It Ain’t the Ghost Whisperer!

However, at $17.28 including shipping from ShamSuiPo, I, for one, am not going to be arguing. The GW goes for $319.

When I was at a hang this Spring with my friend Iuri, I admired the jacket he had on assuming it to be a Ghost Whisperer… he’s a hip, young, upwardly mobile kind of guy who has the money for that type of thing. He said, “no, China”. So, when we were getting blown around by the lake winds up at the kayak hang recently, and I really wished I had some kind of a lightweight, but warm coat, I thought enviously of Iuri’s. When I got back, I looked ’em up on ALiBaba and ordered one. I don’t think I could’ve been happier even if I had the opportunity to actually try it on. For my needs, and at my kind of the price, it’s perfect… light, comfortable, warm, sufficiently wind-proof. I love the color, too. [much more a darker, blue-black than the photo shows] It’s the perfect thing to toss on just after dawn and before the day warms up, or once the evening shadows creep in and the temps drop.

Now… in fairness to the GW it reputedly has more down, and of a kind that is specially treated for loft and water repellency. But it also is only “stitch-thru” construction. $319 is a whole lot of money for a coat that isn’t even baffle-channeled. True, it is designed for layering, with an “active fit” for “climbing in the alpine, long-haul backpacking trips, and peak-bagging bids, where packing light and moving fast is key to reaching your objective”…. I have tried one on and found the fit restrictive on my less-than-fit, sixty-seven year-old body.

Specs~~ GW vs. “Joobox” branded:

  • 7D x 10D ripstop nylon / Polyester
  • claimed garment weight 7 oz / weighed @9.7 oz w/sack
  • down~ Q.Shield 800 fill-down / 90% white duck [no fill rating… seems like 650/700]
  • fill weight~2.6 oz / 2.5 oz
  • no hood on compared models
  • GW is designed to self-stuff into a pocket / Joobox came with a stuff sack
  • Joobox has two zippered slash hand pockets at the side-seams and two large interior, flat, “bag” pockets / GW~unspecified, but does have an adjustable, drawstring hem that the Joobox lacks

These don’t seem like a lot of differences to account for the $300 price differential. However, I don’t own a Ghost Whisperer jacket so I can’t pretend to do any real, considered, comparison here. There might very well be other differences that I am not aware of. That said, the Joobox jacket is my 90%/50% kind of deal [actually for only 5% in this case].

While it is simply specified to be a generic polyester material, I really like the “hand” to the fabric used on the Joobox. Nice and soft to the touch, easy to slide on the sleeves, soft around the neck and under the chin. Maybe it will prove to wear quickly or something. Due to the very large variations between Chinese and Western size charts, I ordered an XXL… while I have never bought anything in XXL before in my life, this was a perfect fit. [It is what I would expect in a men’s “Large” from someplace like Cabelas or L.L. Bean]. It is also roomy enough not to bind, and to allow for layering.

The Joobox’s one odd feature is that it came with the front zipper reversed… I expect to hold the pull in my right hand, and feed the little tang into it with my left. I am not certain, but I believe that women’s fashions may have the zipper reversed like this. This one was listed under “Men’s Wear”, was most definitely shown on a bearded male model, and is definitely not cut for a woman’s figure… Again, at this price I am not complaining. Oh, and in the stuff sack, it goes down to the size of a 12oz soda. I’ll give the bag a silicon/hydrophobic treatment with Atsko spray and be good to go. I also plan on spraying the entire jacket [exterior] with the Permethrin semi-permanent insect repellent to help keep the lil’ buggers at bay.

>> Good Deal / Highly Recommended <<

Got A New ‘Mock~~ not a camo… a Chameleon

I tried a couple times over the past few months to sell two of my hammock rigs. [Stop laughing! A lot of people I know I have at least 6 to 8 different hammocks]. I’m not sure I ever got around to putting up a post about either of these. They were both full setups… Hammock, net, tarp, suspensions. I liked them both. The thing was, that I didn’t really need either of them. I LOVE my Amok Draumr. Anyway, I put them both back up for sale a couple of weeks ago, and they both sold within 36 hours. I made a bit more back than I had in them.

