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Showing posts from November, 2016

hiking gear - size and weight maters

Three things I like about SOL gear is that it's light, compact, and inexpensive. Generally speaking; one recurring complaint I have about most gear sites is that although they might get the size or weight right. At least there is no way to know what things are until you've actually help them in your hand.

left: This SOL blanket is light and packs small. It could fit in a front or rear pocket nicely.
center: The SOL Sport Utility Blanket is also small and it could fit in a cargo pocket.
right: The Snugpak Stasha is the same size as the others, however, folding is not recommended as it will compromise the fabric and even so it does not fold to the same as the SOL. It's also heavier and more expensive.

left: the SOL emergency bivy can actually be folded to half it's size.
inside-left: the SOL emergency bivy XL
inside-right: SOL thermal bivy
right: 2gosystems bivy - very heavy and huge.

The truth in the matter is more noticeable in the ponchos.

left: SOL poncho with thermal reflec…

Winter hiking calories and food

Winter hiking is going to be a TECHNICAL pain in the ass with plenty of potential fun. In December I'm planning a 6 mile snow shoe hike and my biggest concern is that a 6 mile hike can become an all day event so it's important to have water, shelter, and food; more than anything else.

 In preparation I'm trying to figure out how many calories I need to bring with me. First and foremost there is a standing caloric need of approx 1200 calories with a winter adjustment of another 400 for a total of 1600. And snow shoeing can be from 420-1000 per hour depending on effort(400 calories at 2 mph on level terrain); plus the effects of elevation.

Food that is considered appropriate contain little to no water. Dehydrated food would be considered perfect but you need heat... therefore not so ideal if you do not have a stove; and I will not have a stove. Here are some food stuffs that I'm looking at.

I placed these two pouches in the freezer and they got very stiff after an hour. …

Rear review - still too much for a one day hike in big cypress

Back in September I did a short 3 mile hike on the Florida Trail going north from the southern most terminus. The 3 miles took about 3 hours including actual travel time, a few breaks, and some trail maintenance. At the time I was over prepared. I carried too much water, gear, and my pack was just too robust.

In November I did a similar hike but this time heading south from the same starting point. My back was smaller and lighter than the Sept trip but I was still heavy and needed a different core setup.

Gear - this is SUL hammock with strapsSOL shelter, blanket, ponchoshemogsmall micro towelfirst aid kitwater kitheadlampcompass, whistle, knifebank linechange of socks Next time 2L or 3L camekbackmore food - I brought enough for lunch and a snack; I should have had enough for 4 meals and what I had was mostly carbs.better boot repair kit or a second pair of shoes or bootsimmodium (not sure why it's missing from my kit) What I could have left home 2 dehydrated mealsstove and potclothes…

"survival" - you don't know the meaning of the word

I went for a day hike with some friends. It's round trip is about 5 miles but the water level is everything from 6 to 32 inches deep. NO DRY LAND TO BE HAD.

I woke up at 0500 and headed to the ranger station. While I waited for Tom and Bill to arrive I ate, drank water, refilled my bottles and went to the bathroom. We finally got on the trail at 0800(just after sunrise) and you'll see later that we got off the trail at 1715 (just before sunset).

Technically we walked south 2.5 miles and then back; as Tom describes the effort it was like hiking 15 miles. Along the way we had many encounters:
big birds and little birdsalligator turtleone alligator in our path.... twice (same alligator)4-5 alligators at Robert's Lake We also rested and ate lunch at the Kayak Campground, it's unofficial and under water.
"survival" the soles of my boot came off. We spent 2 hours cumulative repairing themI had finished my water with 200 yards left in the hikeI did not eat enough at l…

Day Hike to Robert's Lake in Big Cypress - Gear

Heading out on a day Hike tomorrow to Robert's Lake in Florida's Big Cypress. I've hiked with these guys before and they go SUL because they know exactly what and where they are going. Last time I brought a hammock and rainfly and I never opened them up, The same for other food and supplies. This time we are looking at almost 8 hours on the trail with a stop for lunch.

