Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mugs and Nikwax

I'm still making stuff honest!  But in the mean time I thought I'd just share a couple of little solutions to minor problems that I've encountered over the last couple of weeks.

Firstly mugs.  As you know from my last post I use an Alpkit MyTiMug as my only pot/mug thingy.  A lot of the time I especially in the mornings when I’m wanting to get up and go I really wish I had a separate mug to drink tea from whilst having breakfast.  Also during the day if you stop for a brew as all my cook kit fits inside the MyTiMug I have to wait until I finish said brew before I can pack up and put stuff in my bag.  A separate mug, oh how useful you would be…

Now the thought of carrying extra weight, even that of a mug is pretty repugnant to most normal people, it is to me anyway, the lightest I had seen was this,

Expensive, light, out of stock and very sexy.

I’d never considered one of these  

It’s an Orikaso Mug.  I picked up a full set of Mug, Plate and Bowel from eBay for £3.99 including postage, just search on the site for Orikaso (I’m in no way connected to the seller by the way).

It weights 37g and folds flat.  I know they’ve been around for years, for some reason I’ve never clicked that this is a solution to the mug problem and remains in the realms of acceptability for weight.  It could also be used as a chopping board or a lure to attract giant tadpoles.

Now on to Nikwax.  I apologise now if this is teaching grandmas to suck eggs.  I’ve always had a bit of a hit and miss experience with reproofing clothes with Nikwax, mainly miss.  I’ve always used a washing machine, done the washing the dispenser thing and running it through empty on the hottest wash to clean the machine of detergent.

Combinations of drip drying, tumble drying all sorts and stuff never has a DWR like it does new from the shop.  I tried hand washing this week instead.  Absolutely bloody brilliant, quicker, less energy and DWR just like out of the shop.  I do have to point out this was the first time I had used Nikwax on Paramo, I know the two were developed to work together so perhaps I should expect better results than on Goretex but by Jingo it worked.  That is all.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Cooking Gear

I think most of us would put stoves and cooking gear in general, in our top two of most desirable bits of kit.  Shelters/tents/tarps taking up the other place.  I do anyway.

I realised that I’ve not posted much about the cooking equipment I use.  I’ve never done a dedicated post anyway.  Over the years I’ve used most types of backpacking stoves.  I started out way back when, with a full Trangia set, two pans, kettle and frying pan.  A brilliant bit of kit more suited to car camping than backpacking due to its weight.

When I started on the lightweight revolution I got a Coleman F1 gas stove - £15 and about 80g.  For the money a brilliant bit of kit, easy, fast, convenient.  The main problem was the gas you had to screw on the bottom of it.  Big metal canisters being thrown away and stored half full in a cupboard.  Again I still have this stove and I’m gradually using up the half full canisters when car camping.

Two or three years were then dedicated to making and messing about with meths stoves.  This is a very addictive pastime. Be warned!  I developed a small side burner stove made from Red Bull cans which an Alpkit MyTiMug could sit directly on top off.  This was quite efficient, very fast and did away with the need for a pot stand, just a wind screen.  I used this stove for about a year, but there were always problems with balance.  You needed a flat, preferably dead flat area.  I had a couple of spills and started looking for something else.

Woodburners, although fun are not massively practical when you just want a quick cup of tea in the morning.  I made a couple of stoves out of food cans with roughly the same dimensions of the Bush Buddy.  They worked reasonably well, very environmentally friendly but just not quick enough when you take into account the time for fuel collecting and prep.

I’d never tried solid fuel tablets or esbit.  I had dismissed these as stuff boy scouts used years ago.  After reading on the web of a lot of American hikers using them and then finding Colin Ibbotson's design I decided to give them a go.  I haven’t looked back since.  You can pick them up in most high street camping shops.

Having just finished making a copy of my cooking system for a friend’s birthday present I thought I post a few pictures and a brief description.  I make no claims for the design of the below.  They are copies of Colin’s ideas.  This is the most convenient, stable, quiet, and just down right brilliant way of cooking I’ve used.  I do just tend to heat up water for food and drinks.

To start with is the Alpkit MyTiMug, this is the newer one.  Mine’s got a small wooden knob on the top, this one is slightly lighter at 116g on my scales (including the lid).  My original apart from being sooted up is as good as new after about five years use and for £25 is probably one of the best bargains out there.

The stove itself is made from an aluminum foil baking tray.  I got two trays for £1 from Poundland and you can get two stoves out of one tray making the total cost of the stove 25p.  I say stove, when in reality it’s a dual pot stand/wind screen.  The two ends are clipped together with paper clips and a tent peg is slipped through the holes either side of the vent holes.  The pot with its handles extended sits on the tent peg and the side of the stove.  The stove can easily take the weight of a full pot despite its flimsy appearance.  The solid fuel tabs sit on the round piece of foil and just left to burn under the pot.  The stove weighs 9g

The pot cozy is made from three pieces of old closed cell foam mat to form a cylinder with one end that can be removed.  This is much more robust and efficient than the silver bubble wrap pot cozy.  It also provides a strong cover for the pot in your bag to stop the soot rubbing onto your other kit.  This weighs 25g.  I’ve just fixed mine with gaffer tape, Colin has used Araldite on his.  I didn’t have any.  The savings in weight and cost of fuel by using a pot cozy are immense.

The whole lot fits inside the cozy and this can also accommodate enough fuel tablets for a weekend trip making a very neat little package costing well under £30 and tipping the scales around the 150g mark.  As there are no special tools needed, apart from a single hole punch which can be picked up on the high street.  It’s a making moment most people can do.