External Frame packs and Vintage ALICE Goodness!

Decided to do redo my hiking backpacks and return the Improved Hellcat pack frame to stock format of Coleman PEAK-1 bag, original straps and all; and packed it with stuff for the Significant Other except her clothes….What is surprising is that the removal of the military equipment cut out around 5 pounds of unnecessary weight; though at the loss of modularity….right now with stuff except clothes and water, it weights 16 pounds overall. The big green Academy Broadway Jasper pack is full of stuff except water, and carries extra items for two people, weights in at 22 pounds, but empty, the pack weights around 5.5 pounds, still a significant weight loss compared to the MOLLE equipped Coleman pack frame before. I also decided to return one of my old ALICE bags to a like-new ALICE frame and stock straps/belt (all 1978-1979 vintage and NO SCRATCHES OR DAMAGE!) that was given to me by the S.O.’s mother, turns out empty, it weights 9 pounds….only 2 pounds less than the MOLLE version, and still almost double the empty weight of the Jasper pack and the Coleman PEAK 1 pack.  Also did the Bobcat Mod on a camo ALICE bag with camo LC-2 straps, its not bad but not good for heavy loads.

DSCN2080

The three external frame bags;

DSCN2081View of their suspension components;

 

DSCN2082

Bobcat modded Medium ALICE

DSCN2083View of Bobcat modded ALICE straps;

DSCN2076

Loaded up before I transferred all the crap in there to the Jasper pack; here, it weighted 32 pounds O.O (with a full 1 gallon of water and too much food, enough for like 5-6 days hahaha)

DSCN2075

showing the Bobcat mod, which consists of a 11″ long steel tube in the frame pocket and the straps attached around it to the metal rings of the pack. It works OK, but is best for lighter loads than whats shown here.

OK, people are probably wondering HOW is it I have so much stuff in those bags…..for the purposes of pictures, the ALICEs are loaded with extra items I have.

Academy Broadway Jasper pack list;

-blue CCF pad

-12×9 poly tarp

-10 stakes

-bug tent in lower compartment

-first aid kit in side pouch

-granola bars and chocolate packets in side pouch

-fire kit in small side pouch

-2 pairs of pants

-2 shirts

-2 pairs of underwear

-3 pairs of socks

-fleece pull over

-2 2qt canteens (empty right now)

-Kelty top quilt

-Food for 3 days

-canteen cup

-weight currently at 22 pounds without water.

Coleman Peak 1 pack

 

-Down 20 degrees mummy bag (too small for me, but perfect for S.O.)

-2 1qt canteens (also empty)

-canteen cup

-kitchen items; forks, spoons, skewers and pot holder

-2-3 days of food

-granola bars

-weight 16 pounds, no water or clothes

Green Medium ALICE pack

-empty weight; 9 pounds (EEK)

-twin air mattress

-one old sleeping bag

-two empty canteens

Camo Medium ALICE pack; Bobcat mod

-MOLLE straps inside

-MOLLE belt inside

-2x MOLLE sustainment pouches and MOLLE panels

-2x USGI 3 day training packs

-Hex tarp

-Bat-wing tarp

-extra stakes

-hammer

-total weight; 18 pounds

 

Out of all the packs, the Jasper’s modified waist belt fits the best, 2nd only to the MOLLE hip belt, and the Coleman Peak 1 straps are the most comfortable, 2nd only to the MOLLE shoulder straps… the belt it has is too small for me; so its ok for the S.O. for now. The worst straps is a tie between the Jasper straps and the ALICE LC-2 OD straps on the stock ALICE pack. The Jasper straps’ metal buckles are right in front of my armpits, where they should NOT be…..however, the upper mounts is at the perfect 45% angle, so I think I only need to modify the straps by extending the upper mount somehow. Not sure how to best proceed….There is the option of making complete new straps with a set of cannibalized LC-2 long straps similar to the woodland ones in OD, with which I would mount the bottom of the backs to the lower cross bar between the top and the bottom, and have load lifters to the original strap cross bars, this would give me 6 points of adjustment. Ideally if there was another bar below the cross bar, that would be the perfect place for new straps…I am not sure what model Kelty is closest to this frame… Or Jansports for that matter.

