Almost anyone who has occasion to go through any sizable inner city these days has seen the indigent folks with the cardboard signs… “Will work for food”… “Homeless veteran with PTSD- anything would help”.
What the signs will never tell you, of course, is that they are also quite possibly an alcoholic or an addict. It just goes hand-in-hand with both ending up in a hopeless situation, and preventing you from being able to escape or change. I speak from experience. I have been clean and sober for something over a quarter of a century now. No brag, just fact. While I did not end up in a burned-out tenement, or sleeping in the weeds, I did end up indigent and homeless, sleeping in the front seat of a pickup truck.
My bottom took me far enough down that I always look at people begging at stop light intersections with a “junkie’s eye”. For me at least, your contribution wasn’t going to buy food …it was going to take care of my Jones. A bag or a bottle… so I will not give money to street people. I will feed them.
Whenever I find myself with more dollar store consumables that I can consume… which is pretty much constantly… I make up packages of those exact same things that I would take out hiking.
I keep a few in the car. These I can then pass out to the indigent, and needy at a stoplight. Jerky, crackers, cookies, breakfast bars… there is a decent caloric weight in each bag that can keep somebody going for a day at a time.
I pray that none of us ever has to deal with homelessness or dereliction, but if it did happen, think what a little kindness, and a little bag of food might mean to you…
Tomorrow I need to go “down Babylon”, so I just made up four new packs out of my extra stuff for those I might encounter who can’t leave it behind as easily as I will.
[Random Info Tidbit: one of the other things that the indigent and homeless can always use is a new pair of socks… they have them at the dollar store, too]
I paired up a $20 Cosco down throw with a $21 lightweight Chinese bag made with “imitation silk” insulation and a “waterproof” outer covering. The silver throw fits inside the orange bag to give me a combo sleep system that should take me well down into the 40°s range. Either piece can also be used individually, or in conjunction with one of my other bags to grab a few more degrees.
You can never tell what you’re going to get with the Chinese stuff, but the “imitation silk” seems to be almost the same thing as the products marketed stateside as ClimaShield… a continuous/single filament insulation that comes on a roll, and cuts and sews just like cloth. I am not going to bet on fully waterproof, but the exterior of the orange bag does bead up water enough that it rolls right off. This should be sufficient, since I’m really mostly interested in it keeping the dew off of my down bag when I don’t want to put a tarp up over my hammock.
I used the Infamous Thread Injector to sew a drawstring channel along the full width of the bottom of each bag. About 2 inches on the silver bag, and about five on the orange one. That way the foot box space on the orange bag is larger and won’t compress the down in the silver foot box. The two drawstrings can just be tied with an overhand knot to hold the footboxes together. [I also cut out the perimeter zipper on the Chinese bag]
The Costco throw came quilted into six-inch squares. I went ahead and pulled out all of the vertical stitching. This allows some of the down that was caught in the original sewing job to add to the loft. You can also now fluff the down toward the center/top of the bag so that more down will be over your body. I added vertical sewn-thru quilting to the orange bag… mostly as a “just in case” to prevent the insulation from tearing and shifting. And having the channels in the two bags at 90° opposition to each other should help keep down any cold spots.
I still have to put on a couple of snaps on each long edge to hold the pair together. Of course, in the way of all things, these are exactly what I forgot to pick up when I was at the Wallyworld down Babylon today. However, last night I just used safety pins, and then took the comboed pair out in the hammock and down into the low 50°s for a couple of hours to watch the stars come out. Worked a charm.
Specs: 38oz …78″ x 30″ … approx 2 1/2″ loft in the pair. Together, the two pack down to about the size of a gallon of milk.
A little heavier than I would really like, but the CDT only goes 15oz on its own, and I will probably be using it by itself as my go-to TQ for most of my fair weather camping. So, at a cost of under $45, and just a couple of hours work, it’s a combo that seems awfully hard to beat.
[Jus’ sayin’~~ If you have a Costco warehouse near you, and can pick up one of these throws for $19.99, you’re foolish to pass it up]
Those who camp are subject to buying “bling” to trick out their gear. Carabiners, clips, mitten hooks, whatever, there are a lot of small things that can make your gear more useful. In the hammocking circle, the really cool stuff for your suspension is made from titanium… Super strong, Super lightweight, Super pricey.
Super easy to drop into the leaf mold and lose forever. Enter the “Bling Bag”.
My old flame and high school sweetheart [who has reentered my life] made me up these drawstring bags with mesh interior pockets to keep my tiny goodies safe and secure. The greatest part about them is that, when opened only partway, they create an actual bowl so that your parts-is-parts won’t fall out.
We are going to be making these up in a limited quantity. If you might be interested leave a message in the comments. [and, No Worries, Mate… I will redact any email addresses before approving the comment to appear]
According to John Rogers in Origins of Sea Terms: a Ditty Bag is “a small bag in which a sailor keeps small tools and equipment, also personal articles” .
My friend Jerry [aka: Snaggletooth] from my hammocking circles was kind enough to let me re-blog his post about what he keeps in his. He has really managed to cram an awful lot of small quantities of possible needs into a small volume.
BAG 1: Survival
BAG 2-: First Aid
Bag 3: Hygiene
He also has a BAG 4: with TP, Baby wipes spade [cathole tool?], and bandana
He told me that he gets many of these “smalls” in small quantities from Minimus.biz [free s&h with $20 orders]
Thanks for the post and info, Snagg…
There is a “hammock hang” planned for out in Western Massachusetts in a couple of weekends, and making sure that people come with proper footwear is a great concern for the responsible, and experienced, old-timers. Frostbitten tootsies equal hospital visits. And the E.R. is a less than optimal way to have your weekend turn out… the whining is also pretty annoying. You just can’t count on keeping your feet warm by holding them out toward a fire.
So, I just cherry-picked a great tip from my friends SkyPainter and Nighthauk over on HammockForums.
It is the simple genius of cutting a couple of pieces of Reflectix insulation to the shape of the liners for your pakboots like the Sorels, Kamiks, Bogs or LL Bean Ducks, and placing them underneath the felts. These will help reflect both the warmth back upward to your feet, and the cold back toward the ground… Thanks guys!
[photo from Nighthauk]
Mad bush skills and tremendous dedication, not to mention time and patience, show that you really can Robinson Crusoe a life in the wild with nearly nothing.
I can’t figure out getting this video to link and play on the site, so just click HERE.