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!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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!