Trailer Tongue Weight Voodoo

Almost three years ago I wrote a 3-part series titled, How Much Trailer Can You Tow? 

You can read them here:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3 contains the information on Weight Distribution Hitches (WDH)

I have received many inquiries from trailer owners about Weight Distribution Hitches and there is a lot of confusion out there in trailer land. I have always advocated weighing your tow vehicle and trailer periodically to ensure everything is within specifications, and herein lays the confusion. People try to interpret the scale readings and assume a WDH will subtract weight from the tow vehicle’s rear axle and add it to the front axle; that is: the front axle of the tow vehicle will weigh more with the trailer hitched. We do not want this to happen. After completing my yearly maintenance on Monday, I loaded everything up, to include full water tanks and temporarily filled the refrigerator and headed over to the local CAT scale. I’ll use those measurements to hopefully explain how to weigh your set up, what weights you should be looking at, and how to interpret them.

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BS Gear Reviews


If you read my blog much, you know I mostly have disdain for gear reviews, and I discussed in this post a few years ago, The Business of BackpackingGear reviews, for the most part, are simply opinions. And “opinions are like assholes — everyone has one.”

If you are researching gear, you need to determine the author’s credibility, other than what he or she tells youMy classic example is the stove review, where the author has placed the stove on a bed of flammable dry leaves, which is not something an expert would do.

So today I was looking into a pair of strap sandals. Similar to flip flops, strap sandals are simply a sole held in place with straps; only more secure and eliminated the go-ahead syndrome inherent in flip flops. One reviewer, who supposedly uses sandals a lot posted pictures of his pasty white feet wearing several brands of sandals. I call BS. If you wear sandals or flip flops a lot, as I do, in the outdoors you will develop a tan with contrasting tan marks where the straps cross the feet. Something like this:

flip flops 6


So I call the sandal review total BS, and must disregard the author’s purported credibility, expertise, and opinions.

Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 9

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

A little late in posting May’s energy usage, but we were away camping for a couple weeks. Two factors upped this month’s electricity bill. First was above average temperatures at the end of the month.

may temps

The other negative factor was we accidentally left two ceiling fans running 24/7 the last week of the billing period while we were camping.

Good news is found in this Home Energy Report from Southern California Edison.

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 8.08.28 AM

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Heat and the Art of Trailer Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values

… with an apology to  Robert M. Pirsig

Yesterday was the first day of summer. The first day of summer is a good point in time to perform the annual trailer maintenance, which most importantly includes cleaning, inspecting, and re-packing the wheel bearings along with the periodic maintenance of the waste & fresh water tanks, and fresh water, and battery maintenance.

The first day of summer is of no consequence, it just was a point in time where I was home, it needed to be done, and the summer camping season is upon us. I knew it was going to be a hot day, hotter than normal for this time of year. Poor planning on my part found the job extending into the afternoon – not completion before noon as planned. Which found me outside in the sun working in this… it seemed hot so I checked the weather on my iPad…

How hot is hot?

How hot is hot?

In case you have embraced the Centigrade scale for temperature measurement, I was working in an ambient temperature environment of 50.6 C or 123 F for us mere mortals. But hey, the humidity was only 5%. Dry heat as we desert dwellers like to brag.

Even the ravens dislike the heat -- several took a break from the heat to gather around this puddle at the end of our street

Even the ravens dislike the heat — several took a break from the heat to gather around this puddle at the end of our street

But let’s get back to the maintenance. No matter what the temperature, one must take their time and do maintenance properly.

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Lake Mead National Recreation Area


Lake Mead Shoreline View

This weekend I got back from two weeks of camping at Lake Mead. Over the past 15 years I have spent over 500 days backpacking, camping, and bike touring the area. So instead of boring you with a trip report, it would be better to discuss all of this National Recreation Area.

Lake Mead Sunset Clouds

You might be surprised to learn that I have never been in or on Lake Mead. The lake isn’t the attraction for me, other than a source of drinking water when backpacking in the backcountry, when it is accessible from where I am walking… which isn’t frequently.

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Please Help Save Off-Trail Hiking in Anza Borrego

Today I read post over at that linked to this article at Modern Hiker, PROPOSED RESTRICTIONS TO HIKING IN ANZA-BORREGO

Please read the article and act quickly if you think the California Department of Parks and Recreation (CDPR) is overstepping its bounds, as comments will not be accepted after June 6, 2016. I have included my email to CDPR plus additional information to help you make an informed decision.

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Relativity and Our Energy Upgrade

Each month, since the beginning of the year, I have been posting our energy usage versus the 5 year average prior to all the upgrades, which are covered in this post. The numbers don’t mean a lot if you don’t live here. So how are we doing relative to similar homes in the area? Southern California Edison sent this analysis for last month. We’re doing great.





Energy Upgrade Stats: Month 8

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

One thing I did towards the end of the month was install a new water heater. If you are interested in what I found from my research, you can read the nightmarish details after the charts.

As planned, electricity use is declining versus the 5 year baseline as the as the average temperature increases. Improved insulation and a more efficient air conditioner are using much less energy. For April our electricity use is down 56.6% versus the 5 year April baseline WITHOUT a solar system.

month 8 elec use month 8 gas use

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Disclosure & Self-Reliance


Over the past week or so there has been a firestorm on a popular Internet backpacking forum due to a gear review by a well know blogger, who posted a link in the forum to the review on his blog. What the gear review did not include was a disclosure that the blogger has a relationship with the manufacturer of the item being reviewed, and he is “sponsored” by the manufacturer. Of course, no one knows the conditions of the sponsorship, but many felt an ethical review should include a statement revealing if the gear was purchased for full price, was obtained at a discount, or was given to the blogger for free.

About three years ago, in The Business of Backpacking, I warned people about gear reviews that might have a bias when the reviewer has a relationship with the manufacturer…

Keep in mind that there are Reviewers, Ambassadors, and Sponsored hikers with integrity who write unbiased gear reviews. It is up to you to determine who is who.

Ethically, gear reviewers should disclose any consumer/manufacturer relationship and apparently there is even a Federal Trade Commission regulation requiring this disclosure, even for reviews on a personal blog. To be honest, the FTC has over-stepped its bounds. More precisely, there should be no FTC, it should be abolished and replaced with personal accountability requiring consumers to think.

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Energy Upgrade: Stats Thru Month 7

In January I wrote that home solar might be lipstick on a pig, and it makes more sense to make a home energy efficient before even considering solar. I also promised to post monthly updates on our utility bills.

A couple things about last month… first we normally go camping for at least a week during  Easter break, but this year we stayed home and hosted visiting relatives, which increased electricity use. Secondly, we received a $38 “Climate Credit” on our bill, as did every homeowner who is a Southern California Edison customer. This credit is the result of California’s “Cap and Trade” program, which allows companies to continue to pollute by purchasing ’emission credits’ in a fake market created by the State, so they can claim we are a ‘green state.’ Everyone gets the same dollar amount, irrespective how much electricity they use — theoretically encouraging homeowners to invest in energy efficient upgrades; but there is no method to track if this works or even happens. Another Government Boondoggle, as I wrote about in Green Greed.

Here is month 7:

Electricity Usage month 7 Natural Gas Usage month 7