Archive for the Captain’s Personal Log Category

Using the MLD Solo Inner Net as a mesh shelter @10 oz

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques with tags , on December 11, 2017 by William Hooks
Solo Sil Inner Net (1)

Elastic pullout to stake

Solo Sil Inner Net (2)

modified pullout

Solo Sil Inner Net (3)

Solo Sil Inner Net (4)

2 poles used to erect shelter

Solo Sil Inner Net (5)

detail of UL cords securing pole tips

Solo Sil Inner Net (6)

side view of shelter-set poles @ 120 cm or longer

Solo Sil Inner Net (7)

detail of shock cord to pole handle

Solo Sil Inner Net (8)

enter via zipper at right

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MLD Solo Silnylon Inner Net for Duomid shelter

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on December 5, 2017 by William Hooks

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Mountain Laurel Designs Cuben Duomid shelter

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, ultralight techniques with tags , on November 10, 2017 by William Hooks

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2 black button-type snaps on the front panel allow closure from inside, releasing tension on the zipper. A third snap is located at the foot of the same panel

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This shelter height is achieved using a total pole length of c 145 cm, including pole jack

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4 corner anchors using MSR Carbon Core stakes

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Detail of mid-corner guylines attached to bungee cords

P6770016both doors openone door open

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If needed, the attachment clips shown on the interior of the shelter can support a biv sack netting away from the user’s face- as well as use for inner mesh net

vent closeup 2

Large peak vent- from inside, the upper larger wand or strut can be removed to allow closure in storms

front view

The apparent translucency of the cuben material changes with exterior light intensity and direction

half side view

peak view from interior

next to the top of the trek pole is the black, small plastic clip which allows hanging of the inner mesh net- I connect this to microcarabiners to prevent damage to the clip

10 cm pole jack

6 in =10cm pole jack attached to trek pole tip

The Duomid ($440) arrived 5 weeks and 3 days after ordering online from MLD.com, located in Roanoke, VA. The shelter weight is 14 oz for 1-2 persons; I will be writing separately about the modular, Solo silnylon inner tent which hangs within this shell as needed for insect protection ($175).

The tarp was sent with a 10 cm= 6 in pole jack, which extends a standard trek pole if needed for a taut pitch. I find that to pitch near the ground, my 130 cm trek pole alone can work but the pitch is probably more wind-resistant using the extension. I use 12 stakes as standard. The shelter has 8 ground-level tieouts and 8 mid-tieouts, with a peak hang tieout=17 total.

With the option of hanging the tarp from its apex if desired, no pole or stick needed in appropriate locations.

There’s a great deal of  covered space – over 45 sq ft- a palace for one with a huge covered vestibule… I would be fine using for 2 so long as the conditions were not very wet, because one person would need to cross the other inside.  The peak vent is well designed including an integral stiffener, and can be completely closed if need arises.

Being made of Dyneema/cuben, this shelter is extremely light and does not absorb water, with almost no stretch after pitching.  I like that there is adequate privacy, but at the same time I can judge weather as it is translucent and do not need a dedicated window built in.

I will be treating the one front door zipper with care, including closing the base buckle before operating it to reduce stress. I opted to use Zip Care lubricant as well, available from MLD.

Super-ultralight backpacking: recent refinements

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Travel, ultralight techniques on May 26, 2017 by William Hooks

First, there’s my HMG square tarp setup which has evolved to modified pyramid mode as seen above. It requires a minimum of material in addition to the tarp itself- only 1 support such as a trek pole, up to 9 stakes (I use 6 titanium shepherd-crooks and 3 MSR Carbon Cores), 1-2 guylines.. the tarp fits into its original storage bag with total weight of 10 oz. If I include the second guyline it can bolster the first at the front of the shelter as seen, or be used to rig an A-frame setup for example. Here’s a shot of the setup from the side:

Modified pyramid tarp setup (1)

Next, there’s a DIY modification of the reservoir for the Sawyer Squeeze water filter to use as a gravity-fed system. I perforated the bottom with 2 x 1/4″ holes with a paper punch, attached a short black cord, and added a Tedco Tornado Tube from Hobby Lobby [don’t let it get out that I ever go there].  It connects where the sip top is seen at the upper aspect in this image. This system lets the water drain through the filter passively into whatever clean container you like which has a standard connection, such as a Propel or Smartwatter bottle.DIY Sawyer Grav-feed water_20L pad inflator

On the right, there’s a green 20L Sea to Summit silnylon sack which has been converted into an inflator for my Thermarest sleeping pads, by gluing a Thermarest AirTrap outlet at one corner; it has a piece of green tape on it in the upper left. That conduit connects directly to the open valve of the pad, fill the bag with air and compress into the mattress several times. No more blowing up pads by lung…..

