Monday, March 16, 2015

Heat Exhaustion, Heatstroke, and the Butt Bake (or Texas summers in general)

I asked Tom to write up something about Heat Exhaustion for an upcoming group trip in the Houston Area in August we call the "Texas Butt Bake".  He did such a good job, I decided to post it here so that I could find it when I need to and to make it accessible to more folks than just Hammock Forum members. This info is just as relevant for all Gulf Coast states as it is for Coastal Texas.

Heat Exhaustion, Heatstroke, and the Butt Bake (or Texas summers in general)

Texas in the summer sucks. It’s hot. It may or may not be humid. It may rain. There will be mosquitos. And we plan to hike and hang in these conditions. In this article I am going to fill you in on heat related illnesses, and how to avoid them.
Heat related illnesses are strongly related to the heat index, a measurement of how hot you feel when you combine the air temperature and relative humidity.  The formula used isn’t easy. There are a ton of variables. Below is the NOAA chart to help you figure out the Heat Index.

Heat Exhaustion

“Heat Exhaustion is a heat-related illness that can occur after you've been exposed to high temperatures, and it often is accompanied by dehydration.
There are two types of heat exhaustion:
-Water depletion. Signs include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousness.
-Salt depletion. Signs include nausea and vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness.
Although heat exhaustion isn't as serious as heat stroke, it isn't something to be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs, and even cause death.” Ansorge, R. (n.d.). Heat Exhaustion. Retrieved from
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
Body Temp from 99.6-104
Altered mental status (anxiety, confusion)
Extreme thirst
Pale, ashen skin tone
Dark colored urine
Fast, weak heartbeat
Excessive sweating
Dizziness or fainting
Fatigue and cramping

Treatment of Heat Exhaustion
HYDRATE  ( alcohol and caffeine are NOT hydration)
Move to coolest environment available
Remove tight or restrictive clothing
Actively cool using icepacks, fans, immersion
Heat Stroke
Contrary to popular belief, Heat Stroke isn’t always a progression following Heat Exhaustion. It can be and most times it is; but if conditions are extreme enough, you can skip Heat Exhaustion and proceed directly to Heat Stroke.
“Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures -- usually in combination with dehydration -- which leads to failure of the body's temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures.” Heat Stroke. (2014, December 3). Retrieved from,
Signs and Symptoms of Heat Stroke
Body Temp above 104
You stop sweating, despite heat exposure
Red, hot, dry skin
Altered mental status (severe confusion to comatose)
Fast heart rate, usually VERY strong but sometimes weak

Treatment of Heat Stroke
Remember, Heat stroke is a life threatening problem, do not delay
Call 911
Move patient to as cool an environment as possible
Remove all clothing, place icepacks in patient’s groin, armpits, neck and back
Fan and apply wet sheets or thin cloth (evaporative cooling)
Hydrate if possible,  to include electrolytes if possible
Immerse in cool water if possible
How to avoid becoming a victim of Heat related illnesses.
Many of these will seem like common sense, but sometimes, common sense ain’t so common.
Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine when engaged in strenuous activities
Drink plenty of hydrating fluids ( water, Gatorade™, or the like)
Wear light colored, light weight, loose clothing (more on this later)
Wear a wide brimmed hat
Wear sunscreen (SPF 30 or more)
Know how your medications affect your body. Diuretics, antihistamines, stimulants and ╬▓eta blockers are just a few that can have an adverse effect
Plan strenuous activities to AVOID the hottest part of the day
Monitor your urine color. Light colored urine is a sign of adequate hydration.

