Today I saw a tweet from a guy I follow. He is an AT section hiker and shared this video, a humorous look at the MSR Reactor stove. I have never used a Reactor, but I have seen them and think that they are pretty neat. They are way to big for me and not really my cup of tea when it comes to stoves, but the video is funny and as I have stated before reinforces some of the reasons I am not a big fan of the Jet Boil.
All of that to say… Enjoy the video.. I thought it was funny.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Yesterday I stumbled upon a great You Tube Channel. It;s called Scouting lighter. From what I gather, this Scouter put this together as part of his Wood Badge Ticket. So +2 for this fella! A backpacker and Wood Badger!! WhooHoo!
Anyway.. I found his You Tube channel full of really great information. I picked out this one video in particular because it really explains what we are trying to do in our Troop and more to the point what I am doing with my gear.
Enjoy, and I highly encourage you… Nay Demand.. .that you subscribe to his channel!
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Well, I had a great night out in the hammock ‘testing’ out some new gear that I finally received from Christmas orders.
The Hammock Gear Under Quilt is fantastic!!! Now I wish I would have got one years ago.
Anyway.. enjoy the video. The first part of the video can be found here.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
Yeah.. so I like to talk about gear… it’s what I do…
Hi, my name is Jerry… and I am a gear junky..
Hey folks, ever since I was a young Scout I was told to take care of your gear and it will take care of you.. I think that is very true and with that comes messin’ with your gear. Always looking for the ‘next best thing’ or a simple way or cooler way to do this or that.
Sometimes I am a bit apprehensive about showing gear or a way I do something because give it a week.. it may change.
As you know I am a hammock camper and use a tarp over the hammock. Real hard to get a hammock in a tent.. although I have seen it done. But I have not always been a hammock camper and enjoyed camping none the less. Hammock camping was introduced to me at the 2010 National Jamboree and I have been hooked since. I find it an extremely comfortable way to sleep and it gives me new opportunities to tweak gear. It seems that with hammock camping came a whole new way of camping. I started getting my gear lighter. I started to look at new ways to set up gear and find it challenging in the way modifications can be made and gear can be set up.
I am in no way shape or form trying to get anyone to convert to hammock camping. I could really care less how you camp… as long as you camp. You gotta get out there in the woods and enjoy nature. It is a must. I encourage… nay demand that you camp!
But yes I talk a bunch about hammock camping and show that style in my videos and gear tips and tricks.. why? Because it is what I do. What I know for sure is that I just like to talk gear and I like to share. The other thing that I know for sure is that I am not the ultimate authority on camping and everything associated with it.. but I do know a bunch, I have ideas, thoughts, and certainly opinions and once again… I like to share.
If hammock camping is not your thing than I can deal with that. Maybe you can find a tip here and there that you can work into tent camping or on the ground tarp camping. Maybe there is a tip out there that you can share with your Scouts to make their outdoor experience better. Maybe, just maybe, you will be intrigued enough to try something new or motivated just a bit to step outside of your comfort zone, what ever that looks like.
So here’s the deal. I’ll keep talking gear and changing my stuff every time the wind blows and I’ll keep sharing with you, my trusty reader. You know I love ya… right?
So here’s a couple of thoughts on gear.. lessons learned you might say.
***NOTE*** What I am about to write does not comply with the Guide to Safe Scouting!
Fuel. On the last camp out I noticed that my Denatured Alcohol took some time to warm up and light. It was nothing that would cause alarm and after a few minutes under my arm pit, the fuel was warm enough to light and get some water boiling. The fix. Today I went out and purchased a little 3 oz. squeeze bottle. It is a bottle recommended to carry fluids on an airplane, essentially to get through TSA. I wrote in RED Sharpie all over it FUEL! The plan (and I am going to test it tonight) is to keep it in my sleeping bag with me at night. Then in the morning, it will be warm and ready to use.
Now some of you are going to say.. well that is not setting a good example. Ok.. but then again, I am not afraid of teaching Scouts how to do things right and even if Denatured Alcohol leaked in their sleeping bag, there would be no harm. Fact is 3 ounces of alcohol would probably evaporate before they woke up. As long as they are not sleeping with a lit torch in their pants I am sure they would be just fine.
