Friday, January 18, 2013

Sawyer Squeeze Mods and Accessories

     If forum chatter is any indication the Sawyer Squeeze water filter took the market by storm. One thing I've noticed is that everyone wants to Squeeze differently. There are many modifications to the Squeeze. I am attempting to compile a complete and up to date list of modifications and accessories available to make this innovative filter even better.
     The main issue seems to be with Sawyer's water bag. The durability of the bag is lacking for such a vital piece of equipment. I've personally destroyed two of three bags that came with my filter. Both separated at the seam while squeezing. The other issue is with narrow opening of the bag. This small opening is hard to fill. Other smal gripes are that the filter also lacks a carbon element and pre-filter.
Dirty bag replacements or modifications:
Jet Flow Adapter
     Allows you to attach your Squeeze filter virtually to any container. (See list of compatible bottles) I've used it with the Nalgene Cantene successfully.
DIY Nalgene Cantene Adapter
     Allows you to replace the narrow mouth Sawyer bag with a wide mouth Nalgene bag. Similar to the larger Jet Flow adapter.
Evernew Water Bags*
     Said to be a more durable direct replacement for the factory bags.
DIY Gravity system
     Just by adding a standard water bottle cap (I like the Smart water cap) to the bottom of a dry bag you get effortless gravity feed filtration. Perfect for larger groups.
Dirty Bag Accessories:
Scoop Bag
     By cutting the top off of one of the smaller Squeeze bags you are able to use it as a scoop, making filling of the narrow mouth easier.
Tornado Funnel:
     Using the Tornado Tube (below) or a DIY version (also below), you add a built in funnel to your dirty bag.
Filter modifications and accessories:
Tornado Tube*
     Basic female to female adapter. Attaches to the out end of your filter allowing it to directly thread to a standard water or soda bottle. Add this to the Jet Flow adapter above and you can attach to Gatorade or Nalgene bottles, too!
DIY Tornado Tube
     Same as above, just a DIY version.
Frontier Pro Pre-Filter *
     Adds a pre-filter to the dirty water side of the squeeze. (May limit flow rate)
SmartWater Carbon Element*
     By using some activated charcoal from the aquarium supply store and some Smart Water bottle caps you can add a small carbon element to help remove unwanted tastes.
Sawyer Inline Adapter*
     Adds barbs to one or both ends of the Squeeze to attach a hose. Allows you to add the filter inline on a water bladder or add just the clean hose and water bag for an easier to use gravity system.
Modification or accessory FAILS!:
Platypus bottles
     Uses a slightly different thread. Will not form a complete seal with the filter, leaking dirty water down the side of the filter possibly contaminating the clean water. Older style bottles may work, but its a gamble.
* Denotes items not tried, but reported on various message boards

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sleeping Pad Rant

I split my camping between tent camping and hammock camping. That being said, I am in the market for a new sleeping pad. Over the years I have used a number of pads. The first pad I used was an surplus military closed cell foam pad, the pad was cheap and kept me warm but provided little to no comfort. I then picked up a surplus therm-a-rest inflatable pad for $12. The pad was slightly more comfortable and kept me warm enough for 3 season trips (I still use foam for winter). Then I moved on to the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core. I purchased this pad on a whim for a two week backpacking trip. I like the thickness of the pad. I can fully inflate the pad and let air out until the pad is at just the right level for my comfort. I like that it has some insulation. What I would change about the pad would be the width and the length. When I purchased the pad I was worried about weight, bulk, and comfort I chose to get the regular sized mummy pad. This pad was not wide enough and I found myself sliding off of it in the night. I also noticed that my feet were off the pad more then they were on it. The insulation in the pad is starting to come loose and bunch in the baffles. This leads me to researching a new pad option.

Looking at the current pad market I would love to go with something like the NeoAir Xlite. I think the combination of the pads weight and R-value make it a good contender. What I don't like about the NeoAir is the price, and the point of this post... it's width. Why can't manufactures make a short wide sleeping pad. Cascade designs already makes a 20" and a 25" version of the NeoAir. The 20" version comes in two lengths and the 25" version only comes in extra long. I want a short WIDE pad. If you already make a 25" pad and already make a short pad, how hard would it be to cut the wide pad short? Something to think about.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Cook Systems

I have been working on stove systems for a while. Honestly, I think there is to much hype and focus given to the stoves and cook kits that everyone caries. In the grand scheme of things, stoves and pots have very little impact on my enjoyment of the outdoors. The biggest draw for me has to be the amount of personalization and overall fiddle factor involved in picking out your favorite. Right now I have three basic setups that I like using. I will list the three systems and their contents and then explain why I think each system has merit for the given application.

Group system:
-GSI Dualist Set (Pot, 1x Cup, 1x bowl)
-REI Ti Spork
-MSR Pocket Rocket
-Stove box
-4-8 oz fuel canister (depending on trip length)
I use this system when I backpack with a few people or with scouts. I really like the ease of use and that it follows BSA guidelines. It has accompanied me on many trail miles, on my largest trip to Isle Royale National Park. It is a bomb proof set that I know is reliable when it needs to be. The downside to this set is that it is heavy (to me) and doesn’t function well in the cold.

Wood System:
-IMUSA Grease Pot
-DIY Paint Can “BushBuddy”
-Pressurized Soda Can Stove
-Stove bag
-Cut down GSI Lexan Spoon
-Cotton Balls in Ziploc
-Reflectix Pot Cozy
This is the systems I take when I want to play with fire. It works well for solo use or possibly for two. I like the fact that I built the entire system. Its heavier than my other light weight systems but its just fun to play with. It gets black soot all over the bottom of the pot, but the cozy helps to minimize it coming off on other gear in my pack.