My friend Dutch, of Dutchware, had just finished a $15,000 Kickstarter offering for another new style hammock. He ended up with over $200,000 in orders. I missed out on those early bird KS deals, but I was very much interested in getting one of his new “Chameleons”. I saw a couple of them back at the end of April down in Ashby, Massachusetts at a NEHHA Hang. He managed to get a lot of truly great features from a lot of other really great hammocks all condensed down into one unit. They are just a regular “banana” hammock, just really nicely kitted out. The only problem was, Dutch had so many orders already in hand that he isn’t ready to sell any Chameleons at retail yet.

Typical of so many people over on Hammock Forums, one guy ended up getting a KS Chameleon, saw a second great deal on a different hammock that he had really wanted for a long time, and decided to sell the Chameleon ASAP. I got it, together with an under quilt for an outrageously good price because he is already saved a bunch by getting in on the Kickstarter early. [He was in a hurry to make a deal to get his 2nd deal, so I ended up only paying about 70% of the retail for both the ‘mock and the UQ, plus this guy tossed in free shipping. The UQ is also brand-new, an untouchable deal even at its full retail, and something I had contemplated buying anyway. 20°F rated… he had gotten into go with the Chameleon]. I got what I wanted, he got what he wanted.

I had it shipped down to North Carolina instead of Maine because I knew I would be away for two weeks, and would be too excited to wait to see it. I had hoped to do a first hang up along the Blue Ridge Pkwy, or in the Great Smoky Mountains Park. However, it was too damp and drizzly most of the time we were up there. It never came out of the car trunk.  I did get a chance to set it up over at Morrow Mountain State Park, outside of Albemarle NC, over Memorial Day weekend. We were up at the top of the mountain, and the right-hand end there is pointing out to a 30 mile view.

I won’t bore you with details, you can look them up by checking out >> the Dutchware Kickstarter <<… Suffice it to say, it’s quite awesome.

[Oh, yeah. I had $.16 left on the dealz, and I fell asleep within 5 minutes]

 

 

“FftzzzzZap!”

 

Everybody Hate’s ‘Em….

Everybody brags about their’s!

 

 

 

 

 

“Who you gonna call….?”

 

 

 

Mini zzzZZapper !

PETA certified [People for the Electrical Termination of Annoyances]

My own personal choice is the MINI ZAPPER Electric Bug Eliminator from Yankee Trader. Yeah… mine comes from down at the Fell-Off-A-Truck Stop, SoSorry. No link. But only $3.99 for the mini & $5.99 for a full sized one.

[Plenty of others out there to choose from…]

The “Mini” is 16 inches long, that’s about four inches shorter than the full-size unit. Both of them run on two AA batteries… Not Included of course. And both of them seem to deliver the same 3200 V of  ‘skeeter blasting, blue light flashing,  ZzzZap!!-ing power.

I had grabbed one of the grey, full-sized units last summer. It does do exactly what it’s advertised to, and when I saw the mini version that would be a little easier to stick into my camping tote, I snatched it up last week. Doesn’t hurt to have an extra unit to pass around the fire circle.

My original was a great hit each time I took it out group camping last summer. Our first hammock hang was in late May, and last year, both the mosquito and the blackfly populations were vicious. Everybody wanted to borrow it…

I do not actually have any particular problem with bugs biting me. They are attracted to certain blood types, and to certain pheromones [Chemical trace scents that are unique to individuals]. My own whiffy package seems to be on the less desirable end of their scale. I get swarmed by the blackflies swirling in my face and crawling under  my collar just as badly as anybody else, but I don’t get bitten or have any sort of allergic reaction.  And the high-pitched buzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz as a mosquito homes in on you as just as annoying to me as to others.

