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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Tarp Doors

I really like my OES Deluxe Spinn tarp. It is really light and works extremely well to keep me dry. The only issue was that I wished I could seal it up better against the blowing rain we get here in NJ. I also wanted to seal it up a little better in the winter to help trap the warm air from escaping. I have played around with different ways to do this, but the Spinnaker fabric the tarp is made from is very light and I am too scared to sew actual doors on it and damage the integrity of the tarp.

So when a member on the hammock forums website showed his idea for an attachable vestibule, I jumped on the idea and created one immeaditely. He has since updated the design and now a cottage manufacturer is building them and can be purchased here, it is called the Grizz Beak.

My beaks are somewhat similar to the design that is being sold now, but definitely don't have the same tolerances and quality sewing. I also did not cut them to the same dimensions that Grizz had suggested. This was one of my first official sewing projects that I did all by myself. I can honestly say the beaks/vestibules work well but my sewing is pretty ugly. So I won't have any close ups on the seams. In hindsight I think this is the easiest project someone can undertake. The hardest part is cutting the nylon to the correct dimensions, after that is just requires a simple hem around all four sides and some grossgain tabs to hook the beak to the tarp.

I built two beaks and used about 7 yards of 1.1 oz DWR from Wal-mart and reused some grossgain I recycled off an old pack. This ended up running me about $10 in materials to build two off them. This is a lot cheaper than what they are going for now, however, when you factor in the time it may be worth it to buy them.

With that said here are my pictures of the first setup. I have used them on one trip so far and was really happy with how they worked and blocked the wind. They take about 10 seconds to clip onto the tarp and only require one extra stake.

I have some future modifications planned, but am still working on the design. My goal with the future changes is to reduce the amount of overlap of the beak and tarp so as to save weight.

New Under Quilt

This fall I decided I wanted to upgrade my gear a bit and build an underquilt for my hammock. I spent a few months sourcing materials and ended up building a 2/3 length under quilt using once piece of 5 oz Climashield XP.

Each of the four sides has a channel for shock cord to run through. This allows for a better fit of the under quilt against the hammock body.

Material Lists:

  • 1.1 oz DWR Ripstop from Wal-mart. ($1.50/yd. I used about 6 yards total)
  • 1 piece of 5oz Climashield XP from a member of Hammock Forums ~ 2 yards for $20.
  • Shockcord from outdoor store ($5 for about 25 ft)
  • Outdoor Polyester Thread (free, due to it being leftover from previous projects)
Total: $35-40 Dollars

To have purchase a comparable underquilt like this would have ran me over a hundered dollars, so I am really happy with how cheaply I was able to make a quality piece of gear.

It took about 4 hours of actual sewing and a few weeks of me trying to figure out how I wanted to do it. My plan was to make it multi-purpose so I could use it as a underquilt in the cold and as a top quilt for the summer months.

I have been able to test it out at about 30 Degrees Farenheit and was toasty warm.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Custom DIY Compact Wood Stove

I love backpacking wood stoves. I have built around ten of the quart paint can wood stoves in the last year but have never been happy with their weight and height. However, since a member discovered that the flashing endcaps fit perfectly into the quart can I have been able to finally create one of these stoves to my own specifications.

The endcap allows you to chop the quart can down to the height you want. I use an IMUSA four cup mug and wanted a stove that fit inside of it. So I spent about an hour and came up with this. It has a 3.75" tall base compared to the standard 5". It is my new 'go-to' stove, it burns amazingly well and is a lot lighter and more functional than the larger versions. I have had a lot of success with it this far and plan to take it on my future trips. One thing to note, is that I discovered that a stoke tube really helps kick this stove into wood-gas mode really quickly. I made it from simple refrigerator water line and a brass coupler.

Compact woodstove nested in IMUSA 4 Cup mug:

Integrated fire grate:

Comparison of full size wood stove to chopped stove:

The Stove in action:

My biggest concern with a wood stove on a backpacking trip is wet wood. I plan on taking a small alcohol stove along with it on days I don't want to light a fire. However, I was testing one day in a downpour and was very surprised with the results. It started downpouring as I was trying to get it lit. So I ended up trying to start the stove with wet dead fall in a pouring icy rain with a 5-10mph gusting wind, needless to say it was less than optimal. The stove smoked a lot and never really went into gas mode much longer than a couple minutes. After about 25minutes I got annoyed and decided to put it away for a better day, and as I lifted the lid on my pot I realized it was boiling. I don't know how long it had been boiling, but it sure didn't look like the stove was doing anything, it was just into charcoal mode. So it was a nice surprise, one that would work in crappy weather if I give it enough time. I am going to try to work on a windscreen, I am thinking about trying a windscreen that anchors into the ground with some light stakes instead of actually attaching to the stove.