I am not going to rehash the comments I made about teaching Scouts and allowing them to act their age and skill level. Is that not setting a good example… well to some. One day the BSA will again allow skills to be tested. That day will come when we don’t teach to the lowest common denominator and lawyers leave us alone.
I have often said that I will never compromise Safety and Propriety.. A 3 ounce bottle of Denatured Alcohol does not compromise either… besides, what does it matter to some of the car campers out there? Enough said on that.
(Please know that part of me is joking here.. the other part of me is really pissed)
Next. Gear needs to be tested. This goes for Scouts and Scouters. You need to know your gear. You need to know the limits of the gear, the capabilities of the gear, and how to use it. There is no better place to do this that your backyard.
Tonight, I am testing some gear out in the backyard.
1. My new under quilt from Hammock gear. Hammockgear.com I got this for Christmas, but since they make to order, I just got it on Friday. Tonight I will be in it and my Big Agnes Encampment 15* bag. It’s supposed to get chilly tonight, so we will see how that goes. The best part is that if I get to cold.. my bed is about 50 feet away inside the house.
2. Dutch Clip on Tarp pull outs. They pull the walls of the tarp out to give you more room as well as keep the tarp off of you in the snow and heavy rain. I have them on the tarp tonight. Mainly because I wanted to see how easy they are to put on and take off… really easy as a matter of fact.
3. I am testing.. or more to the point playing with a stove that a fellow Youtuber sent me. It is an alcohol stove… looks a lot like the white box stove. I’m gonna fire it up and have some hot chocolate tonight and my coffee in the morning.
I also did some more tweaking on the tarp. I found that if I tied a bowline at the end of the guy line, then synched up the line using the prusik it was super easy especially with gloves on. There will be no need to until the bowline and will help in take down also.
So the tarp and hammock are up in the backyard and ready to be tested… now that’s the kind of testing I can get behind.
Today I took another look at my first aid kit and got it all in a small LOCSAK. This will make packing just a tad bit easier and I still have everything I need. Reworked my ‘toilet kit’ too. Added Wet Ones single packs to it. Feels nice on the tush when cleaning up in the woods.
Ok… so did you all get that I like to talk about gear?
That’s it for now.. should have a video out tomorrow. The Sunday Morning coffee will be built into the tweaking of the gear.
As always, I am curious to know what you think. Keep in my that the tag line of this blog is “Helping to Deliver the Promise of Scouting.” Do not forget what that promise is.. a large part of that promise is fun and adventure. I’m just sayin’.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
After our last camp out we noticed that many of our younger Scouts seem to have been over looked when it comes to their gear and gear selections to include packing that gear. Now, let me explain here because if you have spent about a day browsing this blog and you know our Troop, gear is one of those subjects we talk about like it was a merit badge… ahhh.. maybe that’s not a great example… talking and teaching about gear is like teaching first aid.. yeah.. that one works better.
We believe that gear is essential in a great camping experience. Not a lot of gear.. but the right gear. And it seems that as of late we have been a bit lazy in really getting into the nitty-gritty about gear with some of the Scouts of the troop.
Now in all fairness, the Scouts that immediately take interest in the gear they have and show excitement obviously get into those discussions with us. And parents that see that enthusiasm in their son make it a point to talk about gear choices with us.
Having said all of that…
After the last camp out the Assistant Scoutmasters and I evaluated some of the processes we have in place to teach and talk about gear. Seeking a solution to the issue we concluded that we needed to go back to square one with some of the Scouts. We identified that the group of Scouts that have not yet completed all of the requirements for First Class was our target.. and more to the point.. their parents.
We have decided that in “starting over” with these Scouts and their parents we would demonstrate what it is that we consider the gear needed to support their Scout. To do this we are going to do a full lay out of 3 sets of gear. Mine, representing average gear that is on the lighter side. Bryce, one of the Assistant Scoutmasters, will lay his gear out which will show the middle of the road gear, very affordable and easy to use. Finally Ken, another of the Assistant Scoutmaster’s, will lay out his “heavier set up” with higher end items.
The thing that all three of our set ups have in common are the break down of gear types and the fact that we are pretty much carrying the same thing just in different forms, brands, and weight classes.
