All posts by ngatel

Throwaway Backpacking Gear? Photon Micro-Light II

How to Replace Photon Micro-Light II Batteries

Back in June I presented my Headlamp Buyer’s Guide.  One of the lights I have been using for ten years is the Photon Micro-Light II and in the guide I recommended not trying to replace the batteries in the field.

These little lights retail for around $12 and are sturdy. They last a long time, only weigh ¼ ounce (7 grams) and are a favorite of many hikers. Most people I know who like these lights just throw them away when the batteries are dead and buy a new once. Some don’t even know the battery can be replaced.

Continue reading Throwaway Backpacking Gear? Photon Micro-Light II

Buy Your 2nd Camper the 1st Time: What to Look For

What the title of this post means is to figure out what you want and need in a camper before you purchase your first one, because most people find out that after they purchase that first camper, it doesn’t do what they want it to do. At this point, seeing the deficiencies of that first camper, they buy a second camper that better fits their style of camping.

So I thought I’d share my experiences over the years with 4 different campers, what I now look for in a camper, and how my needs changed over time. Now, I’m not presenting my thoughts as some sort of a subject matter expert. My thoughts are based on semi-quasi science, that can be summed up in this statement, that I read somewhere years ago.

If you learn from your mistakes I must be a genius.

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New & Improved Backpacking Gear!

What’s Up With That?

It’s that time of year. Back in June the big European Outdoor Gear Retailer Show was held. At the end of July the big US show was in progress in Utah. I’ve never been to one of these events, but I’ve been to trade shows in other industries, which usually are not open to the public. So I have a very good and probably accurate perception about what goes on at the outdoor gear shows.

So what are these show? Manufacturers show off their “New” and often “Improved” gear in hopes retailers will place orders.

Out in the world of consumers, backpackers are waiting impatiently for newest and greatest offerings. On Internet forums the gear faithful are posting, “Anyone hear what is new at the show?” Folks with press credentials roam the floors of the shows taking pictures, grabbing brochures, and talking to sales reps, so they can run home and share all this wonderful information on their blogs for the panting public to lap up.

What’s not to be excited about? And of course everyone can’t wait until these products are released, usually in the fall or next spring, so their favorite blog or magazine can review all the new and improved stuff, and of course tell us what is best, what we must have, and where to buy it. It’s AWESOME!

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Mt. San Jacinto Cheat Sheet

View of Mt. San Jacinto from our house

Confession Time

I’ve been cheating. Actually I’ve been cheating for a long time. You see, for decades I’ve been taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the mountains; mostly in the summer and winter. I do it so often; I have an annual pass, which currently costs $160 per year.

San Jacinto Mountains

This mountain range is about 30 miles long and is in close proximity to the San Bernardino Mountains and Santa Rosa Mountains (a.k.a. you can walk to either range from the San Jacinto’s). Much of the area is designated State and Federal Wilderness Areas.

Mt. San Jacinto escarpment

The crown jewel of this range is Mt. San Jacinto, which rises more than 10,000 feet from the desert floor making it one of (if not the most) steepest escarpments in the continental United States.

Continue reading Mt. San Jacinto Cheat Sheet

Set Up Your Compass Faster & More Accurately With A Map Protractor, Part 2

In this post we will learn how to determine our location on the map using any compass and a map protractor. But first let’s review Part 1, with a little different spin so the concepts will start to become clearer.

Part 1 discussed the many steps needed to read a bearing on a map using a typical baseplate compass. It also discussed how many fewer steps were needed to read a bearing using a map protractor. In both cases, we are adjusting our compass by compensating for variance between Grid North and Magnetic North on the compass. The only difference being that using a map protractor requires the user to truly understand how magnetic north relates to the map so the bearing can be adjusted using 3rd grade math.

In Part 1, we described how to take a bearing from a map using a map protractor and transferring it to a compass utilizing the

EAST IS LEAST, WEST IS BEST method.

Continue reading Set Up Your Compass Faster & More Accurately With A Map Protractor, Part 2

68˚ North — Peter Vacco

At the beginning of the month I wrote a post about being famous for being famous titled, How to Become (or not become) A Famous Backpacker. Some of it was driven by tongue-in-cheek satire on modern culture and some of it meant for contemplation. But the last part of the post was about a friend who is section hiking the Arctic Circle through Canada, and I kept his identity anonymous because he hadn’t given me permission to write about him. That part was about hiking for the experience, not adulation. It was also a bit of recognition for a friend.

That friend is Peter Vacco. Among most backpacker’s he is not known by many. Some backpackers may recognize his popular headsets, which he no longer manufacturers.

Here’s a story about his trip from a Canadian news outlet…

Continue reading 68˚ North — Peter Vacco

PopUpBackpacker’s Headlamp Buyer’s Guide

Here we go again…

A frequent question I see on the Internet is, “What headlamp should I buy for backpacking?”

And of course, as the modern technology obsessed society that we are, it turns into a debate with a focus on such things a lumens, regulated output, reverse polarity, etc., etc. etc.

jesus h. christ. Its just a frickin’ light.

How to boggle your mind

I did an Amazon search for “flashlight” and got 134,831 results. “Headlamp” yielded only 89,472 results. How can something so simple be so difficult?

So, I am going to simplify things for you. However, I have no credentials that would make me some sort of subject matter expert. I do hike and camp a lot using headlamps and flashlights.

So, caveat emptor.

Continue reading PopUpBackpacker’s Headlamp Buyer’s Guide

Read the Damn Instructions

 

Regular readers of this site know I often pontificate about reading manuals and instructions that come with consumer products. More importantly I often chastise people who don’t read said materials and have no sympathy for those who try to gain Darwin Award Nominations by not reading and following the instructions and required maintenance.  Perhaps it is a good thing when people try to remove themselves from the human gene pool by not bothering to read instructions.

When I retired the agreement was Joyce would continue to work since she is younger than me and I would complete the house remodel prior to her retirement. Another thing, which wasn’t an agreement, but something I volunteered to do — I would cook meals and do all the household chores. There was only one problem with this offer. I didn’t know how to cook.

Continue reading Read the Damn Instructions