Posts Tagged With: backpacking

A Look at Lanterns

A few weeks back, I talked about resetting.  Resetting the blog and the YouTube channel.
Well.. Today is New Years Day.. and the reset has begun.
I am posting a video and also letting you know that I have entered a 30 day blog challenge designed to improve the blog and increase readership.
I am going to be asking YOU to help me.  All you need to do is keep reading the blog, telling a friend to check out the blog and subscribe.  I am NOT doing this for money.  There is NOT one penny coming my way in this.  I am doing it to help deliver the promise of Scouting and to share my love for the outdoors… that’s it… no other motive or gain.
I think that this form of media is strong and far reaching and I want to be a part of it to tell the story of Scouting.  Help me out.
So here is the first video of the year.  Its about backpacking lanterns.  I hope you enjoy it.. look for more to come… and after you watch it here on the blog.. subscribe to the YouTube channel also if you want.  To me the blog is more important and you will be getting the videos here anyway.

What kind of lantern is in your pack.  Leave a comment and let us know!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog, camp skills, Camping, comments, gear, Hammock, Just fun, Leave no trace, reviews, Scouts, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

MSR SureLock ™ UL-2 Trekking Poles

MSRpolesI recently purchased new trekking poles, and being me, I did a lot more homework on the purchase than most folks looking for camping gear.  I have been looking for some time (since we got back from Philmont in 2012) for new trekking poles as I bent one of my trekking poles while at Philmont.  They are still usable, but collapsing them is hard now and since I have had that set for about 10 years, I figured it was time to replace them.
I looked at no less than 50 different styles, brands, and types over the past 9 months or so and finally found a pair that I really like and thought I would give them a shot.
First you may ask, what the heck took you so long?  Great question.  Like I said, I over researched them.  When looking at good high-end trekking poles, I knew that I would be committing at least $100 to the purchase.  But since I also knew that the poles I buy needed to last, after all I use trekking poles all year round and on every hike, backpacking trip and camp out,  I became real picky in the choice.
What I ended up getting is the MSR SureLock ™ UL-2 Ultralight 2 section Poles.  They retail for $90, but with a Boy Scout discount and finding them on sale at a local outfitter, I paid $62.
So here are the specs:
According the packaging the SureLock ™ UL-2 trekking poles weigh in at 16.5 oz or 468 grams.  As these are MSRs “ultralight” trekking poles, I am sure that they put the heavy end on the packaging.  On my scale with the winter or snow baskets on the poles, both of them weigh in at 15 oz.  The trekking poles with the summer baskets weigh in at 14.5 oz.  The length of the poles are as advertised.  At its lowest setting the trekking poles are 41 inches long or 105 cm.  They extend to 55 inches or 140 cm.  Fully collapsed the trekking poles are 31 inches.  There are 8 adjustable holes along the trekking pole to find the right setting for you.  I personally set them at 120 cm.
Here is what I like compared to my last poles, which for the record are the Black Diamond Trail Trekking poles.  The MSR SureLock ™ poles are 2 section poles, the Black Diamond poles I have are 3 section.  This makes the MSR poles faster and easier to set up.  I really like that.
I LOVE the Positive Locking system on the SureLock ™.  The rolling bearing pins smoothly lock into place and once seated are not going anywhere.  I configured the trekking poles to my height and leaned over them with my entire upper body weight, they did not flex or pop out.  With your standard cam lock or twist friction locks over the course of a hike I always had to readjust due to slippage.
The poles have a unique design in that they are not round.  This design is called Non Rotating tri-lobe geometry, this assists with the poles not being able to rotate.  This keeps the Positive locking system in place.
The trekking poles are made of 7000 series aluminum.  This is super light and very strong.
I am very happy with these trekking poles.  They are comfortable, light, strong, and easy to use.  I can not wait to get them out on the trail.  I will shoot some video of the poles in action as soon as I can get them out.
In the mean time, I thought it would be nice to include in this post the promotional video put out by MSR on the Trekking poles so you can see them and get a better picture of what I am talking about.
As a set of poles that I have over researched and now purchased, this review as a first look leads me to be very impressed with the MSR SureLock ™ UL-2 Trekking poles.
Stay tuned for more on these Trekking poles.
Do you use trekking Poles?
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, High Adventure, Just fun, reviews | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Winter camping and the backpack

