Sunday, April 25, 2010

EVERNEW Ti DX Alcohol Stove

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

“How is it that one match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box of matches to start a campfire?  ~Christy Whitehead

Evernew America has come out with a new titanium alcohol stove. The thing is slightly heavy (and expensive) as alcohol stoves go weighing 1.2 oz.  But it is built to last a lifetime and creates a flame that is, as far as I can tell, unbeatable by any other alcohol stove.EBY255_img4

The exciting thing about it is that it fits into a titanium stand, the “DX” (weight 1.8 oz) that can act as a stove pot holder and wind screen and be used to burn Esbit or wood.  The total set, on my scale was 3.2 oz (92 grams).

In my tests so far it was able to boil 2 cups of water (slightly less than 500 ml) in under 4 minutes (water starting at 65 degrees).

EBY255_img2I have not yet tested the stove with wood, hopefully I will get to do that next weekend.  I also plan to do more comprehensive testing, comparisons and timing in using it as an alcohol stove.

The stove alone sells for $46, the DX set including the stove $87.  Backpackbasecamp.com has become a distributor for Evernew America. We don’t yet have a web store setup, but I have a small number of these stoves; email me at:
RMorris AT backpackbasecamp.com if you are interested.

In the mean time, I thought you might appreciate this short video:



Saturday, April 24, 2010

Hiking Pyramid Mountain

Hi, thanks for coming, you’re now here and may want to:
subscribe to my feed (click on this link).

” So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” ~ Ben Franklin

Most of us who hike often have a place close to us where we go to hike when we have a few hours but not enough time to go far.  Some place close to home but still away in the woods. I’m lucky to live 15 minutes away from Pyramid Mountain Natural Historic Area in Morris County, New Jersey.  I know, those of you not from around here are probably thinking - “A forest in New Jersey?”.  Yes, believe it or not, most of New Jersey is not like the New Jersey Turnpike.  I’m within an hours drive of the Appalachian Trail, many state parks and some wonderful county parks.Tripod rock

Pyramid Mountain Park is over 1300 acres of trails, forests and wetlands. It has several unobstructed views on the New York City skyline. A unique glacial erratic known as ‘Tripod Rock’.  This is a many ton boulder balanced a three smaller boulders.  It was deposited here by the Wisconsin Glacier over 18,000 years ago.  The park also has ‘Bear Rock’, one of the largest glacial erratics in New Jersey and a fun rock for kids to climb.

There are old stone ruins that are fun to find and explore. There is also a nice season waterfall, more than 100 species of birds and 30 species of mammals including black bears, beavers and (some say) bobcats.  You can sometimes see eagles, herons, egrets and vultures.  Also in the park are scarlet tangers, yellow warblers, indigo buntings, red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees.

The woods you walk through are quite varied depending on the part of the park you are in.  It could be blueberry patches, paths through rhododendron, chestnut oaks, American beech trees, or holly shrubs. Like most parks in this populated area, once you get 1/4 or 1/2 mile up the trail, the people become few and far between.

These two video’s (below) show you some highlights of what to expect in the park.   To find Pyramid Mountain, follow the directions on the county web site here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Picking Hiking Boots That Fit

“Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.” -- Winnie the Pooh

So spring is finally here, for many of us that mean hiking and backpacking. For some of us it also means we need new hiking boots. So often people buy new boots, trying them on in the store even walking around in the store for a few minutes, then when they are out in the woods for a few hours they may find out the boots don’t really fix correctly. This can lead to being just slightly uncomfortable for a few hours or it could mean painful blisters and an unpleasant backpacking experience.

The first thing to do when picking out new hiking boots or walking shoes is to think about what type of hiking you normally will be doing. What type of terrain will it be – dry desert, muddy trails, wet bogs, flooded plains, rocky, etc. Besides the terrain, are you going to be day hiking on nice trails or bushwhacking through the woods? Is it a weekend backpacking trip or will you be out there for weeks? This type of background information will lead you to some common sense decisions about the type and quality of the boots, particularly – do they need to be waterproof? How much support does the boot need to provide – the more weight you are carrying in your backpack, the more support the boots need to give your ankles.

