Author: Scott Janz

Scott Janz February 28, 2018 0

Eat Good and Eat Fast on the Trail

Whether you are traveling around the country in  your RV or heading out into the wilderness, when you get hungry you want foods that can cook fast, and are actually tasty. Two new foods have hit the market that we think are the bomb for both the traveler and the backpacker.

For years now Idahoan has given us a wide variety of instant potatoes. We have all used them to make a quick side dish of potatoes by boiling water and whisking the powdered mix, adding some butter or sour cream, and BOOM, we have potatoes. They are very popular on the trail when many hikers are looking for starch and carbs to fill their stomachs after a long day. They are also used as a great traveling companion when looking to create a quick side dish along with dinner. They are light, compact, and very easy to cook.

So when we saw Idahoan put two new products on the market we needed to test these out in the field.

Idahoan Hash Browns 3 oz At only 3 oz, this bag can be divided into 2 parts and make 2 servings. (for 2 people) You only have to heat 1 Cup of water, let is soak for 8-10 minutes, then pan fry which is optional.

TIP: Recycle an old Freeze Dried Mountain House Bag. Keep these around so you can pour the hot water into these bags. That way you can keep the other half in the original bag. You can fry up the hash browns to get them golden brown but this is OPTIONAL. Of course Ariane and I fry them up with some Olive Oil that we pick up at our local Chic Filet.

Idahoan Premium Steakhouse Creamy Potato SoupThe Idahoan Steakhouse Soups are amazing. Finally a good soup that is can be re hydrated and actually has taste. At 6.6 oz these also can be split in two or three, (it makes a lot of soup) and be used as multiple meals.

TIP: Once again, save your freeze dried bags. These can be used to pour the contents of the Idahoan Soup into and then pour your hot water in. Eat right out of the bag and NOT your cooking pot. Saves you from doing dishes. Of course if you are traveling around in your RV dirty that dish and sit back and enjoy a great tasting soup that takes minutes to make.

Both products are very pack-able and lightweight and very very affordable. The Hash Browns you can buy for a dollar each and the soup can be found for around six bucks if you shop around.

The whole idea is to look for foods which you LIKE! But are also fast, lightweight and pack-able. Try these out and let us know what you think? We would love to hear from you.

 

Scott Janz February 10, 2018 0

Does Camping in the Woods Scare You?

Isn’t it funny how many things (and people) we trust everyday in our lives. Have you ever really thought about the blind trust you have with all the places you go and the individuals you HAVE to interact with to get to where you need to be.  Have you ever made a list of ALL the things and people you need to trust each day? Here’s a few;

Drivers that drive beside you on the expressway

Cooks, preparing your food

Your City Water Utility

Your Auto Mechanic

The Airline Pilot flying you to a vacation or a business trip

And these are just a few. I’m sure you can think of hundreds more. This is the reality we live in every single day. However, when we go out into the Wilderness for a camping trip or a backpacking trip, some people freak out. Why? What is it about the woods that scare the begeebies out of people? Almost positive it has to do with every horror movie ever made starts with people getting lost in the woods.

Ariane and myself hear all the time from our new hikers about horror stories that have perceived in their mind. The most popular fear of course is the “I’m gonna get mauled by a Bear”. Really?  Here are some stats:

The data from the CDC showed some revealing things. The first is that you’re far more likely to be injured than die in the outdoors and that some of the things we worry about the most, are the least likely to happen. For you math geeks out there—here are some of the numbers from 2005 and they’re pretty much average.  – thealaskalife.com

# OF DEATHS IN THE UNITED STATES PER YEAR

Cause of death ………………… # dead
Cardiovascular disease …….. 856,030
Transportation accidents …. 48,441
Drowning ……………………….. 3,582
Hypothermia ……………………699
West Nile virus ……………….. 119
Hornet/bee/wasp stings ….. 48.5
Snake bites …………………….. 5.2
Bear attacks …………….. 2

As you can clearly see, you have a little more to be concerned about than a bear attack.  Now that we’ve cleared up the fact, you will survive a night out in the woods, let’s look at why the FEAR FACTOR still plays into the psyche.

Generally, people fear what they can’t control. But how many of us are really in control over our lives anyway? I’m sure some of you would say “Alot”. I may argue that point a little. However, being out into the wilderness is a clear reality of being in control over nothing. It’s the thought of being out there with no where to go? No car, no couch, sometimes no internet. (AHHHHH)

Scenario 1:

You are out hiking on a trial that is clearly marked. You are camping overnight and there is a campsite ahead with a nice fire pit. You set up camp, get in your tent and get ready for bed. You are alone. There are the sounds of nature you can’t identify. Leaves brussling in the wind, and you hear howling of Coyotes. You have hung your food bag away from your campsite and have no food near you. You have only 3 miles to hike out the next day to get to your car.

Scenario 2:

You are driving on the expressway at an average speed of 75 mph. It’s rush hour and drivers are clearly speeding, weaving in and out of traffic. It’s starts raining heavy. You can barely see. You have the choice to pull over on the side of the expressway and wait out the rain.

Be honest, what makes you more fearful? We all know the stats. We are so much safer in Scenario 1. FEAR is spelled False, Evidence, Appearing, Real.  It’s one thing to be cautious and aware. Absolutely we should. It’s another to be fearful and let it stop you from learning…there is nothing to fear.  We actually Trust the Trail more than ever.  By following basic common sense principals and LNT principals, you are going to have a beautiful experience. Now get out there and explore!!!1

Scott Janz January 21, 2018 0

Top 3 Mistakes New Backpackers Make

First, let me say that no one person has the “perfect” gear list or is “all knowing”. After 20 years of backpacking, I am still learning. But there are commonalities that new backpackers should learn first. Ariane and I are always testing gear or different ways to enjoy the outdoors while multi-using our gear.

