Thursday, June 28, 2018

Boiling water with Fire Gel

Some weeks ago I purchased a Vargo dual fuel stove. [a] alcohol... fill up the reservoir and blow it out when finished, return the extra if any to the bottle. [b] gel... turn the stove over, pour out some get, light and wait.

Here's the setup... It's a Toaks stove inverted as it has a bowl... and filled it with what I thought was a safe and generous portion of fuel.

The fuel was lit and the 2 cups of water was installed... the water got warm but no boil. The bottom of the pot had some small bubbles but no rolling boil. The ambient temp was 91F and the water temp was considered tap water.

When the burn finished this what the stove looked like. There is some blue remnants which might be fuel and then there is some leftover crust.

The bowl in the Vargo stove is about the same size so I do not imagine this is going to work well there either.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Big Cypress

This is the 12-16 mile loop that I like to hike. (google map)

I was misinformed about water for about a year. There is a canal that parallels the orange trail and passes through culverts to the right side of the trail. The "service" says it's non-pottable, however, trail volunteers say it's safe but MUST BE FILTERED and/or treated. The preferred water source is some deep water pools near Nobels camp and there is a pool at the back of Panther camp.

Nobels Camp is here. I'm not sure which are the proper water sources... there is a short trail near the bottom and there are a number of pools close to the trail but that might be on indian land that requires a permit. (requires some investigation)

Panther Camp is here. I think the the pin is in the wrong position but it's close.... in the elbow to the east of the pin. There are some vehicle trails adjacent and ponds and domes close by. Water is possible but I've only been there once.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Do I need a mesh pocket?

I was just looking at the Kymit Splash 25 because it's a drybag and that ticks one checkbox. And then I was reminded of a couple of drybags I already have... like the Yukon Outfitters 45L and some general purpose drybags... none of them are very functional as they are bit packs or when they are packs they do not have external mesh pockets or the bottle pockets are useless in size and function.

As I was wallowing and emailing Klymit for some ideas I came to a realization that while I was expecting to use my Dash 30 for my next hike it did not have an external mesh pocket either. I had intended to put my tarp and poncho n the mesh pocket for easy access as well as keeping as much wet outside the pack as possible.

The Gossamer Gear seems to do that well enough. The Klymit needs everything inside the pack. So what do you do when items are wet? Sure there is nothing in this pack that needs to be dry except my optional pillow and in the cold season a blanket and I can put both of them in a ziplock or garbage bag.

Is there such a thing that would let me hang a mesh bag on the outside of my Dash 30?

Thursday, June 7, 2018

How much should your pack weigh?

I strive to be a UL hiker for a couple of reasons. First of all the more stuff you have the more you depend on the stuff and not yourself. There is a consensus that the less you carry the farther you can go. But the idea that your pack weight should be proportional to your body weight has to be a joke.

Having a formula or even a recommendation provides a level of confidence that you're on track for a good experience... the amount of gear is identical between a 150 pound hiker and a 300 pound hiker. The areas they differ are in the marginal larger tent, sleeping bag, clothes, and possibly some extra calories. But in no way does it double the burden.

It also depends on what the mission is. If you're distance hiking, or bushwhacking to a climbing location or maybe portage to a river...

Last year I did some calorie research at the grocery store. Unless you add globs of Olive Oil to everything you eat you'll get about 1000 calories per pound. So a 10 day hike without resupply will weigh about 20 pounds all by itself. Add to that 1 liter of water weighs 2.2 pounds so depending on the amount of water you're carrying it adds up quickly.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

To hike or own a farm on the trail

Watching an AT hiker's vlog yesterday I feel the draw to make the trek myself. It's an ongoing battle to want to hike the trail. I hike the FT from time to time but limited to the trails close to home; these trails are among the most challenging in that they are wet, muddy, and dry all at the same time.

The video I watched was that of a 6 or 7 person family that was attempting the trail. At this time on the trail they had connected with a farm owner who lived a short distance from the trail and was only a day away from the hikers. The families were together for a day and a half. They ate, drank and socialized.