It may be tempting to just get the “best” boots you can afford, the trouble is more (i.e. waterproof, more support, leather) is not necessarily better. You want to pick boots as light weight as you can that will still fit your needs. Remember, you are picking up your feet each time you take a step. An extra pound over thousands of steps will make the hike much more difficult than it needs to be. Boots that provide a great deal of support also weigh much more. If you are just day hiking or carrying only a light backpack – you are better off with lighter boots or trail running shoes. There is a similar conundrum with waterproof boots, particularly in the summer waterproof hiking boots might not “breath” as much as the manufacturers would like you to think. If your feet get hot, they sweat; this can lead to blisters or other problems. Also to be considered is what materials the boots are made of; all leather boots can survive abuse much better – but are heavier, especially when they get wet. Boots made of a fabric-leather combination tend to be lighter weight and will dry faster if they get wet.

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the general type of boot you are looking for, the most important thing is to be sure you get a proper fit. It is best to try on the boots after you have just gone for a hike or long walk. Your feet tend to swell up in size a bit after walking for a while. When you go to try on the boots, be sure to wear the type of socks you intend to hike with. Generally a medium thick sock made of a blend of mostly merino wool with nylon and Lycra (example: 80%/18%/2%) is best for hiking (yes, wool even in summer). There are a bewildering number of different types of socks, some can be quite expense. Just remember one important thing – Don’t hike in cotton socks. Never go for overnight backpacking trips in cotton socks. When cotton gets wet (even from sweating) it takes a very long time to dry and can be very uncomfortable causing blisters, heat loss and can even lead to hypothermia or frostbite. If you tend to often have trouble with blisters, you might try hiking with thin sock liners under your socks. This disperses much of the friction that causes blisters between the sock and the liner, sparing you skin.

Don’t worry too much about the shoe size, different brands have variations in sizes, plus you will be wearing heavier socks than normal, so expect the size to be larger than your normal shoes. Women sometimes have more trouble than men getting boots that fit, women shouldn’t hesitate to try on men’s hiking boots. The important thing is getting the right fit. To know if the boots fit, put on the boots without tying the laces, you should be able to fit your finger into the back of the boot pushing your foot forward without your toes touching or just barely touching the front of the boot. Now tie the laces and walk around. The boots should feel comfortable and hold your foot snuggly but not tight. You should be able to wiggle you toes freely. The heel of the boot should move with the heel of you foot with no slipping or friction. Once you purchase the boots, remember to break them in for a week or so be for you hike. Wear them around the house and around town on short walks before you go for extended hikes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Sandy Hook National Park Bike Ride

“Among the many thousands of things that I have never been able to understand, one in particular stands out. That is the question of who was the first person who stood by a pile of sand and said, "You know, I bet if we took some of this and mixed it with a little potash and heated it, we could make a material that would be solid and yet transparent. We could call it glass." Call me obtuse, but you could stand me on a beach till the end of time and never would it occur to me to try to make it into windows.” --
Bill Bryson
So we took a drive down to Sandy Hook to spend the day riding our bike by the sea. For those of you in other parts of the world or just not familiar with Sandy Hook, it is a National Park.  Sandy Hook is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area in the New York / New Jersey Area.  Sandy Hook jets out into the lower New York Bay, just below Brooklyn.  Fortunately for my family it is only about an hours drive away from our house. 
Sandy Hook Coast Guard
One of the best things about Sandy Hook is the bike path.  It is over a five mile loop interconnected with very low traffic park streets.  You can ride your bike around Sandy Hook all day without getting bored.  There are some nice shady parts of the path through patches of trees and other parts of the path running along the ocean with fantastic views of the Sea, passing ships and New York City.
There are a ton of things on Sandy Hook to keep a family entertained.  This time of year the beach still has a cold wind that keeps most people off of it, but in the summer it is beautiful. For the more intrepid there is Gunnison Beach (clothing optional).  There’s an old light house or you can ride you bike or walk around Fort Hancock (closed Army base with many relics from World War II).  There are hiking trails and old gun batteries and the “proving grounds” to explore and old Army missiles are scattered around the park on display.  Sandy Hook base was the site of a Cold War Nike Missile installation (guided tours are available including the Radar installations still in good condition).   At the north end of the island is an active US Coast Guard base (normally off limits to the public).
Sandy Hook Beach NJ