Unfortunately, the growth of Social Media has made it way to easy for people to watch a YouTube video or post a question on Facebook. The issue I have with that, is new backpackers have stopped getting outdoors to test their gear and putting a lot of weight into what works for someone else. I think there is a value in getting advise, but how to you know it’s good advise? I’m not including this in my “top 3”, but realistically, because there are just so many pieces of gear getting to the same result we need to remember that the only piece of gear that works, is the one that YOU LOVE.

Mistake 1:  Mis-fitting hiking boots or trail shoes.

If you feet are blistered, you are NOT going anywhere. People forget that your feet are the single most important piece of gear you have. So take care of them. Test, test, test, test and test again, you footwear. Whether it’s hiking boots, or trail runners, make sure they fit, and they can take uphills and downhills.

TIP: Use the “Rule of Thumb” literally. There should be at least one thumb worth of distance between your big toe, and the end of your boot or shoe. Most people get in trouble when going down hills and their big toe smashes against your boot or shoe. Toenails then fall off, and you are miserable. If you are going hiking or backpacking and have bought new footwear, then you had better break those babies in LONG BEFORE you hit the trail on your epic adventure. Start wearing them around your house, work, and go for walks around your neighborhood. Then go for some hikes on the trail.  Blisters will make your hike miserable, and get you off the trail quick.

Mistake 2:  Buying Gear you don’t need

Often the excitement of going out into the Wilderness to spend a few nights is pretty cool. If you are planning a long distance hike then it’s even more exciting. But too often, people go out and spend a lot of money on gear. This is the time to take a breath. Do you even like backpacking? Do you like being cold, hot, and hearing strange noises at night? Maybe you should rent your gear first, to see if you like it. People often spend way too much money on what (they think) is the best gear. There is no “best” gear. There is good quality gear, but the best gear, is the gear that works best for YOU. So, don’t get caught in the trap.

TIP: Get fitted and measure you Torso length FIRST. Rent a backpack that fits, and then go out and test it. Go for a single overnight and find a good hill to climb. How does it feel? Do you even like backpacking?

Did I get blisters?

Was my backpack to heavy?

What could I have done better while choosing my gear?

It’s important to realize, that new gear, isn’t necessarily the best gear. How often has Sil Nylon changed over the years. Does Cuban Fiber fabric keep you any less dry then nylon? Can you save money on gear by bargain shopping? All important questions that ONLY YOU can answer.

Mistake 3: Not understanding how their gear works 

I am sure many of you reading this will say, “What? That sounds silly”. But it’s not. We have been doing Trail Magic on the Appalachian Trail for 8 years. All in the same spot, 13 miles from Springer Mountain (the start of the AT) and you would be shocked at how many hikers had no idea how to use their gear. From cooking stoves, to pitching their tent. They get so excited to hike the AT, they forget to learn how to use their gear. The though process is: I will learn as I go. And although there is some truth to that, the dependence on others will get you off the trail faster than you can say “AT”. This goes back to my original statement.

Test, test, test, test your gear. I think even Yoda would say “become one with your gear Luke”.  Your gear should be your best friend on the trail. You know what it can do, and what it can’t. Knowing the limitations of your gear, can help you multi-use other pieces of gear to help you save weight.

YOU are YOUR Adventure. No body else will ever hike in your shoes. No body else will can tell you what to expect. Each and every day is different and it will be your own experience on the trail that will teach you what you need to learn. Much like life.

Scott Janz January 16, 2018 0

Renovating our Vintage Airstream Electrical pt.1

Renovation our vintage Airstream is certainly a labor of love. It’s not always easy and sometimes pretty frustrating, but all in all it has been a blast.

As in most RV’s, there are two types of electricity. The first, is much like your home electricity. You plug something into a outlet, and it has electricity. You know that because you get a electric bill each month that tells you  how much you use. This is called AC power. Your home get’s it’s power from the power pole and comes into a circuit breaker box.

The other kind of power is DC power. This is electricity that you would find in your car. You open up your car door and the dome light comes on. Or you plug something into the cigarette lighter and charge your phone. Most cars have a fuse box that operate Turn Signals, Head Lights, Radio, and all the other electrical in your car. As you know, you can turn on these lights without the car running. You also know, that if you keep lights on all night, your car battery will be dead. Of course, when you start your car, your Alternator charges your battery and all your lights run off that alternator when your car is running. As long as your Alternator is working, your battery remains charged.

Having said ALL THAT. RV’s use both AC and DC. So when we got into the electrical part of our Airstream, we had some work to do. The first thing we wanted to tackle was the DC wiring. We literally had to pull every wire that was associated with the Battery that runs the DC. RV’s run DC for: Interior lights, Furnace, Hot Water, and Water Pump. Newer RV’s even have more to run off of batteries. Ours were a mess.

A vintage Airstream Argosy has color coded DC wires that run to different parts of the camper. PINK, YELLOW, PURPLE, and WHITE.  Each color goes to a different circuit that runs lights, water pump, etc. This is where the fun starts. In our Airstream these colored wires ALL run to the battery which was in the battery box located inside. (they all had a door on the outside also. These wires were 40 years old and had to be replaced. So we pulled out every single wire and traced every single circuit to find out where they went.

PINK – Furnace, Hallway Lights, Front Lights, and Porch Lights

YELLOW = Water Pump, Upper Fan, and Hallway Lights

PURPLE = Hallway Lights, Bathroom Lights, and Bedroom Lights

WHITE = Ground Wire

Wires we completely had no intention of keeping were Radio Speaker Wire, Thermostat Wire and Antenna Wire.

We found that the wires ran all the way to the front of the Airstream, then turned around, and ran all the way to the back again. It really looked complicated when we first started figuring out what wire went to what. But then again, it was only 3 different circuits. We did NOT have a fuse box for the DC wiring which ended up being a good thing. It helped us learn and re-build a better system. Some people keep it, but later realize they need a new one.

