With Memorial Weekend passing it means that once again for most of America it’s ‘camping season’ again, with all the good and bad that comes along with it. Admit it, you’ve been there – struggling to get a campfire started, feeling emasculated (maybe I should get a kitten and write poetry instead of doing this outdoors crap??) quickly realizing that if you were a neandrethal you’d be part of Darwin’s proof statement (and for bonus points you’ve got kids whining how they want smores in the background). Maybe you forgot newspaper (do those still exist??), or your hatchet so you can’t shave your logs for some kindling and any dead/dry needles and moss on the ground you were banking on are slightly damp? Regardless, it’s frustrating when you just want to kick back, relax and sip a beer around the fire.
Solution: something flammable. I had a buddy that used to always bring a can of white gas (aka Coleman fuel), and while that works it burns quickly and thus takes quite a bit to get a consistent fire going. My emergency go to that are in every pack I own, cotton balls soaked in Vaseline and stored in a 35mm film canister, are lightweight and damn good at getting a fire going but can be a bit messy (not a problem in a survival situation, but sometimes you just want something a bit cleaner). Of course if you’re like me you don’t have cotton balls or Vaseline around the house on a regular basis so you go to option #3, these easy to make waterproof firestarters made with stuff you’ve already got around the house. While it’s 8 steps below they really only take a few minutes, in fact I made these ones inbetween packing the cooler for the weekend.
Old candle or other wax source
String or dental floss
Put old candle bits and pieces in a mason jar, and put mason jar in a pot of water. Bring water with jar in it to a boil to get wax melting.
While the water is heating taking clumps of dryer lint and stuff it into your egg crate. More dryer lint = longer burn time.
Steps 3 – 5:
Cut out each individual egg cup, fold top edges over, and tie a string around to hold it closed. Make sure your string is long enough to reach the bottom of your mason jar easily as it’ll be hot and you don’t want your hands too close to the mess.
Grab your dryer lint dumplings by the string and dunk them into the hot wax. Depending on how deep your wax is you may have to tip the jar sideways or shake it around to splash the wax around inside it. Note that the jar will be damn hot so you’ll want to use a silicone gripper mitt or similar.
After each dunk place your freshly waxed balls onto a paper towel and let them sit til the wax hardens.
Burn, thump chest and feel manly.
~10 minute burn time
Note: While these are great for car camping they wouldn’t be my firestarter of choice in potential life/death situations, in which case I’d go with the Vaseline cotton balls – not only could you have fire/warmth but you could get in one last wank to lift your spirits on your way out.
Ahh spring, where a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of….watersports. And bikes. And maybe finally posting a TR from the Oregon Splitfest. But whatever, it’s sunny out and while I know I should be stoked on hitting highway 20 and some local spring splitboard objectives, but I can’t lie, I’m not*. I’m solar powered and no amount of vitamin D supplementation matches to the feeling of the sun’s warmth on your face and the sounds/smells/sensory overload that comes with springtime.
With the springer run hitting full bore in the Willamette, and lings, shrimp and halibut opening in Washington I’ve been putting some thought into there wheres and hows of what kayak mods I decided last fall I’d get to this spring. Nothing crazy – a quick release anchor, a modified way to hold crab/shrimp pots in front of me and a milk crate/safety flag setup. Below is the first of the DIYs I’ll throw up, which is stupid easy to do and likely only requires a single photo, but as I know when you get a new yak that it takes a bit of a leap of faith in drilling into it figured I’d make it a bit more step-by-step.
Basically, I needed a better way to carry crab or shrimp pots. I typically use the Danielson fold up crab pots, and for shrimp use the non-folding McKay pots. With the rope, buoys and bait cans in the rear tankwell the pots never really sat well across the stern and most of the time I found myself putting them in front of the cockpit and using my monkey toes to grab onto the pots. I didn’t want to get too crazy and build an unnecessarily complex, deck cluttering PVC pipe monstrosity as I feel that part of the fun of kayak fishing is the fact that it’s simple. This solution achieves my needs, is simple and lets me use the tankwell for carrying bait, buoys and rope and have the pots where I can see them and more easily reach them. Caveat for those that have trouble grasping the obvious: this setup is DEFINITELY better for the size/weight of the fold up crab pots, but it should hold at least one shrimp pot – though you may want to keep the buoy and rope on it juuuuust in case.