Clothing for summer hiking
Cotton is cheap, in more ways than just money. When you sweat in cotton your are left in a wet cotton shirt that does a poor job of cooling you via evaporation (when compared to the other choices I list below). If you are wearing that sweaty cotton and the temperature drops, you will now be wet AND cold. Below from best to worst are my recommended materials.
1. Merino wool. Look for 150g(silk weight, ultralight, micro weight) or lighter weight and now you have a summer outer layer and you can use it for winter layering also.
Pros:  Antibacterial (stink free). Very fast wicking and drying. Very soft. Exceptional temperature regulation
Cons: price (be prepared to pay $50 or more for a t-shirt), but deals can be found (I like
 There are many brands but here are a few you can look for
a. Icebreaker. Good mix of quality and value (my personal fave )
b. Smartwool. Good quality, a little more expensive
c. Patagonia. Another decent mix of quality and value, but often they are Merino blends
2. “sport” synthetics. Whether you  like UnderArmour HeatGear, Adidas ClimaLite/ClimaCool or Nike Dri-Fit, they are all synthetic materials that work by wicking sweat away from the body to evaporate on the surface of the fabric.
Pros: inexpensive(20-$30 for a t-shirt type garment). Easy to find (any Academy or sporting good store). Wide variety of colors, styles, designs.
Cons: 30 minutes in, you will smell. When they are wet and the temp drops, you will be cold. Can be (but not always) rough on the skin when compared to merino and even cotton. Nowhere close to flame retardant, they will melt to your skin.
3. Cotton and cotton blends. Some blends aren’t terrible. For years I wore 65/35 poly/cotton blends in the military and they don’t suck, they just could be better. In the heat, sweaty cotton DOES allow for some evaporative cooling, but the moisture transfer from your skin to the surface of the fabric is poor in comparison to merino and sport synthetics. Add in humidity and it just feels even worse and performs worse.
With that being said here is what I will wear for the Butt Bake Hike.
ExOfficio synthetic or Icebreaker merino boxer briefs. (very light weight, keep my bits and pieces dry, and decreases the funk. Easy hand wash and line dry.
Merino or synthetic t-short or tank top
Lightweight poly/cotton rip-stop shorts or pants
DarnTough merino socks
A keffiyeh/shemagh (so many uses, too many to list)

What you need to bring to the Butt Bake
Comfortable clothing
Water AND the ability to filter water if needed (Sawyer mini or Squeeze are nice cheap options)
A 3x5 card filled out as follows and LAMINATED, Keep handy in an outside pocket or on a lanyard
Emergency contact w/ phone #
List of medications person is on
Allergies and medical conditions
Blood type (if known)
Bug spray
A First Aid kit if you have one.
All the rest of your hammocking gear and food.

If you are doing the Butt Bake hike plan to:

Get up early. If we can be on the trail by 7 am, we can easily be off the trail before noon, even including breaks.
Prehydrate. Everyone is going to drink at least one liter of water before we leave.
Carry a minimum of 2 liters of water and a filter device. We might have water available on the trail, we might not, and we will plan accordingly. Even my dog will be carrying at least 2 liters of water.
Have the above 3x5 card ready to go.
Remember, this hike is going to be a slack pack. Only carry what you HAVE to have with you. My gear will consist of water, first aid, filter,  and a poncho. Everything else will be in my truck or in a box someone else will bring over.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Guest Blogger Tom Humerick's Advice On A Hiker's First Aid Kit

Tom is a Veteran USAF PJ Medic with an impressive resume that I won't go into here.  But I know him and his military experience and trust this advise. First Aid in the field is a sorely neglected topic in a hobby that is heavy on talk about gear, chow, and trip reports  Thanks, Tom, for posting this here.  

This past weekend I went on a weekend hike and hang with Sarge and other members of the Texas Men’s Ministry. Whenever I leave the house I carry some basic medical gear with me whether it is a jump bag in my truck or a kit for a weekend hike. In talking with others about my kit I was carrying I volunteered to write an article for Sarge about what I think needs to be included in a kit or kits.

Before I go any further, let me start by saying that I am NOT in any way affiliated with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and have never attended any of their excellent (so I have been told) Wilderness Medicine Institute courses. I have been involved in EMS for over 20 years starting as an EMT-Basic, moved up the EMT chain and I am now a Registered Nurse. My military training involved both standard self-aid and buddy care, Emergency Department Medicine and Combat Medicine with many advanced aspects (water rescue, mountaineering and high altitude rescue among others).

