Sonntag, 4. Dezember 2011

New Tent!

Here's the post for my new Tent. It's a double-walled tunnel design, with double entrances. The Outer shell is made from 1.1 oz ultrasil from Quest Outfitters. It has 2 aluminum poles (.344 nanolites also from Quest), both of which are angled outward from bottom to top, decreasing the risk of rainwater coming in through the open door. The floor is made of 1.9 oz PU coated nylon (also from Quest), and is a bathtub design, about 15cm high. The rest of the inner is made of superultralight mosquito netting, which only weighs 17 grams per sq. meter. I ordered it from The inner is fully detachable from the outer, making it possible to play around with different inner designs. I'm already thinking of a design with less netting for colder camping. All zippers are YKK 3c.

Total weight: 2197 grams (4 lbs 12.8 oz) I didn't quite hit the wieght I had hoped, but it's usually that way with these projects!

Total time invested, including design: 59 hours 30 min.

Here are some pictures of the tent in Hornvik, Iceland this summer:

Here's a peek through the tent. As these pictures were taken, it had withstood 2 days of stormy rain and wind, with gusts up to 80 kmh (50mph). I have to admit, I didn't sleep very well the first night. I kept wondering if the seams would hold. The tent held up though, and stayed perfectly dry inside!

It's nice and roomy inside! Plenty of room for 2 people and gear. There's really room for three.

 The doors open to the top or bottom.  

The awnings can be rolled up or down, depending on weather

Here's a closeup of the attachment system for the awnings

I'll be doing some making of posts soon, with pictures to show the process.

Freitag, 17. Juni 2011

News and such

It's been a while since my last posting, too long really. I've got some new things in the works. I'm working on a new tent at the moment. It's a 2 person double walled tunnel design, which hopefully will come in at well under the 2 kilo mark. The estimates I've made have it at somewhere around 1700 grams, but I'll have to wait (weight) and see. I already have the design and pattern done and the pieces cut. I'll be posting the various stages of design and construction here as it unfolds.

I'll also be putting together a guide to all things related to energy in the backcountry. In the last few years, I've been on a quest for the perfect charging capabilities, and I've sorted through a lot of various solar devices and chargers. Hopefully what I've learned along the way can save some of you the trouble of reinventing the wheel. More on all this in the next few days. Until then, take it lightly!

Donnerstag, 3. März 2011

New Pot Lid

I was weighing parts of my cooking kit one day, and realized that the lid of my MSR kettle was pretty heavy in comparison to the pot, wieghing 36 grams (1.27 oz). I decided to make a new lid out of some thick aluminum foil, and the result is a total savings of 29 grams (1 oz)! My new pot lid weighs 7 grams (0.25 oz). I used a piece of nylon cord for the handle. Here's a picture of old and new for comparison:

Here's a picture of the MSR Kettle with it's new lid, weighing a total of 97 grams (3.42 oz).

Dienstag, 1. März 2011

Enlightened Pocket Rocket

I decided one day to try and shave a little bit of weight off of my trusty old MSR Pocket rocket. Unaltered, it's a pretty light stove, and weighs 87 grams (3.07 oz). I thought it shouldn't be too hard to take a little bit of weight off of it, and the result is a 71 gram stove (2.5 oz), with a total weight savings of 16 grams (0.57 oz). The modifications I did are:

-took off the nearly useless mini windscreen
-ground down the inner part of the potstand legs
-ground down the aluminum stove base (reducing by far the most weight)

Lightweight windscreen system

Windscreens are always a little bit of a problem, especially if you're trying to make them lightweight. I've designed this windscreen system to use with my Pocket Rocket. It has an adjustable ring, and can accomodate a small or large diameter pot. The base mounts directly onto the stove. It holds itself in place with its own weight, and creates a microclimate of heat around the bottom of the pot, vastly increasing the efficiency of the stove. With this system I can boil 2 cups of water with around 6 grams of fuel. I chose to use titanium foil because of it's durability and strength to weight ratio. It's also easy to cut with sturdy scissors or a utility knife.

Material: .005" Titanium Foil (base) .002" Titanium Foil (ring)

Weight: 17 grams (0.6 oz)

Here's the base mounted on the stove:

base and ring:

with the MSR Kettle:

Sonntag, 27. Februar 2011

Cuben Wallet

I've had the urge to make a cuben wallet ever since I saw pictures of one on Backpacking Light. One of my main problems wit a wallet is carrying my passport. Being an American living in Germany, I'm required to carry it. I designed this to hold my passport, 6 cards, and money. It's a bifold design with 2 card pouches. I reinforced all of the edges with an extra layer of cuben. It only added about 1 gram, and made it a lot stronger, so it was well worth it. The Velcro closure make sit sit better in my pocket without sliding around and deforming.

Materials: Cuben Fiber CT0.6K.08, Cuben Tape 3M 9485PC, velcro 1cm width

Total Weight: 4.9 grams (0.17 oz)

Pot Lifter

For this project I basically copied the MSR Lite Lifter design from a picture, and freehanded it onto the aluminum sheet. It's made out of 1.5 mm aluminum. The padding on the handle is 1 mm thick sticky-backed neoprene. Total weight 23 grams. That's a whopping 20 grams lighter than my Trangia handle, so I almost cut the weight in half! It's not quite as bomb-proof as the Trangia, but it does just fine lifting my Trangia 1.5 liter pot full of water. Here's a few pics:

Samstag, 26. Februar 2011

Cuben Fiber rain pants

I think rain pants are the least-used item in my pack. I still remember my first rain pants; a pair of rubber overalls that probably weighed in at a few pounds. I've had many pairs of rain pants since then. The last pair I purchased was a pair of o2 rainpants, weighing in at 126 grams (4.4 oz). That's pretty damn light, but I still don't feel good about carrying around an extra 1/4 pound of rain pants that I've only ever worn twice. So I recently ordered some cuben fiber and got to work.