>The harder the challengeWe often talk about the general rule of thumb that the pack weight should not exceed 25% of the person’s body weight.  This is a nice rule, but not stead fast in its application.  A 90 lb Scout is limited to 22 and half pounds.  A 75 pound Scout is hanging about 18 pounds on his back.  Like I said.. real nice rule and a great goal to keep in mind when packing a pack.  But winter camping is a totally different animal.
Pack weights go up in general because the amount of gear increases as well as the weight of the gear.  A 10 degree sleeping bag is typically heavier than a 30 degree bag.  More clothing is needed.  Extra gear for cooking, keeping warm, starting fire, and of course shelter options increase.
So how does the Scout that has not grown into his body handle cold weather or winter camping?  Here are a few ideas.
First we need to come to the realization that we are not going to buy multiple sleeping bags, tents, and backpacks.  Gear is just to expensive for the new Scout to go out and buy lots of gear.  So we need to make do with the gear that we have.
Adding guy lines to your tent, watching what you pack and maybe adding a sleeping bag liner will help with your existing gear.
Remember that we are not trying to go “ultralight” here, we are just trying to manage our weight for the younger Scout.
Clothing.
Loose and in layers.  This does a few things for you.  First it allows you to regulate your temperature over the course of the day and the activity.  If you properly train your Scouts to do this, they will stay dryer and as a result they can carry less clothing.  A good base layer which for the most part is always worn is the key.  It needs to be able to wick the moisture away from the body.  It needs to be able to stay relatively clean.  Second, the layering system will allow your Scouts to stay clean and dry.  When preparing their camp sites they can lose a layer and add their rain gear to stay dry.  Once the work is complete, they can remove the rain gear, hang it to dry, and add additional layers based on the temperatures and conditions.  When the layer system is planned properly, it can reduce the amount of clothing taken on each outing.
The motto “Be prepared” is a trump card though and needs to be considered.  Checking the weather conditions the days leading up to the outing and looking ahead at the forecast can help you be better prepared.
Extra socks are always a great idea, but know what you need and only take that much, contrary to popular belief, you can dry socks out and wear them again later.
Proper footwear is extremely important.  Spend a little more on your feet and the rest of you will stay warm.
The Pack.
We recommend that our Scouts have a pack that does not exceed 3900 cubic inches of load space.  By conventional wisdom that is a bit small for winter camping, but we know for a fact that it works.  Yeah, it takes some practice, but it works.  It is the one time of the year that strapping items to the outside may have to happen, but it works.
Compression bags, stuff sacks for pack organization and know how to pack is a critical skill.  More importantly, the skill of packing when you are cold is something that needs to be practiced.
When the conditions are right, and the need to carry more gear is greater than the pack will hold, a pulk sled is just what old man winter ordered.  Building an inexpensive pulk sled is not only fun, but makes for a whole new camping experience for those that like to get out into the bush.  This allows you to carry lots of water, gear, fire wood, and nice to have items that you would not normally haul in your pack.  I have talked about pulk sleds before in the blog and have built a nice one that did not break the bank.
The bottom line is that your current pack will work, you need to know your gear, how to use it, what you need and what you don’t, and most importantly… you need to practice, practice, practice with your pack.  Pack it over and over, do it with gloves on, do it in the backyard on a cold day.  Try different storage methods (Stuff sacks, compression bags etc).
Winter camping is an all together different experience.  One that test skill, attitude, and has a great pay off in the end.  Quiet, crisp air, no crowds, and lots of fun.
Stay tuned for more winter camping tips.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, planning, Scout, Skills, training, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Staying warm in your Hammock