Esbit System:
-2” of soda can bottom
-Snow Peak 600 Mug
-Bottom of Gatorade Bottle
-REI Titanium Spork
-Esbit Fuel Tabs
-MBD Al Lid
-Trail Designs Al Caldera Cone
-Mesh Bag
I am liking this system more and more every day. Esbit fuel has proven to be an efficient and simple fuel. The cone has shown to increase efficiency and is just darn cool. I really like the benefits of the weight of this system, the durability of the pot, and ability to use the Esbit on the ground with tent stakes if I damage the cone or soda can “stove.” This system like the wood system does soot up the bottom of the pot a bit, and the fuel smells up the pack and gear room even through a Ziploc snack bag. There is no smell when burning, however.

UL Beer Can System:
-Heineken Pot w/ Wick Wrap
-Ziploc Screw Top Case
-Pot Support
-MBD Mini Atomic Stove
-Wind Screen
-Cut Down GSI Spoon
What list of backpacking stoves and pots would be complete without a beer can in the list? This system has become near and dear to my heart. It has evolved over a year long period into something I have grown to really enjoy. It’s small size and low weight are its greatest benefits but it suffers from durability issues and requires a case to help keep it from damaging. This system requires a lot of care to keep it from becoming damaged on the trail, and unlike Esbit, if the stove becomes damaged, it would be hard to make the systems work. The durability issues are taken care of by being careful when packing and unpacking the stove as well as paying attention to where you step when cooking in camp.

Its safe to say that if you ask 100 backpackers what their favorite cook system is you will get a slightly different answer from each one. I know that I will probably continue to experiment with different stoves and pots. That’s part of the fun for me. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Summer Base Weight Skin-out

I have been doing a lot of work on adjusting my gear list for this upcoming spring/summer. The reason for going over this list so early is to see what changes I want to make and to allow me time to budget for the purchase of new gear if needed. Looking at my current gear list my pack base weight (weight with out food, water, fuel, and other consumable items) for the summer should come in just above 15lbs.

Here is a Google Docs spreadsheet of all the equipment I plan on taking with me on my average weekend or week long trips.

I have some ideas to cut this weight down. First I'm thinking about replacing the Base Camp Filter with a Sawyer Squeeze system this should cut down my pack weight by a half pound. Next, I'm considering replacing my alcohol stove with esbit tabs to see if I can save some weight there. Another area that may or may not be a weight savings is to replace my rain gear, I'm not happy with how my FroggToggs have held up over the years and am thinking of trying out something a bit more durable. The idea I'm currently considering is a Packa, RainWrap, and Gaitors.

There are many options out there. The choices I have made are based on my personal wants/needs, economics, and hiking style. I am currently (and probably always will) be adjusting this gear to help minimize pack weight while maintaining safety, and comfort.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ponderings on Pack Weight

I've been itching to get out into the woods lately and when I catch the backpacking fever and don't have the ability to go backpacking it normally means I start thinking about my equipment choices. Today I updated my account with my current Warmer three season equipment list. I specifically compared my shelter weights. Looking at my tent and hammocks as complete systems including sleeping pads, underquilts, top quilts, and shelters themselves I came up with an interesting conclusion.

Tent Setup:
Tarptent Double Rainbow
1134 grams
Tyvek Footprint
169 grams
Burrow Summer Top Quilt Wide w/ 1oz Over Stuff Down
586 grams
Insulated Air Core Pad Mummy 20x78x2.5
723 grams
Vargo Ti V Stakes
78 grams
2690 grams
Hammock Setup:
Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock 1.1oz Double Layer         
621 grams
DIY 12'x11' Cat Cut Hex Tarp, Silnylon                 
486 grams
Burrow Summer Top Quilt Wide w/ 1oz Over Stuff Down    
586 grams
Zeppelin 20° w/ 2oz Over Stuff Down                    
770 grams
Vargo Ti V Stakes                                       
52 grams
2515 grams

As you can see the weight of the two systems are relatively comparable to one another. I think that this will drive me to bring the hammock along on more trips where I will not be staying with my girlfriend. On trips I’m staying with her I will not feel as bad about taking the whole tent and lightening up her pack some. Overall, this revelation while seemingly minute actually expelled some misconceptions I had about my hammock setup being heavier than the Tarptent. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

20° Zeppelin Underquilt

Alright, I know that I'm not good at updating my blog at all. I have decided I will try to do more updates in the future. I have been experimenting with some new equipment and am looking forward to some backpacking, group hangs, and scout camping in the future. I put together this video to show off my new under quilt. Underground Quilts and Gear at is a new company on the market. They have been making quilts for a short time. I have the honor of being the first to do a video about their quality and design. The quilt is really nice. So here it is:

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Mission

The reason I am starting this blog is to give back to the community that I have learned a lot from over the last years. I have gained so much information about backpacking from the various blogs, forums, and videos that I felt the urge to give back in my own way. Having to teach yourself about every aspect of Backpacking can be very overwhelming. However, coming from a very extensive camping background it wasn't as hard for me as I could imagine it would be for someone coming in to the sport "blind." I am not implying that anything I post is the right way of doing anything, it's just the way that I do it. My methods, equipment, and ideologies about backpacking have been ever changing with every trip I go on. I am still and probably always will be modifying my style of backpacking.

With that being said my main objective here is to inform about different aspects of backpacking that I have found to be interesting, troubling, useful, or just plain cool about backpacking or related outdoor endeavors.