But, regardless of your own desirability to the bugs, these “zappers” are really great to have around the campfire during the worst of bug season. They are not only efficient but there’s a fairly high level of entertainment value as well.  There is just nothing like hearing the hummmm of a mosquito back behind your ear, pushing the button, swinging the racket alongside your head, and hearing the rewarding “fffzzzZAP!” as that particular little bugger bites the dust…. everyone else in the circle gets rewarded by seeing the sparkling flash blue light as the critter goes to meet its maker in a sizzling whiff of burned hair stink. With the blackflies especially, sometimes a single swing can take as many as five or eight to a crackling doom.

Now if we could just come up with something to take care of the ticks….

One of Life’s Unanswerable Questions…

“Can a guy have too many hats…?”

If you bought this one, the answer is probably, “YES !”… Even at $6.85 US.

I am not a big fan of camo. I have one coat that is essentially a camo military BDU with a hooded sweatshirt liner. It’s a nice coat that only cost me about $15 at WallyWorld a few years ago. But it is a bit heavy to take along if you’re going camping. It’s also non-weatherproofed cotton, and so is prone to getting pretty soggy if it gets wet out. It does it have those great mil-spec pouch pockets that lets you stuff in a lot of gear, and there are upper, slash-pockets for your hands in addition to the big patch ones down lower. It’s a great coat in fall for just taking a meander in the woods since you can carry along so much just in the pockets… As long as somebody doesn’t mistake you for a deer. [Good Idea #1: Wear Orange in the Fall !!]

None of my actual camping/hammocking gear or tarps is in camo. Just not interested, and I like to be able to see my stuff when the light gets dim. It’s hard enough not tripping over my guy-lines.

However, for about that same $6.85 US, I did buy this nice, low crown, BDU-style cap in “fallen leaves” camo outta Sham Shui Po at some point in the past few years…  Cotton, with a full cotton top-lining, and a Velcro backstrap it was one of those deals that you would pay $30 for at a Cabela’s, or Bass Pro Shop… $23 bucks more… all for a sewn-in brand tag that cost $.13.

 

It fits nice and low on your head, so the brim provides really great shade. I broke it out this morning to sit in the sun out on the front porch and warm myself in the snow glare. Figgured it was worth showing… Then I found the “gillhie” hat and knew I had to do a post.

Totally Worthless Factoid: back when men still wore fedoras, “Looks like you need a new hat…” was Brooklyn slang for a twenty dollar bribe… 

 

[sorry, no link for my hat… Seems to no longer be offered]

 

 

The Beloved Fell-Off-A-Truck Stop

This is another one of those informational posts.

 

We have all had the cashier at the register ask us, “Did you find what you were looking for today, honey?”… when you weren’t looking for anything in particular and are spending $25 anyways.

 

 

I frequently make reference in these posts to the “Fell-Off-A-Truck Stop”. These are actually a variety of different places. Primary among them is Ocean State Job Lot, a chain that originates out of Rhode Island. Our other contributor, local to Maine only, is Marden’s, where their slogan is, “You should’ve bought it when you saw it“. However, the phrase can also include any a variety of mom-and-pop discounts… The kind you go to get a great deal on the ubiquitous “Blue Tarp”, cheap painting supplies, and even cheaper screwdriver sets.

Elsewhere you can usually find the same kind of places being called “Big (guy name)’s”, “Building #Xxx”,   ____Warehouse, etc. They all stock stuff that you might not see the next time you go, so you end up going back on a regular basis… “just in case”.

Mine almost always relieve me of at least a couple of dollars. I get great deals on snack foods that are appropriate for camping, unique foodstuffs that make my cooking more adventurous, and small electronics and another useful junk that comes in cheap enough that it’s not a problem if you lose it in the woods. Marden’s actually has great deals on shoes and boots. Brand names like Timberline and Merrill… but only if they happen to have one in your exact size, ‘cuz there may only be three pairs all-told in that style. That’s why I call them fell -off -a-truck joints. It’s almost always closeouts, closing-business-salvage and small quantities.

