Backcountry electronics

Garmin OregonBackcountry electronics might seem like a contradiction.  After all, don’t we go to the woods to get away from all that stuff?  Still the power and productivity electronics provide us today can be persuasive.

In the backcountry,  I supplement my navigation with GPS and I use satellite connection for emergency and routine location reporting. Continue reading

Logan bread

P1010994-001

What’s not to like about Logan bread?  It’s quick to make, tastes great, keeps well, contains only good stuff, and packs without crumbling or squishing.  Pair it with Babybel cheese and Old Wisconsin summer sausage bits for a great trail lunch.

Logan bread recipes are everywhere.  The one I use is adapted from an old copy of Kayak Cookery by Linda Daniels.  I probably saw my first version in Boys Life a very long time ago.  This one makes a single loaf in a 1 lb. aluminum baking tin (5-9/16″ x 3-1/4″ x 2″ deep)  Double the recipe to make 2 loaves.  Making a larger loaf in a 2 lb. tin, just doubles the cooking time and produces something that is harder to pack. Continue reading

The price of nothing

Price of nothing“You pay a lot for what you don’t get.” This has long been my advice to people confronting the higher cost of lighter weight sports equipment. At some point I wondered if there was a representative price for the privilege of shaving off pounds. I looked at a couple of cases comparing lower cost, heavier items with their high-tech cousins. $100 per pound saved looks typical. This order of magnitude number seemed to work whether the weight savings were a pound or a few ounces.

Of course it makes a difference whether you are choosing between two items to purchase, or buying something to be lighter than what you already own.

Replacing my pack

I owned a pretty good Gregory internal frame pack, weighing 3 lbs. 3 oz. I replaced it with a Ray-Way pack kit with a finished weight of 12 oz. The kit cost me about $80 with extra parts. That’s a savings of 2 lbs. 7 oz. If I don’t charge for my labor, that’s about $33 per pound saved. Looks like a good deal. If I couldn’t or didn’t want to make a kit, I would need to look elsewhere. Continue reading

Staying dry

IMGP0228I was inspired to start writing this entry on a quite rainy February morning. Even if the Pacific Northwest is not known for heavy, sudden rains (think monsoons, Hawaii or Florida) we still have a lot of wet weather. Add to that encounters with wet brush and more moisture generated internally from physical activity and you understand our challenge of staying dry.

Because our typical weather is cool to cooler, wet weather solutions like shorts and dry clothes at the end of the day don’t really work. We must stay warm as well as dry. Since I want to reduce trail weight, I look for a balance between marginally dry, lightweight rain gear and wonderfully dry, but overweight items. Continue reading

Favorites, part 1

This section covers my “people’s choice awards”. Items here just really work and show outstanding design.

Long handled titanium spoon

P1010982I have owned this spoon for a number of years. I originally found it on a cottage ultra-light website, but now even REI carries something similar. Mine is polished, which I like better than darker, unfinished titanium.

The design allows you to eat out of freezer bags. I don’t do this, but I will eat out of pots, where the long handle helps. I like the hard titanium for stirring food off the bottom of pots during simmering. The spoon is tough and cleans up easily. It is too long to pack into most cooking kits, but I always have somewhere to keep it. At 1.2 oz. it earns it’s keep in my kitchen. Continue reading

Packs

Old school

Old school

Your pack is another of the “big three” weight reduction items . I was using a relatively new Gregory Z55 internal frame pack. It had joined a collection of previously used packs including a framed hatch back pack, an older internal frame pack and even a woven cedar pack basket. 55 liters is a good volume for me and the Gregory pack weighed in at 3 lbs. 3 oz. I used it in Iceland with a 45 lb. trip starting weight. It worked well. In heavy rain, I did use a sil-nylon pack cover to keep things dryer.

Options for pack choices open up when you seriously commit to shave load weight . With growing sewing skills, I elected to make a Ray Way 2,800 cu. in. pack kit. This pack has a 45 liter main bag volume, plus an extension collar that provides at least another 10 liters. In addition there are mesh pockets on the sides. It weighs, as finished, a shocking 12 oz. Continue reading

Lots of pots

In my experience, pots happen. Somehow finding just the right pot to fit a stove, or a place in the pack, or getting something a little bigger or smaller or lighter has led to quite an accumulation.P1010968

Older backpackers, who still have sharp eyes, can spot the once ubiquitous “Nesting Billy” style aluminum pot. There is a set of smaller, anodized aluminum pots that I used for a long time before the anodizing started wearing off. (Cleaning burnt food off the bottom had something to do with it.) My current favorites are titanium Snow Peak pots. They are light, pretty tough, clean up easily and tolerate serious overheating (for dry baking). I pair them with cone windscreens described in my Stoves and Fuel post. Really pots, stoves and windscreens form a system. When I pick a pot, and a stove, then I will take the windscreen that matches. Continue reading