The biggest help to us was to plan what lights we were keeping and what lights we wanted to add. All the Hallway lights were replaced with LED lights. The Bedroom lights were replaced (with a little creativity). The bathroom lights were replaced, and we had to add a wire for our composting toilet fan. We kept the lights in the front over the couch, the porch lights, and the switch to the water pump.

The new batteries were moved to the front of the Airstream where the Hot Water Tank used to be and all the new wired led there. They were all put behind the inner skins. We attached the new Fuse Box to the New Battery Box. (see pics below)

All of the 12 volt switches were replaced. The old cigarette lighter plugs were replaced with new DC plugs (just like your car) Every single light has a LED light. Some of the old light fixtures we were able to keep and replace the bulbs with LED ones. Again, it really helps to have a plan before tackling this. In the end, we put a Battery Cut Off switch on our battery box, so when we leave the Airstream, ALL DC power is cut off from the battery.

Electrical can be tricky, so make sure you consult with a qualified Electrician if you don’t feel comfortable with it.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 1

Granite Gear VC 60 Backpack Review

Compression, compression, compression. That is what I think about when looking at new lightweight backpacks. How do can they compress, and is the way they compress going to benefit my overall gear system. When I tried on the Granite Gear Crown VC 60 ultralight backpack, I have to say I was impressed. It’s overall design and durability puts this pack high on my favorite pack list. At 2.2 lbs this is a pack you have to consider on a long distance hike.

Capacity:

With it’s 60 liters of capacity I would find it hard pressed to fill the bag all the way. This pack can carry a full load of gear that is for sure. With it’s roll top feature, you will be able to use this pack in Winter and still keep it as a lightweight system since your layer 4 winter jacket would nicely fit on the top. Since it compresses down, I can utilize unusable space. Again, compression! 

The compression of this pack is what I truly like however. The two crisscross of of Linloc compression straps on the side of the pack provides and excellent compression system. The pack design of the Linloc straps can be utilized to attach a rolled up sleeping pad, a tent, or tent poles. Also, there two compression straps that run over the top of the main compartment and provide additional carrying capacity.

Make it even lighter! The frame itself is removable so the pack can be used for ultralight loads without the frame. This takes the pack weight itself to almost a 13 oz pack.

What’s the VC stand for? Vapor Current. At first glance, you’ll notice the ventilation channels molded into the cushy back pad. These channels allow air to circulate from bottom to top, taking advantage of convection to aid in evaporative cooling. This facilitates circulation without shifting the pack’s center of gravity away from your back. Beneath the molded foam, the VC frame has a full length (all the way up to the load lifters), HDPE die-cut sheet that supports loads up to 35 lbs.

Will this pack handle a Long Distance Trek?

I say YES! As more and more ultra lightweight packs hit the market, it will be the durability and stitching that will ultimately stand the test of time. I like the VC Crown because of it’s CORDURA® fabric. If you are like me, you are hard on your packs. Ultimately, a strong fabric will make the difference.

TIP: Ultra lightweight packs means you should have lightweight gear. The maximum weight for this pack is 35lbs. I would subtract 5 lbs to that. Light weight packs maximize their performance when you pack your gear correctly AND carry other light weight gear.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

New Subfloor

We have big news! Our new subfloor went in this weekend and it’s pretty damn exciting. It wasn’t as hard as we expected, but it was still kind of hard. If that makes any sense.

We started the weekend on Friday with priming all of our plywood with Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer™. We had already measured (re measured) and cut the pieces we needed. We initially used cardboard to make a template of the front cornered piece. The cardboard was a good idea because we could measure and trace around the C-Channel and get a good measurement for the curves. We made sure to put a heavy coat of Epoxy Sealer on the cut edges. It’ s edges that are most vulnerable of course.

We first placed the cardboard template (front corner) where it needed to be. Of course, installing a piece of cardboard is much easier than a piece of plywood. The cardboard looked like it was where it was suppose to go and we were happy with our measurements. Maybe a “good nervous anxiety” is a better expression.

TIP: Double check, and re-check, that all of the tiny wood screws that get drilled in at the top of the C-Channel are OUT. This will save you from pulling your hair out and having a break down in front of loved ones.

Saturday was spent on the front Belly Pan. We wanted to make sure that before putting in the Subfloor, we could see the new rivets going in to secure the Belly Pan. With my new Central Pneumatic 3/16 in. Air Hydraulic Riveter we were ready to tackle our Belly Pan. We drilled out all old rivets that the belly pan had dropped through. Surprising, our Belly Pan is in pretty good shape. We did drill new holes in the bottom frame using a 3/16 drill bit and popped in 3/16? Large Flange Rivets.  Some places in the Belly Pan the holes were just too big. So we used large Fender Washers with the Large Flange rivets to secure and cover the holes. We also cleaned and prepped the frame once again, along with touching up any spots we may have missed with POR 15.  By late Saturday we were exhausted. Sleeping in a 1998 Ford Expedition with 2 dogs on a Air Matress can be cozy, but we were so tired on Saturday Night, both dogs and humans were fast asleep by 9:30 PM.

Sunday: (The big day). Woke up early to a blue sky and the Rooster crowing. After mayhem with the dogs and few cups of coffee and a brief visit with Tulip the Goat, we were ready to get that floor in. We opted (after long debate and discussion) NOT to have any insulation between the Belly Pan and the Subfloor. But we did opt to using a Self Adhesive Waterproof Rubberized Asphalt Roll Flashing. This protects the Frame and the Plywood from moisture that could get in between. The Flashing also protects the Outriggers that are most vulnerable to the elements. After taping the top of the frame, we were ready.

