I will be posting less frequently for the next while. Life is getting very busy all-of-a-sudden and my other priorities are taking over. Follow me so you know when I do post, or check back in this summer when I get back from Alaska and post regularly again!
Monthly Archives: April 2012
Many of us want to try things before we buy them and see what others are using before investing our hard-earned money in a product. Others of us know what we want, but do not have the money to buy everything at once. When I began backpacking, I found myself in both of these categories. I was looking to save money anywhere I could and slowly grow my collection of gear over time.
As I near the end of this process, I thought I ought to take a moment to share some knowledge and experience regarding stuff-sack alternatives. There are two similar alternatives that I have become fond of, each with its own set of advantages.
Zip-Lock Bags offer the distinct advantage of being waterproof, if sealed well. This is not likely to often be a necessity, but in the situations of a leaky dry-bag going overboard or a downpour without a pack-cover while backpacking, a 100% waterproof container for your clothes and other essentials can be a life-saver (literally). Zip-Lock bags can be purchased in various sizes, making it easy to tailor to your specific needs for a trip. I find 2-gallon slide-lock bags to be the best for clothes. It is very easy to sit on them while closing to purge air and make the clothes pack extremely small. These bags can be found in packs of 10-12 at many one-stop-shopping style centers for $5-10 which is cheaper than a single stuff-sack or dry-bag of good quality, and these bags can often be used for multiple trips before needing to be replaced.
Why I like them
- 100% waterproof, if sealed correctly
- User able to see the contents without opening the bag
- Easy to purge air for efficient packing
- Multiple sizes available
- Very lightweight
- Pack in a rather flat, sheet-like shape rather than the impossible to pack “ball” like commercial stuff-sacks tend to
- Not breathable
- Zippers may burst if bag is over-stuffed
Mattress Sheet Packaging is another great alternative to stuff sacks. They make a plastic ‘packing brick’ that easily fits into larger packs and can be used as a pillow. These typically zip-shut and are very easy to use. Because of the zipper, the bags are not entirely waterproof, but just like a typical stuff sack, everywhere but the opening is waterproof. This “mostly waterproof” attribute is sufficient in nearly every situation I have encountered, since the stuff-sack should only be a secondary protection and is primarily used for organization. I really like these for backpacking because of their box-like shape and ability to be stacked. They are also typically a throw-away part of packaging, so it is very nice to be able to repurpose these before throwing them in the recycle bin. If someone else went through the hassle of making it, I might as well get as much from it as possible.
Why I like them
- Mostly waterproof
- Free – assuming you, or someone you know, buys a mattress cover
- See the contents without opening
- Very lightweight
- Makes boxes/cubes of things rather than the impossible to pack “ball” like commercial stuff-sacks tend to
- Not very breathable
- Zippers may burst if bag is over-stuffed
- Not entirely waterproof
Nearly anything can be used as a stuff-sack. I have seen harness packages, empty water bottles, and pant-legs sewn together at the wide end, all used for packing. The key is to find things that will be lightweight and serve the purpose you need (Waterproof? Breathable? See-through?). If you keep your eyes open, things that can be used should start jumping out at you. If you have any tips/tricks of your own or other alternatives gear for any outdoor sports, please comment them below! I would love to learn the tricks you have and I am sure other readers could benefit from them as well.
Thank you to everyone who has been reading my blog, today I had my 5000th hit since I started this blog. It has been great to see and hear feedback from both friends and strangers as I share my experiences and often hear about yours in response. I thought I would use today to give some updates with changes I have made in the blog that may otherwise go unnoticed and also announce the upcoming material.
1. Top Navigation – I have been updating the top navigation bars to include organized links to all of my posts. If you have not been following from the beginning, feel free to check out what is there!
2. My Portfolio Page – I put up the pictures from Costa Rica that I thought belong in that page. I have not watermarked or edited those [yet]. Feel free to use my photos for non-commercial things (if you do, I would love for you to leave a comment saying what you used them for, I love comments!).
3. Upcoming Material – I plan to do reviews for a lot of the gear I have been using. Part of the reason for this blog is to have a portfolio prepared to begin being a gear-tester should the opportunity arise. I also will be sharing pictures and stories from my spring break rock climbing trip and from may first day on the water in my new kayak. In about 6 weeks, I leave for Alaska. I will have a lot of posts about that when I get back (and hopefully some while I am there as well). If any of this material interests you, please don’t forget to subscribe!
5. Bucket List Publications and 72&Rising have both featured my work! there are links to both their sites in the right bar of my blog. I would encourage you to check them out if you have some time.
6. Other Links – In the side bar to the right there are also links to my YouTube account with has many videos from my life. If you want to see some material that hasn’t made it to my blog, go check that out! There is also a link to TheClymb.com, they offer great deals on outdoor gear of all types and the inventory is constantly changing. If you like gear, it is a great site to keep an eye on. You can sign up under me!
7. Did you notice – that this list doesn’t contain a #4? If you did then you win! there is no prize, but at least you can have the satisfaction of being a winner. If you didn’t notice, don’t be heartbroken, the winners didn’t really get anything.
Light My Fire Spork
Color: Many options (green, yellow, pink, orange, blue, grey, etc)
Material: Copolyester (Heat-resistant plastic)
BPA Free: Yes
Width: 1.5 in
Length: 6.6 in
Weight: .2 oz
- One end Spoon, other end four-tine fork + knife
- Easy to clean
After seeing many of my colleagues eating around the campfire with these Light My Fire Sporks, I had to try one. That was a year ago. I have used the spork on multiple trips but am not thrilled with it. Teeth have broken and the Spork feels clumsy in my hand when I eat. I will probably replace this with fast-food utensils until I can buy something else.
The Light My Fire Spork lacks durability. While the spork has not snapped, the teeth have broken off from the knife part—rendering it useless. The handle feels clumsy because I must always grip wither a fork/knife end or a spoon bowl. I only get to use one utensil per meal and that is rarely optimal.
What I liked
- Compact utensil set
- Great color options
- Since it is only one piece, nobody asks me to “Borrow the part I don’t use” because they forgot their utensils.
What I didn’t
- Knife teeth keep breaking off (I think I have 3 teeth left)
- How do you use the knife part without a separate utensil to hold the food that needs to cutting?
- Must choose whether to use the spoon or the fork for an entire meal or else it has to be washed to keep hands from getting extremely messy
The Light My Fire Spork works just fine, but I would not recommend it. It is not very durable, and is inconvenient for eating.