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Resources Prim Camping Tips

Got a toe-hole in your favorite pair of expensive smartwool socks, instead of throwing them away, cut off and throw away the part your foot goes in, and use the upper part of the socks as arm-band or hand warmers in the winter or around your ankles.

Put gear items at the foot and head of your bed mat to help it stay in place at night.

If possible take extra water, you might need it should you get lost or need to clean out a wound.

Donít always take the shortest trail, the terrain may make the hike or ride take even longer than the "longer way round".

Go on short test camping trips first, when camping with someone you have never camped with before. Itís better to find out they drive you crazy on a short one-nighter than to be stuck with them in the outback for days. Someone may be fun to hang out with in the real world but not a good prim camping partner.

Make sure your camp mates are at a compatible fitness level or be prepared to wait while stragglers catch-up or go quicker than your normal pace.

Not a camper? If possible, borrow or rent some expensive gear from a friend or camp store and give camping another try. You may have disliked camping because you used cheap gear. Our first tent was almost worthless, smothering us in excessive heat, lack of ventilation, clammy, uncomfortable, hard to setup, heavy, bad zippers, took forever to dry out in the rain etc. There are tents that avoid all of that, along with other gear that can make camping very comfortable. But borrow or rent the gear first before making such a large gear investment.

At basecamp blow up bed air mats before bed time, so you have time to make hole or leak repairs.

At camp put sleeping bag and pillow in tent right away so they can loft up for better warmth and comfort.

Place much needed items at the tent door for easy access allowing for shortened tent door openings i.e. fewer bugs.

Hygiene & Safety Tips

To save water, use spent tea bags to wash hands. The tea grounds make an excellent exfoliate. Keep rubbing hands together until tea dries and flakes off, leaving your hands feeling soft and clean.

Keep a garbage bag in your pack, they make great rain-coats and have other uses in a pinch.

Even if youíre not in bear country, keep critters away by putting your food in a oder proof bag like the opsac.

If time permits, keep your electronic and battery operated items charged, you never know when you might need them. For example, we got lost and ended up using almost all the juice in our gps device, which we failed to charge fully because it was our last night camping. Another time, we had to hike out in the dark, after a bear would not leave our campsite, not something you want to do without a fully charged headlamp.

Pay attention to the names given to prim campsites. Names can tell you about the place. A campsite at a state park was named ďred tentĒ. We didnít think about the name until we got stuck in a sand-storm that covered all our gear inside and outside the tent in red sand.

If in bear country donít camp at a campsite if you see the previous occupants left food or garbage there. The most dangerous bears are habituated bears.

Communicate with your camp buddies and donít hide uncomfortable or curious events from them, they may be important. We were camping in a forest that just re-opened after a controlled burn, we even put out a still smoldering fire, so while moving a rock back and forth several times, the sshhhhhhhh sound was logically the steam from the ground below. The sound still creeped me out, so I told my camp mates about it. Further investigation found it was a snake, under the rock, hissing every time I moved the rock.

Cut your finger and toe nails before a trip. Take care of anything you can at home before your adventure, like going to the dentist, getting updated glasses/contacts, shaving, cutting hair etc.

Donít delay camp setup, this will give you the time to handle unforeseen problems before nightfall.

If rain is forecast gather and cover up tinder and firewood for future use.

Camp Cooking Tips

Keep items cool by placing them under your sleeping mat directly on your tent floor and then covering that up with your sleeping bag and or liner before leaving your tent in the morning.

When waiting for your freeze-dried food to cook, after adding boiling water to it, put it in one or all of the following: a hat, sleeping bag (be careful not to melt your bag though) and liner. The food will cook faster and be nice an hot.

When transferring scarce drinking water to another bottle, like your water bottle, seal up the container with the most water in it first, saving water should you have a spill.

Tips For Ultra-Lighters

1. Get rid of extra bags like bags for ( alite chair, sleeping bag, clothes, bag liner, kitchen and stove items and etc. ). Most of these items come with bags that when added together can weigh as much as a pound and take up valuable real-estate in your backpack.