As for the Hellcat mods; I think I want to do it again with a DEI 1606AC frame, and probably with new, lighter materials similar to the set up on the Coleman Peak 1 pack, but in Olive or Camo…

For actual bug out bags, it is hard to beat the practically indestructible ALICE packs, especially with the Hellcat mods…..When one considers the need for the fabric to actually stand up to abuses such as dragging in the mud, tossing in the truck, or whatever vehicles have you, and so on….the ALICE and the MOLLE equipment are pretty good for that… BUT….unfortunately, it can also make you a target, hence my decision to pack these two civilian hiking backpacks, which are pretty tough, and also pretty much common everywhere (the Kelty/Jansport style one, not sure of the Coleman but…)…and so will aid greatly in the “gray man” thinking. Out here in the PNW, people do not give second thoughts or focus on the bearded guy wearing surplus winter jackets and a civilian hiking pack; nor do they focus on the obviously large hunting camo wearing guy with the old army backpack and old hunting rifles….In some areas, people are more attracted to the guy who wears 5.11 everything and has a black or coyote backpack with miles of MOLLE; but they do not really notice the guy with woodland/desert MOLLE; nor do they notice the guy with the 30+ year old framed hiking backpack.

Tarp shelters for bug tent!

Did 3 different set ups of tarp protection for the bug tent; here is one using the Bat Wing tarp; rotated 90 degrees from the usual, giving it a sort of cartwheeling star shape……

20140831_135302

it provides more protection on the sides than the previous set up; but not by much; as seen below…

20140831_135320

if I attached “beaks” of some sort from where the pole stakes are to where the side stakes are; then possibly one would have more coverage there…but then again, it might be better without the bug tent itself…

20140831_135700

One or two people could lay at a diagonal in this shelter without the bug netting; and that would be more effective.

20140831_135651

Without the bug tent underneath, there is quite a lot of room underneath for two people laying side by side or slightly diagonally.

SO I decided to do a set up with the 9×12 poly tarp;

DSCN2068

It gives the bug tent so much more room; and is very breezy..

DSCN2069

completely covered; and with space enough to hang items off a ridge line above the tent such as a lamp or boots or clothes; however it is heavy due to being poly plastic.

DSCN2071

view from the back; I didn’t line up the bug tent perfectly but oh well. Note that the bug tent’s side pull outs aren’t utilized here, its more to do with time…

DSCN2070

another view looking into the door; the door panels are tied to the tarp grommets so that its easy to let air in, and easy to find in the dark.

And here is the final set up, one I probably would use more often…I just need to get the thing waterproofed; my DIY asymmetric Hex tarp;

DSCN2078

It looks like the corners of the bug tent are exposed, but that is a trick of the eye, looking directly above, the bug tent is completely covered.

DSCN2077

view from the front with doors closed; there is not much of a gap between the bug netting and the tarp; this is due to the tarp being an odd shape and due to my not so perfect seam sewing on the center seam of the tarp. The pull outs are utilized here, with cord running to the tarp’s stakes, so that I do not need to pack 4 more stakes. 10 stakes overall for each of the three set ups.

DSCN2079

View from the back; there is ample room on each side for gear and various items, and the poles are around 48 inches tall I think, so a couple trekking poles at that length would do very well to reduce weight of set up, OR two trees conveniently located in a straight line with a flat surface in between (ha ha ha ha not likely) OR one tree and a car with a roof rack (more likely); Although it would be nice to have a pick up truck or a flatbed truck on which I can simply tie down the bug tent and suspend a tarp over it; that is not going to happen any time soon.

I believe this hex tarp, while normally for the two hammocks, would do great as a ground shelter for this bug tent :)

 

Tested modified bug tent, and made hammock bug net!

Modified an old Stansports A-frame “Scout backpacking” tent that was not waterproof into a bug tent to be more airy…it is 54″ wide by 78″ long, and 36″ tall…. Unlike the original tent design, I added two more tie-outs on the sides, so that I could expand the feel of the tent and make it more spacious compared to original design. I was able to test it with the girlfriend on an overnighter in the Willamette National Forest. It is comfortable and very airy..perfect for the summertime! We put a Twin size air mattress in the tent, there’s still enough room for small gear on the sides, though ideally a Full size air mattress at 54″ wide would be preferable for two people so as not to risk rolling off the air mattress and landing on the ground. With the relative lack of privacy in the bug tent, we set up another small tent, a dome tent for use as changing room, and as back up tent should we need it.

