Revised and updated my 3 1/2 season backpacking list today

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques, Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2014 by William Hooks

I’ve added the super ultralight (SUL) Hyperlite Mountain Gear Summit pack at 12.7 oz, with correspondingly light MSR Carbon Core /titanium skewer stakes for shelters.

My current pack for an overnight trip including water, food, and an alcohol stove system weighs about 10 pounds, so I wear my Nikon camera under one shoulder strap- pull out 2 trekking poles- and go. This setup will allow me to stay out to conditions of about 25 degrees F.

Burning wood for backcountry stove- initial preparations

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , on December 16, 2014 by William Hooks

I’ve chosen the 17.5 oz M Tech Survivor hatchet and the Utah-made, Emberlit Ultralight titanium stove to begin burning wood for fuel in selected, legal areas. No plans to use these to any extent in southern CA where fire risk is usually so high, unless restricted to particular situations where I feel very confident that risk can be managed.

These are paired with a True Temper axe sharpener and Petzl leather belay/rappel gloves, encouraging safety using the hatchet and avoiding burns while handling stoves and cookware.

Why do it at all?

First- it’s a skill I find to be fundamental (as in emergencies) and valuable.

Second- free, virtually unlimited, ‘green’ fuel especially for longer trips.

Third- fun.

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MTech Survival hatchet_Emberlit UL Ti stove_Esbit tinder

Snow trip with HMG tarp

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2014 by William Hooks

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At 7400 ft in the San Gabriel mountains, I finally got a chance to experience snow with this new shelter and it was all too brief, but great fun.

Used the ULA Catalyst pack, snow anchors instead of regular stakes, and 20 deg F Western Mtg Alpinlite 850 down sleeping bag/Vapor jacket.

Stayed on a torso length TR Neo Air pad atop Gossamer Gear groundsheet. This pack seems to be the winter ticket for my use- enough carrying capacity for what I usually use, and very light, well built. Setup was very easy, for both the shelter and the packup.

Light winds, clear with patchy clouds, about 30 deg air temperature…. sweet. If I didn’t have to work this evening……and I ‘ll be sure to bring bright wands to mark the location of this tarp in winter, since it blends with snow environments.

I’m finding that using trees at one or both ridgeline points as anchors yields very strong, versatile attachments for a wide variety of tarp rigs (especially more complex setups also using poles) and sticks easily exceed the heights of my trekking poles where I want to pitch a flying diamond, for example.DSCN1715

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Newest images from 8000 ft with HMG flat tarp

Posted in backpacking, Photography, Reviews, Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2014 by William Hooks

A significant storm is predicted to head this way tomorrow evening. If we had 2,356 more storms like this we ‘d be caught up for water…..

Here are some shots I did with the Hyperlight Mountain Gear square tarp this afternoon above Wrightwood, CA:DSCN1666

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Had some hot food in low 40 deg F temps and explored the area before returning to ‘civilization’. Saw no ostensible Republicans.

Followup review: HMG Square Flat Tarp

Posted in Captain's Personal Log with tags , , , , , , on December 8, 2014 by William Hooks

DSCN1658 DSCN1659 DSCN1660 DSCN1661 DSCN1664 DSCN1665These shots demo my default tarp setup: storm mode, with 2 long guylines on the rear panel anchors staked through the back trekking pole.

I ‘m using 14 stakes as a standard: 8 MSR Carbon Core stakes for the corners, each ridgeline, and 2 additional points as needed; a single MSR mini-Groundhog stake which can take a great deal of pounding; and 5 aluminum stakes with similar form factor to the CC stakes and large pounding heads.

A nice bonus is that when using the REI clothesline as shown, there’s enough spare cord to use for rigging my vertical hoist to raise the netting of the biv sack off my face.

Today I was using both the ULA Catalyst and HMG Windrider 2400 packs, which are in the foreground.This setup allows cooking safely from within the tarp, with even better ventilation if opting for the A frame setup.

Initial review: Hyperlight Mountain Gear 8.5 ft Square Cuben Fiber Tarp

Posted in backpacking, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2014 by William Hooks

IMG_0747storm mode_front viewstorm mode_entry view

sm file_storm mode_rear view

sm file_detail view_ line onto trek pole

sm file_detail view_ hitches on line

sm file_ storm mode_ entry view

sm file_ shoes and poles in tarp

sm file_ interior view with sl bag

sm file_ HMG logo

sm file_ FD mode_ side view

sm file_ FD mode_ rear view

sm file_ FD mode_ oblique view

sm file_ FD mode_ front view

sm file_ detail of flying diamond peak line to tree

sm file_ detail int hang loop

sm file_ detail corner attachment

Specifications: area=72 sq ft; weight with all guylines=c 10 oz incl 10 pre-cut 3mm lines and 50 ft of added 2.75mm Sterling Glo-Cord; shelter for 1-2 persons;2 internal, metal ring-hang loops; 16 dedicated perimeter guypoints; minimal fabric stretch; 100% waterproof and windproof

I’ve shown 2 of the 3 main rigging setups I plan to use: the ‘storm ‘ mode and ‘flying diamond’ mode. The other usual setup would be standard, ‘A frame’ mode.

Updates to my equipment list for 3 season UL backpacking

Posted in Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Travel with tags , , , , , , on December 6, 2014 by William Hooks

I’m finding that rather than super UL (SUL) style, I seem to gravitate toward UL setups.

My most recent estimate of base carried pack weight is approximately 8 pounds, including the new addition of a Hyperlight Mountain Gear 8.5 oz  8.5×8.5 ft square cuben fiber tarp. I plan to post a comprehensive review of this shelter later this month.

Given this foundation, I ‘m usually taking about 12-13 pounds total weight including fuel, food and water.

In 2015, I may begin to explore packrafting to exploit river and lake travel as well as cooking over open fires. That way, no fuel to take…. but need to be very cautious in California about fire control and regulations these days. The same caution is justified regarding alcohol fuels in my opinion.

Happy holiday season, and here’s to many more.

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