Friday, September 30, 2016

hammock suspension systems

I am far from being an expert hammock or hammock suspension person, however, I slept at a Holiday Inn last night... Actually I'm not qualified and I'm not trying to substitute my wisdom for yours I'm just calling it like I see it.

I have a number of hammock suspension systems to evaluate and I'm not expecting to break new ground as this sort of thing has been researched and written about to death. My hypothesis is that any simple gathered end hammock can be suspended by a plain webbing or cordage (properly rated of course). And with enough practice the number of fine adjustments should be minimal.

I have a number of suspension systems:

  • ENO Atlas Straps
  • ENO Helios
  • Whoopie Sling with Soft Shackle
  • plain webbing
  • plain para-max
  • plain 550 paracord
I'm not going to test the paracord because the para-max is just a stronger version of the same.

The weigh in:
  • Atlas - 180g
  • Whoopie Sling - 20g
  • webbing - 80g
  • paramax - 100g
The weight of the Atlas strap was expected. It's a thicker strap and in the loop section the material is essentially  doubled.

  • Atlas - 300lbs
  • Helios - 300lbs
  • Whoopie Sling - 3000lbs
  • webbing - 3500lbs
  • paramax - 1000lbs
The complete System:
  • Atlas - needs a carabiner
  • Whoopie - needs a tree huger
  • webbing - as is
  • paramax - as is
You can always get complicated with the webbing or paramax by adding buckles and so on but that complicates the system and creates additional failure opportunities.

Installation and Adjustment:
  • Atlas - wrap the strap around the tree at the right height and using the carabiner select the hang.
  • Whoopie - decide if you're going to replace the gathered end of the hammock and if not then you have one knot on the hammock side; then a strap around the tree and then a marlin-spike. Adjustments are made by pulling on one end or the other.
  • webbing - a figure 8 knot on one end and around the tree. and a slippery-becket-hitch to the gathered end once or twice for the perfect hang. Adjustments are made by resetting the becket-hitch.
  • paramax - just like the webbing

Looking closely at the different suspension systems I made some observations. Even though there is something to be said for a proper commercial entity behind a product like the Atlas straps there is a very good chance that it's just a branded accessory. It's just a matter to scan Amazon for the number of similar suspension systems.

The whoopie sling seems un-commercial. Regardless of the qualify of materials the presentation in the packaging was not all that fantastic and unless I had made the product myself I could not be sure that it was amsteel. Some amsteel products are sold as winch or towline replacements. This just does not feel right.

The webbing packs up smaller than the paramax but is limited to this one use. 

The paramax might have multiple uses. One possible configuration could be an all-in-one ridgeline and suspension although this is a little complicated to hang and adjust.

  • Atlas - $30
  • Helios - $35
  • Whoopie - $20 (but incomplete)
  • webbing - $7 for 30ft
  • paramax - $19 for 50ft

I tested the Atlas with an ENO DoubleNest last week and did not experience anything special. The positioning of the loops meant that fine tuning had to be accomplished by raising or lowering the tree straps.

Today I tested a Yukon Featherlite with the webbing and paramax suspension systems. Tuning the suspension was as simple as re-positioning the becket-hitch (or sheet bend).

webbing wrapped around the tree with a figure 8 loop

paramax attached to the tree with a figure 8 loop
One thing I noticed when I disassembled the hammock was that the loop and the working end on the tree wrap seemed to be fused. Once I realized what happened they pealed away.

slippery double sheet bend
I thought this was a proper double but it's not. This knot worked but was not slippery. It took some finesse to undo.

slippery sheet bend
The sheet bend knot got turned inside out with both ends being webbing. This also happened on the paramax side and so I did a double there. I was not at all discouraged with the time or effort it took to get the hammock and suspension adjusted. It was clearly as fast as the Atlas or Whoopie but took no more or less adjustments. (this was the first hang for the Yukon hammock so I had to contend with sag and stretching.


I appreciate that people, me included, need to collect things. In a previous post I indicated how many bushcraft knives I purchased... and so I effectively have 4 hammock suspension systems. Some people collect 3rd party libraries (programmer humor) and others lightweight suspension systems. It probably has more to do with being braggadocios than practical.

As for which suspension is preferred let's start with least preferred.

