Damn its cold.

This weekend was supposed to be another section of the AT from the Pearisburg Virginia area. 28 miles into town from the south.

As you may have heard, there was a hell of a winter storm here in the southeast this week. Temperatures forecast last week were in the twenties. They got worse and worse, and road conditions got bad enough that getting there safely could have been an issue. Yesterday I looked at the forecast.

Wind chill of -16 and wind gusts of 32mph is a little much for me. I don’t mind temperatures into the teens as long as it gets above freezing the next day. But Three days in the woods at 20 and below sounded like it would suck.

So I’m sitting at home on the radio with a fire going thinking about our next adeventure. The “Donner Party hike” will go through the same area, but hopefully not as cold as the ACTUAL Donner Party had it. There’s a nice cold hike, and then there are some dangerous conditions that any weekend hiker should probably avoid.

I’m still waiting on my radio kit from India to arrive… so I can start working on a backpack radio to take to the woods. It has a nice little following online already, so if there are problems getting it working, there seem to be lots of people that will help.

Advertisements

UGQ Tarp Review

I finally was able to take my new UGQ Tarp outside for a test run. I was packing some stuff for a future trip and realized I hadn’t put the new tarp up yet.

The UGQ Winter Dream I bought is 12 feet across the ridgeline, with some doors on the end. I think I got “Moroccan Blue”, but I really should have got the Royal Purple like I originally wanted. My old tarp was 11 feet long, and I had put a Grizz Beak on either end. The main problem with the Grizz Beaks were they require a bit of extra work hanging and tying off, after the main tarp is hung. They also can billow out a little where they overlap on the end of the tarps, so wind can be an issue sometimes. They also add a little weight over integrated doors.

My first hang didn’t go very well. I strung the tarp up, and the integrated ridge line got tangled up with everything else. I really started to piss me off. So I gave up, and drug the mass back into the house. I strung the tarp up in the bedroom and cut off the offending lines, and retied a few things. First of all, my tieouts were WAY too long. I shortened all of them, re-tied my ridge line, and added Dutchware Tarp flies on the tie-out lines to make everything a bit easier. Before bagging the whole thing, I wrapped the tie outs up so it would be harder to get them tangled. Then I jammed everything in the orange sack and went back out.

Once back in the woods, I had a MUCH better time of everything. The Dutchware Tarp Flies were a big help in putting the tarp up, and the new ridgeline helped get everything nice and tight. There were no tangled parts this time. I was really pleased with the size of the tarp, and the the way the door snaps worked. I am looking forward to tying the doors out instead of to each other, in order to have more space under the tarp. I should be able to have plenty of space to put my pack under the tarp and move around a bit.

I made a video where I hung the thing and took it down so if you are interested in this tarp and have 9 minutes to waste, feel free to take a look.

UGQ Tarp from Markus Amoungus on Vimeo.

Summit On The Air

On my last trip along the AT, I took my little amateur radio walkie-talkie, but I was relatively disappointed. It seems that 2 meters (145mhz or so) is mostly dead. I heard a couple of people talking but I called and I couldn’t reach anyone. I bought a slightly longer antenna that’s supposed to help, but without something extremely directional, VHF is still sort of limited.

I really prefer High Frequency stuff, which is what I got into Ham Radio for to begin with. I would love to do some HF stuff. My favorite bands are 80, 40, and 20 meters, which are around 3.8mhz, 7.3mhz, and 14.25mhz. In general, however, HF stuff that you can hike with are very small radios that only do morse code, or larger, heavier, expensive radios in the realm of about $700, but that can run upwards of $1800.

Ouch.

So I was very happy when I stumbled upon something that fits a lot of different categories.

The uBitX (Micro BitX) radio transceiver is made in India and seems almost too good to be true. It’s:

  1. Cheap. Under $125 tested and shipped from INDIA.
  2. HF. It covers 3mhz to 30mhz, which covers the bands I like, plus some upper bands I don’t usually use, and even into CB.
  3. It involves some DIY stuff. Basically you get two completed and tested circuit boards. and some switches, and have to supply your own box.
  4. It runs from 8AA batteries.
  5. The computer part of the radio is very similar to a raspberry pi, which I’m used to working with anyway. The radio can be modified if you really want to, and if you screw up the OS, you can reload it.