Also made a bug net for my hammock, these pics are of it before I added another section of bug netting to extend it….and the stuff sack holds everything for hammock except tarp and tarp lines/stakes.

DSCN2054

Campsite on NFS 4695 past Humbug Campground; yes that is an army cot in the foreground, I forgot to bring proper chairs so we used that by the fire :)

DSCN2055

Another view of campsite, the tarp BARELY covers the tent, for rain, I would probably use a larger tarp.

DSCN2056

The bug tent under the bat wing tarp, the girl is in the tent testing it. I utilized a couple long poles for the support of the tent and tarp, if needed, one could dispense with them and use trekking poles or pitch from trees. The bug netting is 59×84 panel of polyester sheer curtain material from Kmart; I decided one panel is all it needed to make the tent a bug tent.

DSCN2022

Hammock bug net made of two panels of the same polyester sheer curtain material; shown with the under pad and the hammock; not shown is the new extension panel I added to it due to it being too small for the hammock really….. (accidentally ripped one side’s hole a bit bigger…)

DSCN2023

Hammock stuff stuffed into MSS bag; yes that is how bulky it is when not compressed; open cell underpad, top quilt, hammock, bug net, suspension straps are all in there. only the tarp stuff is separate.

DSCN2024

Nice thing about the MSS bag; the 9 strap compression system helps compress the stuff into this basketball sized unit…though on my pack, I don;t compress it as far, since I need it to be slimmer so that my MOLLE pouches and straps will fit.

DSCN2058

A view of the creek next to the campsite :) This creek, I’m not sure which one it is, but it feeds Brietenbush River which feeds into Detroit Lake from the mountain springs.

DSCN2063Another view of the creek, water is ice cold….brrr.

DSCN2064Different section of the creek.

DSCN2065Started a twig fire underneath a rotten log end that someone left behind.

DSCN2067

The stump getting on fire….it lasted for about 10-12 hours…..we had hot dogs for dinner that night :D

 

 

 

Gordon Road location scouting

Went on a location scouting trip for a group camping event…

Found a beautiful location, beautiful site….although if I had driven a bit further, I might’ve found another site near Gordon Lakes….

DSCN2025Campsite area, it is big enough for a few vehicles, tents, and kitchen site.

DSCN2026View of entrance of trail into the woods

DSCN2027Looking downhill on one side of trail

DSCN2029

Another view of the woods

DSCN2028Downhill on different part of trail, several sites in the interior of the woods could be good for smaller tents and so on.

DSCN2030Such beautiful view of the mountains from the trail

DSCN2031Looking up into the clear blue skies.. Yes that tree is still there, It is NOT falling down!

DSCN2032Nice little Madrona shrub growing.

DSCN2033A view of the mountain ranges…Consider that this is not as high an elevation as it could have been from the road….. I am impressed.

DSCN2034Another view of the surrounding mountains

DSCN2035Looking back East towards the campsite trails

DSCN2043Another shot of the forest and its underbrush developing.

DSCN2044Hammock test set up with small tarp, bugnet, underpad :)

DSCN2045Looking at the hammock site from a fair distance away, around 50 yards…it blends in OKAY in this terrain, from a helicopter or other mountains, probably not noticeable.

DSCN2046Another view of the hammock tarp set up; I only used 3 stakes, tying mostly to the trees.

DSCN2047A different angle showing the “beak” of one side.

DSCN2048Another growing Madrona tree

DSCN2049Twig fire! I picked up the trash after the fire, since previous occupants left some trash in the firepit.

DSCN2050My dinner for the day; Idahoan instant taters in a canteen cup!

DSCN2036My Hellcat pack system and day trip belt kit; I am a believer in being armed when walking the woods alone.

DSCN2037Other side of pack.