phoenixI had a fun discussion this weekend with a reader of the blog that is interested, but not sold on the whole hammock camping thing.  We were talking about when I camp in my hammock.  The answer is all the time, every month in every season.  So the question was, “so how do you stay warm in the hammock?”
There are many ways to keep warm while having a great nights sleep in the hammock.   I use a Top Quilt and an Under Quilt.
It’s science.  You see, when you lay in a sleeping bag on a pad (or in a hammock) you crush the fibers or the down that is creating loft that keeps you warm.  Down feathers and synthetic fibers must have air pockets to allow for the warm air to become trapped and create warmth.
The quilts made for hammocks are designed to create the most insulation.  They are constructed with a nylon shell filled with either down or synthetic materials.   The Under quilt hangs below and on the outside of the hammock.  When you lay in the hammock, you are surrounded by the underquilt and none of the material is compressed.  Because the hammock is made of nylon also and as such is a breathable material the body generates heat and fills the insulation keeping you warm underneath.  If you are worried about wind robbing your quilt of the “R” value, Underquilt cover is hung below the quilt and snugged up to the quilt to protect it from wind, rain, snow, or other heat stealing agents.
The top quilt is basically a blanket with a foot box.  It is easy to get in and out of and coupled with the under quilt provides comfort and warmth.
For added warmth, a sleeping bag liner can be added.
A good under quilt and top quilt will cost you about $550, but because there is no wear on them, they last a long time, if you take care of them.
If you don’t want to spend that kind of money, there are other options that will keep you just as warm.
A regular sleeping bag works just fine.  It is a heavier option and is a little harder to get in and out of, but you can stay just as warm.
Use a closed cell foam pad in the hammock to provide insulation and take away what hammock campers call CBS or Cold Butt syndrome.  Your self inflating pad will work also, just don’t fill it all the way.  The CCF pad works much better though.  Air on air is not great insulation.
Reflectix pads or a sheet of reflectix material or emergency blanket works real well to provide a great heat source.  Reflective materials or reflectix will bounce 70% of your body heat back at you.  That’s pretty good for the size and weight of the materials.
Once you have the gear, the rest is up to how you sleep.  In the winter, I will sleep in Poly Pro long underwear and a beanie cap.  When it’s really cold I will wear down booties on my feet.   I have also placed my down puffy jacket over the hammock and zip it up creating a foot pocket.
I try to keep my load down, so I use clothing that I already have in my pack.
A tarp is a must to keep the elements off of your hammock and you.  A tarp pitched in a tight “A” frame is roomy and provides great protection from the elements.
As we prepare for our winter camping this season, I will post some video to illustrate my winter set up.
As you can imagine, I love to talk about gear, hammock camping, and being out in the woods, so I was thrilled this weekend when the questions started coming.
Hope that helped you get a better picture of how to stay warm in your hammock.

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Water Purification System

In this video I demonstrate the way that I carry and purify my water.
Water is an essential part of backpacking, and in the discussion of hammock camping systems this becomes a large part of how we camp and the gear we use within the system.
My philosophy is to keep everything simple. This water filtering method is just that.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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A couple much needed days

Just got home from a couple much needed days on the Pacific Crest Trail.  My buddy Mark and I hit the trail on Sunday for a few days of lolly gagging south bound from Timberline Lodge down to Frog Lake.
Here is the video I shot.
I also shot some video on hammock stuff that I will be posting in the very near future.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: blog | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

