Monday, April 9, 2012

MYOG Backpack Design (Part 1 of MANY)

Time to Get This Backpack Rolling!

With any project that involves making your own gear from scratch or just modifying existing gear to meet your needs, you need to first know what your needs are.  That can actually be harder than it seems.  The easiest way to start is by evaluating your existing gear to find the features you use, those you DON'T use, and those that would be BETTER if tweaked a certain way.  That's the hardest part, and something that you may not notice at the store or on the pictures and descriptions if you're buying commercial gear.  I'm becoming more adept at modifying my gear to remove unnecessary features and weight, but there are occasionally situations that you run into where the flaw is built into the design itself.  You're stuck with those most times.

My oldest pack, a Gregory Forester, weighs in at 2211g (4lb 14oz) for a 4700ci capacity.  My first observation was that I could carry ALL of my most heavy gear, plus my son's sleeping bag and still have room to spare.  While that has been nice for longer, family oriented hikes, it's absolutely overkill for solo hikes where a fast and light approach is taken.  I have no qualms with its durability: it has seen many miles, has been re-purposed occasionally as a suitcase, and survived a time in my outdoor life that I wasn't as keenly aware of how to properly take care of things as I am now.  It has been dropped, sat on, drug around, allowed to be wet for extended periods of time, overloaded/misloaded, etc.  and the only problem with it now (durability wise) is that the waste band clip has partially broken (easily replaceable).

I love using the brain on that pack to carry items of frequent use.  I enjoy the bottom zipper entry and the divider for the sleeping bag.  I sometimes use the middle zipper to access the main body of gear and load the pack with that in mind.  That being said, I don't have to have any of that!  In reality, when I have to get my sleeping bag out, I also remove my cook set, filter, sleeping pad, tent, and the whole host of other assorted items that you would find yourself using (map, toothbrush, etc) once at camp.  So, why have a zipper compartment there?  1) Its a fail point. 2) It costs weight. 3) It adds to the manufacturing cost. 4) I really DON'T use it! 5) My sleeping bag compresses into a smaller size than the compartment, leading to awkward loading unless I leave the stuff sack at home (which I don't do because I use a dry bag).  So in making a pack, I wouldn't add a compartment specifically for my sleeping bag.

The reason for both the brain and the front loading access is to provide easy access to things stowed away inside the pack.  Often, I find that when I have to dig around inside the pack for something like lunch (if I forgot to take it out in the morning), I can't merely open the zipper, take the thing out, use it, then put it right back where it was, zip the pack up, throw it on and go.  1) The compression straps prohibit that. 2) The load shifts when you remove something so that just putting it back doesn't happen.  3) I end up re-loading the pack anyway.  That's worse case scenario, but it happens often enough that I remember it!  So, examining that problem, it seems pretty clear that what I really want is easy access to the items that I need to frequently access.  External storage pockets and a brain are good for this.  Rain jacket, snacks/lunch, water filter, and a map are all things to have easily at hand and if buried in the middle bottom of the pack will cost you time and aggravation.  Solution:  No front entry!  Brain and small/large net pockets instead.

The brain is something worth including for several reasons.  It also has it's negatives that I'll get to in a moment.  One great thing about the brain is that it covers the main closure of the pack.  Many of the plans out there for packs go with either a draw cord closure or a double roll closure similar to a dry bag.  Whichever style is chosen, having some coverage over this section will act as a roof to shed water away from a potential leak point.  I say this assuming that the pack is being built using waterproof (cuben fiber) or water resistant (SilNylon) materials.  If that weren't the case, a pack cover will accomplish this handily.  Another reason for choosing a brain is that it provides an easily accessed pouch for water sensitive items that don't need to or can't go into the exterior pockets.  Some people store water in this pouch, others store maps, etc.  One substitute that I've seen for a brain is a front pouch that clips either to one shoulder strap or between the two shoulder straps.  both of these I actually like better than the brain because you don't even have to remove the pack to get at the goodies.  I can just imagine now how easy and safe map and camera access will be.  I'll have to see about going with one of these though, time will tell.