The Atlas is least preferred because it's heavy, while it has capacity for the hammock it might fail if used for something else, and the pack volume.

The Whoopie sling is a least favorite too. I cannot confirm that it's actually amsteel and even with the some confidence there are many moving parts. Regardless of it's weight advantage  I would question it's durability or even field repair. I suppose any side or both could be replaced with any of the other systems if necessary. Having not used this system I lack the necessary confidence which I will have to work on.

I think I would prefer a single material solution whether it's paramax or webbing. That the webbing seemed to turn inside out is troubling. As I was taking the system apart I almost opted to cut the strap but finally worked it free. With all due respect to the tree people I think the winner is going to be a double wrap paramax although I'm also going to test the Whoopie. So stay tuned This could change.

More testing:

attached to the tree
 I think that because I doubled the cordage the paramax did not fuse like the previous test.
with the soft buckle

the whoopie sing was wrapped in the gathered end of the hammock
I do not particularly like the diameter of the sling and the hammock material. I think the force is distributed but as the cordage and webbing fused in the previous test I'm certain there is a point at which the sling will cut the gathered end. And as I was removing the sling from the gathered end I discovered just how taut the sling was.

I decided to test the Whoopie sling anyway. First I tried the marlin-spike and that was a FAIL. [a] because it's subject to the wind. There was a slight breeze and the whoopie landed on the ground. Had I been hammocking in the Everglades the hammock and I would be soaked. [b] In my case as soon as I put my weight on the hammock the spike broke and I landed on my ass. I'm confident I was in the correct position. [c] I still had to use a good amount of cordage to wrap around the tree. [d] I used the soft buckle but I found it to be unreliable looking... but they worked.

And the winner is...

paramax cordage with a double sheet bend and the existing webbing on the yukon featherlight.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

things I did not use

My 20 pound pack was a pain in the ass. It was not that bad but could have been better. The reality is that wet weather hiking in the Big Cypress is drastically different than dry weather.

I did not really need to bring food on the trail although a snack would have been OK but I brought too much food.

My sitting pad was a waste. It was too wet to sit.

Rain jacket.  That's up for debate. The skies were clear during the hike but during the drive home the skies opened and I could barely see in front. Had I been caught in this deluge I would have pitched my tarp. I need a smaller hammock to reduce weight and I need to replace the straps with something lighter or even cordage.

I did not make any water. Neither of the other guys brought a filter. Just 2L each.

Sunscreen and mosquito repellent were #1 and 2 on the list of things I needed. The bugs were huge and I'm glade I doused my clothes in permethrin.

I lost my sunglasses very early in the hike. I need a better plan because I can get migraines from the sun.

The schemag was a waste. I have a mosquito net f things got bad.

First aid kit, compass, backup compass, emergency whistle, backup SAK; all not used but necessary.

Waste bag and trowel brought but not used. Necessary regardless but the idea of pooping with so many mosquitos is scary.

Using some cordage and an s-biner I was able to hang my pack on a tree while resting. I do not think I needed a waterproof bag.

I also made an Asian field hat from reflectix. I never used it because the guys told me it as overkill for the weather. I should have used it and it only occurs to me now that I could have used it as a scoop and sipping pad.

Things I need

  • smaller hammock
  • smaller microtowel
  • stool

Friday, September 23, 2016

Olicamp 4 season fuel - what is net weight

I've been wondering a few things about my Olicamp ION stove and fuel.

everything sung as a bug

cook kit

The description on Amazon said that the fuel was 100g and the can indicates Net Weight 100g. When I was talking to customer service at Olicamp they indicated that I can expect to boil 44 cups of water at 5000ft [2 cups at a time].

A little math and a few facts ...

The gross weight of a 100g can is between 200 and 220g. The gross weight after boiling 2 cups of water, at sea level, is 200g. That means I used between 10 and 20g of fuel for the first 2 cup boil. Let's say that I was new to the mechanics of the system and I also allowed some gas to escape before starting or there was some latency between opening the fuel valve, ignition and placing the container on the stove.