The web site is: http://www.hfsignals.com/index.php/ubitx/

Since the uBITx puts out only 10 watts at the max, it is easy to carry a very small antenna such as this one, the “Trail Friendly”, an antenna designed for trail use.

https://www.lnrprecision.com/store/EFT-10-20-40-Trail-Friendly-p39885475

The radio and antenna combination looks very promising as a hiking setup for CHEAP. Even cheaper than a walkie-talkie. I have seen a few built online, and the reviews are generally positive. The nice thing about HF is it goes MUCH farther. Under the right conditions it hits as far as Europe, but conditions are quite variable and a lot of the time you can hear people several states away but not many people locally. I speak with a group nightly on 80 Meters, where I can hear people from West Virginia and Kentucky, yet people in my own state I can’t hear.

There is something called “Summit on the Air”, where people try and work other places from mountaintops. There’s something similar called Parks on the Air, where people work contacts from State and National Parks.

If the uBITx works out like it sounds, I would love to build one for myself. Its interesting when so much radio stuff comes out of China and Japan, and then something very promising comes out of India that sells out in the first day of being available. 

Appalachian Trail to Pearisburg

This weekend myslef and 5 meetup group friends went to Pearisburg, Va to do a 26 mile hike. It involved two nights at shelters and 4500 feet of ups, and 6000 feet of downs, so we really got a workout.

We started early for us, leaving Columbia at 5am. We arrived at Angel’s Rest Hiker Hostel about 4 hours later and were shuttled to road 613, 26 trail miles north of Pearisburg. Along the way we passed the Mountain Lake Resort, where they filmed Dirty Dancing (Kellermans). The lake is gone, but the buildings are still there.

Handy dropped us at the road crossing of the AT, and sent us on our way. I had taken my newest toy, my Ham radio walkie, but pretty much every other luxury I left at home. On day 2 we were expecting very little water all day, and would be carrying a lot of extra water weight on our backs. I left behind the camera, the GPS, my string of battery powered LED lights, and even the liquor. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.

A few miles in (and downhill!) we reached Bailey Gap Shelter, where we stopped for lunch. It was a nice shelter with water flowing. We started spreading out after Bailey Gap, as we tend to do. By 4pm we all arrived at Pine Swamp Branch Shelter, our home for the evening. Officially, the shelter is closed because of all the dead trees around it, but they have been cutting the dead trees down. They were laying all over the place, but it didn’t leave much space for tents and hammocks.

Paul and I looked at the map and decided to just go up the hill a ways, in order to get some of the morning’s 1800 foot ascent out of the way, and to find a better campsite. Often there are unpublished campsites along the trail  large enough for a couple of people. I filled my 3 liter camelback and got another 2.5 liters in my Platypus bag, and we started up. The extra weight was immediately obvious on my back and legs. We walked up the hill for an hour, almost to the top. Finally we reached a section that had less slope than the rest and opened up onto a wide hill area with plenty of trees. My thighs had done about all they could and were quivering with every step. I stopped and asked Paul how much farther he wanted to go. He looked around and told me we were fine right there.

We dropped our packs and set up camp, and wound up cooking our food right in the middle of the trail, because it was the only flat spot not covered in leaves that might catch fire. Up on the ridge we had a nice view of the sunset, and we had cell phone service. I couldn’t reach anyone on the radio, although I could hear broken conversations from a repeater many miles away. I was feeling a little sick from the hard uphill right at the end of the day, ate a little of my Pepper beef and rice and wound up burying the rest.

