Saturday, January 30, 2010

DIY thread stand and hammock tarps

Found this nice DIY project to make thread stand while browsing the Speer Hammock website :

Very useful when using large cones like the 6000 yard ones sold by I made one this afternoon, but it wasn't as easy as it looked. I lost my temper several times trying to bend it to fit the right way :) (cries of frustration is an integral part of DIY/MYOG). But it turned out fine in the end.

I was browsing the Speer Hammock website because I'm looking for a bigger tarp for my Hennesy hammock. The standard one is pretty small, barely enough to give enough protection if it's raining. A larger tarp would give an area for cooking, sorting gear etc. I was hoping to be able to use my GG SpinnTwinn for this, but it doesn't seem to be ideal after reading some posts about cat tarps and hammocks. The genereal recommendation is the OES Maccat Deluxe in spinnaker, weighing in at 10.2 ounces. I dont't know if the photo below is the silynylon or spinnaker version (probably the former).

 The tarps from Speer Hammocks seem nice too, but a bit heavier and with 6 guyout points needed compared to 4 with the Maccat. They sell MYOG kits though which is cool, both for hammocks and tarps.

The article "How do I stay dry in a hammock" has lots of pictures of different hammock and tarp setups.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

G4 pack is done

I finished the G4 pack late last night. I'm very pleased with how it turned out in the end, and how the whole process of making it has been. It has gone a lot smoother than when I made the Ray-Way. I think it's a combination of the construction being more straightforward and simpler on the G4, and the fact that I am a bit more experienced now, having done a couple of projects.

Ok, get ready for a lot of photos of the G4 (you like photos right?)

Stuffed with my huge heavy synthetic winter bag:

Here are some photos showing the pack stuffed with my Golite Adrenaline 40 bag which is a bit smaller, and with a GG SitLight in the pad holder.

I even managed to fit my Exped Downmat 7 as a frame which I think is pretty cool.

And here it is again filled with my winter bag to show capacity:

Some photos of the Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus (2009 model) for comparison:

A comparison of the straps and waist belt. Look how much wider the shoulder straps of the Mariposa Plus are - that will probably be more comfortable with heavy loads. The Mariposa straps are filled with the supplied foam and the G4 ones are filled with two of my socks. The G4 lacks the sternum strap with whistle, and the hipbelt pockets (optional accessory), but it has thumb loops which I like.

Some positives and negatives that spring to mind about the G4 pack and the kit from Quest Outfitters. I will of course do a thorough review when I've actually tried it in the field:

- huge pockets on the outside with very durable mesh
- relatively easy, fun and quick construction process
- printed pattern supplied (huge)
- kit contained everything needed, even Gutermann thread
- i love the bartacks and the xbox stiches (fun to do and strong, I just like them a lot more than the multiple parallell stiching on the Ray-way)
- loops for compression
- extra wide at the bottom for a sleeping bag
- enough space in the pad holder for my exped downmat 7

- kind of hard to stuff the shoulder straps and waist belt because of little space. If I was to do it again I would make them as wide as on the Mariposa Plus, and maybe extend the velcro opening
- my custom water bottle pocket is a bit to high for easy reach (MY fault entirely)
- should have described the silnylon color as light blue, not "silver" :), but the color grew on me
- instructions could need some more illustrations (photos) and more indepth explanation of some key points.
- should be a step in the instructions for constructing an edge for the micro mesh pieces (pad holder)
- I think the fabric used on the Mariposa is nicer than the Cordura on the G4, but I have a feeling that the Cordura will be more durable
- not sure if I will need the drawstring closure
- would have been nice to be able to tighten the pockets like on my water bottle pocket

Well, that's about it. Please leave comments if you feel like it. Take care.

Oh, I forgot to mention the weight: 402 grams, or 14.2 ounces. Will be less when I cut down the straps a bit etc.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Almost done with the G4

Been working a couple of hours each evening this week. Only the collar remains now.

(ripping seams - unevitable)

Side pinned to back piece. I made a mistake here, stiching a bit too far.

Both sides attached

Only the collar remains now, and I hope to get that done this evening or tomorrow.

Take care.

More projects in the pipeline

I received a package from today containing stuff for various upcoming projects:

Here's what I'm planning to do this winter and spring:

Spinntex stuff sacks, I think the kit has enough material for 5, some of them will be part of a birthday gift for my brother (I know he isn't reading this blog so I won't ruin the surprise by writing this). He's joining me this summer for a week long trek in the mountains and he needs various gear before we leave. He got an Alpkit sleeping bag from me and my dad for christmas, a Pipedream PD400 (-3 C 750 fill power), so the process for equipping him is well underway ;). Speaking of Alpkit, it's a company well worth checking out. They have lots of smart gear for a reasonable price, great service and fast shipping. Highly recommended. Take a look at their Filo down jacket (£ 75.00), Hunka bivy (£ 33.00), Gordon dry sack (£ 18.00) and MytiMug (£ 25.00)

More about my projects:

Liberty ridge pants. I've already got a pair of Montane Featherlite pants, but I find the DWR very shortlived, needing to be reapplied often with Nikwax TX-direct or the like. I was impressed by the DWR of the Momentum while making the Minimia vest, so I think these will work better, and of course be custom fitted.

