘two-dog night’!
WARM CLOTHES: I had for many years carried an insulated coat lined with an artificial material because (even though heavier than down) such materials would maintain insulation even when wet. Mind you it is not being wet which makes you cold, it is your body’s ability to quickly evaporate the water which robs you of heat – and exposure to the wind. Wool, though heavy is a great material as it slows such evaporation and continues to insulate even when sodden – but today, there are lighter (though BEWARE more flammable) materials. NB: No matter how good your raincoat – EXPECT to get soaked sometimes: I can remember getting bowled over in an icy crossing of the Thomson River one July many years ago and getting everything utterly drowned in water @ maybe 2C and air at probably -<10C. I WAS cold for a while, but as I said before, artificial insulation maintains its insulative effect even when wet – and quickly dries out. It distracted me from getting to that crucial deer ‘bail-up’ for a few minutes while I dried my radio out – enough time for the deer (it WAS always a stag!) to make good its escape! A Snugpak ‘Airpak’ coat (@600 grams) was really good for this and would keep you warm down to the C negs. Their lightweight sleeping bags were also great – if you were likely to get them wet. For a number of years now I have carried two lighter artificial insulation garments: a vest AND a coat (@ < 400 grams between them; they were Coccoon brand, no longer available) because sometimes your really warm coat is just overkill while NO coat is too cold - & fortunately I have an ample sufficiency of adipose to keep me warm – the sylph-like Della IS a much colder person/sleeper etc, for contrast. Montbell’s ‘Thermawrap’ synthetic insulated garments are good for this. As I have become more confident in the qualities of my eVent raincoat and of ‘Sea to Summit’s ‘Ultra Sil’ liners to keep gear in my backpack dry (even when underwater, which it has been many times - eg swimming the mighty Seaforth River in Fiordland in late autumn) I am leaning more to down again (as NOTHING beats the best eg 1000 fill power down for insulative ability per unit weight. Montbell are at the van again here eg with their new ‘Plasma’ (http://www.montbell.us/products/disp.php?cat_id=70&p_id=2301460) ‘Ex Light’ and ‘Mirage’ jackets . Some companies eg Patagonia are now making 1000 fill power ‘water repellent’ down garments for weight to insulation ratio. Again a light vest plus a light jacket may serve better than one heavy jacket which can be TOO hot. (NB The fill power is the number of cubic inches an ounce of down will expand to - ergo the higher the number the greater is the amount of trapped air, so the greater insulative ability. NOTHING under 800 should be contemplated!)
‘Down and synthetics both have pros and cons. Down is:
In specific regard to the issue of moisture sensitivity, I want to point out that synthetic insulations are absolutely not “warm when wet” like is often claimed. Moreover, down is so much more thermally efficient that even moisture-degraded down will be as warm for its weight as dry synthetic insulation. Finally, I’ve never had my down insulation get truly wet. Damp from high humidity, yes, but never wet from, say, having worn it in the rain or fording a river — that’s what my rain jacket and pack liner are for.
With the introduction of water-resistant down a few years ago, synthetics lost much of their wet-weather advantage. So now it’s mostly a cost and ethical consideration.
With few exceptions my preference is down. It’s the superior insulation, especially as one who tends to backpack in dry environments and as someone who can justify their purchases with extensive use. And, equally important, down is a better long-term investment — my heavily-used down pieces are almost as warm now as they were when new, whereas my synthetic-fill pieces are limp, lifeless, and needing replacement after just a season of daily use.’ http://andrewskurka.com/2015/backpacking-clothing-stop-insulated-jacket-pants/
29/12/2013: A pair of hiking pants which you can wear for 365 days and even sleep in which weigh 75 grams and a raincoat that you can ALSO sleep in @ 123 grams. That's REAL weight saving: http://hikelighter.com/2012/01/26/montbell-dynamo-wind-pants/ & http://hikelighter.com/2013/11/07/zpacks-rain-jacket/
Update: I bought a pair of these trous as a dry change pair and for sleeping in – and they are fine. Montbell also make a matching top which is unfortunately not available in my size, but in Della’s weighs about 50 grams! 125 grams for a dry change is spectacular!
30/10/2014: In the States lots of people are contracting Lyme disease (http://sectionhiker.com/hiking-and-lyme-disease-revised-estimates-from-the-cdc-indicate-us-infection-rate-is-10-times-more-prevalent-than-previously-reported/) from infected ticks when hiking. The disease is not yet here, but we have plenty of ticks/leeches which can be unpleasant. Usually I just tuck the ends of my trousers into my socks, but a gaiter will also help prevent things from falling into the tops of your shoes. Trouble is, most gaiters are far too heavy and increase the energy needed for hiking enormously. There ARE a couple of ultra-light gaiters available however, which weigh less than two ounces per pair such as: http://sectionhiker.com/montbell-stretch-semi-long-spats-in-other-words-gaiters/ & http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=37&products_id=114
FIRE: Getting a fire going (in the rain and wet) is the most important thing you need to know - EVER. If you don’t know it, one day you will DIE from your ignorance. It will always be unexpected. Folks are always heading off for a day’s drive wearing shorts and tee shirts into the High Country (in summer) without a cigarette lighter or matches (one of the chiefest follies of non-smoking) AS IF blizzards can’t happen at 1000+ metres on ANY day of the year. They DO! Della & I ran into one on the South face of Mt Whitelaw in summer 2015. Sometimes they manage to keep their engines and heaters running long enough to survive…It IS also astonishing the numbers of people who manage to still die because they can’t figure out how to walk DOWNHILL; roughly speaking every drop of 100 metres equals a rise in temperature of 1C, so you can soon be out of sub-zero temperatures in Australia (which is what we did!). The brother of one of our putative Prime Minister’s managed to die in this way a few years back – leading me to question the genetic basis of his suitability for high office! Also, it is quite hard to die of cold if you keep moving. An old hunter’s trick (eg if you get ‘bluffed out’, or for some other reason have to spend the night out without a tent or fire), is to just keep walking all night, eg around a tree, keeping in contact with it with your fingers at arms length. It is a good idea to change rotation every now and then to avoid dizziness. The theory is this keeps you warm and alive and still knowing where you are, and avoids you falling off a cliff etc. An old friend of mine told me his sergeant kept his group alive in the Korean War by marching them around in a river one night when the air temperature was minus 30C – as they had no overcoats; we often manage to send our troops of to war like this! He also told me that he had never been able to run so fast (I believed him!) as when a couple of thirty calibre machine gun bullets stitched through his torso, an experience I hope I never have to repeat! Rather than face collapse from exhaustion though, it is better still to be able to find/make shelter and warmth. Being able to light a fire can also save you if there is a bushfire approaching. In such an event light a fire and move onto the burnt area as soon as you can – and GET DOWN, eg dig a hole and bury yourself: RADIANT heat KILLS! Worry about the legality later – if you survive! Similarly, if you are sheltering from a bushfire in a river, try to lie in the water with your head on the shore, with one of your (wet) garments over your face. Lack of oxygen in a fire front often means you will pass out, so you don’t want to escape burning only to drown! Wool is also the best protection from the danger of being burnt to death in a bushfire.
FIRE LIGHTING: The same old friend, Ray Quinney taught me how to light a fire in the wet – and many other things, eg the Spanish Windlass, Cobb & Co Hitch & etc, etc. Lighting a fire in the rain is VERY difficult. In the wet is bad enough. Clearly you first have to have a cigarette lighter (I always carry a mini BIC – or several!). Keep it dry if you can - as when the flint is wet it won’t throw a spark to ignite the gas until the flint dries out (it will – under your arm or keep trying under your raincoat, etc). If you are hiking keep it in a mini snap-lock with a couple of esbits or a piece of bicycle inner tube – anything which burns well and steadily, and will do so when wet! Rubber is good because it doesn’t break up and disappear, so it will always be in your kit – until used! Some old-timers used to thread a section of it on their belt – a good idea! Never mind about the bit of black smoke! Pollution OR Death! You should remove the childproof nanny state gadget with a pair of needle nose pliers etc as soon as you buy the lighters, it as it makes it just abut impossible to use. Then you have to have something dry to burn and somewhere out of the rain to burn it. If it’s cold and wet, don’t worry about how big a fire it is: it won’t get away. If there is a large fallen tree, or trees nearby set fire to the whole thing. You can’t have too much fire when it’s really cold. (Of course if you have what I call a ‘fire tent’ it is a different matter. More about that later). On a wet day as you move along you have to be constantly on the lookout for any dry kindling. The underbark of some trees such as Stringy Bark on the lee side or the underside of branches is good. Roll it between your hands and it fluffs up into really splendid tinder. Look for dry leaves, twigs etc blown into hollow logs or trees & dry hanging branches – particularly of eucalypts – timber becomes quickly sodden once it is lying on the wet forest floor, collect them eg in a waterproof bag as you travel along. A supermarket bag is good for this and weighs practically nothing. If it is raining heavily you may have to light your fire in a fallen hollow log (NEVER in a standing hollow tree – it WILL fall and kill you!) or under a log where the fire will not be put out by the rain when it is still small. You may even have to construct a shelter for your fire (a tarp is good but you need to allow distance between the material and the fire and it needs to be open enough so that smoke can get away. You may have to split twigs eg with your knife to get enough dry kindling. You have to start really small (out of the wind) and slowly work your way up. Avoid the temptation to add too much fuel at one time and smother the fire. You may get only this one chance, so take your time.
18/08/2016: Lighting a Fire on the Snow:
Obviously you can light a fire on the snow but it will quickly melt the snow, sink into it and go out. And this is just when you most need a fire, so what to do? Find somewhere clear of snow is the easiest choice: often there is little or no snow under trees. It is anyway easier to clear a space down to the ground there, being sure to shake down snow from overhead branches as well. As you pile up snow to the outside it may also be possible to create a tipi-like (windward) shelter with a dry floor out of branches laid against the trunk to enhance the warmth of the fire (but be sure not to suffocate yourself).
If the snow is very deep you will need some kind of platform for the fire to rest on. Lots of folks suggest stones - but they are likely a long way down in this circumstance, and you are likely cold and in a hurry. A raft of wet wood is the best idea, the thicker the better, then you proceed to light the fire in the normal way starting with tinder and the smallest driest pieces and working your way upwards. Have all your fire materials ready assembled before you strike the first spark: you definitely may only get one chance at this – and it may well be your last! Follow the instructions here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/ and here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Building-Campfires-the-Right-Way-without-Fire-Star/?ALLSTEPS See also: http://www.outdoorlife.com/blogs/survivalist/2013/03/survival-skills-how-build-fire-snow & http://www.offthegridnews.com/extreme-survival/the-simple-way-to-start-a-fire-in-the-snow/ & etc…
PS: 'Fire on the Snow' was the title of a great radio play by the (late) Australian poet Douglas Stewart about the ill-fated 1912 Scott expedition. You can listen to it here: http://trove.nla.gov.au/work/11851529
30/08/2015: Duct Tape Fire Starter:
Fire starters are easily lit and are created to sustain a flame while the tinder placed above it catches fire. In lieu of fire starters, selecting a good material for tinder can be an asset. Small strips of tire inner-tube work well. I have carried one for more years than I can recall. Surprisingly you can make use of duct tape for this purpose.
You can take a 2 inch square of tape and drape it over a piece of tinder and place more tinder over it. Then you can light an edge with a match or lighter. Once it catches on fire it burns with a sooty but strong flame. To provide a longer burn time you can create a free-standing candle with it.
You can carry a length eg spooled on your water bottle. If it doesn’t get used for fire starting it may have some other use for repairs. I I imagine other tape (Tyvek, Cuben, etc) burns quite well too.
31/07/2015: A further use for drinking straws: emergency fire starter storage: http://www.instructables.com/id/Fire-Tube-Drinking-Straw-Hack/
17/04/2013: WOODCHOPPING: A tip I learned from my late friend, Col Francis: don’t cut the block as you would a tomato or an orange; peel it like an onion: ie work your way in from the outside...
18/09/2015: Improvised Bow Saw: You can make an improvised bow saw from a bent branch and a couple of large key rings (or similar) I noticed Erin & Hig used small carabiners in Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild Episode 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOUcDt96IrU Since a bow saw blade itself only weighs 50-100 grams, this could be a useful addition to a wilderness camp. Many areas in the Victorian bush are a bit light on short pieces of firewood since the bushfires cleared much of this debris. By the same token those same fires have killed and brought down so many trees, there is an ample supply of longer pieces of firewood. This cooked hardwood burns more like pine though, so be warned you need at least twice as much of it as unburned wood. For other info see: http://willowhavenoutdoor.com/featured-wilderness-survival-blog-entries/fat-guys-in-the-woods-blog-skill-series-make-an-improvised-bow-saw/ & http://rockymountainbushcraft.blogspot.com.au/2012/05/how-to-make-primitive-bow-saw-in.html
01/08/2014: Critters so often seem to be smarter than WE are. There was a simply terrible wind blowing yesterday (from the NW). Going round the lambs in the morning on our steep NW facing slope in many paces you were like to take off. Other spots which LOOK identical were completely still and @10C warmer – which is where the sheep chose to lamb. I have noticed this before on the dreadfully exposed flats we had at Yinnar and Kyabram where a shockingly cold, wet westerly wind swept all before it. The sheep/goats would nonetheless find that invisible spot amid the maelstrom which was dead calm to bed down. Of course they live outdoors in all weathers so it’s no surprise really they KNOW the best spots. Deer, of ourse do just the same. Pay attention to this fact and you will have more success hunting for their bedding spots! When you are out in the wild looking for a good place to camp, take off your coat so you can FEEL the wind and warm, and seek out just that calmer, warmer, drier spot where your tent won’t blow away in the hurricane. DON”T camp in a streambed or on top of a hill!
‘FIRE TENT’: We always camp in an open shelter (something
like this) with an open fire out the front. SO warm and cozy even on cold,wet
days. This shelter is very easy to make. It consists of a
Steve Hutcheson and myself Wonnangatta-Moroka Winter 2012
LAYING A FIRE: Notice in the photo above there is no silly RING of stones. There should NEVER be. Don’t go around making stupid obstacles for others to trip over and which only interfere with properly laying out a fire. It MIGHT sometimes be useful to make a fire up against a WALL of stones so that more of the heat is reflected back towards you. A back log works just as well, and doesn’t explode, or create an obstacle for others later on. One of the chiefest problems with bringing stones and fire together is that some stones really DO explode, and will send red-hot shrapnel into your eyes to permanently blind you –if you are silly enough to light a fire in a ring of stones. In this photograph, the backlog has nearly burned through. You will see that the fire has been laid out lengthways in front of us. This is what produces the most heat. Just lay each new piece of wood parallel to all the others and after a while you will have a nice long bed of coals which will make you toasty warm, particularly if you have something at your back like this Tyvek shelter (as here) to protect it from the cold wind (which seems always to be drawn to the fire)!
08/12/2014: FIRELIGHTING TIP: You know how when you are trying to light a fire (or Brasslite Stove – as pictured) with a cigarette lighter how you burn your fingers? A strip of bicycle inner tube will hold a Mini Bic (such as I carry – in a snap lock bag to keep it dry) in the On position and prevent this, and can be used as an excellent firelighter itself when kindling is very wet:
Shown: the excellent Brasslite (simmer alcohol) Stove approx 45 grams: http://brasslite.com/products/
KNIVES: I have decided on the desirability of carrying a fixed blade knife mainly for those rare occasions when it is necessary to split branches to produce dry kindling and shave them to produce ‘excelsior’ (wood shavings) which are THE BEST fire starter. Lighting a fire when it is VERY wet and cold is the most important time – and can save your life. You can’t really do this with a folder or any other of the ultra-light hiking options (eg Micro Leatherman – 50 grams, or Swiss card – 25 grams (though both are excellent multi tools for a variety of purposes; (eg the Leatherman has the best toe-nail cutting scissors in the WORLD!) You have to be able to split dry branches you can break into eg six inch pieces over your knee. (The lightest hatchet/machete is too heavy for emergency-only carrying at 4-500 grams – this is the best one: http://au.fiskars.com/Gardening-Yard-Care/Products/Wood-Branches/Forestry/126000-Brush-Hook as it will cut blackberries EASILY). You have to be able to hold the handle and tap on the end of the blade with another piece of wood, so the blade needs to be at least 3” long, and clearly this procedure would put a lot of stress on a folder. These two sites have some very light fixed blade knives (http://www.gofastandlight.com/Knives-Saws/products/20/ & http://kestrelknives.com/products/) Kestrel’s ‘Ultralighter’ would be hard to beat @ 11.6 grams though a 2 ¼” blade is quite minimalist, but should do the job in an emergency and would still butcher game or fillet a fish quite satisfactorily. It IS a bit pricey at $100 though, so I might opt to carry a little more weight and try out eg the Ka-Bar Adventure Piggyback Knife just over an ounce & $8.88 or the Ka-Bar ZK Acheron Skeleton Knife (with a 3 ½” blade also @30 grams) & $9.39 or the Mora Scout @ 85 grams including sheath - which is a bit heavy -$16.89. (Update: I bought both these Ka-Bar knives and they are excellent! Della is carrying one, and I, the other)
16/11/2014: Gerber Knives: For lightness (and cheapness) I recommend: http://au.gerbergear.com/Essentials/Knives/LST-Knife_46009 @ 34 grams, blade = 6.7cm (2¼”) & http://au.gerbergear.com/Essentials/Knives/Ultralight-LST-Knife_460502 @ 17 grams, blade = 5cm (1.9”) and their Pocket Sharpener http://www.knifecenter.com/item/GB4307/Gerber-Ceramic-Pocket-Sharpener @ 14 grams. Both knives PLUS the sharpener shouldn’t set you back more than @ $25!
14/11/2014: The Leatherman Micra is the greatest mini-tool I have encountered so far (@51 grams). I always have one in my pocket AND in my hiking pack. NOTHING I have discovered is as good for cutting one’s toe-nails – a vital safety precaution on multi-day hikes when toe-nail problems can lead to disaster! http://www.leatherman.com/20.html If you want to skip a few features (& a few grams) you might go for their skeletonised version: http://www.leatherman.com/24.html#start=21
14/05/2016: The Perfect Keychain Knife: Spyderco Honey Bee: This may be the perfect keychain knife. It is just a bit shorter than a Yale ‘C’ door key, so it fits in your fob pocket on your key ring perfectly. Yet it is an ever handy useful tool with its razor sharp blade, just right to open a bag or parcel, peel a fruit, dress a fish or rabbit, whittle a spoon, carve your name for posterity on a tree in the far wilderness, or whatever your imagination can lend it:
3.625 " (92 mm)
1.625 " (41 mm)
2.063 " (52 mm)
1.375 " (35 mm)
.56 oz. (16 g)
.078 " (1.9 mm)
‘Spyderco’s micro-sized slipjoints are fully functional, impressively sharp folding knives that are very much at home on a keychain. Their stainless steel handles are the perfect palette for engraving or other embellishment and their Trademark Round Holes are much more user friendly than traditional nail nicks.’ https://www.spyderco.com/catalog/details.php?product=440
08/08/2014: SO many wonderful products are made from carbon fibre. I wonder whether airport scanners pick up THESE knives. On our recent trip to Cairns I had forgotten to remove my Schrade keychain knife yet the scanners didn’t pick it up despite its murderous 2” blade http://www.allaboutpocketknives.com/knife_store/item46-35468.html – no longer available. On recollection it seems I also had my Cardsharp (http://www.iainsinclair.com/en/cardsharp4-natural.html) in my wallet. Those security people are getting really sloppy. Mind you they DID check me for explosives! http://store.carbonfibergear.com/new-products?p=1
29/05/2014: THIS is simply the world’s greatest machete. If you don’t already own one, you MUST. It will make easy work even of removing blackberries: http://www.amazon.com/Fiskars-7860-Brush-Axe/dp/B000F99IEU/ref=pd_sim_hi_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=0FZ0KWXB63ZCG1ZHF906 I have the Gerber version (http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-31-000083-Gator-Brush-Trimmer/dp/B0025VKMI2) which is probably much the same (except IT comes in a handy cordura pouch). I sharpen mine withGerber’s 16 gram knife sharpener.
13/06/2016: Ultralight Knife Sharpener: OK, so you have your ultralight knife (eg the Kabar Johnson Adventure Piggyback I have recommended so often (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/) which you have used so many times for cutting up your lunch on the trail (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/) or splitting twigs to make a fire in the wet (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/) , and it is blunt, so you need something even more ultralight to sharpen it. I have chosen some options below which are all under 20 grams so they won’t break your back carrying them against this eventuality:
Eze-Lap Model S: 2-1/4″ Diamond D shaped shaft with groove for fishhooks. Opens to 5-7/16″. Stores in pen type cap. 19.5 grams. Sharpener without cap: 8 grams. I have carried and used mine like this for years (just the black bit in the photo below) http://eze-lap.com/hunting_fishing_outdoor_use/pocket-sharpeners/
Also available, their Model SD 2-1/2″ Diamond D Shaped Shaft with a groove for fishhooks with Hook Disgorger on the end. Handy.
The DMT Diamond Mini-Sharp® Sharpener 17 grams: https://www.dmtsharp.com/sharpeners/pocket-models/mini-sharp/
The Lansky Mini Dog Bone Crock Stick Ceramic Knife Sharpener 19.4 grams
I particularly like this one as you don’t need to have any particular skill at knife sharpening. The Gerber Ceramic Pocket Sharpener 17 grams. I even use mine for touching up my machete, though it you want a really good edge (eg for skinning a sambar) you will need to finish off a bit.
Even lighter, a small piece of 2000grit or 2500grit sand (metal) paper wrapped around a stick works - or you could learn to use such things as a well worn stone from the stream (0 grams)! The old mountain men after all kept their knives sharp this way!
15/01/2016: Canoe clearing: When
clearing trails or small rivers such as the Tanjil and Latrobe, Fiskars Xtract
Pruning Saw & Fiskars Brush Thinner Machete are excellent tools. Both are
lightweight and their cutting edge is protected so that it does not damage you
or the canoe. If more people took them along when exploring eg the Tanjil,
26/01/2014: NEVER have to sharpen your knife again: GREAT for hunting; these made useful gifts for myself and the two ‘boys’ @ US$34.95 on Amazon (105 grams): http://www.outdooredge.com/Razor-Blaze-p/razor-blaze.htm These little guys, the Gerber ‘E.A.B. Lite’ utilising a standard ‘Stanley’ knife blade (@67 grams) are very handy for everyday use: http://www.amazon.com/Gerber-31-000345-E-A-B-Pocket-Knife/dp/B002RILCLY
26/12/2013: Johnson Adventure Piggyback: Received one of these knives for Xmas. It is just brilliant: overall weight 36.5g, knife only 27.5g (US$12.27). Blade is definitely thick enough and strong enough to split kindling though its big brother, the ‘Zombie Acheron’ has a slightly longer blade. It would definitely butcher a sambar deer or any other use you could put it to. Its sheath has a lanyard hole so you can hang it around your neck and quickly access it with one hand. Would make interesting feminine jewellery/self-protection: http://www.kabar.com/knives/detail/198
11/06/2015: SMITHSONIAN MULTI-TOOL circa 1880: Even contains a PISTOL! Might be a little hard to lug around though. If you hanker to be a an ultralight hiker, you might decide to trim this down a little but, but the pistol could be handy for scaring bears – and other varmints on the trail, or to harvest some critter for the pot: http://gearjunkie.com/the-mother-of-multitools
around 1880 in
22/07/2015: Roman Swiss Army Knife: Category: tool/implement. Name: compound
utensil. Date: 201 — 300 AD.
Period: Middle Roman. Description: eating implement, folding, with
three-pronged fork, spatula, pick, spike and knife. Production Place (legacy):
Roman Swiss Army Knife
15/07/2015: Can Knives get any lighter than this 3 Gram Knife: http://www.traildesigns.com/accessories/ultralight-knife It makes the ‘Dermasafe’ I posted about here (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dermasafe-ultralight-knives-and-saws/) positively cumbersome, as is the Gerber zip-Blade mini knife: http://www.countycomm.com/gdczipblade.html by comparison.
Trail Designs 3 Gram Mini Knife
Gerber Zip Blade.
Dermasafe 8 Gram Razor Knife
16/03/2016: Leatherman ‘Squirt’: I have long carried the Leatherman ‘Micra’ (still do). http://www.theultralighthiker.com/leatherman-micra-multitool/ This is the very best tool for cutting toenails on the trail. Also handy for a million and one other things: cutting up fish, splinters, opening bottles (you can use the bottle opener backwards as a can opener, repairing your glasses, etc. The ‘Squirt’ with its handy pair of pliers might come in handy for other repaiirs, or as a fishing tool etc if you do not need such a serious pair of scissors for your nails. Both tools are around 50 grams.
1.Springaction Needlenose Pliers 2. Spring-action Regular Pliers 3.Spring-action Wire Cutters 4. 420HC Knife 5. Spring-action Scissors 6. Flat/Phillips Screwdriver 7. Bottle Opener 8. Wood/Metal File 9. Medium Screwdriver
22/03/2016: Qu Quest for the Ultimate Ultralight Knife Never Ends: This offering (The Ti Minimalist’ with 2 5/8” – 67 mm blade) from Kestrel Knives gazumps my chosen Kabar Johnson River Piggyback (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-knife/) It weighs 14 grams including the sheath, compared to the Piggyback’s 36.5 grams. Of course it is also 10 times the price, so I probably won’t be making the switch soon. Still, there are always birthdays, etc: http://www.kestrelknives.com/shop/9tfpid32dziv4gubj2uve2nhwv4dsp This probably is about the lightest you can get which will still split small timber for fire lighting (a must in the backcountry!) See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/never-have-to-sharpen-your-knife-again/
Of course there are others in the same ball park, eg: Ultralight Titanium Knife Total Length: 7 3/4", Blade Length: 3 1/2",Weight of Knife: 1/2 oz, Weight of Sheath: 1/4 oz. https://www.etsy.com/listing/227733086/7-34-ultralight-titanium-knife?ref=related-1
Review: http://www.trailspace.com/gear/buck/hartsook-ultralite/#review31084 ‘On my scale, the knife alone is 12g, the lanyard is 5g, and the sheath is 10g for a total of 27g / .95 oz.’ http://www.buckknives.com/product/buck-hartsook-ultralite/0860BKS-B/
Izula Knives 2 2 oz: http://www.eseeknives.com/izula.htm
TENTS: Further to my post about being able to light a fire in the rain, I have also long toyed with the idea of carrying/constructing a fire rain hat or raincoat so that heavy rain doesn’t put out your fire. The two occasions when it is really important to be able to light a fire are when it is very wet and cold and when there is a bushfire approaching (so that you can create burned ground as a refuge!) On such occasions if you don’t have a lighter, or can’t light a fire you’re a dead duck. Smokers clearly have an advantage here over more sanctimonious folk, and even though I gave up smoking more than a generation ago (! – THERE is an interesting method of measuring TIME) I still always carry a ‘Mini-Bic’). We ALWAYS camp in a shelter which allows a fire outside. A tent is a cold, creeping thing to have to retreat to when you can sit/stand in a warm open shelter, drink rum, play games, read etc in front of a cheery fire – and with a warm back! If you pitch any rectangular tarp high you can have a (small) fire at one end (though the wind tends to catch the tarp if it isn’t pegged to the ground on at least 2/3 sides). I think it should be possible to suspend over the fire (eg a 1 metre square) diamond of eg ‘Tyvek’ @ 1.75 ounces /square yard and a melting point of 800C. You need to be careful that the fire can’t ignite its ‘roof’ or use it as a wick to ignite your tent, but this shouldn’t be much of a problem in the rain. Set-up obviously needs to be when furled (a couple of rubber bands should achieve this) so you can pitch it over the fire when it is already lit. Weight should be able to be kept to less than 3 ounces (90 grams) including stakes and guys. Tyvek, with its 800C melting point should make a good material for this ‘rain hat’.
10/11/2014: Two reasons some people don’t like camping: it is wet AND cold, and uncomfortable. This does not have to BE. A properly positioned tarp and a fire will take care of the former: the usual 1m tall hiking tent which you are forced to retreat to in the event of rain will make your trip unpleasant (wet & cold). For many years I have employed a square tarp (2.4 x 2.4 metres is sufficient) pitched diagonally against (eg) a tree with a fire out in front. I have added ‘wings’ to such a tarp to improve the shelter. You will have seen this in some of my previous posts. Scroll back through (http://www.finnsheep.com/Ultralight%20Hiking.htm) to see what I mean. As to the second: you need an inflatable INSULATED pad (a good ultralight pillow will also help) at least 2 ½” thick. I have found the Thermarest womens-neoair-xlite (http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/womens-neoair-xlite/product) to be superb (R=3.9, 340 grams) but it IS expensive. If you are a bit shorter of cash (AND Stronger) Big Agnes’ pads @ R= 4.1 (eg the petite @ 499 grams) http://www.moontrail.com/bigagnes-insulatedaircorepads-78-mummy.php are quite wonderful! I would couple either with an Exped UL pillow (@ 45 grams) eg http://www.moontrail.com/exped-airpillow-ul-m.php ) and a good quality down bag for a delightful night’s sleep in the outdoors.