2. Lighten your load by washing your gear, dirt does add weight.

3. Bring fewer clothes by hanging sweaty, stinky clothes, without washing, outside to air out in the sun for several hours. You will be surprised, how fresh they can become.

4. Take fewer water bottles and instead use a collapsible cantina or bladder.

5. Get multiple use items like a buff that can be used in so many ways to stay warm, around your neck, head, face mask, bandana etc. A spork, a spoon and fork combo.

6. You can still have coffee using starbucks via micro-fiber ground coffee. It doesnít even need to be heated. 7 packets weigh only 1oz.

7. Get an ultra-light wind-breaker in the biking section of your favorite gear store, they weigh around 6 oz. (some block winds up-to 60 miles an hour) and can save you having to bring a coat or sweater, when coupled with a buff for your head (where most of your body heat will escape). 8. Evaluate items that are worth the weight for you. Iím not going prim camping without my 1 lb. alite chair, this luxury is important to me. An ultra-lighter laughed when I told him I took that on trips with me. You want to have fun on your adventures, so figure out the pleasures you donít want to go without. If you miss out on too many comforts you may stop going prim camping all-together.
Helpful Links Below

MountainBikeTX.com Website
USA Made Ultralight Tents by Bearpawwd.com
OutdoorGearlab.com Real Reviews

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Maps

TPWD Maps Here

Detailed Reviews Below:
Sea to Summit Mosquito Pyramid Insect Shield Net
Nemo Meta 1P Tent Setup Tips
Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 Tent
BioLite Wood Burning CampStove
REI Flex Lite Chair

REI Flex Lite Chair Donít be fooled, get more 4 same price.

I love rei but to put this product on the market, at this price point, is just wrong. Hereís why this chair does not beat out the obvious alternative (do your research):

1. Get a lighter chair for the same pricing via another brand.

2. The chair requires 4 level points of floor contact for seating, so no sitting on a hill in this baby.

3. This chair is bulkier and will take more pack space.

4. The pointy four legs will dig right into soft soil unlike the rounded ball version.

5. The poles are thinker and heavier.

6. Canít rock back and forth in this chair i.e. only one seated position.

7. The pointy legs will not let you sit in your tent with the chair, as leg ends might poke through tent floor.

In summation, the competition has a patent that no one can get around unless they make an inferior product, like this chair. Iím all for making an inferior product, but be upfront about it, by charging less. Trying to fool the buyer is just wrong. REI even went so far as to make the stuff sack look like the competition. REI you are better than this.

BioLite Wood Burning CampStove

After practicing using the Biolite at home (you must do this), we took it on a 8 day 7 night prim camping, hiking, mountain-biking trip.

1. The park restrictions were using a containerized stove". The Biolite gave us the real camping experience of making a camp fire in our "containerized stove" with less work, smoke, and wood (see below). It would be difficult, perhaps impossible, to make a such a small camp fire using so little wood and cook your food. Much of the time we just sat in our "alite" chairs chilling and picking up scraps of wood right under our feet.

2. Because the fuel i.e. wood was everywhere we ended up having luxury camping, making hot coco, hot tea, hot coffee, hot water to desensitize our titanium pot, spoon and spork. We heated our hard boiled eggs and bacon jerky making the best hot breakfast ever. We sat by it to keep warm. In other words, used it in a way we never EVER would, with snow-peak propane fuel. The weight of the propane + plus stove would have been much heavier than the 2lb Biolite stove.

3. The Biolite gave us security, by knowing we would not run out of fuel, something that's always in the back of your mind when using propane.

4. The Biolite is nowhere near as smoky as a real camp fire. It was wonderful to not get in the tent with the reek of smoke on my hair and clothes (unless you like that sort of thing). I have long, thick curly hair, so smoke from campfires has been a big downside for me, not to mention allergies from the smoke.

