I have a trip on the calendar for the 4th of July for a trip with a buddy (who isn't…

I have a trip on the calendar for the 4th of July for a trip with a buddy (who isn't a ULer). My wife sent me to Aldi's for some ground beef, and I saw a few things I just had to have. A 40oz stainless water bottle and the Adventuridge Lightweight Foldable Backpack.

The backpack really reminded me of a small version of the G4 DIY ultralight bag. I've been meaning to make that bag for a few whiles. Just no time and a lack of ambition.

This bag is $10 and folds into itself. The back is padded, and the straps are double layer, but not padded. I figure I can rip open the seam, add my own padding, and sew it back up as good as new. Suggestions on a padded shoulder strap material?

There was also a black and red version. I picked this bright (like bright blue car bright) blue and silver one because I have some 'twilight grey' fabric dye I like to use to tone down bright articles. It should match my Kelty Hip Bag I posted here a few months ago.

I stuck it on the scale and it comes in at under 11oz or a touch over 300 grams. It claims 7.9 gallons which is 30 liters or 1825 cubic inches. A kids bag in size, really, but I suffer from fill-er-up-itis so a small bag is just what I need. I also have kids… so when I start going with them, they will have a bag to use as well.

I do plan on mating it to my Kelty hip bag with some clips so they function as a single bag. The Kelty is a great hip bag and will do the load bearing bit. This new bag is for the lighter stuff like the sleeping bag, hammock and such.

In album Aldi’s Ultralight backpack

This photo is pretty close to the true color of the light blue. It’s actually brighter yet to the eye than to the camera.

10 3/4 oz for a 7.9 gallon backpack. The best part? $10!

306 grams (including the cardboard tags). It folds up into itself nicely as well.

Turn it over, and you see it’s a backpack that really looks like that DIY G4 backpack I’ve seen plans for online. And it folds into itself so I can stash it nicely when I am not using it.

The outside is nice and simple. The over-flap has a zipper pocket like is very common. The color is very bright. Florescent lighting doesn’t really capture it.

The back is padded, but the straps aren’t really padded. I figure I can open up a seam, add some padding, and re-sew the seam on the straps.

I gave the brand new bag in a dye-dunk to try to tone the brightness down and make it more closely match my Kelty Oriele bag. The gray is a tad purplish, but this dye does that. I think a second round and I may have it tinted quite nicely to match. Also check out that big 40oz stainless water bottle for $5 at Aldi’s as well.

The hip pack has clips for shoulder straps. I plan on clipping the new bag onto the hip pack and using the hip pack like the waist belt. The heavy stuff can go into the lower bag, the light, bulky stuff can go in the new bag.

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 got a mosquito hammock this week for $30 from woot

This is pretty cheap. After I ordered it, I realized how short it was – it's six inches shorter than the one I already have. Short hammocks and tall people make for an uncomfortable night's sleep. So I decided to try to cheat the length a bit. I converted it to a Mini bridge hammock. Some amsteel rope dogbones, a pair of spreader bars, and it's a non-damaging modification. I think it worked. I slept in it as it came, and after the modification and I like the mod. It's much more comfortable. Not perfect, I find my feet tend to rest against the netting.

Next project. Down underquilt.

In album Miniature Bridge Hammock modification

My girls hanging out in my new Yukon Outfitters Mosquito Hammock

It’s a clear tarp for me for the hammocks. Window winterizing film, duck tape & patience to make one.

This is how the hammock came. A rope (which stretches a lot the first night you use it) fed through the channel and closed on itself. Here, I’ve had to run it back up to the metal connector so tighten the hammock at 3 am so I wasn’t dragging on the ground anymore. Notice how tightly it bunches the end of the hammock up. The thin line is the stretch cord for holding up the bug net part of the hammock.

This is a miniature bridge hammock. The idea is to make the ends wider so it squeezes against the shoulders less. It is also supposed to reduce the tightness up the center under the legs that can cause discomfort.

I made 4 amsteel dogbones. These are just short ropes with eyes on both ends. I sized these so they are short as they can be and have the right length bury that nearly touches in the center.

Try to make all 4 the same length.

The amsteel dogbone is fed through the hole in the wood, fed through the hammock and  the loop slipped over the end of the wood. Do this from each side.

It’s easier to pull the new rope through as you are pulling the old rope out. (trust me  I know)

But it’s easier to untie if you put the old rope to the new, and not the new rope to the old. Oohps.

The hammock is clipped into the rope that it hangs from.

The offset in the carabiner can be used to advantage in counteracting any differences in the length of the amsteel dogbones.

This is with the original mounting method.

This is the girls swinging in the new method. Notice how the end of the hammock forms a gentile curve.

The hanging hardware that came with the hammock – both sides.

The new hanging hardware weighs 2 grams more. Now, this is a cheating weight, as it doesn’t include the carabiners.

Exploring the weights of the gear I used last week in the back yard

I measured the weights after I packed it all up and am about to shove it into a backpack for storage. So the weights are of everything I used, and a little bit more in the case of the shelter 'kit'.

I am not counting the weight of the shovel & long rope I ended up using to secure it – those don't go into the backpack. 

army wool blanket 1677g 59oz 3.7lbs
grey wool blanket 1578g 56oz 3.5lbs
tent stakes 140g 5oz 0.3 $6
foam pad 251g 9oz 0.6lbs $6
shelter kit 762g 27oz 1.7lbs $25
under quilt 236g 8oz 0.5lbs $15
hammock 571g 20oz 1.3lbs $25

total 5215g 184oz 11.5lbs $77

The wool blankets obviously aren't UL gear. Both where given to me, so I won't complain. The one was my grandfather's service blanket. The other one is a Harbor Freight packing blanket that I am working on water-proofing with lanolin. I use this blanket a lot in the fall/winter/spring with the bushcraft sessions I teach & attend. The grey one is too small for me to roll up in properly, and the other one has too much sentimental value for me to be rough with it in the woods.

The shelter kit has the ropes & cordage, snap-clips, clear window-shrink-film tarp @165g, an unused space blanket tarp I made from 2 cheap mylar blankets taped together and added tie-outs @121g, a unused window-shrink-film tub floor @114g, and the bug net & bug head net. It's intended on being a complete set for sleeping on the ground that will also work with the hammock. 

The underquilt I made from a mylar space blanket and some bubble wrap. I added tape tie-outs like I do any cheap plastic tarp, and taped on the bubble wrap. The concept is that the bubble wrap has it's own convective & conductive insulation and it enforces an air-gap so the space blanket can provide the radiative insulation. It's just a prototype, and it works very well. I think I want to make one specifically shaped for use as an underquilt, and maybe one as an overquilt as well – or just use the curent one for that.

I want to switch from the mylar blankets to heat-sheets. They would be much quiter, less prone to cataclysmic failure, and I think I can dye the one side a more pleasing color than 'shiney' as they will take printer-ink.

I did have 2 of my tape tie-outs let go on my window-shrink-film tarp. I had the tarp strung up tight for a couple of weeks before the tape started letting go after some heavy storms. The plastic wasn't damaged, so it will be trivial to replace the tie-outs. Longer tape in the corners I think will be the solution. I may look at doing larger patches to make that stick better. I need to pack a few feet of the trimmed up tape to make replacement tie-outs in the field. I am also wondering if some of that new Rustoliem water-proofing spray could be used to keep the water from seaping under the tape and causing it to let go.