Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gear: #27 No Sew Tyvek Windshirt / Rain Jacket

In this gear video, I show how to make a Windshirt/ Rain Jacket out of a set of Tyvek coveralls. This project is quite easy and fairly cheap. The materials needed are a Tyvek Coverall, Tyvek Tape and scissors. I spruced it up with a shockcord hood and some cordlocks. I will do another video with dyeing and how to make the chaps.

Tyvek Coveralls - This is the XL. Make sure to get the TY127S in your size.

Backpacking Light Forum Post

Southwest Ultralight Blog

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Gear: #26 Dummy-loads

I have used dummy-loads on my hiking gear for awhile. It keeps the wear and tear down on items such as my down quilt and jacket. It allows me to keep my pack at the same weight and bulk each time I hit the trail. It will also save time in the AM when I decide I am heading out to the trail. I no longer need to pack before I go. I am ready to roll.  This technique also works well for simulating food loads or gear that you may not own yet but have an understanding of the dimensions. This is not recommended on a backwoods trail but more for the local training hike. So far it has worked well for me.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Gear: #25 Footwear

Regardless of the gear in your back, nothing will stop a trip faster than problem feet. I consider footwear to be one of the most important systems in a kit. Without proper footwear, your feet will be cold, blistered and ruin your trip. So in this video I ramble on about some of the things that worked for me and didn't in hope of helping to eradicate problem feet.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gear: #24 Therm-a-rest Xtherm Sleeping Pad Revisited - The Large Size

I really like the Therm-a-rest Xtherm as a year round sleeping pad. So far I have not had any issues with durability or heat loss. The one problem I did have was the Regular was just too narrow.  The Large is 25 inches wide which is close but I would have preferred something around 28 inches. Unfortunately, with the additional width came additional length of 77 inches. This of course add weight. I have spoken with Cascade Designs, and they have no plans to make a wide pad with a shorter length. There is a market for that type of design, someone just needs to start making them.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Adventure: #28 Ozark Trail - Karkaghne Section

I had the pleasure of hiking 19 miles of the Ozark trail in the Karkaghne section. The weather was beautiful for all three days. The trail was a bit easier than the Taum Sauk section I did back in May. Luckily there was no snow this time out. I certainly have the bug to do more sections of the Ozark Trail in the future. There are quite a few sections so it should keep me busy.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Prepping for Another Hike

I am finishing up my packing for my next trip which will be a few days back on the Ozark Trail. This time I will be doing the lower half of the Karkaghne section. Total mileage should be about 18 miles. I have just about got all the gear dialed in with 17 pounds piled into the ULA Circuit. Plus I will bring about 5 pounds of food. This was sort of a surprise trip I was planning a trip the following weekend. I hope to get that one in too. The big excitement is I ordered a Bear Bag system from Zpacks which was scheduled for delivery tomorrow but it seems it is coming today. So it will make the trip and lower my base weight by an ounce or two.  Good times.  Look for some video hopefully next week.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Around the Home: #2 Making a Garden Barrel

In an attempt to make more growing opportunities, I created a Garden Barrel off of a video I saw up on Youtube.  Very simple construction and should give me some good growing space. I will need to wait until next spring to really see.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Around the Home playlist

I have been spurred on to looking at growing my own food as I have educated myself on the food system we have in place. It can be quite scary, the information you find. So I have resolved myself to start growing some of my own food. This year I did not grow as much as I would have liked partly because I got started quite a bit late in the season.  But I have grand plans for next year.  So I created a new playlist to document the gardening and other things I do around the little urban homestead.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Cicada Molting

Typically when I am out in the bush I only carry my Kodak ZX5 camera. I rarely shoot any stills with it as there is no zoom and really I got it to shoot video, which it does fairly well.  I do have a large Nikon D90 DSLR that I occasionally use. I have plans to bring it out on some bushcraft day hikes, but it is quite heavy and not as robust as the Kodak. As a result, I sometimes shoot random pictures and forget to take them off.  Such was the case of these shots of a Cicada climbing out of a molt. These are not the 17 year Cicada but rather the standard every Summer Cicada.