100g of fuel, 10g per 2 cup boil, that means 10-2cup boils and not the 22-2cup that customer service described.

it's a half day hike stupid

And then the theme song to Gilligan's Island plays in my head.
... three hour tour.
instead of starting with my 21 pound dry pack I'm going to change my plan. Here is my inventory:

  • the clothes on my back including convertible long pants and synthetic long sleeve shirt. I'll carry spare socks and a short sleeve in my pack in case I'm uncomfortable. Since we are hiking in the everglades I'll use my synthetic tactical boots circa 20 years ago.
  • food - convert to snacks only, nuts, M&Ms, no cooking and no cook kit.
  • rain jacket instead of poncho just because it's a day hike and I don't really care much about the pack. I just want to be a little comfortable. The first might make that nicer. (as a test I'm sitting at my desk with the jacket and t-shirt on. The house is at 77F and I can feel my temp rising. I'm assuming that the jacket would conduct the heat better instead of insulating me if it were raining. But I feel better in the jacket than a poncho.
  • I have a couple of shelter options in case the weather turns. The bivy makes the most sense as it is two in one.
  • I'm not sure if I'll start with 1 or 2 liters of water but I will take my water filter/purification kit. 

New weights:
pack(400g) - 40L (overkill)
water kit(200g) - sawyer mini and aquamira
emergency kit(350g) - first aid: band aids, tape, pills, knife, ointment - fire kit: twine, fero rod, knife/saw
food(450g) - need to add a few more granola bars and nuts.
water - 1100g per liter
rain jacket(300g)
sitting pad(50g)
waste kit(50g)

EDC (1000g)
knife with lanyard
trekking poles

My day hike is well under 10 pounds and perfectly safe.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Big Cypress Day Hike Sunday

I've mentioned it so I'll say it again. Sunday I'm going on a day hike in the Florida Everglades. Initially I was going super-ultralight but then it occurred to me, and later confirmed, that I should take a hammock. Given that the ground should be knee deep or higher and any high ground should be saturated given the amount of rain. While the pack is still considered ultralight it's not as light as it was yesterday.

Everything in the 3's and C's is covered. So I'm feeling safe and ready. I also practiced setting up my hammock and it's ok but not perfect but that might be my bass.

where did the 21.5 pounds come from?

My new waterproof pack arrived yesterday and I decided to load it up this morning and see what the weight was. You cannot imagine my disappointment when I read the display: 21.5 pounds.

This pack contains everything for an overnight and so a few things were left out.

I did not pack any spare clothes, spare cordage, rain jacket (poncho was sufficient). I will have to add the spoon and trekking poles(not pictured) back in.

Opening the pack

Shelter - tent(750g), footprint(150g), butt pad(50g), mattress(350g), pillow(50g), poncho(300g), bivy(450g), hat, sunglasses, schmog, gloves(300g)
water - 2x 1L(1100g each), water filter and purification(350g)
cook kit(650g) - 3.5oz IsoPro, ION stove, Stanley pot and 1 cup
waste(50g) - ziploc, trowel

**weighed on an analog kitchen scale and rounded to the nearest 50g.

I included hand sanitizer in my kit because I do not want to transfer germs from my hands to the finished water. It might be a good idea to have a proper general purpose bag because the sanitizer should also be used when cooking or eating.

The stakes and cordage need to go into a different bag. Many of the other items are going to be on my person. Imagine being separated from my bag for only a moment and getting lost.

Instead of toilet paper I have compressed poop towelettes (just add water). I'm not carrying out my poop but the towelettes should be close to the sanitizer and the waste bags. The flashlight should always be on me. I have hand soap in this bag but that would mean giving up some processed water to wash my hands. Insect repellent needs to be some place accessible.

99 of 100 times I'm going to use the lighter. I just tried a water test and the lighter barely passed. So the fero rod should go in my fire kit although a pezo starter might be better than a lighter.

** the lighter is a joke. Once it got wet it would not hold a flame at 50% power and at 100% never held the same level. I tried compressed air and running the flame at 100% in order to evaporate any remaining water but nothing worked.

This is a lot of food for an overnight. The one thing I like about this packaging is that when on the trail the package is the pot and so there is little or no cleanup. However, unless hiking 10-20 miles the calories for a double serving is pretty glutenous. I may need to consider a cozy and a freezer ziploc bag. Depending on rationing there is an overnight and snack here.

The rough estimate on the combined weight is 8533g or 19lbs. Which is pretty close to the 21.5lbs that I got from the bathroom scale and within an acceptable margin of error. Now consider that every 50g is another 50g.

