Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Box Elder Savage - It's Fun Making Money Just For Killing a Tree

Tuck Pence is one hell of a guy. Replace "jack pine" with "box elder", "12 Pack" with "30 Pack", "PBR haze" with "Hamm's haze", and "56 Jeep" with "98 Ranger".

Monday, February 21, 2011

Two the cat, son of Barn Cat

     Here are a few shots of Two the cat enjoying the sunshine on Saturday.  I was outside reinstalling a door that had blown off the barn in one of this winter's storms.  He likes to jump up on the roof of barn addition.  He just hangs out up there and keeps an eye on things. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Motorbicycles, gas bikes, and biking in Wisconsin

Motorbicycles... gas bikes... whatever you want to call them, chances are you will be seeing more of them on the road in the future.  With the state of the economy and the cost of fuel rising, it just makes sense to use a vehicle that gets 80-100 MPG.

That being said, I was never able to achieve the 80-100 MPG people claim they get on these bikes.  Maybe that's because I spent most of my time running at full speed.  I'd get somewhere around 70 MPG. 

Since these pictures were taken, I've moved on to building a "pusher" bicycle trailer with a drive wheel powered by a 4-stroke Briggs 3.5 HP.  More on that in a later post...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Poor person's homemade Tyvek & Kevlar backpack

In my REI review of my Black Diamond Trail Back trekking poles, I included a photo of my backpack with the poles strapped to it.  REI shoppers may not grasp exactly what they are looking at, since it doesn't have a $350 price tag attached to it.  

This is my backpack, made entirely from stuff I had lying around the house.  Continue reading below to learn what I made it out of.

Poor person's backpack, with Black Diamond trekking poles
Poor person's backpack, showing back support webbing and frame
The white material is leftover Tyvek.  I purchased it to make groundcloths for my tents.  It's cheap... So much cheaper to cut your own groundcloth than to buy the fancy ones they sell specifically for your tent. 

The frame of the pack is made from 1" thick rigid cellulose foam insulation covered with Kevlar cloth treated with epoxy resin.  The Kevlar and epoxy were leftover from a small boat I built a few years ago.  The foam is scrap left over from what I bought to insulate my windows.  It's impossible to see in these pictures, but the frame is contoured to match an aluminum external frame like what is found on a Kelty Tioga.

The strapping is from a busted ratchet strap.  The padding attached to the straps for the shoulders was made from foam I grabbed out of the garbage at work and covered with nylon from a torn and useless sleeping bag.  Anything to save the planet.

Now that I think about it, I DID buy something to put this together... I bought a small bottle of Gorilla Glue.  Not much will stick to polyethylene, and Tyvek is non-woven polyethylene fibers.  From what I read, polyurethane adhesive like Gorilla Glue is the best thing you can use to glue Tyvek together.  It is much stronger than sewing to Tyvek.

The pack, when completed, weighed 1 kg (2.2 lbs).  I was a little disappointed because I wanted it to weigh only 2 lbs.  Either way, it weighs about 3 lbs less and is more comfortable than my Kelty Tioga.  However, I have carried 105 lbs in my Kelty Tioga.  I wouldn't use my homemade pack with more than 40 lbs in it.  

My Review of Black Diamond Trail Back Trekking Poles - Pair

Originally submitted at REI

The Black Diamond Trail Back trekking poles feature ultralight shafts and double FlickLock adjustability for ease of use.

No problems

By Too-Poor-4-REI from Delavan, WI on 2/13/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Strong, Lightweight

Best Uses: Backpacking, Hiking

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

Four years ago I thought trekking poles were a silly idea. A lot can change in four years. I started to find that descents were causing me some pretty significant discomfort. I, like other hikers, find the ascents to be much more pleasant than descents. Trekking poles make all the difference!

I've had these poles for about 2 1/2 years now, and I love them. Before these poles I had a cheaper twist-lock type of pole with an anti-shock mechanism. The cheap poles only lasted for one trip. I didn't like the twist-lock and I didn't like the anti-shock mechanism.

The flick-locks on these poles have never slipped on me. They have saved me more than once from taking a spill. I'm no lightweight at 6'2 and about 230. I've had one of these poles support my whole weight in an "OH MY WORD!" situation and it didn't even shrug.

I tried to use a cleaned up form of the s-word up there in place of "MY WORD", but the REI anti-profanity stormtroopers didn't care for it.

I've found that I like having poles when crossing creeks on slippery logs. I think I have a case of "slippery-log performance anxiety" because I'm pretty good at staying on my feet and maintaining balance until I need to cross some water.

I bought the "Trail Back" poles over the "Trail" poles because the Trail Backs have replaceable carbide tips.