-A single lashing hook. Washington based Sealect Designs seem to be available everywhere AND you’re supporting PNW local
-Stainless hardware (machine screw, nylock nut, fender washer). Like with anything that requires drilling through the hull a backing plate of starboard or cheap plastic cutting board is smart, but in this case I just used a big ol’ washer
-Two short lengths (under 10″) of bungee for guide loops. You could also use some Niteline or similar, but I went with bungee for it’s shock absorbing properties (and the fact that I needed the 16′ of line I had for something else….)
-Drill and appropriately sized drill bit
The below pic is what you’re creating. Pretty easy and needs no explanation, right?
The end goal
Lashing hook. Placement will be determined by personal preference and kayak layout. For me I verified that I could load the pots on either the long way or short way before drilling, as well as put it in a spot where the hook faces slightly downward for additional confidence in it’s holding ability.
Obvious statement is obvious, but when drilling through your hull you’ll want to make sure the bit you use is slightly smaller than your mounting screw so that it gets some purchase into the plastic. As you just made a hole in your boat, and boats work better when they don’t have holes in them, a generous application of Marine Goop is a good idea. It’s highly unlikely that this hole would ever allow in any significant amount of water, but why chance it Also, save the plastic shavings that result from the drilling as you can use them to fill in holes.
Lashing hook. Caution: living live can and will result in death
Instead of pad eyes I used loops of bungee to run my primary cord through. I figured the shock absorbing property can’t hurt, but as the paddle loops are already bungee it’s likely overkill. Regardless, it’s a non-permanent mount that can be easily changed.
Used bungees instead of pad eyes
Easy as pie.
Come at me bro
*Sometime in mid-August I’ll think back to this post and be pissed at myself for not taking advantage of the snow
UPDATE: Somebody emailed me and asked if you can hold pots that are assembled with this setup. Pic below shows that yup, you can. If you want to stack more than one you can just add another loop to your bungee to extend it, though you may want to consider running some pad eyes or additional lashing hooks on the sides so that there is some support on the sides of the pot.
The Blazes I won up at Splitfest were mediums, but I usually take a large. Looked up the stats on their site and the baseplate length is the same between the M and L, the difference is just in the width. As my wide boots fit into the binding I just took the old (short, not well padded) Blaze ankle straps off and threw on my older, longer, more padded Cartels. Stoked to get out on the new setup!
Didn't have access this guy so just swapped the straps
Probably old news to you grizzled vets of all things off-the-couch, but as I’d never seen/heard (nor considered) how to make something similar to the Pickle Wax Remover®. I’m a lazy ding fixer aka just slap one of those Quik ding stickers over any dings, top it with some duct tape and call it good, but as the last time I surfed one of my boards I could feel an old glass job fix I did flexing decided I’d get two of my neglected steeds ready for some fiberglass lovin’ this week – thus the need for the homegrown Cuke®.
Yeah, you can scrape your board down, but that still leaves a lot of residue that isn’t ideal for adhesion, and as some of these dings are on the rails/nose I need to be able to tape off up and over the board. Yeah, you can leave your board in the sun and just let the wax run off, but as it was shaded where I was scraping that wasn’t going to work either. So anyways, on to how to make your very own Zucchini® wax remover. Note: this is damn easy so didn’t take step by step pics. If you’re too dumb to figure it out from the directions and the photo you probably shouldn’t be playing in water without a lifevest on anyways.
Materials needed: pair of pantyhose and some flour or foam dust (I used flour since I don’t have foam dust)
Step 1: Tie off one end of pantyhose, if not already sealed on one side (i.e. if you’re using an old pair that broke off)
Step 2: Fill with desired amount of flour. You’ll want to make it sized so it’s comfortable to hold, and as you’ll be losing flour as it removes wax it’s OK to add a bit more than you think you’ll need. You can go Cucumber®, Zucchini®, Delicata® – hell go Watermelon® – just pick a fruit or vegetable and get your pantyhose fill on!
Step 3: Tie off top end of pantyhose to hold in the flour
BOOM! You’re done. Now go get your Karate Kid on and wax off.
The Cucumber (not ®) Wax Remover
20 feet of wax makes a nice summertime snowman®
The front Shimano 600 STI shifter on my circa-95 or so Raleigh road bike aka indoor trainer bike finally gave up the big one last summer. However, as this bike never gets ridden (I mean c’mon, who rides an indoor trainer? BOOORRRRRRIIINNNGGGGG), the brakes still worked and as I’ve got chicken legs to the big ring goes unused I’d ignored it up until recently when a friend (Dave at fatskideals.com) sent me an old 105 front shifter he had that still worked. #winning. So, I set out to swap it out knowing only that 1) the exploded views of these things make ‘em look ridiculously complex and 2) the internet would guide me like the North Star.