The cuben fiber I'm working with is CT0.6K.08 and weighs 15g/sq. meter (0.5 oz). I initially bought it with the purpose of making stuff sacks, and had the idea for rain pants along the way. I dissected a pair of old EMS goretex rain pants that had long seen their glory days. I then laid the parts out on thick plastic and made a mock pair to try on. They fit well, so I was able to use the mock-up parts as a pattern.

I'm using cuben tape for all the seams, and some leftover elastic cord from my tent poles for the waist. The finished rain paints weigh in at a whopping 35.5 grams (1.25 oz)! I think I've achieved absolute minimum wieght on these. Here are some pictures:

Here's a close-up of the taped seams:

and they pack up small too...

Freitag, 25. Februar 2011

Adventures in Cuben

I've finally taken the plunge and ordered some cuben fiber. I've been curious about it for a while, and decided to get some for making stuff sacks out of. Well, here's my first stuff sack. It's for my tent, and weighs 8.9 grams (0.31 oz). The cuben fiber I'm working with is CT0.6K.08 and weighs 15g/sq. meter (0.5 oz). It's put together with cuben tape. There will be more cuben fiber projects for me in the future!

Montag, 21. Februar 2011

a really warm lightweight fleece jacket!

I've been searching for the perfect fleece jacket for a number of years. Most of the ones I've seen are just too plain heavy and have so many unnecessary features that really detract from the basic function I want. That's why I designed my own. It has a full length zipper, no pockets, and an extra tall collar that zips not quite to the top, leaving a little breathing spot for the nose. I left the bottom of the jacket pretty long, and it comes down about 2cm below the zipper. This gives me a good overlap between my layers.

The material I chose to use is 6 oz microfleece from Malden Mills. It's incredibly warm for it's weight, which comes in at 145 grams/sq. meter. The total weight of the jacket is 206 grams (7.26 oz)

I made a minimalist Primaloft Vest

I like wearing vests, but when made out of fleece they can aren't as light as they could be. I had the idea to make a minimalist vest out of something lighter, and decided on 2.5 oz primaloft sport synthetic insulation (60g/sq. meter) quilted to 1.3 oz quantum ripstop nylon (32g/sq. meter). I took a vest that has been one of my favorites for years (an old softshell fleece from Ragged Mountain) and based my design off of it. One feature I really like is that it is longer in the back, covering the typical gap that lets in cold air between the pants and shirt. It has a number of "Features", such as:

-no Pockets
-no collar (I hate having 3 or 4 collars all stacked on top of each other, competing for neck space!)
-ultra-light elastic edging, to keep it snug around my body and not let wind in

I'm very satisfied with the result. The final vest is really warm, and weighs a total of 87 grams (3.06 oz). A great addition to my lightweight kit for cold weather.

Here are a few pictures of the finished vest:

a view of the creative quilting on the back:

and one more of the front:

Self-made Tunnel Tent

This is a tunnel tent I made. The material is 1.1 oz silnylon for the shell, and 2.2 oz PU coated nylon for the floor. It’s a single walled design with a bathtub floor.

Dimensions in metric: the interior is194 cm wide, 330 cm long, 130 cm high, with 60 cm vestibule at the door. Total weight, 2182 grams.

Dimensions imperial: the interior is 6 feet 4.5 inches wide, 10 feet 10 inches long, 4 feet 3 inches high, with a 2 foot vestibule at the door. Total weight 4 pounds 8.9 oz

some pics:

The door can be opened to the top or the bottom.

Here's a view to the back:

This is a single-walled tent with a bathtub floor and netting attaching it to the shell. The shell is made of silnylon, the floor of PU coated nylon. The poles are lightweight aluminum.

Here are some pics of the tieouts:

 and one of the whole thing rolled up:

Sonntag, 30. Januar 2011

My path to lightweight backpacking

I started my backpacking days when I was 17. I was part of a volunteer program doing work in national parks, and the last week of the program was a 5 day backpacking trip in the White Mountains. Our group leader helped us with organizing our gear, and making sure we were carrying the right amount of weight based on our abilities. I was young and strong, and didn't mind carrying the 65 pounds sorted into my pack. I can't imagine shouldering that pack these days.

I started thinking about the items in my pack after that trip, and realized I could probably do without a few things. I was able to reduce it somewhat on my next trip, down to about 60 pounds. I still wasn't actually weighing any items, just trying to bring only necessary things. Some items were a necessary evil. It's amazing how heavy and useless a few sweat-soaked cotton t-shirts are.

My first venture into the lightweight world happened when I bought an MSR pocket rocket and titanium cooking pot. It was a good deal at EMS. Buy the stove, get the pot half off. Both items were the letest in technology at the time, and were ridiculously light, weighing a total wieght of 210 grams. This opened my eyes to the idea of weighing items in my pack, and finding, buying or making items that were lighter. I was able to slowly upgrade my setup, and a few years later I was only carrying around 40 pounds. My methods and system had become more streamlined, and I had discovered wonderful new advances in gear such as lightweight synthetic clothing and goretex rain gear.

making my own gear and rethinking the necessity of all items in my kit has pushed my baseweight down even further over time, largely due to endless amounts of information i've gained on the forum I'm down to 18 pounds baseweight for multiday trips.

This blog is dedicated to showing my homemade gear and the trips I take with it. Enjoy.