Hammock

Pot Cozy

For those of you looking at a quick and easy way to make your pot cozy.. well here’s a nice video by a guy that I subscribe to on Youtube and follow in the Hammock Forums.  His name is Sean Emery, but he is known as Shug.  He is super entertaining and knows a bit about the wonderful world of Backpacking.  I dropped him a note to ask permission to use his video.. he said yes, so…. Enjoy.  I am sure you will.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

52 to 16

Just a quick note here to introduce you to the new 52 to 16 page you will find it up on the top of the page next to the “home” tab.  It is the page I am going to use to document the 52 weeks of shaving weight.. which by the way as you can see I am calling 52 to 16.  52 weeks to get to 16 lbs.  Read more about it there.
Hope you enjoy the journey as much as I am.  By the way.. if you want to join this journey.. let’s go along together, set your goal and start in.  Let me know how you are doing and share it with us and your readers, if you have a blog too.
I’ll be using the hash tag of #52to16 to post updates and what not.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, planning, Skills | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Shaving the Weight

In my last Sunday Morning Coffee post I talked about a new segment I was going to start for this year.  That was to document the shaving of the weight from my pack in order to go lighter and more comfortable on the trail.
The segment is going to be called 52 ways of shaving weight.. or something like that.. I’m still looking for a snazzy name.  Much like the effort many online Scouters shared in the #100daystrong campaign.. anyway.. for now.. it’s 52 ways to shave weight…
Last week I ordered new stuff sacks from zpacks.  They are Cubin Fiber and super light.  The heavy of the 3 sacks I ordered weighs in at 5 grams that’s .2 ounces.  The lightest sack is 4 grams or .1 ounces.  The bag that my cook kit was in weighed 20 grams or .7 ounces.  That bag has been replaced by the 5 gram bag.  That is a net savings of 15 grams or .5 ounces.  That may not seem like a lot of weight.. but add that up over all of your gear, an ounce here and an ounce there and you have pounds.
This week I looked at my pack.
I weighed my pack.. totally empty.
It weighs in at 4 lbs.  I took every plastic stopper off of the pack and replaced them with a figure 8 knot.  Serves the same purpose (to keep the line from threading through the buckles).  The Pack is now at 3 lbs 15 ounces or 1798 grams.  I have been looking at the optional flap storage bag that clips to the pack.  While I like it for easy access, I tend to fill it with lots of small stuff.  Through this process of looking at how I pack and what I pack.. I may be able to shed that part of the pack all together.  That would add to the savings.  The lid/pocket weighs in at 257 grams or 9.1 ounces.  That would shave an additional 1541 grams off the pack.  That would bring that pack total to 3.3 lbs or 54.24 ounces.
What I am finding is that “Ultralight” backpacking is more of a philosophy of thought that it is about backpacking.  The philosophy dictates that you look at the process and the science if you will on what you take, how you take it, what you use it for, and yes… how much does it weigh.  This does not discount safety and comfort, on the contrary.. it forces one to look at how they can be just as safe and just as comfortable while backpacking with the net result being more comfortable, fresh, and pain-free when the pack comes off.
This process forces you to have a critical eye to make decisions on the gear you choose and pack.  It takes on that scientific feel as you weigh gear and make those decisions.
I found a good Excel spreadsheet online.  It is designed and built from a backpacker that frequents Backpackinglight.com.
It is a great way to build your kit, look critically at the weight of all your gear and make sound decisions.  I am finding it a great tool for meeting my goals in weight reduction and a fun way to track and measure my progress.
Here is a link to the gear list.  If this doesn’t work, drop me an email and I will send it to you.
So I am on track to shaving that gear weight.  See what you can do and let us know your progress… Also.. help me with a cooler name for the segment.  Leave your suggestions in the comments section.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, Just fun, technology | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cottage Industries