The Open cell foam pad, hammock, Kelty top quilt, straps and bugnet are all in the black MSS bag, while the tarp is in the very top pocket of the small “Recon” pack, which also holds my foods, water in 3 1 qt canteens, fire kit, stakes and ropes. My clothes are in the MOLLE Sustainment pouches on the sides, with one holding just fleece pull over and fleece throw blanket for additional insulation if needed, and the other holding the rest of my clothes.

I also have a small tube sack stuffed with left over open cell foam to use as a pillow for either neck or knees in the hammock.

My first aid kit is in the top flap’s bottom pocket, while I have another quart of water on the waist belt, and a pouch holding my compass, along with a medic pocket holding my trail snacks and granola bars.

 

Vintage Bicycles and Sisters, OR overnighter!

Picked up these two bicycles; a 1973 Schwinn Suburban ladies bike and a 70s Murray 3 speed bicycle, and went on an overnighter in Sisters, Oregon with the Other :)

First up; pics of the Sisters trip; I had forgotten to pack her hammock, so with the extra blankets and such I have, we made a ground sleeping system and the ground isnt hard due to a layer of forest duff; I asked her which she wanted to use, she immediately said the ground with the USGI bivy bag.

DSCN2000

view of area, facing the morning sun

DSCN2001the camp site; no rain that night, and super clear night..so bright I had to use a hunting/concealment poncho as a light break to sleep better. Hammock under pad works great in lows of 60s…

DSCN2002old burnt tree, with a new tree next to it

DSCN2003another view of a different part of Deschutes National Forest.

 

And here’s the 1973 Schwinn Suburban ladies bike; 5 speed GT100 rear derailleur, Schwinn rack which used to be a baby carrier, I removed the seat back and foot peg

DSCN2004view of the bike

DSCN2010other side of bike

DSCN2005Original schwinn rack

DSCN2006Schwinn Chicago headbadge

DSCN2011Original Schwinn Approved seat

DSCN2009Schwinn Approved Shimano GT100 rear derailleur

DSCN2008Dat funky cloverleaf chain ring

DSCN2007Schwinn Approved grips; original to the bike; not commonly found on these things presumably due to being hard or uncomfortable

DSCN2012Weinmann Brakes and cut down front fender

It originally had a WALD 535 twin basket rack, which I put onto the Murray Monterey 3 speed bike for my own use :)

DSCN1976Murray without rack; handlebar is the only badly rusted part on the whole bike, bought it at a church rummage sale for $5!

DSCN1975Other side of rack-less Murray

DSCN2013With the WALD 535 Twin Basket rack mounted; the rack used to be mounted to the Ladies Schwinn via an U bolt, I went to Home Depot and found another U bolt with the right size base plate, and used that base plate to mount the rack to the seat stays.

DSCN2015other side, view of the large rack; I can put my laptop bag in there, with room to spare!

DSCN2014Detail of rack mount

DSCN2016Shimano 333 internal gear hub thumb shifter

DSCN1979Shimano 333 hub with shift cable mount system

DSCN1980Murray head badge metallic decal

DSCN1978

Murray metallic decal denoting 3 speed

DSCN1977Monterey script, I think it is actually painted, or it could be printed…not sure….no real sign of decal edges.

Well there you have it! I got a new rim tape to the front tire of the Murray, and the tubes aren’t leaking at the moment, though I have spare tubes just in case…. so far, I have only $5.98 total put into  BOTH bicycles….. The Schwinn ladies was given to me for free from a family friend..it was grungy and dirty….the Murray was also grungy and dirty, with flat tires and torn rim tape on the front wheel….I spent around 4 hours or so just cleaning the rust off best I can and washing and waxing the frames….and lubing, oiling what needs oiling, adjusting what needed adjusting and airing them up….they both ride pretty good.

Location scouting and Hammock Underpad design!

Went on a location scouting trip yesterday, and I would’ve stayed the night, if I had brought bug spray and bug netting……oh well. Moose Creek is the location, it is off the same road I went for a day trip a while back, but closer to the main highway and on the creek itself….

DSCN1983The walk in site, which have trees at good distances apart for hammocking, were I to camp with a group,  I would mount the hammock one end on the tree further back, so as not to have the tarp lines too close to the fire.