It was getting cold quickly once the sun went down, so Paul and I retreated to the tents. I had set up with one end of the hammock and tarp facing downhill and toward the valley to the west. My Grizz Beak was closed behind me, and the wind changed to blow from my foot end and kept billowing the tarp and rustling the Grizz Beak. With a full day of hiking and 2 hours of sleep the night before, I was soon out. I woke up once to pee at 330, and the next time it was 7am. By the time I was mostly packed and heating my coffee water, Paul was packed and ready to go. I waved him goodbye and drank my coffee.

Several minutes later I was ready, and walked out. It was nice being alone for a bit, knowing that Paul was ahead and the rest of the group was behind in case something happened to me. It was one of those moments when I truly felt alone. I walked until about 930, stopped for a quick snack, and the kept going. Around noon Mike caught up with me and we spent most of the day walking along together. The trail was a strange mix of lots of rocks then smooth leaves and dirt and then tons of rocks.

True to the map and what we expected, there was no water most of the day. Mike and I finally came upon a small campsite and found the trickle of water we expected. Mike had a pump and was able to quickly get several liters out of the ground, enough for both of us for the remainder of the trip. We waited around about 40 minutes and the rest of the group caught up.

While they went for water, Mike and I packed up and headed out. It wasn’t far from there to Rice Field Shelter, which tops my list of most awesome shelter views so far. The shelter itself was set back into the trees, at the edge of a field overlooking Peterstown, West Virginia. The sun went down over the hill to our west as the moon came up to the east. For a minute they were both in the sky, a beautiful full moon and the orange setting sun. The town lit up beneath us, twinkling lights in the darkness. It felt a lot like being in space, standing over the town on the ridge.

The night was a lot warmer than the previous one, and Thomas started a fire for us. Apparently Paul and I missed a good fire the previous night in the  shelter, and we were glad to have the official fire-starter of the group back with us. Although I had cell service again (we could almost see the tower over the hill), and I was looking forward to watching something on DirectTV   Now, I lay down in the hammock about 8pm and was out before I knew it. I woke up about 2 am and then had a fitful sleep the rest of the night.

The last morning, Paul, Mike and I left first, to a gorgeous view of the fog down in the valley. It was almost all downhill from there, with the exception of a tough fast 300 foot climb near the end. Thanks to the cell phones, I was able to call the second group and hatch a plan: We would call the shuttle driver early, who would pick us up at Narrows Road. Then we would go back to the hostel, Mike would return with the truck and grab the other 3 hikers and we could go eat. It worked out really well, and thanks to the Hostel owner and some free time while we waited, I got a shower and a shave.

Of course we had to try some local cuisine, in the form of La Barranca Mexican Restaurant, where Mike confirmed that the #5 special pretty much is the same everywhere: Two Enchiladas, Rice and Beans.

Overall I was only disappointed with the Ham Radio. Apparently 2 meters (146mhz) is nothing like HF. Its almost like a totally different radio service. I made some general calls to anyone listening, but never got anyone. It would have been GREAT if some of the other hikers had a license – we could have talked to each other once we spread out. I was pleased though that the battery lasted the whole trip, despite being cold overnight.

 

 

The: It’s (Censored) hot Summer Hike.

I finally plugged a hole in my AT Journeys this weekend. It was long, arduous, and somewhat painful, but I did it.

My original goal was Sam’s Gap (off I-26 at the TN/NC border) to Spivey Gap, which was only 13.5 miles. But that left 11 miles from Spivey Gap to Erwin, TN. So either I would have to come back for a long day hike or two short days to finish the other half. Then there was the shuttle – paying for two shuttles and using two weekends. The Hobbit said we could probably do the whole thing in two long days.

I usually shun summer hikes for a good reason: I hate bugs and heat. But – I figured the bugs could be dealt with permethrin and when I looked up the shelter weather it was supposed to be high in the 70s and overcast with possible thunderstorms.

I set off at 4am to go hiking, met with 2 others and we all headed to Uncle Johnny’s Hostel in Erwin, TN. The shuttle drivers are nice people, but the staff at the place rubs me the wrong way. After this trip, I was glad to put Uncle Johnny’s behind me.

