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Showing posts from January, 2017

review - altra superior 2

Last weekend I went for a hike on the Florida Trail. A small 4 miles section of the trail was a gravel road and my feet were in pain.

These merrell trail glove shoes were kinda nice. First off they are a size 10.5 and while they fit my foot length the height of my arch meant I did not have enough lace and tightening the laces cause hot-spots. While I wanted a barefoot experience in order to give my heel a break I quickly realized I really want a zero drop.


After some recommendations and internet searching and reading I found these: altra superior 2 (size 11) which I purchased on amazon for $64. I went back to buy a second pair but amazon wanted to charge me $82 for the second pair. In the interim the superior 3 is available and given the pricing and availability I'll wait for the 3 to drop in price.

I noticed a few things. The laces and the body of the shoe fit better. Duh, size 11 vs 10.5. The toe box was also big like the merrell but the insole was squishy almost gel but it was …

review sea to summit sil bucket

It's an interesting product and with a little cordage and a rock I should be able to get water to process and staying out of harms way. The bag is small, has a pouch, is seam taped or sealed so its waterproof.... but it cannot stand on the ground. It has to hang.


This small collapsible funnel with a paper coffee filter would be useful in order to get the water into a sawyer squeeze or other. A paper coffee filter could filter the chunks.


The complaint about the stuff sack is that the bucket needs to be folded exactly so that it will fit into the bag. That precision folding will eventually damage the bucket. Lastly the bucket is expensive but the reason I decided to purchase it was because it was light, could hold more water than I would process at once thus allowing for spillage and that it would get me away from the waterhole if need be... think aligators.

Here is the complete water processing kit.


Notice there is a DIY hydration tube specifically for smartwater bottles. Also I c…

making lunch - multiple sources of fire

There is a consensus that a hiker or camper needs to carry multiple methods to create fire. I cannot agree more strongly. Many months ago I wanted to have a torch lighter as a backup, however, as backups go it was pretty crappy. The lighter failed the soak test and it took weeks for the mechanism to dry out. I would probably prefer to have a zippo but they are not without their own challenges.


I originally purchased the toaks 550ml and it was great. Last week I purchased the toaks 750ml because some of the mountainhouse foods required more than 2 cups of water. But even though it's supposed to be a 750ml there are no such markings. It stops at 550ml. It's crappy but not bad news. Now I can make enough water for lunch and a cups of tea.


I tried to light my esbit fuel according to the instructions I watched (fero rod), however, the small tray that is supposed to hold the esbit was too small to create and contain the esbit dust I needed. Next, I tried some drier lint. Since my wo…

natures TV - solo stove and swedish torch

There is nothing special about today except that I watched part of the ABC/Trump interview last night and it only serves to confirm my opinion of trump and what might be in store for Americans and "people of the world".

I had some leftover birch from last year when I was testing my knives, axes, feathersticks and firemaking. And so I decided to make a fire this morning and watch some TV.


The wood is birch so I use the bark as tinder. I also used some dryer lint to get the initial spark from my fero rod (light my fire + mora) I also created some feathers in the center of the stove as well as generally roughed the center.


The spark caught right away and I dropped the lint into the center of the torch. I suppose I could have lit the lint on top of the torch instead of the concrete. That way, once lit, I could have knocked the flaming lint into the center with the knife instead of risking a possible burn.


The torch did not take long to flame. Also the gasification function of th…

review - platypus 1L meta bottle

Here is my 1L Platypus Meta bottle. It cost about $30 for the first bottle and then I located a $25 bottle on Amazon. I had been struggling between using a mini sawyer, smartwater bottles and hydration bags. My friend has a Camelbak that has a side door making it simple to see the remaining volume. Mine was not as well designed in that respect and required taking the bag apart to check the levels. Of course I forgot th mission....
Any time I'm near water I promise to check my levels and make more if I need it. This weekend it was more of the same with this bottle. Frankly I missed the instant access of the hydration bag and even thought my meta bottle was on the top of the pack I hated stopping to drink.


The filter is slightly offset. Presumably so that the filter doors dip lower into the water.


Notice there is a white filter inside the clean end with a smaller opening just below it.


This is the dirty end of the filter. It's one of 4 inputs to the filter. Once the water level …

do sawyer squeeze dirty bags really break?

When I received my first Sawyer Mini filter I threw away the bag thinking that I was going to use a smartwater bottle exclusively. Since then I have not actually needed to filter water although there were times that I should have. The very last time I should have processed water the source was deemed less desirable and so I just finished the last half mile dry as a bone.