phoenixOne of the best parts of heading to the beach here in Oregon is walking through the ‘Mom and Pop’ shops.  Little art galleries,  home-made crafts and unique items flavored for the coast.  It doesnt matter if it’s the beach or the mountain, Central Oregon, or the little town I live in, you are sure to find that store that just has that touch that makes you feel at home.
Cottage Industries have long been a tradition in America.  The “Mom and Pop” shop whether it is a local hardware store or nick nacks people are out there and have talent and skill and have turned those talents and skills into a business.  Often times these cottage industries are over looked unless you are in a touristy section of an attraction destination, like the coast.
The internet has become a wonderful place to see the American cottage industry at it’s finest.  You can buy and sell almost anything on the internet and if you are one of those that have the skill and talent and know how… well your cottage store can do well… once again though, most of these internet cottage outlets are also overlooked by people afraid to shop online or the limited advertising inherent in the internet.
Lately I have been turned on to a hand full of great cottage industry outlets on the net.  Specific to the world of backpacking and in particular hammock camping.  And by the nature of most hammock campers.. lighter weight camping.
What I have found is that the customer service is 100% better than what you get in the big ‘chain’ stores and while I may pay just a tad bit more, the quality is second to none.
Two years ago I bought my hammock from a fellow in Boulder Colorado.  He has made his niche in the internet cottage industry with a company called Warbonnet Outdoors.  They handcraft a number of hammocks, tarps, top and bottom quilts, and other accessories for hammock camping.  The guys name is Brandon, and he actually answers the phone when you call with a question.
After my purchase from Warbonnet, I started looking into other backpacking business’s on the net.  I came across a great site of multiple cottage industry stores that specialize in backpacking.  Outdoor Trail gear.com is the host to a couple really neat online stores.  There is a guy named Dutch there that sells ultra lightweight hammock and tarp suspension hardware and accessories.  Then there is Butt in a sling, they make light weight hammocks and accessories.  If you are looking for a good alcohol stove, Smokeeatter908 has machine tooled stoves that really do the job.  He also has cook gear for the backpacker looking to shave weight.
Jacks R Better is an online store for shelter, quilts, and other essentials.  They are a great company started by two retired Army guys… so they must be good.
If you are really looking for the ultimate weight savings you need to visit zpacks.com.  They are there to help you shave grams from your pack and they do it with high quality, state of the art, super light materials.
I just got an order in from them today and I can’t wait to see the weight savings in my pack.  Once again when you are looking for quality craftsmanship and outstanding customer service these online stores are the place to shop.
Recently I placed an order for an underquilt for my hammock.  I went to a site called Hammockgear.com.  I had some questions so I called the phone number listed on the web site.   A man named Adam answered the phone.  Him and his wife own, operate, sew, take orders, raise kids, answer the phones, emails, and maintain the web site.  And they turn out one of the leading quilts in the industry.  Adam spent about a 1/2 hour on the phone with me, first we talked a bit about my order, then we spent the rest of the time talking about backpacking in the Northwest.  I really felt great about spending my money with him.
I guess the point of all of this is like I discussed in yesterday’s post on Scouting Blogs.  There are people out there with talent, skill, and passion for what they do and we need to support them.
My need to seek information, skills, and gear for backpacking has led me to the cottage industries on the internet where I am finding great products and outstanding people who provide customer service.  I could just head to the nearest REI and hope they have what I want, or I can get exactly what I want from people the make it, test it, use it, and sell it.
Find your niche and see if there is an online resource for it by way of a cottage store.. the online ‘Mom and Pop’ shop.
I am sure you will find that they will not disappoint.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Skills, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Year in Review