The shuttle driver arrived and took us over to Sam’s Gap. It was the work of a few minutes to get suited up and ready to go. We had a heck of a thing ahead of us.

Our hike was to be 24.5 miles, total Ascents of 5374 feet, and total Descents of 7373 feet.

Right out of Sam’s Gap there are a series of upward climbs that really make you reconsider your pack weight and whether you brought too much stuff. From 3700 feet all the way to 5500 feet, there are several up and down stairsteps. But finally you reach Big Bald, which has some great views and wild blueberries.

Big Bald – Lunchtime

By the time we reached Big Bald, my hiking friends were out in front of me. About the time I reached the post in the picture above, I was starving and out of gas. I plopped my pack down against the pole, leaned back and ate lunch. I was exhausted and hot, and couldn’t eat much. A woman and a much younger man came through, I assume mother and son. She asked me “Where does this trail go?”, pointing north. Confused, I replied, “Maine.”

I know it sounded like I was being a smartass, but it was true. I didn’t know what she meant. Who puts on a day pack and just wanders onto a trail? She then asked, “No, I mean, where does it go short term? Like, what’s that way?” So I pulled out my map and said there was another bald and then some woods, and eventually Erwin, TN. They walked off to the North. I finished what “lunch” I could eat – half a Bagel with some Nutella on it, and a few pieces of Jerky, along with a propel drink powder in water.

The rest of the afternoon I was on my own. It was some steep downs punctuated by steep ups, with more downs than ups. I have said it before – but down isn’t always better. Give me a gentle uphill slope over a steep downhill slope. Steep downs are hell on the knees and leave your thighs shaking and burning.

Striking out barefoot, the Hobbit moves on.

The last steep up of the day was High Rocks. It was a steep 250 foot route to a little peak with a side trail and some clifftop views. I skipped it. No, I don’t hate myself, despite what the graffiti on the sign said. I was hot, tired, and at the peak I was sucking on my water tube when I hit air bubbles. Oh crap.

Over the course of the day I thought I consumed plenty of water. I started the day with 2.5 liters in my pack. At each water source we came to, I drank some water and added to my pack. But, after Big Bald there were no more water sources, except for one which was a mosquito-laden patch of stagnant water. So now I had nothing, and I remember the shuttle lady saying that there might not be anything at Spivey  Gap. I was hurting, out of water, with a mile to go.

After high rocks, I started down a steep place, and seeing the lush green vegetation in the valley, I started getting hopeful I would see a creek. I kept hearing what I thought was water but it was only the wind in the trees and the sloshing of my fuel bottle. The ATHiker App showed a water source ahead, and the first place was dry, a small place crossing the trail about 2 feet wide. The next spot farther down was dry as well, although I looked good in the stream bed for anything. The third spot was damp, but no running water. Finally I heard something for real, and found a place where a little trickling stream crossed the trail. It was about 5 feet wide but only 1/2″ deep across most of the trail, and it merged together on the downhill side. I sat on a wet rock on the uphill side of the trail, mouth dry and heart pounding.

It was all I could do not to put the first bowl directly into my mouth, but I knew I would have to wait just a few minutes. I use my dinner bowl, a squishy silicone bowl, to dip water out of a tiny pool about the size of a salad bowl, and poured it in my water bag. When I had about half a liter, I screwed the filter on and squeezed/sucked the water through. It tasted so good. I leaned back against my pack and let the water settle, because I felt nauseous. After a few minutes, I repeated the procedure. The water was flowing good enough that any sediment I stirred up was washed out of the way, so I had a nice clear pool to dip from. I did collect what looked like a shrimp, but I poured him out.