Silnylon poncho, maybe 2 if I have enough silnylon and my brother wants one.

A 17 oz Momentum quilt. This will be my first quilt and I have a gut feeling that it will be a success being the restless side sleeper that I am. I plan to make a drawstring closure at the head end, and to have straps at the bottom.

I also bought two rolls of hydrophobic thread, 6000 (!) yards yeach. These are huge and will surely last a long, long time.


I am gradually acquiring a lot of gear, more than I really need. My plan is to try stuff out to see what works best for me, and then sell or give stuff away to family and friends. Selling may be a bit hard here in Norway because there are very few UL enlightened people around. Shipping abroad is very expensive, so that's not really an option.

Almost forgot to mention that I won the Platypus raffle over at - yay! Thanks Hendrik!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

G4 side pieces done

Both side pieces of the G4 are done now. I opted to make one side a little bit different than the other, standard one (single big, tall pocket). I wanted to have a water bottle pocket and a smaller pocket above it, like on the GG Mariposa plus. The small pocket is missing the elastic in this photo btw.

The water bottle pocket is angled slightly and has a cord-lock to be able to adjust for different bottle sizes etc. I think it turned out nice, but I am not 100% sure how it will work in the field. We'll see.

Here's the other side which is just one big pocket, suitable for a tarp/tent for instance. Note that this picture contains an error. I made the "darts" at the bottom of the pocket point outwards before realizing it was wrong, and it should be the other way around, inwards that is. It was easy to fix.

And here are some pictures from the construction:

The next step is to attach the bottom pieces and then to sew all the main pieces together. Will be fun to see how it turns out!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Fleece beanie and G4 front pocket

I wanted to do something quick today so I made a fleece beanie following the instructions on the swedish site (excellent site that can be readily translated with google translation).

The fleece I used was from a blanket that I found on sale. Picked it up after work and made the beanie in under an hour. Very easy. Cutting the fabric was actually the most time consuming part of the process. The pattern is for 60cm which fits my head perfectly, so no need to adjust the pattern with a photo copier or the like. I think will I go ahead and make a similar beanie/hat with whats left of Momentum and Climashield from the Minima vest project. Hopefully that will be very warm for the weight, something in the realm of the Black Rock Gear UL Down Hat.

The fleece beanie actually feels kind of strange. I don't think the fleece type used in blankets is ideal ;).

I also managed to finish the front pocket of the G4. Will go ahead and do the side pockets next, and then sew the main pieces together.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making the G4

I'm totally into MYOG at the moment. Don't really know why. I guess it's the fun of learning something new and getting useful stuff out of it. So far I've made a Ray-Way pack and a Minima vest. At the moment I'm constructing the GVP G4 backpack, using the kit from The G4 is an old school UL pack from the late 90s. It's got lots of volume and the trademark Gossamer Gear stuffable shoulder straps and waist belt, as well as pad holders to use ones sleeping pad as back support.

The construction is very straightforward and I've been enjoying the work a lot. If you ever want to sew your own backpack then this is a great project. The Ray-Way was definitely harder and more time consuming. I'm not really sure if I like it either. I think I prefer some kind of built in frame, like for instance in the Golite Jam / Pinnacle.

I'll post some more pictures when it's done.

Driducks - affordable UL rain gear

Frogg Toggs Driducks are often mentioned when people discuss ul rain gear. They're supposed to be affordable, waterproof, breathable and light. Sounds like the perfect piece of kit right?

Well, they're certainly affordable, especially if you live in the states. I managed to acquire a jacket and pant set for 12.95 US dollars from ebay, but had to pay 15 dollars postage to have it sent to Norway. Still, I just had to check this gear out, especially since it is so light. The jacket only weighs 148 grams or 5.2 ounces.

The fabric is a "microporous polypropylene waterproof-breathable nonwoven" according to I read in a discussion thread somewhere that it will eventually wet through, but I don't know the conditions when that was experienced.

The jacket features a hood with drawstring, main zipper with storm flap, elastics at the wrists/cuffs and "Ultra-Sonically Sealed Seams for Waterproof Protection" (how does that work?), as well as a baggy cut for the streetwise among us...or maybe not :).

First impression was that it looked pretty cheap and had a paper like feel to it, not for the fashionista thats for sure, but then again I don't think there are many of those in UL circles.

The stitching is kind of rough and I am not surprised since I guess they have to produce these pieces in record time to be able to get some profit. The zipper is generic and looks ok, as well as the cord lock.

Sizing is a bit strange. I am 178 cm tall (5"10), 78.5 kgs (173 pounds), chest size of 39+ inches and a waist of about 35 inches. Normally I would wear a size medium or large, but this time I had went for a size small after reading some discussion threads and looking at the sizing chart.

Here are some photos of me wearing it. It fits ok I think, but it is kind of baggy:

Look forward to trying it out once it starts to rain again. Right now we're having really, really cold weather here in Norway, kind of the same as Hendrik in Finland is experiencing. Kind of sick of it to be honest, but seems to be getting milder now.

Well, that's the first blog post out of the way, a very geeky one for sure. Thought driducks could be interesting, especially seeing some closeup photos that I haven't been able to find many of on the Internet.

Take care.