ULA Ohm 2.0 Review

ohm1This year I got a new pack.  I traded in my Granite Gear Nimbus Trace for a lighter pack in an effort to reduce pack weight.  I read somewhere that it is a good idea when reducing base weight to start at the base.. the pack.
So I did my homework and decided based on research and other reviews to buy the ULA Ohm 2.0 Pack.
The ULA Ohm 2.o is made by Ultralight Adventure Equipment in Logan, Utah.  They specialize in Ultralight packs but don’t be afraid, you don’t have to be an Ultralight backpacker to use one of their packs.  I am not UL hiker, but I do like the idea of watching what I pack and reducing the weight of the gear I carry.
The ULA Ohm 2.0 is a great pack.  It is super comfortable and big enough for everything I carry, even winter gear.  You do need to watch your weight though with this and all UL Packs.  They are made of lighter materials and while they are durable, they do need to be handled with a bit more care.  The Ohm is recommended for weights that do not exceed 30 lbs.  My winter gear this year was right at 23 lbs and when I added additional water, it pushed the limit of the pack.  I was careful packing it and certainly watched the seems as I went out on the last couple trips.  The pack held and even at the weight max was real comfortable.
Here are the specs on the pack:  Volume Breakdown= 2,100 cu in. in the main body, the front mess pocket holds 500 cu in, the 2 side pockets hold 400 cu in each.  The hip belt pockets each hold 100 cu in each and the draw string extension collar (top of the pack) will hold an additional 500 cubic inches.  That gives you a grand total of 3,960 cubic inches of space.  That is a ton of room.  The packs weight, unpacked is 29 ounces.
The ULA web site describes the pack as “A full featured, full suspension (active) ultralight pack that offers exceptional load control, on-trail functionality, and full body compression.
Combining a 1.2 oz carbon fiber/delrin active suspension hoop and exceptional compression, the Ohm 2.0 maximizes load control, load transfer, pack compression, and overall pack rigidity in an ultralight package.
1.9 oz ripstop nylon, ULA 210 Robic, and ULA’s proven construction methods insure the Ohm 2.0 is built to last despite its minimal weight. The Ohm 2.0 Backpack is now available in four colors, standard green and purple blaze in the ULA 210 Robic, and Woodland and Multicam in 500 Cordura.”
The standard features of the pack are:  The suspension hoop, a must when lifting a lower a pack made with UL materials.  Internal Pad holster that comes with a CCF pad.  This is your back panel.  A contoured padded hip belt. hipbelt I love the way they have made the adjusting straps on the hip belt.  The double strap allows for more adjustments to be made adding to the overall comfort and ride of the pack.  Hip belt pockets.  Contoured Shoulder straps that are comfortable and don’t dig in.  The bif front mess pocket, easy access to the things that you need right away.  I keep my rain gear, first aid kit, and that kind of stuff in there.  Top compression strap keeps the pack tight and allows for flexible loading options.  Ice Axe/ Pole retention loops hold your trekking poles or your ice axe snug.  All of those features make the pack a great pack for weekend trips as well as extended days on the trail.
ulaohmInside of the pack is a hydration pouch that will hold a bladder up to 2 liters.  There is also a removable mesh pouch inside, perfect for your keys, wallet, or even your iPhone.
I have been using this pack for a few months now and can honestly say that I really am happy with it.  I love the weight, the construction, the features, the ease of use, and the comfort of the pack.  It is solid and well made right here in America.
I highly recommend the ULA Ohm 2.o.
You can see more ULA packs at their website.  http://www.ula-equipment.com
If you have questions, comments or ideas on your gear.. let me know.
Have a Great Scouting Day!



Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bonus Video – Grilled Cheese

Had all the stoves out today and it got to be about lunch time… Well…
Here’s some Bonus video of a nice lunch meal on the trail… Oh and the Cheese cake (left over from the Cheese Cake factory).. a great bonus to the lunch.  YUM!
Enjoy and Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, High Adventure, Skills | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Random Thought

