Archive for the ‘Gear Reviews’ Category

Marmot Nitro 2P Tent

Posted: May 27, 2020 by Jeff Fabiszewski in Gear Reviews, Tents

I recently purchased the Marmot Nitro 2P tent to explore Florida with my seven year-old son on local backpacking trips.

 Nitro 2P Marmot tent

The tech specs:
– weight two pounds five ounces
– floor space 52 x 86 in about 29 square feet plus a 6.5 square foot vestibule
– interior height 47 inches (I am nearly six foot and I do not hit my head sitting up

The trade off with this tent is that it is not free standing, nor is it spacious for two adults. As a father and son tent the space works.

Things we didn’t expect nor like:
– Worthless and inaccurate instructions. Some parts about the tent are not very obvious. And even though the instructions refer to color coded ends, we weren’t able to find any on our trip. Our guess is that the instructions were shared with other Marmot tents (perhaps the Force 2?).
– Terribly designed vestibule. The Marmot 2P has ‘2’ doors, but you can only use one of them if the rain-fly is setup. As for the remaining door, it is a flexibility challenging to get out without rubbing against the rain-fly. We’re ashamed we didn’t think about this before buying it (We thought the designers must have thought it through).  Consequently, one person still needs to crawl over their buddy to get outside when the vestibule is being used to keep out the rain.

The deal breaker:
– Condensation. It doesn’t matter how taut you setup the rain fly, it’s going to touch the mesh at some points. We even brought our own rope and tied the ends to tree branches nearby, and even then the bottom of the rain fly (towards the end of the tent) was inevitably touching the mesh. Then there’s a bigger problem: The fact that the foot section is made of a a thin, waterproof material. It is indeed waterproof – it doesn’t let water vapor escape the tent. We thought the small window would stimulate airflow, but we were wrong. These two pitfalls resulted in our sleeping bags being soaking wet in the morning from condensation. The inner side of the ‘bathtub’ floor was also soaking wet. We tried opening the vent, doing away with the vestibule altogether, but we still got wet the next morning. We’ve gone on the exact same hike with an MSR tent and even a cheap Coleman tent, and we didn’t get more than a few drops of water after a misty, cool night in either tent. While we might live with a compromised vestibule, we can’t live waking up wet the next morning on our hiking trips.

If you hike in humid climates or care about getting wet in the morning, I can’t recommend this tent. Otherwise, go ahead, it’s super light!

UPDATES:

  • I Experienced a funny failure using the tent while backpacking in a rainstorm.  One stake pulled out of the soft ground and the tent fell down.  I did remain dry inside.  Unfortunately my trecking pole was damaged.  Leki, repaired the trecking pole after my trip.  I should have double staked the tent.
  • This tent is no longer being made and we are now using tents by Nemo.

hammock comfort

Posted: June 29, 2015 by Jeff Fabiszewski in blog, Gear Reviews, hammock skills

There are many advantages to hammock camping in Florida.  Many people think that the heat, humidity, and biting insects are a deterrent to camping.  That does not need to be the case.  Hammock camping is fast to set up.  The the material aids in comfort; say goodnight to hard ground, rocks and sticks poking your back as you sleep.  And the user gets rocked to sleep under a star filled sky.  And when it comes to ticks, chiggers, mites, and mosquitoes the entire sleep system is treated in Permethrin Insect Repellent.

hammock-camping-in-florida

hammock-camping-in-florida

To stay cool we focus on the site.  We look for a place that will aid in keeping air flowing around the hammock.  As kayakers it is easy to suspend the hammock next to and sometimes over water to maximize the breeze; although, doing so has made for some interesting stories.  Pay attention to the tides and animal trails when camping next to the water.  You could find yourself being bumped by a nocturnal animal going to the water.  Or waking up wet due to rising waters.

hammock-camping-in-florida

hammock camping in florida

In many ways to the onlooker it looks like we are topless.  We still set up the tarp over the hammock with bug net; and adjust it in a way that it is not directly over the top of the hammock to allow for quick deployment over the sleep system if we get a surprise midnight Florida shower.  This is simply done by folding the tarp on to itself.  In addition to the tarp being arranged in a way to not restrict air flow and our view to the stars.

Drip lines are also added on to the Slap Straps so rain water does not flow down the hammock.  Some people like to hang a battery operated fan along the ridge line inside the hammock bug netting.  We forgo the fans for a simpler yet effective natural air conditioning system.  Before going to sleep we soak the bug net in water.  This helps to cool the interior of the sleep system through evaporation cooling if the hammock remains dry and there is a steady flow of air.  I also sleep better clean and tolerate the heat easier during the night.  So I take a quick shower away from the water’s edge with potable water, some no-rinse, and a wash cloth.

To protect the trees we like to use a thick webbing nylon daisy chain, also known as ENO Slap Strap.  This protects the bark and eliminates the need to tie knots.  We have had success with TreeHuger Hammocks and ENO Eagle Nest Outfitters sleep system.

There is little need for light when camping when there are stars and the moon.  Never the less, we have occasionally use two types of lights around camp; in addition, we do use a head lamp in camp.  The Luci portable solar LED lantern made by MPOWERD and ENO Twilights.

mpowerd-luci-inflatable-solar-lantern-xlENO Twilight_blue

And let us not forget have an empty bottle with in the sleep system.  If you have a urin bottle there will be less of a need to leave the comfort of the bug net.

I normally sleep on the diagonal with a Klymit Pillow X.  Sean sleeps in the fetal position with a shirt as a pillow

Skin ‘tastic thinking First Aid

Posted: May 1, 2014 by Jeff Fabiszewski in blog, ten essentials
Tags: , ,

Knowing First Aid is one of the ten essentials that every outdoor enthusiast should know.  Survival is about your mind working with skill to live.  It’s about staying calm in the  remote wilderness settings and thinking how to use the items you have available in multiple ways to get home.

There are many posts and articles about what to put in a First Aid Kit.  And my wife thinks I am crazy because I have several different First Aid Kits. Each kit is tailored to fit the activity I am engaged in.  I have a trail running kit, a day hike kit, rock climbing kit, and several kayak first aid kits.  The idea is to satisfy the requirements of the Ten Essentials definition, “to improve the chances that one is prepared for an unexpected emergency in the outdoors”.  The stuff I take is important; never the less, the way I think and prepare to act is more important than any gear.  Future posts will explore First Aid thinking, and more gear.  Presently, let me introduce my favorite first aid little friend.

jeff-fabiszewski uvThe first thing I think about is my skin.  I wear a wide brim hat, long sleeve rash guard, Buff, and uv gloves.  I also wear sunblock.  And when skin wears down, gets cut, or bit I use two small and effective solutions.  New-Skin has saved me many times.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn 2011 during our 190 mile kayak expedition my skin broke down.  On day three after 50.4 miles I experienced nipple rash and blisters on my hands from friction and waterlogged skin.  New-Skin solved both problems.  It is antiseptic, flexible, waterproof, and lets the skin breathe. The liquid bandage dried rapidly to form a tough protective cover over the effective areas.  I will admit applying the liquid bandage to my nipples stung.  The protective breathable layer also enabled my body to absorb the fluid in the blisters on my hands and gave the skin a chance to harden.  Sean also discovered an infected cut on his foot; after irrigating his cut and putting New-Skin on it, the red puffiness faded and the cut healed within two days.

WoundPackWhen the cut is larger I use a Wound Pack.  In a small resealable bag I have 4×4 gauze, Compound Benzoin Tincture, Wound Closure Strips, and a Transparent Semi-Permeable Dressing.  After the cut is irrigated the aforementioned items work great to promote healing of large cuts in flexible regions of the body that are prone to come in contact with dirt and water.

In Florida the most common bite is the mosquito.  Soaking the bit area in sea water is a natural way to cure the itch.  Mud also provides a cooling sensation that temporarily relieves itching.  And I have also discovered that New-Skin worked to provide relief from itching and acts it as a seal to protect the bite.

– Jeff

The amaizing Tarp

Posted: April 1, 2014 by Jeff Fabiszewski in blog, Gear Reviews, ten essentials, Tents
Tags: , ,

Shelter is one of the ten essentials that every outdoor enthusiast should have.  And a tarp is an easy multi use item for a day hiker, backpacker, trail runner, day paddler, or person who is camping overnight with their kayak.  Tarps are small, light weight, and there is no limit to the number of ways of how to use a tarp;  the only limit is a person’s imagination.