How I have been trained and how you have been trained (if at all) may be vastly different so I will endeavor to keep this as simple as possible and only make product recommendations  for a backpacking First Aid Kit that will work for a user with little to no medical training. Our goals are to:
·         Manage pain and illness
·         Stop Bleeding/Shock
·         Manage small wounds (cuts, scrapes, blisters)
·         Stabilize fractures or sprains
Looking around the internet, I think dollar for dollar the best entry level starter kit is the Adventure Medical Kit Adventure First Aid 2.0 . It includes the following:
Bandage Materials
·         16 - Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, 1" x 3"
·         1 - Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, 2" x 4.5"
·         4 - Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, Knuckle
·         12 - Bandage, Adhesive, Plastic, 3/8" x 1 1/2"
·         4 - Bandage, Butterfly Closure
·         4 - Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 4" x 4", Pkg./2
·         4 - Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 2" x 2", Pkg./2
·         4 - Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 3" x 3", Pkg./2
·         2 - Dressing, Non-Adherent, Sterile, 2" x 3"
·         1 - Gloves, Nitrile (Pair), Hand Wipe
·         1 - Trauma Pad, 5" x 9"
Blister / Burn
·         1 - Moleskin, Pre-Cut & Shaped (11 pieces)
Fracture / Sprain
·         1 - Bandage, Elastic with Clips, 2"
·         1 - Cold Pack

·         2 - Safety Pins
·         1 - Scissors, Bandage with Blunt Tip
·         1 - Splinter Picker/Tick Remover Forceps
·         2 - Thermometer, Disposable
Medical Information
·         1 - Caring for Children in the Outdoors Manual
·         3 - Acetaminophen (500 mg), Pkg./2
·         3 - Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25 mg)
·         3 - Ibuprofen (200 mg), Pkg./2
·         1 - Aspirin (325 mg), Pkg./2
·         1 - After Bite® Insect Relief
Wound Care
·         12 - Antiseptic Wipe
·         2 - Cotton Tip Applicator, Pkg./2
·         1 - Tape, 1/2" x 10 Yards
·         4 - Triple Antibiotic Ointment, Single Use

This kit is a good starting point and in my opinion a minimum for everyone on the hike. At $20.22 on Amazon with Prime (priced Feb. 10, 2015) it is an inexpensive and lightweight (1 lb) option that covers most of the basics and with a few additions can be an excellent First Aid Kit (FAK).
With our earlier stated goals we can now look at this kit and see what it has and what it might need to have added.
For managing pain and illness this kit has:
·         3 - Acetaminophen (500 mg), Pkg./2
·         3 - Antihistamine (Diphenhydramine 25 mg)- aka BENADRYL®
·         3 - Ibuprofen (200 mg), Pkg./2
·         1 - Aspirin (325 mg), Pkg./2

So this kit has 3 different pain relievers and a good, proven first gen Antihistamine. What about Gastrointestinal issues? I would add:
For diarrhea - Loperamide (Imodium®) – preferably in dose packs
For an upset stomach/diarrhea - Bismuth subsalicylate (PeptoBismol®) preferably in dose packs

To Stop Bleeding/Shock this kit has:
·         1 - Gloves, Nitrile (Pair), Hand Wipe
·         1 - Trauma Pad, 5" x 9"

To this I would add:
One more pair of gloves
A few more 5x9 Trauma Pads ($1-2)
A Tourniquet ($0-30)
Quikclot® ($16.99-40)

A tourniquet is an indispensable tool and for us something as simple as a tree strap and a stick or toggle can work well. If you want a commercially available tourniquet I recommend the SOFTT-W . Other commercial tourniquets are good; I think this is the best.

Quikclot® is a hemostatic bandage or sponge that is impregnated with an inorganic mineral that accelerates the body’s natural clotting ability without an exothermic reaction. The hemostatic agents we first used in the military were granules we poured into the wound but in many cases they burned the patient with the heat they produced; Quikclot® was the solution to that problem. Available from Amazon or many other places, I would recommend the QuikClot Sport 50g package ($16.99) over the less expensive but smaller 25g package. While direct pressure and elevation can’t be replaced, QuikClot® is an excellent addition. If you are a prepper/survivalist or a hunter, I would instead recommend the QuikClot Combat Guaze. It costs twice as much but is designed for the treatment of traumatic bleeding.

