Uncle Tom’s CDT Packing List

Did I forget anything?Comments, please. All comments answered.

Packin' the Porter
Packin’ the Porter

1. Pack Group:
1 Backpack – HMG Porter…………………                  31.0 ounces
Total……………………………………………..                   31. ounces =  1.9 lbs.

2. Shelter Group:
rain wrap                                                                         4.4 oz
rain jacket                                                                       8.0 oz
1 Tarptent -Moment —–                                            32 oz.
Total…………………………………………….         44.4  ounces  = 2.75 lbs

3. Sleeping Group:
1 down bag, Western Mountaineering/stuff sack, 20F             40.0 oz.
1 Ibex wool long sleeve zip T                                                           5.8 oz.
1 Ibex long tights                                                                                 5.4 oz
1 socks wool                                                                                      2.6 oz.
1 headlamp w/ batteries  ( Princeton Byte)                                2.1 oz.
1 stuff sack sil-nylon………………………                                          1.3 oz.
1 Exped Down mat                                                                          31.0 oz.
1 Exped Comfort pillow                                                                   8. oz
Total……………………………………………                  96.2 ounces  = 6.0 lbs.

4.  Clothing :
1 pr. wool socks                                                                          2.6 oz.
1 pr. Manzilla Windstopper gloves                                         2.2 0z.
1 Ibex wool hat                                                                           2.1 oz.
1 pr.  Patagonia mid weight stretch tights                            8.6 oz.
1 Pat. wool midweight long sleeve hoodie                              9.4 oz.
1 Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Down jacket        9 oz.
1 pr. New Balance Minimus shoes                                         10.7    oz.
Total……………………………………………             44.6  ounces=  2.8 lbs.

5. Kitchen Group:
1 Steripen Adventurer                                                                   4.4 oz.
1  “Four Dog”  Bushcooker LT1 multifuel stove,
W/ titanium windscreen,
W/ Titanium cook pot 700 ml modified w/ lid               10 oz.
2 lighters…………………………………………….                       1.2 oz.
1 water bottle – used Gatorade bottle…                            1.7 oz.
1 qt. water bottle ( Tiki Mon)                                             5.4 0z.
1 Ursak Minor – food bag………….                                     2.7 oz.
abrasive scrub pad, Bronner’s soap                                   1.0 oz.
1 spork……………………………………                                      0.3 oz.
1 cup, bowl=Orikaso                                                            4.2 oz.
1 MSR coffee filter                                                                  0.6 oz.
2 bandannas………………………………………..                         2.0 oz.
1 length cord – 50’……………………………..                              2.5 oz.
Total………………………………………….      36.  ounces     =        2.25  lbs.

6. Hygiene Group:
1 small pack towel……………………………..                                     1.3 oz.
1 bottle hand cleaner                     …………                                1.3 oz.
1 small zip lock………………………………….                                      1.3 oz
w/ floss, vitamins, ointment, emery boards
1 partial roll toilet paper……………………..                                 2.0 oz.
1 Baby wipes                                                                                  2.0 oz.
1 chap stick                                                                                     0.2 oz.
1 disposable razor                                                                           0.1 oz.
1 small child toothbrush……………………..                                         0.5 oz
1 small tube tooth paste…………………….                                         0.7 oz.
Total……………………………………………..             9.4  ounces  =  0.6 lbs

7. Electronics:
1    iPhone with headphones,  wall charger and connector          6.6 oz.
1    Panasonic Lumix  DMC-FX-07 Digital Camera w/ charger  14.5 oz
1       Solio solar charger w/ wall charger                       8.8 oz.
Total……………………………………………..29.9 ounces  =                1.9  lbs

8. Navigation:
Maps,  pages, pencil
1 cap
1 pr. sunglasses
1 Ibex wool zip-t
1 pr. synthetic underwear
1 pr. Patagonia shorts
1 pr.  socks
1 pr. On the Beach/  boots
1 pr. gaiters
1 pr. Leki poles
total packed weight, dry, without food, maps               17.8    pounds

Bushwhacking to the Boil Up

I get the call, I go. I just can’t resist walking on a trail in the woods with a companion. This morning Craig, his dog Fudge, and I headed up toward Spruce Mountain for our first boil-up of 2012. Walking away from Craig’s house, we bushwhacked uphill a mile to then briefly foray on the Georges Highland path. I like to work in some off-trail travel overland. About once a week, I put in at least a mile off trail. This time of year is good for it, as you don’t have any leaves that obscure routes that grace the countryside. While the leaf cover visually smooths out the surface, I’m into conditioning my ankles, walking on the highly uneven footpath that I generally run into when I’m away from these game paths and trails.
After hanging at the overlook a bit, we headed over to sit on a granite ledge to break out our Four Dog Stove’s Bushcoookerswhere we eventually brewed hot drinks.

