‘Worth the weight’

worththeweight3thingsAs we age, sometimes gear list ‘Wants’ turn into gear list ‘Needs’ .

Some odd things become worth the weight in our packs, when years before we would have considered them heavy luxuries.

Here’s three of mine:

Backup Glasses / Magnifier

I’ve worn glasses since starting grad school, but only recently did I really, really need them to read small print; as in, I can’t read map details clearly without them.

A map you can’t read isn’t much better than no map at all.

So I need a backup.

I have always carried a map and a compass, and now I carry something to magnify with too. Having a backup to glasses on the trail could mean the difference between being lost and found.

For several years now, I have carried and used i4ulenses.

i4ulenses are lightweight but strong plastic, fit on the bridge of your nose like old-fashioned Pince-nez, and come with a small protective case for storage. You can order them in different magnification strengths.

Worth the weight? At 1/2 oz (14 g), to me, yes.

(And that’s the weight with case; if you are willing to skip the case and store them without, then half that weight.)

Foot Massage Ball

To help with some issues caused by a bruise on one of my feet, I recently got a Trigger Point Massage Ball as suggested by my PT.

It’s the perfect end-of-the-hiking day tool to help you massage those tired puppies.

Here a nice video showing some “Therapy Ball Exercises to Release Your Fascia”  and I find these good exercises for my hiking feet.

The ball also works great on other muscles as well. I massage my legs with it after a hike, too, especially the calves.

Worth the weight? At 3/4 oz (23 g), to me, yes.

The Uribag

The Uribag, aka the urinal bag, aka the better pee bottle.

At a certain point in a man’s life, the most important organ in the crotch area, the one that since puberty has been the focus of all his thoughts and life, ceases its role as the man’s master; a role then usurped by the humble prostate gland.

I first got a Uribag for road trips, where it works great, and then used it car camping in my tent to replace my traditional pee bottle.

For years I used a pee bottle for car camping, just a large plastic jar I found at Goodwill. It has a wide opening and a tight lid. When you live in the Pacific Northwest, you live with rain. And so you learn to stay dry in your tent at night. Pee bottles rule.

For backpacking, I use a tarp and bivy usually, and the Uribag is the perfect answer to not having to get out and get wet at night to pee – or, in Summer, to get out and get bit by bugs. And I really, really hate bugs, esp. mosquitoes.

The Uribag holds one liter. It packs small, expands and contracts easily, and the rubber balloon container is tough. It’s easy to clean, too: put in some water, maybe a tiny squirt of soap, shake it around and dispose of it properly (ie dispersed, not near a water source of any kind!)

Best of all, it is pretty easy to pee into while lying on your side: no more getting up on your knees to pee down into a bottle.

Worth the weight? At 2.0 oz, to me, yes.


My Caldera Keg

Kegmods-2016-03-22 My Caldera Keg setup, for use with the Esbit fuel mainly, includes two useful mods:

1) A carbon felt fabric strip that wraps about 3/4 of the way around, held in place by a “beer band” that comes with the Keg. (Carbon felt from Minibulldesign Cult.)

This solves the problem of picking it up out of the cone when it is hot, hot, hot with boiling water. Too hot for the usual bandana trick. It is an aluminum beer can after all.

Now, you could JB- Weld it into place, but I tried it on a test can and it was not much lighter than the beer band. So I use the beer band, which is both adjustable and detachable.

2) A protective bottom sleeve to keep the smudgy residue that Esbit fuel leaves on the bottom of the can from getting onto other things. This is simply a medium size boil-in-bag (from Pack-it Gourmet I think), cut down to fit at the top.

Additional weight of these three components: 17 grams.

I’d like to give a big thank you to Rand Lindsly from Trail Designs for working with through several long emails to help perfect my Keg setup. Terrific customer service!



The QiWiz Trowel

Gear I like:

Very cool titanium trowel made by QiWiz http://www.qiwiz.net/trowels.html which is both very light yet strong. It takes almost no space in a pack. The one I have pictured above is the Big Dig model.

Intended primarily for digging catholes to defecate* in, it has other uses as well. I find it useful for moving coals around the campfire.

And QiWiz is a great guy, too, who makes other fine quality gear. I use his wind screens now for all my pots.

*(Alas the English language lacks a neutral descriptive term for this common activity. “Shit” is offensive; “take a dump”, vulgar; “use the bathroom”, euphemistic; “go no.2”, juvenile; “defecate”, medicinal.)

Only wimps carry toothbrushes

Substitute for a backpacking toothbrush?

This is intended for brushing the teeth of babies and young children not old enough yet to do their own.

The bristles are very soft. It comes packaged with a gel and is made by Orajel.

As you can see, it fits on the end of adult’s finger and you then stick your finger in your mouth and clean all you want.

It weighs only 1 gram.

Maybe you’d like the Sesame street one ;)