One of the kids recounted that the farmer's wife had to travel 25 minutes to the grocery to get the kids a variety of small ice cream cups. I was amazed that groceries are still that far from some people. It also made me appreciate that mine are around the corner. I also realized that I live in a planned community and so that tiny home living or rural living is so far out of reach from our community. I have no idea where that sort of thing even exists relative to where I live now. And if the grocery is 25 minutes away where is the school?

I'm reminded of my family's country home when we lived in Canada. It was not minimalist but it was an ideal location and while we had neighbors in walking distance the grocery was 30 minutes away.

Going minimalist

Over the last few years I've been enthralled by tiny homes/van life and minimalism not to mention hiking and ultralight. So as I sit here, at my cluttered desk with 4 severs and a desktop with 2x 34" monitors, eating my "traildrops" re-hydrated meal using my gossamer gear bamboo spoon and watching a Sea To Summit complete X-pot review. And as I finish my lunch, type this post and look over at my 8 pound hiking pack... we simply have too many possessions.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Tarp, poncho tarp and rain jacket

My ponch-tarp and tarp have the same dimensions although they are made from slightly different materials. I think the ponch is fragile and not made from ripstop. The tarp is slippery and difficult to fold.

I've started down the road where having two shelters was useful when staying at camp, however, consider that I'm a hiker and hiking is the function. Recreating in a shared shelter is something akin to the AT and not carrying a spare shelter for the group.

I like multipurpose gear. For example tarp-ponchos are great because they cover your legs so that you might not need wind pants and you can switch to a rain jacket while you setup your shelter.

In an overnight configuration there are plenty of SUL options like an emergency frogg toggs jacket or poncho. I have a nice Snugpak patrol poncho that replaces the poncho and rain jacket. But only the one tarp.

What do you carry?

Survivalists and bushcrafter(s) have a doom and gloom view of the world where the 5 Cs are meant to keep you alive in the face of adversity. And sure there have been a few thru hikers that have lost their way and could benefit from those sorts of kit. However, the reality is much different because one can do a lot more than one thinks. (see 30 days with a seal).

John Z posted his 2016 gear list with a base weight of 6 pounds. John is a different breed of hiker and can afford that kind of SUL gear so my take away is simply "what items do I need irrespective of the weight.

USB battery
USB cable
ground sheet
rain jacket
wind pants
12x20 heavy duty zip bag
poncho tarp
head bugnet
sleep pad
anti bacterial
spare socks
spare underwear
2x smartwater bottles
bug spray
chap stick
other ziplock bags

But I gotta call BS when I see it. Going stove-less saves a few pounds in fuel and kit depending on the distance and while that can be a good thing it's risky. Homemade Wonderlust just experienced a damaged water filter on the CDT in a section where the water comes from cow pools. The risk of disease is serious. Not having a pot to boil in is a huge risk. Not having a proper stove means larger than necessary fire to get to a boil.

Next JZ posted that he eats 6000+ calories a day. Well I call BS again. While he does not talk about the amount of fat in his diet there are certain risks to life including protein toxicity. However, with the claim of 6000 calories per day that's 6 pounds per day or 60 pounds for 10 days... (see John's unassisted speed record) His pack is rated at 20-25 pounds. So he could not carry 60 pounds of food. And with 6 ponds base weight that leaves 18 pounds for food for between 6-9 days at 2000 calories per day.

I think the facts matter

I'm pretty certain John Z has decided that he does not need a filter. That's crazy! Just yesterday I watched someone say that there were bugs in the water.

John Z goes to interesting places and hikes like a boss but I do not trust him to keep me alive.

Vargo vs Toaks "meths" Stove

I recently purchased a Vargo alcohol stove and windscreen because there were a few features/functions that resonated with me. But before I get too far ahead let's look at the head to head.