We are ripe with Cicadas during the summer and their molts litter the underside of branches on all the trees in the yard. While I have found live ones climbing around I have yet to find one coming out of the molt.  But, back in August while mowing the yard, I found one perched on the side of the house.  I watched and shot pictures for about 20 minutes before I needed to get back to the yard work. It was a very interesting experience to watch him wiggle and shake trying to free himself from the old body. These are some of the better shots out of the bunch. You can see gallery over here.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Gear: #21 Therm-a-rest Xtherm Sleeping Mat

When I planned to try to simplify my shelter and sleeping system by moving to the ground there were a few challenges. The first being that I hated sleeping on a thin closed cell foam mat.  I did not get much cushion and ended up with a sore back. So when I started to look at pads I knew an inflatable was where I needed to be. The Xtherm has a 2.5 inch loft and does quite well in keeping my back in the proper shape.  So far my only concern is the Regular size is only 20 inches wide and my arms sort of fall to the ground. I may have to return it and get the large which is 25 inches.

Gear: #20 Snow Peak Trek 900

I picked this set up as a replacement from my Coleman 800 kit. Not only is the pot lighter it is slightly larger in capacity than the Coleman. I feel this will be a good replacement allowing me to not only boil up water for freezer bag cooking but also to cook in the pot.  I have not tested the boil times in the Supercat stove against the Coleman which sounds like a good item for a future video. I suspect the times should be fairly close depending on how the different metals retrain the heat.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Adventure: #27 Cuivre River Overnight

I took a break from the seemingly endless supply of yardwork, home maintenance and 95+ degree weather to hit the trail again.  While it was just a short overnight, to a familiar location no less, it was good to just get out. The high was around 75 which made for just about perfect hiking conditions. The night was a little chilly in my fleece top quilt. It just does not have the coverage needed, not to mention I forgot a pair of long underwear. Temps dipped down to about 55 but my new Thermarest Xtherm did an excellent job of keeping my warmth away from the ground. The new TarpTent Double Rainbow gave me tons of room to spread out the back and shoes. Overall I am happy with some of the new gear choices and look forward to using them more.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Getting Out

Why does it seem to be so difficult to get out?  I have certainly tried but let me tell you, 95 degrees is not the weather I want to camp in. Luckily the weather has started to cool off but the thunderstorms have rolled in.  Oh well, I am starting to not enjoy summer. Perhaps I will be a three season camper and skip summer. But the Summer has given my some time to organize my gear but also start some new projects. I hope to have some new videos soon. Been tinkering with the garden so perhaps there will be some gardening ones.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gear: #19 FIrestraws

It was time for me to make some more fire starters for camping. I love the petroleum jelly and cotton balls but they were always a bit messy when I carried them in a prescription bottle. Enter the firestraw. Not only are these things waterproof and self-contained, they are super cheap to make. The milkshake straws are the way to go on these things. Wide bore gives plenty of space for a small chunk of fatwood or other material to help the flame burn. These things can be a lifesaver with less than ideal tinder and wood. It only takes an hour to make a whole tin that will last all year.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Maple Sugar

Late Winter brings the time for collecting Maple sap and making Maple Syrup. This year I decided I would try my hand at this ancient tradition. With only one suitable tree to tap, there was no way I would get enough to make syrup that would last me all year. Instead I decided to make some Maple sugar. The process is simple enough, just takes a little time. Most of the best things just take a little time.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Adventure: #26 Ozark Trail - Taum Sauk Section

These are the videos from the Ozark Trail trip. It was quite a fun but intense trip. I feel it was more difficult physically than the River to River trip. More elevation over a shorter distance. The cold weather and rain did not help the matters. I had a few gear issues, mainly related to rain gear, that had me dangerously cold on the first day.  Things evened out as we went. I certainly want to get down and do some more of the Ozark Trail, fantastic trip.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Preparation for Another Adventure

I have spent the last week going over my gear for an up-coming adventure this weekend. It entails 33 miles on the Ozark Trail, some place I have never been but want to go.  The terrain looks tough with almost as much elevation gain as my River to River trail section but with half the mileage. Big hills to conquer. I have most everything dialed in, but had to add my gloves an hat due to lows of 35!  I hope the Insultex underquilt holds up and keeps me warm, this has been a problem in the past. However, I have the Enlightened Equipment Rev-X 20 degree quilt. That should work much better than my sleeping bag with the broken zipper. Since this is a Hammock Forums trip, I must have the hammock. Although there is a tiny box that came in the mail the other day. May it holds a rainbow or two. But that is for another day.