Our new TENT, (Thank you Della for the Father’s Day present!) z-pack’s hexamid
solo plus tarp (http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/hexamid_plus.shtml
= 176 grams) mated with their double poncho/groundsheet (http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/groundsheet_poncho.shtml
= 173 grams), Total 349 grams plus guys and pegs and carbon fibre pole (57 grams) if not using a hiking pole,
still totals less than 500 grams and includes a (spare) raincoat! Pretty light
for a two-person tent! There are few other tents which weigh less than 500
grams for one, or under 750 grams for two people. Sea to
08/02/2017: Hammock Pad Extender: Ed Speer hit on this lightweight way to ensure that you stay warm in your hammock many years ago. You could make this yourself in a lightweight nylon (eg .7 oz/yd2, such as this: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/argon-67) I don’t need the insulation for my knees as I always sleep on my bnack in a hammock, so mine would weigh half of the one shown in the photo ie less than a square yard of fabric plus two pieces of evazote 1 ½’ x 6”, so less tha 2 ounces anyway.
07/02/2017: DIY Netless
hammock: Over the years we have made lots of
hammocks, but we would have made a better job of we had followed some expert
instructions. The following instructions and photos were kindly provided by
Simon McGuire at Tier Gear,
Tier Gear: http://www.tiergear.com.au/
Above: the Goshawk hammock. This is what your completed hammock should look like (minus the insect netting).
‘Part 1 - Sewing the hammock body
a. Sharp scissors or rotary cutter
b. Fabric marking pencil or similar
c. Measuring tape or ruler
d. Long straight edge
e. Sewing machine
Part 2: Gathering the hammock, and attaching the suspension
Once your hammock is sewn the next step is gathering the ends. There are numerous ways to do this, including methods which don't require the sewing of end channels in your fabric but I will leave those methods to people who have experience with them. These methods require the sewing of an end channel as detailed in part 1 of making a net-less camping hammock.
Essentially when gathering the ends of your hammock, you are simply inserting something through the channel and tightening it in order to essentially a ball of fabric.
The first method involves running your suspension directly through the channel e.g. your whoopie sling or continuous loop, and cinching tight. This produces a clean looking finish, and is the method probably most commonly used by camping hammock manufacturers. This method places stress on the end channel stitching so you want to ensure you lay down some solid stitches, and have at least 3 parallel rows using quality sewing thread. It is not recommended for lightweight fabrics, where failures have been known to occur. It also produces a consistent gather of the hammock without much fuss.
If attaching a whoopie sling insert the fixed loop through the end channel
Run the adjustable loop of the whoopie through the fixed loop
Cinch tight and you are done. (Note: in the photo below there is only 2 rows of stitches, 3 are recommended for this method)
This method involves running a cord, or some people use a cable (zip) tie, to gather the ends. Your suspension, e.g. whoopie sling or fixed loop, is then girth hitched over the hammock fabric below the gather you have just created. The gather prevents the suspension from slipping off the end of the hammock. This method does not place any stress on your end channel stitching, and is fine to use on lightweight fabrics as well as heavier fabrics. There is some minor fiddling required when attaching your suspension to ensure a consistent gather of the fabric. If you like being able to change out your suspension quickly or play with different setups this is the method for you.
Insert cord through end channel. In this instance I am using 2mm VB cord.
Next you can tie a knot as per Knotty's method on Hammock Forums, insert a cable (zip) tie, or use a small cord lock as I have done below.
The cord lock method leaves a length of cord, depending on how long you cut it, I use around 600-650mm, which you can attach a mitten hook to the end and this gives you an attachement point for a peak bag, pillow of whatever you want at the ends of the hammock.
Next you need to attach your suspension by girth hitching to the fabric below the gather. If using a whoopie sling you simply run the adjustable loop of the whoopie sling through the fixed loop of the whoopie, and cinch tight. You may need to move the fabric around a little to ensure the fabric is gathered consistently.
You can run the suspension over the top of the gather as per below,
or run your suspension through the middle of the gather as per the photo below
Rather than attach the whoopie sling directly to the hammock, another option is use a continuous loop which allows you to disconnect your whoopie sling from the hammock, or allows you to easily change between whoopie slings or webbing based suspensions. Another advantage is if the distance between your two anchor points is too close then the loops can be attached directly to your tree straps through the use of a marlin spike hitch.
Whoopie hook spliced onto whoopie sling adjustable bury and attached to continuous loop.
There are many options when making hammocks, and those options listed above are but a few.
02/02/2017: Poly Tent by The Ultralight Hiker on the Cheap: As part of a series on economy backpacking, I bring you my new poly tent made from a ‘standard 8’ x 10’ poly tarp bought from the local Churchill $2 shop. This one cost me A$7.99 and took only minutes to make. Mark out the tie-out positions as shown. Use Tarp clips or polystyrene balls as tie outs - so actual tie out position will be about 2” inside the fabric edge. Tie Apex to an extended hiking pole (4’ height) as shown. Peg out Rear point, then two End points approx 6” forward. Then loosely toe out two Front points (as shown) then two Side points. Cut slit. Attach tie downs to Flaps for closure. Place ground sheet (and dog) inside. Enjoy.
As you can see, Spot is now an uncle.
Interior: inside 6’ x 4’ poly tarp ground sheet.
Made in minutes from one of these.
16/11/2014: Baggage: Most folks (seem to) like nothing better than lugging vast chunks of stuff around. They require huge boxes (buildings) to cram it into, and huge wheeled thingummies to cart it all around in, all of which usually means they WASTE vast chunks of time acquiring, paying for and maintaining it all (worrying about whether someone will steal it & etc) and very little time actually going places, doing things or even just ‘smelling the roses,’ all of which is just kind of SAD. All of this largesse is supposed to be better than a gunyah! Maybe not. The two LIGHTEST shelters I have encountered are Six Moon Designs ‘Gatewood Cape http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/tarps/GatewoodCape.html [named after Emma Gatewood the first (67 year old) woman to through-hike the entire Appalacian trail] (313 grams) which DOUBLES as a raincoat & Zpacks ‘Solo Plus Tarp’ 210 grams = http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/hexamid_plus.shtml) . Both require a floor (which adds @ 100 grams) which in Zpack’s case could be http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/groundsheet_poncho.shtml (@ 144-177 grams) which also doubles as a raincoat. Either of these does away with that EXCESS BAGGAGE and makes a most satisfactory ‘gunyah’, all you really need to sit out a wet day/night in and watch the passing parade (of wildlife/wild flowers etc) from…
02/04/2015: New Zpacks ultralight TENT with sewn in bathtub floor and insect screen: What a beauty, for 1.5 hikers at 536 grams including stakes: http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/altaplex.shtml
Make Your Own Tarp or Hammock: Tier Gear DIY
Guides: Aussie Outfitter Tier Gear has an absolutely wonderful page
of instructables here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/28/diy-guides
which show in profound detail how to eg make your own superb hammock &/or
hammock tarp - amongst other things. You can also buy all the materials from
them. They deliver incredibly fast Australia-wide from their home in
If you don’t feel up to making your own gear (yet) you can order the same item from them already craftsman manufactured right here in Oz! And at a good price. For example, the Torrent 3.3 tarp shown in the photo is currently A$160. It is obviously a wonderful tarp which you could use instead of a tent (with a groundsheet) or as a hammock tarp. Its specs are as follows:
Ridgeline length: 335cm
Distance between bottom corners: 165cm
Panel pulls: None
Weight (in the stuff sack without cords or pegs):
Xenon Sil 1.1 (1500mmHH): 334grams (basic)
You might go on to make the same item later in .5 oz/yd2 perhaps in olive drab or camo. Available eg here: http://www.zpacks.com/materials/waterproof-fabric.shtml ) at about half the weight. Also check out their great range of interesting gear, eg suspension systems & etc For example: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/hammock-suspension-and-hardware
01/01.2017: Hammock Camping - Double Bunking:
This is an 8’ x 8’ (2.4 x 2.4 metres) cuben tarp to which we sewed two 4’6” x 8’ (1.35 x 2.4 metres) ‘wings’ so we could close it off as a tarp shelter like this:
It weighs 200 grams. Joe Valesko at zpacks made it for me. You can see what it looked like before we sewed the ‘wings on it here; http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/tarps.shtml. I/we have slept in it many nights. Here I was using a space blanket as a ground sheet. This works well. At this point I had not made my bed. It can also be erected as a hammock tarp like this:
Of course it can be tied/pegged out much tauter than this. I am not expecting to be camping on the verandah (though that is where many ideas are first tried out – as I’m sure you have already noticed!)
As you can see it will provide you with plenty of shelter from rain, and you can peg the downwind side up high enough that you can have a fire slightly to one side and enjoy the fire whilst relaxing on the hammock out of the wind and rain.
Della is reclining on a Nano 7 hammock here (https://www.grandtrunk.com/products/nano-7-hammock) which (with the caribiners removed and with dyneema ropes attached) weighs 187.5 grams. I would just throw one of our Thermarest Neoair Womens mats (340 grams) in it and a Montbell Ultralight Super Spiral #3 down sleeping bag (600 grams) for a perfect night’s sleep (Total: 1327.5 grams). Perhaps you would like to compare that weight to your current tent, sleeping bag and mattress combo! My arrangement is also much more comfortable, safer and drier.
We already know we can sleep in two Nano 7s pitched one above the other. You have to pitch the tarp slightly higher (4’6” instead of 4’). You have to boost the top person in, and then the bottom person (me) is closer to the ground than I would like (so far as getting in/out easily is concerned), but it works!
Now to check out whether we can both sleep head to toe in a double hammock. Side by side definitely doesn’t work! Here’s Della:
And here’s me at the other end:
As you can see, Spot figures there is plenty of room for him too – and he’s comfy! This is a Trek Light Gear Double Hammock (https://www.treklightgear.com/double-hammock.html). We were playing around with mattresses here. Della is lying on a ¾ length Neoair. I am on a Neoair Womens. We are using the new Klymit Ultralight pillows (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/ ) and the Airbeams (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/air-beam-pad/ ) from our packs (both of which we would be carrying anyway) for side insulation on the side where our sleeping bags will be compressed. It is comfy enough.
Hummingbird Hammocks (https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/shop/single/) have a double hammock which weighs 10.2 ounces (289 grams), and a single+ one which weighs 7. 6 ounces (210 grams) which could also be used for two. I should also mention their ultralight single here which weighs 5.2 ounces (146 grams) – even lower than the Nano 7! I need to try their products out!
I think a single wider (possibly longer) mattress would work better. The Klymit Ultralight I ordered from Massdrop is on its way. It is 23” wide. I am also eying some Exped mats which look really good.
So, what is our strategy here. What are we about doing? There are places we go where we may not need a shelter at all (because there are huts a day apart (Fiordland for example). However, you would be a damned fool to have no shelter as you can be very dead (as I have seen) if you don’t make it to a hut in torrential rain, for example. You must have a roof (see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-importance-of-a-roof/) There, and other places it might be good to have the option to sleep on the ground, or if the ground is too wet/rough etc, to sleep in the trees.
We are looking at what is the minimum we can jointly take so we can do this. We are pretty close here to the solution. We will be looking into some wider pads which might better suit two people in a double hammock such as Big Agnes Q-core slx, and Exped Synmat UL7 MW & etc.
If you have a (wife or) youngster at home you want to start on camping/hiking/hunting, a double hammock plus tarp shelter such as I have explained here will mean s/he has to carry very little and will be safe in the tree with you - away from nasties such as spiders and snakes!
PS: I don’t know whether you noticed the eye bolts in the verandah posts to which I have attached two lengths of chain and some caribiners so I can quickly swing a hammock on the verandah if one of us wants to have a lazy day (Della actually went to sleep in the Nano 7 whilst I was off cleaning out a sheep trough!) I recommend this arrangement for your consideration.
PPS: If you are considering just a single hammock configuration you might want to know how light you can go with a tarp. This guy has been making cat curve tarps for ages: http://www.outdoorequipmentsupplier.com/maccat_tarps.php His Mac Cat Standard is obviously all you would need. In 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon it weighs 270 grams (and costs US$105) which means it would weigh above 104 grams in cuben (let’s say less than 120). For comparison Joe Valesko makes an asym one which weighs 136 grams. Add a hammock at 146 = 266, plus 30 grams dyneema suspension , some pegs and some guylines for the tarp. You are still looking at a hammock/tent at less than 350 grams!
My first homemade hammock and hammock tarp were both fashioned from some green 2.2oz/yd2 nylon ripstop from Spotlight (you can see what it looked like in the 'poncho shelter' link below). We simply cut the required length for the hammock (leaving the full width of the fabric 5' - 150 cm), folded it over and double hemmed it at the ends (to take the rope). The selvage was enough for the sides. For the tarp we used a 7' x 7' (210 x 210 cm) square flat felled at the join and hemmed all round, to which we sewed grossgrain tie-outs at the corners and halfway along the sides. This arrangement worked fine for years and in all kinds of weathers hunting sambar deer in the Victorian mountains. Indeed I have been bone dry under this minimalist tarp when a couple of fellow hunters were soaked to the skin inside a tent pitched under a tarp not ten yards away! I am talking a tarp of 49 square feet here - and some of that area is almos6t certainly superfluous! In cuben 49 ft2 would weigh 2.7 ox or78 grams! Now you see what my 300 gram 'limit' is about!
14/05/2015: ZPack Hexamid Solo-Plus Tent: NEW Model: I see Joe and Sheryl have added a cross-over ‘vestibule’ to their new model of ‘our’ tent. I had been thinking of extending the beak on ours down a bit as a storm flap, and to add a bit of vestibule room. This crossover design is clever, and eliminates the need for a zipper. I will probably make mine a little longer, as there are two of us (and two dogs!) I will have to order some more cuben fibre…
19/04/2016: 500 Gram Tents: On Massdrop this morning Big Sky’s Wisp one person tent @ 567 grams (300 grams in Cuben!) for US $159.99 & US$11.75 postage: http://bigskyproducts.com/big-sky-wisp-1p-trekking-pole-super-bivy-tent.aspx This has got to be good value, and must start to make you question why you might still be lugging around that perhaps 2 kg tent. There is even room in the vestibule for your pack and Jack Russell!
07/05/2016: New Decagon Octagon Tyvek Igloo Tent Design: I am really pleased with this new tent as I have solved the problem of how to construct a pyramid tent without zips and which has a verandah to completely exclude the rain. It is a huge tent. As you can see, you can warm it with a fire out the front; there is plenty of room for two (plus dogs) and all their gear – and then some! There is ample standing room. It has a bathtub floor. You can lock it down to an invulnerable octagon in storm mode. It has a clothesline, three hangers, glasses etc pockets both sides. It needs ten stakes (@ 8-11 grams each = 110 grams) to erect and two poles (which can be cut up the bush – or use two-three hiking poles or you can buy Easton/Carbon ones here: http://www.questoutfitters.com/tent_poles.htm).
In Tyvek it weighs 1,030 grams (including floor and tie-outs) and would
weigh about 420 grams (under 550 inc. stakes) in Cuben Fibre (.67oz/yd2 camo
for the roof & 1 oz/yd2 for the floor). It would weigh about 750 grams
(without stakes) in 1.3oz/yd2 Silnylon. I overdid it on the bathtub floor (6”
sides) width and height and length of beak. Could easily shave a couple of
hundred grams off this weight on my next model. Two
Inside View: plenty of room for two 6' (1.8 m) Neoair mats and lots of gear.
Plenty of standing room.
26/02/2017: Inflatable Bathtub Groundsheet: The lack of a bathtub floor is one of the chiefest comparative drawbacks of tarp camping vs tenting. I have been toying with this idea for some time. I used to usually collect some suitably lengthed dead branches and drape the edges of the tarp over them on the appropriate uphill side if rain threatened to inundate the ground.
I played with various means of suspending the edges of the tarp with mitten hooks attached to the tarp. This works but is awkward and slow with my arthritic fingers, then I thought, what if I made an inflatable tube which circumnavigates the tarp? I thought this was a genius idea till I Googled it and found someone else had already been there before me. https://www.esvocampingshop.com/en/air-barrier-tent-ground-sheet-inflatable/ Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I did come up with the idea independently though. Theirs is quite heavy and only really suited to car camping not hiking.
Before I ever looked to see if there was such a thing I was thinking mylar or silnylon (both possibilities still – further experimentation needed), then I hit on the DIY packraft site I posted about here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-diy-pack-raft/ and realised they could supply the materials for the tube and valve and that I could simply sew this to the edge of my 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon tarp then seam seal the join.
Unfortunately the lightest heat sealable material (eg from http://www.seattlefabrics.com/nylons.html) is (I believe) 3 oz/yd2. I would need a tube 22’ long to circle double (7’ x4’) groundsheet. If I wanted the tube to be 2” in diameter, this would mean the tube would be in excess of 11ft2 or 1.3yds x 3 = 4 oz plus the 1.3 oz/yd2 silnylon 3yds x 1.3 = 3.9 Total 7.9oz or approx 240 grams. Good, but too heavy. If I can make the whole thing out of silnylon the first figure will become (1.3 x 1.3) 1.69 oz giving a total of 5.6 oz – or approx 160 grams. Much better.
A silnylon dry bag seems to hold air quite well though it is not designed to, so I suspect that if I glue up a tube of silnylon it will serve quite well, even if I have to add additional silicon as in this post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/waterproofing-tent-floors-and-ground-sheets/
Why not try it yourself, and get back to me?
PS: This groundsheet will go very well with this tarp:
I realise this inflatable tube could be added to my Holeless poncho to make it into a better groundsheet: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/ eg for my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/
PS: As with my other design ideas, feel free to make one yourself but if you want to manufacture them I would appreciate some credit.
26/02/2017: Waterproofing Tent Floors and Ground Sheets: I have mentioned this brilliant idea before but apparently I had not done a post about it. Jim Woods has this great treatment which dramatically increases the waterproofness of silnylon (or other) tent floors or groundsheets. It simply involves mixing some (tube) silicon with odourless turpentine (ratio approx 1:3), painting it on and waiting for it to dry. I have done this myself and it works well. Simple, but highly effective. More details here: A Treatment for Silnylon Floors: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html as mentioned here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/trapped-by-flood-waters/
09/05/2016: Tent Stakes and Tricks: Give some thought to your tent pegs. Your tent won’t be anything without them, or without good ones – and they can weigh nearly as much as the tent! In windy weather tie your tent stakes to your guy by threading them through the hole in the peg. This allows you to push the stake completely under the ground for maximum purchase and ensures the guy cannot flap loose from the peg. This is much easier to do if you use Clam Cleats mini line locks: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/ You can use mini carabiners such as these http://gossamergear.com/gg-logo-mini-biner.html to make this easier still at approx 3 grams per guy. Tip: the angle your stake should be driven in should be a little less than 90 degrees to the guy line, enough so that the force vector is inclined to push the stake in rather than lift it pout.
Some good stakes: Vargo have five stakes I would recommend: 1. The lightest their fluoro shepherd’s hook stake: http://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-tent-stake-fluorescent-orange-head.html#.Vy6gKdR97IU Length 165 mm Width 3.5 mm Weight 8 grams which have a little extra bit that really anchors the hook to the ground when driven all the way in, (I don’t know why all tent stakes aren’t brightly coloured to prevent loss – all of the following can have a piece of reflective guy line added to increase visibility): 2. their Ultralight Titanium Nail Peg: http://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-nail-peg-ultralight.html#.Vy6g6dR97IU Length 152 mm Width 4 Weight 8 grams 3. the Titanium Ascent Stake http://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-ascent-tent-stake.html#.Vy6jX9R97IU Length 158 mm Weigh 10 grams 4. the Titanium Crevice Stake: http://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-crevice-stake.html#.Vy6kE9R97IU Length 152mm Weight 12 grams. If you want really serious holding their 5. Aluminium Summit Stake is a good choice: http://www.vargooutdoors.com/aluminum-summit-tent-stake.html#.Vy6ks9R97IU Length 190 mm Weight 14 grams. The DAC JStake has been a competition winner for years and is just about unbendable: http://www.mont.com.au/dac-j-stakes-6- pack Length 160 mm Width 11 mm Weight 11.3 gm
A couple of others to consider: Zpacks 6.4 inch Carbon Fiber Tent Stakes Length 16 cm Width 7.5 mm Weight 6.2 grams http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/stakes.shtml have superior holding ability (due to their width) yet are light and will pass through airport security! For really serious anchoring you can even get longer carbon fibre stakes http://www.rutalocura.com/Tent_Stakes.html Length 22.5 mm Weight 7.5 grams
A similar longer stake is the Easton Nano Nail Stake Length 20 mm, Weight 12 grams: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=104
21/04/2016: Catenary Curves: They are the solution to tarp/tent problems. I have known about them for so long and done nothing. Well, yesterday I was having a problem getting my new project, a Tyvek octagon/decagon shelter to sit properly. I created the curve you see on the piece of plywood by hanging a piece of rope between two screws then, using the pattern produced as a template I cut the curves out. Instantly the tent wanted to stand upright nice and taut. It will be much better when it is properly sewn with tie-outs and etc. The tent looks to be a winner. In this (its largest configuration) it creates a ‘fire tent’ which is 10.5’ (350cm) long and 7’ wide (210cm) and 6’6” high (195cm), big enough to sleep four adults and their gear out of the rain eg on a hunting expedition (anticipated). The weight (floorless model) 550 grams in Tyvek. It will be less than 150 grams in cuben fibre! I will be posting about it soon and reworking all my old plans too with what I’ve learned. Watch this space!
Catenary curve and template.
Largest configuration: opening height 2’9“ (85 cm)
Nice and roomy inside. The turquoise object is a 7’ x 5’ (210 x 150 cm) poncho used as a groundsheet. Room for two of these!
11/05/2016: Australian Outfitter: This is great news. In the depth of Tasmania there is an Aussie Outfitter and cottage manufacturer who can supply a myriad of interesting stuff which you previously had to wait ages for from the US etc – and at a very reasonable price. I purchased some 1oz/yd2 silnylon (2,000 mm waterproofness) for my new poncho & tent project (details to follow soon) and some very elusive mitten hooks (same), all posted same day, but I will be going back for some of his 1.35oz/yd2 which has a waterproofness of 5300 mm for a tent floor! And many other things. Simon stocks a bewildering array of goodies (I was particularly interested in the ‘Dutchware’ range) and also manufactures various hiking goodies (hammocks, tarps, quilts etc) and for all you non-sewers out there sometimes has time to do custom work, so talk to him! Check out his ‘Make Your Own Adventure' blog and DIY Guides which contain many useful patterns with instructions. Like me he is also one of those sensible folk who drive a Land Rover. Pictured one of his splendid Goshawk hammocks, just waiting for one of his wonderful Bettong tarps to complete it. Forget about your swag and try one of these: http://www.tiergear.com.au/
26/06/2015: Pitching the Poncho: This information may save your life: Some folks did not find my instructions quite clear enough about this (here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sambar-deer-stalking-102/). These pictures may help. You can pitch a 5’ x 7’ nylon poncho as quite a good dry shelter (with a fire out the front). Tie the centre of one of the 7’ sides to a tree (or stick) about 3’ up, pin out the other 7’ side to the ground taut, bring the remaining two corners in as close as they will come to the tree, again as taut as they will go. Now you have an excellent three-sided waterproof shelter open only on the lee (fire) side and long enough to lie down in. You can heap it with leaf litter for a soft bed & insulation then wrap yourself in a space blanket in it. Some STRING (spectra cord) in your pack is always a good idea. You can even use one of those mylar emergency space blankets in lieu of the poncho. They are surprisingly strong; the wind will not catch and tear them pitched like this. You can roll a teaspoonful of earth into a ball the size of a marble and tie a noose around it, catching the material in the noose in order to guy/tie it out. If you have a knife you can whittle some emergency tent pegs, or tie the guys to rocks. Shown is a ‘standard’ 5’ x 7’ nylon poncho. This one has no hood you will notice. There is a secret about that you will learn from a future post (soon).
Just enough room for a man and his dog – an essential on a cold night!
Make a noose
Catch the marble (macadamia) and the mylar in the noose. Tie out.
20/01/2016: Clearview Tent: It is nice to be able to gaze out into the woods when camping. An open tarp shelter (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/) or a cuben tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/zpacks-hexamid-solo-plus-tent/) such as I use facilitates this, or you might try building a clearview tent as in this instructable: http://www.instructables.com/id/Ultralight-clear-tarp-tent-2P/
You get much the same 360 degree view camping in a hammock (as I often do) with a small (say 7'x7' minimum) tarp for a shelter.
18/01/2016: Tarp Bathtub Groundsheet: This is an interesting concept and should be easy enough to emulate in Tyvek. I had already tried to shape a groundcloth so the sides stood up like this, but without pegs or other supports it was less than pefect. Using some elastic cord to make it conform to the shape of one’s sleeping mat is a good idea. The SOL material ued here maybe would provide some extra insulation but it would not stand up to many uses I suspect. I sometimes use a space blanket as an emergency ultralight ground cloth myself. The older thicker ‘Space Blanket’ might work better, but I suspect the insulation advantage is over-rated compared to the weight/cost and that Tyvek will provide a more serviceable alternative: http://www.instructables.com/id/Semi-Bivy-Keep-your-sleeping-bag-dry-and-warmer/
27/08/2015: World’s Lightest Tarp Clip: You can buy these approx 1” polystyrene balls from Spotlight for @ $2.40 for 20. They weigh about .2 gram each. You can carry a few of these in your repair/fishing kit (along with some string, eg 1-2mm Dyneema) for use at need, eg when you need some additional tie-downs for your tent/tarp or when you have torn one out. They also come in handy as fishing floats for use with your http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bcb-fishing-kit/ You could use them to attach the bottom reinforcing tarp to your faux packraft http://www.theultralighthiker.com/home-made-pack-raft/ first tying them to the material as shown below (on the emergency mylar tent http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/), then tying an overhand knot in the remaining ‘tail’ and joining all the tieouts together with another length of string and pulling it tight so as to secure it to the raft.
World's lightest tarp clips
Tie the slip knot like this:
24/05/2015: TYVEK SOLO FIRE SHELTER: It weighs less than 600 grams. Here is my plan for an excellent one person shelter which will keep you safe from just about everything and can be warmed by a cheery fire out the front. You can cut it in one piece (as shown) from a single sheet of 3 metre wide Tyvek ‘Homewrap’ 3.6 metres long costing about $20. Leave about 2cm more for a hem, which you can tape with Tyvek tape. You can add reinforcing patches to the corners, etc in the same way – or you can learn to sew! If you can’t sew hems & webbing tie outs as shown, you can erect it with tarp clips (eg http://www.shelter-systems.com/gripclips/) You could use these stick on loops (http://www.zpacks.com/large_image.shtml?accessories/tape/stick_on_loop_clear_l.jpg) as bottom tie outs or to erect a bathtub floor, attach your raincoat to close the top half of the opening in bad rain, etc One might be good about 60 cm from the ground to hold out the centre of the windward side in strong winds so the material doesn’t press up against you. These velcro strips might be handy too http://www.zpacks.com/large_image.shtml?materials/velcro_l.jpg & etc. There is clearly plenty of room for one person, lots of gear and a dog or two! I guess two people would fit if you are very good friends. Such a shelter is much better than a tent, or bivy bag especially on wet days. You have somewhere warm and comfortable to retreat to, but with a view. You can cook under cover as Tyvek has a melting point of 800C. It will also withstand 160 Km per hour winds and has an R-rating of approx 1-1.5. You will never have a cold back as it will reflect the heat from the fire right back at you, and keep you warm all around. I have been sitting in mine in shirtsleeves on sleety nights when the mercury dropped below 0C. I have also been out in it in torrential rain and hideous winds. Most places (except the tops of hills - never a good place to camp) the wind blows pretty consistently from one direction (check the forecast before you go). If it does turn around you can close in the storm flaps. If it turns 180 degrees, you may have to re-erect it. You just tie it to a tree, any stick over about 1.2 metres, two hiking poles joined together & etc. You need 8 stakes (including two for the storm flaps). Take 9 – one can always go missing. You can certainly scale this up to suit two people, but you will have to sew the wider floor on if you make it wider eg the top piece might be 2.4 metres high and 4 metres wide and the floor perhaps 1.5 metres wide. In that case you would need 5.5 metres of 3 metre wide Tyvek. Della’s winter garden looks great in the photos too.
PS: If you leave out the floor you will save approx 160 grams which you can substitute a 7 x 5 silnylon poncho for, so that for your 600 grams you will have a tent AND a raincoat! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/
Lovely campfire, warm tent (shirtsleeves at approx 0C), music (Statler Bros), ebook (Idriess, 'Desert Column'), great company (Spot), the lonely dingo’s call... Who could want for more?