When you’re looking to scrounge a cheap alternative, these are the places to go… even if you don’t know what you’re looking for or just what you might want to scrounge that particular day.

Whazdis “90%/50%” Buzz On Here…?

Since there are often references to this, and previous explanations are now buried deep in the archive, I wanted to do a quick post, and actually link it to a new “tag”.

I have been living on a very reduced income for quite a long time now. Currently, things are a little bit better, but when I started this blog I didn’t have much in the way of disposable income. As a result, a lot of these posts concerned finding alternatives to higher priced items.

Whether it’s by DIY, $$-store finds, scrounging, substituting, or buying a lower priced version of a  high-end item, there are a lot of ways that you can “make do”.

My guideline throughout my gear posts has always been, “if you can get something that provides 90% of the utility for 50% or less of the cost you got a good deal” … I frequently make reference to this as “the 90%/50%”. *

~A symbol of balance made of stones on a sea cliff~

 

For me at least, figuring out ways to make do is its own reward. Sometimes this could mean doing without, or settling for less. Nearly everybody could throw out about a third of the stuff in their pack and never miss it. Some things are just a luxury that you really want, and you are willing to pay the cost whether it is monetary, weight, bulk, convenience etc. Part of “hiking your own hike” is finding your own balance in that equation.

 

Most of you’re probably aware of the term “gram weenie”. I’m not one; I am a money weenie. My own parents grew up during the American depression of the 1930s. They knew what it was like to do without. Some of this ingrained frugality passed on to me, and it was increased by my severely reduced income. If you want to cut the tags off of your clothing and gear, hack off the handle of your toothbrush, reduce the weight of your tarp a few ounces by purchasing one made of Cuban fiber… great! [for you]. If that’s what you want, and that’s what you can afford, Go for it! In essence, I do exactly the same thing with my expenses. In everything from my utilities to my “spree” spending, I try to trim every corner I possibly can.

I have the handicapping “luxury” of being 67 years old. I am not going to do a PCT through hike. When I go out, I’m either camping out of the back of my SUV, hiking a limited way into the woods to hang up my hammock, or heading off in my canoe or kayak down a lake. That means I don’t have to worry about that couple of extra pounds. I do worry about having enough money left over to pay for the travel expenses and to provide myself with a few luxuries and comforts to make my time as enjoyable as it can be. Do I have a 27 ounce backpack to carry my gear…? DUH!… but I bought a discontinued model when it went on closeout. This is what 90%/50% does for me.

I buy some of my stuff out of Sham Shui Po in Hong Kong’s Kowloon section. I can find items that are for all intents and purposes identical to those sold by the Cabela’s, Walmarts, LL Beans, and all the other stateside gear outlets…. They just won’t have that branding tag. I might have to wait two weeks or a month for delivery but they mostly come with free shipping included, and at far lower prices. I have almost never been disappointed in the quality. The same thing goes for dollar store finds. I can find sturdy, non-loadbearing, Aluminum carabiners priced at $.69 over at my Fell-Off-A-TruckStop. They are every bit as good for their uses as anything else on the market. I don’t need some fancy, twist lock carabiner to put on the end of a rope and hook up my Bear bag… Why, you know… I could just tie the line right through the handles on that plastic bag the stuff I grabbed at the grocery market came in. It would work just as well.

Like I said, my 90%/50% criteria works fine for me…. Now you know what I’m mean by it.

 

[ * Just recently I violated my own guidelines by buying a pretty darn expensive 30° top quilt (when it comes, I’ll do a review and explain why I made the exception). I’ve violated those guidelines previously when I bought my AMOK Draumr hammock. In both these cases however, I waited until the items went on sale. But I have also consistently saved money on other things that have made these splurges rationalize-able/ justifiable in my own mind.]