Wednesday, May 30, 2018


This is my setup for my last overnight hike into the Everglades. The base weight indicated is much lighter than actual. The actual base weight was 12 bounds and consumables was about 8 pounds. I will have to update this kit with the actual numbers to get that other 4 pounds.
I started making a realistic pack setup and since it's only overnight UL should be possible. The challenge is that many UL and SUL take risks by not taking things that are necessary. Since this is my overnight kit I can do with the basics. The best way to shave off some bigger numbers will be going stove-less. But not for me. and not right now.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Hiking VLOGS are definitely bullshit

I started watching "how to make fire" videos when I failed to light up the fire pit at an indian princess gathering. I mastered that pretty quickly, however, youtube's recommendation engine started me down the path of "survival" from which I see that the 5 or 10 Cs and Rule of 3s are still pretty valuable. But there was a point when these presenters seemed off the rails.

And so I started watching hiking VLOGS. Many were AT thru hikers. That turned into PCT, ADT and CDT. And I am here to say that these people and their "hike your own hike" are likely full of crap.

To start; in a previous post I said that UL and SUL hiking was BS and I showed that with sensible choices it was impossible to get to a base weight that was safe. Sure, at least a 3rd of my pack weight was from things that I never used like my first aid kit and water filter. But then those ounce counters also stop counting things that they carry rather than pack. Like not counting the weight of the trekking poles even though they only use them half the time.

While that has to do with gear it's not my hiking rant. Here goes:

We got to camp at 7:30p and sunset was at 8:00p. The first mission was to put up our shelters. That took basically no time.

Carpenter Camp - Big Cypress - Florida May 2018
The campsite was moist but dry (if that makes sense). Clear skies and an evening temp of 71F. We were able to make a fire with some standing deadwood. We had nearly 5 hours of fire. The first thing I noticed was that gathering wood is a dirty job. If you have limited camp soap and water or hand sanitizer this might not be a good idea.

So #1; fires are recreational and can impact sleep and supplies. I would guess that if you're at a shelter that the person making the fire is not a thru hiker. But even so; spending so much time on the fire distracted up from other things.

#2; we did not make dinner until after it was pitch black. That made hanging the bear bag near impossible. While dinner was recreational the longer it took the more likely we were not going to be able to get everything hung as it should. And let's not forget that cooking a meal requires cleanup. That's extra water and food bits. And let's not forget that input equals output meaning if you eat dinner you might have to poop too.

#3; Bio breaks seem to be the most under represented topic. The AT manual talks about 80 yards or feet from the trail. That's a long way and possibly easy to get lost. One hiker suggested leaving you pack on the trail as a signal. That might not be safe [a] stolen gear [b] getting lost and so on.

#4; just exactly how does resupply work? Assuming that you go to the grocery store how much of what you buy would be considered bulk and what is the premium cost for buying travel size of hand sanitizer and insect repellent?

So in conclusion:

  • gear costs more than, weighs more, and is more voluminous than you think
  • you're never carrying enough water and the 1L per 4 miles is way off base
  • you need to know your schedule like the back of your hand and that means early to bed and early to rise and it also means you must have a rhythm 

Friday, May 18, 2018

UL and SUL is bullshit...

unless you have stupid amounts of money to spend on the absolute lightest gear. I see hikers like Neemor, Darwin, Homemade Wonderlust with their 36L packs(Neemor - Kumo) and their ZPacks Duo which is about the size of a rugby ball and a sleeping bag that's about the same size again.

My pack, including 2 meals and 2.7L water weighed in at 20 pounds. When I took out the water and food it weighed 12 pounds.

  • Compass
  • Headlamp
  • Extra batteries (button batteries)
  • first aid kit
  • lighter
  • tinder
  • fero rod
  • food
  • water
  • tarp
  • footprint
  • bivy
  • blanket or sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • pillow OPTIONAL
  • tent poles OPTIONAL
  • extra cordage
  • stakes (12x)
  • pot, stove, fuel
  • knife
  • spoon
  • trekking poles (not included in the weight)
  • whistle
  • water filter, cnoc 2L bag
  • poncho tarp
  • extra socks, underwear
  • toilet paper
  • camp soap
  • hand sanitizer
  • quick dry towel
  • insect repellent MANDATORY
  • phone, extra battery, cable (not included in the weight)
  • candle lantern
  • trowel (use a stick)
  • pack with sitpad

taking some Sriracha along with me for my Ramen-Bomb
My pack; a Gossamer Gear Kumo 36L, says this about itself: "25 lb. maximum carry capacity, but 20 lbs. is better. "

There are a few things to consider here...