So, a couple quick pics and words of encouragement for any other STI swapping neophytes like myself.
Step 1: Remove old bar wrap. If yours is 15+ years old be prepared for the smell of stank sweat from a thousand former workouts. I didn’t take a picture of this step as I figured you’d figure it out. In prep for rewrapping the bar rub down the bars with rubbing alcohol to remove any old residue and give the best surface possible for the new adhesive to stick to.
Step 2: Peel back the rubber boot to get access to the lone 5mm allen bolt that holds the levers to the bar. It’s kind of an awkward angle, but with a little intestinal fortitude you’ll get ‘er.
Note that while the focus square was on the allen bolt when I took the photo it's not in focus. Suck it Steve Jobs.
Step 3: Remove the shift cable. Start off by loosening the cable at the derailleur (duh). To remove the cable from the lever you simply shift the lever all the way in and hold while pushing the cable out thru the side (see photo to get an idea of cable exit point). Note that if you just need to replace the shift cable as opposed to a full lever swap you don’t have to remove the lever. If you’re swapping brake cables you’ll have to remove the lever though due to how far back you have to pull the lever to get the cable in/out.
Step 4: Remove the brake cable. Start by loosening the cable at the brake to give yourself some room to work. Next, pull the brake lever in as far as you can (think: a level that would make you shit your pants if you were on a downhill) and push on the now loose cable to get the ball end of it to slide out of it’s socket. This reads funny, I know, just read these sentences while looking at the lever and it’ll all become clear.
Steps 5-7: Basically work backwards now. Insert brake and shift cables into your new lever. Soft mount lever onto the bar (don’t fully tighten quite yet), then pull bike off repair stand to verify the lever is in the right place for you, then tighten down . Insert cables back into brakes/derailleur and trim/adjust as needed. Rewrap bars (note: don’t trim wrap before you’re satisfied with wrap job…doh) and ride!
Complete and looking like a new beast with that fresh wrap job
Let’s face it – skiing and snowboarding aren’t cheap, and backcountry snowsports even less so. Summertime is the best time to buy your backcountry kit as typically stores are trying to blow out of whatever inventory they have left from the prior year to make room for the upcoming gear in the fall. If you shop around a bit, and don’t mind the occasional used/demo gear. This is my first take on building out a budget kit for someone getting into the sport or looking to upgrade their gear.
Splitboard – Found these Voile Mojo demos over at Mammothgear.com. Cool little shop staffed by cool people in the eastern Sierra, and the demos come with skins and the universal binding interface – something you don’t get if you buy a Burton or most other splitboards.
Beacon – Pieps Freeride for under $160 at Acmeclimbing.
Probe – Again going to Mammothgear, they’ve got the Ortovox 340 for $50. Not the cheapest probe, and certainly not the lightest, but I’d rather save ounces on non-lifesaving equipment.
For under $800 and a few minutes of interwebbing you’ve got yourself the essentials (reminder: take an avalanche safety class and read up) to get you out of the resort and into the backcountry. It should be noted that I’m not endorsing any of the gear or retailers here, just showing what kind of kit you can put together on the cheap (cheap is relative) in the offseason.
Fresh pow on the cheap
*warning: blurry photos ahead, do not adjust your eyes*
Find east facing slope that has been baking in the sun all week. Climb said slope.
Step 1: Hike up east facing/melted out peak
Achieve a zen-like state and sit/ponder the conditions you’ll be encountering in the near future to decide how you’d like to structure your base.
Crack beer and drink while continuing to ponder. Throw in occasional curse about POS tripod that broke and how it’s cramping your photo steez.
Drink and ponder
Ride down hill ’til the snow runs out and you’re faced with at least a 30 foot (research shows 30 foot is the minimum to get a quality grind) section of sand and other non-snow surfaces. Tell buddies that you’d just ollie the gap or ( __insert miscellaneous BS here____ ) if it were light out and you could see, but as it’s not you’ll just ride over it. Bonus points for snagging nose on a tree or rock and throwing in a sommersault halfway thru the base grind.
Meet back up with snow, turn back and admire your work, then proceed to ride ’til you hit pavement. Call it a night knowing you’ve just saved yourself $50 on a basegrind/structuring.
Sand meets snow
Admire handiwork in the daylight the next day, confident that the structure you added will help channel water off your base this spring.