First boil up of 2012

I forgot to bring my bottle of alcohol fuel, so we used wood instead. Unfortunately, both Craig and I knocked over our stoves, and were pleased to have extra water with us, and unlimited dry wood nearby.
Here’s the data for the hike, an out-and-back that went up and then down.
Distance: 2.3 miles
Elapsed Time: 1:18
Avg Speed: 1.8 mph
Max Speed: 7.3 mph
Min Altitude: 482 ft
Max Altitude: 913 ft
Google map

Long Trail Gear Report: What Broke, What Didn’t

I spent 25 days in August backpacking the 270 mile Long Trail in Vermont.  Here’s the lowdown on  gear that worked well, and what didn’t:

Kitchen Group:
Everything OK here. Nothing to be improved with the Four Dog Bushcooker LT1  kit I have stuffed into the Snowpeak titanium 700 ml pot. I used one box of Coghlan’s hexamine tablets and a single bottle of yellow Heet for the whole hike. Supplementing those with wood allowed me to boil twice per day. The Steripen worked fine, but the relentless humidity cause the unit to act as if it is wet, faulting the red light upon immediate use.  The fix is to dry the electrodes.  Different fabrics produce different results.  You have to find one that works, dry cotton works best. I continue to be impressed with my food bag, the Ursack Minor.  It survived the whole 5 month on the PCT and now the LT with no rodent holes.  The thing works!

Pack Group:
My Arc’teryx Altra 65 continues to be a concern.   I love the pack’s storage features and the comfort of the waist belt and the shoulder straps, but the expandable waist pocket on the right sideended up with puncture holes, just with less than a month of normal use. The sternum strap also was ripping apart at the stitching.

Customer service is still sub par. To clarify,  I did eventually receive a new waist belt and sternum strapunder warrantee, but it took some work to get there.  Initially two customer service representatives dealt with me- neither communicating with the other until I pointed that situation out. Arc’teryx also wanted me to send the whole backpack to them for repair/replacement, which was unnecessary, since both the waist belt and the sternum strap detach.  I had to point that out to them as well.  After I sent a photo of the two problems, they agreed that I didn’t need to send the pack back.  then it took 3 weeks from the time I first contacted them until I received my parts.  Another bummer was that they broke the shipment into 2 parts, with the sternum strap arriving in my mailbox via USPO. A week later a note from FEDEX appeared on my door, informing me that it was their last delivery attempt (It was the only attempt.). Then I learned that Arc’teryx stipulated that an adult  with a valid picture ID would need to be home to personally receive the box from the agent.  Irritating inconvenience.

Shelter Group:
I only used my Tarptent -Moment  two nights on the trip. Those were nights where I hung out with Paddy-O.  The rest of the time, I was content with staying in shelters.

Sleeping Group:
I loved the comfort of my Exped down mat 7.   I put two tears into my 1 Ibex long wool tights, which I use as camp clothing, and I sleep in them, preserving the cleanliness of my Western Mountaineering 40 degree down bag. Love the light, warm tights, but they are prone to tearing, especially if your legs have just been washed, and are not dry and smooth.  Both tears occurred as I was carefully pulling the tights on.

Clothing :
A new item for me was the Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Down jacket, at 9 oz. I love it, but had to be very careful with all the humidity and rain we encountered.  It is light enough that I was able to toss it in a drier with the rest of my clothes when I needed to dry it out a bit.
I started with a new pair of  New Balance/On The Beach boots.  No blisters, but the stitching around the toe cup started to unravel.  I have written about this issue before, and yet a year later, the same exposed stitching is supplied.

My iPod Touch took a big hit, shattering the screen when I dropped it on a ledge at Mt. Mansfield. It is coming back from repair, at the cost of $114. I will put an Invisible Shield on it to try and do better with protecting the screen.  There was never enough sun to charge the Solio solar charger, but it provided good service as a charging battery using the wall charger.