– Jeff

Shelter:  Some tarps are made of ultra light weight breathable rip-stop nylon with 19 guy-out points and compact down to the size of a soda-can.  Where as, some tarps are non breathable  less compact plastic with metal grommets for rope to tie into, both work, I have even used  mylar emergency blanket and Visqueen (often misspelled visquine) plastic sheet.  Visqueen is a brand of polyethylene plastic sheeting commonly used as a floor and furniture covering when a person paints the interior of their home, as a shelter.  The tarp allows for a variety of setup styles.  The A-frame sleeping shelter is a quick solution for rain protection.  The Lean-to configuration is a simple wind block for sleeping next to or as a kitchen location. And the bivy looks like a wrapped burrito.

tarp and espresso

Lean to configuration, with stakes as anchor points, kayak paddles as poles. Excellent morning wind break while enjoying fresh espresso.  Granted if the wind shifts, or rain comes from a new direction, adjustments will need to be made.

No poles, not a problem: I use kayak paddles as poles for my tarp.

tarp 2a

Tying down with or without stakes:  Sometimes the combination of soft sand and strong wind makes staking down a tarp an unpleasant experience.  When this happens, I use my kayak as the tarp’s anchoring point when I encounter soft sand and strong win.

tarp 3a

Lean to configuration, with kayaks as anchor points, kayak paddles as poles. There is a tarp under the bivy bags.

Keeping a tent dry:  A simple trick to setting up a tent in the rain is to first setup a tarp head high.  Then under the tarp you have the comfort of assembling the tent, and then moving it into the rain to where you want it.  This technique works best if you are setting up a freestanding tent.

integral designs siltarp mountain hardwear tent

I used bowline knots and taught line hitches to attach the corners of the Integral Designs Siltarp to three trees and two stakes. The paddle is the highest point with a rope staked to the ground. The lowest corner is staked to the ground.

The below closeup shows two bowline knots tied to one corner of the tarp.  The red reflective cord is tied at a 90′ angle to a tree with a taught line hitch.  The white cord wraps once around the throat of the paddle and is tied at a 90′ angle to a stake with a taught line hitch.

knotsBowline Knot:  Make a small overhand loop in the standing part of a rope. Bring the rope end up through the loop, around behind the standing part, and back down into the loop. Tighten by pulling the standing part away from the loop.

Taut Line Hitch: Pass the working end around the anchor object. Bring it back alongside of the standing part and make a half-hitch around the standing part. Continue with another wrap inside the loop, effectively making a round turn around the standing part. Complete with a half-hitch outside the loop, made in the same direction as the first two wraps, as for a clove hitch. Dress by snugging the hitch firmly around the standing part. Work any slack out of the knot, then slide the hitch to adjust the tension on the line and adjust as necessary.

tarp 1a

Modified A-frame tarp shelter. This style provides good rain protection, and wind protection from the back. Reflective heat from the fire in front is an added bonus when the back is lowered to the ground.

Ideal Mylar shelter:  Use two mylar blankets.  Make a modified lean to with one mylar sheet.  I find having one corner raised with three corners staked down works well.  Then take a small portion of the second mylar sheet and make a two foot reflector semi circle wall.  Between the lean to and the semi circle place a small fire.  Use the rest of the second sheet on the ground in the lean to or wrap it around you.

Shelter without tying downs:  In an emergency a tarp could make the difference between surviving and dieing.  make an emergency bivy sack to protect a person from exposure or hypothermia to keep in body heat.  A first responder possibly would use this to transport an injured person out of the wilderness on a stretcher to give added protection to rain or falling snow.  The key to making this easy shelter is placement.  Lay the tarp 90′ to the wind, and have the opening of your sleeping bag downwind. Fold the tarp over the bag at an angle and giving yourself at least 6 inches of clearance to move around under the tarp.

Hypo Wrap NOLS WFR

Use a Hypo Wrap to Treat Hypothermia also known as a “themal burrito”. This picture uses a Visqueen tarp

 

bothy bag style shelter

bothy bag style Kisu Shelter, using a Visqueen tarp and four of your closest friends. In actual practice all edges would be held down on the ground to prevent cold air, and wind driven rain entering into the shelter.

Other uses for the tarp:

  • catching rainwater with a tarp:  funnel rain water into a container.  Make a rain trap also known as a water pit.  Dig a large circular pit, line it with a tarp (weighted by large stones). Rainwater is clean and safe to drink, but it will go stagnant in just a few days.  Make a solar still.
  • Floatatin. You could build a raft with a tarp.
  • Tow a car out of the mud.
  • Wrap a cargo bag on the roof of your car.
  • Make a rain poncho.
  • Craft a hammock
  • Make a horse-shoe pack (improvise back pack)  to hall food or gear