After I had two liters in my pack, filtered, and had filled myself up to as much as I could without puking, I walked on. I had to pee not long after, and what little there was, was orange. Definitely underhydrated. I started thinking I missed the campsite, as I was almost to the road crossing at Spivey Gap and hadn’t seen my friends. I started thinking about catching a ride to town. Screw this whole hiking thing. I was thirsty and nauseous, exhausted and smelled like roadkill. I could catch a ride, find a hotel, take a bath, order a pizza, maybe have a drink, and get a ride or even walk to Uncle Johnny’s tomorrow, and meet my friends there. Just when I had the plan in mind and could hear a car going by on the road ahead, I saw a familiar hat and bandanna on a tree next to the trail.

Damn. Hotel plans, ruined. No shower and pizza delivery for me.

I panted and huffed into camp, and waved at Praveen. I staggered around and found two good trees, and strung up the hammock. After laying in it for several minutes resting, I got up and finished setting up the tarp in porch mode, my underquilt to one side, and stripped most of my clothes off. I carry a “sleeping shirt” so I don’t stink myself out of the hammock, but I still smelled like a yak. My face was greasy and I was covered in dirt and leaf litter from sitting on the ground. I thought about eating, but it turned my stomach. I knew I would throw up if I ate, so I kept drinking water. I figured I would lay down and rest, and maybe eat later. It was 8:30 after all. It would cool off soon. The last thing I heard was the Hobbit saying, “I’m getting worried about Taco, I wonder where he is?” and Praveen saying, “He showed up, his hammock is over there.”

I woke up at midnight. Great, its pitch dark, I have to pee, and I haven’t even hung my bear bag. Getting out and hanging the bag was easy, and I was relieved I had to pee. It meant I wasn’t still bad off, although my mouth seemed always dry. I fell back asleep, intending on getting up at 6.

At 5:00 I woke up with a slight chill on my butt, reached under me and pulled the underquilt into place. I was almost instantly warm. The summer underquilt was a good choice for this trip, as was my fleece bag liner. I didn’t even bring a sleeping bag, just the liner and an emergency Costco down throw, in case it did get abnormally cold. The down throw wasn’t needed. I turned my alarm on for 7 and went back to sleep.

Day 2:

Sunday we woke up with 11 miles to go before getting a shower and food. As I was putting away stuff, we started hearing rumbles of thunder in the distance. I had just put my cappucino on when it started raining, of course AFTER i put my rainfly away. I threw the rainfly back up, and then my hiking partners were spontaneously ready to leave. I tossed most of my cappucino into the woods, chewed and swallowed half my bagel and jammed everything into the pack. 

At that point, it began raining in earnest. It was okay, because we had an 800 foot climb in front of us, and the rain helped cool everything off. It rained for a good hour, soaking everything. A few miles on, it slowed and then finally stopped. Thankfully for the most part it stayed overcast, so the humidity wasn’t bad. Our last hill of the day was a 400 foot drop into Temple Hill Gap, then 400 feet right back up As we reached the bottom of the steep descent, Praveen and I stopped to check the map and have a snack. Hobbit had wandered off ahead, and we wouldn’t see him until the end of the day.

Praveen headed up while I finished my snacks, and then I started out. About 100 yards up the hill It started thundering and got windy again. within half a mile the rain started coming down HARD and blowing sideways. I didn’t care, it was washing the grime and grease off of me, and keeping me cool. There were a few more ups and downs, with a final push to the top, 100 feet up a steep grade. The rain stopped right around there, before I started down the other side.

Surprisingly, I caught up with Praveen on the down slope. He hates downs as much as I hate ups, and is even more cautious than I am. We had 1800 feet to go down before hitting the road. About 1/3 of the way down everything seemed to dry out, like the rain didn’t even hit that side of the mountain. A view opened up on the side, with a gorgeous post-rain view of Erwin.

Looking towards the Nolichucky.

I had to stop and get the phone out for a picture. Unfortunately this trip I didn’t get many pictures. at the last minute I ditched absolutely everything I didn’t think I would need. This included my waterproof camera and GPS. I saved over a pound, but when the rains came I had no camera, and the phone is sort of inconvenient anyway. So, there were nowhere near enough pictures for a video.

Once back at the Hostel, I paid for the second best $5 shower  I’ve ever had. My legs were shaking so much I could barely stand up, after pounding down 1800 feet. I didn’t dare sit in the shower, and wind up with athlete’s ass, so I struggled through it and put on clothes that were fresh and dry. The staff at Johnny’s redeemed themselves, being friendly to grimy hikers buying showers.

I was still feeling sick when we reached Los Jalapenos, but I tried to eat the fajitas I ordered. I ate about half the meat, some of the chips and a little rice, and drank both sweet teas I asked for. I was really hoping for a pitcher and a straw.

What I learned on this hike:

Summer hiking is still not my favorite. Did I have a good time overall? Yes. I saw some nice stuff and had a good time with friends, but it was a bipolar trip. Either I was really enjoying it, or it sucked ass. There wasn’t much in between. On the good side, I slept in the hammock almost as well as the time I ended the night with a half percocet and a shot of rum. Exhaustion is great for sleep.

Lighter, lighter, lighter. I was 27 pounds out the door this time. Praveen was 19. I don’t know what 8 pounds I was carrying more than him, but I need to lighten my stuff. I could have gone stoveless. After all, I only heated up cappucino in the morning. I was too sick to eat anything else. I could have left my fleece shirt at home, it wasn’t cold enough and I had my down thing. I didn’t use my Grizz Beak because it wasn’t raining at night. So, I probably could have saved a pound or so.

Oh- I did pour out my stove fuel in the morning. It evaporates really fast, so I wasn’t concerned about it. I also poured out the 2 ounces of coconut rum I brought, since I didn’t drink it the night before, and every little bit helps when you’re trudging up a mountain dehydrated with no breakfast to speak of.

But that was my trip. 23.5 miles in two days was tough, but I’m glad I closed up that hole in my trail trips. Onward to Georgia and Virginia.

 

Don’t forget – I’m on amazon now.

My Book

or Kindle

Mr. Data, make it Sew!

Way back when I was in college and most of the monitors were either amber or green text on a plain background (we’re talking windows 3.0 was new and the world wide web wasn’t invented yet), there were Bulletin Board Systems you could sign onto if you had the right phone number for your 4800baud modem. This was one of the first pictures I ever downloaded, and it took probably 30 minutes to get it.

Okay, that was a little off tangent, but true, and leads into what I really came to talk about. Seeing as how this is sort of my “off season” and I won’t be hiking much because:

  1. Heat
  2. Itching and stinging plants
  3. stinging and biting insects
  4. heat
  5. thru-hikers

I have decided to turn my attention to other pursuits that may involve hiking later on. We are going to the beach in a few weeks, and one of the problems with the beach is the sun. It is relentless and hot, and so we take a pop-up tent, of the kind usually reserved for tailgating and the like, and which Myrtle Beach banned because they’d rather you rent their umbrellas. That’s one reason why Florida is better than Myrtle Beach. Also thong bikinis are legal in Florida and not at Myrtle Beach… but that’s off topic again.

Anyhow, the problem with the tent is: The SUN MOVES. It is unfortunate, but whether you’re a round-earther or a flat-earther, the incontrovertible truth is, the Sun moves around quite a bit. Thus you’re all the time having to adjust where you’re sitting under the tent. SO – I decided to make a zip-on set of walls for the tent, which should cover two sides. I’m never out there long enough to need to cover three sides, and if you need to cover FOUR sides, well then you might as well stay inside, right?

As Captain Picard would say: There. Are. Four. Sides!

No Captain, there are only two.

So I’m zipping along sewing my zipper to the tent top and my piece of fabric and thinking, “Jeez it would sure be nice to be making something to hike with!” And I got to thinking about my ultimate project, something that would require all my skills with needle, thread, and construction, and started musing about making my own backpack.

My first backpack was way too large and heavy, see. I got into the whole hiking thing rather uninformed. When I started shopping around for a second one, I almost bought this one: 

The videos made it look really nice, with easy-to-use pockets and all that. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure if I could fit all my crap into it, and I went with the 65 Liter Deuter ACT Lite. It’s a great pack, and it’s taken me on great journeys and has a LOT of life left in it. BUT! It suffers from an issue that the Gregory above looks to have solved.

It appears to have side pockets that are actually useful. See, most backpacks have side pockets, but they’re pretty useless. By the time you fill the pack and put it on, getting a water bottle out and back in becomes a struggle, so you either don’t’ drink enough OR you resort to a bladder, and the side pockets are only used when you stop for some reason. So why have them at all, other than for additional space?

The pack above was only sold for a short while, and it must not have worked out well for Gregory, because it was discontinued. Strange, because I looked up why it was discontinued and saw nothing but positives about it.

So, in addition to side pockets that are actually useful, and plenty of space, what am I seeking from a backpack?

  1. A challenge. I’ve made hammock chairs, hammocks, even a complete hammock and bug net. I made a rain fly (which we will NOT discuss). I’ve yet to try to make clothes other than a rain kilt.
  2. A lighter pack. By making it myself I may be able to shave some weight here and there, by leaving off some things.
  3. A pack that fits my particular set of needs.

What are my particular needs?

  1. Pockets that work, damn it! My Deuter has hip belt pockets that are too small for most anything. Sure you can store a wadded map, a bottle of eye drops and a 2 inch knife in there, but that’s about all. Forget an iphone 6 or a point and shoot camera. As for water bottles, forget that, too. The mesh pockets are nice but they are too far back and too high to be useful for water bottles.
  2. A built in holster. Right now if I carry my gun it’s over my head in the top section. I have to reach way over my head and hope I can get the zipper open and the gun hasn’t shifted all the way to the back. How about a nice space between the padded back and the interior of the pack for a small automatic? pull the zipper down, reach in and there it is.
  3. Built in raincover holder. My first pack had that, a little double layer of fabric on the bottom with a slot for holding the raincover. Pull it out to use it and stuff it back when you’re done. It made life simple.
  4. Tie-Dye. Let’s face it, everything else I make is Tie-Dyed, why shouldn’t my pack be that way? I’m thinking red and black, but a purple and black mix might be nice too.
  5. Expansion and shrinkage areas that really work. On my deuter pack pulling in the side straps to change the shape of the pack don’t really seem to do anything. So whether you are carrying a full load or a light summer load, the pack seems to always be the same shape.
  6. Drain holes under the bladder area. Why has no one thought of this? My pack has a separate sleeve area inside for the water bladder. Its all good until the bladder breaks, then where is the water going? Yeah, into your pack. What about a water bag sleeve area made of water repellant fabric, with a series of narrow slots at the bottom of the pack. If the bladder breaks, sure your ass is wet, but you know it immediately and your sleeping bag stays dry.
  7. Loops, loops everywhere. Deuter had a great series of daisy chains on the ACT pack. They don’t have them on the ACT lite but they have a few paracord loops in strategic places. I’m thinking if they had a few more of those, the pack would be even more useful for holding stuff on the outside. Say, a rainfly that got soaked and you don’t want it inside the pack.

And that’s about all of that for now. Incidentally I priced a few backpack parts like fabric and tubing, and it seems you can buy a pack cheaper than you can buy parts. I guess that’s why all the companies shifted production to Asia: Buying in bulk saves lots of money, and 12 year olds sew pretty cheaply.

Short post…buy my book.

So If you have liked my page and followed me and enjoyed all my time making videos and doing hiker write-ups. Do me a favor: Go buy my book!

Me on AMAZON

This is the dead tree version. If you’d rather have the cheaper Kindle version, that’s great. It’s weird but I make more off the cheaper version, so either one is fine with me.

But you can write in this one and make notes and circle my grammar errors since I didn’t pay the $200 to have Amazon edit the thing for me. But – the book is available. Oh, and they are still building my page, so I had to search for it by ISBNumber.

Either way, enjoy reading about my adventures while I take the summer off. Bug, Heat, and the Sun sucks. See you on the trails in September.