The negative part of a brain comes in the added weight and the idea that it is top loading weight.  When I was young and dumb, I carried 4L of water up there in a hydration bladder.  It just doesn't work well.  Light, little stuff seems to work well, but again, why can't that stuff either go inside the pack or on an outside pocket?  The attachment would involve more webbing and buckles, plus the zipper or velcro closure.  I'm just not sure if it's worth it and may include the buckles for it just in case I decide I want to try it.

Back to the Gregory!  I want to say that although I'm going through features that I don't like about it, these are features that people like in a lot of cases.  I just would rather have 2 lbs off my back than pockets and openings that I don't use.  That being said, there's two features that are completely useless to me and I feel like anyone would have these same complaints.  The access to the side pockets is severely inhibited by the compression straps.  Solution:  build a pack that has side pockets that you can actually get to when the pack is compressed!  There wasn't anything that I could have done without severely modifying the pack and risking weakening it that would have fixed it.  The other thing is the gear loops on the bottom.... I've never used them, but have this bizarre hesitation about cutting them out!  I bet the weight between the two of them, all the extra webbing on that pack, and the sleeping bag compartment divider would come to about 7oz....  that's the weight of my filter kit!

So looking at different designs, I've found a couple features and styles that I'd like to incorporate.  The new Zpacks cuben pack uses webbing to anchor the shoulder straps to the main pack. This gives a couple of different benefits.  1) Allowing the straps to twist on the webbing makes it easier on the material on both the shoulder straps and the main body of the pack . 2) By making the shoulder straps easily removable, I will be able to swap shoulder straps depending on the type of hiking I'm doing (heavier weight, cushier straps!).  G4 design from Gossamer Gear uses velcro openings on an unpadded shoulder strap to allow the wearer to add sleeping socks or other "useable padding" to the shoulder straps instead of using single purpose, permanent padding.  I've read mixed reviews about that.  I've seen yet another design that basically involves the construction of a shoulder strap, waste belt system to which you strap one large or several smaller stuff sacks.  This seems interesting and I may try it on a second project, just not my first.

So in conclusion, I'm still looking for design ideas and may look more carefully at several of the more detailed plans that are circulating  on the web.  In the end, I know that this project will be like most other MYOG projects in that the first time through will serve more as a "second starting point" than a true actualization of what I really want in a pack.

If anyone has any suggestions on step-by-steps, or plans available (free or pay), or any other features that they find useful, please comment, I really want some feedback.


Friday, March 9, 2012

Fire Kit

Come On Baby, Light My Fire!

Weight: ~58g
Time to Build:  1hr
Cost: <$10

This is more of a work in progress.  When I'm on the trail, especially for a hike of anything more than a couple nights, making a fire isn't truthfully that great of a thought on my mind.  Granted, some people can't seem to reach their evening resting place without thinking of building a fire, and others rely on a camp fire for cooking, but the fascination isn't really there for me.  Occasionally I take my son on some lengthy hikes (Old Loggers Path was a good one), and for him hiking/camping isn't complete without a camp fire.  He gets the greatest satisfaction out of building a fire, rummaging through the forest for wood, and tending the great beast.  Myself, on the other hand, I get little out of the intense effort required to build and maintain a fire.  However, it has occurred to me lately that should my stove fail, or if I were to be in dire need of warmth, I should be able to start a fire with relative ease to get me through.

With that comes the fire kit.  Like always, I consulted the internet gods on my fire building chitaqua.  What I found were kits consisting of redundant fire starting materials from birch bark, waxed jute, etc to unstoppable matches, peanut lighters, fire steel and acoutraments like birthday candles.  I certainly understand the need for redundancy in fire starting materials, but to me, if  a pile of lint won't light, neither will birch bark.  So why, if you're going to carry multiple methods of fire starting, would you carry multiple highly sensitive methods?