Our gear is broken into 3 groups.
First. The Big 3. This group includes the Backpack, the Sleep system, and Shelter.
The Backpack is essential in the discussion of gear. It’s were all of this is going to end up. There are essentially two types of packs that we discuss with the Scout (and Parent) Internal Frame packs and External Frame packs. We used to not recommend Internal Packs for our Scouts, but with the modernization of the internal packs and the technology that has gone into the development of the internal frame pack, it is a far better pack than older versions. The biggest concern with internal frame packs when it comes to Scouts is the packing of the pack. Internal frame packs require a tad bit more thought in packing so the gear will give the wearer a comfortable ride. This is the advantage of the External frame pack. The weight and ride of the pack is distributed on the frame. If a Scout does not pack well, he will, by and large, still have a load that is manageable.
I switched to internal frame packs about 3 years ago and love them now that I have played with them and refined my packing.
We recommend, that no matter which style of pack a Scout gets it has at least 3900 cubic inches of space. Now, all that space does not have to get filled up, but 3900 cube will allow for the Scout to make an easier time of packing.
Next we talk about the Sleep System. Note that I did not say sleeping bag. The sleep system is the bag or quilt and the pad or insulation. When it comes to sleeping bags the sky is the limit on materials, fill, rating, size and shape. The down versus synthetic argument is one that we resolve by saying this. Down is lighter and warm but when it’s wet it is not worth having. Synthetic materials are warm, heavier, and will maintain it’s warmth even when wet. We recommend to parents that if their Scout can take care of it, down is the way to go. Having said that.. I have a synthetic bag.
Sleeping bag liners add about 10 degrees to any bag and are small and light. They are a great addition here in the Northwest to a sleep system and can carry a 20 degree bag well into the teens.
Ground insulation goes beyond a ground cloth. A sleeping pad whether it is a Closed Cell Foam pad (CCF) or an inflatable pad is a must. CCF pads are light and durable and work really well in the winter. Most inflatable pads lack insulation but are comfortable and still get you off the ground. There are insulated inflatable pads out there and they are well worth the extra money and weight. A current trend is to put the inflatable pad inside of the sleeping bag. This maintains the comfort and heat qualities of the pad.
The final component of the “Big 3″ is the Shelter. Again, note that I did not say tent. A lot of Scouts now are finding their way into tarps and bivies. There are advantages in weight savings, ease, and multiple configurations to the tarp and bivy style of camping. Regardless of what you decide to sleep under, this part of the big 3 typically makes up a major portion of the money spent on gear.
Tarps tend to be lighter, and I should clarify that I am not talking about your standard BiMart blue tarp. We are talking nylon or silicone impregnated nylon (Silnylon). They provide good cover and are nice and light. A good tent will last a Scout for ever if he takes care of it. Most Scouts of our troop trend towards a single person tent for a few reasons. First, the ownership. The Scout takes care of gear that belongs to him better than he will if it does not. Second, the weight of a single person tent is a big savings in the pack as well as the volume. And finally, the idea that he can adapt the tent to his style, needs, and he does not have to worry about someone elses gear in there. When he is ready to go to sleep, he can.
Some have suggested that this practice takes away from the social aspect of the camp out. This has not seemed to bare out in our troop. Nylon tents are not sound proof and the Scouts set up their tents pretty close and lay there and chat. They set up tents with the doors facing and play cards in the middle. They tend to figure it out. A two person tent is a great investment also and allows for more room. You will carry a bit more weight, but for some, the added room and the flexibility to add a person.
The key when picking out a good tent is to look for free-standing, easy set up, and good coverage. Whether you pick a tarp, hammock, bivy or tent coverage, ease of use and how much you want to pay is a good way to start your shopping.
Tomorrow on the blog we will talk about the “Next 3″. The next group of gear that includes the components; Cook Kit, First Aid kit, and Rain Gear.
If you have comments or questions please leave them here on the blog.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
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!
Here is a video I shot a while back. The first attempt at anchoring in the video may seem not to have worked… but in the interest of time we did not allow it ‘set up’. A regular or snow stake will stay once snow is packed and allowed to bond to the stake.
Have a Great Scouting Day!
One 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!
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!