So as mentioned in my Westcomb Rampage pants review my not even one year old Four Square pants lost a battle with my Black Diamond Contact crampons up at Lassen last Memorial weekend. The worst part about it was that the crampons weren’t exactly necessary, but as the boots I brought up there (Burton Hails) were so flexible I put on the crampons just to stiffen up the sole a bit to help me dig into the snow and walk. I was pretty bummed about the pants as I’m a bit taller and it’s hard to find pants that fit, but also because I’m cheap and had no desire to buy new pants. Yes, I know these pants are 99% fashion and 1% function and were way out of their element, but it should be noted that my first pair of Four Square pants circa-1996 or so from when Peter Line and Ingemar Backman still owned the company and they had a lifetime warranty on their clothing lasted me until ’06 (with an annual re-DWRing and a bit of thread on a zipper once)! Of course they never faced a cage match with crampons.
Anyways, on to my one picture how to. I wish I had the before picture so you could see how my pants had been disembowled and were puking their mesh liner and gaiters, you’ll just have to imagine the tauntaun scene from Empire Strikes Back.
To help you visualize my pants...
They looked shredded, but thanks to a sewing genius I’ll call by her secret agent name ‘mom’ they were salvageable – in fact they probably have more street cred now with the uber-steezy exposed stitching. Basically they were patched with one of those iron-on/adhesive backed patches from the inside to hold everything together, than stitched up and down over the exposed fabric shreds to tie everything together. Good for at least a few more years of resort riding with just a regular re-application of DWR.
Pants, post-surgery and recovering well
So this is an easy one, but as I see questions asked about it all the time and as I’m in the process of rehabbing a pair of new (to me) Volkl Gotamas I figured I’d snap a few quick pics and post up a how to to hopefully help at least one other out there. I’m one of those people that can read a how to a million times and still be a little unclear, but feel like I could perform brain surgery on someone if I had a few pictures to guide me along.
There’s ongoing debate as to how many mounts a ski can take before losing structural integrity. Three seems to be an accepted norm, but there are quite a few other people out there skiing on skis with swiss cheese underfoot with no problems. Ultimately what are you trying to do is not add additional strength/structural integrity to the ski (though I’m guessing that’s a side benefit, but probably minimal at best) but trying to make the ski waterproof. You don’t want water getting into the ski’s core and causing degradation from the inside. Yes, you can do it the easy way and use those hammer in plastic plugs that some ski shops use, but I personally don’t trust those staying in on their own and they just look goofy to me (odd comment, I know).
So, materials list for this one is similar to last time, though the clamps aren’t needed so play make believe that they aren’t there.
- Cup or other object to mix and hold epoxy
- Small objects (toothpicks work great) to get epoxy into holes and pop bubbles
- Fiberglass or steel wool (not necessary, but if you’re planning on drilling back INTO the same holes you’ll want)
- Gloves (optional, I opted out of them)
- Dremel tool (if your topsheet is puckered you’ll need, if not skip step 2 below)
- Beer (not optional, I subbed an Avery Brewing Co. IPA this time. Again, play make believe)
Materials. Pretend the clamps aren't there.
Make sure your skis are dry. If you’ve recently skied them odds are they aren’t dry. You want to make sure they are dry so you’re not sealing moisture INTO your skis so let them sit for a day or two.
In my case the old bindings had pulled out of the ski causing a bit of topsheet puckering where they were previously mounted. As these upward dimples would keep my new bindings from sitting flush on the topsheet I opted to Dremel the bumps down. I didn’t take any action shots of this step as trying to juggle a Dremel in one hand and a digital camera in the other seemed like a good way to shed skin.
Mix your epoxy per directions. If you can mix it a little thin it will help you on this step, but if not no worries. Using your toothpick or other implement fill each of the old binding holes with epoxy. Make sure you poke around to get any air bubbles out of the epoxy. This step will start to suck as your epoxy starts to set, so mix small batches and work quickly in lieu of mixing one larger batch.
Alternatively, a host of other items can be used and give you a pretty similar outcome – though not quite the same level of adhesion to the ski/core. Hot glue or even bathroom caulk can be subbed out, but as I love geeking out in the garage and wanted a bit stronger of a bond I opted for the epoxy route.
If your plan is to reuse the same mounting holes pull out your fiberglass or steel wool and mix a little into the holes that have been filled with epoxy. You’re trying to add a little additional stiffness and integrity to the plugs in this case.
You’re done! Set your skis aside to dry and assume the victory pose.