So I'm going to play around with this one.  For a container, I like the soda bottle capsules that I used for the fishing kit, but the standard soda bottle capsule is too small to use for this purpose, so i made one out of large Gatorade/Vitamin Water bottles in the same way, but used a divider between the two compartments like in this tutorial.  The blaze orange lids from the Gatorade bottles clearly indicate that this is my fire kit and, if dropped on the ground, will stick out like a soar thumb.  The compartment allows me to separate my "dry starter" and starting materials from my "wet starter".  For my main fire starting material, I'm using cotton balls soaked in Petroleum Jelly.  This stuff gets messy, which is why the divider is necessary.  I'm able to fit four soaked balls in the one side of the kit. Since this is an emergency kit not an everyday use kit, I think four balls will be fine.  It takes at least 5 minutes for one of those cotton balls to burn down to ash and I'm more than confident that I can start a fire using these in all but the most soaked conditions.  That brings me to the ranger bands.  I'm still playing around with these.  A little vaseline does wonders,  and these things will catch in almost any situation except high wind.  The burn time isn't quite as good as the cotton balls, but their versatility is what has attracted me to them.   Again, we'll see how it goes.
I'm accustomed to bringing my magnesium bar along with me, but I would never need that much magnesium in one instance, so I cut the bar down to fit in the other side of the kit. Dry tinder like jute, cotton starter, etc is going on the other side.  I bring waterproof matches and a lighter in my cook kit, but since this kit is water proof, a cut down paper match pack fits well curled around the inside of the dry side.  I'd like to cram a Split Pea lighter into this kit, but I'm not sure that all can fit.  A full Split Pea lighter can burn for about 10 minutes fully filled with lighter fluid, which is perfect for a fire kit.

Melt the petroleum jelly in a double boiler and pour over cotton balls.

The Gatorade bottle provides for one of the largest capacities in the soda bottle capsule world.  This was taken before the lip was removed and sanded flush.

Stuffing the balls into the capsule before the petroleum jelly allows the liquid jelly to squish out.  I wonder how much difference there is between the balls left to cool then stuffed in and the balls stuffed in wet.  Notice the ranger bands... just in case, they always catch with a naked flame.
On the other side goes a cut down piece of magnesium bar with striker built in as well as some dryer lint.  Other misc dry tinder could also fit in here.  I prefer dryer lint because it ignites easily and doesn't weigh much and it is free every time I do cotton wash!  Other commercially available materials work well too.

You can see that quite a bit of lint or other tinder can fit.  A cut down pack of paper matches will also fit, but I pack matches in my cook kit along with a lighter so I don't feel it too necessary to pack substandard materials redundantly.
Everything together: 58g

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ultralight Backpacking Fishing Kit

Fishing on the Fly

After reading Paul AYCE Nanian article, "Thru Hiking the John Muir Trail" I started to think about how often my hikes take me past fishable waters, and how much I would appreciate one in my stomach at the end of the day.  But I'm not a fisherman, and I'm picky about what goes in my pack, so IF I'm going to carry a fishing kit it has to be small, basic, but effective.  Although I want to eventually learn how to fly fish, I don't currently have the knowledge or experience, so a kit would have to be limited to the basic fishing essentials that I know how to use.

I had all but put the idea away when I stumbled across the the article at Brian's Backpacking Blog on soda pop cap capsules, which looked like a good candidate for a fishing kit container.  Waterproof, air tight, durable, and small.  The bonus is that the container doubles as a bobber and it only weighs 24 grams!

So lets get to it!  Brian's Backpacking Blog and JERMM's Outside already have full write ups on the making of the capsule, but I'll outline the basic steps with pictures as well, but be sure to check out their write ups as well.

1) Choosing the bottles.
Standard soda bottles work very well for small capsules.  They come in  many colors and in several different heights making for larger or smaller containers.  Usually you only have the choice between clear and green plastic, but maybe you can find something else if you look around.  One important thing to note is that its probably wise to pick two bottles from the same manufacture since there is occasionally a variance in the thread pitch and flange size between bottle manufactures may be different .  This isn't a life or death matter, but you want the best seal to keep the capsule air tight, and cross threaded or misfitting caps don't seal well.  If the threads are different for the two bottles that you choose, the likelihood of accidentally switching the caps is high, which could lead to frustration when your bobber sinks.  I chose to use red and white caps because its a common bobber color scheme, but you can get as creative as you want and if you choose to find other uses for these capsules then the color coding will help you to easily discern between your salt shaker and your fishing kit.