newsmmheader1.jpgIts been a few days since my keyboard and I sat together and jotted down some thoughts… It’s been a long week and a pretty eventful one at that.
Monday we had our weekly Troop meeting, and to be honest.. I have no idea how it went.  I was upstairs with a group of parents and a couple of the Assistant Scoutmasters showing what is expected in the type of gear our Scouts should have.  In particular the winter gear that we need to see on the next couple camp outs.  I thought it went well.  It can be an overwhelming discussion to some parents and I try to keep it simple and show the parent that you don’t have to take out a loan to get the right gear.  I reinforced with the parents that is about the Right gear and Not a lot of gear.  To many grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles feel the need to get all the cool gadgets for their Scout and not the right stuff.  Anyway, that went pretty good and I think will be an annual thing with all of the new Scout parents.
Tuesday, I got an email from a reader that really made my week.  The reader called me an opinionated a**.  That’s ok, I can live with that.. what really got me was the reader said that “someone who gets paid from the Boy Scouts of America should watch what I say”.   Now that’s where I draw the line.  There are many good Professional Scouters out there.. but I’m not one of them.  I pay to do this thing called Scouting and like it.  I have not worked a day in my life in the employment of the Boy Scouts of America… nope.. I’m just a Scoutmaster, a run of the mill volunteer.  And yep.. I am an opinionated a**… but it’s my blog and so unless I am spouting off nonsense contrary to Scouting’s Values and methods… ahhh.. it’s just not worth the time.  But thanks for that nice email and I appreciate your comments… Kill ‘em with kindness my dad always said.
Wednesday I replaced the continuous ridge line on my tarp.  I ordered 50 ft. of  1.55 mm Z-line spectra cord from zpacks.com.  This stuff is amazing!  It will hold 200 lbs.. not that I will ever have that much weight on my tarp.. but what it really did was cut weight.  The old continuous ridge line was Nite ize cord.  It is really good stuff too and I like the reflective taping in it.. but the Spectra is super light and tough.  I only need 25 ft for the ridge line.. so I configured it like I had the old set up and went from 38 grams of line to 18 grams.  Considerable weight savings.. and I am going to need it to get to my goal base weight of 16 lbs.
Thursday my kids ordered (with my help) a birthday gift for me.  They ordered me a Solo Stove.  I got a tracking number Thursday night and it will be here on Tuesday.. more to come on that one.
And here we are Friday night.  I am getting my uniform together for tomorrows Trainers EDGE class.  I am helping on the staff.  Looks like I am teaching and being a guide throughout the day.  It should be a great Scouting day!
I’m not sure if what I am about to say is for public consumption yet.. but I’m going to tell you anyway.  I got an email the other day from Chris, our partner with PTC Media.  Actually he is the leader of our network, but anyway, after months and months of no contact, Chris sent an email to all of the show hosts of PTC Media stating that essentially we are done.
The network will remain up and available so folks can listen to the shows, but so far as the future.  Well, PTC has run its course.  So what does that mean for me and my podcast.  Well, after all the great feedback I received I did promise to keep it going.  I will do one more show on the PTC network and then my affiliation there will be over.  I will look for a server or a way that I can run a podcast from the blog but in the mean time I will continue to blog and produce the videos.  For those of you that came to the blog via the podcast, please know that the blog was here first and has always been that medium that I have preferred.  It was the blog that got the attention of Steve and an introduction to Chris and then a podcast.  So the blog (which I pay for) will remain unchanged.
I want to thank everyone that supported PTC Media for the last 8 years and in particular my show.  I hope that I can find the time and passion to put more out.
I thank Chris for given me the opportunity and the forum to talk about Scouting!  It was a real fun ride and along the way I have personally met many of you and have developed some great friendships.  Again.. nothing really will change in that regard.
Well, time to go and get a good nights sleep… I get to hang out with Phil and Adam tomorrow and I am sure I will need all the rest I can get.
Thanks for letting me get random with you.  After all… I’m just an opinionated a**!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: #52to16, Backpacking, blog, camp skills, gear, Ideals, Just fun, Leadership, Methods, Oath and Law, podcast, respect, Scoutmaster minute, Skills, stories, Values, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Gear Glorious Gear Part 2