Hammock Update - Warbonnet Black Bird

It has been a long time since I actually updated my blog. Mainly because I haven't been able to play outside as much this year as I would like. However, with that said, I was able to build and buy some really cool gear this year. My biggest purchase of the year was my new hammock, a Warbonnet Black Bird.

I had been oogling the Black Bird hammock for quite some time before actually buying one. After researching mutiple hammock brands and building one of my own I decided that the best hammock for me was the WBB. It has an integrated bugnet, a footbox that aids in you laying flat, and a built in shelf/pocket for storing gear. It wasn't cheap but I can say that it is the best night of sleep I have got in the woods. It is nice and roomy on the inside and may be more comfortable than my bed at home. I have been able to use it a few times this year and was even able to get my wife to sleep in it during a trip into Yellowstone. She loved it!! She had been thinking my hammock obession was really weird, yet it only took one night in it and she decided it was the only way to camp.

I got the 1.7 DL (double layer) version with the strap suspension system. If I get another one I will get a single layer 1.7 or maybe the 1.1 DL, since my weight doesn't come close to being an issue for either of those options.

It is a large hammock and does need a pretty decent tarp to adequately cover it, however my OES Spinntex Deluxe tarp works really well. So far I am really happy with it and have officially retired my other hammocks to the loaner pile.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

My Inverted Downdraft Woodgas Stove

I have seen plans floating around on how to make an Inverted Downdraft Wood Gas Stove. I liked the concept but did not like the bulk of them and how high off the ground they raised the pot. One can buy a pre-built stove like the Bush Buddy but the price tends to push most people away. Even though I believe they can be custom sized to your pot so they nest inside.

I ran into the plans to build one of these stoves on the Backpacking Light forums and realized I could make one of these stoves for under $5. I used the BPL forum instructions and also Tamrag's blog to put this together.

Build materials:
1 quart paint can from Homedepot for $3
1 20z Can from Soup/Fruit/Etc
1 piece of mesh, I used gutter mesh that was $2 for a large strip at Home Depot.

I didn't have a 1/2 inch bit, so I used a 3/8 inch bit and the results have impressed me. On a day with gusting winds I was able to bring 3.5 cups of water to a boil with a handful of wood in about 15 minutes from the time I lit the fire.

The best part is the stove fits inside my IMUSA mug but is still a little tall. I am going to make another one and shorten the entire stove by 1 inch and then it will nest perfectly. I am also going to get some of the BBQ Grill paint and coat all the pieces to help keep them from rusting.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Fancee Feest Clone

I like simple stoves, I want it to heat my water up efficiently and quickly. I don't need it to have a ton of bells and whistles, just get the job done.

I like the pop can stoves for their simplicity but they just are not that durable and I also hate having to play with them continually hoping they work every time. So in my quest for the perfect stove I stumbled upon Zelph's Stoveworks. He has done some amazing things in the world of backpacking stoves.

My favorite stove for its simplicity is the Fancee Feest stove. It is very basic and you don't need a pot stand. Just plop the pot on top and light her up. No priming, no tweaking, nada.... The key with it is the fiberglass cloth that acts like a wick to pull the fuel up to be burned. This wicking action aids in making the stove more efficient and uniform.

Picture of Fancee Feest Clone:

Video of First Burn:

I decided to attempt to make my one myself, even though hindsight shows that I could have probably come out money/time ahead if I had just bought one from him, but where is the fun in that?

So far it is working pretty well. I am still not completely happy with it and will continue to tweak it. Today it was boiling two cups of water with one ounce of fuel in about 6-7 minutes and had a total burn time of 9 minutes. The stove has a three ounce capacity so it should even be able to handle group size pots.

Having built this one, I am starting to envy his Starlyte stove and may attempt a building one in the near future. Fire is fun...