2) Cutting off the cap.
Remove the safety seal ring with an knife and use a hack saw to cut the bottle right below the flange, removing the whole threaded area plus the flange.  Make sure to cut as close to the flange as possible.  Once this is complete, use a file to remove any plastic lip that might remain below the flange.  (Special Note: I used a band saw to cut the bottles.  I was able to get VERY close to flush this way, but if you choose to do it this way, make sure to be safe) Use 320 grit, or somewhere thereabouts, to sand the rest smooth.  It is very important that the caps fit very flush so that the glue bonds well and a water tight seal is achieved.

3) Gluing the bottle tops together.
I used superglue, but there have been questions raised about this glue for food safety.  For my fishing kit, I didn't care and superglue was fast and cheap.  Various plastic epoxies exist as well as food safe adhesives if you want to take that route.  Now is also the time to decide if you want a divider or not.  For the fishing kit, I opted not to use a divider, but for my fire kit I used one to keep the vaseline soaked cotton balls separate from the other dry fire tools.

Place a bead of superglue on one flange, making sure that it covers the entire surface.  Line the two bottle tips up flange to flange, smear them together quickly, then align them.  I put mine in a vice for a few minutes until the glue had dried, but a clamp would work as well.  Allow to sit this way until the glue is completely cured (read the package for drying instructions).

Assembling the Kit

Putting everything together and what you choose to include is really a personal matter. I've seen emergency kits that include only a few hooks, swivels, weights, and 10ft of line.   That's fine, but I wanted a bit more.  When it all came together, 24g for a fishing kit is fine by me!

As soon as the glue has fully cured, use a very small drill bit to drill two holes on opposite sides of the flange.  this us where you will thread in your fishing line when using the capsule as a bobber, so chose a bit size that is close to the largest fishing line size that you will use.  Securing the bobber is as easy as threading the line through one side, wrapping it around the bobber several times, threading it out the other side, then pulling a little slack in one of the loops so that you can feed the end through (making a small knot).  This is similar to the PVC gadget that I use for hanging my bear bag PCT style.

The biggest problem that I saw with other DIY kits (other than being too large in size) is that they brought such a small amount of line and really didn't have a solid way of bundling it up so that it wouldn't tangle.  I think I've solved this by using a sewing machine bobbin as a spool.  I bought a pack of 12 clear plastic bobbins at Joanne Fabrics for under $5.  The #66 bobbins fit in the capsule with room to spare, I'm not sure about others.  If you're lucky, you may be able to wind the fishing line onto the bobbin with the sewing machine the same way you would wind thread onto one, but the bobbins that I used unfortunately did not work with my machine, but it wasn't too hard to wind it by hand.  I didn't measure the length of line that I spooled onto the bobbin, but I would guess that I used approx 10-15 yards of 6lb monofilament!  Keep it from unraveling by slapping on a small  ranger band (Make Ranger Bands).

I plan to use mostly live bait, but decided to bring a couple lures in case none is to be found or the live bait isn't hitting.  I chose a spinner and a crayfish, but you can chose whatever fits your style so long as it fits in the container.  I guess it counts as a lure, but i also threw in a small sheet of aluminum foil to wrap around the split shot weights as an attractant.  I got the idea from Intense Angler who puts that in his SUL emergency fishing kits.  I've have never tried this before, but decided to throw it into the kit anyway because a) I needed a packing material to keep everything organized, and b) it couldn't possibly hurt anything to try.

Hooks and Weights:
I'm not interested in bringing in the large channel cats or huge bass that big time anglers love to show off. For the purposes of this kit, I'm mostly interested little pan fish, maybe trout or small bass if i'm lucky.  Pan fish bite at everything, hang out right at the edge, are easy to cook, and taste great.  Because of that, I chose to include 5 small hooks in a couple sizes (#6 & #8).  I threw in 4 reusable split shot weights because i lose those things frequently.