It’s that time of the year when we all take a look back at our year and take stock in what we have learned, what we accomplished, and what we look forward to in the coming year.  It is also that time of the year that all the “Lists” come out and WordPress sends us bloggers our report card.
So lets start with that.    The blog is doing very well and it is all because of you the reader/viewer.  Now I don’t claim to understand how blogs are rated and ranked, and I don’t know where the Scoutmasterminute.net rates among the really big blogs out there.  I guess deep down inside I wish the blog was massive and only because then the world would see our Scouting world in the light in which we want it to be seen.  I surf around at some of the blogs out there that are truly about nothing and see that they have thousands of followers, get millions of hits, and have what I consider sub par content.  Scouting blogs seem to not get the views it should.
Resolve this coming year to tell a friend about a Scouting blog.  It doesn’t have to be this one, but pick one.  There are great Scouting blogs out there.
You can start with Bryan on Scouting.  The official Blog of the BSA (Scouting Magazine).  In typical well produced fashion the BSA has a nice product in this blog.  I like that it is pretty interactive and does a nice job of telling Scouting’s story.
Then you need to check out the blogs of my Scouting friends.  Scouter Adam for the Cub Scout folks out there, mixes up his personal touch as well as telling a great Scouting story.  A stop in at the Boy Scout Trial is a nice site for resources, stories, and fun stuff.   No list of Scouting blogs could be complete without Clarke Green’s Blog.  That is a site that every Scouter should have bookmarked and visit often.  Doug Metz has a nice blog out there also.  I wish he would put more out there.  He has a great story and I love to hear about his journey.  Bobwhites Blather is another good site.  I like blogs that stay current, are on topic, have fun, and speak to not only their Scouting world, but the writers other interests also.
I could list site after site that I am sure do not get enough visits and would love to see more.   You can get a great idea of the Scouting blogs that are out there by visiting my friend Gregg’s Half Eagle.com.   I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to the guy that pretty much got me interested and encouraged me to keep it going.  Steve.  His Blog has been out there for a long time.  Steve has a unique take on Scouting from the perspective of a small town and small troop that has been there and done that.  Steve was a Scoutmaster for 30 years and just can’t walk away.  And for that we are all better.
If I left you off the list it is not intended to slight you or say that you do not have a great story.  The list I just named was pretty much in the order they appear on my favorites list.. which is pretty random at best.  There are great blogs out there.. but google Scouting blogs and see what you get.  We need to be up on the top of that list.
The point is we need to get better at supporting one another.  We need to tell Scouting’s story and get Scouting out front in a positive light.
Today I did receive my “Year in review” from WordPress.  They give an option to share, but the numbers really do not mean anything unless they are placed in context.  So I thought I would share, but in the context of you the great reader.
This blog was visited 52,000 times this last year.  That to me is pretty darn good.  But once again, I think it is to the Choir that we preach.  And yep, the Choir needs to hear the sermon, but telling Scouting’s story and sharing tips and tricks for the trail is something that I want more to see.  Believe me when I say that my ego does not this blog.  I do it cause I like it and it is helping I am sure.  In some small way 52,000 views lended a hand in someones Scouting life or life as a camper.
I was surprised to see that I only posted (as of yesterday) 133 new posts to the blog.  And then upon further review I noticed that there were some real thin months for blogging out there.
So for 2013 I resolve to write more and post more to the blog.
2013 saw a major increase in feedback to the blog also and I want to thank everyone that made a contribution to the conversation.  I especially want to thank Allan Green.  Allan was the top contributor to the blog, lending his comments and feedback more than anyone else.  Thanks Allan.  Send me your address and I have something for you.
This year in Scouting for me took me to Philmont.  Scouting’s paradise and I fell in love with the trails, the mountains, the canyon country that is the Sange de Christo range.  The trip to Philmont for me was extremely special in many ways.  Taking 2 crews from our Troop on an adventure of that magnitude was a challenge and an experience of a life time.  It was not a once in a life time adventure, but a mountain top experience that touched me spiritually, physically, and mentally.  I got to see the very best in Scouts and Scouting while watching our crew grow and develop and have a lot of fun.  Philmont was the Scouting high light of the year for me.
Our grew again this year, and we lost some boys along the way.  But in the end, the program got stronger and the Scouts got better.  Youth leadership met many challenges this year and came out better for it.  With a great plan going into 2013 I look forward to the many adventures that lay ahead.
Personally I grew this year.  My relationships and my friendships are stronger.
And then there is the obsession with my backpack.
I have set a goal to reduce volume and weight from my pack.  This is going to be a lengthy project and one that I will have fun doing.  Playing with gear, testing new items and ideas and developing a lighter philosophy when it comes to hitting the trail.  I look forward to that and sharing that with you here on the blog.
2012 was a good year.  2013 is going to be better.
Resolve to make changes in your life.  Resolve to make your world better, your self better, and those around you better.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

More Scouting Blogs that I failed to add to the post:
Scouter Mom’s Blog
Scoutmaster Shawn’s Blog
Phil Pecks blog
Nick from across the pond
Bryan Spellman’s blog
John Scout
Arlen Ward.com
Kevin Devin’s Blog of his interest!

