DIY PFD, Desalination Bottle, and Rain Skirt

This week I worked on some DIY gear projects: an ultralight life jacket or PFD (personal flotation device), a desalinating water bottle to turn sea water into fresh water while I walk along some of the remote coastlines of the Baja Peninsula in Mexico, and an ultralight rain skirt that can also function as a small tarp. I’ve learned how to use a sewing machine, practiced using the desalination bottle with my backpacking stove, and eliminated a few ounces from my clothing setup by switching from rain pants to a rain skirt. Here’s my run-down of each project

DIY PFD

The impetus for making my own life jacket comes from my experience as a packrafter.… Read more

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Measuring My Consumption For A Month

On October 23rd, 2019 I started measuring everything I use and consume in a series of spreadsheets, and now one month has passed, so I thought I’d publish some of the data, and try to draw some conclusions on what I have been using and how I can use less. Here are the stats:

As far as food is concerned, I have a pretty healthy but sizeable diet that mostly consists of rice and beans, fruits and veggies, and a decent amount of bread and cheese. A few times this month, I splurge on almonds or milk and cereal, and there were isolated occasions where I would have fish, chicken, eggs, pizza, pasta, kombucha, beer, liquor, or sweets/candy.… Read more

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A Weekend in Bears Ears

My friend Polly goes out to Bears Ears a few times a year as a ritual. For her, it’s a time to decompress and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of town, and to explore an area rich in archaeological sites and fantastic natural beauty. When she invited me to go out with her this weekend I hopped on the opportunity. With all the work I’ve been doing to get ready for my trip, I was looking forward to the chance to decompress myself, and Bears Ears was a place I had never gotten the chance to explore myself. So I packed a bag and lots of food (we’d be car camping and day hiking), hopped in her car, and headed south out of Moab.… Read more

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Leave No Trace

The Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics lists the following 7 key principles as the “framework of minimum impact practices for anyone visiting the outdoors”

This framework, while oriented specifically towards backcountry travel, also functions as a good analog for how we can be good stewards of the world as a whole. Apply these principles to 56,000 miles of hiking and paddling across a continuum of ecosystems between Baja and Newfoundland, and it becomes clear that each region is impacted by different actions differently.… Read more

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Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

In the Backcountry

Whether you’re going car camping, paddling, hunting, fishing, skiing, horseback riding, trail running, mountain biking, rock climbing, paragliding, 4x4ing, or hiking for a day or for 5 months, we all go into the backcountry with a specific experience in mind. We may be looking forward to the meditative peace and quiet, or balls-to-the-wall shredding the gnar, having some “me” time or connecting with friends and family, observing wildlife for personal or professional study, or simply to wonder and be awed by all of nature’s spectacles; but when we go into the backcountry, we do so to enjoy or at least learn from the experience.… Read more

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Respect Wildlife

Respect Wildlife

In the Backcountry

We are visitors to the wilderness when we enter backcountry areas. And as visitors, we should take heed to understand and respect the propriety of the plants and animals who have resided there long before we ever showed up. The law of the land is such that responsible visitation looks like passive observation, and not active participation. Like every other facet of Leave No Trace, extensive prior knowledge serves as an exceptionally useful tool for keeping our interactions with wildlife passive and uninterruptive. To know the ways and means, the preferences, the daily rituals, and the usual distribution of local flora and fauna is what allows us to to be considerate of their wants and needs and to actively put ourselves in a position of unobtrusiveness, just like we would like to be unobtrusive when first entering the home of a newfound friend.… Read more

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Minimize Campfire Impact

Minimize Campfire Impacts

In the Backcountry

The use of campfires is, for most people today and throughout history, part of sleeping outside. It’s how we warm up on a cold night, a source of light and a way to occupy ourselves at camp (call it “Caveman TV”), and because we all have a vested interest in staying warm, campfires create an inherently social atmosphere. But strictly speaking, because of modern conveniences like ultralight insulated clothing, headlamps, and especially camp stoves, we usually don’t NEED to have a fire while we’re camping. So the question is, when is it appropriate to have a campfire at camp, and how can we do so in a Leave No Trace kind of way?… Read more

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Leave What You Find

Leave What You Find

 

In the Backcountry

This is one is fairly self-explanatory: “Take only pictures, leave only footprints”. Not only does this methodology maintains the integrity of our natural areas, it also maintains the experience of exploring that particular backcountry area for others to enjoy just as we have. Some things to consider:

  • Good campsites are found, not made. Rather than “improving” a site with tables, seats, lean-tos, fire rings, or by clearing out the surface debris, find a site that already has these improvements, bring the necessary gear to enjoy these backcountry luxuries Leave-No-Trace style, or learn to find the simple enjoyment of not needing them
  • Avoid damage to trees, vegetation, and rock surfaces.
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Dispose of Waste Properly

Dispose of Waste Properly

 

In the Backcountry

Everybody poops, and very close to everyboday wastes. In the backcountry, the philosophy of “pack it in, pack it out” has become nearly ubiquitous throughout all forms of recreation.. Here’s a few ways to do our duty (hehe) to mother nature while in the backcountry:

  • Dig a cathole to bury your poop, then bury it with what you dug out and cover that with some natural material like leaves or pine needles. Try to choose a site where no one will step on it later, like near a fallen tree or in thick undergrowth.
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Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces

 

In the Backcountry

Traveling and camping on durable surfaces while in the backcountry limits damage to surface vegetation, preventing excessive surface erosion and the development of unnecessary and redundant trails. Trails are in and of themselves an impact, but they are a necessary response to our perpensity for travel in backcountry areas. It’s better to have one well-maintained trail corridor than a web of poorly chosen paths. To maintain the value and integrity of established trails:

  • Don’t shortcut trail switchbacks
  • Choose durable surfaces just off the trail when taking breaks
  • Allow enough time at the end of the day to choose a responsible campsite rather than settling for something less than ideal just because the weather is bad or you’re tired
  • Choose high-use campsites first, preferably away from water sources and the trail
  • Confine your use to the areas that are already developed to avoid growing the area of impact
  • When along a river corridor, choose developed campsites, beaches, or sandbars below the high-water line.
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