The funny thing about putting in the first piece of your new subfloor was; “Are we really here”? We were almost in denial looking for other things to do before we actually put this in. With some trepidation, we brought in the front corner piece. We had cut some 2×4’s that we placed on the frame so we could beat the 2×4’s instead of the plywood. We brought in laying it down on the frame but on a slant. The “idea” here, was to push the out one side of the C-Channel and then to beat the front piece using the 2×4’s. Once we got both ends in the C-Channel it was then a matter of just beating it forward all the way in the “front C-Channel”. To our amazement, it worked. However, the rubber mallet was quickly replaced with a sledge hammer. (*Side Note: When something goes right on our Airstream restoration, we ask ourselves, “is this real or a dream”?)

TIP: Be prepared to beat one side of your Airstream to move the “cut” from right to left. Use a 2×4 for this also. Remember, you are pushing out one side of your C-Channel to get both ends in the C-Channel.If your cut is correct, the one side that you pushed out, will come back in.

The next section was only 2 feet wide to sit on the frame correctly and get bolted into the Outriggers correctly. That piece went in fairly smoothly.

The 3rd piece, (the biggest piece) was 4 feet wide went in by lifting the “cut” up over our heads, tucking the far end (opposite of the door) into the C-Channel, then bringing it down and tucking in the other end. This also involved major beating on the side of the Airstream.

So, the first 3 pieces are in. 4 more to go…

All curse words were omitted in the description of putting in our new subfloor and the writing of this blog. All relationships are sill in tact, and all the farm dogs still think the Airstream is a giant dog house.
Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

She’s an amazing RV stripper

I must admit, never did I think the words; “she’s an amazing stripper” would ever utter out of my mouth when describing my significant other. Yet that is simply the truth! Oh sure, I can strip with the best of them. But let’s face it: I rush it. I tend to go fast and just want it off far too quickly. She, on the other hand, focuses on the details.

I’m speaking of stripping the paint off of our Argosy, of course. What did you think I was talking about? In our recent blog post about Stripping, we explained HOW we were doing it, but the devil is in the details right? Surviving it, might be a different post altogether. Airstream Renovation

Stripping the paint off outside in 97 degree heat in the Georgia sun, well, isn’t fun. In fact, I would describe it as…not at all in any way enjoyable! Our Lucy is pointed North South, so the sides of her are East, West. Which means if we want the shade, we are either working on the East side at 6:00 AM or working on the West side after 6:00 PM.

Stripping Lucy this week taught me a few things that I must share. One, I suck at stripping. Two, my partner, my intended, the one I love, is an amazing stripper! She’s virtually a machine. She actually said at one time; “Not interested in taking a break right now, I’m in a zone”. Though I actually said at one time: “Let me die so the Vultures can take me”. It was a blistering 98 degrees out on the Farm. While every living animal on the farm was seeking shade (and for our spoiled dogs, air conditioning), there was Ariane, stripping 40 years of paint off our Lucy. At one point she looked like Leonardo Da Vinci with her pallet of paint artistically looking for every nook and cranny of to highlight. In reality it was just a gunk full of scrapped paint on cardboard. But when you are hallucinating because of heat exhaustion, I would like to think of her that way.

In the end, we have Lucy almost all stripped and bare. Our hands tired, blistered, and swollen. Ariane’s hands took most of the blow, looking aged and peeling from the abrasive material. For me however it was just my ego that took most of the blow as I watched in admiration.

TIP: If you have to work in the blistering sun of hell. Listen to Disco Music. Believe me, listening to KC and the Sunshine Band and “Shake, shake, shake”, offers a mild relief from heatstroke. And at the end of the day when you tell your girlfriend. “You are an amazing stripper”, it becomes worth it.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

How to remove a Airstream Subfloor

In any Airstream you are going to rehab, you quickly learn that the Sub-flloor isn’t just laying on the frame itself. The camper body is bolted to the frame, and in between the camper body and the frame is the edge of your sub-floor. Simply put, you are going to have to remove the sub-floor by removing the camper bolts first.

(camper bolts are the bolts that are in your C-Chanel and that are bolted through your Outriggers on your frame)Airstream rehab Info

In our case, we were somewhat lucky. Our sub-floor was so rotted that we were able to break away the sub-floor without removing the camper bolts. In some cases it did take a while to pull the sub-floor out around the bolts. There was some cutting involved. We actually used a wood chisel for some of the harder parts.

TIP: Consider the Full Monty (pulling the entire camper off the frame) This is something that we wish we would have done. We just didn’t have the resources do it. It’s not has hard as you think it might be, But in the end will make things much easier.

TIP: If you can’t do the Full Monty, take the banana wrap off first before you start taking out the sub-floor. You will have direct access to the camper bolts and the outriggers. (see photo).

Most of the sub-floor in a vintage airstream is going to be rotted. We have a center bath which means the bathroom was on top of the wheel wells. We were surprised to find that this was the section that the sub-floor was in good shape. Most sub-floors that the bath sits on are rotted, since most bathrooms are in the back. AND the double whammy is that the back of most airstreams leak.

The sub-floor is attached with large head screws that sink into the sub-floor. Most likey they are NOT coming out easily. The best way to remove the sub-floor is to cut around the screw bolts first. We used a Saw Zaw, but some use a cirrcular saw. Once we cut around the bolts the floor was just preyed up. You will have to chisel around the screw bolts to get the rest of the floor out. We then took a “Lock Wrench” and unscrewed the floor screws.

In any case, always check the condition of your sub-floor. When we bought ours, the previous owners said they had “repaired” the floor. All they did was put another level of sub-floor on. So we had the privilege of removing 2 sub-floors.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

And so it begins

It seemed easy enough. Just take out the old stuff, and put in new stuff. How hard could that be…? Pretty hard actually. We quickly learned that the old stuff (including walls, sinks, and closets) really are all part of the way Lucy is built. Everything is interconnected with each other.

The rehab project is really a lesson in Airstream Engineering. We felt like we were old school detectives looking at each piece of panel, or plumbing, or wiring. Thinking, “ok what were they thinking”? But not only did we put on our Airstream detective hats, but Lucy had secrets. Oh did the secrets come out with each piece of sub-floor.