Cut from one piece of 3 metre wide Tyvek
The Lee Side: a cheery fire out the front, protected from the weather 270 degrees
Rear View, windward side: the wind and rain will skid right up over it
You can imagine the view of a cheery fire out front (Della might not want her garden scorched!)
Storm Mode: the top half could be further closed with your raincoat
Rolls up a little bigger than my boot, weighs < 600 grams. Costs approx $20
Prototype erected with tarp clips from Aussie Disposals.
Approximate Dimensions in metres
13/05/2016: The Deer Hunter’s Tent: I decided it was time to upgrade my Tyvek Solo Fire Shelter (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/) into something much better and which could accommodate two - and dogs! I also wanted to use my ‘Holeless Poncho (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/) as the floor. I intended that this should result in a ‘roof’ (in Tyvek for its ‘fireproofness’) that was around 400 grams, and a poncho ‘floor’ in silnylon that would be around 170 grams. Adding another 80 or so grams for tent pegs should still result in a tent which was under 600 grams, and fit for all weathers. It would also provide a raincoat (maybe a spare) which would otherwise weigh maybe half the weight of this tent!
I have now discovered some 1 oz/yd2 silnylon which is reasonably priced at $11.95 a metre (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/australian-outfitter/) so that I can make the whole thing much lighter (55% of the weight, ie under 400 grams all up). In cuben you could go even lighter but it is very expensive at around $30/yd (http://www.zpacks.com/materials.shtml) I have a piece I can salvage from another project so I will make a cuben model with a 1oz silnylon poncho floor – I expect the whole thing will weigh under 300 grams after I have made another one in Tyvek to get the measurements just exact. This one was the prototype. Not bad for a two person tent though!
The waterproof section of the floor could only be 5’ by 7’ (the size of the poncho), less a bit so that you get a ‘bathtub floor’ effect. However, there is also a floorless ‘vestibule area of about 5 square feet for dogs, and gear stowage. I expect if you are vertically challenged like us you will have plenty of room to shove bits and pieces at the ends and side. We will fit.
It was extremely windy when I took the photos but it is showing no inclination to fall down – and it went up in seconds! That’s what I like. It is also raining but it is nice and dry inside. As with all my tents it is intended you will warm it with a cosy fire out the front, a nice touch if you are enjoying winter hunts in Gippsland, as I will be doing.
There are three different modes. The ‘normal’ fully open mode which
will be easiest to get into. The peak is 5’ high. The rainy day mode where you
can half close it and stay dry yet still enjoy the benefits of the fire. The
storm mode for when it really wants to blow and bucket down and you need to
keep it all out and keep the tent from blowing away. If much taller tepees
withstood the winds on the
Half Open Mode.
Instructions will be added later. If you would like to buy a kit with pattern, instructions and materials, please let me know.
For now, what I did to make this version: sewed on the entrance flaps (as per instructions here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/) then set the tent up 5' high with tarp clips configuring it around the dimensions of the poncho which I marked on the ground (with tent pegs). I also wanted the tent to tie out more tautly so I extended the tie down point at the rear by 3" and the middle tie down points by the same amount. I moved the two side tie down points to exactly conform to the dimensions of the poncho, then I brought the two front flaps together about 15" out from the pole and cut off the bottoms. Before I cut off the sides of the front flaps I pegged them out into the half open position and pinned them together about 18" forward of the peak so as to make a rain shelter at the front when the tent was open. I marked a position to sew a pocket to take a pole at the inside of the peak. I also marked a point on the roof to sew in a loop to hang my torch from. Taking the tent down, I laid it out on the floor and made sure that the sides were symmetrical and marked catenary curves along the bottom sections. When I had sewn in the new tie downs, pocket etc I set it up again and added some stick-on Velcro for the door closures. I will recalculate all the dimensions and make a wholly new copy-able model (soon).
On this prototype which turns out to be slightly smaller than the poncho and what it can be, I may sew in a Tyvek bathtub floor (approx 210 grams) just to see how that works. I will have to cut a piece which is slightly bigger than the tent floor then set the tent up on top of it, then carefully trim and pin so that the floor is always bigger than it needs to be (this may mean a little excess at the corners) so that the floor doesn’t hinder the tent’s pegging out nice an taut. All the same it will be nice to have a tent which goes up in seconds (just right) and is ready to move right in. This tent goes up so fast I can imagine putting it up for lunch on wet days!
NB: Here is a neat way to do the catenary curves: (http://www.tiergear.com.au/25/-make-your-own-adventure-blog) 'using a length of 6mm dowel (or some other equivalent), and some heavy weights to keep it in place position the dowel so that it intersects the two corners and the mid catenary cut mark, and draw a line along the dowel.'
PS: The tent has stood up perfectly to a very windy wet night – it looks no different to what it did when I set it up yesterday afternoon. Inside perfectly dry.
29/05/2016: Honey, I Shrank the Tent: I thought I would make a slightly smaller
‘Decagon’ tent. It turned out to be over 250 grams lighter than the original model. See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-decagon-octagon-tyvek-igloo-tent-design/)
This one has ten equal sides 6’6” on the outside edges and 2’10” (198cm & 86.5 cm ) across the bottom. It makes a tent which is still over 9’ x 7’6” (270 cm x 225cm) inside and 5’2” (155cm) high at the apex and 40” (1 metre) at the door. It is wide enough for two to sleep sideways but long enough for two to sleep lengthways too. Roof only weight: 607 grams complete with guys, tie-outs, etc in Tyvek Homewrap weighed this afternoon on my kitchen scales. The new (1 oz/yd2) silnylon poncho floor (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hole-less-ponchoshelter/) will weigh approx 130 grams. You will need 10 x (eg) Vargo Shepherd’s Hook stakes (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tent-stakes-and-tricks/) to set it up (80 grams). Total weight: 817 grams. This is more than satisfactory for such a large area.
Another change I made to this tent is cutting off 1’ from the doorway arch and adding closeable storm flaps which overlap at the top and join at the bottom. This will make the tent enormously more waterproof in really bad weather. It also means that it can be set up as a decagonal tipi with one corner high enough off the ground you can just wriggle in underneath.
I will be making a 1oz/yd2 silnylon model. I anticipate the roof will be under 350 grams, plus 130 grams for the poncho and 80 grams for the pegs = 560 grams! As I will be making one for an anticipated Qld rainforest hiking trip I will be sewing in a 1.35 oz/yd 2 silnylon floor and .7 oz/yd2 insect netting. I figure this will not add more than another 100 grams (if that), so a total of eg 650 grams! It will also cost me only about $100.
Fully open mode: Spot checking it out.
View looking out. You would normally have a fire about where the 10 litre drum is.
Spot's 'seal of approval'. That's a 5' x 7' (150 cm x 210 cm) poncho tarp lying on the floor with plenty of room to spare!.
Storm mode with doors closed. Still 1' (30 cm) of ventilation at the bottom, or room for a dog to go in and out.
Rear view: the wind will go right round this tent.
Clothesline along the front ridgeline (yellow cord). NB the Dyneema tent pole reinforcement. I just cut a circle of Dyneema and sewed it on after I had joined the two pieces of Tyvek together (roughly a half circle (7 slices) and a quarter (3 slices). I then cut the slice of Dyneema I didn’t need out and sewed the two edges of the tent together to make the tipi shape. NB: Leave eg @ 1” extra to all your pieces for joining – likewise at least ½” for a hem around the bottom.
The 'doors' just hook back to loops sewn into the walls. To close, wrap hook around hiking pole and hook onto itself. No zips.
Setting up: Use a carabiner to join the two corners either side of the door arch together. Now it is an octagon. Pin out the corner opposite the door, then the two either side of that corner. They will be slightly forward of it. Then insert the centre pole. Attach the other pole and peg it straight out (You can move it later). The tent will now stand up by itself. Starting at the back go around pegging all the corners out. When you get to the two either side of the door remove the carabiner from one loop. A little adjustment may be needed to get all the corners standing taut. It is the second easiest tent to put up I have ever owned. The even easier one is: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/
In really bad weather – or if there is a crowd - the tent also sets up as a decagon. One corner is about 1’ off the ground where you can crawl in. The decagon makes a tipi style tent which is @ 10’ in diameter.
When hunting I will usually just break a couple of bush sticks for the poles, one 5’ 2” (155cm) tall, the other about a 40” (1 metre) – or I can use our hiking poles if hiking.
This is really a lovely tent and was fun to make. You should have a try at one. If you can’t get your hands on some Tyvek, you could make it very cheaply out of a couple of blue poly tarps (not so fireproof though!).
As usual, make one of these for your own use but if you want to manufacture them, I would like some credit – and some cash, please!
13/02/2016: New Tyvek ‘Forester’ Tent Design: I have been playing with Col. Whelen’s famous ‘Forester’ Tent design: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/col-townsend-whelens-forester-tent/ I have certainly come to the conclusion that the classic A-frame tent sloping away to the back has seldom been bettered. I reduced some of his dimensions and increased others. We do not need such a tall tent as his, particularly at the rear, nor quite so wide, but we do need a little more overhang at the front as we will want closeable flaps at the front in case of heavy rain.
I have realised that if these flaps (and the back wall are sewn in under an overhang, a covered ventilation system will result at the tops. At the back (certainly) I will want to be able to close this when there is a very cold wind blowing. At the front, probably not. I also realise how easy it will be to have mosquito curtains inside the flaps. They can simply hang down and overlap. When the flaps are not needed to keep out rain, they can be pegged out to create more space (as shown).
This prototype has a floor area approx 7’ wide at the front and 4’ at the back. Its inside length is about 6’6”, long enough for us. I have altered Whelen’s dimensions as follows: ridgeline 8’6”- 9’, length of side walls 7’6”, front height of side walls 6’6”, rear height of side walls 2’10”. That is a ‘standard’ 6’ x 4’ blue poly tarp you see lying in it.
If I make this tent entirely in Tyvek (including a sewn in ‘bathtub’ floor (supported at the front by the walls, the pole and an elastic draw cord), and closeable flaps and sewn in back it will weigh 720 grams (546 in silnylon) without the insect screen which will only add about 50 grams. I am really surprised how light it will be for such a large tent. It is big enough to sleep three people (if they are very good friends) and there is plenty of room still for all their gear at the front. It will be a palace for Della and me - and the two dogs! Most important, you can sit around on your http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/ in it with a fire out the front even when it is raining! You can also get dressed standing up!
If I sew a fringe about 6” high of insect screen around the edge of the bathtub floor and then sew it to the walls, I will have ventilation all around by simply elevating the whole tent a couple of inches. This could be good on a hot day.
I have just erected the prototype using some tarp clips, so it doesn’t drape as well as it will when sewn. You could just leave it like this and add the flaps and back end in with Tyvek tape – if you can’t sew.
The tent can be erected with a pair of hiking poles plus the addition of a short tube of aluminium/carbon fibre - or with sticks you find at camp!
We will ‘finish’ off the prototype (in Tyvek) and try it out some before I settle on a ‘final’ design – which I will then post. I may decide to 'catenary cut' the ridgeline for example, particularly for the silnylon model
PS: I have also planned some alterations to my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/ I can easily make it big enough for two by adding two small flaps at the front and widening the floor by about 1’. I have also figured a way to create a sort of wrap around ‘umbrella vent’ at the top utilising the two front guys, a piece of Tyvek and some Velcro. I have also worked out a way to half close the front door to create the maximum dry space when the door is not completely closed. This is (usually) the most serious drawback of 'pyramid' type tents. It will still be even lighter than the above tent - about 450 grams in silnylon; under 300 with a cuben fibre roof. Great for solo overnight hunts/trips. I will update the post when I have made them (the alterations).
This is a good standing height for Della, and fine for me with a bit of a slouch. It has Spot’s ‘seal of approval’.
I know about the finger, but I could not resist the picture of the dog!
05/03/2017: Fire Tent:
Further to my post about being able to light a fire in the rain, (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/) I have also long toyed with the idea of carrying/constructing a fire rain hat or raincoat so that heavy rain doesn’t put out your fire.
The two occasions when it is really important to be able to light a fire are when it is very wet and cold and when there is a bushfire approaching (so that you can create burned ground as a refuge!) On such occasions if you don’t have a lighter, or can’t light a fire you’re a dead duck. Smokers clearly have an advantage here over more sanctimonious folk, and even though I gave up smoking more than a generation ago (! – there is an interesting method of measuring time) I still always carry a ‘Mini-Bic’).
Above: Steve Hutcheson and myself Wonnangatta-Moroka Winter 2012
We always camp in a shelter which allows a fire outside. A tent is a cold, creeping thing to have to retreat to when you can sit/stand in a warm open shelter, drink rum, play games, read etc in front of a cheery fire – and with a warm back! If you pitch any rectangular tarp high you can have a (small) fire at one end (though the wind tends to catch the tarp if it isn’t pegged to the ground on at least 2/3 sides).
I think it should be possible to suspend over the fire (eg a 1 metre square) diamond of eg ‘Tyvek’ @ 1.75 ounces /square yard and a melting point of 800C. You need to be careful that the fire can’t ignite its ‘roof’ or use it as a wick to ignite your tent, but this shouldn’t be much of a problem in the rain. Set-up obviously needs to be when furled (a couple of rubber bands should achieve this) so you can pitch it over the fire when it is already lit. Weight should be able to be kept to less than 3 ounces (90 grams) including stakes and guys. Tyvek, with its 800C melting point should make a good material for this ‘rain hat’. It might be better to use the material that fire blankets are made from for this purpose.
A ‘Standard’ Australian Fire Blanket (cost approx A$20 such as has lived in our kitchen for 20+ years) appears to be made of woven fibreglass and measures exactly 1 metre by one metre and weighs 427 grams, so it will (pitched diagonally - like the tyvek shelter in the photo) make an excellent small waterproof shelter for a fire. The fact that it will reflect otherwise wasted heat straight back into your tent will also mean you use much less fuel and can have a much smaller, safer fire. I would use a stainless steel fishing ‘leader’ as the guy on that side of the tent (with a ring at an appropriate point on it to secure the top corner of the blanket) and pitch the fire tent over it and pegged to th ground on the other three sides.
I see now that someone is selling just such an idea, the Fire Defender (They even have an 'ultralight' version):
Above, their 'ultralight' version
You might be interested in buying some flame resistant fabric to make your own. You could look eg here; http://www.auburnmfg.com/product-category/mro/heat-resistant-cloth/
Fire Tent’: We always camp in an open shelter (something like the one above in
he photo) with an open fire out the front. So warm and cozy even on cold,wet
days. This shelter is very easy to make. It consists of a
I have a more compact model (shorter wings) made out of .48oz/yd2 cuben fibre which weighs 200 grams (as seen here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hammock-camping-double-bunking/)! This is my ‘always’ emergency tent which goes with me everywhere – even on day walks: so often these can turn into an overnight trip
I have spent a night sitting (on a piece of thick bark) in front of a fire in the open on frozen ground, in a light snowstorm wrapped only in one of those mylar ‘space blankets which fit inside your breast pocket (Never be without one!). It wasn’t very comfortable, and I didn’t get a lot of sleep – but I am still here to tell the tale. Expect things like this to happen to you, and be prepared!
Two of those ‘blankets’ can make quite a serviceable tent and a sleeping bag. You will need some dental floss or similar to make tie-outs: simply lasso (& capture with the material) a rolled up ball of earth or a gum nut etc with the floss and you can tie out to trees, rocks or sticks driven into the ground. I always carry some dental floss/Dyneema fishing line in my first aid kit (and a self-threading needle – old eyes, you see) for making repairs to my clothes, (hounds sometimes!) – or myself! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/pitching-the-poncho-warning-this-may-save-your-life/
17/06/2015: Tyvek Twin Fire Shelter: I have completed this design today. I know it will make a wonderfully comfy shelter for 2-3 people. The photos are of the prototype. The tent is 6’ (1.8m) high at the front. Some finishing work and bush-testing is needed, but if you are keen to make your own and try it out, here goes: Again, (as with the single: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/) it can be cut from a single piece of Tyvek three metres wide, so no sewing is necessary. You will have to attach a floor (if you want one, or ground sheets if you do not. You should have plenty of scraps of Tyvek left by now! If you are not sewing, I recommend the tarp holders pictured (available from ‘Aussie Disposals’ (or elsewhere). There are only about three types of tarp holders which actually WORK (all button type). These are probably the best but not the lightest. The large disc and rubber band ensures the tarp is not damaged. You will also need a roll of 2” Tyvek Tape probably available from the same folk you bought the Tyvek from. You can use it for making a hem (taping completely around a ¾” hem will make a nice strong one). You can also use it for reinforcing the tie out points (eg both sides where you are going to attach the tarp holders. Or, learn to sew (in this case hems, Tyvek reinforcing patches plus webbing tie-outs). Again, the two guys ropes at the front meet the ground about where the wings/flaps do when they are in fully open mode, so there is nothing to trip over. You might want to include a few of Joe Valesko’s stick-on tie outs here and there perhaps to keep a side pulled out, so here is the link again (http://www.zpacks.com/large_image.shtml?accessories/tape/stick_on_loop_clear_l.jpg) The basic pattern will give you the option of making three slightly different configurations: You can make a shelter with a square windward end, or one which tapers to a point, you can make a shelter which is approx 4’ (1.2m) wide at the windward end and 8’ (2.4m) at the open end, or a slightly smaller and lighter one which is approx 3’ (.9m) wide at the windward en and 7’ (2.1) wide at the open end. I found that if I tapered it at the windward end, and again slightly at the sides, I achieved an octagonal shaped tent with just that many tight corners ready to cut the wind. PS: Post will be updated with diagrams and instructions ASAP.
Best tarp holder
Windward South View
Windward North View
North Side View
South Side View
Tarp Top View
Tarp Bottom View
18/06/2015: ONE POLE TYVEK TIPI: The ‘skin’ of a tipi is very nearly a semicircle. If it is a ‘normal’ 60 degree (cone) tipi, then (apart from a slight overlap for keeping out drafts), that’s exactly what it is. A semicircle with radius ‘R’ (eg 10’ – the width of the widest roll of Tyvek) will make a tipi which is approximately 10’ wide at the base. (C = 2xPixR - divided by 2 for a semicircle; D= C/Pi, so C = 2x3x10 = 60/2=30/3=10 – taking Pi as approx ‘3’). So, any width of fabric will make a tipi which has a diameter the same as its width. You will need a piece that is twice as long as its width to make your tipi. If you cut out a little more of a circle than a semicircle, you will get a tipi which has a less acute angle than 60 degrees (say 45 degrees) and which is correspondingly wider (and shorter). (You would need to stick this piece on with Tyvek tape). You can work out how wide by dividing the piece’s circumferential length by 3. This is close enough. A 10’ wide tipi is quite a handy size, (will obviously sleep at least four people) but is hard to erect unless you tie the ‘skin’ to the pole first (otherwise you can’t reach). If you are using only one pole you will need someone to hold the pole whilst you peg the sides down. That’s why folk normally used 3 or more poles (usually six) tied together at the top where you attached the skin’. You can cut the circular edge into eg six equal straight lines (a hexagon) if you like, and it will still pitch flush to the ground, and give better angles to the wind. You can make such a tipi out of a readily available blue poly tarp for less than $20 if you want (I have). If you are going to have a fire in your tipi, you must beware of carbon monoxide. You need airflow in at the bottom and out at the top. Any open fire is almost IMPOSSSIBLY smoky. A chimney is a great idea. Titanium Goat (http://www.titaniumgoat.com/cstove.html) has lightweight (titanium) stoves and chimneys for just this purpose. The chimney will probably NOT be hot enough to melt the Tyvek at the top, but if you are worried you can wrap that section of pipe with some fibreglass cloth or etc. As you will see at his website, he also makes really lovely tipi tents out of silnylon (pictured). This is something like what your Tyvek tipi will look like, (sans the cost!) Such an arrangement would suit car, motorcycle or horse based camping better than backpacking, but maybe you and your friends are quite strong!
Titanium Goat Vertex Tent
Here it is with a stove:
‘If you need to cut weight or cost, the Forester tent is a good solution. It's one of the best tents ever devised for a chronic woods loafer, particularly for one who yearns to live close to nature and who objects to spending any of his or her outdoor hours confined in a closed canvas or nylon cell.
The Forester tent is the cheapest of all wilderness tents, either to make yourself or to buy. It's the easiest and quickest to construct and pitch, too. And considering its scant weight and bulk, it's the most comfortable in which to live and do your few camp chores. Also, with the exception of the Whelen lean-to tent, it's the easiest to warm with a campfire out front.
The one weak point of the Forester, at least at first glance, is that if you try to fly proof it, you'll ruin its inexpensiveness and functional simplicity. In bug time, however, it's an easy matter to buy a mosquito bar to drape over the front opening . . . or to make one yourself, or to hang or stake a net closure over your bed.
The Forester tent is triangular in shape when pitched. The smallest practical dimensions for one person, or for two who don't mind a bit of crowding, is about 7' wide at the open front, 3' wide at the back, and 7' deep from front to rear. The peak should stand about 6' above the ground in front, while the triangular rear will be some 3' high. With the entire tent open to the fire in front, the angles are such that heat and light will be reflected throughout the sheltered area. It is, of course, a tent for the wilderness, where poles and firewood are plentiful. This tent is usually pitched with three poles and eight stakes cut at the campsite. The ridgepole should be long enough to extend from the peak and to pass down and out through the opening at the top of the back wall, at such a tilt that it will rest on the ground about 3' behind the tent. Two shorter poles are arranged in front as a bipod brace and, holding the ridgepole at their crossing, run from the peak to the front corners.
The size illustrated in the Image Gallery is for one or two campers, with beds arranged along the side walls. The model I use is made of closely woven, waterproofed cotton that weighs five ounces per square yard, cut and sewn to the shape and dimensions shown in the Image Gallery, with an extra inch being allowed around the edges for hemming.
Note how the bottoms of the sides are angled back 1' to make the tent sit right on the ground. To do this, cut your pattern from rectangular canvas as shown by the dotted lines (see Image Gallery), then angle the front and back. The piece for the rear wall is cut off square at the top, so that when it's stitched to the main body of the tent at the rear, a hole is left at the top of the back wall through which the ridgepole can extend. Total weight for this size Forester tent is about four pounds.’
NB: This weight assumes 12 oz/sq yd canvas is used. If using 1.75 oz/sq yd Tyvek, 1.3 oz/sq yd silnylon or .51 oz/sq yd cuben fibre the weight will be correspondingly much less. You could easily add two ‘wings’ or storm flaps to the front which could be closed at need, and a sewn in floor of (eg 1.3 oz silnylon waterproofed as described here http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html) and two overlapping flaps of .7 oz/sq yd insect mesh. You could have an excellent standing room ‘fire tent’ which weighs between 500 grams and 1 kg depending upon materials. PS: I would not leave the gap for a pole. These lighter weight materials don’t need a pole at all but can be simply pegged out – a pole also only creates a drip line.
24/07/2015: Making an SUL tarp, pack, and stuff sack out of a single 5-yard piece of spinnaker fabric: What a great project – even lighter in cuben, of course: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/make_your_own_gear_5_yards_to_sul_part_1.html#.Va2ux_nq3ct
The finished 6.3 ounce tarp, with protected ends and catenary ridgeline.
14/02/2016: Trailstar: This an interesting, innovative concept (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=51&products_id=102) . It provides a huge shelter area for a small weight spend (18 oz – 513g in Silnylon; 11oz – 313g in Cuben) . Could be good for a small group of hunters. Each might also carry something like this:http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tarp-bathtub-groundsheet/ Mountain Laurel Designs have a deserved reputation for quality products: we own a number of their products and are more than happy with them (eg Supermid Tent & Event Rain Mitts). On my wish list is one of their Exodus Packs (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=103) with the addition of their Lightweight Suspension Upgrade (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=208) This would make an excellent pack for backpacking or hunting.
08/06/2016: DIY Self-Tensioning Guylines: I am not so keen on elastic rope (it is heavier than dyneema) and much of the problem of stretch can be overcome by caternary cutting the silnylon or using fabrics with very low stretch such as tyvek or cuben fibre, but nonetheless this method of keeping your tent taut is worth sharing: http://gossamergear.com/wp/diy-self-tensioning-guy-lines-2 A sprung tip on my tent pole ( I use a one-pole set-up) would have the same effect with less trouble. May work on this.
15/06/2015: DIY Hiking Gear: I guess I started doing this before I was 13 (or so). One of my first projects was (what is NOW called – there WAS no name, or THING then) a bivy bag which I sewed out of PU coated 2oz green ripstop nylon as I didn’t have a tent, and my (kapok, Yes! – how many today know what THAT was – or could recognise a kapok tree?) sleeping bag and any available tent would not have both fitted in my A-frame pack! Quite some years I didn’t have a tent. One of my first was a sort of one boy GI ‘PUP Tent’ something like those ex-WW2 affairs, also in PU ripstop mayhap called a ‘Rancho Poncho’. First few times I took Della camping (on my Honda CB175 motorbike!) we just slept under the stars with maybe a nylon poncho over us to ward off heavy dew. I have slept under a poncho many times since then. Finally we bought a two-person hiking tent, the forerunner of many. Now, in old age, we are back to some sort of tarps again such as THIS homemade one: (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/) I posted about the other day. Instructions are being updated. Check back. Others 2 + person ones are in preparation. There IS a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction to be gained in MAKING and USING your own gear, so we do. Here and there in these pages you will find other suggestions for homemade gear; I have had a lot of fun making various hiking stoves such as you might find here: http://zenstoves.net/ or in earlier posts. We have made quite a lot of clothing over the years, as well as hammocks, hammock insulators, quilts, tarps (obviously), tents, a variety of bags, pouches, pockets, leashes, belts, harnesses, ponchos, fishing gear…all sorts of things. For example, you can make a pot which weighs a couple of grams from a beer can which you can boil with an esbit on a stand made from some 1 cm mesh. A wide rubber band will prevent you burning your mouth when you drink your coffee. Quest Outfitters (http://www.questoutfitters.com/ http://thru-hiker.com/materials/index.php) have some very good patterns (and kits) and are very helpful and expeditious in sending materials. For example, their ‘Bilgy Tarp Tent’ looks quite interesting. I will adapt some of its features for a new two person ‘fire shelter’. Obviously it would be much lighter in cuben, or more fireproof in Tyvek. Their G4 pack pattern and kit are excellent. The G4 was my first ultralight pack, a brilliant concept (approx 450 grams & 60 litres!) from Gossamer Gear founder Glenn van Peski – one I still use when I am packrafting, as it is a HUGE pack. Della sewed two webbing tubes into it vertically on each side into which we slipped carbon fibre arrow shafts to simulate a pack frame for weight distribution. This added less than 40 grams and worked quite wonderfully. http://gossamergear.com/ have some GREAT ultralight gear (and an interesting website - eg see ‘Tips & Tricks). I have spent quite a few dollars with them over the years. Their featured product this month is an 18 gram trowel. Well, if you need one! Their carbon fibre hiking poles are wonderful! Ray Jardine (http://www.rayjardine.com/) pretty much ‘invented ‘ the ultralight pack (and concept). He is known as the ‘father’ of ultralight. He has a kit for one, and an excellent tarp. I still use his ‘Bomber’ hat (30 grams) every time it’s a really cold night. His quilt kit was an original great idea too. His website details his many amazing adventures, including skiing to the South Pole when he was over 60! He also sells some of his own excellent hiking books. Ray Garlington was one of the first to devise a ‘wood gasification’ stove for backpacking: http://web.archive.org/web/20130820032105/http://www.garlington.biz/Ray/WoodGasStove/ I have spent many hours trying to make this work. Another guy perfected it with his ‘Bushbuddy’ stove: http://bushbuddy.ca/ (well worth the C$120) - or you can make your own, eg http://www.instructables.com/id/Woodgas-Can-Stove/ or http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/build-ultra-efficient-diy-wood-gasifier-backpacking.html A 150 gram stove which does not require any fuel (other than what you find on the trail) is a great idea. This guy has a lighter - 86 grams - (and more expensive) one: http://www.suluk46.com/products.html Here is another site which has some interesting plans and kits: http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html, likewise this one: http://jasonklass.blogspot.com.au/search/label/DIY%20Backpacking%20Gear There are many others, but these will be enough to get you started. Have FUN!
G4 Ultralight Backpack
23/04/2016: Catenary Cut tarp: Looking for an ultralight sewing project? Six Moon Designs have this excellent free pattern for a cat cut tarp complete with insect netting plus sewing instructions: https://www.sixmoondesigns.com/images/stories/pdf/Pattern_NightWing.pdf A number of others are available if you look for them, eg here: http://www.backpacking.net/makegear.html PS: The ‘Jones Tent’ (approx 500 grams) is not named after me!
27/09/2016: Gear Repairs: Tenacious Tape: Many folks have long carried some duct tape for this purpose. I have carried cuben tape for many years http://www.theultralighthiker.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1797&action=edit . I can attest that it successfully repaired a Neoair pad which had been relentlessly chewed by a certain puppy, and that the repair has held now for 3+ years! One of the virtues of this ‘new’ tape (apart from that it sticks to practically everything) is that it comes in rolls up to 3” (75mm) wide, Such a roll weighs 21 grams. It could easily be cut in half: https://www.mcnett.com/gearaid/tenacious-tape#10691
Weight 21 grams
Color Clear, various
13/06/2015: Cuben tape: This stuff is WONDERFUL. First, there is its obvious utility in joining/repairing cuben fibre. There is a single-sided and a double sided version – and it comes in various widths). You normally use it to make joins to create a wider tarp, or to make ‘no-sew’ cuben fibre stuff sacks. Where it really comes into its own is for repairs. This stuff sticks (well nigh invisibly) to all sorts of things and makes excellent waterproof repairs. My house and camping equipment have bits of it stuck in all sorts of unlikely places. It repairs most ripped raincoats and tents very well (Check first). Packrafts too. Where I have found it really wins out is in repairing leaks in Thermarest Neoair pads. These guys are SO light they are fairly easy to puncture. Mostly I get minute thistle holes in mine which take ages to let the pad down (in the middle of the night!). They also suffer from my habit of using them for padded insulated floors in our packrafts. Jumping in and out of them at portages drives all sorts of nasties into their delicate fabric. Spot has excelled himself here too. In his puppyhood he managed to drag one pad out through the doggie door onto the lawn where he had quite a lot of leisure time CHEWING it. THAT pad looks somewhat like Kevin Rudd after a VERY bad morning’s shaving. It doesn’t QUITE have more tape than pad, but you can certainly tell that it has been repaired. The great thing about cuben tape for repairing air mats is that it works INSTANTLY. The proprietary Thermarest repair kits (in my experience) work slowly and poorly at best – be WARNED!
15/03/2015: Best tarp clips: http://www.shelter-systems.com/gripclips/products.html
09/06/2016: A good emergency lightweight tarp clip that will not let go: http://www.easyklip.com/ Mini = 12 grams. Of course, this remains the lightest tarp clip: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/worlds-lightest-tarp-clip/
09/07/2013: Can’t WAIT for this stuff to hit the supermarket shelves here. The world just keeps getting better and better (despite the tyranny of choice!) : http://www.geek.com/science/neverwet-superhydrophobic-spray-hits-stores-this-week-1560808/
09/07/2013: Another great product: Ultra Ever Dry: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfUaKXasdD4
THIS WORKS: A Treatment for Silnylon Floors: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html
HAMMOCKS: I HAVE camped out in hammocks a lot. I have tried Hennessy’s, but find it almost impossible to keep my back warm in them, or to keep a sleeping mat under me for that purpose. Della can do it though. A conventional hammock with an inflatable mat is just fine for me. The original rectangular Thermarest Neoair did a very good job and kept the sides of the hammock wide enough that it did not compress the sleeping bag against the shoulders and arms (thus creating a cold spot). You can make any hammock lie straighter by including a centre line (Tom Hennessy has a patent on this, but anyone can use it, just not manufacture it). If you add a cord tensioner to it (such as a clam cleat) you can adjust the level of comfort, but a centre line is not really necessary (though handy for hanging things from, eg with a caribiner).
As you don’t need a pillow in a hammock, just place your inflatable pillow under your knees and you will have a delightful night’s sleep. The great thing about a hammock is that you can sleep dry in it when there is six inches of water flowing underneath! I have done this on the Baw Baw Plateau (in winter apprx below minus 10C) which is so humid that in the cooler months rain actually falls out of the air UNDERNEATH your hammock tarp – which spooked me the first time I saw it…but you survive…or you do not. If you do not, you don’t write about it, so…).
People advocate a variety of sophisticated hammock tarps, but a simple 8’ x 8’ square of silnylon works well. I have been completely dry with a 7’ x 7’ one on a night when my friends were just about drowning in their tent nearby. Being able to camp dry in very wet places such as Fiordland, a hammock works well so long as there are suitable trees. There just about never are for TWO separate hammock campers! However, I have camped out double-bunked in two hammocks with someone as small as Della above and me below under one tarp. You have to boost the upper person in, so it is best if they don’t have to get up too many times during the night for toilet stops!
One other advantage of hammock camping is the reduced chance of being struck by lightning (as there is no way the current can pass through you). I was camped out one night at Mt Darling Creek in the most spectacular thunderstorm, with lightning striking the ground repeatedly for almost an hour within a couple of hundred yards of me. Very stimulating! That night the deer did not come to honk at me – as they usually do when I am camped out alone in the Victorian Alps. Sometimes as many as a dozen will line up and serenade me for as long as half an hour. I NEVER shoot at deer at night – just isn’t at all fair!
There is a special knot for tying a hammock to the tree (else you will never get it undone. You need plenty of spare rope. Go around the tree, then around the rope, then around the tree. Do that three times, then tie a simple running knot. Even if you just tuck the end in the friction against the tree will prevent the rope from coming loose – and you WILL be able to undo it!
Making the hammock: If you don’t sew, you can make a hammock out of an approx 3 metre length of 2 0z/yd2 nylon rip-stop. Tie a simple overhand knot at each end, then attach the suspension ropes inside the knot; tie to tree: Voila!
8' x 8' cuben tarp by (http://www.zpacks.com/shelter/tarps.shtml) with wings can be pitched as a 'fire' shelter (as shown) or used as a hammock tarp (one end closed as storm shelter) 200 grams Hernes Spur Wonnangatta River 2011-11-18.
04/08/2013: Practically everything you ever wanted to know about hammock camping (plus a little more): http://theultimatehang.com/archives/
PACKS: A comfy pack will certainly make the difference between a hiking experience being enjoyable and its being a nightmare you are not going to want to repeat. When I was a young teenager I started out with an old ex-army framed pack which was hideously uncomfortable as soon as you put any weight in it. (It made me well understand the punishment that is crucifixion). In those days the latter was fairly unavoidable eg even summer-weight sleeping bags then available usually weighed several kilos and pretty much filled up the pack. Adding a tent meant the three items (pack + tent + bag) weighed at least 10 kilos, so even an overnight hike (with a change of clothes was going to push your pack weight well over 20 kilos. Lots of folk were carrying eg 40 kilos for a hike of 4-5 days. Nightmarish. I still see people (eg slight young women) in hiking shops trying on huge ‘bulletproof’ framed packs whose empty weight is 3-4 kilos. This is just madness. You should not expect a pack to last forever. It probably will if it’s that heavy because you will very seldom use it again! DON’T buy a pack which weighs over half a kilo! Be warned!
Zpacks 'Arc Blast' Pack 52 litre = 482 grams
LIGHTWEIGHT PACK: Once you begin to lower the overall weight of the contents of your pack, a framed pack is just unnecessary anyway. I think Ray Jardine was one of the first advocates of the frameless pack (and lightweight hiking). He still has an interesting website here (http://www.rayjardine.com/index.shtml) where you can buy a kit for $70 to make your own should you want to, and a number of other interesting things. A number of manufacturers offer very lightweight packs. My first lightweight frameless pack was a Gossamer Gear G4 which cost about $100 (http://gossamergear.com/packs/backpacks/g4-backpack.html) and weighs 450-480 grams, and is still just about unbeatable! You can get the pattern (free) and materials to make your own from these folk http://www.questoutfitters.com/patterns-packs-cart.htm#G-4 ULTRALITE BACKPACK I had Della sew in some light webbing tubes into mine into which I inserted carbon fibre arrow shafts in (@30 grams) to increase load transfer. Now I use a Big Agnes ‘Cyclone’ chairs frame members as load transfer underneath a GG ‘Sitlight’ pad which works well with this pack. I see they now have inflatable ‘Air Beam’ pads (http://gossamergear.com/packs/pack-accessories/gg-airbeam-pack-frame.html ) which MAY do this better but they weigh 60-70 grams & which also provide you with a seat/pillow, but I doubt they are worth it, and they definitely can’t be made into two pairs of emergency shoes! The G4 is a huge pack which easily carries a week’s supplies, an Alpacka canoe etc (approx 2.5 kg) in great comfort. Without the canoe, you should be able to head off with 7-10 days’ food and everything else you need for a week’s , (or even a fortnight’s) hiking in temperatures down to zero C with a pack weight well under 12 kg, and decreasing every day as you eat the food – and drink the rum!) I also have one of Joe Valesko’s (http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks.shtml) ‘Blast’ packs @ 369 grams and a (http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/packs/Swift.html) ‘Swift’ @ 450 grams and another Gossamer Gear offering, the ‘Mariposa’. Mountain Laurel Designs looks as if they might be worth checking out too. All work well and are 500 grams or less. PS: Six Moon Designs seem recently (with their news models) to have ‘lost the plot’. If I was buying a new pack, I would either buy the G4 (cheaper) or zpacks Arc Blast.
& I (combined age then 120) heading off from Freney Lagoon on the second
day of our walk across
Zpacks Zero Backpack
12/09/2016: Ultralight Glasses Case: If you have got to my age (or had other bad luck) you no doubt need glasses. I now wear progressive frameless titanium glasses (14 grams) all the time, but I also need a spare pair in case I lose or break them. The quite lightweight case they came in from Zenni weighs 47 grams. I knew I could do better.
This is 350 ml (12 oz) PET drink bottle I cut down with a craft knife (I should have left a tiny bit more of the neck) and some bubble wrap = 12 grams, a saving over over an ounce ie more than the weight of a muesli bar on the trail, or more than enough weight of fuel (metho) to cook a meal. Every little bit of weight saved helps lighten the load and means you can go a little bit further, easier.
Indeed switching to these frameless glasses (two pairs) also saved me over an ounce (28.5 grams)! I have simply rolled the glasses up in the bubble wrap and squeezed them through the neck. These flexible titanium frames are quite difficult to break anyway: you can just about stand on them, so they will be fine in the ‘possibles’ bag in my pack.
21/08/2016: A Gorilla in the Hand: I have been giving my new Gossamer Gear Gorilla Backpack a test run (http://gossamergear.com/gorilla-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html - NB: they have a special price on them right now).
All the gear and food for a couple of days for myself and my dog do fit in the smaller (40 + 8 litre pack) – as you can see. Shrinking your kit (from 52 litres) like this exercises a profitable degree of discipline which it is worth emulating. I omitted nearly 1.5 kg I didn’t need for a short-ish trip. Some are things I might need (say) on a ten day trip in colder weather without resupply and where help is far from hand. A few are things I can probably permanently do without. Even so I have food aplenty for myself and Spot (the JR) as well as his bed, and room to lash the pack raft on the top if I wanted to. The other side of the pack can easily hold a water bottle, hiking poles and the paddle, even my gun in take down mode. If I was going away just by myself with this pack I reckon I could squeeze a 5-7 day expedition into it and still lash the packraft on top! Spot’s bed and food alone take up space that could otherwise be occupied by at least three days of my food. On this occasion I am also carrying a pair of crocs for the river crossing, & etc…I am working on smaller/lighter dry shoes.
The pack (as configured) has four handy pouches for odds and ends one might need on the trail: two on the hip-belt and two Gossamer Gear shoulder pouches I bought for my G4 long ago. (http://gossamergear.com/shoulder-strap-pocket.html) I am using the (supplied & easily removable) waist belt and aluminium stay both designed for serious load transfer. I might sometimes omit both to save weight, as the shoulder straps are very soft, wide & comfortable so that I might not need load transfer for such a small (40 litre) pack. Or I might swap the hip belt for a simple home made webbing one and substitute the ‘Sitlight’ pad the pack came with for an Air Beam pad which will do much of that work at a lesser weight penalty, a saving of say 250 grams. (See http://www.theultralighthiker.com/air-beam-pad/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-air-beam-inflatable-pack-frame-update/)
The Gorilla is made from Gossamer Gear’s new ‘Robic Nylon’ material which is even tougher than the 4.8 oz/yd2 Dyneema material we are used to seeing in such heavy duty packs. It would take some extreme effort to puncture it, and I very much doubt you could rip it without a very heavy, sharp knife! Not something which is going to happen with any normal bush or trail wear and tear anyway. As such the pack will make an excellent hunting daypack being well able to hold up to heavy use in thick scrub, blackberries etc, at the same time having the load carrying capacity to pack out a heavy load of meat should the occasion arise. The muted grey colour suits this purpose well as does its expandability. It can be shrunk down to comfortably contain less than 20 litres with those compression straps on the side and top, and the heavy duty elastic mesh in the rear pocket – but it quickly transforms into a heavy haulage 48 litre pack when eg you have a monster to lug out of some deep gully in a remote hunting spot. There are lots of other loops to tie extra gear on should you need to plus ice axe and hiking pole fittings. Inside you will find a hydration sleeve and drinking tube keeper loops to both shoulder straps. With the two shoulder pouches I have added there are seven external pockets plus two compartments inside (counting the hydration pocket).
Below is a breakdown of what I managed to fit on/in this excellent pack. Here it is on the chair with the packraft strapped to the top. You will note the two reflective strips glowing at you from the shoulder straps. That’s a good safety feature as you can often find yourself walking out in the dark. It has reflective strips on the back too.
NB: It’s a lot of individual items isn’t it? I carry pretty much the same kit for a weekend as for a week. I admit I have still a few double-ups (3 head torches and multiple lighters for example) and a small number of things which might be dispensed with, but everything here has been needed and used, though obviously I don’t always carry a canoe, machete, hunting equipment or a pair of Crocs.
Here are the contents of the external pockets (I could easily fit more). Left to Right, Bottom to Top: Rutalocura (shortened) hiking poles, UL paddles (they do break down further); orange Gossamer Gear Trowel; Mountain Laurel Designs UL gaiters, Crocs; 2 litre Platypus, 2 dog bowls, 1 litre Platypus; Klymit Packraft plus inflation bag (attached); Gerber Brush Thinner Machete; home made Tyvek Deer Hunter’s Tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/); Snaplock bag with glasses cleaner; self winding watch and compass; on green cuben stuff sack: Fenix head torch with homemade elastic headband, Gossamer Gear Stickpic, Minibic; on blue cuben stuff sack: Maratac torch/lantern attached to some Dyneema to suspend it, Leatherman Micra, Photon torch and headband/string, Minibic, Eze-lap sharpener; Spare blades and Razorblaze knife, 308 shells plus magazine, 2 Handletie meat bags, length of embryo wire for cutting bone, white cuben stuff sack; snaploc bag with hearing aid securing device; Dehydrated water ie lollies and chewie; on white cuben stuff sack: Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini phone & waterproof case.
Contents inside pack: two (grey and white) cuben food bags = 2 days food for self + dog; grey cuben rain kilt; yellow Event rain coat; on blue sea to Summit pack liner: white cuben ‘Possibles’ bag, Cyclone chair, in white cuben bag = JR dog sleeping bag, red S to S clothes bag, S to S grey waterproof daypack; front: blue S to S bag containing sleeping bag, bed; green cuben bag containing cookset.
Sleeping kit: Montbell UL super spiral #3 down bag in grey stuff sack, Thermarest Neoair Womens sleeping pad, Exped UL pillow, S to S ultrasil bag.
Cookset: Toaks 1110 ml pot with frypan lid on green cuben bag, Toaks titanium windscrren, Suluk TDW stove on white cuben bag, S to S Spork, 500ml Platypus for meths, in snap;loc bag, spices, shower cap, bicycle inner tube and esbit fire lighters, Minibic; measure; Vargo 450 ml titanium mug; scourer in snaploc; can lid and Brasslite Stove Turbo 1d.
Spare clothes: on red S to S Ultrasil drybag: Montbell Therma wrap vest, Goosefeet down socks, Montbell Ex Light down jacket – also inside bag Ray Jardine ‘bomber’ hat; Mountain Laurel Designs Event rain mitts, Hadrina wool singlet; Mountain Hardware wind shirt; Holeproof Heroes wool socks; ½ fibre towel; Montbell Dynamo wind trousers.
‘Possibles’ bag contents: on green cuben bag: ulralight fishing kit, 2 handlines containing hooks, sinkers, bait, self threading needle (repairs), two springers, 4 polystyrene balls, alum foil for cooking fish; on green S to S bag, Iridium Sat Phone; on white cuben bag: spare glasses in plastic case, Kabar knife, Adventure Medical Kits space blanket bag (emergency day pack & ground sheet); snaploc with glasses cleaner; Bushnell mini solarwrap charger; on white cuben bag: cuben bag with charging connectors AAA to AA battery converters, in blue bag spare batteries = 6 Enerloop AAA, 2 camera, 2 phone, 2 Photon, 2 hearing aia; USB AA/AAA battery charger; first aid kit: Antisan (bites) ointment, Mylanta (indigestion), earbuds in snaploc, Leucotape on cuben bag containing variety of plasters and blister pads, triangular bandage (sling) below: elastic bandage, cuben bag with variety of tablets eg pain, inflammation, diarrhoea, allergy etc; Toiletries on white cuben bag: wet tissues, 2 pocket Kleenex (enough for a week!); below on small green cuben bag S to S ultralight head net (mozzies – sleep) and microdripper of insect repellent (Deet); magnifier on mirror; square of silnylon for repairs with 2 stickon tie outs on top; spare trekking pole basket; clip on glasses cleaner; bottom row: on snaplocc bag length Dyneema, glasses repair kit, various bits and pieces: 2 safety pins, 3 line locs, 2 tarp tie outs, I carabiner, I mitten hook, 1 cord loc, 1 spare mini compass; on cuben bag, cuben tape (repairs) rubber band, spare bottle cap; on white cuben bag: 2 lightload towels, comb, Aloksack (for camera); on blue cuben bag: microdripper bottles containing: handcream, suncream, deodorant, iodine, wash, anti fungal cream, tube anti inflammatory cream, tub toothpaste, tub heel balm; anti allergy cream.
Posts about items mentioned in my pack contents (in the order mentioned) You will work it out. There are gaps. I can see some more posts I need to make!
27/11/2016: Pimping a Gorilla: You can readily shave around 300 grams off Gossamer Gear’s Gorilla (http://gossamergear.com/gorilla-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html or Mariposa, etc) backpack by taking out the aluminium stay, removing the hipbelt and replacing it with an ultralight webbing belt, and replacing the Sitlight pad with an Airbeam pad. The pack will ride just about as well (well, just as well when you are only carrying a few kgs) and transfer weight to your hips, and you will have saved the weight of over half a day’s food!
If this is to be a permanent alteration you can also cover over the holes where the stay went through the body of the pack both sides with some Tenacious tape (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/gear-repairs-tape/) to make the pack a little more watertight. You need a double buckle, some 1” webbing and a piece of 1” Velcro and about five minutes on the sewing machine to effect the change. As I have pointed out elsewhere (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/), you can make the pack carry a lot more than its rated 48 litres by utilising Sea to Summit’s Ultrasil Compression Bags (or similar) and by adding some tie-downs so you can carry another bag on top (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/attaching-tie-downs-to-your-pack/).
Completed belt ready for fitting. Note piece of velcro sewn on reverse side in the middle for attaching to pack.
Standard hip belt removed and ultralight belt fitted.
The final result; a very comfy pack which weighs a third of a kilo less!
Weights (my scales):
Gorilla Belt: 275 grams.
Alum Stay: 88 grams.
Replacement Belt: 32.5 grams.
Weight saving: 330 grams.
Pockets: If you need hipbelt pockets, you can add these
eg here: http://gossamergear.com/hipbelt-pocket.html 38 grams and US$8.80ea
or here: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/beltpouch.shtml 21 grams and $US22.50ea.
NB: Gossamer Gear may not have the Air Beam pads at the moment.Mountain Laurel Designs still stock the Klymit (Air Beam) Pad in 11” x 25” size and US$35ea. You can cut it down and reseal with a hot iron to 20” if needed. It will then weigh approx 70 grams as compared with the Sitlight’s 50 grams: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=46&products_id=186 They also stock Pack Pockets (if needed) at US$19ea.
Conclusion: With my Cyclone Chair (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/) in behind the Sitlight pad the Gorilla is more comfortable under load (for me) than it was with its original stay and hip belt, yet significantly lighter. According to the Specs it should weigh 624 grams in this configuration, (575 without the Sitlight) not too bad for a very tough comfortable 48 litre pack. I suspect that a narrow hip belt is normally better for folks who carry a bit of weight around their midriff themselves – as I do!
11/09/2016: Linelok Pack Tie Down: For those who don’t sew – or who don’t need to sew: You can use these wonderful little Clam Cleat Lineloks and some eg 2mm Spectra/Dyneema to lash your excess gear to your pack. I always use these lineloks on my tents and tarps: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-perfect-guy-line-for-a-hiking-tenttarp/
Here is my Klymit pack raft (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-packraft/) attached to my Zpacks Blast (Zero http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml) @ 200 gram pack:
Here’s how to rig them:
Clam Cleats are available here in eg packs of 100 http://www.cleats.co.uk/browse-by-product/line-lok-guy-runners/cl266-mini-line-lokr-for-1-3mm-lines.html Also available locally (Oz - and quickly) here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/clamcleat-cl266-mini-line-loks I find the Glow-in-the-Dark best. I always use the reflective line for guys etc too, eg: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/reflective-glowire-15metres The Clam Cleats are made by these folk: http://www.clamcleat.com/products/cleats-for-1-6mm-rope/cleats-rigged-on-a-rope-24.html who have some other interesting stuff.
1/09/2016: Attaching Tie
you need to get some ½” gross grain ribbon from you local sewing supplies store
- such as Spotlight here in Oz. Then you will need some of the Linelocks you
see I have sewn the gross grain to: You can buy these little guys right here in Oz, eg: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/cord-tension-lock
@ A$0.40ea, or in the
You sew a loop at each end of the gross grain ribbon (as shown – perhaps more neatly than this. I blame arthritis. My wife says my sewing will be plenty strong enough anyway which is the main thing!) Then you pass the end loop through the tie out loop on the pack then the Linelock back through the loop. Tie a boot lace on the other loop and pass it through the two holes on the Linelock and you have an adjustable tie down which can be used eg to lash your Alpacka raft to the top of your pack. See below:
The Gorilla has a pair of these orange loops sewn into the pack on each side at front and back. Here I have used three tie downs, the middle one crossing over through the haul loop. Works well. You could also lash a sea to Summit Ultrasil Compression Sack (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-tardis-folding-space/) here to carry extra food for a long hike, or etc.
23/08/2016: A Tardis, Folding Space: How to Fit More in Your Pack: ‘Ultralight’ is not just about weight. It can also be about how to do more with less. In this case I am thinking eg of using a 13 litre Sea to Summit compression sack to compress my clothes to 1/3 of their previous volume, thus saving 8.7 litres of space at a weight penalty of <50 grams. http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/storage-bags/ultrasil-compression-sacks/?ref=
If I do the same thing with my sleeping bag, eg compressing it from 6 litres to 2 litres I save another 4 litres. Now the 12 litres saved (at a weight expense of approx 75 grams) will allow me to carry perhaps 6 kilograms of extra food – or enough for a journey of an additional 12 days in the same volume pack. If I go to the same trouble with my food - though it may only compress (carefully) in half, I think I would be able to carry all my gear plus perhaps a month’s food in an approx 50 litre pack.
The addition of a ‘pack lid’ attachment such as this one from Zpacks http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/backpack_lid.shtml will add a further 3.5 litres of food storage as well as providing a bum bag for excursions from camp along the way at a further weight penalty of from 47 grams. This addition will certainly mean that I can carry a month of food in a smallish backpack such as the Gossamer Gear Gorilla with its excellent suspension system, Zpacks Arc or Blast, or Mountain Laurel Designs Exodus. See http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/a-gorilla-in-the-hand/
This valve-free dry sack uses a breathable base made of waterproof
eVent® fabric, which allows air to be pushed out, but keeps water from
entering. Waterproof seams are double stitched and fully taped for excellent
durability and resistance to moisture A roll-top Hypalon® closure with lid and
3 straps evenly compresses and maintains compressed size. The Sea to Summit
Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sack is roughly half the weight of the original Sea
Closure : Drawcord
Compression straps: Yes
Material(s): EVent/Cordura nylon
6 litre = 6 x 14 inches - 2.3 ounces/65 grams
10 litre = 7 x 16 inches - 2.6 ounces/74 grams
14 litre = 8 x 18 inches - 3.2 ounces/91 grams
20 litre = 9 x 20 inches - 3.4 ounces/97 grams
Sea to Summits UltraSil Dry Sacks Specs for comparison:
Base x Height Volume Weight
11 x 24cm 1L 20g
13 x 29cm 2L 23g
15 x 33cm 4L 26g
17 x 46cm 8L 30g
22 x 53cm 13L 40g
25 x 61cm 20L 50g
30 x 70cm 35L 65g
31/05/2016: Fitting Your Backpack: This is really good advice. Apart from having a backpack which is too heavy and too large, the next biggest mistake people make is not having chosen/made it the correct torso length then not having put it on correctly: http://gossamergear.com/wp/how-to-size-and-fit-an-ultralight-backpack
Gossamer gear Gorilla: http://gossamergear.com/gorilla-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html
22/04/2016: Backpack Repairs: You may have noticed this photo in one of my recent posts about the South Coast Track: Della making stirling efforts to repair my backpack under trying conditions: overcast, rain, sandflies etc at the Waitutu Hut; a woman to die for: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/
Now that we are home she has properly repaired my old backpack whose cuben fibre back panel had shredded and become quite irreparable with even more tape. She has carefully unpicked it and replaced the back panel and the rear pocket with 4.8 oz/yd2 dyneema (like the rest of the pack) so that it is now quite bullet-proof (yet still under 500 grams!)
This was a difficult repair, quite beyond my ability even if I had the hands for it (They are coming along though! http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hannibal-lektors-hand/ ), so I am more than delighted. Once I have sewn up our new octagon/decagon tent (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/catenary-curves/), we will be off somewhere to test it out!
The sewing is doubly difficult as first I had to download a sewing machine repair manual, then dismantle the sewing machine whose reverse gear stopped working. It is at the moment in pieces all over the dining room table. If/when I succeed in fixing it, it will be on with the sewing!
In the lounge room the pack seems most comfortable. I was having an incurable problem with load transfer in a replacement pack which caused me no end of trouble in NZ. Thank you Della.!
Once I am done with tent design I intend to move on to backpacks. Similarly to tents I feel most of the offering out there (in bought items) are unfit for purpose, too expensive and too heavy. Making your own backpack ought also give the opportunity to properly tailor the pack for fit which should improve comfort immensely.
23/09/2015: Ultralight Pack: It is quite difficult to buy a sub-600 gram pack (@55 litre) ‘off the shelf’ for reasonable money. I have tried a number over the years and would not carry anything else. The ‘list’ below is not exhaustive but intended as a good starting point:
Gossamer Gear’s (now 54 litre http://gossamergear.com/g4-ultralight-backpack-all-bundle.html) ‘tried and true’ G4 lead the field (576 grams inc hip belt) US$150 and was my first ‘ultralight’ pack; (You can sew in some pieces of webbing to enclose carbon fibre arrow shafts for load transfer or, I find Big Agnes’ ‘Cyclone Chair’ underneath the ‘Sitlight’ pad works quite well).
Mountain Laurel Designs have an excellent contender with their Exodus pack (485 grams http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=103) at US$195. Certainly the lightest and most rugged ‘off the shelf’ model. I’m sure Ron will sew in a couple of pad holders or webbing tubes for carbon fibre arrow shafts if needed for a custom charge. I might also option the pockets in solid Dyneema as I have found the netting which many manufacturers use for their pockets to not like blackberries overmuch, but Ron has at least made the critical wear surfaces of these from Dyneema!
Granite Gear’s Virga 2 (54 Litre) 540 grams http://www.granitegear.com/virga-2.html US$139 is another fine option.
Terra Nova’s Quasar 55 is another option at 436 grams http://www.terra-nova.co.uk/packs-rucksacks-poles/all-packs/quasar-55-pack/ and US$320
Zpacks Arc Blast 52 litres (595 grams http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/arc_blast.shtml) $US315 looks a beauty and is pretty much the only one with load transfer, though I query if you are carrying less than 10 kilograms you need much load transfer. You can upscale to their Arc Haul in Dyneema (680 grams for 60 litres) if you want something completely bulletproof.
Joe will still make you one of his ‘Blast’ packs (optioned from his ‘Zero’ range) - try the ‘Wayback Machine’ (https://archive.org/web/) to see what these were like. In 1.43oz/yd2 cuben a 58 litre ‘Blast’ weighs 235 grams approx $200 (Yes!); 339 grams in 2.9oz/yd2 ‘Hybrid’ cuben material; & probably around 420 grams in 4.8oz/yd2 Dyneema. I can’t see how you can go past that 339 grams. Della is still using her 235 gram model, but mine needed quite a lot of repair tape: I am rougher on my packs than she is, and mine has had a lot more use. The original Blast in Hybrid/Dyneema with Pad sleeves for my chair and Sitlight pad is my choice. I option an oversize pocket one side for my tent.
On this one, I was using light plastic raffia type string to hold some of it together (surprising how strong it was) – and much heavier cord at the top than I would ever carry now (I am going to try dyneema thread/cord next time), but it gives the idea. We usually have no trouble finding wood around camp, to make this set up – sometimes I pinch wood that my husband has already innocently gathered for the fire, not realising it’s just what I want; and other times we have to look a bit further afield. If the lower cross piece of wood is put at the right height, and enough slack is allowed, it can be very comfortable to lay back in of an evening in front of the fire.
I am thinking the Robic nylon fabric and dyneema thread ties could do the job for around the 50gm mark (give or take)…
For the knots for the chair, I’ve been working with a system of coming from the back with loops, instead of pulling the full length of cord around – and retrieving the cord without tangle, at pack down time, has usually been OK (I find that four loops on each intersection with the lower cross bar give a reasonable hold – then I go at least a couple more to be sure…. I wrap around the top while all 3 pieces are on the ground) – It is all done ‘girl style’ (slightly different every time) and finished off with some kind of knot that just needs a pull at the end in order for it to come loose when time comes to undo it.’
They look like a great idea. Thanks Jenny . think you could make it even more comfortable by adding your inflatable mat. You can see that the chair is moveable, so you can take it inside your shelter when it rains.
Jenny’s chair, details:
Sitting back relaxing on the track to Tali Karng. Looks comfy.
the original. This chair was spied by Ron Edwards ‘Australian Traditional Bush
Crafts’ at Dick Rimmings Hut at Kooboora 145 km west of
13/11/2015: Cyclone Chair: https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Accessory/CycloneSLChairKit I thought I had posted about this wonder long ago, but apparently not. I always carry one of these. You can make a comfy chair with it out of just about any pad. (I use the Thermarest Neoair X-lite Womens myself). The specs say it weighs 180 grams but I’m sure mine is about 15 grams less than that. It helps to give structure to a frameless pack such as Gossamer Gear’s G4 (along with an Airbeam pad http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-air-beam-inflatable-pack-frame-update/), it provides a dry seat which supports your (tired) back at the end of a long day and gets you 5-6” off the ground. I have spent many hours sitting on mine eg in front of a cheery fire in my Tyvek shelter: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-solo-fire-shelter/
19/06/2015: Hunting Daypack: Most everyone carries too
much gear (whether multi-day hiking, or just as a day pack). After my first
solo hike of the Dusky Track Fiordland in 2006 (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/),
the first thing I did when I came home was THROW OUT my old hunting daypack. I
had spent some time working out how to carry enough gear on (what was then) a
57 year old body to last me up to a week in very rugged country where sub-zero
conditions, torrential rain, and being flooded in were reasonable likelihoods -
whilst at the same time being safe and comfortable. In the end I started out
carrying just over 13 kg which diminished by over half a kilo a day as I ate
the food and drank the Bacardi 151. The same trip now would see me starting
with less than 10kg. I was there last year. This year my wife and I hiked the
South Coast Track which I wholly recommend (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/fiordland-2014-2/
& following). I had chosen Gossamer Gear’s G4 pack at 454 grams to carry
all this. Nine years later I am still using it for longer hunting and canoeing
trips. When I weighed my hunting daypack I found it to be 1.25 kg EMPTY. Out it
went, and off I went with my scales looking for something MUCH lighter. At the
time I could not find anything locally less than about 300 grams, but now I
know there are a number of quite serviceable smaller packs which weigh much
less than that. My current http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml
52 litre (!) hiking pack weighs 320 grams and has been with me MANY hundreds of
rugged miles (eg across Tasmania, http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tasmanias-south-coast-track-hells-holiday/
etc) As you can see, Joe’s 27 litre Zero pack weighs 113 grams! That’s quite
big enough for a day, probably overnight! You could also use it as a stow bag
in your main pack, and take it out and use it when you had made camp. Here is
another (waterproof) possibility: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/outdoor/ultrasil-dry-day-pack/
That taken care of, what should you take with you IN your day pack? Raincoat. I
have one from zpacks which weighs 130 grams, is wonderfully waterproof and
breathable. Warm Jacket: a synthetic insulated jacket is a MUST in wet bush in
the winter months (down is GREAT – what I use hiking) but riskier when it is
VERY wet and cold as in Gippsland
winter. A Montbell Thermawrap vest (188 grams) and jacket (240 grams) would be
hard to beat along with an eg Icebreaker merino wool beanie. Should you be
prepared to sleep out? I think so. It happens sometimes to everyone! A very
lightweight shelter and emergency space blanket bag is a good idea. You CAN
make a mylar space blanket into a temporary shelter if you carry a bit of
string - I always carry a small dental floss for 1st aid and repairs: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/rope-dont-leave-home-without-it/) I will cover this in a future post about my Home-made
Poncho-Tarp. If you can’t light a fire, something like a Blizzard Bag (http://www.blizzardsurvival.com/product.php/100/blizzard-survival-bag)
might live in your daypack, but at approx 385 grams, you might just as well
carry your down sleeping bag and hiking mat (See http://www.finnsheep.com/HIKING.htm).
Adventure Medical Kits have some great options. The most important thing you
will EVER learn is HOW to light a fire when conditions are really dreadful. If
you can’t do this, you really shouldn’t be out on the woods alone! You will need (another) mini Bic lighter in a
snap lock bag in your daypack with some bicycle inner tube as a fire starter -
I assume you already have a mini Bic in your pocket for testing wind direction
– but sometimes it drops out of your pocket, so another is just good insurance.
I ASSUME you will already have a knife so you can split wood and shave the
inner dry wood to make excelsior, the very best fire starter. No doubt it has a
secondary purpose for butchering/caping work. About the lightest suitable knife
is this Ka-Bar: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/
A bone saw can be useful. I usually carry a length of ‘embryo wire’ available
from veterinary suppliers. You just need to knot a length to two short pieces
of wood (as handles) then you can saw someone’s head in half in a few seconds!
You really should have a 1st Aid Kit. I have already mentioned the dental
floss! (Always include some spectra string). A needle should accompany it – if
only for sewing up your ripped trousers – I have also used it for sewing up ripped
dogs,; it would be equally useful for sewing up ripped me! You CAN go overboard
here. By the same token, you may carry, eg an elastic bandage or a sling (I
have) in your pack for years before you really need them (in this case because
my wife had dislocated her shoulder in a really REMOTE place!) Some Panadeine
Forte and anti-inflammatories will enable you to keep on moving when otherwise
it would be very difficult. I recommend some Imodium: in the event of diarrhoea
it is invaluable! Blister pads: also essential. Some bandaging (Band Aids,
Elastoplast) and Leucotape. Likewise, Small quantity of iodine (sealed in a
drinking tube); likewise anti-fungal cream (Daktarin): a really bad sudden case
in the crotch WILL be agony! Food: Probably the best thing to have in your
daypack, because they will remain fresh for weeks and need no cooking are a
full day’s ration of Carmen’s low GI Muesli bars (or like). If you are going to
cook something, this is a great cup: http://www.traildesigns.com/cookware/vargo-450ml-travel-titanium-mug-eca355
03/11/2015: Osprey Ultralight Stuff Pack: Great new hiking day pack: 18 litres, three compartments, water bottle pocket, 90 grams assorted colours, available: http://www.backpackinglight.com.au/ I think you could squeeze an overnight trip into it. Worth a try anyway. Add it to the suggestions here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-daypack/
23/10/2015: Air Beam Pad: I have always used Gossamer’ Gear’s ‘Sitlight’ pad as padding and partial load transfer in my GG and Zpacks packs. This new pad beats them hands down for comfort and getting that weight down onto your hips where it belongs. The pad itself (12” x19” x ¾”) weighs 68 grams compared to the ‘Sitlight’ @ 49 grams. Unfortunately the pump weighs 29 grams. The pad is quite difficult to blow up by mouth (but on most trips re-inflation should not be necessary). I am working on plugging the ¼” inflation tube with a ¼” irrigation plug(or similar). I also hope to be able to modify a drinking bottle cap with a 1/4” irrigation fitting and some glue – somethig like my post here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/sawyer-water-filter/) so I can blow the pad up (if necessary) with my Platypus/Sawyer drinking bottle. The pad can also be used to extend the length of a 3/4 length sleeping pad (eg Thermarest Neo – 230 grams), so the extra 12 grams can be seen as a saving of 98 grams as compared with carrying the Thermarest Neo Xlight Womens which I normally use: http://gossamergear.com/gg-airbeam-pack-frame.html See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-pack/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hunting-daypack/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-ideal-pack/
25/04/2016: Sleeping Pad Pack Frame: If you don’t own a Gossamer gear pack but want to add an Air Beam to another frameless pack for load transfer you could try this idea: http://www.zpacks.com/large_image.shtml?backpacks/options/sleeping_pad_l.jpg
Zpacks Zero plus Gossamer Gear Sitlight pad shown.
We added this system ourselves with some elastic to a pack (plus one Klymit Air beam) with spectacular results, not least being a dry back! Mountain Laurel Designs also have a load transfer system (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=208 using a Klymit pad (See also: http://gossamergear.com/gg-airbeam-pack-frame.html) which goes inside your pack).
You could try that (ie putting it inside your pack) anyway if you aren’t handy at sewing. I suspect the idea originated first with Ray Jardine (http://www.rayjardine.com/ray-way/Backpack-Kit/index.htm?g_page=9).
I prefer it on the outside of my pack for the dry back option, what a winner (!) and as a handy trail seat for rest stops.
24/10/2015: Klymit Air Beam Inflatable Pack Frame Update: After initially failing to inflate the pad from totally flat by mouth, I staggered to the incorrect conclusion that I needed some artificial means of inflation - hence the post about making an adapter for a Platypus bottle (which would work). Somewhere in there I bought a pack of Pope 4mm Sealing Plugs (possibly .1 grams each!) and decided to have another go. The inflation difficulty is caused by some narrow air channels along the top of the pad. You can easily infate the larger tube on the side. When you do that you can squeeze the air around these narrow channels after which the pad infates easily by mouth. Conclusion: you do not need to carry the pad inflater bulb, a saving of one ounce (28 grams – a Muesli bar or spare phone camera, etc). The pad tapers from 1 ½” (40mm) high to 1” (25mm). I tried lying on it with my ¾ length Neoair pad (230 grams) and it was fine. I will make an arrangement up so they can be hooked together using these, stick on patches from http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/tape.shtml So, a pack frame and 110 gram lighter sleeping arrangement for a weight investment of around 14 grams. Pictured the inflated pad having been plugged overnight, the discarded bulb inflater, the pack of Pope fittings, Zpack patches, etc: 71-2 grams in this format.
09/01/2016: Ultralight Hunting Daypack Update: Some folks have commented that they want a tougher pack than say the Osprey (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/osprey-ultralight-stuff-pack/) or Sea to Summit (http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/outdoor/ultrasil-dry-day-pack/) or Zpacks Zero (http://www.zpacks.com/backpacks/zero.shtml) so they can carry lots of meat betimes (and are happy to carry over 100 grams! They should maybe move to the 4.8oz/yd Dyneema fabric available in a green check. Zpacks will option their Zero (in various sizes and with additional options from US$105 and 168 grams) in their ‘Hybrid Cuben 2.92oz/yd fabric or in this material. Mountain Laurel Designs also have these ready-made options available in Dyneema or Hybrid Cuben also with bespoke options (talk to Ron): http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/index.php?cPath=25 Their ‘Core’ at US$85 and 228 grams is a snap; for an overnight hike you might chose their ‘Burn’ I own a number of MLD products. Their quality and sewing are superb.
Mountain Laurel Designs have their own version of the Klymit Airbeam Pad in a configurable format (with instructions) http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=46&products_id=186 - US$35. They also offer a pad pocket option for their packs - which is great for load transfer: (http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=25&products_id=208) - US$45. The pad + pocket add about 120 grams.
15/05/2015: DRY BAGS: Sea to
Zpacks: Pack Liner Dry Bag
Oval base x Height
(49 x 16) x 79cm
(51 x 20) x 90cm
(55 x 25) x 122cm
ø11 x 24cm
ø13 x 29cm
ø15 x 33cm
ø17 x 46cm
ø22 x 53cm
ø25 x 61cm
ø30 x 70cm
Oval Base x Height (cms)
(13 x 7.5) x 24
(15 x 9.5) x 28.5
(17 x 11.2) x 33
(20 x 15) x 47
(22.5 x 16.5) x 52
(26 x 20) x 63
(31 x 25) x 70
EXPED FOLD DRYBAG
Length x Width
16 x 14 x 7 cm
21 x 14 cm
30 x 16 cm
35 x 18 cm
42 x 22 cm
46 x 25 cm
52 x 30 cm
The other ‘large’ items in your pack are: sleeping bag, tent, mat, raincoat, cook-set, clothes. You should try to work each of these down as much as you can. I have already posted some thoughts on some of these items, eg:
14/06/2015: Cuben Stuff Sacks: Weigh less than HALF what snap-lock bags do (and beat everything else hands down), eg a camera pouch weighs 1.6 grams! Given that you need to sort your pack gear some way, you probably have a dozen or more bags which could be replaced with these beauties – probably saving you the equivalent of ½ to a day’s food (or three days’ booze if you drink Bacardi 151 when hiking!) You can buy them here: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/stuff_sacks.shtml or you can make your own having bought the material (and patterns eg) here: http://www.questoutfitters.com/ You don’t need to be able to sew – you can make them just with cuben fibre and cuben tape (see yesterday’s post – available both sites above).
27/10/2015: Segmented: Stuff Sack Organizes Your Gear: The SegSac has internal dividers to keep clothes and gear from floating around in your pack or luggage. http://gearjunkie.com/segsac-stuff-sack See also: http://gobigear.com/products/the-hoboroll-pinyon-pine
SLEEPING BAGS: We have found THESE to be the best all-round sleeping bags (at 624 grams) for a number of years: http://www.moontrail.com/montbell-ul-spiral-down-hugger-3-reg.php Their temperature rating is VERY generous. The older models (we have) used to weigh less than this, but the zip is a bit catchy. They are wonderfully comfortable because they stretch (unlike other sleeping bags). You can lie/sit up cross-legged in them! I have been quite comfortable down to minus 9C in mine (I am a warm sleeper!), though the addition of a Sea to Summit liner increases warmth by 8C at a weight cost of approx 250grams (http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products-page/travel-sleeping-bag-liners/thermolite-reactor-liner/) I have noticed that Joe Valesko over at http://www.zpacks.com/quilts.shtml has just started making sleeping bags. His equivalent bag would weigh 397 grams (plus 40 grams for a hood – sold separately). We have a lot of Joe’s other ultralight gear (packs, tents, raincoat etc) and have found them very good, so we may just try one of these, (stock market permitting)! I can see (particularly) that I can get Della’s pack weight down substantially with one of these, a 1000 fill power down jacket (now even available in ‘waterproof’ down) and one of Joe’s ‘new’ cuben raincoats @ 120 grams - altogether more than 800 grams – nearly three days’ food for her!
17/12/2016: Klymit Insulated Static V Lite Sleeping Pad: This pad is available on Massdrop (https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-insulated-static-v-lite?referer=EJ89BQ) for US$62.99 (so about A$100 delivered) just now. It has a very good R rating and is 23” wide! Just what you need to keep those elbows warm! I do not need it to be so long as this but can probably cut approx 6” (15 cm) off it and reseal it with a hot iron (so bringing its weight down to 509 grams. Della would only need 5’ (150 cm) of it, so hers would weigh 463 grams!) This is heavier than my beloved Thermarest Neoair Women’s but it is wider, has a slightly higher R rating (.7) and looks to be made of a tougher material, so worth a try. ‘Lite has an R-value of 4.4 and weighs just 19.6 ounces (556 grams) . The body-mapped V shape and dynamic side rails reduce air movement and hug your body as you sleep, while the Klymalite synthetic insulation offers reliable thermal performance for all seasons—from summer backpacking to winter ski tours. Made from tear- and abrasion-resistant 30d polyester, this pad inflates easily in 10 to 15 breaths through the twist-pull valve, and when you’re done, packs down to 5 by 8 inches in the included stuff sack.’
PS: I recently received a Klymit X Ultra Light Pillow (Weight 53 grams http://www.theultralighthiker.com/klymit-ultralight-pillow/). I am most impressed with it. Though a few grams heavier than my Exped pillow, it appears to be tougher. You can sit on it (it has a screw down valve instead of a plug) , so it makes an excellent comfortable trail seat. The configuration allows for a number of sleeping strategies but the 'X' in the middle will be ideal for back sleepers. I slept on it last night and found it superbly comfortable.
26/09/2016: Sleeping Pad Reinvented: Big Agnes Q-Core SLX: Big Agnes has been redesigning some of its great pads. For example, their Big Agnes Q-Core SLX Petite Pad: 15 oz (427 grams) and rated to 15F (-9.5C ie R = 4.5) and 4.25” (10.5cm) thick! Reputed to be superbly comfortable and dramatically robust. The square ends also make the Q-Core an excellent hammock pad, particularly if you chose one of the wider models. RRT US$139.95 https://gearjunkie.com/big-agnes-q-core-slx-sleeping-pad ‘Offset I-beams, ‘micro’ air-pressure adjustment, and aviation-grade TPU lamination… sleeping pads can be deceptively high-tech. But what does it all mean?
Stability = Comfort It’s all about the I-beams… on the contours of the sleep surface…making the pad surface more even would increase the comfort of the pad…the offset quilted pattern replaces standard parallel I-beam construction, preventing you from sliding on the pad...the outermost I-beams on both sides are slightly larger, which creates a cradle that holds you near the center of the pad.
‘Ultimate Durability’…this pad is 25 percent more durable than its Q-Core SL predecessor. We’ve improved materials and construction with new double rip-stop and aviation grade TPU lamination technology…‘Superlight,’ Micro Adjustment Total weight for this pad falls between 15-22 ounces, (ie from 427 grams) depending on the model size (66-78 inches long, and 20- or 25-inch widths).
Its micro air adjustment’ is a tiny ball that sits in the center of the inflate valve. You can press it to allow a little air to escape, reducing the pad’s stiffness. It works just like a presta valve on a bike tire.’ https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Pad/qcoreslx
We have owned their Insulated Air Core pads for many years. When we bought them they were the only pads which had anywhere near that thickness (3.25”) and R rating 4.5 (ie good down to 15F or -10C) - and cheap. They have proved incredibly durable and comfortable pads. For example their Insulated Air Core starts off at US$84 for a full-length pad and is under 600 grams, yet over 3.25” thick. We have two, their regular 6’ pad and their Petite Mummy 5’ pad (not currently available) which is around 500 grams and actually long enough for each of us (I am 5’7”, Della 5'). Most folks will really not need a pad longer than 66” (1.675m). It doesn’t matter if your feet overhang. I am a side sleeper anyway, so they don’t. Your feet won’t touch the ground so your sleeping bag will keep them warm as it is not compressed by your weight.
16/10/2016: Adding Down to a Sleeping Bag: I have a Montbell Super Spiral Down Hugger #3 (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/montbell/) which will take me comfortably just below freezing (-1C) but on my upcoming Everest Base Camp and Three Passes hike it is likely to get down to maybe -14C (at Gorek Shep) so I need a little more warmth. I will be adding approximately 3 ounces of 900 fill power down to the bag. I also have a Montbell Superior Down vest, coat and trousers which I can wear (plus a down balaclava and down socks!) so I will be cosy enough.
Spot would like to come too, as you can see.
If you turn the bag inside out you can see where the baffles have been closed. It is a relatively easy task to push all the existing down to the bottoms of the baffle tubes, carefully rip the stitching which closes the baffles, then push handfuls of extra down into the tubes until you are satisfied they are full enough, then sew them up again. You can buy 3 ounces (90 grams) of 900 fill power down for US$39.95 here: http://thru-hiker.com/materials/insulation.php or 800 fill power dry down here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/duck-down-insulation-425g-15oz for A$30.80 This should drop the (comfort) temperature rating of your bag by approx 7C degrees.
Some additional useful instructions here: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/how-to-replace-feathers-in-a-down-sleeping-bag See videos here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRMJUZFTnHM & here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCJp2C4EFjU
15/12/2014: Della’s new Xmas sleeping bag has arrived. I used to be such an advocate of Montbell’s Ultralight Superstretch Down Hugger #3, a minus 1C bag - mine (recently) washed weighs 738 grams in its compression bag on my scales; still a GREAT bag. Della’s new Zpacks Medium, Regular, -7C weighs 499 grams in its compression sack – and it is 6C warmer - as well as being 240 grams lighter! Astonishing: http://www.zpacks.com/quilts/sleepingbag.shtml
06/01/2014: Exped ultralight pillow (@45 grams http://www.moontrail.com/exped-airpillow-ul-m.php). Received one of these for Xmas and tried it out last night. VERY comfortable. I have been seeking a new hiking pillow since Graham Medical stopped making their dual chamber ‘Flexair’ pillow. This could well be IT. Unlike Bonnie Prince Charlie who famously used a rock for a pillow (and was taunted as a sissy for needing one - in the snow during the raising of the Highlands), I NEED a comfortable pillow. This one allows you to sleep either on your back or your side, and is lower on one side (so supporting your neck and preventing nasty ‘cricks’). I recommend this product, but I would also like to try Thermarest’s new offering in the same category before I decide which is best. (http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/pillows-and-bedding/neoair-pillow/product @ 55 grams!)
15/04/2016: UL Pillows: For many years I used the Graham Medical Small @ .6 0z (17 grams). This was a great pillow when it had dual chambers. After I could no longer buy the dual version (though the single is still the lightest pillow available) I started looking for a replacement and finally settled on the Exped UL Medium @ 1.6 oz (46 grams) which gets me a great night’s sleep (coupled with the Thermarest’s Neoair Xlite Women’s sleeping pad – which I also couple with a Big Agnes Cyclone Chair for a comfy seat in the wilderness: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/ ). Here is a comparison of what’s available: https://backpackinglight.com/ultralight-inflatable-pillow-gear-guide-jordan/ I would certainly be prepared to try Neoair’s Siza S (might be warmer on a cold night – 1.9 oz or 54 grams) or Big Sky’s Dreamsleeper Deluxe @ 1.4 oz (40 grams). One thing I like most about Exped’s is it is asymmetric so that you can choose from a number of different configurations.
24/08/2016: Klymit Ultralight Pillow. I have not tried this pillow. I have been using the Exped UL for some time and find it great. It is a lot pricier than Klymit’s offering though, which is available for <US$20 just now on Massdrop if you are on a budget. It weighs just 48 grams. Certainly looks comfy. The ‘X’ should cradle your nhead nicely. I have been using Klymit’s Air Beam Pad and their pack raft, or Light Water Dinghy. They are fine products. https://www.massdrop.com/buy/massdrop-x-klymit-pillow?mode=guest_open
28/11/2014: Cleaning Down Bags: Thanks to my friend Brett for his advice about washing/treating (down) sleeping bags. I have now used Nikwax’s Down Wash & Down Proof products (sent from England in 1 litre containers via eBay - cheaper than 300ml avail locally: 150ml of each needed per sleeping bag) on my ‘worst’ Montbell Ultralight Super Stretch Down Hugger #3 bag. During the drying cycle I stopped every few minutes after some drying had occurred to separate out the clumps of down. Gradually I teased them out until I had achieved pretty much the loft of a new bag (if not better). I think next time I will try six tennis balls in the drier (they come in packs of three). They really do the job! I am really pleased with the result. I had substantially ruined this bag by having it saturated during a flood (twice) and having to sleep in it in any case. Then leaving it neglected for a couple of years. I will now try the products out on a bag which is mainly just dirty, and has not been allowed to re-loft enough.
3. PAD: I just LOVE this camping mat: the Thermarest xLite Women’s @ 340 grams at R-3.9 is quite long enough for someone of my height (approx 5’8” – your feet don’t need to be on the mat as they won’t touch the ground – anyway I tend to sleep on my side and curl up a bit) and is exquisitely comfortable - & warm. For sitting around camp we pair it with the Big Agnes Cyclone Chair (already mentioned) @ 170 grams: http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/womens-neoair-xlite/product & https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Accessory/CycloneSLChairKit A comfy chair in the wilderness is REAL luxury! The other mats in Thermarest’s Neoair range are great too. You can go as light as 230 grams with their Small xLite if you don’t mind a mat which is only 119cm long. This is enough though, if you have the ‘Sitlight’ or ‘Airbeam’ backpack pad which will give you an extra 30-50cm length depending on which way you lay it out. I really like Big Agnes’ pads which are made of MUCH tougher material (and may be more comfortable for you as the tubes run lengthways instead of sideways) http://www.moontrail.com/bigagnes-insulatedaircorepads-78-mummy.php The 150 cm ‘petite’ @ 499 grams is long enough for me (as mentioned, your feet don’t touch the ground so don’t get cold) - it is the compression of the insulation material under you in your sleeping bag that makes you cold ) – and has an R rating of 4.1, which means you will be comfortable at around -10C or less.
NB: ‘SIDEDNESS’: The ‘face’ side of things is the one with the label/name on. This is always the ‘up’ side. If you use (eg) a Big Agnes pad such as the above upside-down, it will not work and you will FREEZE, so BE WARNED.
07/03/2017: Side Insulation: Gossamer Gear’s Sitlight Pads are just great for this if you cut them in half lengthwise. They can be still used in your pack’s pad sleeve but when it comes time to make your bed, either on the ground or in your hammock, these little fellows will keep your elbows and shoulders toasty warm.
You lay them egg-crate side down to get maximum insulation. The egg-carton shape makes them effectively 2 cm or nearly an inch of foam, and all those little hills and hollows makes them ‘stick’ to your groundsheet or hammock so they don’t move around.
There are three sizes available now. Mine don’t seem to be any of those. Mine are 9 ¾ x 18 ¾ ( 25 x 48 cm) and weigh 34.5 grams. This is a pretty small weight penalty for the comfort they bring – and they still do double duty as a pack frame and a trail seat! Mine are also used as my dog’s mattresses, but you pretty much need to have a JR(as you should) if this is going to work for you.
05/03/2017: Womens Are Great in Bed: You have probably noticed before how much I have extolled the virtues of Thermarest’s wonderful sleeping pads. I particularly adore this one (the Noeair XLite Womens) as it as light as a feather (340 grams), ‘fits’ me perfectly at 20” x 66” (51 x 168 cm) and is superbly comfortable (moreso I think than my own bed) at 2.5” thick (6.3 cm) and warm enough to sleep on a block of ice (I have) with an R-rating of 3.9! https://www.thermarest.com/mattresses/womens-neoair-xlite
You will probably have glimpsed this little piece of yellow in many of my hiking photos, often folded up into a chair, eg here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-last-of-the-mountain-men/
I am about 5’8” so my heels just hang over the edge, and the rest of my body fits its mummy shape just about perfectly – which is what you want to make an inflatable pad super-comfy. I also think the horizontal tubes have an edge comfort wise over longitudinal ones but this may well be a subjective thing.
The first point is the most important one anyway: If you have surplus mat at the ends, sides or corners your weight will drive the air there and you will sink further into the mat. This means that the mat has to be inflated more to support your weight from sinking to the ground (usually your buttocks or hips) at the heaviest point.
To me a tightly inflated mat is less comfortable than one that is less so. I prefer a softer bed. I realise this may not be so for everyone, just most people, but if you are like me you will want to chose a mummy shaped pad and cut it to just 2” shorter than your actual height (as I explain how to do here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/modifyingshortening-hiking-mats/) so that it is both exquisitely comfortable and the minimum weight!
From Thermarest’s page:
The women’s NeoAir XLite mattress delivers more warmth and comfort per ounce than any other three-season air mattress available. Cold sleepers will appreciate our Women’s version, featuring an added layer of our reflective ThermaCapture™ technology for added warmth. New softer fabrics bring better next-to-skin comfort and boost in durability with no added weight. For the discerning alpinist, thru-hiker or backcountry minimalist who’s counting every ounce, there is simply no better choice to assure the kind of rest you need to get done what you’ve got planned for tomorrow. Stuff sack and repair kit included.
Ultralight: Advanced fabrics and a tapered design make this the lightest 3-season backpacking air mattresses available, with no peer in its warmth-to-weight ratio.
Warm: Multiple ThermaCapture™ layers trap extra radiant heat for cold sleepers, without the bulk, weight or durability issues of down and synthetic fills.
Comfortable: 2.5” (6 cm)-thickness, soft-touch fabrics and baffled Triangular Core Matrix™ structure provide unrivaled stability and support.
Ultra-Packable: Low-bulk materials make the XLite mattress the most compact NeoAir mattress ever – as packable as a water bottle.’
