Monday, 23 May 2011

Odds and Ends

Like many other walkers I spend time looking at gear, weighing gear, compiling a spreadsheet, reading other blogs and other online services and collecting information some of which sounds useful and some maybe not. The aim, of course, is to lighten the load and refine your gear. With that in mind I thought I would put together a few observations that readers may or may not be aware of, readers are encouraged to add their own tips in the comments section. I have organised my comments under the main headings of Shelter, Sleeping, Cooking and Packing.

Shelter:
Seamsealing there are a number of excellent resources on the web for seam sealing two of my preferred resources are Six Moon Designs and Shed Dweller. Do you need to seam seal, some say no, I always do using a dilution of 1 to 2; occasionally I have had to reseal. I also apply sealant to all tie out points, to help strengthen the connections. But if your shelter has taped seams then no need for seam sealing.

I always tie a small loop in the end of the tie out cords, the loop is a bowline, the instructions I use for the bowline (having forgotten what I learnt a long time ago) come from Gossamer Gear who have this wonderful article called Fun with Rope it is not obviously available on their new site but can still found on the web  at Fun with Rope.

Silnylon stretches and contracts depending on the temperature, to help reduce the need for constant tightening of guylines you can try self tensioning lines shown here used with an ID SilTarp 1.


Alternatively you can make your own using Thera-Band 

Sleeping: 

For a slippery floor on a tent, consider putting silicone sealant on the sleeping mat, not the floor.

There is any number of airbeds these days, in particular Exped, POE and Thermarest NeoAir, they are comfortable, but do you really want to be blowing up a full length mattress every night for a long trip? Maybe a 2/3 length will meet your needs or some foam and a self inflater will work for you. I wonder about these options often and feel that both have their place in the hikers kit.

Multimat in the UK, have a 100 gram closed cell foam mat, I use it on most of my trips, either under another mat, or under my feet at night while during the day it is used as a seat, back rest.

On my last trip, my airbed was deflating and after blowing it up a second time I gave up as I was comfortable on my multimat, the next night I just slept on the multimat which has made me wonder whether I should go back to a more minimal approach to my sleeping mats. Oh, and regarding the well known branded mat, the valve is faulty.

Cooking:

Which fuel? Whilst there some savings are to be had (especially if using a wood stove), in general there is not a big difference in weights, in my view; some results from my data collection over a number of years at temps of around 10 C with water of similar temperatures

Esbit: 20 grams per litre of water
Gas: 20 grams per litre, but can be down as low as 15 gms per litre of water, depending on stove. It is claimed that the new JetBoils can be as low as 10 gms per litre.
Alcohol: 30 grams per litre of water boiled

There are of course variations related to wind and pot used, but in general these are the figures I use. Equally packaging comes in to the final trip calculations.

Windshields, there are plenty of variations, but the one I have found the most efficient is the "cake tin" that is using an aluminium cake base with slits for the supports and burner in the base and folded around the pot as shown. This is a variation of several other designs including Ryan Jordan's and Red Yeti Dave's


In the setup pictured the windshield was a bit tight but given that it takes about 4 minutes to boil 400 ml of water the canister does not get warm at all.

Pot lids can be relatively heavy when compared to the pot, Jorgen in his book on Smarter Backpacking suggests the use of cheap plastic bowl as a lid for the pot which can also be used as a bowl. When thinking about this I found that a Sea to Summit X-Mug fits nicely on top of an Evernew 750 ml pasta pot. The X-Mug weighs 60 grams, but the lid for the pot weighs 20 gram, so there is a net gain in weight of 40 grams but if the X-Mug is your only cup then the net gain in weight is close to zero.

Alternatively you can use a ziploc container shown above on a BPL 900 Ti pot. The container works as a lid, as a bowl, as a cup and can be used to make that extra special desert, I use a foam cosy with the ziploc container.

Do you need a remote piezo lighter, for your gas stove? I don't think so, I use a mini light my fire which will always work.

I like using Esbit, but lighting it can be a challenge, I found a couple of drops alcohol hand cleaner and a mini bic will get the tablets burning.


Packing:


Waterproof liners or stuffsacks, I use stuffsacks, normally Exped ones, though I have had success with the SeatoSummit eVent ones, they are a little heavier but they do allow the air to escape as they are compressed. The new Granite Gear eVent Sil Drysacks are also of interest and are lighter.  But check the seal of any "waterproof sack" regularly, I fill them with water, you may have other methods. Remember a waterproof stuff sack can also be used as a water bucket at camp


On a long trip my pack will often be too small at the beginning of the trip because of the amount food being carried, however, I do not carry a bigger pack, I carry items such as a tent on the outside of the pack. A simple silnylon stuff sack strapped to the outside of the pack will add little weight and has multiple uses, after all you will need somewhere to store the accumulated garbage (wrappings etc.) on a trip.

I hope you have found something of interest in this post. Do you have little "tricks" that you use often on trips and wish to share. Feel free to provide them in the comments below.