To Manage Small Wounds, this kit has:
·         16 - Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, 1" x 3"
·         1 - Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, 2" x 4.5"
·         4 - Bandage, Adhesive, Fabric, Knuckle
·         12 - Bandage, Adhesive, Plastic, 3/8" x 1 1/2"
·         4 - Bandage, Butterfly Closure
·         4 - Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 4" x 4", Pkg./2
·         4 - Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 2" x 2", Pkg./2
·         4 - Dressing, Gauze, Sterile, 3" x 3", Pkg./2
·         2 - Dressing, Non-Adherent, Sterlie, 2" x 3"
·         1 - Moleskin, Pre-Cut & Shaped (11 pieces)
·         1 - After Bite® Insect Relief
·         12 - Antiseptic Wipe
·         2 - Cotton Tip Applicator, Pkg./2
·         1 - Tape, 1/2" x 10 Yards
·         4 - Triple Antibiotic Ointment, Single Use

 To this I would add:
-Dr Scholl’s® MoleskinPlus (the moleskin in this kit is pretty cheap stuff) The Moleskin plus is also padded and you can easily cut it to whatever size you need.
- WaterJel® Sterile Burn Dressing I recommend getting a 3pack of 4x4 pads
-BiteMD™- the kit includes an AfterBit®e pad; I like the BiteMD™ applicator tube better.

To stabilize fractures or sprains, this kit has:
·         1 - Bandage, Elastic with Clips, 2"
·         1 - Cold Pack

Sort of underwhelming, huh? If I break a leg or arm in the wilderness I get an ACE bandage and an icepack? The 4 mile hike out with that broken limb to get to help is going to really suck. Here is what I would add:
-SAM Splint at 123g for one, these are an excellent way to splint an extremity fracture. At least get one, two isn’t a terrible idea.
-A triangle bandage. You have all seen one; it is the perfect tool for making a sling for an arm or shoulder injury.

Other items to add:
Wilderness First Responder: How To Recognize, Treat, And Prevent Emergencies In The Backcountry At $20-25 it isn’t the cheapest book out there, but it is an excellent resource on most of the injuries you could see while hiking or camping.
Emergency contact w/ phone #
List of medications person is on
Allergies and medical conditions
Blood type (if known)

A 3x5 Emergency card. EACH MEMBER IN YOUR GROUP SHOULD HAVE ONE. Have the following info on it.

With the exception of the tourniquet, the book and with QuikClot® sport (not the combat gauze) everything here can be easily had for $100 or less.
Now, I was also asked to list what I carry on a weekend trip, so here we go:
My IFAK (Individual First Aid Kit) on my chest rig contains:
·         QuikClot Combat Gauze (X-ray), 3” x 4 yards
·         Combat Medical Systems, Decompression Needle, Mojo Dart, 14GA, 3.25”
·         Nasopharyngeal Airway, 28fr w/packet of lube
·         Tytek Medical, EZ Gauze TM-215. Sterile (Z-Fold Dressing)
·         Nitrite Gloves, Purple, Large 2 pr
·         PMI HALO SEALS, 2-pack
·         Dynarex, 2” Elastic Bandage
·         4” Israeli Emergency Dressing (Pressure dressing)
·         Combat casualty card with rubber band for attachment and pencil
·         SOFTT-W Tourniquet
·         Sharpie
·         Small notepad
·         EMS Shears
·         Hemostats
·         ITS Fatboy pouch
   Most of this is available commercially as the ITS ETA Trauma Kit Fatboy

My aid kit in my pack contains everything I recommended for your kit plus:
A suture kit
2 air splints (1 full arm, 1 full leg)
Glucose Gel, 3pks
Electrolyte packs, 3 oral mixes
2 more QuikClot Bandages
4 more Israeli Bandages
2 Rolls of Kerlix
1 roll of Coban
1 EpiPen
1 Ring Cutter
My personal medications

My kit is significantly more expensive and some of the items require training, but it is basically an expanded version of the kit I recommend for all hikers/campers.

One final note. I purposely left airway management out of this post. If you don’t know what you are doing you can severely injure or even kill a person if you do the wrong thing. I highly recommend you contact your local RedCross and take a CPR/First Aid course and they will show you how to properly establish and maintain a patent airway. If there is ANY possibility of a spinal injury, do not move a person unless you ABSOLUTELY have no other option. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Scout The Wonder Dog And The Last Trail

There will be no pictures with this post, save the one at the top of the page. There will be no report of the trip as Scout is on a trail I can not yet tread upon.  I can only report that Scout The Wonder Dog stepped off from the Trailhead in his sleep sometime Saturday night. Cause of death was complications of old age. About a month or so ago, Scout was bitten by a snake and when I took him to the vet it was explained to me that while he would survive the snake bite with treatment, his days with me were coming to an end. It could be weeks, months, or days.  The vet assured me that he would be in no pain, that he would simply stop breathing, and that's what happened.

Scout was born in October of 2002, one of a litter of seven born to Punkin The Wonder Dog, an Akita mix, his father a Border Collie mix known in the neighborhood as a lady's man. In coloration and hair, he resembled his mother, in size he was like his father, with a few wisps of black hair (that became more prominent with age) being the only contribution made to his appearance. He was raised in the yard of the Prairie Bungalow by his mother and three other female dogs, Annie, Libby and Serenity whom we called his "maiden aunts" even though there was no blood relation. Early in his puppyhood, just after the soft fur phase,  my late wife and I were getting to dogs together to get them inside for the night and the puppy was no where to be found. We did a search but to no avail.  Round these parts, if a dog is left outside at night, its pretty much a given that he's going to become coyote food and we resigned ourselves to that possibility.  By early afternoon of the next day, we regarded that fate as a certainty. But around 3:00 he came running into the yard to be greeted by his mother and maiden aunts. From that moment on, Scout never ventured very far from the homestead.

Scout was never needy or hyper. He didn't bark much unless he thought there was a real danger, and he was never mean to people or other dogs.  Scout never started a fight, but I've seen him finish several of them. He was a good friend, a good listener, and as mellow as an Autumn sunset.  He was also the best trail dog I've ever had or known.

What makes a good trail dog?  He always takes the lead.  He sets the pace---he doesn't pull your arm off dragging you down the trail and he's not so slow he gets tangled in your feet. He knows the difference between a trail and a wide spot between trees with no underbrush. He doesn't stop unless its necessary (and you should respect him enough for that to allow for the fact that sometimes sniffing a bush is necessary). He enjoys being on the trail, and being on the trail with you. He carries his own food and water without complaint.  In short, a good trail dog has the same qualities as a person you'd want to walk the trail with. 

Scout was all this and more.  In camp, he didn't crawl under my tarp and hammock so that I could protect him.  He stationed himself outside and as far as his tie out would let him so that he could be on guard.  He knew what his pack was and knew that when it came out we'd be going camping, so he'd sit by the car until it was time to go. He didn't bark, even at strangers, but his eyes never left them.  That picture above was taken by a fellow camper who offered to take some pictures of me and my set up.  He took several and in every one of them, Scout is looking directly at the camera---or to be more precise---directly at the man holding the camera.  That picture is how I like to remember Scout, standing by me on a misty morning in the woods as I sip my coffee, his only concern being my well being and protection.

More important than being a good trail dog, Scout has helped me understand some things about God.

Grace is a concept that is incompletely understood by many Christians, and by even more non-believers. The shortest definition is "unearned favor", and if you believe, as I do, that God is Creator of the Universe we are covered by so much"unearned favor" that we don't even notice it. Because He created the Universe and all that's in it, this "unearned favor" extends to every living being, human or otherwise, Believer and Non-believers.  Matthew 5:45 tells us  

44 But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, 
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you,45 that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven. For He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
When I prayed to God last night I thanked Him for sending me a dog I didn't deserve and begged forgiveness from him for any acts of commission or omission I may have made since He sent him to me that may have caused him pain or distress. God's Grace is evident to me just by the fact that Scout the Wonder Dog was in my life, in my life for so long, and truly enjoyed being with me doing the things I enjoy doing the most. Like God, Scout's love was unconditional and constant, and was given to me when I needed it most and deserved it the least. And like God, Scout was protecting me and I didn't even notice it---not until I saw those pictures and realized he never took his eyes off of the stranger taking them.  
There's a popular notion in our culture that "all dogs go to heaven." To my knowledge, there's nothing in scripture to support that idea.  But I do believe in a Loving and Merciful God and I would like to think that when I take my first steps down the trail that Scout is on now, he'll at least be there at the Trailhead waiting on me to either go the trail with me or to make sure I get on mine properly before taking his own.