5. The Biolite will turn the outside of your pots black, a downside to using real wood.

6. It charges any usb device as advertised. Be sure to fully charge the battery the first time before using it. Don't just wait till the charge meter turns green thinking it's charged all the way. To clarify, the green indicator lets you know the battery is ready to charge your devices, it does not mean the battery is fully 100% charged. Remember, it also uses this battery to blow air on your fire. The device must always have enough stored energy to blow the fan, if not fully charged you will have to wait a bit longer burning wood to fully charge the battery. We would always make it our goal to try to insure the bio- lite battery was nice and green for a long time before ending our fire.

7. If you don't want to charge anything and just want to heat up your water/food quickly, put it on high, get your heated water/food and turn the fan to low and wait for it to turn off on it's own. Do not force a shutdown of the fan, it can damage it. You can heat water this way in a 2 - 3 minutes, using just a few twigs (it's pretty amazing).

8. The fan does make a blowing noise, it is a fan after all. It's not too loud but just something to keep in mind (You can still hear the birds chirping).

9. On rainy days, when storing the battery/fan separately, under the vestibule to keep it dry (while the ashes cooled down in the stove), I accidentally turned it on a few times. On a windy, rainy day, you could turn it on, while looking for other gear in your tent and not be able to hear you turned it on. So be carful when moving it around to get to other gear. This is not an issue when, after cooling down, the battery is stored inside the stove. But something to watch out for, as you want the battery as fully charged as possible. It's meant to be turned on easily while a fire is burning in the stove, otherwise one might tip the whole thing over.

10. On very windy days (got up to 30mph gusts) the three legs held the stove firmly in place, and the deep stove kept little embers from flying away i.e. much safer than a real fire.

11. If you have a smaller pot, a small metal triangle is provided to put on top of the stove. The triangle falls off, gets in the way while adding fire wood and is just not worth the effort. We ended up not using the triangle at all after two days, without incident.

I hope I haven't forgot anything. I know it's 2 lbs., but the benefits, security, warmth and charging ability for long prim camping trips makes it a no brainer. This is a revolutionary product, for a company helping reduce smoke inhalation in 3rd world countries. Thanks Biolite for turning our camping trip into warm luxury adventure.

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 Tent Review

This is an excellent ultra-light tent, which I have used over 20 times already. I kept asking myself why, despite the tent supposedly being bigger, it felt so much smaller than our other tent. To solve this puzzle I have done some crazy specific analysis, get-ready/sorry for the geek-out.

1. The tent is not a 90 x 66 inch/in. or 7.5 x 5.5 foot/ft. rectangle. Without looking at the tent one might figure this out as the above dimensions would yield a footprint area of (7.5 height/H x 5.5 width/W) = 41.25 sq ft. and not the disclosed 39 sq ft.

2. The tent floor is in reality an isosceles trapezoid (non-parallel length sides are equal and both angles coming from a parallel side are equal). The trapezoid floor has the following dimensions when tightly staked out: height = 89in./7.41ft.; width A = 64in./5.3ft.; width B = 59in./4.91ft.. If one really really stretches the H=90in.; WA= 66in.; WB=59in. lengths could be achieved with some headroom loss, but the level of stretching required, in my opinion, is unrealistic and I donít want to lose my headroom space. This makes the actual tent footprint area 37.82ft. using the area of a trapezoid (A+B)/2 * H formula.

3. Before you begin thinking an actual area of 37.82ft. is not that bad from the 39ft. disclosure, note that you lose more footprint area when you stake out the tent sides with guidelines, (to get the required shoulder room). The median/midsection width where the guidelines are is actually 50in./4.16ft. In other words, when staking the tent sides the tent bows in. So to summarize, the front width is 64in. the middle is 50in. and the foot width is 59in. If Iím doing the calculations correctly, dividing the tent floor into 2 trapezoids of H 3.705ft added together, this yields an actual footprint area of 33.52ft.

1. The highest height of the tent is 43.5in. before staking the sides with guidelines. 42in. with the side guidelines staked. This height is maintained for 24 inches across the top of the tent.