PS: Repairs: Though they are quite tough you will inevitably manage to puncture your pad. Mine was punctured within a day of my having bought it by a certain puppy (you will have met Spot if you have been here before) grabbing it in his needle teeth and dragging it backwards out the dog door onto the front lawn where he engaged in a full-blown mock battle with it until I intervened. I have found that nothing beats cuben tape (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cuben-tape/) for patching holes in them, The cure is instantaneous, efficacious and has not had to be repeated (Spot is now four years old). This tape is also excellent for a wide range of other repairs (raincoats, tents etc) and should always be carried!
PPS: Thermarest also have a chair which will do this but I own the Big Agnes Cyclone Chair ( I think slightly lighter) which has served me as furniture for many years in many wild places: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cyclone-chair/
PPPS: Another feature of inflatable mats is that you can get yourself and your pack (dry) across swollen rivers relatively safely with them by using them as a kick board. I have had to do this numerous times. Usually it is winter, so it’s not much fun, but if you need to cross...I usually take all my clothes and my shoes off first and put them inside my pack liner.
PPPPS:The RRP for this pad is US$159.95 if you buy it from the States and use (eg) Shipito (https://www.shipito.com/en/?id_affiliate=5249&countrycode=AU) to get it to Oz (Recommended).
27/11/2016: Klymit Inertia O Zone Ultralight Exclusive Sleeping Pad and Pillow combined: An interesting idea: fits inside your sleeping bag for extra warmth. R = 1.3, from US$51.99 11.9 oz (339 grams): http://www.klymit.com/inertia-ozone.html & now on Massdrop; https://www.massdrop.com/buy/klymit-inertia-o-zone-ultralight?referer=EJ89BQ
9/09/2016: Modifying/Shortening Hiking Mats: Sometimes hiking mats just come in the wrong length or width. For example, I would like a wider pad but they only come very much longer. Is it possible to cut a bit off them and reseal them? Yes it is. Here are some links on how to do just that:
How to Cut and Reseal a Neoair - On The Trail - Episode #1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kumSl-cbLlY
Shorten Neoair: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/73403/#625778
How to shorten a full length self-inflatable mattress: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AoRTAeKcA0w
Resizing a Therm-a-rest Evolite Sleeping Pad: https://hikelighter.com/2016/08/16/resizing-a-therm-a-rest-evolite-sleeping-pad/
Resizing the Massdrop x Klymit Static V Ultralight Sleeping Pad: https://hikelighter.com/2016/08/09/resizing-the-massdrop-x-klymit-static-v-ultralight-sleeping-pad/
Below are two mats I would consider cutting down to produce a mat which has more width comfort:
Thermarest XLite Large: 25” (63 cm) by 77” (196cm) by 16 oz (460 grams) R 3.2 If I cut this down to the same dimensions as my XLite Womens it would weigh 394 grams. Only 54 grams for that much increase in comfort!
Thermarest Neo Air All Seasons Large 25” (63 cm) by 77” (196cm) by 25 oz (710 grams) R 4.9 2 If I cut this down to the same dimensions as my XLite Womens it would weigh 608 grams.
I could cut an unnecessary 6” off Della’s XLite Women’s saving her 10% of its weight (or 34 grams)!
You might also want to trim a mat to make it more mummy shaped – and to save weight.
Other modifications: Erin McKittrick and her husband Hig during their ‘ A Long Trek Home’ (http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/Book/) cut down their Thermarest self inflators by cutting a hole (roughly) in the middle of them through which they could push their head. They then passed a string/belt around themselves and the mattress creating a makeshift life jacket!
03/03/2016: Thermarest Speedvalve: Thermarest has a new range of easy to inflate mats. These guys go up (and down) so easily it will be hard to resist the temptation to replace our ‘old’ mats. Fortunately for us they have not (yet) extended the new valve’s availability to our favourite mat the Neoair Xlite Women’s! (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/new-hiking-mat-425g/) The regular 20” x 72” Neoair with this valve would be hard to resist though for hammock camping where its ‘square’ profile helps keep your shoulders warm. You have to spend your –har-earned’ on something though – you can’t take it with you! And what better to spend your money on than anything which facilitates your next great trip to the backwoods! See: http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/mattresses/fast-and-light/neoair-xlite-max-sv/product I posted about this idea back in August 2014. Thermarest have finally taken the idea up: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/another-way-to-inflate-your-air-pad/ See Also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/highlights-of-the-outdoor-retailer-summer-2015-trade-show/
27/04/2016: Ultralight Chair/Grounsheet: I found this image on Pinterest
but could not find who to recognise/praise for it (my apologies to the clever inventer). I have been going to make one of these
(see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tarp-bathtub-groundsheet/) out of Tyvek (will be soon for my new tent). I think it will be a simple matter to add some ‘pockets’ as illustrated in the first picture so that a one person groundsheet can do double duty as an ultralight chair with the addition of a couple of hiking poles (as shown) or a couple of broken off sticks. Maybe a couple of webbing straps need to be added. I will experiment. As I have said before: ‘Watch this space…’
ROPE: Sam Gamgee was right, ‘What
about a bit of rope? You'll want it, if you haven't got it,’ he opined, and you
would be foolish if you didn’t agree. Some cordage is an essential on the
trail: You need thread and needle for those torn trousers or wounds. I always
have dental floss (a self-threading needle fits in the container with it – and
it is sterile). It has enabled numerous essential repairs over the years, even
though I am certainly not the seamstress Della is. For heavier cordage ALWAYS
choose (UV resistant) dyneema or spectra cord which are stronger and lighter
than any other kind. You will want a lighter length of this (1-1.5mm diameter)
for replacing guys, clotheslines, hanging bags out of reach of predators,
snares, or making a spare pair of SHOES (See Below) etc. On our trip across the
Finally at the end of the sixth day we came to a stream (the South Cape Rivulet – hah! What a cheating name!) This stream is tidal and the tide was high, as was the stream! It was chest deep already and swept by episodic nearly metre high waves. There was a neat sign enjoining people to study it carefully for at least 15 minutes before attempting to cross. There was nowhere to camp on the departing side and only (!) six days back (to an unmanned aerodrome!) if we could not (and ONE onwards to a bus stop at Cockle Creek if we could!) No helicopter would come to rescue us (I called). So out from the pack came the trusty Spectra. I tied one end to a tree (there was none on the far side) and with Della and Kerri playing out rope I was able to get across without a pack between waves. Then I was able to make a large enough bight to stand in and tension it whilst Della and Kerri crossed holding onto it. Even then Della was nearly swept away. With Della and Kerri standing in the bight I was able to cross back over a number of times to retrieve the packs AND THE ROPE! You never KNOW when you’ll need it! It was a COLD camp that night, as we were all utterly soaked and chilled by the frigid water, believe me. ROPE, DON’T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT!
14/12/2014: To go with that bit of rope, these tiny luminous line locks (.7 gram ea) are just great http://www.clamcleat.com/cleats/cleat_details.asp?theid2=95 as is ultra light 1.25 high viz spectra cord (eg avail http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/spectra_cord.shtml ) which (together) makes for a perfect guy line for a hiking tent/tarp. They REALLY do glow in the dark – you can see them right through your tent!
POLES: These folks have nice (light 113 grams) three-piece carbon fibre poles which telescope to 50cm thus fitting in your pack when not in use. I managed to lose one of my two-piece poles pushing through thick bush on the Mt Darling Track last week (21/11/2014). I was carrying it on the outside of my pack in case my crook knee gave out on me (in which case I could take down my rifle and swap it for a pair of poles). Being longer than the pack, a fork in some regrowth must have fished it out without my noticing, so that now I need to replace it. (Note to self: TIE them in!) I looked carefully on the way back, but did not sight it (probably whipped away off the line of track, I guess): http://www.rutalocura.com/trekking_poles3.html Gossamer Gear also have excellent carbon fibre trekking poles. Poles save about 40% of your effort and will prevent many falls.
27/11/2014: While you’re looking at ‘ruta locura’s’ web-site (Sp = crazy journey; I like!) you might notice their Tenkara trout fly rod conversion for a hiking pole. Now that’s a good idea if you’re a keen fly fisher (as you ought be!): http://www.rutalocura.com/Tenkara.html
07/09/2014: Maybe you (figure you) don’t need a walking stick (or two) but when you work out you do, (or that a couple will reduce the effort of hiking by 50%+ and reduce the chances of falls by @100%), maybe you will be ready to try the LT4s. They only weigh @ 119 grams (about HALF a conventional pole) each, yet are strong enough to support MY weight (and that is SOME recommendation!) You can usually use them as the tent poles for one or other lightweight tent too. Two poles can be added together to make quite a tent pole, eg we used the upper section and TWO lower sections (you Have to pop out the little cork circle in the handle to do this) to form a 6’+ centre pole for our Mountain Laurel Designs ‘Supermid’ (sleeps 4!) pyramid tent on our walk across Tasmania. I woud not buy the ones with straps as I would not USE straps. I usually add a loop of very lightweight spectra and a micro cord lock to each pole for those occasions when you want to hang them on your wrist eg to take a photo, or so you don’t drop them when crossing a walkwire. It is better NOT to walk with the string (or a strap) attached to your wrist: that is how Della dislocated her shoulder on the Dusky Track (thus ending our hike – apart from a rather miserable struggle to a relatively nearby spot where a helicopter could land!) As we crossed a giant boulder she slipped, and slid down its face. She would only have sustained (maybe) a couple of bruises to her bottom, but she had the loops around her wrist, and as she slid down, one of the poles caught in a tree root and hanged her by it - thus dislocating her shoulder. Sometimes too it is good to be able to let go of the poles and be able to grab a handhold such as a tree etc: http://gossamergear.com/trekking/trekking/lt4-trekking-poles-all.html
INSECTS can RUIN a camping trip.
You need a Repellent which WORKS. There has been a move by the touchy-feely
crowd to bombard us with ‘natural’ ones which will see you eaten alive. Be
warned. The product MUST have DEET (not so much it melts your raincoat, but
lots). And if you are going somewhere which you know is seriously infested (eg
with murderous giant sandflies – like the West Coast and Fiordland NZ) then it
should also contain ANOTHER repellent as well, eg DIMP. I usually use
ULTRAGUARD which has 30% of each! If you are allergic to either of these
products, STAY HOME! Even so, you DO get bitten occasionally (and those NZ
sandflies can turn me into something which resembles the surface of the moon -
only monstrously ITCHY!) Unexpectedly unprotected spots need to be considered.
The part of your hair. Most caps, for example, have a gap where they adjust at
the back. Some hiking shirts are (thoughtfully?) provided with (non insect
screened) vents. Some materials are too open-woven so that those nasty probosci
can punch right through them. I choose close woven lightweight nylon in those
circumstances, even though you end up smelling like a horse! The very best
thing when you DO get bitten and are itching to DEATH is an antihistamine cream
6/09/2016: Mozzie Nets: Lots of folks eschew tarps for tents because they fear they will be invaded by vast swarms of biting and stinging beasties of various ilks, but mostly I find the weight and (usually) the inconvenience/unreliability of zippers is not worth the relatively rare times that need arises.
I admit there are some spots where the hordes of sandflies or mozzies can be quite daunting (and March flies here in Oz are sometimes quite dreadful) but most things can’t sting or bite through well chosen clothing (or your sleeping bag), the critters arrive in great numbers every time you leave or enter your shelter anyway, and all you needed to carry really was a head net (which can also deter flies from bothering you and works while you are walking) and such a head net need only weigh 11 grams (!) as in this iteration from Sea to Summit: http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/bug-protection/nano-mosquito-headnets/?ref=outdoor so I misdoubt the desirability of lugging around up to a kilogram of netting inside which you will always be killing sandflies, mozzies etc anyway.
That being said, I am working on Nano Noseeum mesh doors for my http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-deer-hunters-tent/ which I will close without zippers and which (at .7 oz/yd2) will weigh only about an ounce or 30 grams (the mesh is available here: http://www.tiergear.com.au/11/online-shop/no-see-um-mesh) for such rare occasions as I find myself camped out in sandfly heaven, eg at the Grant Burn on the South Coast track Fiordland NZ: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/south-coast-track-fiordland-nz-waitutu-to-westies/) You can slowly eliminate the sandflies/mozzies which invade your (netted) tent by clapping your hands together to kill them as they circle below your suspended lantern of a night (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mini-super-torch-a-weeks-light-weighs-50-grams/) – or you can carry a mini atomiser bottle of insect spray.
28/12/2016: Ultralight Toothpaste: ‘Tactical skills weblog Imminent Threat Solutions shares a simple method for making toothpaste dots by squeezing small, chocolate-chip sized "dots" of toothpaste onto aluminum foil, allowing those dots to harden for a week or so, and then transferring to a small waterproof bag. To use, all you need to do is pop a toothpaste dot in your mouth, chew for a few seconds, and start brushing.’ http://lifehacker.com/5979236/toothpaste-dots-keep-down-toiletry-bulk-when-carrying-light & http://gossamergear.com/wp/toothpaste-dots
06/03/2015: MATHOMS IN YOUR PACK: We are all always trying to lighten our load, searching for those unnecessary items which would best be left at home, but it would be unwise to jeopardise safety for lightness. A case in point: for over twenty years I carried an elastic bandage and a cotton sling in my pack, the first in case of snakebite sprains etc (I also carried Panadine Forte and Diclofenec anti-inflammatories for the same reason), the second for a broken arm from a fall, etc. Now, after all that time it might have been sensible to reconsider the weight they were adding. Then, in 2011 I took Della to Supper Cove, Dusky Sound, Fiordland NZ. She had not been there better than an hour when she slipped on a rock and dislocated her shoulder, so that I needed all these ‘mathoms’ at once! PS: the ‘Helimed’ evacuation (called ‘Medivac’ in NZ - and FREE!) was a spectacular ride – just a pity Della didn’t enjoy it much despite all the morphine they were giving her! NB: Satellite phones DO come in handy!
07/03/2015: ELASTIC BANDAGES: There is now a veterinary elastic bandage which should (perhaps) replace the elastic bandage you have carried in your pack the last twenty years without using it. It is VERY MUCH lighter, and sticks to itself, so you don’t need a safety pin (though this might come in handy for some other use, and I always carry a couple in my ‘repair’ kit) Pretty, isn’t it? http://www.globalmedivet.com.au/order-online.html?page=shop.product_details&category_id=1&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=17
07/04/2015: VETWRAP Review: A 2 metre (x100mm) roll of this colourful elastic bandaging (available at horse supplies etc) is 15 grams lighter then the more traditional elastic bandage, and since it sticks to itself stays in place better. It is good for an emergency bandage, but it is almost impossible to RE-USE it, so if you are likely to need it for several days (likely) it is probably better to stick with the old one. Shown here is my old elastic bandage which has been in (& out) of my pack for thirty years (still with my firstborn’s nappy pin I see!) which still after many uses rolls up in ten seconds. I have been trying to re-roll the pink one for ten minutes, and this is as far as I got!
ULTRALIGHT PERSONAL HYGIENE: Some of these issues are a bit of a ‘No No’, but someone needs to bring them up. Personally I am particularly disgusted by folks who scatter personal hygiene products (and worse!) around in the bush. Please: bury, burn or carry out!
BATHING: Another Sea to Summit product: an ultrasil camp shower which weighs about 120 grams (without its silly stuff sack), and gives a lovely shower with two billies of boiling water plus two of cold – obviously add the cold FIRST! http://www.seatosummit.com.au/products/leave-no-trace/pocket-shower/ Della usually favours a sponge bath from the billy – a strategy which weighs nearly nothing – and gives a quite satisfactory result. Of course a quick dip in an icy stream whilst very bracing will still get you quite adequately clean. Weight: 0 gram! For a neat way to hang your shower see this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bush-shower-mechanical-advantage/ this would also work well if you are hanging heavy game overnight & etc. We find these lightload towels great for drying off, as washable handkerchiefs, as sweat bands, etc: http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/towel.shtml Most hiking towels do not dry and cannot be squeezed out except the ones which feel a little like cardboard when dry.
TOILET rolls should be BANNED. I wonder really that our emerald agitators have not hit on this particular remedy for the woes of our troubled forests. Why, when we are hiking we manage to get by with (at most) 2-3 Kleenex tissues a day (Fold & fold & fold), which saves a lot on pack weight – and the handy purse-sized dispensers prevent the tissues from becoming saturated and unusable in the rain (which would happen to a toilet roll). But, think of the vast forests to be saved if everyone was FORCED to do this EVERY day. Why, we should never resile from the ability to use force on the citizenry – to make them better, of course!
I always carry a sachet of Kleenex anti-bacterial wipes too, though I have now reprised their weight http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dettol-hand-sanitising-wipes/ Just one of these will give a satisfactory APC (armpits & crutch) clean-up, eg after you have been to the toilet or at the end of the trail day (if you aren’t going to bathe). Cleanliness in such areas may prevent some nasty (eg fungal) infections which will seriously slow you down.
I can usually manage to dig a hole with the heel of my boot, but this tool may be useful if the ground is hard (or for collecting fishing bait, etc): Ultralight titanium ‘potty’ trowels (15 grams): http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P11%20Titanium%20Trowel.html or http://gossamergear.com/deuce-of-spades.html at 17 grams. If you ever need to dig for water one of these might be a lifesaver. A sturdy metal tool would be preferable to a plastic pone which would not stand up to heavy use at need.
Suluk Titanium Trowel
CHAFING: Prevent chafing by applying some moisturizer to the area each day before the day’s hike. Likewise, heel balm all over the feet as an aid to preventing blisters or feet drying out and cracking. You can use a variety of strategies to prepare your feet in the couple of weeks leading up to a hike. Special attention to getting those toenails really short, & softening up the skin. Some recommend hardening the feet for a couple of weeks with alcohol. I have not tried this – seems like the wrong end to be putting the alcohol!
Microdripper bottles: http://gossamergear.com/mini-dropper-bottles.html These can be useful for storing small quantities (eg of wilderness wash, iodine, deodorant, insect repellent, etc – TIP: if you take the ‘roller’ off a roll-on, you will find it is a liquid which can be decanted into one of these). Drinking straws http://www.theultralighthiker.com/single-use-antibiotic-packs/ can also be made into useful containers.
For protection from insects and treatment of their bites, see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/insects-can-ruin-a-camping-trip/ Leeches can be a problem too. Their bites can also be treated effectively with the antihistamine cream. For prevention of leech bites, make sure you tuck your trousers into your socks and your shirt into your trousers and wear long sleeves shirts in leech country. And keep an eye out for them. Some salt or a lighted cigarette will make them drop off. Spraying a surface spray such as Baygon is good for keeping them ‘at bay’ too. You might want to think about this for your whole tent footprint in heavily infested areas. Unlike ticks which usually brush off trees, leeches usually climb up from the ground, but can brush onto you in fern gullies, etc. A smaller quantity of surface spray for this purpose could be decanted into a small plastic atomiser bottle such as is used for perfume etc to save weight.
24/05/2016: Bathtime on the Trail: The One Gram Platypus Shower: An ordinary water bottle cap will fit any Platypus bottle. You can make holes with a large needle (doll needle pictured – much safer). With nine holes as pictured one litre lasts 6 ½ minutes. I usually carry one 2 litre Platypus and a one litre one. Della carries the same. Similarly each has a pot of approx one litre capacity.
A litre of boiling water added to a litre of cold water makes a pretty good shower temperature. 4 litres of water each gets us pretty clean in the backcountry where there is plenty of wood to provide the heat, eg with this: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/
A couple of grommets in the base of the Platypus bottle (both on one side) will allow you to hang it up from a carabiner on a piece of string. A loop tied in the string a little higher up will allow you to catch the neck of the bottle to turn the shower off. I am working on converting one of those water bottle on/off bite valves which some water bottles come with to a shower for the same purpose. Looking for a cap which can be glued on which is just the right size.
Like this (7 grams):
There are a variety of purchasable models of this device (some very dear) and all of which weigh more than a gram! Make your own and convert your Platypus bottles for hanging (2 minutes max)
http://www.theseedbomblaboratory.com/bottle-top-sprinklers.html http://www.ebay.com/itm/WATERING-CAP-ATTACH-SOFT-DRINK-BOTTLE-PLANT-MINI-SPRINKLER-SHOWER-PLASTIC-x6-PC-/161933729804?hash=item25b400a00c:g:znkAAOSwK7FWhMc2 http://www.bottleshower.com/about/
17/01/2017: End the Misery of Insect
Bites: After a trip to NZ’s Fiordland all my exposed skin used to
resemble a very angry surface of the moon for weeks afterwards, but one
application of this wonderful cream on any troublesome bite makes it go away
completely (also works on leech bites). For some bizarre reason antihistamine
cream to treat insect bites is banned in
01/09/2015: Tick removal: Spot’s First Tick: This is the very first tick either myself or one of my animals has acquired in Southern Victoria – even though I hunted with hounds here for over thirty years and have owned as many as a dozen and a half dogs at a time. I used to see tiny ticks infecting the ears of Bluetongue lizards probably causing the deafness which results in their suffering from so many road casualties. It is possible to tediously remove them – an operation they lizards do not appreciate – but I have long since given up on it: in no time they find some more anyway.
Spot acquired this particular tick West of Yinnar yesterday when he was trying out his handsome new raincoat (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tyvek-jack-russell-rain-coat-13-grams/) . I can report I have discovered yet another reason for preferring methylated spirits as a hiking fuel. After dousing the parasite liberally with it (from a teaspoon), and waiting about a minute, it was easy to pull the dead tick out complete with its head (as you can see) leaving nothing to cause an infection or irritation. I used a fine pair of tweezers gripping it just above its head. Easier than pulling a tooth! I have no idea whether it is a paralysis tick (probably not), but you do have to be careful to check your pets for the blighters as they can cause death!
In the US ticks have been implicated in the spread of Lyme Disease (a real nasty previously mostly an occupational hazard to rat-catchers!), so apart from the fact that they will create a very nasty itchy spot, and maybe an infection, it is important to get them out (particularly of yourself) as quickly and safely as possible. The meths is also a good antiseptic.
06/11/2015: How to treat a Gunshot Wound: I found this article (and its forerunner) very helpful. It certainly had me downloading a First Aid App for one thing (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cube.gdpc.aus) and reassessing my First Aid kit…PLEASE NOTE that this article contains graphic and disturbing images: http://guncarrier.com/how-to-treat-a-gunshot-wound-2/ Such an injury (which can cause catastrophic blood loss) need not be caused by weapons, whether accidentally discharged or not. One can imagine similar horrid events being precipitated by car accidents, chainsaws, agricultural and DIY machinery, etc. Being able to stabilise the catastrophic blood loss, deal with ruptured organs, and most important call for assistance is so important. This is when a satellite phone, epirb, UHF radio or external antennae for your mobile is so important, but two-way communication will more likely save a life as compared the passive epirb: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/mobile-phone-antennae/
14/11/2015: Emergency, Dial: 112. This is good advice. You will connect through whatever carrier is available, even if your own is not. You will also bump others users off the cell as emergency numbers have priority. So you will be much more likely to get through. You will NOT get through if there is no coverage though. For this you need a satellite phone, a UHF radio or an epirb. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/emergency-cb-radios/ See Snopes: ‘Calling 112 on your cell phone will (in some parts of the world, primarily Europe) connect you to local emergency services, even if you are outside your provider's service area (i.e., even if you are not authorized to relay signals through the cell tower that handles your call), and many cell phones allow the user to place 112 calls even if the phone lacks a SIM card or its keypad is locked. However, the 112 number does not have (as is sometimes claimed) special properties that enable callers to use it in areas where all cellular signals are blocked (or otherwise unavailable).’
You may be able to extend battery life as an an option available on some brands of cell phone (such as Nokia) for Half Rate Codec, which provides about 30% more talk time on a battery charge at the expense of lower sound quality. This option is enabled by pressing the sequence *#4720#. A far better plan to conserve battery life is to put your phone on Flight Mode, or switch it off! It will last for MANY days.
26/07/2015: Making drinking straws into mini containers: Now that is a genius idea: http://briangreen.net/2011/07/diy-single-use-antibiotic-packs.html ‘Place the straw over the opening of the ointment tube and carefully squeeze in a small amount of the ointment that is approximately one quarter of an inch in length. You’ll notice that transparent straws work best for this. Use you fingers to squeeze the end of the straw so that it pushes the ointment further up inside the plastic straw. This will provide a clean area for sealing the end of the straw without having the ointment ooze out while you are holding it with your pliers.
Melting the ends.
Hold the end of the straw with your needle-nose pliers so that a small amount of the straw is protruding. This will be used to melt and seal the end of the straw. Take your Bic lighter and carefully melt the end of the straw so that it forms a seal. I like to quickly pinch the melted end with my pliers to ensure a good seal. Turn the straw around and find the point where the ointment went up to inside the straw. Pinch just past that with your needle-nose pliers and cut off the excess straw with a pair of scissors making sure to leave a small amount of the straw protruding for sealing with your lighter just as you did in the first step.’
Easy Open Hack for DIY Single Use Antibiotic Packs: ‘I experimented on several small anti biotic pouches that I had recently made, by cutting tiny ‘V’ notches with the tip of a sharp knife into one of the sealed ends. The idea being that these tiny notches would be all that was needed to start the tear if two corners were torn in opposite directions.’ http://briangreen.net/2013/10/easy-open-hack-diy-single-use-antibiotic-packs.html
Making the 'Vee'.
‘How To Make Seasoning Straws A quick and simple way to bring seasoning with you while backpacking or camping without having to bring way more than you will ever need! I bring these with me when I go backpacking, they allow me to season my food without all the extra weight. Directions: Use the lighter and melt one end on each of the straws. Fit the funnel on one of the straws and carefully pour in the seasoning of your choice. Once they are all filled, cut the straws to size and melt the ends’ https://www.pinterest.com/pin/131097039128017714/
13/09/2015: Securing Hearing Aids: Having nearly lost one of my Siemens Aquaris Hearing Aids during my recent walk (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/spots-hunting-adventures-mystery-river-3/) I have had some feedback from a reader who has managed over time to lose three of them, all covered by insurance at the time, but he has now been refused insurance, as the bastards do! Given that most Oz audiologists want @A$7000ea for them; these folks http://www.hearingsavers.com.au/ A$4200 and these folk http://www.thehearingcompany.com/ US$1595 (= A$2248!) you wouldn’t want to lose/destroy too many of them, which is why I opted for this model – the world’s only WATERPROOF hearing aid, as I had previously had lots of issues with my older aids getting wet/dying etc. You CAN get a ‘Sports Clip’ for the Aquaris (http://precisehearing.com/hearing-aid-accessories/siemens-aquaris-optional-sports-clip) which has a covered bendable wire which additionally secures the aid below the ear. Also Siemens have a ‘Concha Lock’ for RIC hearing aids (comes standard with Aquaris) which do help a bit. My reader has decided to have his ears pierced and to connect the aids to studs in his ears - which is going a bit far to me (do not like cicatrices anyway!), but reasonable in view of his insurance situation. I notice the ‘Life Tubes’ on the Aquaris, the clear bit that go down into your ear, has a hole drilled in it to which you could attach a split ring or cord. A cord could attach the two together around the back of your head (so that you would lose both at once!) You could continue the cord around your forehead and tighten it with a micro cord lock. You could also slip the arms of your glasses through the split rings then link the arms with one of those neoprene or etc glasses ‘keepers’ so that you don’t lose both. I will be pursuing one/other of these measures to ensure I don’t lose my aids hiking/canoeing etc as I am not, (contrary to rumour) made of money!
Sports Clip: The plastic bit clips over the BTE aid and the wire bends underneath the ear.
HIKING FOOD: We are always working on this: one thing is pretty certain: those dehydrated meals sold in hiking shops & etc are almost universally inedible. We did a survey of them, cooking them up and sampling them at lunchtime at home, rating them: edible, palatable, inedible, disgusting etc. Then we fed them to our dogs. It was incredible how many were considered inedible by dogs – which will heartily eat their own vomit and even your faeces if they can get at it! Not recommended – same goes for the hiking food.
Dehydrated supermarket food is much preferable. Of course it is a good idea to work out a variety of this (and not to eat it very often except when hiking – so that anticipation doesn’t spoil it for you). In the wilderness you have no other choice (save what you can catch or shoot etc - more about that later), AND you are almost always universally hungry at mealtimes, so there is less of a problem on the day than you might think.
‘Mix and match’ is a good axiom: it is surprising what an appetising repast you can have from combining a variety of foods which you would not normally put together. A young American friend, Steve Hutcheson concocted a memorable banquet in this way on the final night of our Dusky walk in 2012 in the Upper Spey Hut by basically combining all the ingredients all of us had left-over.
RECIPES: You can often combine Cup-a-Soup with two minute noodles to make a reasonable lunch. Examples are Continental Asian Lakhsa, Sweet Potato & Bacon, and Mexican flavours. Continental Dutch Curry and Rice is VERY tasty.
Similarly, some of the powdered sauce mixes eg Continental Tuna Mornay actually makes a reasonable mornay if (perhaps a third of a pack) is combined with a sachet of tuna and some Surprise peas and a pack of two minute noodles. You can do the same sort of thing with dehydrated mince, especially your own!