If you look at the picture where everything is broken out onto the scale, you'll also see some eye screws.  These are for making the rod.  Basically, the eye screws are installed evenly spaced on a rod length stick.  The line is then threaded through these eye screws and tied off to the bottom of the rod or bottom eye screw.  Check out Intense Angler's video for more info on this and the casting process. The ranger bands wrapped around the outside of the capsule are for binding around your fingers so that you can get a better grip on the line as you reel it in.
All buttoned up and ready to go!

Gravity/Squeeze Filtration/Purification System

One Kit.  Multiple Uses.  Adaptation.

Ok, so I've seen so many videos on backcountry cook kits (and eventually I may post mine!), but very few on water treatment comparatively.  Water treatment is very important to me, and, like everything else, there isn't a "one right way" to accomplish it.  Some are concerned only with disinfection, others with removing particulate, many both. Others yet would like to also remove odors from the water.  I spent several years using the MSR Miniworks filter which uses a ceramic filter (0.2 micron), and a pumping style filtration system.  Many people have good luck with that filter, I did not (leakage around the pump head seal).  Also, it's a very heavy system (16oz dry) compared to some of the more recent designs, and the thought of replacing it lead me to explore the many options out there.

What to think about:
How much stuff do you want to take out?  Filters are available in 3micron (Frontier Pro), 0.1 micron (Sawyer Squeeze), .02 micron (Sawyer Point Zero Two system), and many areas in between.  What kind of "stuff" are you talking about?  If you're talking about protozoa (crypto, giardia), 1 micron should remove them.  If its bacteria (fecal coliform, etc.), 0.1 gets all of them.  Viruses require 0.02 or less. If all that you want to remove is detectable particulate, the 1-20 micron size (filter bag, coffee filter, denim, etc) will collect those.  If it's odors and chemical flavor, passing the water through an activated carbon filter post filtration works well.
Why do you want to use filtration to get rid of pathogens?  Some people are quite content with iodine, chlorination treatment (Aquamira), or one of the other misc ways using chemical salts (MSR MiOX) to disinfect their water.  Others use UV irradiation (Steripen) for disinfection.  Each of these are effective to varying degrees and have certain drawbacks.  Chlorine, for example, is not considered effective in the removal of protozoa in  periods of short term exposure.  UV treatment effectiveness is also proportional to exposure time and can be aided if particulates are not present that would block the UV rays.

Here's the rub: Its up to you, BUT don't carry something that's needlessly redundant, unnecessarily heavy, or doesn't suit all of your needs in water treatment.  Carrying UV, Chlorination, and micronic filtration equipment is completely unnecessary (wearing a belt and suspenders is ridiculous).  One degree of redundancy is really all you want to do.  For example. A 1 micron bag filter will remove protozoa and particulates, and a UV pen will get rid of what's left.

What I've put together:
That all said, here's what I do.  The Sawyer Squeeze is versatile, light enough, and filters down to a level that will remove bacteria.  I'm not concerned about viruses for the hiking that I do, but if I were to go to an area where waterborne viruses were an issue, I would bring chlorination tablets.  This filter lets me filter water in various ways that suit my needs.  For example:  I don't carry a water bottle typically, opting instead to use a bladder inside my pack with a tube. The Sawyer filter coupled with some adapters including the Hydrolock kit from Camelbak allows me never to have to remove my bladder from deep inside my pack where I keep it.  I can't tell you how many times I've arrived at a water source, had to get out all of my filtration equipment, dig the bladder out of my bag, and then repack everything once I'm finished.  Adding to that frustration from mishaps related to not hitting the opening of the bladder which results in a wet hydration bladder going back into the pack.  Not anymore!  The filtered water is pressure fed right back down the outlet pipe, and the size of my bladder (2L Platypus) is equivalent to two fillings of the 1L dirty bag that comes with the Squeeze system.  Water goes from source to storage without hitting a drop of air, or encountering any point of outside contamination.