2. The tent height at the front door entrance is 38in. and 23in at the foot or bottom end. If you donít stake out the tent sides you wonít have enough shoulder room.

1. If you happen to have the thermarest neoair mats of width size 26.5in. for large and 21in. for a small, then it is physically impossible to have 3 people in this tent. As stated above the midsection of the tent, when sides are staked, is 50in. So be sure to take your mats (if you use them) into account before purchasing this tent.

1. Most tents may hold in some heat from your body, handy in cooler temps, but this tent does not. I tested this setting up two tents, an old mountain hardware airjet 2 tent, which added an extra 4 degrees, where the fly creek temperature was the same as it was outside. As we live in texas, being warm is usually not our problem, so this is a plus feature for us. It did take me a while to figure out why I was so much colder during winter camping than with my other tent. If you camp in cooler weather, depending on your previous tent, take this lack of heat retention into account by bringing an extra bag liner or warmer sleeping clothes.

2. The tent does block wind. A great feature, that helps with this, is that the mesh goes all the way down to the ground only for the door, one generally faces the tent door in the most scenic and private direction. The sides of the tent mesh go midway down, offering a bit more privacy when sleeping. The foot mesh goes down to 7in. above the ground. While in an all mesh going down to the ground tent, we were in a sand storm and it wasnít pretty, so I like the fact the mesh doesnít go to the ground everywhere.

3. The mesh is harder to see through depending on the lighting outside. At night I canít see outside the mesh much at all even after my eyes have adjusted. The mesh weave is really small, great for bugs.

4. Tent condensation limits stargazing to low humidity nights only. If there is moisture in the air you will have to put the tent cover on or risk getting a bit wet.

5. Finally our old quarter dome TT UL 3 footprint will work with this tent by hooking it in the tent poles at the front of the tent as normal and just staking it through the loops at the foot or not staking it at the foot at all.

Black Diamond ReVolt Headlamp - WARNING! Canít recharge your own AAAís

This review focuses only on the batteries and recharging of the batteries.

Having had a bad experience with a black diamond headlamp in the past, we thought we would NEVER again buy one. But when Backpacker Magazineís ďGear Guide 2013Ē made the Revolt one of itsí ďEditorís Choice AwardĒ winners, stating on page 30 and I quote, ďThe housing also serves as a dock for other NiMH rechargeable batteries, so you can use the headlamp to juice up all your rechargeable AAAísĒ, we were sold. The rei website did show revolt documentation stating only revolt batteries could be recharged. Having been told the same thing by many other battery charges, who want to encourage you to use only their batteries, we went with Backpacker Magazines word and bought the revolt anyway. Backpacker to our disappointment was wrong, so you must take the tester reviews of Backpacker with skepticism.

Hereís how the revolt recharging really works:

1. Should you attempt to charge your non-revolt AAAís, the charger will blink red, (like many other chargers). Donít assume the blinking will turn to green, (again like many other chargers) it wonít ever turn green because the blinking red is an error to let you know it has detected non-revolt batteries.

2. The Revolt headlamp is more expensive because of the recharge function.

3. The Revolt batteries arenít better than other NiMHís, so the primary reason to buy them is to recharge them with your headlamp. If one can use another charger to charge revolts is not something we tested.

4. The price for the revolt batteries is the same as other brands, at least for now.

5. Should you want to buy new revolt batteries for your headlamp you will get stuck with an extra one, as they come in boxes of four, despite the headlamp needing only three. (Sure use the extra one for your other gadgets).

6. The revolt batteries are only available via the rei website as opposed to the rei store, so be sure to buy them ahead of time.

If you are still reading this review, you may be asking yourself, despite the above, ďwhy such a low ratingĒ. Any company, or product that goes out of itsí way to hold one hostage to their technology is not a company we support and just for that they get a 1 rating, because 0 is not available, besides there are better headlamp products available on the market.

Nemo Meta 1P Tent Setup Tips

You must practice setting this tent up several times at home before your trip.