Trail Back poles, and poor person's homemade pack


Tags: Using Product, Picture of Product


Saturday, February 12, 2011

My Review of MSR Fuel Bottle with CRP Cap - 20 fl. oz.

Originally submitted at REI

With a 20 fl. oz. fill capacity, this aluminum bottle stores and transports your fuel and is compatible with all MSR liquid-fuel stoves.

Great bottle

By Too-Poor-4-REI from Delavan, WI on 2/12/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Functional

Cons: Heavy

Best Uses: Motorbicycling, River

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

What Is Your Gear Style: Minimalist

Was this a gift?: No

I have the old non-child resistant version of this bottle. It works wonderfully for me because I don't like children very much.

They aren't kidding when they say not to use this with alcohol. When I bought this I meant to use it for "white gas". Later I made a pop-can alcohol stove and began storing alcohol in the bottle. The cap did not hold up to alcohol very well. It's still functional but I would not recommend using it for alcohol!

This bottle is a bit heavy to use for backpacking, in my opinion. I now carry my alcohol fuel in a PET bottle (plastic pop bottle).

Now I use this bottle to carry 20 ounces of gasoline when I'm riding my motorized bicycle. It acts as a "reserve tank". It works great. This thing it TOUGH! I have no worries about it leaking or breaking when I crash my bike.


My Review of MSR MiniWorks EX Filter

Originally submitted at REI

This compact filter features new EX technology, which utilizes back pressure to improve the water flow rate.

Pretty much bulletproof

By Too-Poor-4-REI from Delavan, WI on 2/12/2011


4out of 5

Pros: Easy to clean, Low maintenance, Good filtration

Cons: Bulky

Best Uses: Backpacking

Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational

Was this a gift?: No

I have had this filter for 5 or 6 years. Prior to that I'd boil water or use iodine or bleach purify water.

Filtering is the best option. Keep in mind, though, that if you are concerned about viruses you'll need to use something in addition to this filter to make your water safe.

I bought the field service kit for this filter, but I've had no reason to use it yet. The only maintenance I've had to do is cleaning (of course) and using a little petroleum jelly to lube the piston.

One thing I've noticed is that if you get too crazy and pump too fast, you are just going to work extra hard and not get any more out. Take your time... what's your rush anyway? You are out in the wilderness enjoying yourself. Settle down! If you want to get all wound up about stupid little things go back to Chicago... FIB!

Compared to some other options, this filter is pretty big and heavy. I've considered trying smaller, lighter filters but this one works so well that I can't bring myself to buy anything else. Also, I'm cheap.

Here's a tip... when you are done pumping and are ready to get back to hiking, pump the filter full of air. That will cut down on the weight.

I think the base cap should be attached to the filter via a lanyard of some sort. The same goes for the MSR Hydromedary bag that I use. I guess MSR hasn't considered what could happen if you accidentally drop the cap in a stream. I guess with the Miniworks it wouldn't be the end of the world. With the Hydromedary, you really need to be very careful with that cap.


My Review of GSI H2jO! Coffee Filter

Originally submitted at REI

Create great tasting, no-hassle coffee on your next camping trip with this GSI filter.

Great idea; works as advertised

By Too-Poor-4-REI from Delavan, WI on 2/12/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Functional, Affordable

Best Uses: Brewing, Home, Coffee

Describe Yourself: Casual Drinker

I had what I thought was a million dollar idea. Then I did some Googling and found it already existed... and this is it.

I don't drink coffee every day. However, when I do make it at home this is what I now use. For me it is much easier to just boil some water on the stove to make coffee when I want it rather than use the coffee maker.

When I'm backpacking, I do drink coffee every day and this thing works wonderfully. Once you get used to it, you can make a nice strong full-bodied coffee that tastes great.

What works best for me is this:
1. Pour boiling water into the bottle.
2. Screw on the filter with coffee in it. Make sure it is screwed on tight.
3. Screw on the Nalgene bottle cap (tight).
4. Invert the bottle for a while.
5. Pick up the bottle and tighten the caps again.
6. Shake the s-it out of the bottle.
7. Shake it to the left.
8. Shake it to right.
9. Do the hippy shake-shake, with all of your might.
10. Stand the bottle upright.
11. Give it one last little shake to try to wash the grounds off the Nalgene cap.
12. Enjoy!

Don't try to pour the boiling water through the coffee and filter. That's a pain and makes a big mess.
You need to agitate the bottle or you'll end up with tan-colored water.
Use a course-ground coffee like Torke percolator-grind.
You might want some little glovey-things to wear while you're shaking the bottle. It gets pretty hot. I have homemade fleecey mittens that I carry for sleeping because my pinkies get chilly at night. They work great for steps 6 through 9.