Today I sprayed my gear with Permethrin, an insecticide that will keep the masses of ticks at bay. It worked very well last year and I hope to be tick free again this year. I have a couple new items that I will try out. I was expecting warmer weather so I will be bringing my new Ex-Offico Air Strip Lite long sleeve shirt. I am hoping this shirt will handle the heat and let me use less sunscreen during the summer.  With highs in the 60s I am not sure it will get the warm weather workout it needs.  Lows of 35 with possible rain should be interesting.  It will be a good gear workout for sure.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Adventure: #25 Pere Marquette State Park

The first true hike of Spring took place at a new location, Pere Marquette State Park.  It was across a few rivers and through a place I have never been. Adventure was in there air, a good sign for this year. I have already made preparations for the next big adventure, until then check out a nice easy trail hiking adventure.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring has Sprung

Spring is certainly in the air despite winters attempt to keep temperatures low at night. I managed to get out on a training hike a few days ago with a much lighter pack thanks to a few new purchases. One has to love the REI 20% discount coupons. I picked up a Therm-a-Rest Xtherm sleeping mat in anticipation of ground dwelling during the next year on the trail. Along with the Enlightened Equipment quilt, the bulk and weight of my ULA Circuit is going down. I am hoping to be under 15 pounds this year but I still have some work to do. Of course video overviews on these new items will be coming eventually.

On the trail, the signs of spring were everywhere. One was the amount of cars in the parking lot. On those frigid days in December I would be the lone resident on the trail. Today there were over a dozen. I ran into a few gents training up for a section of the Appalachian Trail. Gear was discussed for a few minutes as expected. I suspect I will start see more of the fair-weather trail runner and dog walkers. Best keep an eye on the trail for some dog bombs like I saw a Beagle leaving today. Be sure to pick up after your dogs folks.

I did run into these two. I had just come up the first large hill that reminded me I sit entirely too much as well as too much pizza. I finally noticed them when I was about 15 feet from them. They never got spooked.  Deer I guess are just used to folks on the trail.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Adventure: #24 Cuivre River

I headed back to Cuivre River State Park for a little hiking and an overnight. The weather was right, and felt like spring was coming. Cuivre River is a nice place to go and has good trails, unfortunately the markings and maps don't match up which can lead to some frustrating times.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gear: #18 ALPs Mountaineering Zephyr 2

The ALPs Mountaineering Zephyr 2 is a lightweight backpacking tent. By comparison, it is on the lighter side and quite durable. Sporting an all mesh inner tent, the ventilation is good even when buttoned up for weather. It is a perfect entry level or scouting tent.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Gear: #17 Marmot DriClime Windshirt

The Marmot DriClime Windshirt is designed to be a lightweight option to blocking wind and fending off the chill. And for the most part it achieves this goal. The DriClime material is soft and warm while the nylon outer shell blocks the wind. It is very well constructed and does that job well. My problems came with using this item while hiking 8 miles. I had issues with venting and excessive heat build up. It is certainly worth a look but be wary of layering issues.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Adventure: #22 Land Navigation

An important skill to have when venturing out into the wild is that ability to use a map and compass to navigate to safety. It is a skill I have been working on. One way was to mark out some locations in a local conservation area and navigate between them. It was a cold day but was very nice when it started to snow. We have had no snow really this winter so it was nice to get a little.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Maple Tree Tapping

I had the opportunity to take a class on Maple Tree tapping put on by the Missouri Department of Conservation. They provided all the information need to tap the trees and convert the sap to syrup or sugar. Unfortunately I had to leave early to get to work so I missed some of the information on boiling down and checking the specific gravity, but I can search the web for that. I did find out that I can tap the Silver Maples in my yard, but only two are large enough. Still it will be something to try out.

Sap gathering bucket

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Adventure: #21 Geocachin' and Bushcraftin'

Out and about on a cold day looking for some geocaches and some items for a Bushclass.  It was a excellent day.