The $9.95 4th Edition Long Trail map is superb, waterproof, and places the whole Trail on the two sides. My only suggesting is to list elevations on road crossings and shelter sites.
While I snapped the middle section of one of my my aluminum Leki poles, Leki’s  customer service continues to be the best in the business. I have a Leki bandana that lists the customer service phone number on it. I called, got a real human, and she confirmed the model and that I needed the middle section.  There was no need to verify breakage, by going to a dealer, or sending it in.  I didn’t come home to find a note on the door that required me to leave work to be here in a couple of days to get the replacement .  – I came home two just two days later to find a UPS box that put the right part in my hand.

The 270 mile Long Trail was tough on gear.  Things broke  that didn’t on the ten times longer Pacific Crest Trail. I would suggest that anyone undertaking a long hike on the Long Trail to be ready to improvise, have some extra cash on hand to replace items that break, and budget some extra time to get to a phone, or a gear store to replace things.  Your experience may differ.  I’m tough on things.

Bushcooker LT1: Long Term Use Report

In 2009, I received a product from Four Dog Stove to test. The reader is referred to my 2009 review of the Bushcooker LT1 . That review details factual data about stove weight, size, and performance details, which will not repeated here. I consider this report the second installment about the stove- how it actually worked out for me over an extended trip.

I used the stove exclusively on my 2010 2,656 mile five and a-half month thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Here’s the complete setup I used to cook with:
From left to right: Snow Peak 700 titanium mug/cookpot with aftermarket lid I purchased from Jason Klas, who no longer sells the lids, but they can be obtained from Four Dog Stove. Next is the windscreen, then the LT1 itself, and an alcohol fuel cup. The lighter is there for size comparison. Everything you see nests into the pot, including a MSR coffee filter that I have not placed in the shot. Total weight for the kit is 7.2 ounces. I recommend that the kit be kept in a stuff sack.

This stove accommodates three fuel sources: wood, hexamine tablets, and alcohol. On a daily basis, I generally boiled 12 ounces for my morning cup of coffee, ate a cold lunch, and then boiled 16 ounces of water for my evening meal, and sometimes another 12 ounces for a hot drink.

What I didn’t expect was just how easy it was on this hike to find dry wood. Living in Maine, we deal with constant moisture when camping in the outdoors. In California, the PCT started with a 700 mile desert section. It never rained for the first two and a half months. Wood was everywhere, and it was bone dry, even when picking it up off the ground. Even in the desert, there were small bushes with dry branches littering the ground . So I started cooking with wood.  I was initially in no rush, and enjoyed making the small fires that kindled easily. However, there were sections of the PCT this year where there was no wood available, due to deep snow cover, it was illegal to use the scarce wood if it was available (High Sierra Nevada between 8,000-13,000 feet), or it was wet, really wet.

In areas where wood was no option I used hexamine or alcohol, either denatured, or a yellow container of gas-line antifreeze branded Heet.
I carried hexamine tablets for backup. I used Coghlan hexamine tablets. The other USA manufacturer is Esbit. Two Coghlans equal one Esbit. I was generally able to get 16 ounces of water to boil with two tablets, if it was not windy. Sometimes I was also just too tired to take the extra effort it requires to burn wood, and if I had enough tabs, I used them.
I used to use the top of a shoe polish container to burn alcohol under the stove but Four Dog supplied me with a metal cup. To switch to liquid mode, you fill the cup with alcohol, light it, than place the stove over the cup and place your pot on top.

With these three options, I was covered in any situation that came up. The Jetboil was a stove I saw a lot of on the PCT, but it requires a fuel canister that was very difficult (in a few places impossible) for hikers to source in parts of Oregon and Washington. With my three options, I never was without fuel.

The design of the Snow Peak mug allowed for another option: cooking on a camp fire.  I traveled with a group named MeGaTex, which was known for frequent evening camp fires, and several of us had pots that allowed us to cook directly in the fire pit and save any fuel that we were carrying.  Don Kivelus, owner of Four Dog, recommended that I have him attach a titanium wire bail to the pot, which made it easy for me to take a stick and move around or lift the pot in and out of a fire.

    How did my cooking kit hold up ?

Nothing broke, which was a welcome relief, because just about every other piece of gear that I used wore out, or became damaged in some fashion.

    Did my use of the kit change ?