Assuming that I want to get to 15lbs or 6803g that means I need to lose about 1700g. And if I want to get to 10lbs for a day hike I need to get to 4535g shedding over 50% of the weight.

The lighter does not weigh much, I have two of them, but as a backup to a fero rod when I need fire. I'm better with a fero rod and fatwood. ... to be continued ...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

just add water poop wipes

I just received my Coleman waterproof match containers and Wysi Wipe tablets. The reviewers said that I could put the tabs in the tubes and they would stay safe and dry. They fit but just barely.

Just a few of my observations:
  • the containers came with matches and I did not expect that. There is a striker on the bottom and a 1in square striker pad inside the tube
  • The fit is loose but not so loose that a little humidity or water could spoil the batch or make removing the next tab impossible
  • The containers are a softer plastic, probably better, than I remember. Also the threads seem smaller and the gasket is harder
given the capacity of one of these tubes, it's weight, and the possibility that the tube would jam, especially when I gotta go. I think it might make a fine backup but in the meantime I'll get two snacksize ziplocs.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The importance of research

As a programmer with well over 40,000 hours I've learned a few things about continuing education and R&D. Through education I learn new ways to express my assignments so that my successors might benefit. Also removing complexity makes it easier to read and more reliable in execution. And importantly, the ideas could be converted to some new toolchain. On the other hand R&D directs the mind toward innovation which creates new opportunities or identifies false paths or high risks so that decisions can be made.

I hate to admit it but I've made some mistakes with respect to hiking gear selection. At first I thought I was just into bushcraft and that started me thinking about survival and then I shifted to distance hiking. All the while asking and executing on the wrong ideas.

In the beginning I did not know that Mora and Morakniv was the same company and I while I had been to Mora on vacation many years ago I had not connected all the dots. My experience with the website and google results offered no illumination. A month later I finally received a response to a question on Amazon that they were the same company. But in the interim I had made several knife purchases that I now regret. On the whole I regret:

  • buying anything with a coated blade
  • buying both axes
  • buying anything carbon steel instead of stainless
  • buying a 6" and 8" stainless blade
  • buying knives with serrations
  • buying those stupid folding gimmick knives
  • buying the light my fire + mora knive
  • victorinox folder with the pocket clip
  • a crappy saw
What did I really need?
  • victorinox farmer because it has a small saw and the awl is on the side and not the edge
  • victorinox classic SD (I just bought a new one with a LED light)
optionally only because cutting and processing wood is illegal or discouraged. And living in Florida fires are not very necessary
  • Silky boy saw
  • Mora 4" Stainless
And then there are packs. I purchased my packs through Amazon reading the descriptions and the price. The first pack was a folding pack that was more haversack than overnight pack. And that was how I used it until it developed some problems in the seam. I returned it and bought a new one but even thought it said it was 40L it was just about 20L. Looking at the specs in close detail the unfolded size was 20L and not 40. They took the bag back and then I found a true 40L bag. This pack holds just enough for a weekend hike which equates to about 20 pounds for absolutely everything. The pack is only 400g but does not have pads in the shoulder straps or a waist belt. It's not waterproof and I do not have a pack cover although everything inside is individually packed in a waterproof stuff sack or ziplock so I don't care if I put the wet tent or poncho back in the pack. (side pockets capable of carrying 1L bottles)

In the meantime I ordered a waterproof Yukon Outfitters El Capitain pack which in hindsight does not have much room outside the main container for wet things. As I sit here writing this article I'm wondering about the things inside the pack that needs to come out as to maximize functionality and volume. In total there are 4 pieces of gear that I consider wet/dry. [1] Tyvek footprint [2] Reflectix sitting or kneeling [3] poncho or rain jacket [4] tent. If I were to move all of these items to the exterior of my pack then inside would have that much more room. 40L might just be to much room. Practically speaking I need to be able to open the bag and access the contents in a "dry" way or else I risk getting the insides wet.

I've been looking that the Kelty PK 50. Some people keep referring to it as a beginner's pack. I like the setup. It's opinionated but not so much. When I look at my waterproof stuff sacks I see a similar distribution although a little less flexible.