Although my goals seem to be a little different, I put my kit together in a manor similar to the one shown in a post on White Blaze forum. Like the poster there, I separate these things into "clean" and "dirty" categories to avoid contamination, but I consider the filter itself "Clean" provided that you plug the dirty end after use.  If residual dirty water from the inlet end of the filter comes into contact with the outlet end of the discharge hose, then what's the point of filtering in the first place?  Freezer bags are good for this.  The filter inlet end gets plugged and the whole thing gets stuffed into a bag with the outlet hose and adapters which then go inside the container.  The dirty scoop and funnel serve as the protective container for everything and holds the other dirty items loose inside.  The container itself, including the funnel, is made from a cut down rubbing alcohol bottle.  Initially, I made the adapters using soda bottle caps and the threaded mouths epoxied together to suit the purpose.  I've also tried using a Tornado Tube.  However, the threads don't match up perfectly with the threaded ends of the Squeeze (Pepsi or Coke both seem to have a bit of a thread pitch difference).  After using the rubbing alcohol bottle, I realized that the cap and mouth of that bottle matches up PERFECTLY with the Sawyer system.  In fact, I may have accidentally switched the caps to the squeeze bladders and can't tell the difference now.  The problem is that there isn't a flange on the alcohol bottles in the same way that there is on a soda bottle so gluing male adapter components together becomes a bit of a problem.  Creativity and patience solves this.  Also, the Aqua Simple connector purchased from Arrowhead Equipment is not able to thread down far enough on the Squeeze to form the necessary seal, so a female-male adapter is needed on the outlet side of the filter to connect that fitting.  It leaks profusely if you skip this step, and I'm not worried about the 8 grams.  The problem becomes color designation between clean and dirty fittings, but a sharpie handles that task well (soda bottle caps would have been perfect for this).

Filter (naked and dry):
Funnel/container lid:
Scoop/container body:
Female-Female Adapter:
Particulate filter:
Dirty 1L bag:

Female-Male Adapter:
Tubing Adapter w/ 5" tubing and Quicklock fitting:
End Plug:

I wrote earlier about redundancy.  The kit as pictured below relies solely on filtration to remove contaminants.  It would not be out of the question to add chlorine tablets or drops or iodine to this kit for further disinfection.  A UV device would do provide the same redundancy.  All would provide a slight weight and cost penalty that is up to the individual to consider how severe they consider that penalty.

Making the adapters:
Caps from rubbing alcohol bottles have identical threads to the sawyer bags.  Ideal for making an adapter.  The threaded part is the cut off portion of the same rubbing alcohol container.

Clamp it and let it cure.

This epoxy DOES NOT WORK!  As it cures, it becomes less resistant to the twisting motions that are going to be very common on any of the pieces used in this kit as they are screwed on and off of the filter.  Dr. Bond Plastic adhesive doesn't work either for the same reason.  Good old Loc Tite Superglue or Gorilla Superglue seems to work well. 
Whats in the Kit?

Dirty stuff.  The alcohol bottle is cut down to size and can be used as a scoop.  The top of the bottle can be connected using the red female-female adapter (made with soda caps) and used as a funnel to get water into the bag.  This works nicely with the 1micron particulate filters made from filter bags used in biodiesel filtering.  The 1L Sawyer bag is the dirty bag.

Clean stuff.  Obviously the filter itself is pictured.  In addition to that isthe end cap (green soda bottle parts) which keeps the dirty water from leaking out and contaminating the other clean stuff when stored.  Also pictured here are the fittings necessary to connect the filter to the hydration tube leading to my in pack Platy bag.  The white female-female adapter is used for backflushing.

Funnel affixed to the top of the dirty bag ready and ready to fill.

Backflush mode.  Simply squeeze clean water back through the filter.  The syringe is intended for this purpose, but I leave that at home and backflush using this method when need be (not often).

Everything fits into the scoop bottle.  Dirty stuff loose in the bottle, clean stuff bagged up in a freezer bag.  There's certainly enough room to throw in a little baggie of chlorine tabs if one were so inclined.

203g isn't bad!  It's approx 7oz which is less than half the weight of my old Miniworks setup and is WAY more functional.  Add to that weight the weight of a lightweight stuff sack, the sport top adapter that came with the filter (not pictured as i don't usually use it), the particulate filter (not pictured, currently replacing mine!), and chlorine tabs and you're still under 8oz.  By no means "Ultralight," but this is a durable, long lasting, very serviceable, setup.

