Return of the Prodigal Spork

18 months ago I lost my sweet SnowPeak titanium Spork.

I broke camp in the middle of the night because of the appalling nature of the coked-up junkies in the next site. They had returned at 1 AM, started a screaming match, and were being abusive to a three-year-old child. I left to go to the police department and turn in a CHINS report.

When it came time to sort my gear out down cellar after I got home, I discovered I must’ve left my spork behind. I knew it had been sitting out on the picnic table, and I pretty much assumed that I had just overlooked it in my hurry to be gone. I wrote it off as “Oh,well…” and eventually got around to ordering another one off of Amazon when they went on sale.

I was really fond of that little sucker. So fond that I actually used it around the house on a daily basis. [I am on my own since my wife passed away, and using the spork for a lot of things made it easier to just stay caught up on my dishes]. That’s why I sprung for a second one.

For under $10, I highly recommend these. They are available from Snow Peak and several other folks in basically identical form factors. You can even get them heat-anodized into various colors. The prongs are just long enough and sharp enough actually hold food, and the”spoon” is decently sized for scooping up liquids. If your broth is really thin, you are probably better slurping it up over the edge of your cup bowl and using the spork to clean up the chunks. And it’s just long enough cannot leave your fingers completely grotty if you were dipping down into a freeze-dry bag. It’s a great choice if you want to hold your carry down to a single eating utensil. With a good knife to cut things up, It’s really all you need.

Anyway, for all those reasons, I was really delighted when I put on my hunting vest recently and found it tucked in a pocket. I hadn’t “lost” it after all.

eLiza’s Bling Bags

BlingBags

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]

Army-Navy Finds

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My friend Norton from down in Virginia posted some photos online of he and his son tarping it and cooking some MRE chows out in the growing snowpocalypse that was Storm Jonas. I was very taken with the aluminum mug in one of the photos and pulled this clipping from it.

He told me it was a Russian Army issue that is much heavier gauge material than you would expect from the old-timey Boy Scout ones. I really do like the handle styling.

This is the kind of thing that you can sometimes pick up out at a yard sale or an Army Navy store that will turn out to be substantially better than a lot of things for sale in the camping catalogs. “Mil-Spec” items, regardless of nationality, are really made to take a beating. Finds like these are why am always happy to go cruise around a junk shop.

I have [metaphorically] kicked myself in the behind many times over the years for having passed up a knife/fork/spoon set at an Army Navy store down in New Bedford one time. I think it was all of $4 for a set. Made for the Swedish Army, stainless steel, and only two thirds the length of standard US mess flatware, but with the spoon bowl and fork tines full size. Even my new titanium camping set isn’t as sweet as the memory of that passed up opportunity.

Don’t be afraid to grab up stuff. You can always pass it on to others, or it might turn out to be your favorite gear.

What’s In YOUR Ditty Bag…?

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.

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BAG 1: Survival

  • Space blanket
  • Write in rain paper
  • Coffee Filter
  • Duct tape square
  • Plastic Mirror
  • Electrical tape and screw
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Tooth Pick, bobby Pin, Needle, paper clip,Shrink tube
  • Pencil with Duct tape
  • Aluminum clip
  • Tin Foil
  • Braided cord
  • Water purification Tabs
  • Esbit Fuel
  • Knife
  • Mini Bic
  • Laundry lint (cotton)[fire starter]
  • Fire starter chunk
  • Fire steel striker and jute

BAG 2-: First Aid

  • Misc Bandages
  • Gauze
  • Burn Cream
  • Neosporin
  • Mole skins
  • Antibiotic cream
  • Ora-gel
  • General Ointment
  • Insect bite aid
  • Aspirin
  • Mucinex
  • Tums
  • Lorazepam
  • Ibuprofen
  • ALeve
  • Anti-diarrhea

Bag 3: Hygiene

  • Pre Ivy towel
  • Mini towel
  • Boogie wipe
  • Insect repellent
  • Witch hazel towel
  • Floss packets
  • Gum picks
  • Toothbrushes
  • Hand lotion
  • Baby powder
  • Multi chap tube
  • Q-tip
  • Itch cream
  • Razor
  • Comb
  • Reading glasses

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…

A Hot Tip For Cold Feet

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!