And then there are tents and tarps. This has been a difficult subject. I have written about my 8P and 6P tents in the past. With my interest in in solo hiking I have been researching light and ultralight tents. There are plenty of good manufacturers out there and then there is crap. What is amazing is that most tents differ in materials but not design. In fact that seems to be a common theme. Overseas factories tool up to manufacture a single generic design and sell branding and manufacturing customization. This is particularly obvious in packs and hammocks. At the top of my list of preferred manufacturers are ZPacks, Tarptent, Big Agnes. Honorable mention goes to Six Moon Designs. I bought an ENO hammock although there were many cheaper choices. Hammocks can be very dangerous so I was not fooling around.

Sleeping bag, liner, emergency bivvy. So many choices. My first choice was a sleeping bag but occupies too much volume. My second choice was a blanket from home but it never worked well outdoors. The sleeping bag liner(s) are nice but untested in the Florida weather although the permethrin treated sea to summit is my favorite. But my new favorite is the Tribeca V2 as it is a bivy and a tarp. I have been able to reduce weight and volume with the Tribeca.

Lastly thee are any number of missteps. 
  • light my fire spork
  • that other folding spork
  • work gloves that melted
  • RUCAS alcohol stove
  • tinfoil windscreen
  • s-biners
  • not buying better fitting clothing sooner
  • not breaking in my shoes and choosing the right sock
Testing and R&D applies across the board regardless the endeavor. Spend time or money to save time or money. And practice your skills even if it's getting dressed in a hammock. Practicing and testing making water is probably the #1 thing to practice.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mr Bumpy Lives

I do not know what made me think of it ... I was in the garage just looking around and I did not see anything in particular. Maybe I was thinking of simpler times...

I was late to the dot-com thing... and I was late to the unix thing... and I was late to the silicon valley thing.

The startup I worked for could not decide who it's customer was and how it was going to make money. It took a great deal of time for them to figure it out and in the end we could have done much better but the chasm between senior management and the people who got them there grew.

I had no management training and I never had a mentor. I learned by watching my manager and by treating others as I wanted to be treated. I also interviewed a lot. I stumbled upon the Silicon Valley method of stupid question interviewing after visiting Amazon about 25 years ago.

While I was an OS/2 user and like the early Macs; OS/2 was long since dead and the Mac was still too expensive. I was just starting to get into Solaris and then I had Slackware Linux running on a pocket sized Sony laptop. I had heard about linux sysadmins giving themselves silly alias or usernames. I happened to watch an episode of "Bump In The Night" and I liked the Mr Bumpy character... So everything I did was attributed to that alias.

Just like the dot-com that passed me over, so did my interest in aliases although my Indian Princess name is Chief Gummy Bear and I thought I would use it as my trail name. OS/2 is not quite dead yet but there isn't much interest. It is the sort of thing that textbooks will be written and studied. Sadly while Linux/BSD have been my thing for over 25 years by now it is sub-optimal. Systems like erlang on xen seem to be the way to go.

heavyweight hiking combustion kit

Here is my trail combustion kit.

  • lighter - primary but limited to weather conditions and fuel
  • fero rod - the best possible backup but keep it out of the salt water; could also mean brackish water
  • hand sanitizer and cotton balls - the cotton balls can be a backup from the first aid kit. May soak them in vaseline but then that's a single use.
  • commercial fatwood - 
  • victorinox farmer (with saw) - saw is effective for cutting small branches
  • victorinox hunter pro - needed for splitting wood as the farmer is not effective there and I did not wat to bring a proper bushcraft knife
  • twine - not pictured here but can be soaked in hand sanitizer or on it's own as tinder

I'm going to trim this down when I figure out what works best in the Florida conditions during my shakedown.

UPDATE: after watching this video I might just leave this stuff at home. Other than the pure enjoyment of a nice campfire, respite from the bugs, and the calming crackle; it's just not worth the risk ... and living in Florida I'm not likely to need a campfire for survival in the summer.

Summer overnight pack 10.5 pounds

Here is my first overnight bag. I still have some redundancy and that's because neither the kit nor myself have been tested. This first shakedown, which I have been promising myself, should happen soon. I'd prefer it not to be in bad weather but all things being equal why not.

