Posts Tagged With: camping

Gear Glorious Gear part 1

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!

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

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

Anchoring your Tent

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!

Categories: Backpacking, blog, camp skills, Camping, gear, High Adventure, Just fun, Winter Camping | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a 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

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

Rainy days and Sundays…

Well not exactly the title to that song.. but its raining here in the great NW and I want to get out and work with my new Hennessy Hammock.  My oldest son and I bought Hennessy Hammocks yesterday.  For those of you that went to Jambo.. you saw them there.  Hennessy Hammocks had a nice display set up all week.  There was even a Troop that used them for the entire Jamboree.  You can read about that here.  A replacement to our conventional tents and a great alternative when trying to leave no trace.  Hammocks leave absolutely no footprint, and with the tree huggers that are provided, there is no damage to the trees.
As with all my gear, I probably over research things and check as many reviews as possible to find just the right brand and type of gear.  We came to the conclusion that breaking into the world of Hammock Camping (a great addition to the Backpack), the Hennessy was the way to go.  We purchased the Hennessy Expedition.  My son bought the standard, velcro bottom entry, while I decided on the A-sym zip.  That is a full zipper entry into the hammock.  I like this style as it is more tent like and easier for my old body to get in and out of.. and it makes a great camp chair for lounging before its time to hit the rack.
Here are things that I really like about the hammock.  Keep in mind I have yet to sleep in it.. but all reviews say it is the best nights sleep you will ever have camping.  And consistent sleep too, the same hang every time, no matter where you are.  Anyway.  I like the no see’um mess bug net.  Totally encloses the hammock for a bug free zone.  I love that when you lay in it.. you are flat.  I was concerned that you would wake up looking like a banana.  I like the rain fly or canopy.  Light weight and plenty big.  I like that when you lay in the hammock there are no pressure points.  You can role and lay on your side, stomach, or back.. I like to kind of ball up when I sleep.  Couple my Big Agnes sleeping bag and the hammock, and I am looking at some great sleeping out in the woods.
My wife asked about what to if there are no trees.  Well up here, we don’t have that problem.  But even in central Oregon when we are Rock climbing, I can using climbing rigging to hang the hammock.. or put in on the ground like a tent, using my trekking poles to elevate the ends.
There is a built in ridge line inside the hammock for storage and it maintains the hammock’s shape as it hangs.  There is no drooping of the bug net or rain fly with the ridge line.
All in I am excited about getting out in the woods with it.  Yesterday we set it up in the backyard, but the rain started and I took it down, I did get to lay in it for a few minutes.  Enough to tease me into wanting more.
So today its raining (again)…  so we are tweeking the hammocks a bit.  The way it comes is good, but a few tweeks here and there make everything better.  For example.  The recommended set up is using the tree huggers and tying a series of knots to hang the hammock.  I modified the huggers using a carabiner and rappel rings.  I saw it online and it works great.  We also bought some 550 cord (paracord) to add an additional ridge line specifically for the rain fly.  This will allow us to hang the rain fly a little higher than designed.  I think this will be advantageous when dealing with condensation.
I will do a full review after I get a night sleep in it.  It will going into the pack for many nights of use stating at the April camp out with my Troop.
Today for #100daysofscouting..
I worked on my camping gear.
Shot out some emails, one to the Troop historian and a few others.
Talked on the phone with a Scouter from the Silver Beaver nominating committee (can’t tell).
Worked on the blog.
Recorded a new ad for PTC (excited about this one).

Have a Great Scouting Day!

Categories: Backpacking, camp skills, Camping, gear, Skills | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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