Some dishes can be supplemented, eg with some salami – we find the Hans Twiggies good for this as they require no refrigeration: it guarantees this on the packet, unlike other brands – food poisoning is dangerous, especially up the bush, and your own risk!) We have found eg Continental Four Cheeses meals good for this, and Ainsley Harriot’s, Lentil Dahl. Try out some of these dehydrated meals from the supermarket at home: the pastas, the rices, the lentils, the couscous, etc and experiment with some favourite additives. Write down what you like and use it as the basis of your hiking days’ menu list. Naturally what you eat in the backcountry will depend (just as it does at home) on your own (dreadful) personal taste.
One clear thing to remember is: CALORIES PER GRAM. As you have to bring all the food with you (except what you catch/collect – as above) the more calories per gram, the less weight you have to lug in. READ THE PACKET INFO! Some things are wonderful as far as this is concerned, eg nuts. Some are 7 to 1!
Sometimes we have Arnott’s 9 Grains Vita Wheat biscuits and peanut butter for lunch. Instant porridge and muesli with powdered milk make excellent easy breakfasts. You can now buy powdered eggs in every Coles supermarket (in the cake section). These reconstitute (with a little powdered milk) into as good a scrambled egg as you are used to at home. Goes well with Continental Dehydrated Potatoes (best with onion!)
I am quite fond of ‘Coconut Rice” which we make by combining a little coconut powder with the rice when you are cooking it. You can boil the rice, then dry it so that it reconstitutes with less fuel out in the bush (more about this below). You can boil some water up at breakfast time, pop it into the snap-lock bag with the rice and have it for lunch eg combined with a sachet of flavoured tuna. I can still taste the excellent meal which we had at ‘Little Deadman’s Bay’ on our Tassie walk, for example – and what a lovely spot it was, too, though no dead men, thank goodness, especially me – though I WAS hungry enough!
We usually have snacks such as nuts, fruit leather, muesli bars, jerky, dried fruit mixes etc. A few ‘boiled’ lollies – such as Werthers are nice. I always take Bacardi 151 rum (75% alcohol) in a Platypus bottle as it is the lightest way to carry booze (and who would BE without it?) I usually mix about 20ml of rum to a cup of water. Della prefers her own liqueur ‘poison’. Some people add some powdered milk eg to Kahlua. Some chewing gum is excellent as ‘dehydrated water’! Most important; plan your three daily meals before you leave home and STICK TO THE PLAN. Don’t eat all your favourites FIRST!
02/08/2016: Porridge: Is undoubtedly the most compact energy dense and sustaining breakfast to eat on the trail. Unfortunately the ‘instant’ versions of this staple have been so adulterated and laden with diabetes promoting nasties as to be almost downright dangerous. Here is Della’s ‘traditional’ porridge recipe. It is astonishing that it needs only one level teaspoon of brown sugar (equivalent to ½ teaspoon of white sugar) to make it quite sweet enough. The ‘serving size here (quite enough for us though less than 2/3 of the recommended ‘serving size) weighs 43 grams (and would require approx 12 grams of metho to cook. Rinse it down with a cup of hot coffee and you are quite ready for the trail.
¼ cup of Uncle Toby’s ‘Traditional’ Oats (26 grams = 640kj)
½ cup of full cream milk = 1/9 cup of milk powder (17 grams = 307kj)
½ cup of water
Bring to the boil then simmer stirring frequently.
Add one pinch of salt half way through cooking (<.5 gram). This is important. The oats will be ‘tough’ if you add it too soon, the sugar will not be ‘sweet’ enough if you add it too late.
When cooked stir in one level teaspoon of loose brown sugar. (4 grams= 41kj)
Total 47 grams = 988kj = 236 calories.
An important advantage of porridge is how compact it is. When you are contemplating a long journey (say 10+ days on the Dusky track Fiordland NZ (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dusky-track-adventures-1/) for example all that food has to fit into your pack somewhere – so compactness is an important ultralight feature.
Tip: You need to work out a system of measures using the things which are in your cookset. You will no doubt have a small marked container for measuring metho, a spoon, a cup and a pot. If these don't already have measures on them you should mark them on in some way (eg with an engraver) or mark them on a light strip of plastic you can insert into them showing eg how far up the pot one cup of water comes. You should remember how many spoons full make up a cup 7etc so that you know how many to add when making up your porridge for example.
03/07/2016: Wintulichs Beer Sticks: On the trail animal protein is a must, but without refrigeration you may have concerns about food safety. One of the chief virtues of salamis and hard cheeses such as cheddars is also their energy density at @ 7 calories per gram – and lots of fat! There are some salamis which are labelled as needing no refrigeration. Some are rather large eg 200 grams for a single meal http://www.theultralighthiker.com/lunch-on-the-trail/ (though we have found them quite safe open for a few days at equable temperatures), some rather small such as our old standby Hans Twiggies @ 15 grams ea. At 50 grams per serve and in a number of delicious flavours these Wintulichs Biersticks may fit the bill and fill your stomach. They are available in the liquor departments of many supermarkets and also come more economically in a 1kg pack if you can find a stockist: http://wintulichs.com/product/beer-sticks-1kg/
29/04/2016: Lunch on the Trail: Arnotts VitaWeat Biscuits 9 Grains are one of our standbys. Each biscuit is approx 8 grams and 100 kj or 25 calories (3 per gram) so that about 6 biscuits (150 calories) plus some nutritious topping makes an adequate lunch. We store them in lightweight plastic freezer portion containers to prevent breakage.
I have already mentioned peanut butter as an excellent topping (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/peanut-butter-toast-soldiers/) Another favourite topping is D’Orsogna Traditional Romano Italian Salami (which does not require refrigeration until opening (and we find keeps fine for the three days it takes us to eat in @ 20C temperatures – ditto the following cheese) and Mainland Noble Cheddar or Colby. The Noble is a delicious new low fat cheddar which you might find hard to source.
Both salami and cheddar were invented (way back in the Middle Ages) for just such a purpose (ie long life compact food) and it is hard to beat them. Both the salami and the cheese are over 400 kj or 100 calories per 25 gram serve (ie over 4 calories per gram). Della and I find that a 200 gram pack of cheese plus a 200 gram salami last us with 36 biscuits for three days’ lunches. Per day each of us is eating 67 grams of salami/cheese plus 6 biscuits 270 + 150 = 420 calories, quite enough for a nutritious lunch on the trail!
Another favourite lunch standby is Della’s Coconut Rice plus a sachet of tuna. (See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/dellas-coconut-rice-hiking-food/) or if we want something hot one of the CupaSoup meals is great (For example: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-meals-continental-hearty-italian-minestrone/
21/11/2015: He Hiked With a Falafel in His Hand: I already mentioned cooking falafel in the leftover fat from Chinese Sausages http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-protein/ (the first for dinner, the second for breakfast), but you can carry a pack of falafel mix and approx 60 ml of eg olive oil in a small plastic bottle. A fry up will make about a dozen falafels from a 200 mg packet. . You could form the balls and place them on a tissue so that you would have your billy free to put them in as they came off the pan – or you could just place them in your mouth. You can manage to cook them with only your hiking spoon. You have to add 200ml of water to the dry mix at the start and leave it to stand for ten minutes. I have found you can just eat the prepared mix cold and uncooked too, but it is better cooked. The 200 grams of falafel mix is 1580 kj and the 60 ml of oil about 300 kj, making1880 kj or over 450 calories – quite an acceptable meal for a carry weight of 260 grams – and for an interesting change.
PS: For more like posts try a search (top right corner) for eg ‘stove’ as above, ‘alcohol’ ‘food’, etc…
04/07/2014: Hiking food again: Ainsley Harriott ‘Creamy Vegetable Spelt’: THIS was quite delicious (so long as you have eg a Brasslite stove to simmer it on for @ 20 minutes). 150 GRAMS = 568 calories (3.78:1). If you feel you might need more protein, a sachet of tuna, 100 gram can of ham etc might be stirred in at the end:
03/03/2014: Hiking food, an occasional series: if you are an omnivore like me, you probably have at least occasional lusts for venal delights (hiking food, folks!) The trick to satisfying these is to do so without spoilage/food poisoning…’Hans Twiggies’ are a staple with us (eg chopped & added to ‘Four Cheeses’ pasta) as they require no refrigeration. We have become concerned about the salamis issue since the Tibaldi & etc episodes. Sachets of tuna are good also, as is jerky.
We have recently ‘discovered’ ‘Chinese Sausage’ which is vacuum packed and needs no refrigeration until it is opened. It is also fatty enough you can fry it without oil which is a handy trick in the wilderness. Adding it to various dehydrated meals makes them much tastier. I recommend them with Ainsley Harriot’s Lentil Dahl with a side of Continental Mash (with onions) and Surprise Peas, for example. PS Continental ‘Tuna Mornay’ dehydrated packet sauce goes well with a sachet of tuna, two minute noodles & Surprise Peas’.
If you keep the fat from the sausages in your frypan overnight you can fry fallafals (made from dried mix and water) for breakfaast! There you are: THREE fine hiking dinners, enough for a four day trip. Enjoy!
28/10/2013: Hiking food: Continental Sensations Cup a Soup: ‘Sweet Potato with Bacon & Cream’ IS delicious. Pop one in YOUR day-pack!
11/09/2013: Hiking Food: we are always adding to our repertoire: on our last trip Della’s dehydrated savoury mince added to Continental Dehydrated Potato Mash reconstituted to a very acceptable ‘Shepherd’s Pie’ for example. Lately we have been trying out several dehydrated lentil meals. Coles have several under the name, ‘Celebrate Health’ (eg Indian Marsala Lentils - quite nice). The BEST so far is Ainsley Harriott’s ‘Lentil Dahl’ which is SPECTACULARLY GOOD. We are eating this (& farting) at home indecently often. Highly recommended!
08/03/2015: HIKING FOOD: Two new recommendations: Breakfast/Trail: Carmen’s Cranberry Apple & Nut Crunchy Clusters (needs no milk) & Snack: Carmen’s Classic Fruit & Nut Muesli Bar. Both these have the ‘Low GI’ tick meaning (both) that they are suitable for folks with diabetes (or helping PREVENT it) and that they will keep you going for a LONG time without feeling hungry.
Sometime (on the trail) you MIGHT need a quick energy boost (where maybe eg a square of chocolate is appropriate – I never do), but mostly you want food which will keep on delivering energy all day long. In this context, you might consider wholemeal angel hair pasta instead of the regular two minute noodles, or a mixture perhaps of basmati and brown rice (pre-cooked and dried of course to save fuel when reconstituting) or lentils etc. Obviously fresh fruit and vegetables are an impossibility on the trail, (except for wild food if you know what is safe) so maybe it is doubly important then to consider the effect on your pancreas of what you put in your mouth. Diabetes is NOT a disease; it is a DIET!
23/03/2015: MORE HIKING FOOD: Low GI and cooks in seven minutes, and VERY tasty: http://www.barilla.com/content/product/whole-grain-spaghetti
29/03/2015: YOGHURT: This from a CDT thru-hiker: Yoghurt can be made on the trail in a zip lock or a more durable plastic jar. It’s very simple to make:
I tried Easiyo from Safeway and it worked well: no starter yoghurt required. On the trail I would probably bring water to boil (to sterilize it) then let it cool somewhat before putting it and the Easiyo in the snap-lock bag.
29/03/2015: Della Jones: I don't think I need yoghurt this much on the trail....some people are nuts...
29/03/2015: I admit I am; and that I can probably get by with just powdered milk and instant porridge or (Carmen's) muesli for breakfast, with occasionally scrambled powdered eggs or falafel fried in the fat from last night's Chinese sausages (or a fresh-caught fish) & etc. However, I am thinking about stoveless hiking - more about that later - and trail-made yoghurt might fit in with that. I DO like a hot meal at the end of the day usually though.
03/04/2015: Many great hiking food recipes: http://www.trailcooking.com/
30/04/2015: HIKING FOOD/CUSTOMS GESTAPO: We had a bad trip with one of these guys at Queenstown airport. Every other time I have been in NZ, they accepted I knew what I was doing, had cleaned my gear properly, had only proper hiking food (no dangerous, illegal imports etc), but this time we encountered a Pommie import who had not worked out that the colonies were long since independent. He went through all our stuff with a fine-toothed comb such that we nearly missed our hire car (they closed at 5:00 pm, and this guy delayed us for an HOUR!
Eventually he confiscated Della’s delicious home-dried Spag Bol and Cottage Pie (no ‘country of origin labelling and barcode! Even though I told him I was going to EAT it for goodness’ sake!) We will have to fix THAT up in future. Immediately we were free of the nazi (and had a car) we were forced to hie us around all the supermarkets to see what subs we could come up with for FOUR delicious dinners! It really takes the edge off your trip if you have to eat those awful ‘Backcountry Meals’ this Nazi must have had shares in. Mostly even our dogs won’t touch them!
I will be posting more about delicious meals which can be made from common supermarket items – with which in mind, NB that delicatessen salami (having been properly smoked/salted) is marked ‘keep in a cool dry place ie does not need REFRIGERATION (eg Tibaldi ‘Felino’ salami : http://www.tibaldi.com.au/products/salami-range/ . It should be included therefore (along with sachet tuna, Chinese sausage and Kraft cheese) as an addition to the ‘meat’ component of otherwise often bland dehydrated meals.
25/05/2015: HIKING FOOD: MCKENZIE QUICK COOK SOUPS (180 grams per packet) : Tried the first of these, Hearty Vegetable tonight. I expected it would need a bit of spicing up but it did not; it was excellent. HIGHLY Recommended.
Also discovered that you can thicken a soup (and add nutrition) by stirring in some Continental (Deb) Mashed Potato – about five teaspoonfuls to a cup. I made the soup (as per instructions) with 8 cups of water. Bring water to the boil, add ingredients and simmer 15 minutes. Whilst this would make a fine entree for several people, it would be too much liquid for one (or two) for too few calories (600/8). So I would (in the field for a main) add just four cups and thicken with mash. Two cups for each of us with some mash should come to more like 400 calories each, and half a litre of hot hearty soup each should be enough on a cool night.
Tonight I added some extra nutrition to the leftovers with tiny shell pasta, an 85 gram can of Heinz chicken meat finely shredded, and two cup serves of Continental Asian Laksa Cup-a-soup (see photo). It was delicious. There are two other flavours to try: Minestrone & Homestyle Country Chicken. Even if you aren’t a hiker, they would be useful additions to your pantry shelves.
12/07/2015: Hiking Food: Making (delicious use) of everyday supermarket dehydrated food instead of those awful backpacking meals: Continental Spring Vegetable Simmer Soup + 500 ml water (1/2 quantity) + I Tablespoon (approx) Surprise Garden Peas + 8 Teaspoons Continental Deb Instant Mashed Potato. Try it. After you have done so, start thinking about other dehydrated (eg Continental) products such as their Gravies and Sauces and their meal bases. Cheaper and much tastier.
23/07/2015: Hiking Food: Mckenzie’s Country Chicken Soup with Lemon & Black Pepper Tuna (which we had for tea tonight) is quite delicious. I added only HALF the water on the directions, making roughly one litre of soup - I have an 1100ml pot – a good quantity for two. You need to simmer for approx 15 minutes, after which I added two sachets of Safcol tuna (as above) stirred it in and waited fro the soup to come back to the boil. Done.
Next time I would add only ½ of the Mackenzie’s flavour sachet at the beginning, adding some more near the end if it needed more salt (it was a little saltier than we like with the whole sachet). You could (as usual) add some Surprise Peas and some Deb Mashed Potato to thicken if desired. The soup was quite delicious just as it was though, and would taste even better on a cold night in the backcountry sometime (soon!) 2456 kilojoules in the soup and 1056 in the tuna = 1756 each or roughly 440 calories. I usually have something like 30 grams of Mrs May’s Almond Crunch for an entrée (650 kJ), a cup of Jarrah Hot Choc Frothy Classic (45 kJ) and perhaps a Carman’s Muesli Bar for dessert (698 kJ); Total 3149kJ (787 calories) - plenty enough for a growing boy!
19/08/2015: Hiking Food: French Onion Soup Plus: Mixing dehydrated ingredients can make an interesting and nutritious meal. You SHOULD try this at home before heading out. Here is an example: McKenzie’s Superblend Fibre ‘Freekah, Lentils & Beans’ (350 grams) plus Continental French Onion Soup (49 grams) plus Continental Classic Tomato CupaSoup (24 grams) . These three ingredients weigh 423 grams and deliver 5873 kj (1468 calories = 3.5 calories per gram!) in a 1 litre billy (@ 15 minutes simmering) probably enough for FOUR people! I found it a little salty for my taste (at home – I might feel differently after a hard day on the trail). This could be adjusted by adding the tomato soup (where most of the salt is) to taste at the end.
18/08/2015: Dorsogna Mild Twiggy Sticks (Safeway & etc). These are very tasty and last exceptionally out of the fridge. I have had one sitting on the kitchen shelf now for a month without any outward sign of spoilage, though of course it has gone hard – but still tasty, and no doubt lighter. They work well for a snack eg with 9 Grains VitaWheat Biscuits and perhaps Babybel Cheese which also lasts well outside the fridge in its red wax wrap. Also cut into tiny pieces they bulk out the protein portion of cooked meals such as Ainsley Harriott’s Lentil Dahl or Continental Four Cheeses Pasta. At this energy density, they are well worth carrying anyway: 1341 Kj/100grams = @3.5 calories/gram.
23/01/2016: Hormel Real Bacon Pieces: This dehydrated food is quite delicious (if somewhat pricey at >$4 for 85 grams – dehydrated weight, but you have to figure it represents nearly half a kg of bacon!), but it keeps without any refrigeration and will add some zap to an otherwise fairly bland pasta meal for example (particularly if you add some Kraft Cheddar cheese as well – which also keeps without refrigeration indefinitely). It is not at all salty -unlike the Kraft cheese. Available Coles.
This would go well as an addition to Farm Pride’s excellent Powdered Eggs (available in the cake aisle in supermarkets). These reconstitute as scrambled eggs really well – the addition of a little powdered milk adds a nice touch. I would just stir some of this dehydrated bacon into the mix and serve with an accompaniment of Continental mash for a hearty breakfast, for example.
Suggestion: Try a search for ‘food’ in the Search bar at the top right of the page. I have posted many ideas there over time.
02/02/2016: McKenzie’s Quick Cook Minestrone Soup: At first glance these excellent tasty mixtures might seem a bit too lean for backpacking, but I used half the recommended water, so a packet made up to one litre with water (so it would fit in my 1100 ml billy). I used the stock sachet and added a 50 gram sachet of tomato paste and approx half a container of the Hormel’s bacon pieces I wrote about the other day (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hormel-real-bacon-pieces/) These three ingredients made up into a very tasty soup (approx 500 mls each for two people) and containing 2392 kj (minestrone = 180 grams) + 178 kj (tomato = 50 grams) + 159 kj (bacon= 42.5 grams) = 2729 kj. Between two people this 653 calories (272.5 grams = 2.39 calories per gram ) provides each with 326 calories. Half was more than I or Della could eat – even though it was very pleasant. Another time I might leave out the McKenzie’s Stock Sachet (which comes in the packet – as I don’t like salt very much) and add maybe a ¼ teaspoonful of ‘Harissa’ eg Masterfoods ‘Middle Eastern Spice Blend’. Folks who don’t mind salt might add the McKenzie’s flavour sachet, and if they don’t want to carry a sachet of tomato paste (in case it leaks) might substitute a 24 gram (= 114 calories) sachet of Continental ‘Sensation’ CupaSoup ‘Vine Ripened Tomato’ instead. I’m sure folks can think of a few other ideas to mix and match this to make a tasty meal. I have already remarked that you can thicken a soup (I didn’t feel this one needed it) with Continental Mashed Potato: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-mckenzie-quick-cook-soups-180-grams-per-packet/
01/03/2016: Hiking Meals: Continental Hearty Italian Minestrone & Hearty Garden Vegetable CupaSoups Soups: I have long lamented the dreadful quality (and undeserved price) of pretty much all backpacking meals. That’s why I have largely concentrated on recommending good supermarket meals which fill the bill: well-priced, tasty and nutritious, good calories per gram ratios, quick, energy efficient and easy to prepare & etc. I previously noted this tasty combo: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-soup/ The nutritional info on the Minestrone (& etc) packets is very handy. The current Minestrone (75 grams = 147 calories) recommendation is as follows: add 3 large teaspoonfulls of Hormel Real Bacon Pieces (20 grams = 75 calories) and a slightly larger quantity of Continental Deb Instant Mashed Potato (great for thickening and adding nutrition – 20 grams = 15 calories). In total we have 110 grams and 237 calories and 2.15 calories per gram. One serve would be fine for breakfast/lunch; two would make a reasonable, tasty meal!
26/03/2016: Tasty Hiking Meals: Things you can just buy from the supermarket are just so much preferable to those expensive, unpalatable hiking meals. Here’s two we tried tonight in preparation for an upcoming trip: Continental Roast Chicken and Leek Risotto with Sirena Lemon & Black Pepper or Chilli Flavour Tuna Fillet. Della and I shared the 115 gram Risotto and each ate 100 grams of tuna. Along with a CupsSoup (below) it was enough for dinner for us. Tonight we had Continental Hearty Garden Vegetable CupaSoup with (per cup) @ 3 heaped teaspoons of Hormel Bacon Pieces http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hormel-real-bacon-pieces/ and 3-4 teaspoons full of Continetal Deb Mashed Potato plus @ ½ teaspoonful of Clive of India Authentic Curry powder (plus some black pepper for me). The curry powder made this soup nearly as delicious as the Minestrone I described here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-meals-continental-hearty-italian-minestrone/ Tuna Fillet 170 calories ea, Risotto 420 calories/2 = 210 ea, Soup 157 calories ea plus Bacon & Potato 90 calories = 247 Total 627 calories for 232.5 grams (2.7 calories/gram) See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=food
25/03/2016: Backcountry Meat: Simmenthal Jelly With Sliced Beef 140 grams net (can 12 g) 413 kj (99 calories). Quite delicious. Some folks are apparently ‘addicted’ to this stuff: it takes not unlike a very good quality corned beef, but not salty. Add to meals or eat on Vita Wheat biscuits for lunch. Available most (Italian) delicatessens. (Pictured larger can). I have tried the canned hams (Plumrose is quite good, but salty). Many other canned meats are not very appetising or too salty too (including canned chicken). Add this to your other (safe) long-life meats such as Hans Striker twiggies, and Hormel Real Bacon Pieces (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hormel-real-bacon-pieces/) , sachet (or canned tuna, etc.) for some much needed protein on the trail. See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/?s=food
23/08/2015: Della's Coconut Rice. (Hiking Food): People so often ask me this question, ‘But what do you eat…? I hope you will forgive me if I post about it fairly often and repeat myself…We have a home dehydrator, so this gives us a few more options, but you CAN dehydrate things in your home oven (if you are careful). Dehydrating cooked rice which then rehydrates simply by adding boiling water is a case in point - I am really surprised that no-one sells ‘instant’ (dehydrated) rice; maybe that’s a business idea for you.
Here is our recipe for ‘Coconut Rice’ which works well as a lunch mixed eg with a Sweet Chilli Tuna or as an accompaniment to the evening meal. (We add the boiling water at breakfast to a snap lock bag and eat it cold for lunch). As you can see from the picture Della vacuum seals the rice (you need to double bag it eg with a freezer bag to prevent it from piercing the outer bag) and adds her own label for when we take these meals eg to NZ. NB: we need to add country of origin barcodes in future; see: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-customs-gestapo/
DELLA’S COCONUT RICE
1.5 cups chicken stock (eg Continental/Oxo stock cubes)
1 cup coconut milk (eg reconstituted powder)
Half teaspoon salt
1 cup long grain rice
Grated coconut, lightly toasted, for garnish
· Rinse the rice in cold water
· Combine stock, coconut milk and salt in a large saucepan and heat over a medium heat until near boiling
· Reduce heat to low
· Add rice and stir for one minute
· Cover pan and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes or until the rice is almost tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed
· Remove pan from the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 10 minutes or until it is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed
· Lightly fluff rice with a fork.
Great Tucker: Della's Coconut Rice.
02/09/2015: Food Dehydration: As
mentioned before we have a food dehydrator, so Della often dries some of her
superb meals for our later delectation on the trail (her Shepherd’s Pie, for
example). I know some of you are not so lucky (as to have either a dehydrator
or a Della!). You will just have to do without the latter, and if you can’t
afford a dehydrator, you can, very carefully - perhaps with the oven slightly
open, and on the lowest setting, and checking and stirring very regularly, dry
food on a dish/tray in the oven. See: Google. I have just dried some
1 can corn left, 2 cans sauce right.
WILD FOOD: In the Victorian bush (and in NZ, Tasmania etc), just about every valley has tree ferns. The heart of the tree fern is several kilos of starch which becomes edible (if not particularly palatable) when roasted – it MUST be roasted. Under practically every log and stone there are beetle larvae (or grubs). You can roast these too. Grubs and worms are always very nutritious. You only need about 100 grams (half a cup full) to supply all your protein and most of your daily fat requirements – so there is no need even to go hungry. There are heaps of other edible plants, but you need to be able to identify them as some will cause diarrhoea (or worse – particularly fungi!) If you don’t know whether plants or fruit are edible it is probably best not to eat them as getting sick is more debilitating than being hungry. Greens are probably the safest plants rather than fruits.
are many books offering identification of the edible plants of your district –
it might be a good idea to buy one of these and study up on it before your next
trip. Burke and Wills DIED at
Incidentally, there are pretty much NO animals whose flesh is poisonous (including mammals, reptiles and birds) especially if cooked to kill any parasites which might (unlikely) be present. Similarly there are practically no scaly fish (which LOOK like fish) which aren’t perfectly edible. Pretty much all crustaceans are edible too. BUT, you have to catch them! Surprising how many things can be caught with a forky stick: crustacea, lizards etc. Wallabies are SO stupid you can walk right up to them (pretending to be a wallaby), catch them by the tail then dash their heads against a tree – BUT you have to move very slowly and patiently – I HAVE demonstrated this for people (letting the wallaby go free as I wasn’t hungry and have eaten just about enough wallabies anyway!)
Fish can often be stunned by slamming a large stick down on the water near them. There are usually water insects under stones in streams. Many other creatures can be knocked down with a thrown stone: water dragons, possums, koalas, small birds…or clobbered with a stick: lizards, echidnas etc. You might think you need to develop the skills involved in making and throwing a spear, but you do not need to in order to survive and eat well. The womenfolk of hunter-gatherer tribes bring in the most food, mostly with just their bare hands and a stick or two picked up along the way.
WATER: 10/03/2015: The WISDOM OF AGE: until recently I did not know that (either Gideon was left-handed or) he did not have the arthritis I have which has (by now) so twisted some of the fingers particularly on my right hand that I find it difficult to hold water in my cupped hand to drink (so you can see I would not have been given ‘The Jericho Demolition Job’!) Annoyingly I am forever spilling moisturiser, heel balm etc on the floor as it slips between my fingers, then I have the arduous job (with my stiff back) of getting WAY down there to clean it up! They should make such cosmetics more appetising to dogs so they would clean it up, and I would have nothing to complain about! Having lived 65 years (over 50% more than the average human being who has ever lived), I have little to complain about, really. Many young hikers I have met would not know the Gideon story (cultural education is getting very sloppy!) and would be afraid to drink from a stream anyway.
There is this excellent lightweight water filter (if
you worry about such things or go paces where lots of folks have shit in the
streams): https://sawyer.com/products/sawyer-mini-filter/ which weighs under 60
grams (probably worthwhile to have in your pack). If you are walking ‘The
Wilderness Coast’ (19 days along the beaches of
10/10/2016: Collecting Water: This is a great tip from JJMathes: ‘Have you ever needed to fill your water container only to find there wasn’t enough clearance for you to get the opening of your container under the flow? When water levels are low the flow doesn’t always shoot out far enough to catch the water, it rolls around the contour of the rock making it nearly impossible to fill a bottle or bladder. Altering the flow is an easy fix by using the windscreen from your cook kit to form a spout; or anything flat that won’t absorb water will work, even a broad leaf.’ http://gossamergear.com/wp/ever-have-trouble-collecting-water
Sometimes you find water oozing down a vertical rock face. If there is a tiny crack in it you can drive a sharpened twig or matchstick in the crack to bring the water out to your drink bottle as in the photo above.
18/05/2015: SURVIVAL STILL: NB: On the Kon Tiki they drank a ‘shandy’ (for two months) of 40% seawater 60% fresh water with NO ill effects. As soon as you realise there is a shortage of water, add your own urine to your fresh water supply to extend it. Boil and distil it if you wish. Those who opt for stoveless hiking may one day thirst to death. If you have a lighter, a billy and any garment, (but a hiking towel may work best) you can use the second (simplest) method pictured to DISTIL pure water from even the most brackish (or alkaline). As you can shandy sea water, you only need to distil 600 mls to have a litre to drink. Two litres per day will keep you alive indefinitely if you avoid excessive heat, and breathe outwards only through your NOSE (the Fremen were right!) You only need enough fuel to boil away 1200 mls of water per day. Everyone will have seen the first method below, but it may be slow work for scant reward. You COULD use your cuben fibre tent if you didn’t happen to have any plastic sheeting handy. Your raincoat would also work, and wouldn’t be needed for its normal purpose in the circumstance.