We have to say however, that the first few days, we felt like we had made great progress.  We littered the front area of where we parked her quite diligently with debris, insulation, and the bleeping closet that made us utter curse words we didn’t even know existed.  We may have even said “this is easy”.  We are sure at that point, Lucy laughed.

It has taken two weeks to get the sub-floor out. Most of it as rotted as it can be. We decided early (due to cost, and resources) we were not going to be able to lift her off the frame. So it was important to for us to be really diligent in removing the floor. We found out that the sub-floor is actually built first in the Airstream world, and the camper itself is bolted through the camper down into the sub-floor. So just “taking up” the sub-floor without lifting the camper off the frame is by any stretch of the imagination…NOT EASY.  It almost felt as if we were reliving a “Christmas Story” where the Dad was just making up curse words that made no sense. Yep, we are pretty sure one of us said “BADDAFINGA”.

Scott Janz October 30, 2017 0

Renovating an Airstream on a Farm

We knew from the beginning we were planning to remodeling our vintage Airstream named Lucille. Not just a short paint job and new fixtures either, full blown rehab. We also knew there would be challenges unseen, leading to a much longer completion than anticipated. In attempting to keep this rehab entirely DIY, we needed time without restraints. We needed space and needed the ability to keep her stationary for a long time. Urban style living doesn’t exactly accommodate parking a 28ft trailer in front of your apartment.  So when you buy something this large, just where do you consider operating on her?

We had to utilize our resources. We couldn’t really afford a rent a garage or borrow a closed in structure. We had been offered a place to keep her with an abundant supply of tools. So going with the “lot’s of tools” offer, we  chose to renovate Lucy on my moms farm. With all her many goats chickens roosters dogs and cats. Equally it was the perfect opportunity for our dogs to gain the exercise and stimulation needed while our attention was temporary elsewhere. It was a win win.

Rehabbing an Airstream

 

Of course you must know that living on a farm, everything moves at a much slower pace, thus slowing us down simultaneously! We take a lot more breaks than we ought to, that’s for sure. It becomes irreconcilably inevitable. All ‘because a heard of goats surround the trailer to feed, or a five month baby goat (Tulip) jumps inside to investigate. Perhaps the roosters are squawking about because the dogs are chasing after them, or my mom comes to bring us lunch and wants to see our progress, or unexpectedly we become part of completing a chore. And of course the loud screams to our dogs to “STOP EATING GOAT POOP”. What progress!!For just about every hour of work there’s likely fifteen minutes of downtime. We stop and take a hundred photos, pet the animals and well really just enjoy our surroundings. The farm life intrigues us and it’s impossible to work when taken by it’s lure.

The best thing about rehabbing Lucy however, has to be camping next to her under the starts and moon. Seeing Lucy’s glow as the moon shines on her is a reminder of why we are embarking on this journey to begin with. We try and imagine us being somewhere off the grid, and relishing in all that we had accomplished….NOW, back to work.

Scott Janz October 29, 2017 0

5 things to know before buying a vintage Airstream

When we were considering buying a tiny home we contemplated how that would mesh into our lifestyle. Very early on we knew we wanted a travel trailer. Though not just any travel trailer. We wanted to reflect our personalities, thus a vintage Airstream Argosy. Why? It was the perfect for us. It was as though the universe made it all happen, and we were the last one’s to know it. We love every minute of our project, our Lucy.

5 things to know before buying a vintage Airstream

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know. And there’s no way to know until you peel her secrets away and she will have secrets, rivet by rivet. “Trailer in good condition” could be code for a major rehab project.Airstream renovations
  2. The frame is everything! There are a lot of Airstream parts available out there – so don’t fret, the parts will be the least of your worries. The frame however is crucial. Ever had an interest in welding? Well…now would be a good time to consider. Go ahead and buy a gallon of POR 15. Trust us.
  3. Be willing to walk away! Seriously though, you should be prepared to if necessary. Don’t allow the romanticism of rehabbing a vintage Airstream lock you into a bad judgement call. If your heart wins the deal, your pocket book may loose.
  4. When you make the purchase, bring extra cash for the unexpected. She, (the Airstream), may not come home with you as willingly as you had anticipated. Ohhhh, did you honestly think you’d just plug in the seven pin, hitch it up, and drive off into the sunset!?!! No, no, no…now that’s wishful thinking! None of our lights worked on Lucy and her four tires were dry rotted beyond repair. Also, google the term “hitch stabilizer”. You’re safety is of the up-most importance!
  5. Have the right tools for the right job. Don’t cut corners and DO YOUR RESEARCH. Be prepared for a lengthy, challenging and tedious rehab. Sharpen your investigation skills ’cause they will become necessary to figure out just exactly how she was put together. Airstream Forums will be you’re best friend. Never hesitate to ask for help, we have an incredible community of Astream Addicts.

Bonus. Be prepared for the Full Monty. Aka, The Lift. Definition: lifting the camper entirely off the trailer. Separation at its fullest. There is a reason why Airstream campers stand the test of time, they are built well and will take an incredible amount of fortitude love and patience to bring her back to her glory. Though well worth the journey. Welcome to Vintage Airstream Rehab!

Scott Janz May 26, 2017 0

Comparing two of our favorite alcohol stoves

Both Ariane and I have used Alcohol Stoves for years now. After recently buying the Toaks Alcohol Stove, we wanted to test the efficiency and burn time between our Whitebox Alcohol Stove. I’ve had my Whitebox Alcohol Stove for 8 years and have always loved it.

I compared price, total burn time, and how fast to boil.

The conditions of the test were outdoors, 2 cubs of water in a 900 mil pot with lid. Winds were light to variable 5-10 mph. Both used Denatured Alcohol.

Specs on the Toaks: 

Material: Titanium (Grade 1 or 2, no coating)

Weight: 0.7 oz (20g)

Capacity: 2.7 oz (80g)

Cost: 34.95

WhiteBox Specs: 

Material: Aluminum

Weight: 1 oz

Capacity: 2.5 ounces of fuel

Cost: 23.00

Considering the weight and cost. The Whitebox Stove still comes out to be the better stove for the price and burn time. It is .3 ounces heavier, but that is just the stove. The Toaks comes out to be the same if you add the wire screen you need to place your pot on top of and the wind screen. AND you will pay a lot more for the Toaks.

I think it’s a matter of preference if you like Titanium over Aluminum.

Cold weather could obviously affect both stoves. But haven’t tested that yet. Have you?

Do you use an Alcohol Stove? If so we would love to hear what you use and how you like it?

How to hike the appalachian trail
Scott Janz April 10, 2017 0

Is it Trail Magic or Hiker Feeds?

After my Thru-Hike in 2003, I wanted to give back to the Appalachian Trail as to what was so freely given to me. So, each year I invite a small group of Hikers about 7 miles from the start of Trail (Springer Mountain) to provide shuttle services, some food, hot coffee, and lots of encouragement and love. We have never had any kind of debate that we were providing a little “trail magic” to Thru-Hikers. However, in 2017 it was a little different.

After a few hours of setting up our tent, and tables, a GATC Ridgerunner stopped by (he was camping at Hawk Mountain Shelter a few miles away). He explained that we weren’t really doing “Trail Magic” but a “Hiker Feed”. I was perplexed. A Hiker Feed? What’s that? He went on to explain that “trail magic” is a random act of kindness, and a hiker feed was just feeding hikers. Mmmm? But we were doing more than just feeding hikers. Mr Ridgerunner also suggested that we don’t do trail magic right near the trail, but off the trail. Ok, maybe I get that, but was still a little perplexed on the hiker feed vs trail magic gig.

Apparently, this is a controversial topic.  Outside Magazine wrote an article back 2016: Are Trail Angels Taking the Magic Out of Long-Distance Hikes?

Some argue that so-called trail angels, who hand out ?food and water (and beer!) ?to weary through-hikers, ?are cheapening what should be a life-altering experience

Another article from The Trek ask’s “Trail Magic – Love it or Hate it“.

I have seen and heard many comments of individuals who believe Trail Magic should not be given to hikers; a view I most certainly cannot agree with

I see both points. In 2003 there was barely any kind of the Social Media we have today. In 2003 the big debate was whether to bring a cell phone on the trail and was THAT ruining the wilderness experience. I personally have seen a lot of garbage on the trail have picked up full bags of it. But NEVER have I seen ANY person providing Trail Magic/Hiker Feeds be the cause of that garbage. NEVER. So I’m perplexed at the controversy with my only withstanding personal debate as to if it indeed has gotten so saturated that is is hampering a trail experience.

Maybe next year, we will only hand out Leave No Trace cards instead of Hot Dogs. It seems that might be a bit boring, but needed. I can only expect that the popularity of the AT will bring out more Trail Magic.  In the 7 years I/We have been providing trail magic we have: shuttled hikers, fixed their gear, provided first aid, sent home gear, and one time even taught someone how to use their pocket rocket. Yes, that is true. So I take a little step back when someone tries to redefine the Appalachian Trail and the experience Thru-Hikers will have on it. BUT, I get it. It’s beginning to get crowded for sure.

What’s your opinion? WE sure did get a lot of comments on our YouTube Channel.

 

Scott Janz February 18, 2017 2

The Best Outdoor Sunglasses

One of the drawbacks from getting older is that my eyesight just isn’t the same anymore. I have fought over the years wearing sports glasses, sunglasses, contacts, my regular glasses, the list goes on. Being active, I rarely keep a pair of (fill in the blank) for any long period. They usually break in my pocket or I lose them.

Recently my Eye Doctor recommended a pair of sunglasses/glasses/sports goggles, that have been perfect for all kinds of reasons.

A cross between a sunglasses and a goggle the Adidas Climacool Elevation is great for Skiing, Snowboarding, Backpacking, and simply sitting on the beach soaking up the rays. The Adidas Climacool Elevation model A136 has been around for a couple of years now but no one has managed to copy it or – beat it!

The best part: I don’t need a second pair of glasses to read a map. (Can’t see close) If you need prescription lenses then simply snap in your specially made prescription glasses into your Climacool Elevation glasses.

insert

ClimaCool by Adidas is a dynamic ventilation technology.
The ClimaCool Technology for eyewear (made up of the specially engineered vents on the pad) allows for air to be directed in a way that does not disturb the eyesight but rather manages moisture and prevents fogging providing a more comfortable wear throughout. The foam pad surrounds the entire frame front and is easily detachable. It can then be replaced with the sadle nose strap and be transformed into a cool looking sunglass.

elevationclimacool1

The Adidas Elevation is very versatile. within minutes you can change the side and lenses to produce a goggle suitable for windsurfing in low lighting, canoeing or climbing as the image below shows. Everything is configurable to meet your needs. You can take apart the stems and snap on a band that fits around your head incase you are in a situation they may drop off.

A spare set of lenses are included, these are orange lenses which are suitable for low lighting – they enhance contrast and show up lumps and bumps in the ground – so making them ideal for skiing or snowboarding. Just pop out the lenes.

There are quite a few places to buy these. Consult your Eye Doctor to make sure your prescription is good to go. My Doctor was able to send my bi-focal prescription out and they couldn’t be better.

The best Backpacking Cookware
Scott Janz January 21, 2017 0

Sea to Summit X Pot Gear Review and Cookware

Let’s discuss some backpacking cookware and how the Sea to Summit X Pot (1 liter) did on our field test.

I guess the first thing we need to talk about is: How are you going to use your Cookware System? I love to cook in the backcountry. So I may bring a extra (lightweight) pan to cook additional foods in. Like bacon, eggs, or bagels. But for some,  you may only use it to boil water. How you cook and what you are going to cook is important before you go out and start buying cool gadget cookware.

There is of course the difference in metals. Some cookware is made out of an Aluminum base, and some cookware is Titanium.  The most common rationale for choosing  titanium over an aluminum one is weight:  But just a quick FYI, Titanium is actually heavier than Aluminum as a metal. However, you need more aluminum to equal the same amount of (strength as) titanium. Makes sense right?

Probably the reason Aluminum doesn’t last as long if  you cook it over the fire. (Like I do)

So when you are determining how you cook, you also have to take a look at as to what you are going to eat on the trail. Again, I use a 900 mil Titanium pot because I love to put stuff in the pot. Not only hot water, but multi-use my hot water by cooking stuff in bags that are in boiling water. Uncle Ben’s Rice in a Bag for example.

Then there is the SnowPeak Titanium Cups. Weights 2.4 oz. You can pick these up for around 30.00. You are limited  however when it comes to creative cooking. But great for just boiling water.

PRO TIP: Campbell’s® Hot N Handy© Classic Mug Mug holds 14 oz and weighs 2.4 ounces. AND has a lid. It’s BPA Free. The huge TIP here. It costs 5.00 and weighs the exact amount as the SnowPeak 450 Mil Titanium Cup.

Our new piece of cookware that we really love is called Toaks. Toaks 900 mil pot which is actually much lighter. It goes for 45.00 bucks and you can buy them online. 

The other piece of Gear that we love is the MSR FLEX Skillet. In fact, we have put this in our backpack to replace our old (bacon cook pan), yea, we love bacon. AND it only weighs Weight 7 oz.

Our review of the Sea to Summit 1 liter X Pot is we like it. However it’s NOT going in our backpack. We love this for Car Camping and cooking soups and our famous Texas Chili. But we think it has a lot of gear failure after long term use on a Thru-Hike or just wear and tear use. Also, if you are using an Alcohol Stove,  this pot will NOT work. The flame is just too wide for this pot. Again, we love Sea To Summit Gear. Just don’t think this pot will last through a long distance hike. Very pack-able however.

Do you have a favorite cook system? Let us know and share what works for you.

How to stay hydrated while backpacking
Scott Janz January 21, 2017 0

Hydration – Dehydration

To many times we hear of hikers on a simple day hike becoming dehydrated and having to make a 911 call. In fact, just recently an Alaska teen was hospitalized in critical condition and his family members were treated for dehydration after they ran out of water on a hike at Phoenix’s South Mountain Preserve.

Dehydration is defined as excessive loss of body water. There can be different circumstances as to why one becomes dehydrated. However, when hiking in the backcountry, it usually means not carrying enough water, or having ample water in your system when temps are high, humidity is high, are you are physically active.

How much water do you need when Backpacking? The hotter the temps, the more water. That seems to be a no brainner. However, Altitude is also something to consider. The higher you are climbing the more water you will need, even in cooler temps. The average human must consume a minimum of 3 quarts of water per day up to 12,000 feet, and up to 10 quarts above 12,000 feet

Remember: Physical strength has nothing to do with becoming dehydrated. It’s the amount of water your body is consuming. In the high heat. You sweat around 1/2 to 1 quart of fluid every hour you are hiking.

This fluid/electrolyte loss can exceed 2 quarts per hour if you hike uphill in direct sunlight and during the hottest time of the day. www.nps.gov

platy

Remedies: First, don’t wait til you feel thirsty. Odds are, you are already dehydrated. I always takes sips from my 3 liter platy on a continuous basis on my hike. Some good gulps, (at least 10 ounces)every 20 minutes when the heat is on. Less in the Winter. I also consume a gallon of water at least an hour before a hike. Sometimes I have to force myself to drink it, but it has always allowed me to stay hydrated. No matter what the temps.

I also gauge my hydration levels by my urine. A useful rule of thumb for avoiding dehydration in hot or humid environments or during strenuous activity involves monitoring the frequency and character of urination. If one develops a full bladder at least every 3-5 hours and the urine is only lightly colored or colorless, chances are that dehydration is not occurring; if urine is deeply colored, or urination occurs only after many hours or not at all, water intake may not be adequate to maintain proper hydration.

 

What I carry: Before I even begin to pack, I determine what my water situation will be? Will I have access to water? Can I get water by filtering? Lakes, River, Creeks? Or will it be dry, desert like? In the East, you are probably going to find creeks and rivers. Water purification is essential. Gauge your miles. How many miles are you hiking? Hiking in the desert will require you to double your water.

I carry a 3 litre platy, a 32 oz Nalgene bottle (Usually I put Gatorade or even Tang). I also carry a Katadyn Micro filter. This enables me to filter while I drink. I try and use this as much as I can. Rule of thumb, never pass up a water supply and always use it to your advantage.

Symptoms may include headaches similar to what is experienced during a hangover, muscle cramps, a sudden episode of visual snow, decreased blood pressure (hypotension), and dizziness or fainting when standing up due to orthostatic hypotension. Untreated dehydration generally results in delirium, unconsciousness, swelling of the tongue and in extreme cases death.

Dehydration symptoms generally become noticeable after 2% of one’s normal water volume has been lost. Initially, one experiences thirst and discomfort, possibly along with loss of appetite and dry skin.

Always make sure you plan and prepare your backpacking trip and know how you are going to stay hydrated.

Winter Tarp Tenting
Scott Janz December 28, 2016 0

Winter Tarp Tenting

We often get questions about Tarp Tenting in the snow. In fact, if you have the right gear, you can be as comfortable under a tarp in snow, than any other regular tent trip in the Winter.