Yes. The change I made was in how I used the LT1. The stove worked best not only with just wood, hexamine, or alcohol, but with combining the three fuels. For example, in Washington, it rained for five days in a row, so any wood was wet. I was running out of alcohol, but there was plenty of damp wood around. I discovered that I could find some relatively drier wood on the lower dead limbs on evergreen trees, or I could use my fixed blade Mora knife and split out some dry core wood. (These techniques can’t be explained here in brief form. For reference see Mors Kochanski’s “Bushcraft“, especially the chapter on Knifecraft). This wood was still too damp to kindle, but if I placed it in the LT1 and then dribbled alcohol over the top of the pile in the burn chamber, it would fire up. Once burning strong, even damp wood, added in small amounts, can burn.

Another unexpected application was to use the Bushcooker to start larger fires. In this situation, which came into play when we encountered wet wood, you take the LT1, put it in the fire ring, ignite a hexamine tablet inside the stove, and place the best kindling we could muster in there, which would eventually catch. Then I’d pile smaller sticks on top of the LT 1 and build up a large fire. The nature of titanium is that it has a higher melt temperature than steel, so there was no worry about the stove melting in the coals. When the fire died down a bit and was well established I’d fish the stove out, let it cool off and it was done. A caution is not to throw big logs on, or the stove might get damaged, or crushed.

-You might want to learn how to kindle small fires in different outdoor situations before you head out with this unit. If your fire building skills are good, you might find this stove just what you have been looking for. If you have never built fires before, I’d say the chances are strong that you will be frustrated, or will spend a LONG time getting water to boil. In the book The Talent Code: Unlocking the Secret of Skill in Sports, Art, Music, Math, and Just About Everything Else the author states that it takes 10,000 hours to master a complex skill. While I think it’s unnecessary to spend that much time to get good at fire building, it is a skill that requires lots of practice in varying outdoor conditions.
-Hexamine is not usually found in gear supply outlets. I had mine sent to me in 10 resupply boxes. If you are out for a shorter trip, it is not problem to obtain this fuel and keep a supply at home.
-You’d better like smoke. Some users are allergic, or even find it offensive.
-Alcohol is tricky to learn to use as a fuel. Great caution should be exercised, as it is almost impossible to see the flame in bright sunlight, which could result in getting burned. You also must allow the container to cool off when adding another charge of alcohol. If you don’t you could ignite the container as you are filling the burn chamber.
-Black bottom. Burning wood or hexamine results in soot buildup on the bottom and sides of the cook pot. While the black color might aid in heat transfer, it will rub off on clothing and gear. I always place the assembled kit in a black cordura stuff sack. Once in a while I scrape the crusted soot off, either with a sharp rock , or the steel part of a knife opposite the blade.

To wrap it up, I’m keeping this setup for future trips. I like the versatility of procuring and using three fuels, either alone or in combination. The 700 ml pot is just right for one person, and I actually savor the smell of wood smoke. The act of building a fire with my hands gives me great satisfaction, and the end result warms both my body and my soul.

Even More Baking on the titanium Bushcooker Lt 1

Second variation– tin can setup, using three standard charcoal briquettes, and 1 oz. alcohol in shoe polish lid under the burner. This time I used two tin cans: a used 10 3/4 oz. tin can (Campbell’s soup), and a 11 oz. coffee can.
After I lit the alcohol, I grabbed a pot stand fin and held the Lt 1 above the alcohol flame, preheating the finned burner at the bottom of the stove, thinking it might help ignite the charcoal sooner. I think it will be standard procedure for me to to put a pot of water on the unit, taking advantage of the flame stage of the baking process. I measured the temperature of the water after the flames died down and it got up to 150 degrees, a reasonable temperature for a cup of tea, maybe drip coffee ?

I threw a Canadian black tea bag into the pot and put it aside to steep. Then I mixed up 1/4 C of water and a half( 3.8 oz. of mix) bag of Betty Crocker Cheese-Garlic Bisquick Complete mix . I lined the soup can with the parchment paper, and spooned in the mix.
I formed a heat diffuser out of piece form a a roll of corrugated aluminum flashing. Next I placed the diffuser on top of a base of a coffee can I had in my kitchen bin.

Heat diffuser set-up
Heat diffuser set-up
The soup can went on top of that, then the inverted coffee can went over that as a cover. There was enough room all around the soup can to allow for convection heating.
Improvised wind shield, cooker set-up and ditched aluminum diffuser part
Improvised wind shield, cooker set-up and ditched aluminim diffuser part

Problem #1- I thought the cooking would be done in about 20 minutes, but the little oven was not hot enough with the diffuser in place, so I chucked the crinkled the diffuser and placed the setup directly on top of the base of a coffee can. Much better. Checking the product 10 minutes later I saw the top was still needing a bit more heat, so I simply slid the biscuit out of the can (with the help of the parchment paper), flipped it upside down and put it on the base for a few more minutes of cooking.