And there are a bunch more.. make sure you visit them.  Hit the like button and share them!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, Journey to Excellence, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, planning, podcast, Scoutmaster minute, Service, Skills, stories, Values, Wood Badge | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sunday Mornin’ Coffee 12-30

Hey everyone, this week we try out the Taster’s Choice instant (singles).  It turned out to be a good cup of coffee and the price can not be beat.
We are introducing a new segment to the video and blog this week also.. 52 ways I’m shaving weight in my pack.  I need to come up with a better name for that… but I will be sharing the ways in which I am lightening the weight and volume of my pack in an effort to get to my target base weight of 16 lbs.  I think that is doable and if I get shave more.. well all the better.
This weeks weight saving came from ordering new stuff sacks from zpacks.com.  I found it amazing how heavy my old stuff sacks are.  And now that I see how every ounce adds up, this order will make a big difference in my pack weight.
Enjoy the video, leave your comments, suggestions, and questions either here on the blog, at the YouTube Channel, or send me an email.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, Hammock, Just fun | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday Coffee – Folgers Breakfast Blend

Well, it’s Sunday, so I’m sharing another reader suggested coffee.  This week it’s the Folders Fresh Breaks Breakfast Blend.
I found this coffee to be tasty and easy.  It comes in the little single serving packets that do not take up space in the pack and the price is pretty good.  About $4 for 8 servings.
We also talk a bit about my first aid kit.
Teresa joins me out in the yard for a cup of coco.
Send me more of your suggestions, either leave a comment here or shoot me an email. tbirdironchef@gmail.com
Enjoy the video.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, Just fun | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Sunday Morning Coffee

Had an opportunity to get some gear hung out today, thought, I’d just get lazy and hang around in the hammock.
Yep, this is my Sunday…
Talking about gear and enjoying a good cup o’ joe.
Hey… I’m looking for some real good coffee for the trail.  Any suggestions?
Leave a comment or shoot an email.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, Camping, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, Just fun | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Tweekin’ Gear

Been looking at ways to reduce weight and tweek gear to make it easier to set up and take down.  One of my favorite sites is www.hammockforums.net.  Hammock campers are by nature seeking lighter alternatives to common camping gear and tasks.  They are not what one would call “Ultra light”, but by and large have some great light weight solutions to everyday camping issues.
I found a neat way to run guy lines and set up the tarp on the site and took some time to set mine tarp up using a new method.  Here is a quick video showing the new set up.
Enjoy.
If you have questions or comments, please leave them here or shoot me an email.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Leave no trace, Skills | 3 Comments

