The NEW Dutchware “Chameleon” Hammock

I would be less than a friend if I didn’t give my buddy Dutch a pump up on his new hammock. Originally asking for only $22,000, this Kickstarter portion of the project has now concluded with something over $200,000 in sales. All of those hammocks are currently being shipped out, and Dutch hopes to have the retail Chameleons available for order by sometime in mid June.

I had a chance to see one of the early-bird KS versions last weekend at the group hang down in Massachusetts. I was tremendously impressed. Quality construction, flexibility of use, a really nice new suspension system…. Dutchware has really nailed it on this one. They did a great job on both the hammock as well as on the on the video below. You should get a fairly good idea of exactly what’s on offer.

You will still need both a tarp and an under quilt to complete your set up, [and of course a top quilt or sleeping bag]. However, with a Chameleon as your base, you should be able to bring your entire sleeping system in at somewhere right around 4-5 pounds for three-season use.

 

[I received no consideration for this post. I simply want to recognize what I believe to be an astoundingly good product.]

 

 

(just) 17oz. Of Toasty Goodness …Rollin’ Nawth To BigGuy !!

   

My new LocoLibre  30° Ghost Pepper TQ on the layout table…. regular/wide w/2oz. overstuff. Ripstop By the Rolls “Fallen Leaves” camo with a titanium interior.

….now shipped !

Muchos Thanchos to George [@LL], hk2001 [for the FL design], and Kyle [@RSBtR]

(be sure to check out the “Original-full yard” click-thru at RSBtR… hk2001 created a camo pattern that only repeats 36″ x 60″)

“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….

Good light and great customer service

We had a power outage just over a week ago, and when I got my new “emergency” light out of the bucket, it didn’t work. It left me far less than happy because it had only been received back around the first of August. I had tried it out, charged it up fully, and put away for emergencies… seemed like what it was for.

I contacted customer service of both the distributor and the manufacturer with my complaint. Within the first 24 hours I had a response. They asked for a video, so I showed them one of me pushing the button and the unit not turning on. They replacement was authorized that same day, shipped as two day priority, and arrived Friday. I thought that was pretty good turnaround for two companies based out of southern China. Fortunately they had a US distribution warehouse in LA.

Who & What:

 

<< the Photo is a link       [BW provide a really nice presentation… You get a lot more information there than I could possibly put on this post]

Mine came from BangGood and they were the ones who ended up making good on the replacement.

Two of the features that most appealed to me in this unit were that it could be used as a power bank for charging up electronics, and that it had a red light mode to preserve your night vision. That extra utility helped make it appealing, not only as an emergency light, but also as something to take hammocking. The power button is a large, ball-point pen style clicky on one end. It is water proof/ covered by a glow-in-the-dark rubberized cap. [In my experience, by the time it is full dark and you need the light, the glow-in-the-dark cap has glowed out during twilight and can no longer be seen. You can punch it right back up with a quick exposure to a pocket flashlight though]. The other end of the cylinder is a tightly fitting, screw down cap that covers the charging port and power bank outlets. The power button end has a nice stainless steel bale for clipping on a carabiner, or to run a piece of line through to suspend the light from a branch.

The only “cons” to the BW-LT5 is that it is a bit heavy at 4.5 ounces [128gm] and the light source is directional… just one side of the device illuminates. I think I would’ve preferred full 360° lighting myself. [EDIT: an additional minor downside to this unit is that the clicky switch has to be cycled through all five modes to turn the device off.]

The original unit failed in that it would flash the four blue light pulses which supposedly indicated a full charge. However it would only do this when plugged into a USB outlet, and even then would neither turn on as a the light or provide charge-out as a power bank. The new unit works flawlessly. The failure of the original is actually puzzling because these things are built as solidly as the proverbial brick outhouse. I really don’t anticipate the replacement unit also failing.

Despite the inconvenience of the original device having failed, at the current [BangGood] price of just under $13 US, I still think the Blitz Wolf LT-5 is an incredibly good deal.