National Park Service Sandy Hook Web Site
SandyHook National Park
Short Video Clips from yesterdays bike ride:

Shop Campmor Today!

Friday, April 2, 2010

RailRiders Zipper / Mesh Vented Hiking Pants

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes” - Pooh

About a month ago a read a post from Earlylite over at Sectionhiker.com.  For the past couple years he has been using RailRiders Eco-Mesh pants for hiking and backpacking trips rather than shorts.  He started wearing them to avoid ticks.  This made me start thinking about a backpacking trip I did last fall on the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey.  It was a three night trip and most of it was fantastic, but there were a few hours in a few spots where the bugs were driving me freaking crazy!  I was wearing convertible pants as shorts and didn’t want to change them into long pants since the temperature was well over 85 degrees and I was already overheating.  I used DEET bug spray, but didn’t think to spray it up my shorts!  The next day I had dozens of bits on my upper thighs. 

So I thought I’d give these RailRiders Eco-Mesh Pants a try.  They are not convertibles.  Instead they have zippers running up both sides (27 inches) with bug mesh inside.  This lets in plenty of air to keep you cool. In addition they are treated with “insect shield” (Insectshield.com) which is a Permethrin treatment that should last through 70 washings and still keep the bugs off.  They are made out of 2-ply 3-oz. Duralite nylon.  This material seems to me to feel softer and not as stiff and most hiking pants.  On the RailRiders web site these pants are listed at 9.7 oz; this must be the small size. I have the medium 30” inseam and they weigh 12.4 oz (351 grams).

So far after one very long day hike and a few hours on a bike with them; I am liking them quite a lot.  There is no way they are as cool as wearing shorts, but considering the sun and bug protection I think it is a good compromise.  They are very comfortable and the material feels tough and should last.  I did notice a couple things that need improvement.  First, the minute I stepped out of the care to go for a day hike I realized the pockets have no “key clip”.  Almost all my other hiking pants do (including my shorts) and I have gotten used to using it for my car keys so I don’t have to worry about losing them.  I put the keys in the security pocket with my wallet – it was OK but I miss the clip.  I also noticed the back pockets are cut straight across with zippers.  I have a couple other pairs of pants (Mountain hardwear and LL Bean) that have these but also have additional back pockets cut at an angle so you can reach into them even when wearing a backpack.  I’ve gotten in the habit of keeping my map back there.   To bad these pants don’t have pockets like that since straight cut back pockets are not all that useful when you have on a backpack.

Overall, I like these pants and I’m glad I bought them. I may even experiment with some other RailRiders products. RailRiders is a small company so the products are not available in many stores.  I ordered these on line directly from their web site and the service was fine, I had no issues.  A few more details on these pants:

  • Sun protection is UPF 30+
  • 2-way zippers on both sides with mesh
  • 2 zippered back pockets
  • All pockets are mesh
  • 1 side zippered security pocket
  • Removable belt

 RailRider Pants












Disclosure: BackpackBaseCamp.com does NOT have any affiliate links to RailRiders.  RailRiders is at: http://www.railriders.com

BackpackBaseCamp.com is an affiliate of Amazon.com; Purchasing through these links will help support this web site: