My littlest girl just cut her first tooth

So much happier now than a few days ago.

In album 2015-04-28

The many faces of daddy putting a blanket on my head.

I got the faintest of smiles out of her.

Anybody else try the SOL Escape Bivy? I found one on clearance for $35 shipped and…

Anybody else try the SOL Escape Bivy? I found one on clearance for $35 shipped and thought I'd give it a try. $50 is too rich for my blood given the mixed reviews and stories how it's a tight fit. Only been wanting one for 2 years.

The features I liked in the ads are the unobtrusive green color, heat reflective construction, and waterproof while being breathable.

I ran it through it's paces as best as I can with the temps running around 0 outside.

Initial test. I filled the stuff sack with water. The sack is made of the same material, without the nicer seams. The water poured out the seems, but no seeping on the main material. Sticking your hand in the bag, you do feel the 'space blanket' effect with nearly instantly warmer hands.

First night I climbed in it in bed, and tossed my usual quilt and wool blanket over me and the bag. I felt decidedly warmer than usual even with lots of skin contact to the bag. In the morning there was no clamminess so the breath-ability claim is substantiated in my book. If it didn't breath, I should have been swimming like a fish.

For the 2nd night, I decided to 'camp out' in my basement with my oldest 2 girls. The basement runs mid 60s during the winter. I rigged up a pair of hammocks for my girls out of bed sheets and lots of blankets. 
I slept in a hammock and the bivy wearing sweatpants and a tshirt. I froze! My trip out in 3 degree weather and strong winds in  down bags had me less chilled (although much colder in spots) than 65 degrees with this bivy. 3 am, I folded and grabbed my light down jacket and wool hat. Covering my torso and arms and I slept great the rest of the night.

This again confirms what I've known for a while. Space blankets need space in order to work. This bag is SO tight on me that I doubt I can get my summer weight down bag and myself stuffed inside. Warm thin clothes is the best I can hope for.

I think I may modify the bag by adding a heavy space blanket diamond to the bottom. Slit the bag about 3 feet and tape in a diamond shaped patch maybe 6 inches wide. I am going to try to seal the stuff sack with some Gorilla brand clear repair tape to see how well it sticks and durability before I cut the bag.

This isn't a down bag, for sure. I don't foresee any use for this in cold weather. It is also not a comfortable bag. Given the size and weight, it will be my ultralight summer setup. I will be using this bag a lot I expect simply because it's so svelte. Cowboy camping in my future in this bag for sure!

Anybody else try this bag?

In album 2015-02-22

244 grams for a waterproof bivy/sleeping bag seems like a great way to go ultralight.

Shiny on the inside. Supposed to reflect radiant heat back at you. As long as you don’t touch it.

Overnight in the hammock hung in the basement, 63-65f, and I froze wearing sweatpants and a tshirt. 3am I had to get my down jacket and a wool hat, and then I was good the rest of the night.

Some nice details such as nice finished seems on the inside, and a dart at the end of the 1/4 length zipper. Six foot four 235lbs for 2 nights really pushes out on the bag and the seems only settled a little bit.

I rigged up a pair of bedsheet hammocks for the girls, tied off the treadmill. They enjoyed it OK. Not a fan of the hammock yet. Practicing camping with them so they do better when we go for real.

There is something about being on the Ice Age Trail in single degree weather

Wife sent me packing with a buddy for my birthday. I think she started a dangerous precedent.

43 lbs missed the ultra light mark by a shade but that had food for a week, not two days. A pound of summer sausage weighs a pound. Who knew?

I was packing for -7f. Clouds rolled in last minute and it only got down to 3. But windy! Likely negative teens to twentys windchill in a hammock without one of those nice wrap around tarps. In fact, my 'tarp' was a wool blanket.

I fell in love with bits of my gear and learned to trust it better.

I got cold, but never froze. My buddy with twice the weight froze his butt off. He was cold for a full week after the trip.

Oh, the unexpected clouds? I drove home into a blizzard. #irony

In album 2/20/15

Yes, that is cast iron in the middle. Gotta hang onto that friend that is willing to pack cast iron!

Hanging out on a ridge between two lakes.

I need to practice my photo spheres.

This just looks cold.

