How to Bribe your kids when Backpacking

How to Bribe your kids when Backpacking

When my oldest kids got old enough we started going backpacking.  I started a myth with them that I had put 2 pops in the outlet of various, or all, of the lakes in Washington.  As we hiked up the trail I would say to them that “those pops sure will be good!”  When we got to the destination lake, I’d tell them “I think those pops are over that way.  You guys look over there near the shoreline of the lake, and I’ll go over the other way.” Read more

Cooking in the Snow

Cooking in the Snow

Cooking when winter camping is different from cooking when backpacking.  My favorite setup is to make a bench seat, and sit on a foam pad, with another foam pad under the feet for insulation. Then cut a bench conveniently right in front of the chef on which to put the stove. Lay a thin plywood panel on the kitchen area, on which to place the stove. That way it won’t melt into the snow. With the stove in easy reach, you can heat water, melt snow, and cook a meal. Read more

JMT Food Plan

JMT Food Plan

Doing the JMT is easy.  Selecting the gear is easy if you have been backpacking some.  The hard part is logistics and choosing and packing food, which is the subject of this post.  For our 2016 JMT, we had a 7 day section that we’d start with seven days of food in our packs from Cottonwood.  We’d meet up with horse packers at Charlotte Lake and get another 7 days worth of food, which would last us to Muir Trail Ranch. There we would pick up 4 days worth of food to get us to Red’s Meadow.  There we’d pick up 3 days of food to get us to your exit point, Tuollumne Meadows. Read more

My Preferred Cooksets and Stove System

My Preferred Cooksets and Stove System

I’m on about the 4th Caldera cone cooking system, and maybe the 10th stove I’ve used overall, so I thought I’d share what is the best of all the stoves I’ve used in 45+ years of backpacking.  The Fusion Sidewinder Ti-Tri split cone stove system, made by Trail Designs, the maker of Caldera Cone stove systems. The Ti-Tri refers to the wind screen being made of TItanium, and the stove having the capability to use three different fuels: alcohol, esbit, and wood.

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Dpower Camping Stove

Dpower Camping Stove

The folks at Dpower sent me one of their stoves to try out, and I had a chance to try it out this weekend.  These are for sale on Amazon, for $19.99.  I tried boiling water on this little stove, and it took less than 3 minutes to bring 2 cups to a rolling boil, and about 4.5 minutes to bring 4 cups to a boil.  I often use an alcohol stove, and that is about twice as fast as my alcohol stove. Read more

MSR SiltStopper Prefilter

MSR SiltStopper Prefilter

We did a hike in southern Utah called Grand Gulch a few years ago.  Water in that canyon was always a concern.  After a rain there would be pools of water held in solid rock basins, from 1 liter to swimming pool size.  Where the stream bed was sandy instead of solid rock, the water might be in nasty pools as big as a bath tub or smaller, covered with an oily film, and stinky.  If that was the only water available, you filter it as best you can, and drink it.   Read more

The best trail supper ever, Scalloped Potatoes!

The best trail supper ever, Scalloped Potatoes!

Scallop potatoes are great, so why do we never make them when backpacking  I’ll tell you why.  The potatoes have to be near boiling for 20 minutes or so, and they have a cheese sauce that burns easily.  When using canister stoves, the fuel efficiency goes way down when simmering, plus the heat comes from a very small spot, so burning the milk and cheese on the bottom of the pot is inevitable.  BUT, I found a way to cook them to perfection, plus by adding BACON and asparagus pieces, its better than what you have at home. Read more

Tenkara fishing

Tenkara fishing

Tenkara fishing is a Japanese style of fishing which uses a rod, a line, and a fly.  It uses no reel, no eyelets on the rod, but the rod is telescoping.  I first tried tenkara fishing when I was a child in Kansas, but we called it fishing for catfish with a cane pole on Grampa’s farm pond.    The pole had a string tied to the tip, and we attached a big hook with a piece of liver on it.  With that, we tossed it out into my Grampa’s pond with a cork bobber, and we tried to catch a few catfish.  The best part was riding the hay wagon behind the tractor back to the house. Read more

