Archive for the mountaineering Category

MLD Silnylon Duomid shelter/ Big Agnes Air AXL Insulated sleeping pad

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Photography, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on July 23, 2018 by William Hooks

HDR_Duomids-3HDR_Duomids-1HDR_Duomids-2BA Insulated AXL Air pad (1)BA Insulated AXL Air pad (3)BA Insulated AXL Air pad (6)BA Insulated AXL Air pad (8)

I can now select between the silnylon and previously described Dyneema Composite Fiber (DCF) versions of Mountain Laurel Designs’ Duomid shelter. I plan to use the silnylon orange ‘mid as my default for these reasons:

1- Half the price of the DCF shelter and almost twice the weight (24 vs 14.5 oz with guylines): reserve the cuben fiber shelter for trips where weight is at a premium, and to reduce wear on that ‘mid

2- Absorbs water, but I do not often visit locales where rain is incessant (at least so far): so little penalty on that score

3-Slightly larger dimensions: slightly more desired for 2 persons or larger gear loads; but still accepts all accessories, such as my inner mesh attachment for insect portection

4- Much easier to pack because it can be stuffed, instead of folded- especially in wind

5-Color easier to locate in snow than white shelter

 

The new BA pad is very comforatble, offers larger sleeping are than the Thermarest NeoAir for the same weight, and is simple to inflate and deflate especially using the matching Pumphouse Ultra

 

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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

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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

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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)

What to use today: tarp or tent?

Posted in backpacking, Captain's Personal Log, mountaineering, Reviews, Travel, ultralight techniques on March 17, 2016 by William Hooks

If I want  a full floor, insect protection and very light but not lightest shelter, for me it’s a no-brainer: some sort of tarp-tent or a tent such as this Nemo Hornet 1p, which I obtained from REI using my 2015-6 dividend and -20% coupon for $135.

It uses the same Tyvek footprint that I already have for my tarp; the total weight for its pole, pole bag, canopy, fly and lines is 24 oz.

I feel that its setup is straightforward, comparable to the basic skill level needed for deploying a tarp (simpler than advanced tarping). the tent is very compact when packed, livability is much improved over my Ptarmigan or REI biv sacks. I like the 8 sq ft side vestibule, and much prefer the right side entrance to a front entrance for a 1-person shelter partly because of the relative ease of including a larger vestibule with that design.

This tent is freestanding. Headroom =40 inches, I can easily sit up inside.

Inclusion of the Light Pocket at the apex of the tent body allows a headlamp to double as a lantern- something I find very practical at no weight penalty.

Compared with my HMG Square Tarp: slightly heavier; no need for any additional components such as biv sack for insect protection; less ventilation and cannot cook inside the tent itself; simple to keep gear separate from living space because of vestibule, which is on my right while living in the tent (and I’m right-handed). Not as versatile as a tarp, but can opt to pitch just the canopy for improved ventilation and/or to save additional weight. Can combine the canopy with the tarp depending on the locale. No need for trekking poles but risk breakage of the single pole, as with any tent. Since it’s green, in forests that color simplifies stealth camping style. Needs 8 stakes for full pitch, vs up to 14 for the tarp. The guylines are reflective, another practical advantage.

I wish there was more fly coverage especially at the head end, and/or a guyout at the tip of the front of the fly. The fabric materials are notably delicate, and require more care in handling than the cuben fiber tarp.

Otherwise, I’m very pleased to use this shelter when I don’t mind a few extra ounces and seek complete enclosure at night, with no insects to deal with.