The gear from right to left.

sitting/kneeling pad9oz hammock with webbing cinch strapshead netSOL shelterSOL ponchofire kit - SAK, juke twine, dryr lintcook kit - Stanley with 1 cup, Olicamp ION stove, 4oz canister fuel, fero rodclothes - change of underware, socks, shirtfood - poptarts, peanut butter bars, Mac n Cheese, mashed potatoessmall folding chairsaw (doing some trail maint.)gaitersDIY hydration tubefirst aid and water kitheadlamp, whistle, compasscone hatbandannaschemog It's under 10 pounds but I think I can lighter. One thing I have not checked on yet is just how deep the water is where we are …

Need a simple e-ticket commerce solution with paypal integration

This is not so much a review or recommendation as it is a rant about how difficult it STILL is to implement a simple and yet modern e-commerce site.


The naive days of the early web are gone yet most users are either sophisticated or uninformed and both need to be properly serviced. I need to build a simple e-commerce solution for what amounts to a e-ticket or event system.


The problem with most commercial versions of this type of software is that it is typically a SAAS (software as a service). And many charge a fee based on the percentage of the cost plus some fixed amount. This can be problematic because there is also a monthly fee and between the two costs it's too expensive to operate.


annual registrationonce a year we ask our members to pay a family fee and register or name the membersevent registrationAbout once a month we have an event. There is a fee for the dad and the first child. Each additional child may or may not have a fee associated wit…

When a ridgeline isn't

In a previous post I was having trouble with my ridgeline.

After a short period the center started to sag but then I did some lite reading and discovered a few improvements.

lay the tarp putset the initial position of the stakes under the tarp (presumably under the corners)loosely secure the tie-outsdeploy the ridgelinesecure the tarp over the ridgelineand done... But I still had some sag. 
So I moved the stakes out in order to get some east/west tension. I also tried making the lines more taught. But it still sagged.  Since the last thing I wanted to do was a prusik knot on the ridgeline that's exactly what I did.

I still hated using a rock but one thing was clear. Grommets mean that my solutions might be limited to how the grommets function or the options they give me. In this case the tarp is going to take a beating but I can convert my lean-to into an a-frame fairly easily. And if I had grommets I might not consider that that was an option if the grommets were in fixed position…

Review: SOL Shelter Kit

The SOL Shelter Kit is a cost effective and almost complete shelter kit.  While the ziplock pouch includes [1] reflective plastic coated Mylar tarp [2] 4x 4" stakes [3] 4x guy lines; by itself and in bare terrain it is only useful as ground tarp. In order to make a proper lean-to or A-Frame you'll need additional gear.

at least 25" of cordage for a ridgelinetwo trees or static objects within reach of the cordage; optionally trekking poles or some branches4 small pebbles for attaching the included cordage to the tarp

I think the overhang was a little too big but the height was 48".

Not sure what happened. This was just 5 minutes later. The tie-outs survived but the ridgeline fell over. There must be some sweet spot for the ridgeline preventing it from moving north or south. Optionally I could use a prusik knot and tension the tarp on the ridgeline which would extend to the north/south stability. However, after adjusting the ridgeline and poles things are holding.

Review: SOL Poncho

The SOL Poncho is a simple poncho without buttons, shock cord or tie-outs. But it is large and made of the same material that makes all of SOL's products so unlike Mylar alone it may rip or puncture but it won't tear endlessly like Mylar alone and it can be repaired with tape or duct tape. It also has the same heat reflective properties of SOL's other products. And it is compact.

The closest Poncho might be the Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil, however, it has all the bells and whistles that the SOL does not and it comes at a price. The Ultra-Sil costs $100 and the SOL under $10 and is less than half the size.

I have never needed a Bug Out Bag (BOB) in my car but if I did then this would be a welcome component.

SOL Shelter or Heavy Blanket

The SOL Heavy Duty Blanket is included in the SOL Shelter. So the question is do you buy one or the other. And what about the sport utility blanket? Is there a combination that makes sense?
The heavy blanket has a diagonal of 8.6 feet. That's a pretty good tarp length for a hammock setup.
The stakes are only 4 inches in length and given the environment might not really be long enough for anything but they are something. This self contained kit is probably ideal when you don't really plan to stop but it's not critical enough to be an emergency. (because I hate misusing the word "survival")
The Sport Utility Blanket is a thick version of the emergency blanket and includes grommets. It's good as a footprint but it's a slightly different size and weight from the blanket. Considered a previous post where I was deploying a lean-to the cordage and stake requirements were odd. 
I think I need to add grommets to the blanket and that would make it competitive.

simple ground tarp setup

As I continue to test my gear and skills here is the ground setup I had in mind:

In the end I was able to reuse some stakes and reduce the number of guy lines.