  • I could drop the bivy but it only weights a few oz.
  • I could replace the blanket (SnugPak) with a XL microtowel or given that the temp will be 72F tonight who cares. The blanket/sleeping bag weighs 2 pounds. It's important to note that a 30F down sleeping bags weighs nearly 3 pounds. Which means it's a wash.
  • I could drop the polycryo foorprint but it packs small and weights nothing
  • The pillow is definitely a luxury item and the tent poles would substitute for the trekking poles.
  • The Gossamer Gear pad weighs 1/3rd of a pound and the Klymit inflatable weights 2/3rds.
  • With the bivy I could drop the tarp and use the poncho tarp instead... and add an emergency raincoat instead.
  • My umbrella weighs half a pound and that will definitely be left behind. It's better for creating shade in the heat and that's not necessary right now.
To be continued...

Friday, May 11, 2018

Not a terrible shelter but not great either

Let me start by describing where I am in the process of developing my shelter. Shelters are a primarily personal thing. It depends on what gear is available, your skills, and the environment you plan to visit. This being late spring in Florida (May) I have to deal with heat, bugs, and rain; which makes a tarp and net tent ideal.

This tarp is a 9x9 Silnylon with linlocks around the perimeter. It packs down well.  My only complaint is the seam seal. The tried sealer sticks to itself and peals off the tarp with ease. One thing I like about this size tarp is that there are some interesting configurations. Two that come to mind are a bivy as the tarp can be staked to the ground and then rolled over like a 3/4 burrito. The other configuration I like is similar to the burrito but rather than staking down the open end leaving it open in lean-to fashion.

The silnylon is sold in bulk with a 6ft width. Which means that the tarp would not have a seam. I like that option a lot.

I struggled to get the stakes in the ground with the poles in near vertical with just the right amount of tension.

One thing I think I realized is that these BearPaw Wilderness Designs makes custom or on demand gear. That means there's always a chance for manufacturing defects. It could also be user error or that the tarp needs to settle before I get a flat lay. But there is a crease and the tarp is flapping in a light breeze.

This pole represents a few different things. First of all BPWD does not offer a way to use tent poles and if they do it's not clear were or how. I rigged something up that seems to be working well for the tarp and the net.

Sadly the linelocks have slipped a few times but that could be the cordage... and I hear Andrew Skurka in the background whispering about cutting off the linelocks because you never know what size cordage you're going to encounter.

UPDATE I just tightened some lines and the tarp is getting flatter. I'm not sure it's ideal yet but better.

This is clearly not my ultralight camp setup but it is reasonable for short hikes or maybe group camping. I should be able to get a second person under the tarp.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The magic of 50 feet

A number of different vendors off their guy lines in 50ft units. What's that all about?

I was confused about the situation until I read an article by Andres Skurka where he described the "normal" line lengths.  4x - 8 foot and and 4x - 4 foot.  That's a total of 48 feet.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

CoreOS and Red Hat

What does this mean for CoreOS and for Red Hat? Seems to me that while CoreOS is a complete product many of those functions are already included in Red Hat's offering. So what was the play?

Hammock Tarp as ground tarp

I really like the material that the SeaToSummit Hammock Tarp is made of however since I'm not a hammock person and most hammock tarps use novel shapes to save weight I thought I'd try this one.

This is the general shape. It's huge but is not functional as a lean-to.

In order to function properly I'd need a pullout of some kind. Notice all that sag.

Next I tried to connect it to the ground. I was finally able to get a tight pitch but it did not offer much protection.

One thing that I really like about the tarp is the tieouts. Granted they are large and meant for trekking poles I was able to use them.  The quality seems unmatched.

While tarp is going into my discard pile I see that the $60 premium between the BearPaw Wilderness Designes flat tarp $135 and the s2s minimalist $199 might not be so terrible.

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 ...