Category: Gear

Chammock

Almost a year ago my hiking buddy texted me one of those texts where you knew he had been up all night thinking of something and couldn’t sleep because an idea was haunting him. Last year he and I went hiking with another guy who had brought a chair strapped to the outside of his backpack. Being lightweight purists we scoffed at the idea of carrying an extra two pounds of junk on the outside of your pack… and for comfort?!? Blasphemy!

It was on day one of that trip that trip that I popped a disc in my lower back and thought I might die carrying my 45lb pack. If it weren’t for my new found hiking buddies chair and being able to lean back in a comfortable chair I think I would still be in the middle of Yosemite.

As usual my friend who had been up all night couldn’t just accept the fact that we are getting older and a 2lb chair might not be a bad idea – this is the type of hiking buddy who cuts the end of his toothbrush off to save weight – he has to explore every option and look for the lightest weight solution before just buying something which in the end will be the best solution.

So getting back to the text: Have you ever seen a chair hammock? We should make one. After seeing that I thought: hmmmm, he may be on to something. I did a quick google search and a lot of chair hammocks came up, but most involved steel or wood and were permanent lawn furniture you’d have at your lake house. Nothing really came up for light weight backpacking.

One in particular popped up as a kick starter campaign for backpacking: chammockco.com. Screen Shot 2016-08-14 at 10.17.20 AM

It was everything we wanted, lightweight, small and compact – it wouldn’t be hanging off my pack like a chair. During NOLS it was engrained into me that nothing should hang off the outside of your pack and I still feel it’s true today.
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Being the kick starter campaign I ordered two and sent my buddy the link… Happy Birthday.

Well, cut to a year later and we got the product. Recently, we went to the Eastern Sierras and gave them a try. I have to say, they were pretty easy to set up and being able to have a seat at the end of the day was nice, but if you like to recline a little and have your head behind your shoulders then this is not the product for you. I’m 6′ tall and the way the back of the hammock crossed right behind the crown of my head I felt as if I were the hunch back of Notre Dame. I tried playing with the tension on the back strap, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it more comfortable. 

At the time I bought them they were $65 and an extra charge for the tree strap. I will play some more with the tension and angle of the attachment points but in the end, this 1lb chair probably isn’t as good as a 2lb camping chair which can be set up anywhere without the aid of trees. I will also probably bite the bullet and attach it to the outside of my pack.

Toyota Land Cruiser Emergency Network

Toyota has announced it has created an emergency network on Land Cruisers in Australia. It’s a device I would love to see implemented here in the US. It works by connecting vehicles within a 15 mile range to leapfrog messages from vehicle to vehicle until a message is able to get to a beacon and then passed on to rescue personnel. It’s a brilliant system explained in the video below. Why TLC’s? Well in other parts of the world, especially Australia, Land Cruisers hold up to a 90% market share for offload vehicles.

The only aspect to the system I am unclear of is if your vehicle is within range and someone is in need of assistance are you notified of the call for help – say your phone connects to the device via bluetooth allowing you to read any communications? In cases of the outback, you could be closer than emergency personnel in terms of time to respond and even though you are not an emergency responder it could be the difference between life and death. If your smart phone would connect it could allow you to coordinate rescue efforts with other Toyota Land Cruiser owners. I fully realize it opens a can of worms – if you attempt to respond and render aid then get yourself messed up, well now there’s two people who need to be rescued instead of just the one. However, I have a feeling more positives than negatives would come out of it.

I don’t know who I have to contact but I volunteer to be a part of a test program here in America in my Toyota FJ Cruiser.

 

EDC Survival Tin

In addition to my signature 72 Hour Bag I keep in my car I always carry an EDC bag. This is the bag I carry to work everyday and it has an extra layer of clothes, pens, sunglasses, etc – all the junk you generally use on a day to day basis. Because in the film industry we don’t have a desk or a usual place of work our location and environment changes daily. One day we may be going to work in the morning for a 7am call time and the next day we may be heading out for a 4pm call time and working all night. Because of these variables we never know what the conditions of the days work will bring so it’s a good idea to have a catch all bag capable of sustaining you with little planning or forethought.

In the EDC I have experimented with various containers to hold the essentials to bridge the gap between my ever changing work place and my 72 Hour Bag which can be up to several miles away locked in my car at crew parking. I started out on the Altoids tin bandwagon and crammed some good items in there, I liked the size but felt I wanted a little more versatility. I then went to a Condor Pocket Pouch I got from LA Police Gear but it was always getting hung up on the outside of my bag and wouldn’t ever really fit in an internal pocket of my EDC bag. Also when I would open it things would spill out. Because it had so many pockets I would forget what I had where and inevitably have to dump the entire pouch out to find what I needed anyway.

After a little research I discovered this handy little unit, it’s available at Amazon and goes for about $15. Because it’s metal it will work as a device to boil water in, and it slides in and out of an internal pocket in my EDC easily. Let me walk you through what I keep in here.

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You can see things go inside very neat and organized. I took off the top few bandaids so you could see under them.

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In this picture I have a ReadyMan Survival Card my buddy gave me, it has a lot of options for saws, hooks and arrowheads all on a flat card. Not sure if it works in the field but its a nice addition, weighs almost nothing and lies flat at the bottom of the tin so I figured what the heck. I also carry Steri Strips instead of sutures because sutures have way too much risk involved in an emergency situation and a Navy SEAL Corpsman buddy of mine says he would use superglue or steri strips any day of the week over taking the time to suture in the field. Note to self, add dental floss and super glue to this kit (I used my last single use tube of super glue during a minor emergency at work and never replaced it). Also, you can see at the top of the picture the P38 can opener I always have one on me. IMG_2557

Below is a picture with some jute for tinder and a tampon which has many uses and you can read that article I wrote here.

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Also in the pack I carry an unlubricated condom, which looks like it needs to be switched out and you can read about the uses of a condom in a survival situation here. I carry two large safety pins, a swiss army knife, a 9 volt LED light which is freaking awesome. I got them off Ebay – the one in the link is about $5 but I think I paid about $1 each so if you hunt a little you can find them cheaper.

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As you can see I carry two Altoid mini tins to hold smaller items and keep them organized. One caries a whistle my buddy whittled down to its smallest size possible while still being functional – just don’t swallow it. There is also a button compass and some matches, if you look closely I have two brass brads. These are the perfect size to defeat a Master Lock that we commonly use in the film industry. Occasionally we need to get into some locked places where we actually have permission to go but the owner of the lock can’t be contacted to get the combination so instead of destroying the lock we’ll just defeat it. On the top left of the pic I carry the mini leather man squirt tool – it’s actually the driver I use to suture but its small and fits nicely in this kit. Just next to it is my pocket lock pick set and in the Altoids tin at the bottom contains some cotton balls with petroleum jelly in a tiny zip lock baggy and also a supply of my daily meds in case I can’t get home. IMG_2554

So there you have it, that’s the tin I carry on a day to day basis in my EDC.