Friday, April 20, 2018

Pocket Cups

Within many Wilderness areas of the west, it's still unofficially safe to drink water directly from the stream, spring, or lake and one way to save on pack weight is to not carry water and sip as you go. These are cups that I have used in the past and continue to use on many of my trips. The "Unkown" is certainly recognizable by all and is also available in stainless steel. I lost the cap which could also be used to sip water from. I only included cups that could fit into the pocket, but I should also mention the Sierra Cup since it to can be used to sip water from the source and will hook onto a belt for easy access. They come in 1 cup and 2 cup sizes and traditionally made of stainless steel. Mine is from Japan, 2 cup capacity and made of titanium and will also fit on my stove to cook with.

On long dry stretches when water has to be rationed, the pocket cup is the perfect tool to measure out water so that your supply will last the entire dry stretch. Without pouring and measuring, it's too easy to gulp water and drink it all early on.

Large Titanium Sierra cup, 1.9 ounces.

Wildco, Unknown, Guyot designs, Sea to Summit
Cups are opened.

Wildco, Unknown, Guyot designs, Sea to Summit
Cups are closed.

How they compare.
I can also use this Sierra Cup was a pot.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


I am not fond of inflating air pads by blowing directly into them, so improvised a PVC fitting to mate an Exped Snozzle with a Big Agnes Axl air pad. 

The male fitting on the snozzle is 1/2 inch and the female valve is 3/4 so I am using a 1/2 x 3/4 PVC bushing to make the reduction. The only modification was to wrap the bushing with electrical tape to get a better seal into the Axl pad.

By using this system, I will reduce the amount of moisture from my lungs into the pad and save myself from the dizzy feeling of hyperventilating at altitude.

PVC bushing 1/2 x 3/4

Wrapped with electrical tape for a better seal into the air pad.

The 1/2 " Snozzle fitting fits perfectly into the bushing.

With help from the electrical tape to give the PVC fitting a slightly larger  diameter,   an air tight seal is accomplished so the Snozzle can transfer air into the air pad.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Big Agnes Axl Air Pad

I just received the Big Agnes Axl Air Pad from REI today. I had it shipped to the store, which turned out to be a bargain because they sent me a $20 dollar off coupon a couple of weeks ago when I ordered the pad, then another 10% off coupon, both active at the same time for a couple of weeks only. Obviously they want you to purchase more items while you are at the store so I obliged them and also purchased a pair  Prana Brion pants and a new Z pad to augment the Axl. More on that later.

The pad, out of the box, in a stuff sack compared in size with a Nalgene bottle (full of fresh squeezed OJ!)

My pad came with 2 patch kits that included a spare valve flap. The patches already have adhesive so no need for a tube of glue that always seems to go hard after only one use.

The Axl fully inflated. I didn't count the breaths, but I did feel mildly high form hyperventilating. Twenty breaths maybe? BA hypes the antimicrobiotic properties but I wonder about the constantly adding water into the pad.

A close up of the head end of the pad with the valve.

Another close up of the valve. To let the air out, press on the inner flap and squeeze the pad at the same time. It's somewhat awkward, but the air does evacuate quickly.

I was able to deflate the pad then simply stuff it back into the stuff sack without folding or rolling.

The Axl has no insulation so the official use designation is for warm weather use. My plan is to pair it with a small Z Pad so that I have some redundancy with sleep insulation. If the air pad has a major failure, I will still have ground insulation with the Z pad. 

The Axl weighs in at 10 ounces with the stuff sack and the Z pad, 11 ounces.

Monday, January 15, 2018


I have been watching the tastefully done wilderness travels of Erik Normark and kept noticing the cup he drinks his coffee from. That's because he drinks a lot of coffee in the wilderness and he does it cowboy style direct from the Trangia teapot. 

Cups and bowls are one of those items that can be purchased at a reasonable price and experience the thrill of getting new gear without breaking the bank so I decided to do some research and find the cup he uses and thanks to the web, it was not hard to find. It's readily available in small and large, so I purchased both sizes. 

The manufacturer is a Swedish company named Wildo and the formal name is the Fold-A Cup. The design has even won some awards and as the name implies, it does indeed collapse and the small one will comfortably fit in your front pocket. 

The small will also nest securely inside the large if I decide to bring both.

On my trips I use the round silicone bowls, but the Fold-A Cup is lighter and probably takes less room in the pack so I look forward to switching those out and enjoy my next wilderness cup of java in a Fold-A Cup.

The large holds 20 ounces so will easily double as an eat out of bowl.

The small is more expresso size but great for sips of water from the creek because it does easily fit inside a pocket.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

New Camp Shoe

My new camp shoe, the Birkenstock EVA Arizona. Size 45 metric or 12.5 in US Sizing. Even thought I wear trail runners, I like changing shoes at he end of the day, a luxury I cannot do without. If my trail shoes get wet from a creek crossing or fishing, they will not be dry until the next day and I value complete dryness in camp, even my feet. These slip on and off easily in the middle of the night and give good protection to the bottom of my very sensitive feet from sticks and stones, I could even hike in them if  I had to. They are bulkier than I would like but lighter by a few ounces than my current Patagonia Advocates that I have had for several years now and refuse to wear out.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Mission Pine Basin

Mission Pine backcountry in the San Rafael Wilderness.

Hell's Half Acre on the Cachuma Saddle Road

Hell's Half Acre

Walking the ridge road.

Left the Road and started on the trail to Mission Pine Spring Camp,the destination for my 1st night.

The BeFree water filter. It's so easy to use, why not filter now?

Getting dinner ready, using the Bush Buddy store this trip since fire restrictions have not been turned on yet.

The trail junction and camp in Mission Pine Basin. The point where I joined the Santa Cruz trail and decended the ridge into the Santa Cruz creed drainage.

The camp at Mission Pine Spring is very nice indeed.

Good water from the spring.

The real Mission Pine basin camp located on the northwestern corner of the meadow.

The Santa Cruz creek trail down to Coche creek was in good shape. I could not find Coche camp so I stayed at Kellogg. No one has been there in awhile judging from grassy weeds growing in the fire pit, but still a serene spot with good water flow in Coche creek.

The trail past Kellogg to Flores Flat was not passable, lots of downfall. Obvious Bear activity at this camp that included what looked like a place to sleep, leave some scat, and tear up the table.

The next night was at Mission Pine Spring again, then back to the trailhead with panoramic views of the Santa Barbara backcountry.

A great trip into an area I have not been to and water was not an issue because all the springs are in great shape.