Things came out done, but I’m not going to recommend these cheese garlic biscuits, as the taste isn’t quite cheese, or even true garlic but something weird in between. I think I’ll stick with the Lemon Poppy Seed muffin mix for the trials.
By the way, I have a great idea for improving this tin can method.

Baking with the titanium Bushcooker Lt1

Baking with this stove is best accomplished using charcoal. In this experiment, I used three commercial charcoal briquettes. I felt it would be easier and more standardized to use them here. In the Northeast, there is ample charcoal left in the numerous fire rings that are omnipresent on backpacking trails. Those lumps of fuel are real charcoal, and can serve as an excellent alternative fuel source if they are primed with alcohol, as noted below.It is difficult to control a burn with alcohol, which is either 100 % full on or nothing.

Several items are needed to allow for convection baking.

Grease pot, muffin tin, cozy
Grease pot, muffin tin, cozy

My MSR .8 liter pot is not wide enough to be an effective baker. I found a Walmart grease pan in my camping bin that looked like it would work. I rummaged around the house and shaped a thin aluminum container ( muffin tin) to fit into the grease pan.   Taking a tip from Tinny, of Minibull Designs, I put a few small rocks on the bottom of the pan, which raised the bottom of the “muffin tin” from direct heat, setting up the convection situation. I lined the tin with parchment paper, which makes cleanup nonexistent, spooned in the add-water-only muffin mix, and put the lid on.

The next step requires wrapping a cozy around the pot. I was out at my camp for the baking, so my gear options were limited.   I found a “cozy” made out of double faced bubble wrap that wasn’t a perfect fit, but passed for adequate with the addition of a short piece of electrical wire to tie it shut and a block of firewood wood to seal the folded top down.

Next, I fired up the small Bushcooker Lt1, filling a shoe polish tin cover with 1 oz. of alcohol , igniting it, and then placing the BK1 (with 3 charcoal briquettes inside) on top of the tin. This step is necessary to preheat , ignite and glow the charcoal briquettes.

Why waste the heat?  I put a pot of water on the stove to boil up a cup of tea, while I was waiting the 10 minutes for the charcoal to ignite.

Improvised insulating cover on top of Lt1
Improvised insulating cover on top of Lt1

When the flame died down and the charcoal was starting to glow, I put the assembled baker on top of the stove, and after I waited a half hour or so, my giant muffin was cooked to perfection.

Finished product
Finished product

It must have been good, because it was all gone after some of my friends came over to visit.

More tests later.

New titanium Backpacking Wood Stoves!

I got a UPS package from Don Kevilus at Four Dog Stoves at 6 PM last night, just as I was ready to go out for pizza with Marcia.  The box had two brand new ultralight backpacking titanium wood stoves that were sent for me to test.   Here is a photo of the brand new Bushcooker Light I .

Stove fits into the Snow Peak 700 cc mug on left
Stove fits into the Snow Peak 700 cc mug on left

The stove is tiny, only 3.5 inches wide and 4 inches high.  It weighs 2.5 OZ.  I was so worked up about the stove that  I was out there last night at 9PM and actually burned up just 1.2 ounces of wood to successfully boil up 2 cups of water in my MSR titanium pot.  The stove can also burn alcohol, solid fuel tablets, charcoal, even dried dung!
I was so worked up about the stoves that after I came home, I went outside and started a fire in the tiny cooker.  I actually did not think the stove was capable of carrying out the task, as the firebox appeared to be too small to even hold enough wood to boil 2 cups of water.  Wrong, hit a rolling boil.  Weighing the stove indicated that I consumed only 1.2 OZ. of wood!   Unbelievable!  I can’t wait to work with the stoves on my canoe trip this upcoming week.  The stove is really something!  Full review later.

For those of you who need to know more about this stove, I’m posting the new page to Don’s catalog, which does not even appear to be on his website yet, but should be up around the 4th of July.

Bushcookerlt1The page was sent to me as a scan, so it is fuzzy, but here is a better picture of the new lineup.

New Light series of the all-titanium Bushbookers
New Light series of the all-titanium Bushbookers