I've intentionally left out my consumables except I accidentally left the fuel in my cook kit. I have 2 pieces of reflectix. One is my camp sitting and kneeling pad. The baby powder will likely be left behind, however recently, it was a real benefit wen I took the kids to the beach. Applying the baby powder to my sand covered kids allowed me to de-sand them before getting into the car. Also, I'll probably be wearing the hat and so I do not count things I'll be wearing. And so I will not weigh my trekking poles either.

The pack is comfortable and balanced. Two 1L smartwater bottles won't be too bad. And with any luck the hike will begin soon.

40L pack
The pack looks smaller than it actually is although it does not appear as ginormous as the packs I've seen on various websites. I think there is probably another 10L for me to use for food and clothing for those 4 day hikes.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The problem with patch Tuesday

I'm not sure what or went the origin of Patch Tuesday came about but the where is unmistakable. Microsoft. It's not a bad thing to patch a kernel or a whole OS this way, however, scheduling and actually deploying can be a challenge for most operations. By comparison CoreOS does not rely on the customer to perform the patch. CoreOS performs the patch, releases a new version of the OS, and pushes an update to the customer hardware which then installs the update in an A/B fashion.

** at about 18:00 the speaker makes the comment; if you think you are going to cherry-pick the patches you are [mistaken or maybe a fool].

** earlier in the presentation he talks about the "contract" the Linux Kernel has with it's users.

So my point... [a] Apple distributes patches periodically. Their quality is typically pretty good but the patches are certainly not weekly. Given the Linux mantra I might feel differently about this now. But it's an all or nothing proposition. [b] Microsoft pushes updates every Tuesday but the user can cherry-pick which patches to apply. This means that there is some combination of patches that will fail based on the complexity of it all. At least every Apple computer that is current has a very similar footprint.

The CoreOS plan to replace then entire OS means that cruft is not going to linger. But it also means a different OPS strategy is needed in order to minimize the interruption to the user. Which it probably a better problem to have.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

doing more with less or just doing with less

Reading the book "Living with a SEAL" I took away the notion of doing with less. It was an indirect observation as the SEAL did a lot with a lot less. And as I transitioned from wannabe bushcrafter/Survivalist to wannabe backpacker to wannabe hiker and now lightweight or ultralight hiker I see that there is something to be said for going light as a metaphor for life.
I'm not going all new age; it's just as I look around my desk I see no less than 10 WiFi routers that are so inferior I will never use them again even if the current router completely malfunctions. And I should throw them away as soon as possible... I will feel better for it.
getting back on track; just this morning I was setting up my Luna Solo for the first time. It went as expected and I almost got things going the way I wanted. I had packed up and was putting the tent and accessories back in my pack when I tried to stuff my Tyvek footprint in the sleeve reserved for a hydration system and which was being repurposed with a thermarest Z-Seat to give the pack some structure.

when I purchased the pad I thought it was just a few panels from the sleeping mattress. But it's not. It's too small to be anything other than a butt warmer.
As I struggled to get the footprint in the slot I realized I was going to have two pieces of kit for the same function. I was already planning to have some reflectix in the tent and use the same thing to put my pack on when transitioning, to sit on while eating or resting and to sleep on since my torso mattress does not extend to my feel.

While the Z-Seat is light it has volume. And so I am lightening my load for an overnight.

  • pack
  • tent, mattress, pillow, liner, reflectix, cordage
  • hiking poles
  • the close on my back including hat, schmog, rain jacket
  • cook kit and spoon
  • first aid kit with hand sanitizer, mosquito spray, liquid soap
  • water and water filtration
  • lighter, fero rod, fatwood, cotton or lint
  • 2 days of food
  • small knife and extra cordage
  • headlamp, compass, whistle
  • second pair of socks for bed and the following day
  • camp shoes (optional)
If it's cold I might bring a sweater but I doubt it. For a similar reason I would bring a wool cap to keep warm or keep the bugs out or my ears.

Since this first overnight is in a campground that does not permit hanging things from trees I have to hope for a bear box and there isn't any way I can erect a tarp/rainfly. The other optional piece of kit might be a bushcraft knife if the campsite provides firewood for a campfire. (gotta have TV).