During that last hike I had been using a Platypus Meta bottle only to discover it had many faults and places where there were points of failure. [a] did not filter 100% of the contents, not even close [b] the main seal leaked depending [c] the main casket nearly came off/damaged on first use [d] too much potential to cross contaminate. So I decided to go back and try the sawyer again.

First of all the sawyer mini would allow me to fill my Platypus 2L bag after removing the mouth piece. But then I needed to collect water and filter it. I started with my smartwater bottle. I quickly discovered that I could squeeze it bu…

mini review - merrell trail glove, platypus meta bottle, calories

The prevailing thinking for ultralight hikers is that every ounce you save on your feet is 5 pounds in your pack. And barefoot runners have the opinion that barefoot or barefoot shoes give the runner better warning to foot and ankle danger that hiking boots and traditional running shoes would mask until it was too late. Both might be true or false, however, I can report that depending on the road or trail surface barefoot can be painful.

In my case the trail was clear of most debris and soft.... until we got to the section of trail meant for cars. There were pebbles of coral rock everywhere but not enough to be level and distribute my weight evenly. Either a more rigid sole or gel insole would have been happier for my feel but I do not know if that would have invalidated the benefits described. But it is time for new shoes or insoles.

the zero drop heal of the barefoot shoe has helped my plantars fasciitis.

I purchase 2 Platypus Meta bottles(with filter) for about $25 each. They were m…

hiking calories and food sources

I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist. I did some reading and asked Google some questions. Your experience might be different and there is every hope that I'm wrong because it already contradicts some facts I held to be true.

FACT: All you need is 1 1/2 pounds of food per day.
REALITY: it DEPENDS on how many calories you need in a day. The smart money seems to say that you need 1200 calories to sit on the could all day and you need 400 calories per hour of hiking (difficulty not withstanding). Therefore in a 10 hour hiking day one need 5200 calories and 12 hour day needs 6000 calories.
FACT: 6000 calories weights 3 pounds
REALITY: That is amazingly FALSE. The person making this claim showed a variety of protein and carbohydrate sources but it was not obvious where the calorie density came from. Sugar is a compact carb, however, there are 15 calories per packet and to get to 1500 calories you would need to consume 100 packets. On the protein side there are animal and vegetable protein…

review Marmot Kompressor Plus - not so good

Here is my list of stuff:

1L SmartWater1L water filtering bottle1 pkg mashed potatoesFleece Sweaterponchohammockpretzelsprotein bar2 pkts peanut butter2 pkgs GUspoonheadlampcompassmicrotowelhard candytarpcordage and bitsbivyfirst aid kitwater kitstove and cup

Here is yesterday's pack, a Klymit Stash 18. Everything fits. Kinda snug. Only the main compartment and the one pocket. Just the drawstring at the top... and it's black. There is a good chance that the contents of the pack is going to be warmed and since the water is inside it's going to be warm too. In my last experience with a hydration bag I found the contents of the straw to be warm.


Today's pack is a Marmot Kompressor Plus #24940. Everything fits and there is plenty of room for a lot more gear. Since it's the same gear as the Klymit and it weighed in at 10lbs this pack is the same and the manufacturer suggests the limit is 20lbs but after wearing it around the house the Marmot has serious limitations.



The p…

shelter review - tactical bivy selection

My shelter systems include tents and hammocks. By weight an volume these systems are about equal. The tent is 23oz from Six Moon Designs. The hammock and straps, bug net, tarp are from yukon outfitters, sea to summit, and SOL.

As anyone who reads this blog knows I do not believe in the notion of "survival" as it means that you might lose, however, I do carry a complete shelter system with me. I carry a shelter not because I'm expecting to spend the night but because a hammock and tarp offer comfort from the Florida sun and rain as well as getting my feet out of the water. It's also a chance to practice setting up camp and getting used to carrying gear.

Several months ago I decided that a bivy and tarp was a good compromise between a tent and a hammock. I bought a snugpack jungle bag and it's matching tarp. I was pretty disappointed with both. The bivy itself is heavy and voluminous. And the tarp did not match the picture which snugpack has yet to correct.

jungle …

review klymit 18 backpack

In a recent post I write about 1-day and 2-day load out. The 18L pack I was testing with was from Klymit. The pack is available from Amazon and at a pretty good price, however, there are some things you need to know.

First, there is only one pocket on the back; and it's a small pocket. I managed to fit a few essential items. Spoon, 4 packets of GU, micro towel, compass and whistle. When on the trail there should be room for my keys(no hook) and wallet.