Closing Remarks:
I am open to finding ways to further reduce the weight of this system without compromising the functionality.  I think some savings could come from using a different bottle for the container.  These alcohol bottles actually are not available anymore, now a square bottle is used which contains substantially less plastic and thus weighs less.  I enjoy the built in funnel/scoop, which are very necessary for shallow water collection.  I could also scrounge a couple grams by using the .5L Sawyer bag that came with the Squeeze filter, however right now I feel that it's the perfect size.  The other advantage of using the 1L bag is that I can fill the 2L Platy and reserve 1L of dirty water for later filtration if the next water source is a ways away, allowing for 3L total water carrying capacity.

Another thing that you may want to consider is storage.  Damp gear leads to mold and mildew.  Storing this kit in a way that will allow it to fully dry out seems like a good idea.  I like to remove the end plug and cap from the filter itself for storage, and allow all of the bags to fully air out before putting them back in the gear locker.

Like always, comments are more than welcome!

After reevaluating this kit having made a write up on it, I think I'm going to try to make the clean side female male adapter out of a soda bottle threaded portion and an alcohol bottle cap.  The flange and thread depth are just of better sizing for the job and my capsules hold up way better than my adapter does.  Limiting the number of times that I disassemble the hosing fitting from the adapter has kept me going for a series of uses, but I just heard it cracking again like it did with the Dr. Bond Plastic Weld...  time for a new strategy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Intro, purpose, obligatory remarks

The internet is such a resource. I've gleaned so much from random web searches that start a puddle jumping effect that carries me from blog to forum to website to video, picking up new information along the way.  I've always thought it a great service to present the knowledge that we individually hold, but have been hesitant to actually publish anything myself.  It takes an amount of ego to regard your knowledge as something that other people would want to consume, but, in the world of social media, this barrier seems to be disappearing.

So, what's this blog going to be about and why did I decide to do one?  Well, I take an awful lot of pictures of the stuff that I make, constantly get comments of "How did you make that?" or "Where did you get that idea?"  or "What is that thing?"  Not having a good way to organize those pictures, or to present them to those who would wonder, this seems like a good idea.  Also, it should allow for an assessment of how something turned out over time, provide an outlet to help others the way that I've been helped, and also catalog all of the stuff that is much in need of organization.

My primary topic here will be DIY backpacking gear.  I'm currently on a bent to lower my pack weight while not spending the unforgivable amount of hard earned dollars that one can spend (if one is so inclined) on name brand or cottage manufacture gear.  I think it's important to note that there are a lot of good products out there for those who wish to purchase them, and the quality of those products I'm not about to debate, but the expense is not something that I am able or willing to succumb to at this point unless absolutely necessary.  That said, many of the companies who produce gear, either on a large scale or small, have done their homework and have spent a considerable amount of time and money to research, design, and test the performance of their goods, and to offer a warranty; this comes through in the price, and is completely justified in many cases.  Fortunately for my wallet and lifestyle, I'm willing to test an idea on my own trips; develop, design, debug, and modify my own gear as a new idea comes to mind; and live with the failures and shortcomings that will inevitably arise out of this process.  All of that work is performed for you when you buy commercial gear, and is a benefit that many wish to enjoy.  Nothing wrong with that at all! That said, for those of you who like to have a project tumbling around in the bingo cage of your mind at all times just waiting to come to fruition, making your own gear can be abundantly rewarding. Say you're putting together a cook kit (so much is available on this online), when you realize that you wouldn't have to use/carry your pot stand if you went with a different stove design, or that your cup/bowl can double as the container for the whole kit, or that you don't need a really a long spoon to reach the bottom of the freezer bag if you nest the bag inside that same container (which doubles the bonus since you then won't have to wash the bowl or hold the hot bag!).  The possibilities go on and on, and you just don't get that same experience when you buy commercially available gear with prefab cups, spoons, pot grabbers, etc. nested perfectly into coated pots... point being that some like this and some don't want to bother with it. I do, and if you're reading this, you probably do too.

 Thanks in advance to those who stumble across and like what you read.  Leave a comment if you want, I always appreciate good advice or feedback.

Take it easy,