You could (and I have) set this tent up without a pole at all by using a guideline through the outside loop at the top of the tent and attaching it to a tree branch from above. Now this is a risky proposition if you donít take at least one trekking pole as you must be sure to find a suitable spot under a tree. I tested it with the tree in the back yard and I got the tent to 52.5 inches high without a pole at all. Pretty cool.

Be sure you have a reliable pole and know how to use it. My pole wigged out on me and I had to use a spare tent (long story and I had not figured out the tree trick yet).

Best option is to use a tree and a pole just to be safe. The tree will get the tent higher as most trekking poles are only 50 inches high, but the pole will give you added security.

When staking the tent be sure to:

a) Angle the stakes 30 degrees away from the tent this will insure the tension of the tent guidelines donít rip the stakes out of the ground.

b) Face the stake-heads so that the little rounded sections help hold the guidelines in place, otherwise the guidelines will just slip right off the stakes and down goes your tent.

c) Loosen/lengthen the guidelines for all staking points before staking, this will allow you to cinch/tighten the fly after setup. Since this isnít a free- standing tent having the fly tight and smooth with give you more headroom. Remember, if it rains the tent fly can begin to sag, having the ability to tighten up everything with the guidelines is key, otherwise you will have to relocate a stake farther out.

d) Upon initial setup stake out in the following order: 1- the four corners, 2- the middle section closest to the tent floor and 3- the front vestibule. Do not stake out the back middle vent fly. The first time we tried to set the tent up we staked out the back middle fly which hid completely from view the middle stake section of the tent floor, thus keeping the tent from reaching anywhere near itís 50 inch height i.e. I couldnít even sleep in it.

After staking as described in number 5 above, insert your pole through bottom loop and top of tent. Then tighten the vestibule by using the blue guideline. This will allow you to open both vestibule doors for maximum ventilation.

Tighten vestibule if needed by pulling on the cincher at the bottom of vestibule.

Finally stake out the middle/back vent fly.

Sea to Summit Mosquito Pyramid Insect Shield Net

Created a homemade ultralight bug hut only 1.5 lbs.

This is a great product, in the right conditions i.e. no rain in the forecast and lots of trees to hang it from. I needed an ultralight bug shelter for a very remote summer forest hiking trip, on the cheap.

I used 4 stakes from another tent to stake down the Sea to Summit Mosquito Pyramid Insect Shield Net, as stakes do not come with it. When staked down tightly and hanging the top from a branch, it looks just like the images as advertised and the sides will not droop. I have included some of my own as well.

The system to hang it did not come with instruction, but I saw a video online, but surmise it would be easy to figure out on your own. Be sure to tightly seal/close the Velcro end that the top pole slides into. I did not do this at first and it made the sides narrower as the pole slid out ( I worry that this might wear over time as it is a very small piece of Velcro, but Sea to Summit does tend to make high quality products so I will assume the best for now. )

I used a rei quarter dome 3 footprint that I snagged at a garage sale for the floor. I was able to stake the footprint down using the current 4 stakes. I was so surprised thinking additional stakes would be needed but this footprint matched so perfectly even at the staking points. I then tucked the net that is on the floor under the footprint to get an almost perfect seal around the entire perimeter keeping the crawling bugs out. I think a perfect seal is possible the next time I set it up, this was my first attempt and it was crazy windy.

Getting in and out of the net tent despite there not being a door is not a problem, I just reached my hand under the netting and gently unhooked the stake loop from the stake (in other words the net tent is held down at only three points upon exit and entry. I testing getting in and out several times and it is not a problem as it is very easy to hook and unhook the loop from the stake (I kept the stake I wanted to use for this purpose sticking about an inch above the ground, this could pose a problem if the ground conditions warrant the stake being all the way in). Using the stakes closest to the hightest point (where the tree branch is holding the tent from above) is best, so you donít have to bend down very much to get in and out.

I used the double size net and think thatís perfect for one person, the single would be too cramped for me and the gear Iím trying to keep bug free.


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