Therefore the first deficiency is the lack of side mesh pockets for carrying water. To be fair the back is hydration bag capable but my position is that hydration bags are a risk. Next, the presenter suggests that the pack can hold 20lbs of gear. That might be possible based on the materials, straps, and construction; however at 9.4lbs the pack was just barely comfortable. And so the next issue is that in the demo the stash rode high on the shoulders, however, most professionals recommend low on the hips without bouncing. Lastly, th…

deciding between a 1-day and 2-day pack

At the risk of repeating myself I do not believe in the notion of "Survival Gear" as it pertains to the Florida Trail or any well traveled path with one exception.
Survival gear means there is a better than 50% chance you and your companions are going to perish and that what you need to carry is meant to extend your chances of rescue. The rule of 3s will tell you about you and the rule of Cs will tell you about stuff. SEAL training will tell you that you can take a lot of punishment... That said there is only one true piece of survival gear that offsets the rest. SPOT.  That might seem a little black or white but it's harsh reality and of course there are some nice benefits especially while hiking in the Florida Everglades.

1-Day Pack (under 7lbs)
18L or smaller pack1L clean, 1L dirty water bottleswater processing kit1P first aid kitRain gearfood (1lb per day or 1200 calories + 400 per hour) 2-Day Pack (under 10lbs) 18L to 25L pack1-Day contentsextra foodoptional stove for…

pre filtering with platypus meta bottle

Here is the bottle:

This model is 1L and there is a 750ml version. It's not clear what the difference is other than the obvious volume... is the head the same and a different silicon section.


When not in use it is recommended that the CLEAN side is covered with the cap provided. It is pretty much assumed that everything is dirty.


In the everglades it may be necessary to prefilter the water because depending on your water source there can and will be large particulates. In this example I'm using a paper coffee filter and my daughter's hear band. This method is untested so I do not know how many uses I would get from a single filter. And then there is the weight and disposal requirements. Leave No Trace.


I suppose I could have fit it a little better but it was a test fit.

Keep in mind this is for those times when there's just too much junk in the water.

big cypress do not underestimate your water consumption rate

We hiked about 4.5 miles yesterday. When we left the trail my 3L Camelbak had about 8oz water remaining. In retrospect there is a functional challenge with hydration systems and that is not knowing how much is left and what your consumption rate might be. Clearly the 3L required trail discipline.... The weather yesterday was in the 70s (F) and overcast. If the trail had been wet and rainy then I could make drinking water everywhere but in this current climate the trails were dry and the best water sources could be an hour off trail.




Before we started the hike we decided to stop when we reached water or our time-limit. When got to the portion of the trail that was under water we turned around. Since we were both carrying Camelbaks we thought we had enough water.

business idea : seasonal tiny living

I was just watching a video about a couple who decided to give up living in the city to live in a tiny trailer.


I live in a 4 bedroom house, work from home, kids are in elementary school, and a wife who is a teacher. Our mortgage and escrow is about $2300 a month and while I purchased the house before I was married with kids I see the advantages of tiny living.

First of all, even if you're tiny living on-grid the smaller the place the less stuff you can store and so space is an important trade-off. Depending where you locate your tiny homestead you might have fewer expenses overall. Smaller place less A/C. Let's say you want to upgrade to granite counter tops well surface are equals cost.

Ten years ago I rented a log cabin in North Carolina for a week. I think I paid about $1100 for the week. The cabin slept 17 people but we were only 6 adults. It was a great week and we had a lot of fun. There wasn't much storage and we did not have much stuff. There were a couple of clos…

I got it wrong on survival kits from the factory

A few months ago I was wandering around my imagination in advance of a hike I was going to take in Lake Tahoe.

As I was preparing for the hike I discovered that there were item I could not take on a plane even inside my checked baggage. This included canister fuel for my stove, lighter, and fero rods. So I emailed Yukon Outfitters and suggested that they put together a drop-ship pack that might contain the essentials that someone needs for a hike, representing the best of tools, and that might not otherwise be shipped via AIR.

This morning was not the first time I noticed the Bear Grylls Coast Survival Kit but I just realized I was utterly wrong. I'm not saying I'm wrong because BG's pack is cool and a must have. I'm saying that the idea of a drop-ship survival pack is cool but useless.

First of all no vendor is going to give you a complete pack of all the essentials that you or I are comfortable with or have already worked with. Second, for my trouble, the BG pack sel…