I use the Equinox 10 X 12 tarp. It takes about 20 minutes to dig a 3′ deep pit and pitch the tarp above it. There are many options including burying the sides under snow to fully prevent wind vs keeping it somewhat open to help with condensation. If you use your poles to support the tarp (and choose a flat site or a slightly rougher nylon tarp–snow really slides off of silnylon) you can cover your tarp with snow for insulation much like a snow cave but without the 2 hour time needed and guaranteed wet-through gloves.

However, tarp tenting in the Winter is a bit different from just pitching it anywhere. I usually look for a place out of the wind. Under a huge pine tree. Or even next to a rock crop. If you get a heavy snowfall, the extra protection will keep your tarp from falling in. One time it started sleeting, and sleet is heavy. Understanding how your tarp reacts to different weather issues may help you when that crappy weather moves in at night.

Tarp tenting in the snow is as much fun, and enjoyable than without snow. Looking out in a panoramic view underneath your tarp worth it.

Some TIPS:

Select a area that is sheltered from exposure or strong winds if possible. I almost always hang my tarp between trees, it can help block the wind from your tarp if needed.

Try to avoid any vegetation and set your tent up on snow if possible. Snow is the ultimate “No Trace” campsite because all signs of your camp will disappear when the snow melts in the spring. Snow can also act as a insulator in some cases

Pack down the snow where you want to set up your tent before you set it up. You don’t want your body heat to cause deformation in the snow. Also, you want to make sure you have a good r-value sleeping pad. The best choice here is a “insulated pad”. Otherwise the air in the pad will make it feel like you are sleeping on a refrigerator.

If the wind is gusting, dig a hole 1-2′ deep in which to set up your tarp. This will reduce the amount of wind that blasts your tent. Digging out a 1′-2′ deep pit under the vestibule area of the tarp makes getting in and out of your tarp a little easier. Also make sure your Tarp is all the way to the snow level. You can build a small wall of snow around your tarp to block the wind.

Attach 4′ – 6′ of cord to each of your tent stake-out points so you can use rocks or logs for anchors if the ground is too frozen to drive in stakes or the snow is too soft to hold a stake. Regular tent stakes will NOT work in snow. Instead you can use snow flukes or special snow stakes or skewers for anchoring your tarp.

When camping on deep snow, you can fill 1 gallon size freezer bags with snow and tie your stake-out cords to them for deadmen anchors instead of using stakes.

How to cook on the Appalachian Trail
Scott Janz December 22, 2016 3

Backcountry Cooking and Food

Cooking in the backcounty can be a blast if you have planned your meals accordingly. When planning your backpacking trip, the first rule of thumb is bring what you like. Why would you grab a typical freeze dried meal that you have never eaten or not even sure if you like?  Then, start looking at weight. The biggest mistake I’ve ever made while planning a long backpacking trip was to stuff my food bag with food I normally didn’t eat.

There are plenty of food items that don’t need hot water poured in a bag for me to enjoy after a long day of hiking. In fact, many foods now come pre-cooked. Which is why I run to that section of the grocery store. Pre-cooked meals mean I only have to heat them up sometimes without boiling water to do it. For example: Pre-cooked bacon is amazingly good. Nothing like a small bagel with some cheese on it that makes a tasty breakfast.

The first thing I do is make a list of what I like to eat. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Things I would eat at home, but on a smaller, lightweight scale. I like cereal in the morning, but that doesn’t mean I bring a bowl and milk. However, I would bring a breakfast bar, or some powdered milk to mix with cold water. Make an extra 2 cubs of powdered milk, then make some hot chocolate at night.

Another way to avoid cooking during a backpacking trip is to have lots of prepackaged, ready-to-eat food such as fruits, trail mix, and energy bars. Dried fruit is an even better choice than fresh fruit if you plan to stay out for a long period of time. Individual boxes of cereals or raisins are also great, both as a quick breakfast and as mid-afternoon snacks. Most of these snacks also pack a good energetic punch, so they will provide a quick pick-me-up when you’re on the go. Dehydrated fruit by the way goes great with Oatmeal and some hot water. It’s also great to eat for electrolytes.

Be creative: Lots of meals can be prepared on the spot if you just bring along the right ingredients. A good example is burritos or wraps. Just pack corn or flour tortillas, some mayo or ketchup (small, individual packs are best, like the ones you can find in restaurants). Sometimes I have made a pizza wrap with shredded cheese, one small bag of tomato sauce, small package of pepperoni, in a pita bread. You can also make some awesome burritos with Knorr Meals, and pre-cooked steak strips.

What about emergency food when storms keep you stuck in your tent. For unexpected multi-day delays, snow storms or emergencies such as getting lost, high-calorie snacks are life-savers. High-calorie food also makes good meals for ultralight hiking. Some ultralight backpackers swear by peanut butter eaten straight out of the package, using it as their main source of food for days at a time. Jiffy makes small packaged Peanut Butter that are easily packed.

Then of course we have backpacking, or hiking food that’s freeze-dried or dehydrated. This can reduce weight by sixty to ninety percent. If you’re carrying a backpack or other hiking gear with a few days worth of camping food and supplies this can make a BIG difference. This is why I mix it up. I tend to eat my creative food (or dry food) first. I reduce the weight, then it’s on to the freeze-dried food my extended days.

TIP: DO NOT throw those freeze dried bags away. Recycle them. You can buy other dehydated foods like Knorr Foods that you can’t poor hot water in. But you can poor those Knorr Foods into a recycled freeze dried bags (like Mountain House bags) and boom.

Hiking food offers trade offs. While it isn’t usually gourmet that doesn’t mean it has to be bad. After all, a gourmet meal is in the eye of the beholder…or backpacker

TIP: Good to Go Meals offer a great alternative to those who need and want a special diet out in the backcountry. More importantly, they are really good.

Some extra items that help. Ziplock baggies. I can’t tell you how many of these I have gone though. Also, a waterproof food bag. You don’t want your food water logged. I found this out the hard way one time. Just remember planning is everything. Winter food should be different than summer food, but it should all be food you like.