I decided to 'fix' a blanket I got from freecycle

It is a military wool blanket. I love wool blankets for camping and hanging out outdoors. I don't much care for the olive green – even though green is my favorite color.
So I dyed one side of if grey. I couldn't find anybody else online (just a short search) that dyes a single side of a blanket. So I made it up as I went along. I'd picked up some Dharma Trading 'Twilight grey' and basically painted it on for lack of better description. 
Normally you soak whatever you want to dye, but that will get the whole thing. So I mixed up the dye, water, vinegar (a mordant, helps the acid dye work) and a bit later, soap, for better 'wetting' of the blanket.
I am really, really impressed with how it turned out.

In album Dye single side of wool blanket

The green is still green, the grey, is a dark forest green.

Something I’ve done with the grey blanket is made it more water resistant.

water beaded up in the center, soaked in on the lower right.

I’d treated the grey blanket last year with lanolin. The oil that naturally occurs in wool while the sheep are wearing it, It’s what keeps sheep dry in the rain. In one context it seems silly that it’s taken out, but the wool can’t be dyed with it still in the fibers. So I add it back, and make the blanket more water resistant.

I am dying my green wool blanket grey.

I am spraying the dye on. I am using a spray bottle rescued from the recycling. It works just as good as the ones that cost $3 – probably because it did cost $3, but full, not empty.

I mixed up the dye, vinegar, and water into a juice container rescued from the recycling, and poured it in a little at a time with the funnel. The second batch I added a bit of dish soap to ‘wet’ the wool. The dye spray was beading on the fibers, the soap helps it soak deeper into the fabric.

The light grey in the upper right is the dye as sprayed on. I worked it into the blanket surface so I got better contact with the fibers instead of the spray just sitting on top of the blanket.

I want a mildly dappled effect, so I heavily dappled the blanket with the dye. It spreads out, so the effect is much more subtle when dried.

I hope…

In order to set the dye, I microwaved the blanket while it was still damp. I misted the dye side with the dye right before folding it dye side together and rolling it up. Microwave the daylights out of it in couple minute bursts.  I took it out, and re-rolled it with what was on the inside on the outside so I get even steaming of the dye.

I re-folded the blanket and nuked it some more. It was probably cooking a dozen 2 minute bursts.

I stuck it into a kidde pool to wash. This is the moment of truth… did the dye bind to the wool or will it leach out?

The water just barely tinted, so the dye fixed to the wool! YAY!

Hanging to dry. The color is better than I expected. I really like the dappled effect, very subtle.

The still-damp blanket in the house. I really really like the dappled effect on the folded blanket.

I picked up a new 'backpack' this weekend

227 grams, without the two dinky water bottles it came with.

It's going to be challenging to get a 3 day trek into this itty bitty waist bag. Warm weather trips only.

My last weekend trek last fall, water became a problem, so this is probably a bit water-focused.

I am making 2 leather pouches for the Sawyer Squeeze Mini water filter and the cleaning syringe. One tucked into each side next to the water bottles. I cut the 'straw' down so it fits inside the back of the syringe handle. The squeeze bag fits inside the pack.

The kids are getting the half liter water bottles that came with this bag. I am replacing them with larger bottles. The silver bottle pictured will likely be my Berky Sports bottle once I find it. The green bottle in the black sleeve has a soup can it is nested with for a cook pot.

I am making a new 8.5' square tarp out of a window insulation kit. This will eat up the bulk of the pack. Cordage to pitch the tarp are 25' and 10 foot pieces of Amsteel Blue (silver colored) wrapped around the outside of the pack and held on with a soft shackle. Also will have several lengths of braided mason line.

Other items include:
A SOL 1-2 person space blanket or two for sleeping.
A disposable clear rain poncho in case it rains.
A bug head net.
2 citronella tea light candles.
My new LED headlamp with the 3d printed red lens.
A norwex towl (my wife can't stand the feeling of them).
A long sleeve polyester shirt.

I need to make a 'repair kit' with neosporin, tape, a needle and thread, a bit of wire and the like. Stuff to keep me and my gear walking.

Sticking it all on a scale at the moment, 1610g or 3.5 lbs.

What am I missing for packing out my new 'bag'?

In album 2014-05-26

My new waist bag. I like the color and that it can hold 2 water bottles. I have some amsteel rope wrapped around it. I am making a pair of leather pouches for holding the Sawyer Squeeze Mini water filter parts.

The leather pouch on the right side will be added and a mate to it on the other side.