I have also added a pair of Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes and matching Darn Tough socks. The shoes weigh 25 oz per pair.

Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (1)Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (2)Altra Lone Peak v3 running shoes (4)Darn Tough socks_merino_Coolmax

The SUL pack I now use most of the time is from Gossamer Gear, the 2017 version of  the Murmur which weighs 8.5 oz and can be used with removable components- a hip belt w pockets, a rear foam sitpad which gives the pack structure, as shown –

Gossamer Gear Murmur 2017 model (1)Gossamer Gear Murmur 2017 model (2)

One of my favorite features of this pack is the addition of 2 keepers for trek poles. The limitations of this pack must be appreciated: it is not suited for loads > about 18 pounds, bush travel, off-trail desert travel or carrying dense loads such as camera gear or large water containers. If those and relatively bulky items usually associated with winter travel and longer trips with large food bags are not needed, I can get to a total pack weight of approx 11 pounds including food and water.

Asymmetric tarp setup: The Bat-wing

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on April 25, 2017 by William Hooks

I’ve settled on this setup as an alternative to the ‘storm’ mode of using an 8.5 sq ft Hyperlite Mountain Gear tarp. What I like about this mode is the ease of entering and leaving the tarp from one side of the front end, and the degree of weather protection from the batwing feature- while preserving excellent ventilation from the other side of the front of the tarp .

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Rear view showing asymmetry of the front portion of the tarp, peaking on the right and dropping on the left where the ‘bat-wing’ partly covers the entrance

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Front view with bat-wing dropping lower over the entrance on the right

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To enter or leave the tarp or insert gear, simply slide it from the near front edge ( my HMG Windrider 3400 pack was placed that way)

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To enter or leave the tarp or insert gear, simply slide it from the near front edge ( my HMG Windrider 3400 pack was placed that way)

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Full-coverage mode with 8.5 ft HMG square tarp

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on April 7, 2017 by William Hooks
  • Tetrahedral mode (1)Tetrahedral mode (2)Tetrahedral mode (3)Tetrahedral mode (4)Tetrahedral mode (5)Tetrahedral mode (6)

HMG Square tarp : How to achieve full coverage?

Posted in Captain's Personal Log on April 7, 2017 by William Hooks

I’ve opted for using the tetrahedral configuration to get complete coverage  with an 8.5 ft square tarp, set up as seen below. Therefore, for about 1 pound including stakes I can simulate most of the features expected of a tent- with much more versatility and durable, complete waterproof coverage with no fabric stretching ( as cuben fiber does not absorb water).

There are also some significant potential advantages- among them, being able to cook in the shelter under proper conditions, much more interior space than any tent of anywhere near the weight, and 360 degree viewing of the surroundings depending on the height of the pitch, and ability to hang the tarp from some exterior object, such as a tree limb, to further increase interior space and make adjustment of pitch very easy. The guylines can be placed and adjusted from inside the tarp.

Tetrahedral mode (6)

Closeup of secured flap

Tetrahedral mode (5)

So much ventilation, the Tyvek groundsheet blows away…

Tetrahedral mode (4)

Tetrahedral mode (3)

View of gear underneath the tarp

Tetrahedral mode (2)

Front view with flap extending to the left

Tetrahedral mode (1)

As usual with this 8.5 foot square tarp, there is versatility as to how much ventilation vs weatherproofing can be dialed in depending on how closely the tarp is pitched to the ground. This means that condensation can be easily minimized.

I use up to 14 stakes ,in order to maximize coverage over the ground and stability of the system. Therefore, no additional stakes needed vs the usual types of setups such as flying diamond or A-frame variants.

It’s easy to employ a biv sack inside if complete insect protection is desired. I’d use either the larger REI MInimalist or the very light, ~ 7 oz Titanium Goat Ptarmigan sack.