I left you in the last post talking about the “Big 3″  The Pack, the Sleep system, and the Shelter.  Now we discuss the “Next 3″.  The “Next 3″ components of your gear consist of the Cook kit, the First Aid kit, and Rain gear.  Now in most articles that you will read and in most backpacking forums and circles the Sleeping pad is listed in the “Next 3″.  But since I like to put the sleep pad in with the sleep system, and since my target audience is typically Scouts and Scouters, I think that logic would dictate that the sleep pad go with the “Big 3″.  Regardless I think it is important that the First Aid kit is placed in with the “Next 3″.
So let’s get into these “Next 3″ components.
First, the Cook kit.  When I say ‘Cook kit’ I am referring to that gear that will be used to prepare the meal, eat the meal, and clean up after the meal.  This would include your cook pot, your stove, your towel, soap, fuel, lighter, utensils, eating ware (bowl, plate, cup or mug).  For a backpacker, these kitchen items really need to be small and fully functional.  Most meals require a single pot so a full cook set really is unnecessary.  A small stove such as the Snow Peak Giga Power is enough to get water going and can even be used for frying up eggs.  Keep in mind that you don’t need to bring the kitchen sink.  The essentials of a Cook kits are:
Stove, bowl, pot, towel, scrubber, camp suds soap, wind screen, lighter, spoon or spork, cup or mug.
Next let us dive into the First Aid kit.  Everyone needs to carry some sort of First Aid kit.  It need not be big, but it needs to be able to provide the essentials to do First Aid.  Gloves, band aids, ace wrap, gauze pads, prep pads, mole skin, tweezers, and aspirin are a good start.  All of that will fit in a zip lock bag.  I would also consider throwing in some butter fly closure strips and tape.  The Scout handbook and the internet have lots of resources to give you tips on what to put in your kit.  Just have one that will first serve you.. and then a buddy.
Rain gear wraps up the “Next 3″.  This is important (not just here in Oregon) to keep handy.  Rain gear serves more than just to keep one dry.  It can be an outer layer of clothing.  It is a great wind stopper, can be used as a ground cloth.  Rain gear is essential in preventing hypothermia.  Yes, even in the summer a hiker exposed to the elements can fall into those conditions.  Staying dry and clean are some of the reasons to carry rain gear.  Poncho’s are nice as they can serve multiple purposes.  However I don’t recommend them to Scouts as they quickly become capes and provide less protection than Rain pants and jacket.   There are some inexpensive, light weight options out there.  Frogg Toggs makes a rain suit that retails for $20.  It needs to be taken care of, but the weight and protection pay for itself in one rain storm.
So that’s the ‘Next 3′ components of the packing list.
Those 6 items make up the bulk of your gear.  What’s left.. pretty much your little stuff and clothing.
“The Little Stuff”
Most new Scouts come out of Webelos ready for their day hikes with their 10 essentials.  Moving to the “Big Pack” the 10 essentials get spread out within the contents of pockets and gear in the pack.  You still need all 10, but they will be displaced throughout your gear.  A great idea is to build a ditty bag to catch-all your “Little Stuff”
Matches or other fire starting materials, your compass, head lamp, small lantern, duct tape, extra cord, hand warmers, lip balm and sun block and a bandana just to list a few items.  I keep all my “little stuff” in a ditty bag where I can find it and have access to it when needed.
Then you need to break down your clothing.  This pretty much is the most variable of your gear items.  Weather conditions, temperature, and length of trip will dictate your clothing choices.  The most common error is taking too much.  Give a serious look at the clothing you take.  See what you really need versus what you want and try to get all your clothing in a single stuff sack.
So there it is.  The Big 3, the Next 3, the little stuff and clothing.  That’s your gear in a nut shell.  Gear Glorious Gear.  Develop your gear lists and kits that you are comfortable with, you can use, and you want to carry.
Any questions, comments, or suggestions.. give me a holler!
Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, Cooking, gear, Hammock, High Adventure, Just fun, Leave no trace, Skills | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

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