[you can buy these units on Amazon but the cost is nearly $30, and since BangGood ships from youthe US anyway and obviously stands behind their products, buying from them seems to be a 90%/50% deal].

 

This is probably an appropriate place to throw in an update as well. All the way back in August 2014 I posted about receiving a damaged SingFire LED Solar Powered Camping Lantern

[you can read the original post here ]

It too had been intended as an emergency light in case of power outages. As I indicated at the time, after a bunch of hassle I was able to make it function, but it has never worked quite right. You sometimes have to jikky with the knob to get it to even turn on, and the variable illumination control is pretty variable in its performance.

This came from my original go-to Chinese outlet in Sham Shui Po, DX [or Deal Extreme].

I’m happy to say that they also stood by their product, and while it took a couple of months for a second delivery, they did replace the unit with a brand-new one that worked right out of the box and still functions perfectly. I was even allowed to keep the original because of the ridiculous cost of reverse shipping.

File_000 (18)

Both the original and the replacement can take on a full charge in about 4 to 6 hours out the sunlight. They seem to give a bit more than four hours when run at medium to high. I do not actually keep the four AA batteries in the units as backup power. My battery drawer is right here at hand if the solar charge should give out too quickly. The batteries add quite a bit of weight, and I’m always concerned that they might corrode from disuse and damage the light between emergencies.

As I noted originally, this lamp is far too large for backpacking but gives a very nice illumination in a campground site. I’m one of those people who absolutely loath it when one of my campground neighbors turns on their Coleman SuperNova Klieglight that casts harsh shadows at 100 yards. The SingFire Lantern is bright enough for most purposes, and still allows you to be a good neighbor. It gets a recommendation because the replacement unit works so nicely. The link above shows that it comes in the slightly changed form now, but the price point is still about what I paid…. under $20US. However, if you only want one of these lights, buy the BlitzWolf since it gives comparable illumination, is backpack friendly, and also doubles as a power bank.

Cold hands are not happy hands

A couple of years ago, in the Fall, when I saw all of the squeeze’n’shake, “hot-hands” chemical hand warmers start showing up on all the check-out counters, I got nostalgic for my old Zippo™ lighter fluid hand warmer that I had had back when I was a teenager. I got one when I was probably 11 years old, and first started out going winter camping in Boy Scouts. I seem to remember that my brother and I were both given them one Christmas.

Back there in Michigan, they were pretty popular with the ice fishermen. You could even get a little flannel belt with two pockets to hold them over your kidneys. I remember loving having mine when I was out sledding as a kid.

I did remember them kicking around for years but not getting much use when we later lived in the Carolinas. Then I had vague memories of having used one down on Cape Cod back in the 80s when I was building houses and slating roofs… right through the winter. I hadn’t seen it since I moved to Maine in 2005… I guess it just went away…. the way things do when you move. You get rid of things and have no memory of doing so… then later on you miss having them.

I looked them up on the Internet, and sure enough, you could still buy one on Amazon. The best part was that they were still being manufactured by Zippo. So, I ended up adding one to a purchase to come up to the free shipping. [ in the same matte black that I purchased, they are currently priced at $12.92 on Amazon ]

Just in case you are not familiar with these units:

You simply pull off the little chromium heating element and add lighter fluid to the bottom half. You then hold a lighter flame under one side of the element for 15 or 20 seconds. Somehow this causes a slow, continuous combustion of the fumes from the fluid. You slip the spring-fit top half back on, let it heat up for a minute or two, and then put the whole unit in the little drawstring bag.

 

You can get up to eight hours, or even more, on a single fill-up… And it gets far, far warmer then the chemical units.

If you buy the chemical packet heaters over the counter at a variety store they can cost as much as $2 a piece. Doesn’t take too long to come up to the full cost of this unit even if you throw in an extra $5 for lighter fluid.