A Stove Comparison: Alcohol (Caldera Cone) vs Canister (Jet Boil, Pocket Rocket, Giga Power)

A Stove Comparison: Alcohol (Caldera Cone) vs Canister (Jet Boil, Pocket Rocket, Giga Power)

We had a chance on our 8 day backpack to do some comparisons between some stoves, namely my Caldera Cone with a 1.9 L Evernew titanium pot, an MSR Pocket Rocket, a Snow Peak Giga Power, and a JetBoil.  The latter 3 stoves are canister stoves, and the Caldera Cone is an alcohol stove.  Each of these stoves were cooking for 2 people.  It should be noted that all of these stoves are reliable and they all work fine for heating water.  Some are better in certain situations, and this review compares them for use on an 8 day trip fall, each of them cooking for 2 people. Read more

Baking Pizza on a Caldera Cone and Stove / Outback Oven

Baking Pizza on a Caldera Cone and Stove / Outback Oven

On a July hike to Imogene Lake I tried making pizza using the Caldera Stove and the Outback Oven.  These two make a nice combination for baking any bread or cake.

This is a view of the ingredients in the bag, and the Caldera Cone Ti Tri assembled.  My version of pizza uses a cup of Jiffy pizza mix, pepperoni in a little baggie, Boboli tomato sauce in a bag, string cheese, olive oil and dried garlic. Note that the Ti Tri is a cone of titanium which acts as a pot support, and windscreen.  When used with the Outback Oven, the ti stakes suspend the scorchbuster of the Outback Oven above the flame.  Read more

The Outback Oven used with the Caldera Cone Stove and Windscreen

The Outback Oven used with the Caldera Cone Stove and Windscreen

I really like the Caldera Cone Tri-Ti Stove and Windscreen.  Its great for cooking meals, heating water, and frying fish.  I wanted to add baked breads and biscuits to our meals, so I got an Outback Oven and began experimenting with its use with the Tri-Ti Caldera Cone.  The Outback Oven, ultralight version, comes with a thermometer, so all one has to do is control the heat output so the thermometer stays in the BAKE range, and out of the BURN range.  It took some experimenting, but I finally got it to work in a reliable manner. The ultralite verson  also comes with a scorch buster, and a heat reflector that goes over the stove, and an insulated cap that goes over the pot. Read more

Can You use an Alcohol Stove in the Winter?

Can You use an Alcohol Stove in the Winter?

It is often assumed that you can’t use an alcohol stove in the winter, so I did a little test last weekend.  The scouts were going on a winter campout, so I took my Caldera Cone to test in winter conditions.  It was 21 degrees in the morning on Saturday, and the stove and fuel were stored outside my tent.   I put a bottle of water down on the snow as I cooked breakfast, and big ice crystals immediately began to form in the water.  It was cold!   I cooked frozen Jimmy Dean hash with bacon and fresh eggs, and made enough for 2 people.  Then I made a pot of hot water for coffee. Read more

The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone – a field test

The Ti-Tri Caldera Cone – a field test

Having been a skeptic of alcohol stoves, I was pleasantly surprised with the Caldera Cone on a 5 day backpack in “cool to cold” weather, over spring break of 2009.  I used the aluminum version of the Caldera Cone on that trip, and cooked solo.  With cold mornings and occasional snowy conditions, the scouts compressed gas stoves were pretty punky, especially when they were half full or less.  The Caldera was reliable and immune to wind. Read more

More on P-38 Can Openers

More on P-38 Can Openers

I wrote a first piece about P-38 can openers a while ago.  Shortly I posted another piece with some P-38 patents.  Here are a few more P-38 type can openers, the favorite of hikers, GIs, campers, aviators, sailors, and anyone who needs to get a can open.  Later, I met Kobie of dogtagrus.com and enjoyed his P-38 can opener history page, complete with government specs for the little wonder. Read more