Hammock

Couple more thoughts on gear

ulaohmYeah.. so I like to talk about gear… it’s what I do…
Hi, my name is Jerry… and I am a gear junky..
Hiiiiii Jerrrrryyy
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.
Hammock-Gear-store-icon1.  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!

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!

Sunday Coffee 1-20

This weekend our Troop had a camp out.  During the camp out we conducted Troop Junior Leader Training and did some Shot Gun Shooting.  We even had some time to squeeze in some map and compass work with some of the newer Scouts.  It was an action packed weekend and I can’t tell you how proud I am of the Junior Leaders that ran the training.  They did a real great job.  I will more to say about that in a later post.
Sunday morning brought chilly temps (23 degrees) and a fun time with the Assistant Scoutmasters as we got up and got going.  This is the Sunday Mornin’ Coffee video for this week.  Featuring the Assistant Scoutmasters of Troop 664.  A great group of guys.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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!

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!

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!

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!