Thoughts on gear

As you are fully aware by now, I like gear.  I have had many discussions with parents of the Scouts in my Troop that my obsession with gear is rubbing off on their sons.  Half jokingly I often reply that it’s a good thing.  I say “Half jokingly” because I think that gear is an important part of the camping experience…  Well no duh right?
A long time ago in a Scouting world far far away I had a Scoutmaster that would talk about having the right gear for the type of camping that we were doing.  He would wax on about taking care of that gear so that when needed it would be there for you.  “If you take care of your gear, it will take care of you” he would say.  And I believe that.
Later in life as I started to get back into camping and backpacking, I began to toy with different types of gear.  Cook kits, stoves, backpacks, sleep systems, tents, hammocks, gizmo’s and gadgets that make camp life fun and easy.
It seems that the more you play with gear, the more you find your likes and dislikes, what works for you and what doesn’t.  In the backpacking community there is a saying online when offering advice, gear reviews, and opinions.  YMMV.  That’s.. Your mileage May Vary.  Meaning, to each his own and what works for me, may not work for you or you may get different results.
So back to our Scouts.  Now, I don’t want to break their bank, but I do want them to start learning what they like and what works for them.  I understand that I do have an influence on these young men and that when I come out with a new piece of gear or start playing with a new camp gadget, they tend to watch and learn.  I do want these guys to develop a habit of exploring what works for them.  I want them to try new things and not just gear that someone says is a must have a piece of equipment.  Developing that habit now will keep them interested in being outdoors and hiking.  It is a way that will test them and keep their minds thinking about different ways to accomplish different tasks.  I assume that my old Scoutmasters wanted me and my Troop mates to develop an appreciation for the outdoors and that is what I wish for my Scouts.  Gear is a big part of that.
When your gear fits, works, and is fun to use, you have a tendency to want to go out and use it.  A backpack that is ill-fitting and squeaks a lot is not something you want to take on the trail.  A comfortable pack will keep you on the trail longer.  If you are cold at night because you got a cheap Walmart sleeping bag rated for slumber parties, you won’t want to be in after your first miserable night.  Spending a little more up front though and getting a good sleeping bag makes for toasty comfortable nights of good sleep and you want to be out in it more.
It seems that I have turned a lot of our Scouts in to gear junkies.  And that may or may not be a good thing for their parents, but it’s a great thing in my opinion for the Scout (YMMV).
With the fast approaching Holidays coming up, I am encouraging our Scouts to get their list together.  Ask for a new pot set or stove.  Maybe that single person tent you have been eye balling or better yet, join the hammock way of a great nights sleep.  How about some new gaiters or winter boots?  New rain gear is aways in vogue here in Oregon.  Maybe it’s just a new spork that tops your Christmas list, either way this is the perfect time to add to your backpacking gear loft.
Thanksgiving a time to be with family and give thanks for all we have.  It’s also a great opportunity to corner Grandma and Grandpa and slip them a copy of your gear needs.  Or you can slip it into the Dinner conversation.  “Grandpa, can you pass the gravy?  You know, there is this pot set that I have been looking at that would be awesome for making biscuits and gravy while on our next camp out.”  You know, be subtile, but get your wish list in where ever you can.
The other side of the gear collection is what you can share.  As I collect new gear I have two bins.  One for the stuff that I really love and can’t part with and the other for the stuff that I have tried, didn’t really fall in love with, but there’s nothing wrong with it, just not my cup o’ tea.  That stuff usually ends up going home with one of the Scouts.  This last camp out and set of rain gear that my boys out grew a set of gaiters, and some odds and ends made their way into the packs of a few of our Scouts.  I don’t mind sharing (giving away) gear that I’m not using.  If it helps with meeting their gear fix needs than I really find it nice to be an enabler. 
So parents, understand that yes, I am trying to turn your son into a backpacking gear junky.  And yes, I am trying to develop in them the habit of discovery.  And yes, they are doing a great job in joining the cult of Backpacking gear guys.  You don’t have to worry about them wearing uniforms.. errr wait.. scratch that..  You won’t have to worry about them hanging out in gangs.. ahhh.. scratch that too… Ok.. yeah, they will be with their partol and they will be in uniform, but you will never have to worry about them wearing foil hats and chanting to the golden pogo stick.  They will be out in the woods having the time of their lives, comfortable, cooking great meals, singing songs, and exploring a world of adventure.  And all that great gear is going to help them in their journey!
Thanks for being patient and understanding.
Now I have to go play with my stove and put new guy lines on my tarp.. you know we have a camp out in January I need to prepare for.
Oh and my list of gear that I need…
A new wind screen for my cook kit.  An underquilt for my hammock.  Griz beak doors for the Tarp.  Oh, I can go on and on.. after all, if it’s gear, I want it.
Whats on your gear list for this Christmas.  Leave a comment and share you gear needs and wants.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, Cooking, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Leave no trace, Skills, Winter Camping | Leave a comment

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