Logan bread

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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

Beyond the bag

P1010117-001I sleep cold. I have always needed sleeping bags rated at least 15 degrees colder than the conditions I expect. Once I made that adjustment, I have logged a lot nights in a variety of bags with a variety of fills. My current approach focuses on staying just as warm while carrying less weight.

Sleeping equipment is one of the “big three” in moving to lightweight backpacking. So I looked for a lighter solution, and decided to try a quilt. Continue reading

Dry baking

P1010157Freshly baked food is a hit in the outdoors. The means to this delicious end are many.  I remember twisting dough onto a stick and roasting it over an open fire as a Boy Scout. With open fires, reflector ovens and Dutch Ovens have a great history. Fry bread and bannock cooked over open fires or stoves also have their place. However, when open fires and heavier cooking gear are no longer part of the picture, baking becomes more difficult.

The reward for solving this problem – fresh baked backpacked food – is so compelling that a number of light weight solutions have emerged. Continue reading

Stoves and fuel

Surf's upThough hardly a kid any more, I still like to play with fire. I have cooked on wood, white gas, kerosene, butane, alcohol and Esbit tablets. I have owned a lot of stoves, used and built a bunch more. Making fire to heat and/or cook food is so central to backpacking that a large acreage of blogosphere is devoted to it. So here are my current and recent solutions, appropriately in a very long post.

I really like Caldera cones, made by Trail Designs. I like them so much that I build custom cone shaped windscreens to fit my favorite stove and pot combinations. The cone windscreen design protects the stove from wind, vastly improves heat transfer to the pot and provides a temperature protected environment for combustion. Cold weather performance loss is much less. And the cone shaped windscreen/pot support is stable – no more noodles spilled on the ground.

My kitchen goal is the ability to cook, including simmering and dry baking with a stove/windscreen setup that will stow inside the pot. Continue reading

Making a comfort light cooking fly

Ray Jardine is certainly one of the great evangelists for tarp tents. His designs are well thought out and usually feature “beaks”, dropped overhangs to provide rain protection. There are additionally many variations to pitching a rectangular tarp resulting in different shapes. I felt the need to mess around with some of these ideas.

Comfort light cooking fly

Recalling trying to cook between rain showers on a soggy outing, I decided to see what a light weight cooking shelter might look like. I wanted it to pitch with a single support, either a long stick or even a tree. I wanted to incorporate a Jardine type beak. And of course it needed to be light weight. The experiment also gave me the chance to practice creating something with sil-nylon without a full pattern. Continue reading