** I'm not counting my phone or camera.

Six Moon Designs Luna Solo - setup wrong

Friday, September 2, 2016

size matters when it comes to stoves

My RUCAS stove cost $20 and the Olicamp ION+cup stove combo cost $55. If you're not interested in reading then just buy the ION. Once you are on the trail you can always buy a can of tuna and some denatured alcohol and make an alcohol stove. There are a number of advantages to the RUCAS but a number of serious failures. Tuna or soda stoves might have been better in the long run.

left: alcohol stove, right: ION+
Right away I was blown away by the size. The actual stove is time and the cup is a light aluminium. I should include a screen and top but they are not necessary.

The stanley has some extra height but also the 8oz fuel bottle.
I've heard hikers talk about lightening their load by carrying half full canisters. I suppose you can save a little that way. You can also carry a 4oz canister instead of an 8oz. Also the ION is very small. So small that one should be very careful with the windscreen. As I experienced with the screen and the RUCAS.

There are no more or less parts
The base of the 4oz can is wider than the RUCAS and so are the extended arms of the ION. The only potential challenge is that it is higher and on a questionable surface it could be a spill hazard. On the other hand the RUCAS has a very small diameter and the flame temp is not controllable. you really cannot cook on it. And rain can be a problem.

4oz fuel fit in Stanley
Just for grins I placed the fero rod and ION in a bandanna and into the Stanley under the fuel. I might not have to make a foil lid after all.

Stanley fits inside ION cup. Appears lid may be reusable.
Now that everything fits snug, although heavier since it's a combined kit, I feel better and more confident. My biggest worry is having enough fuel around the house as part of my hurricane and hiking kits.

PS: the fuel is much cheaper than MSR.

PS: buy directly from Olicamp and there is a $10 coupon (see details)

If you're worried about running out of fuel while hiking, bring a second can, use a larger can, or bring some extra food that does not require cooking.

UPDATE: I just performed my first burn and I learned a few things. [1], the cup that came with the ION is just barely 2 cups. Any sort of vigorous boil is going to get sloppy. Also, the first mean I made required 2 1/4 cups water so the cups was not going to work. [2] I watched a number of demos where the operator either ignited the stove with the pot on or the pot off. After practicing [i] pot off and low flame [ii] increase flame before putting the pot on. [iii] take the pot off before trying to turn it off.
trying to adjust the flame while the pot it on can be dangerous.  You are better off removing the pot before adjusting. Once the pot is in place the heat tends to radiate back toward the fuel and the controls. 
[3] The stove cools quickly. Probably before the meal is ready to be eaten. I was able to prepare the meal and clean the rest of the kitchen before getting back to the stove and it was still hot. In total I think it took 15 minutes to become temperate enough to be handled. At that point I rook it apart and put it away. [4] I used a fero rod to start my stove. While it worked it was unreliable as unspent fuel waited for an ignition and for some strange reason I was not getting a spark. Something was off. So get a reliable lighter or a button igniter.

Finally [4], given my observation of the ION cup in (1) I discarded the cup and put one of the green Stanley cups inside the Stanley pot. It worked like a charm.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

dual purpose ground sleeping

I want to be able to bring my hammock and ground sleeping systems. And while I've said test all systems I had a glamorous notion that my Youkon Outfitters reainfly was going to work. I did some measurements and determined that the sides of the diamond shaped tarp are just over 7'. This is good news as I am almost 6' and depending on how big I make the foot box and the direction of the wind/rain I should be able to stay try.


My trekking pole have not arrived yet so I hacked up some sticks and tried to make my poles. It worked fine, mostly.

The problem is that it simply had no loft. Either I have to tie a line to the center and hang from a tree; in a pyramid shape or I need to add a pole to the foot end and close up the middle a little. Even if I raised the foot a little I'd need to get considerable tension on the ridgeline to keep it from sagging. In this location, however, the dirt is not very compact and not very deep. The coral layer under the sod is rock hard.

I'm not sure what the next test case is going to look like.

Other lessons learned.

  • Hennesey snakeskins are in the way when ground camping and I do not think they are actually smaller than the original sack it just takes time to pack up.
  • packaging this tarp in it's original stuff sack is a pain.
After this episode I'm frustrated with hammock camping. I'm about to pull the trigger on a new 1P tent. I would say this is like going from python to golang; if hiking were like programming languages.

another bad day for open source

One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is just how complicated it is to install, configure and maintain. Happily gitlab and the ...