BOILING will get you a drink much faster I’m sure. If you have a length of hose (eg from a drinking tube), you could direct the steam from Method 4 into the solar still, Method 1. NB: You do not need water for a still to work: there is always water in SOIL, no matter how dry (dig down a bit and it WILL be damper). Heating it in a billy will drive it out, as above. A titanium billy is a better survival tool for this purpose than a tin one (the solder can melt) or an aluminium one (which will burn away more readily).
16/12/2015: Water: Hiking Desalinator or Survival Still @10 grams that may save your life: I am just working on this idea. Here I have epoxied a copper flange to an old can of powdered milk and attached 1 metre of old silicone tube. I was catching the water in a Vargo 450 ml (cool lips) titanium mug. I was just cooling the steam with wetted down tea towels. I collected nearly 400 mls in an hour. I need to improve the steam condensation. I will purchase a Platypus hydration tube (as that is what I figure folks will carry (which is a much lighter weight 102 cm PU tubing) which will hopefully shed heat better.
I will also make up a trough so I can cool nearly all its length with water. I expect I will more than double its output. If you needed to do this in the wild (presumably by the sea) you could make a trough in the sand, line it with your raincoat and fill it with water. You could also bury the collection cup in wet sand and perhaps cover it with something else to prevent steam escaping. Doubling output would produce more than 2 litres in 3 hours – enough for a day of low activity – so certainly enough to save your life.
I am imagining adding the flange to your existing billy lid or placing it in an extension ring which sits between billy and lid. Such an extension ring, if I can figure out how to make it adjustable (and fit) would weigh only 15 grams or so and fit with your other cooking things in your billy or pot.
PS: I just made the flange from a piece of copper water pipe using a plumbing flaring tool. You could cut the flared end from a car's brake line obtained from an auto wreckers. I used a small piece of 'Dynasteel Epoxy Putty' [250C] to attach it.
09/06/2015: Rivers in the Sky: NEVER die of thirst:
Surprisingly perhaps that’s where the world’s largest rivers are. Extracting
this humidity from the atmosphere is not necessarily that difficult. In the
Atacama Desert in
Keeping yourself alive by harvesting the water from dew therefore, ought not be too hard. Anywhere there is vegetation (at least) and any appreciable humidity (even in deserts) dew forms all night. It can be mopped up with a garment and the results squeezed into a suitable container and later boiled to kill any bacteria accidentally included. It is possible to harvest many litres per night (!) Attaching the garment to a handle, or dragging it with a string will make the work easier.
10/06/2015: DEHYDRATED WATER: Short of water: Suck a Pebble. This was my dad’s advice when I was a youngster. I thought at the time it was just a trick to prevent a dry mouth; something like chewing gum, but it has a more important feature: it prevents you breathing out through your mouth, THUS enormously reducing respiration water loss. It ranks with travelling by night and resting by day as prime water conservation strategies. The Fremen of Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ were entire experts at this, - and at water harvesting and storage. Though it is fiction it is worth a read if only for what it can teach us about the importance of water. The famous Ancient Greek orator Demosthenes (384–322 BC), was also a pebble sucker: according to Plutarch he overcame an initial stammer by training himself to speak with pebbles in his mouth, so there might be more to be gained. Far too few folk speak CLEARLY nowadays.
Water Bottles: Platypus & Evernew bottles http://www.traildesigns.com/accessories/water-carriers Soft Drink bottles.
21/10/2015: Sawyer Water Filter: 2 gram back flush for Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter: I imagine this would work with the Sawyer Mini (40 grams) too, only a smaller hole would need to be drilled: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=78861
4. ULTRALIGHT COOKING: I think one of these ‘Sierra Cups’ (hhttp://www.evernewamerica.com/EBY152.htm each) @ 60 grams (or these: http://www.evernewamerica.com/EBY265.htm @ 50 grams) or one of these http://www.traildesigns.com/cookware/vargo-450ml-travel-titanium-mug-eca355 @ 63 grams would be good for when you need to cook more than two things at once. I have the 900 ml pot set @ 125 grams (http://www.evernewamerica.com/ECA265.htm) & one of these 1100ml pots @ 156 grams which http://www.traildesigns.com/cookware/toaks-titanium-1100ml-pot-ckw1100 works well with the Bushbuddy Ultra (http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html ) woodgas stove @ 150 grams or the caldera system from trail designs which is even lighter, or the Evernew stoveset @ 52 grams (http://www.evernewamerica.com/EBY257.htm) . I am wondering whether I can fashion a ring of motorcycle tubing (or like eg http://www.traildesigns.com/accessories/beer-bands ) to prevent burning my lip on the Sierra cup. Snowpeak have a gadget named Hot Lips for this purpose, but I always take a 30 gram plastic cup as it’s nice to be having a drink while you’re eating or cooking. You don’t need it on the Vargo as it doesn’t (magically somehow) burn your lip! A titanium spork, cut-down pot scourer and mini (Bic) cigarette lighter completes the kitchen at less than the weight (<400 grams) most folks would have in their ultralight gas canister stove (inc EMPTY canister = 150 grams+) alone! PS: I usually carry a Minibulldesigns 7 gram side-jet alcohol stove (eg https://www.minibulldesign.com/ProductCart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=195&idcategory= ) and 100ml meths for when I get lazy (and a few esbits for fire lighting). PS: I have made a ‘simmer’ ring for the Bushbuddy stove – and it really does turn it down. I have recently purchased one of this guy’s ‘Brasslite’ stoves (http://brasslite.com/stoves/OrderForms/turbo2DOrder.html) and though it weighs 45 grams it is so GREAT to be able to SIMMER with meths. There are so many other things you can cook . A titanium foil windscreen (available eg http://www.titaniumgoat.com/products.html) lowers fuel consumption dramatically if there is any wind at all. Update: the Vargo really doesn’t burn your lip, AND is big enough to cook a pack of two minute noodles with a cup-a-soup added. Proof tested by Matt!
9/09/2016: Bushbuddy Stove: The original wood burning double walled secondary combustion wood gasifier stove. We have owned the ‘Ultra’ (145 gram) model of this stove for many years and have used it innumerable times. Apart from some expected blackening it shows no sign of wear and still works perfectly. We use the stove on longer trips (to save fuel) and where open fires are prohibited such as some National Parks. As you can see from the picture the stove will not generate enough heat at the bottom to scorch the ground or ignite anything there. I was given the lighter Suluk alternative as a present, so I usually carry it now. Even in relatively treeless areas (or very wet areas) you can usually find enough dry twigs to light such as stove and boil the billy.
Of course my egg Ring stove http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/ is much lighter, but it will scorch the ground. I personally do not see this as a problem: over the years I have observed that there are many plants which have clearly evolved to grow after such small fires (not surprising when one considers the long prehistory of human habitation of the Australian continent. Indeed I have observed that there are plants which rapidly colonise an old campfire site which grown nowhere else!
The Bushbuddy was originally invented by Fritz Handel of http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html & now made by his apprentice Jeff Tinker (sic!) of: http://www.nomadicstovecompany.com/#!/our-story/ A Titanium version (86 grams) is manufactured by: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html
Like the Bushbuddy Ultra, this stove was designed to provide the cooking needs of one or two people, but can also serve the needs of a family or small group if two stoves are carried.
It weighs just 5 1/2 oz, and makes a compact package 4 1/4" in diameter and 3 3/4" high when nested (the same size as the Bushbuddy Ultra), which will fit inside the Snow Peak Trek 900 titanium pot, and many other pots of similar or larger capacity. It's compact size and light weight make it ideally suited to the needs of the backpacker, cyclist, and other outdoor travelers. Because it burns wood, it is a very economical stove to use.
There is also no need to carry your fuel with you wherever wood is available (it does not need batteries), making it useful for long trips, or when traveling in remote areas of the world where liquid fuels may not be available. It is aircraft friendly too.
Under good conditions (protected from wind and rain and with a lid on the pot) the BUSHBUDDY can boil one quart of water in about 8-10 minutes. It is a very efficient stove, consuming only about 14 oz. of wood per hour at maximum heat, less at lower heat.
Because of its unique design which uses a double wall around the firebox to preheat secondary combustion air, you will find that you can burn wood as cleanly as a candle.
Just be sure to use dry wood only, and add it at regular intervals to
maintain an open flame.
The BUSHBUDDY is made of high quality 18% chrome 8% nickel stainless steel for many years of trouble free use. The grate is made of nichrome wire, as in the Bushbuddy Ultra, for the longest possible life.
THE BUSHBUDDY ULTRA NOW AVAILABLE
First custom made for Ryan Jordan of Backpackinglight magazine, for his Arctic 1000 trek in June of 2006, this stove features the same efficient combustion design as the regular Bushbuddy, but in a lighter weight (5 ounces, instead of 6.5 ounces for the regular model). The two stoves are identical in size.
Can boil 1 liter of water in 8-10 minutes
(will take longer under adverse conditions)
Weight 5.1 ounces
Size 4 1/4" diameter by 3 3/4" high
For compact storage, this stove is designed to nest inside the Snow Peak Trek 900 (.9L) titanium pot, but will also fit inside many other pots of similar or larger capacity. (Because of the light weight construction of this stove, it is essential to protect it by storing it in your cookpot.).
To assemble : Place the stove on the ground
with the ring of holes at ground level; remove
the upper section of the stove from within the firebox, invert it and place
it on top of the stove.
Where to set up : The stove will not perform well in windy conditions. It is very important to set the stove up in a sheltered area or to create a windbreak. Any time spent in searching for or creating shelter will be more than repaid in time saved waiting for water to boil.
The BUSHBUDDY can be safely placed directly on a wooden surface such as an outdoor picnic table, and it will not scorch it in normal use. If you set up the stove on the ground, clear the surrounding area of flammable materials like grass or leaves, because the fire sometimes tosses out sparks. The stove can be picked up and moved to a new location while burning if you are careful to hold only the lower base section. (In hot weather you may need to use gloves or pot holders.)
Do not use the stove indoors unless you have a means of venting the exhaust gases to the outdoors, such as a teepee with a vent at the top.
To start a fire : Use only dry wood. When other fire starting materials are not available, make three or four short fuzz sticks with your knife. Also collect a handful of small dry twigs or split some fine kindling. Light one of the fuzz sticks and place it in the firebox so the flames will climb up the shavings. Add a second fuzz stick, and as the fire grows, some of the fine kindling. If the fire begins to die down, add a third fuzz stick, and then some more kindling. Once the fire is burning well, you can begin adding bigger pieces of wood. The chief cause of difficulty in starting a fire is using wood that is not really dry; in particular avoid using stuff found lying on the ground to start a fire, even if it seems dry.?
Although the stove can be fed with nothing more than twigs broken up by hand, bigger solid pieces of wood will be found much more satisfactory, burning longer with less feeding of the fire. An easy way to cut the short pieces of wood needed is to place the wood over a log and nick each side with an ax, then hit the end with the poll of the ax to break it off. Or, a small saw such as the on a Leatherman tool or Swiss Army Knife can be used to nick each side of the wood lightly, so that it can be easily broken to length. This saves the effort of sawing right through. With an ax, however, larger diameter pieces of wood (such as a small dead tree) can be utilized too, by first splitting and then breaking into shorter pieces. (Lean any leftover wood against a tree to keep it dry for future use by yourself or others.) Twigs, chips, roots, bark, and pine cones all make good fuel once the fire is going well, if they are reasonably dry. Under rainy conditions anything lying on the ground is sure to be too damp. The driest wood available is often the lower dead branches of living trees, particularly conifers such as spruce which shelter their lower branches. If in doubt about the availability of good dry wood at the campsite, collect some along the trail when the opportunity arises, and take it with you.
Cooking : A frying pan or pot can be placed directly on the stove, and wood can be fed to the fire through the opening in the upper section without removing the pot. With a little experience, the heat can be controlled to some extent by regulating the amount of fuel added to the fire. For example, to simmer a pot of rice once it has boiled, add only one medium sized piece of wood at a time and then only just when the flames are about to go out. (If the flames do go out, add a small chip of wood only, and wait for the flames to re-ignite and raise the firebox temperature, before adding more wood.)
For longer or more gentle simmering, it is better to suspend the pot a little above the stove. One of the simplest ways to do this is by using the traditional dingle stick (a stick jammed into the ground at an angle, with a rock or log placed in the angle formed with the ground). The pot is hung on the end of the stick, and can be raised or lowered by adjusting the position of the supporting rock or log. Suspending the pot has other advantages too, among them a reduced likelihood of accidentally spilling it, (especially if the ground is not firm), and a cleaner burning fire with easier feeding. If you have a very large pot or bucket to heat, two stoves can be placed under a suspended pot.
To sterilize water : If you are unsure of the safety of your water supply, bringing it to a rolling boil will kill any microorganisms--no need for prolonged boiling. Boiling will not protect you from chemical contamination.
Using the BUSHBUDDY as a campfire : In moderate weather, the stove makes a great alternative to an open campfire, providing light, warmth and cheer while conserving firewood.
Safety : Use the stove where open campfires are permitted. The stove can toss out sparks (due to tiny steam explosions of slightly damp wood), something that a liquid fueled stove does not do. Set the stove up in an area cleared of combustible materials like leaves and grass, and watch for any sparks tossed out. Before leaving your campsite, dump any remaining charcoal on bare earth and thoroughly drench it with water.’
23/08/2016: Ultralight Collapsible Coffee Cup: My lightest cup is 30 grams when these guys are around 20, though they don’t have a handle and are collapsible which has both pluses and minuses. Their advantage for us though is that both would fit inside our Vango 450 ml Titanium cup so that I could just take it and our Toaks 1100 ml pot with frypan handle. All three fit inside the Suluk wood stove and the Brasslite Turbo 1D and measure fit snugly inside that. http://www.theultralighthiker.com/cookset-woes/ We need just throw in a collapsible plate such as this https://www.traildesigns.com/fozzil-bowlz and we have a (shared) mess kit which will cut out some of Della’s pack weight.
‘The UltrAspire Cup 7oz. greatly reduces the amount of waste generation and environmental impact of a paper cup. Designed to reduce the amount of waste created by disposable paper cups at races, the UltrAspire C2 cup is reusable, collapsible, and at just 0.7 ounces, easy to bring wherever you go. Keep it in the pocket of your running shorts or racing vest, and take it out for fast filling at aid stations. Made from FDA-approved silicone, the cup pops up to a standing height of 3.5 inches and folds back down when you’re done. Great for cup-free or bring-your-own-cup events, it also comes in handy for travelling, car camping, and backpacking with kids.’ Approx US$8ea plus shipping costs.
Weight 0.04 lbs
Dimensions 3.5 x 2.87 x 2.87 in
Color Luminous Blue
15/08/2016: New cookset: One of the pleasant surprises my birthday brought this year was this wonderful Toaks 1350 ml pot and frypan lid from Trail Designs (https://www.traildesigns.com/cookware/toaks-1350-ml-ultralight-titanium-pot) Though only 9 grams heavier then my Toaks 1100 ml pot it holds 250ml more, so it is big enough for the biggest meals for two people on the trail (or for heating enough water for a shower: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/bathtime-on-the-trail-the-one-gram-platypus-shower/) – and the frypan (at over 6” – 155mm) is big enough to do some serious cooking with (eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/he-hiked-with-a-falafel-in-his-hand/). I found that my ‘egg ring’ stove makes an excellent stand for it (http://www.theultralighthiker.com/the-egg-ring-ultralight-wood-burner-stove/) The Toaks windscreen works well with it (http://toaksoutdoor.com/windscreen.aspx & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/windscreens/) and Trail Designs 12-10 alcohol stove (https://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/12-10-stove) with simmer ring/s (https://www.traildesigns.com/simmer-ring) cooks my hiking meals to perfection.
Pot 101 grams
Frypan Lid 62 grams
Egg Ring 8 grams
3 x Vargo pegs 21 grams
Toaks Windscreen 17 grams
Inc. paperclips 1.5 grams
12-10 Stove 16 grams
Simmer Rings 3 grams
Plastic cup 29 grams
.5l Platypus bottle 35 grams
Measure: 1.5 grams
Total: 295 grams
23/05/2016: The Egg-Ring Ultralight Wood Burner Stove: This is a development of the traditional ‘three-stone fire’ using three tent pegs and an egg-ring. The aluminium egg-rings cost $8 for 3 on eBay and stop the pegs from falling in/out. You need to drill three equidistant holes around the edge. Presumably you already carry tent pegs. These are the Vargo’s Shepherd’s Hook Titanium Pegs I wrote about here: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/tent-stakes-and-tricks/ They weigh 8 grams each. You would be better with the plain ones for this purpose, though the paint will quickly burn off I’m sure. The pot is Vargo’s Titanium 450 ml ‘Travel Mug’ with the stay-cool rim (62 grams) http://www.vargooutdoors.com/titanium-travel-mug-450.html#.V0E8kuS8vcs
The egg ring fits even in this cup when not in use. The egg-ring weighs 11 grams. A titanium windscreen would be a useful addition adding perhaps another 3-4 grams: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/windscreens/ You can see Spot approves of the set-up. If you haven’t an egg-ring and/or you want to make the set-up lighter, you could cut the top off a tin can (one which has a ring pull) with a can opener which cuts around the wall of the can. This will produce a lighter ring when you take the top off. If you can find a largish aluminium cat food can, this ring might only weigh 3 grams. If you use the 1 gram stakes I used here http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-multi-fuel-stove-cookset/ you will have a set-up which weighs only 6-7 grams. Beat that!
19/05/2016: Stoveless Cooking: Warning: This may not be for everyone: http://gossamergear.com/wp/stoveless-camping-crotch-pot
‘This third option between stoves and no-cook is the brainchild of Gossamer Gear founder Glen Van Peski. Infrared images of the human body confirm what is basically common knowledge; one of the hottest parts of the human body is the crotch area. Your body naturally generates significant heat while hiking; why not harness this heat for a warm dinner…Glen has used this system for years, and we finally talked him into exposing it to the rest of us. The Crotch Pot™ is constructed of ultralight cuben fiber, and attaches to any pants with belt loops. If your favorite pants don’t have loops, just use some safety pins to attach the pouch. Any recipe that you pour hot water into and let stand will work.’
12/05/2016: Soda Can Stove Mark 2: Progress is ubiquitous: this guy has rejigged the ‘traditional’ soda can stove so that it heats up more quickly and generally works better. It’s the one on the right. Full instructions here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Improved-Soda-Can-Stove/?ALLSTEPS If it’s a wet day it may be time for a little DIY therapy.
13/04/2016: Fire Engine Rolls Over Peanut Lighter: Impressive. A little heavy maybe (14.3/19.9 grams) , but refillable and well-nigh indestructible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpAKR3DmLZQ After recently suffering a failure with a Mini-Bic (I had a spare) – 12 grams. I am seriously considering my firelighting options. After all if you seriously value your life the ability to light a fire in the wilderness is utterly vital: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/ Available (in a number of sizes), here: http://www.countycomm.com/tipeanutlighter.html from $US29.50.
27/01/2016: Cookset Woes: Some people seem to think it is fashionable to lug around the kitchen sink and a range simply to warm a couple of evening snacks, so you see people all the time with a food prep setup which weighs maybe a kg – or more. The empty canisters of such systems typically weigh more than my ultralight pot and Caldera Cone system together – and I need carry no fuel! Evernew deep pot with frypan lid = 123 grams plus Caldera Cone and two titanium tent pegs @ 44 grams = 167 grams. I think people need to seriously reprise their cooking/cookset options.
The lightest fuel option is a wood burner, followed by an Esbit, followed by metho (for short trips) with canisters coming a poor last. I carry a few bits of esbit as fire starters, a small metho stove and some metho for lazy meals and for long simmers which can be tedious with a wood.
You can balance a pot on three tent pegs (a variation of the three stone fire), the triangular ones work best, but you are quite likely to lose your meal if you aren’t very careful. You do learn to be more careful.
I progressed to the Bushbuddy stove http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html which I still think is great at about 150 grams and C$120. It burns cleanly, without scarring the earth or the danger of starting a bushfire. You only need a handful of dry twigs to boil a billy of water. These can even be found in Fiordland most times!
I was lucky enough that Della bought me the Rolls Royce knock off of this stove, the Suluk TDW http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html which weighs only 86 grams: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/suluk-stove/
If you don’t mind a tiny bit of scorched earth the Caldera Cone (with two tent pegs) usually weighs about 44 grams altogether https://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/caldera-cone-system See my post: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-cookware/
My favourite for an alcohol stove is the Brasslite http://brasslite.com/products/brasslite-turbo-i-d-backpacking-stove/ which weighs 47 grams, because you can simmer/fry with it – so important if you plan to catch fish.
If you want a simple boiler, either make your own (eg the Supercat http://www.theultralighthiker.com/supercat-hiking-stove/ or Garlington http://www.theultralighthiker.com/diy-side-burner-metho-stove/ or http://www.theultralighthiker.com/soda-can-stove/ ) or maybe buy one from Minibull Designs https://www.minibulldesign.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=195&idcategory=2 (I have used their Elite @ 7 grams for many years) or get one with your Caldera Cone from Trail Designs (above) – theirs also have simmer rings.
If you are going to burn wood, you need a fixed blade knife so you can split wood to get at the dry heart wood and make ‘exelcior’ for fire lighting. Actually this is something you need to be able to do anyway if you are to survive in the woods if things turn very nasty – and they can! See: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/carry-a-knife/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/how-to-light-a-fire-in-the-wet/
Of course, you also need a lightweight cook pot. If you are on a budget, an aluminium billy from a disposals store is hard to beat. Otherwise: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/ultralight-cook-pots/ Don’t forget the importance of windscreens: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/windscreens/ See also: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/toaks-ultralight-titanium-cook-system/ & http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-cookware/
This is a useful product to prevent your burning your lips: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hot-lips/
You might also give serious thought to adding a desalinator to your cookset so you never run out of water: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/water-hiking-desalinator/
This site is the encyclopedia of DIY stoves; many hours of fun and enjoyment here: http://zenstoves.net/LinksGeneral-DIY.htm
What to cook is yet another issue eg: http://www.theultralighthiker.com/hiking-food-2/
16/03/2015: HOT LIPS: Useful product: http://www.rei.com/product/800044/snow-peak-hotlips-package-of-2 & http://snowpeak.com/products/single-600-cup-hotlips-set-mgh-044?variant=671143709
20/09/2014: This is a Trail Designs Caldera Cone with a Toaks 1100ml pot & frypan lid. The ‘cone’ plus two titanium pegs weighs 44grams. A ‘floor’ to prevent leaving a burn mark, if you care - & to facilitate lighting weighs about 12 grams. The pot (inc. lid) weighs 156 grams. This cone also fits the Evernew 900ml ultralight deep pot (123 grams inc. lid) – fine for one. I could not believe how QUICKLY it boiled @500ml of water. These pots & etc are about as good as it gets (& surprisingly cheap). You can also use the ‘cone’ as a windscreen if you are using a metho burner (which Rand also sells - also with simmer control): http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/toaks-1100ml-ti-pot-frying-pan-fissure-ti-tri-bundle
17/09/2014: The Father’s Day Suluk 46 TDW titanium double wall wood stove (78 grams) in operation. (Notice how cleanly it burns). WHAT a beauty! I wonder what adventures IT will share: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html This is a replacement for the4 excellent ‘Bushbuddy’ stove (to save 72 grams!): http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html which is MUCH cheaper (and comes in a lovely wooden box!)
09/09/2014: Some fathers ARE spoiled! Yesterday I received this excellent gift: http://www.suluk46.com/products%20%20-%20P14%20TDW%20Stove.html It will save nearly 3 oz from my pack weight! Yesterday morning I tried boiling the billy on it…and, it is a BEAUTY. I thought NOTHING would surpass the Bushbuddy Ultra (http://bushbuddy.ca/indexs.html) but I was wrong (as usual?) The saving in weight is enough Bacardi 151 to work up quite a glow! This Suluk stove actually burns BETTER than the Bushbuddy AND is easier to ‘feed’. Thanks a million Della! We use these stoves even where (open) fires are prohibited (ie canister stoves only required) as they fulfil all the requirements really, ie the fire is contained; it ‘leaves no trace’ (you can even have it burning on the palm of your hand – so it certainly won’t scorch the ground); it is not in any way injurious to the environment, which can certainly spare a handful of twigs! Of course the (true) beauty of such a cooking system is LIGHTNESS: there is no fuel to carry: this beauty weighs less than the burners of the lightest canister stove (sans canister), so prpbably represents a saving of up to half a kilo (that’s a day’s food!) on a multi-day trip!
12/10/2013: Attention ultralight hikers: this guy has some of the best alcohol stove anywhere and at a good price. We have found his products excellent and have used them for many years: https://www.minibulldesign.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idproduct=147&idcategory=2
08/05/2013: The SUPERCAT: This is a VERY useful hiking stove you can make with a paper punch from Officeworks and some empty cat food cans. I have found that there are two sizes and that one fits snugly inside the other (and both inside your cup and inside your billy) so that you can have one for simply boiling and one for simmering. I have also discovered that an esbit burns so slowly in the double holed model that you can bake in your billy on top of it if you make a holey platform with legs out of aluminium flashing which fits inside your billy and suspends (eg the damper) to be cooked about an inch above the bottom of the billy. A windscreen of the same material is also a good idea (and also fits inside your billy): http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/
09/03/2015: DIY SIDE BURNER METHO STOVE: The Ray Garlington Yet Another Coke Can (YACC) Stove
Got 5 minutes, a coke can, and a pair of scissors? If so give this little stove a try. It is easy to make, and uses only one can. Also, the pot sits right on top, so it doesn't need a pot stand. Just add a piece of aluminum foil for the wind screen & you are good to go. The YACC stove can raise a pint of 65*F water to 135*F using 1/4 oz of alcohol when air temperature is around 65*F. I have found this sufficient for my lightweight 'cooking' needs. A 4oz supply of alcohol lasts me for 16 stove firings, which equates to 4 gallons of 'hot' water. Of course, if you need more heat, you can add more fuel.
The stove was inspired by the Antigravity Gear stove (uses two cans) and "The One Can K.I.S.S. Soda Can Stove" by DeoreDX on the TLB Forum. I liked the idea of using just one can, and wanted construction to be as easy as possible. The YACC stove can be made quickly with just a pair of scissors.
Here's how to make it: Obtain an aluminium soda can. Remove the opening tab from the top, and tear the top out with a pair of pliers, or cut out with can opener..
Mark the side of the can 3/4" up from the bottom. Flip the can over and mark the side of the can 1 1/2" from the top.
Using a pair of scissors, cut the can in half
Now, carefully cut along the marked lines. If your marked lines are on the 'thick' side, cut the bottom along the outside of the line (thus making the bottom slightly larger).
Take the top section and cut slits every 1/2" from the cut edge to just below the shoulder of the can top.
Push the tabs slightly toward the center and slide the top section into the bottom section. Push the top (carefully) all the way down into the bottom. The tabs of the top will follow the can bottom until they jam up against the domed part of the bottom. As the shoulder of the top starts to go under the cut edge of the bottom, look for bulges that might tear the bottom and push them inward with the flat side of the scissor's blade. When fully seated, the top's shoulder should be slightly under the bottom lip. None of your slits should be visible from the top. (If they are, you will need to cut another top.) Hold the can together and roll the cut edge of the bottom slightly inward over the top's shoulder to hold the stove together.
If the details above sound too tedious, just push your two stove halves together. At first, your stove will spring up so that the top slits are exposed. Don't worry, because after you light the stove, you put the pot on, which will compress the stove anyhow. After using the stove a few times it will stay compressed (particularly if there was a little soda left in the bottom).
Theory of Operation
OK. Now that you see how it goes together, how does it work without any gas jets? Well actually, the jets are there, but hidden under the cut-edge of the stove bottom. All those cuts in the top allow gas to pass through which find their way out the small gap between the can top and bottom. So, in the end you have a two wall (well sort of) stove that is pressurized (again, sort of).
This stove requires preheating to the point where flame comes out the seam. Details: Pour the metho into the stove body. 1/4 oz of fuel will burn for about 3 minutes. Position the wind screen and light the stove by holding a flame above the large hole. Watch out because the stove lights easily and the flames are nearly invisible at first. Hold your pot about an inch above the stove until flames exit the side of the stove (about 15 seconds). When that happens, immediately position the pot on the stove: http://web.archive.org/web/20130827200008/http://www.garlington.biz/Ray/YACCS/
12/03/2015: SUPER CAT STOVE: Another great metho stove, the ‘Super Cat’: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/SuperCat/