Both of these syphon stoves need to get up to temperature before the alcohol gasifies and squirts out the jets. The Toaks does not really have a minimum fuel requirement... put as little or as much as you like. The Vargo is a variation of the penny stove and requires that the stove be filled to capacity. You can always extinguish and pour off the excess.

Both stoves can be inverted and use gel or solid fuel in addition to the alcohol. I filled both stoves with the same amount of fuel and lit them. The flame was clear and difficult to see in this environment. Once it gasifies it should be a blue flame.

Due to it's wider opening the Toaks sported an orange flame in addition to the jets (in blue).

The Toaks gasified in the first few minutes and the Vargo took 60-90 seconds. The Toaks exhausted it's 2oz of fuel in 10 minutes and the Vargo continued.

I tried to boil some water with the remaining fuel on the Vargo and while I managed to get hot water for an instant coffee or tea... maybe a ramen dinner it never got to a rolling boil as the Vargo ran out of fuel at about 18-19 minutes... Since I had the windscreen around it I could not determine when the flame went out.

The kits are quite different. Where the Vargo is just the three items (750ml pot, windscreen, stove) the Toaks has a bit more and frankly packing the Toaks is a pain.

In conclusion I think the Vargo is the better stove and there are many reasons why. First of all the fuel efficiency. Fewer parts. One thing I did not mention was that the Vargo is meant to have it's legs pressed into the ground for a lower center of gravity and overall stability. While the Toaks can be secured with stakes it's even more things to bring. The "20" minute burn time means that I could boil a greater volume of water without having to re-fuel.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Small campfire grate or Vargo Hex Stove

I'm getting my pack weight down and thinking about my last trip I'm bouncing between a small traditional campfire grate and Vargo hex stove.

(the images are not to scale, however, they weight exactly the same amount.)

In my early camping life I purchase the SoloStove 900 and then later the SoloStove Campfire. As I put that together with the Vargo and the grate I'm reminded that campfires are restricted on most trails and so none of these solutions are great when hiking.

For the time being I'll stick with my Toaks stove and Vargo stove. I'll review them later.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Osprey Levity vs Gossamer Gear

Starting at the beginning it's important to note that this is not going to be a straight volume comparison because the brands simply do not offer liter for liter packs. GG has a 40L and a 50L to Osprey's 45L.

The tail of the tape: The Osprey specs

  • The Levity 45L in the large model is actually 48L and weighs 1.9 pounds
  • load 5-20lbs
  • hipbelt with no pockets
  • load lifters
  • no shouldter strap pockets
  • costs $250
  • 3 huge stretch compartments
  • non-detachable brain
  • compression static rope with loops all over the place.
The Gossamer Gear Silverback 2017 
  • The Silverback 50 comes in at 2.5 pounds
  • load 35lbs
  • hipbelt comes in 3 sizes which I assume is the belt length and not the twin pocket size.
  • no load lifters
  • no shoulder pockets
  • 2017 model is offered at a discount $115
  • 3 huge stretch pockets
  • detachable brain
  • compression straps
  • removable sit pad
  • Not many differences between the 2017 and 2018 Gorilla 40L models except the brain. The 2018 Silverback has not been released if there is one.
  • Just to note; the 2018 Kumo added shoulder pockets which are good for a smartphone, small camera or some snacks but not good for a Smartwater 750ml bottle.
The problem with the Osprey Levity 45L/60L is that the load range is 5-20lbs/10-25lbs and so you have all that extra room but there is a tradeoff between volume and weight and in most cases when you start going UL or SUL you also need less volume.

For example the John Z. used his Palante Pack as part of an unassisted record out west. Watching his start I remember he complained about pack weight because he had 10 days of food (approx 20lbs). And then there was his gear which must have been between 5 and 10 lbs. Frankly that's not a lot of gear and given the volume and weight ratio he was at capacity.

I have a number of packs and I have yet to find my overnight sweet spot. I think a base weight of 8lbs is good enough for an overnight and probably a long weekend to maybe 5 days. The general difference between an overnight and 5 days is going to be consumables and the effect of weather conditions.

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 ...