ImageUploadedByTapatalk1451102038.744847 [photo from Nighthauk]

Git That Chow Up In a Tree For the Critter’s Sake

{{A RANT }}

Until that night when some critter raids your campsite, shuffling around and making critterish noises, and then actually paws at your tent,  you may not feel the need to hang your food up in the trees. I do. I have for years. …. It all started that night back in ’72 at Smokemont camp ground when the skunk walked out from under Philip’s chair and casually picked up the bag of marshmallows FROM RIGHT NEXT TO THE FIRE…

Anyway, I think it’s good practice, and sound bushcraft. It doesn’t take but a minute, it’s good for your peace of mind, and it’s better for the critters. The creatures of the night don’t need to be building a taste for mesquite barbecue potato chips, Budweiser, Pack-It Gourmet freeze-dried Gumbo, and M&Ms. You don’t need them tearing up your gear looking for midnight snacks.

Well Ninja Grasshoppers, just recently I came across the high tech version of tying a rock to a piece of paracord to toss your line over a branch.

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[  In a display of a total lack of any shame whatsoever, the Chinese site pirated an entire screen clip from the site of the people originally producing and marketing this product in titanium. That clip is what is reproduced above in a redacted form.  Since I am planning on negatively reviewing this product as a ridiculous waste of your money,  I will not be referring to the original site. In fact, I have made every effort to remove references in the above photo. ]

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THIS is [the Chi-clone of] an $85 titanium throwing star for tossing your bear-bag line over a tree branch. The clone only costs $20 in stainless, and does come with the bear-shaped thingy that goes for an additional $40 more bucks [in titanium] on the original site. [Bear-thingy seems to be some kind of guyline tensioner… not really sure what good one alone is gonna be. I’d want eight for all the lines on my tarp, cute, but $320 seems like a little pricey]. The other gateless-carabiner piece seems to be something to hook your bear-bag to, but I’m clueless as to how it is supposed to help. I am also pretty much clueless as to why you want four stainless steel shepherds-hook stakes… I always just tie off to the tree.

Folks, this a a chunk of metal with holes in it and 24′ of line for $20… or $85!!

Did you notice that this lil ninja star puppy is a hugemongous 4 1/2″ square and goes 5.75 oz [alone, all by itself… and that’s in the titanium]? Who knows what the Chinese SS-version weighs. All just in order to toss one end of an eight or 10 yard length of line over a branch.  I suppose that if you have one of the $69 bear-proof bags in that bulletproof Spectra fabric [another 8oz., gram-weenies!] … ??  …. you good for $20 more…? …let alone for the full original price of $85 ? …it’s that sexy, irresistible titanium, isn’t it?    Forget it. No, no, no, no. 

To my mind, not only is this a ridiculous waste of money for a needless product to simplify an already mindlessly simple, one minute task, but the idiot thing looks like it’s just asking to get tangled around a branch or twig and actually create a problem. Either a $20 problem, or an $85 problem… you takes yer choice. Add to that the fact that it’s all just needless extra weight to facilitate a momentary chore, and I’m not putting this in my pack.

My own, personal solution for a long-time, test proven, critter-beater food-bag system is 25 feet of 90 pound test paracord tied onto a  2″ washer off the axel of an old yard tractor[one oz.] and a brand-new-from-the-store-each-trip-when-I-bought-my-chow-to-go-camping plastic shopping bag.  Fling the washer and line over a branch 8-10′ out from the tree and 12-15′ up, hang the bag in a larkshead through the hole in the washer, and pull it up 8-10″ high. [I actually use two shopping bags, one for food, and one for trash] I’ve never had animals bother with them yet.   [Since I always have extra line] Cost: $o.00

But… you’re gonna do what you’re gonna do. It’s your money.

As our old friend, Harry Anderson once reminded us, “A fool and his money… Well, they were lucky to get together in the first place.”

Gear “Hammock”

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I wonked together a smallish gear hammock out of an old zip tent bag to hold some of the camping clutter. I just ran a piece of line through the little gather behind one of the zippers right from end to end, cut off the handles, and hung it from the cinch buckle on my AMOK hammock to the hang tree.
I’m going to get the seamstress here in the village to sew some daisy chains to those strap remnants on the front, and sew an 8″ x 14″ no-see-um netting pocket below the zipper on the backside-inside. [I have a whole el cheapo tent to strip for parts and materials… Three bucks at a yard sale with six different sets of poles… none of which matched the tent].
Next time I hit some place for some Zing-It Dyneema line, I will trade out the cord for a whoopie-sling that will make it adjustable in length. I have plans to buy a $10-DIY bag of large enough fabric samples that should give me some sil-poly to toss a little sewn-on weather “tarp” over the top. While I am in no real rush because my camping season is just about over for 2015, it will be a nice addition come spring.

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It is surprisingly roomy… More so than the photos show. I have an 11 foot Dutchware hammock and suspension, my toilet kit, my rigging/lines bag, as well as the hat and the pillow all stuffed in there. It packs down to the size of a RedBull can.