DSCN1990short walk in trail from the dirt road parking; behind that campsite, is a trail down to the creek;

DSCN1982a view looking out from the campsite;

DSCN1984Looking NW from the dirt road, the main road, Moose Creek Road (or as Google Maps says, Moose Mountain Road) is behind the berm, you can see one campfire ring in the picture;

DSCN1985view looking East; there are three more campfire rings in the area; two far back, and one to the left (North)

DSCN1986one of the campfire rings; the ground is rocky here though, but this is a good place for vehicles, air mattresses, or cots…

DSCN1987The sign at the South West end of the area; next to where dirt road stops at a gate; which means the area South of this and to the East, is not open to unauthorized vehicles ,I am not sure of hikers though.

DSCN1988A Notice posted by Sweet Home Rangers; detailing that some sites in the area may become day use areas or closed to camping due to trash and dumping of things…I did not find such evidence, perhaps it had been cleaned up before.

DSCN1981Made myself a nice little twig fire with esbit as a starter…..one thing I dislike about esbit is that it leaves a film of gross stuff on the canteen cup….

DSCN1991Moose Creek from the bridge, the campsite I scouted, is to the left, East of the creek, while there are other campsites to the West of the creek, and several more up the road leading North east up into the mountain..

And I decided I wanted to test this hammock under pad I made from a Wal MArt mattress topper; unlike blue Closed Cell foam, Open cell insulates best when not compressed; so hanging it like an under quilt helps a lot…..

Under Pad first testFirst test set up,

Under Pad endThe ends are not against the hammock, so I needed to cut it so that it conforms to the hammock

Under Pad revised 1Ah revised; these triangles are where I cut the material of the foam, so as to make a shape; Also, I cut the pad down to 48 inches long, and it is 50 inches wide, being a Full size width.

Under Pad Revised 2MUCH better; no load in the hammock….I laid in it and it is warmer….some drafts though, but I will be adding the poncho as an under cover, until I can get silnylon for the under cover;

Under Pad suspension triangleDetail of the suspension triangles for mounting hammock under pad and under quilts; I will be revising them to include plastic toggles so I can just loop the under pad suspension to the triangles instead of tying knots.

Hellcat Backpack Rig and backpacking FOOD!

OK So I decided I wanted to see how much room I would have by packing the ALICE pack on top of my system, instead of the small Recon pack; turns out for 4-5 days with a polyester fleece pull over and a rain coat, I have more than enough room in the main pack, and the MOLLE sustainment pouches are now only half full of food; which means I could in theory, bring a lot more foods for a much longer backpacking trip…. DSCN1971I know it looks rather bulky, BUT it holds a lot more than I thought..

DSCN1972everything laid out. Clothes are all in the main ruck, hammock and top quilt goes into stuff sack; canteens and cup goes into two pouches on main ruck, hammock hanging straps, stakes, cordage, and mini stove goes into center small pouch on main ruck, foods go into MOLLE sustainment, hydration bladder, 64OZ/3L goes into a pouch between ruck and frame.

DSCN1973clothes for three or four days, depending on conditions. I can add another shirt and another pair of pants in main ruck and still have room…..

DSCN1974foods and cooking and such;

Ben’s rice, Zatarin’s Rice, Idahoan instant potatoes, Marie Callendar’s Quick Sides, Ramen Noodles and granola bars; all require only hot water to be cooked in; hence the steel canteen cups. small Esbit stove with tabs, first aid kit, wand lighter, knife, and gloves are also shown. I will be adding GORP (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts) along with jerky and possibly candy bars for the backpacking trip soon. Might also add something with more protein, like foil packed chicken and peanut butter….(to spread on tortillas…)

What else am I missing?

Total weight!

with 1 gallon of water, it comes out to 40 pounds or so; which isn’t that bad honestly…clothes made up for 9 pounds, water made up for almost 9 pounds (round up to 9 due to canteens and bladder weight); pack is 11 pounds empty…rest of the weight is in foods and hammock/tarp/top quilt, and misc things. I may pick up a water filter and reduce weight by removing half of the water, may reduce more by getting lighter pants and clothes, foot wraps instead of socks….I’m not sure yet. I walked a few miles with this rig, and it is pretty comfortable…. I could reduce the pack weight even further by going to a different external frame pack but it isn’t as comfortable….so I am not sure.

comments are welcome! :)