I have been really delighted to have one again. On cold mornings, even right here in the house, I will fire it up and put it inside the collar of my fleece, against the nape of my neck. It warms up the blood going to my brain, and at my age that’s probably a pretty good thing. Of course, once you head outside, it will warm your fingers up in just a few moments, even through gloves.

 

Imagine my surprise this morning when I was rooting around in the back corner of one of my bureau drawers… Voila!

 

Old Faithful.

Note that the old school unit features a large hole so that you could poke a cigarette  in and then light up off of the glow coil.

At some point I had hand-sewed a replacement bag out of an chamois cloth LL  Bean shirt remnant after that same hole burned a corresponding burnhole in the original red flannelette bag. Yes, this old unit would need a consumer protection warning in today’s weenie world. The chromium metal gets hot enough to cause first to second degree burns.

The design has changed only minimally. Real plated brass, real metal chrome like on yer ’53 Cadillac’s bumper, a bit heavier, and it appears to be a few/16ths thicker, so it holds a bit more fluid, and lasts a bit longer. [now going on nine hours]

I put some fluid into the old antique… it fired up instantly. I think that it’s fairly certain that it even gets hotter than the current units.

One for each pocket.

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]

 

 

Laguiole “Picnic” Knife

Last fall I got a wild hair and finally bought a Laguiole style knife. I say “style” because these are one of the most heavily cloned knives out there. “Laguiole is like “Kleenex”… It has passed into common usage for any similar sized, folding pocket knife with a similar sweeping blade. I was under no illusions when I ordered this that it was an actual, handcrafted knife from the village of Laguiole, France, or even the adjoining town of Thiers. For one thing, the Shepherds Cross detail on the handle is upside down, and the rivets are not perfectly aligned. While it actually did ship from France, it is certainly a generic version. And, quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with that.

Here’s a quick link to the Wikipedia entry, and it contains other links at the bottom if you want even more information>>  The Laguiole knife

I have quite a number of what I consider to be decent knives suitable for a variety of purposes, but I lack the money to do any serious collecting of fine blades. This is where my 90%/50% criteria is often used.

The classic Laguiole pocketknife was what you took along to cut up your  fruit and cheese, your baguette and sausage on a picnic in the French countryside. If you had one of the units with the corkscrew, you could open your bottle of cheap vin ordinaire.

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One of the hallmarks of Lagouile knives is the semi three-dimensional bee on the spine of the knife over the ferrule. A second is the engraving along the spine. [the photo at the left is clipped off the Internet, but shows both of these features] Even on the non-handcrafted knifes, the the finer the detailing of these, the better chance of the entire knife being higher-quality. These were two items that I looked for when I started shopping around and comparing the offerings. I was lucky, and the knife I purchased was even more finely detailed than the one shown.

 For my purposes, that is quite enough. This one comes branded “Laguiole L’ Eclair”. It is reportedly made in China of an unknown quality of stainless steel, but takes a very fine, sharp edge with minimum effort. Certainly fine enough for preparing food, and use as a “picnic” knife. The blade opens with a satisfying “snick”, but this is not a locking style knife. However, it does take a firm push up against the back of the blade to disengage the back spring.

The slim blade makes it ideal for slicing. This is why I chose to add one to my camping cutlery. I have big, heavy knives; I have pocket knives and pocket tools. I can dress out a deer carcass, hack up some kindling, and take care of most ordinary camp chores. But none of them have the long, thin blade to finely slice an onion, or to make it a real pleasure to deal with that plate-sized, porterhouse steak that just came off the flaming hardwood coals of your open fire and render it into thin, juicy morsels. The Laguiole does.

It it is also the perfect size to go with my titanium dining set, and carries around perfectly in their mesh bag. Together with the SnowPeak spork, I’m covered. I can prepare and consume in perfect grace, dignity, and high style… while out “roughing it”.

I like using “nice” stuff. That’s how I roll.