UPDATE: adding a bugnet to this configuration means that I need 10x 5', 2x 10', and 1x 25' segments of rope to reduce the number of stakes. Then again maybe Shepard hooks would be better.

I started by staking down the footprint to prevent it from blowing away. I spread the tarp over top and re-staked the head section. fabricated the ridgeline and then staked down the footer.

The trekking poles are set to approximately 44in although I intended it to be 48in so I could sit upright at the foot.

Most bug nets are shaped like a pyramid assuming the head is below the peak. In this configuration the peak is by the foot but it should work if the netting is taught.

Since I had recycled the footprint's stakes for the tarp... just 5 minutes later the footprint was a mess.

I reset the tarp's ridgeline to 48 inches. At t…

better rain poncho

I thought a tarp poncho would be a good idea.

2GoSystems BOB. $30.00Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil NanoTarp-Poncho. $99.00 - 8.1ozSea to Summit Sil Poncho. $??.00 - 5.1ozSeat to Summit Nylon Poncho. $59 - 13ozWealers one size fits all. $12.00 - 40gSOL Poncho. $11.70 - 3.2ozmisc $13.95 (prices vary) - 9ozDisney World Poncho. $10 - ?oz First and foremost the quote of the day: embrace the rain --me I've spent a lot of time thinking about ponchos. For a time I was obsessed with poncho-tarps because two in one functionality is what the bushcrafters talk about over and over again. And after all this time it occurs to me that these guys were distracted by butterflies. The breakdown is like this:

a survival kit means that you are insuring against death and that you are in conditions there that is possible and rescue unlikely. In that case a SOL type poncho is best because of it's properties.Walking around Disney World or Universal studios. They sell ponchos on every corner when it rains. Save …

Dry Bags for ultralight hiking

I agree with the hypothesis that a pack with a single main body is sufficient... for minimalist hiking, generalist hiking, camping, etc... The author of this operating theory makes exceptions for a wet tarp, tent, poncho, towel and other gear. But does not make a recommendation about a traditional pack with lots of pockets, a dry pack with a single chamber or in between.

Since I have been experimenting I have been going down many bad paths.

Many months ago I purchased my first dry pack. That was before I realized or learned that I was going to have to put wet gear in the main compartment. Also, I started to think that the pack was too small at 35L. I was able to get my UL and SUL gear in this pack, but again the all in one was not going to work realistically.

The El Capitan was an interesting pack even though it has a number of flaws. The main compartment is black making it difficult to see anything in the pack. The lattice shockcord on the back does not function well. The sternum str…

alcohol stove vs isobut canister stove

Pictured below are my RUCAS alcohol stove and my Olicamp ION canister stove. I started cooking with my RUCAS but quickly frustrated with the flames reaching up the side of my Stanley pot.

It's possible and even probable that my flame size is related to the way I use the stove; resting the pot directly on the stove; or maybe it's the fuel. In the intervening months I abandoned the RUCAS in favor of the canister stove.

But recently I was watching a video prepared by RevHiker and he mentioned that either his pocket rocket or his replacement had a tendency to quirt fuel when disassembling his stove. That got me to thinking about a number of things related to Survival. In recent weeks I have been rejecting "survival" as an offshoot of bushcraft a real thing. My hypothesis remains, not much will happen in 3-4 days on the AT or FT if your food get's eaten by a critter or your stove malfunctions.

Now that I have one spare canister and 3 on the way I find myself concerned…

tarp shelter is harder than it looks

Setting up a stasha looks simple enough:

But it is harder than it looks and I'm not sure how this person got the fabric to lay so perfectly without any typical hallmarks of tension on the material.

My first attempt looked like this:

First I staked the corners with some expectation of the shelter's width. I tried to use the poles and some tension from the poles but I had nothing but sag in the middle.

So I decided to use the poles as loops. This worked  to give the ridge of the shelter some tension, however the cordage was on the outside of the shelter which would make hanging a bugnet impossible.

Also, you might not be able to tell from this angle but it is going to be impossible to get in the shelter for all but maybe the youngest or smallest child.

I tried leaning the pole to one side. Maybe a few small adults would be able to enter the shelter but this is starting to remind me of a WWII Shelter. Enter on one side and exit the other.

I started looking more closely at the exa…