Innovative, cottage manufacturers continue to offer great new ultralight products to make your life better in the backcountry. Here are a few I have added to my pack recently.
For Better Cat Holes
I do enough off trail travel to camp at spots without established toilet facilities. That means digging cat holes. For a long time I carried a standard orange plastic digging trowel that weighed about 4 oz.. Mike Cleland’s Ultralight book converted me to carrying an extra aluminum “Y” tent stake – 0.6 oz. It’s much lighter and can scratch out holes after a fashion. But where there is dense vegetation root structure, the resulting holes leave something to be desired. I found a new supplier of ultralight gear who makes some nice products. Now a Lawson Equipment aluminum Potty Trowel – 1.3 oz. – comes on all trips. It has a nice grip. The blade cuts roots well and it really moves dirt to make a hole that is big enough to work properly. That’s a lot of improved function for an extra 0.7 oz. and a best buy at $10.
Multipurpose titanium tent stakes
There was a time when I felt the cost of titanium tent stakes was not worth the weight saved. That was before I started also using them as cooking appliances. And before I looked at Lawson Equipment’s offerings. They sell tough Ti stakes in a variety of diameters and sometimes lengths. I have four 8″ lightweight stakes in the little sack holding my small 5′ x 5′ sil-nylon general purpose tarp. Weighing 6.7 oz., including the stakes, this tarp package frequently gets packed as a general purpose emergency, lunch, cooking or equipment rain shelter. Lawson doesn’t seem to be offering the 8″ length any more, so settle for 7″. I have some of their 7″ HD stakes for use as pot supports for my cone cooking windscreen. Inserted in the lower vent holes they will hold a pot higher for more even heat distribution or less alcohol burner thermal feedback when dry baking. Placed on top of the windscreen, they form a platform for my heat diffuser for making pancakes or just toasting bagels. I don’t worry about the stakes melting or carbonizing at higher isobutane flame temperatures. At 0.25 to 0.4 oz. each, I carry them as needed.
After totally loosing a pair on a trip a year ago, I concluded that plain titanium stakes become invisible when dropped on the ground. Consequently all my stakes have the top 2-1/2″ coated with orange, very high temperature, silica-ceramic exhaust header spray paint. Available at your local auto supply store, this paint is cured in your oven and rated for temperatures up to 2000 deg. F. I worry about neither burning the paint off or loosing the stakes when I drop them.
Stretchy pot straps
I’m not sure what to call them. Litesmith calls them cross bands. But they really work. My cooking gear is organized to pack inside my titanium pots. The pots then fit in my cozy containers before going in my pack. In the past I used rubber bands or velcro straps to keep everything together. Neither solution was that great. The Litesmith cross bands are perfect. I have several in different sizes for my various pot selections. Litesmith also carries a wide selection of other “must have” ultralight products from tent line adjusters, micro line toggles, many sizes of small bottles and containers, and “pince nez” style reading glasses.