If you're not familiar with Scout The Wonder Dog and his Adventures, you can go to and search for the stories I wrote about he and I on the trail, I'm not going to clutter this post up with a lot of links. Scout is being cremated and some time in the very near future I will spread his ashes on the Lone Star Trail near the site of the first camping trip Scout made with me a few years ago.  Folks who wish can contact me through Facebook or Hammock Forums if you'd like to go along.  A portion of his ashes will be spread around the pond at the bottom of the hill here at the Prairie Bungalow where his mother's ashes were spread, and once I find a suitable container, a small portion will be hung from my pack strap so that he can be on the trail with me for whatever days God gives me to walk them. In Backpacking terminology, we call that "good weight."

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Introducing The Underwoobie

As Backpackers and Hikers we have certain requirements for our gear.  Those requirements can vary a good deal as gear is an intensely personal choice, but generally are based on Weight, Functionality, and Durability in varying degrees of importance on which we put each of those requirements. As Hammock Hikers, we further complicate things by adding the requirement of Functionality with hammocks to our sleep and shelter choices. As a mode of shelter that is somewhat outside of "mainstream camping" (but gaining in popularity almost exponentially), much of the gear manufactured specifically for hammock camping is provided by cottage vendors as large manufacturers do not yet see the profit potential in large scale production of items designed specifically for hammock camping.

Since the hammock camping cottage vendor community of necessity must address the needs of as large a group of individuals as possible in order to make their businesses not only profitable, but viable as well, this dynamic is repeated in microcosm.  The greater majority of hammock campers are weekend or long distance backpackers located on the East and West coasts, primarily in northern tiers of those states.  This means the majority of products offered are aimed at individuals to whom Weight is of the greatest consideration, and who can expect to use these products in climates that stay cool to cold with low relative humidity for the greater part of the year (Washington State being a notable exception as regards humidity).  Individuals south of the Mason/Dixon line, primarily those on the Gulf Coast, find themselves having to adapt or accept some products that were not designed primarily for an annual climate that is warm to hot  with a relatively high humidity (as well as higher rainfall intensities and frequencies).  Likewise, Expedition Hikers and Hunters who use hammocks as their primary shelter find themselves having to choose products with Durability and Functionality (and adaptability) that is less than what they would desire.

A post on Hammock Forums regarding using a Kifaru Woobie/Doobie as an underquilt is an example of the conundrum as regards Expedition Hunters.  It became immediately apparent to me that the Doobie would not be adaptable as an underquilt without a lot of DIY work as there is no provision on that product for a suspension or cinching of ends, and it lacked the edging and ties that makes the military issue Poncho Liner (which it emulates) so adaptable as a warm weather under or top quilt.  But I did see that a design I was working on could be adapted quite easily to achieve the desired results. I posted the following pictures of the quilt I was working on at the time to that post:

The original idea was to create a quilt that could not only be used as either a top or bottom quilt, but one where different thicknesses of synthetic insulation (Climashiled APEX) could be snapped together to increase the insulation value, and would mimic the functionality and adaptability of the military poncho liner for other uses.  Having been in the military for eleven years I was intimately familiar with the "Woobie" and its many uses.  My thinking at the time was to make a system with 3 under/top quilts and one lightweight top quilts that would address all climate conditions I might encounter in my weekend backpacking on the Gulf Coast.  Bruce Carter, who made that original hammock forums post was intrigued by the concept and we entered into an email exchange where I presented him with various options on materials and insulation, much of which was kind of over his head.  It wasn't until he gave me this description of what he needed that true inspiration struck:
I am packbacking thru the Alaskan wilderness hunting moose carrying a 14 day supply load in a Kifaru Timberline Duplex 1 pack with archery and lever 45-70 govt rifle for bear protection. My sleep system already weighs 10lbs. I know, I know...****! But that's my choice because I sleep warm and toasty even if I and all my gear is soaking wet. (Wiggy's Freedom Shelter bag). But the black Wiggys bag if worn poncho style might buy me a bullet from some idiot with poor eyesight thinking I'm a bear. So I am thinking "Okay...I don't wanna get shot by a gun hunter, what's a lightweight alternative that will serve dual use?"

Bruce wanted the kind of functionality that a poncho liner and poncho would give him for shelter in emergency situations, that could also serve as a blind from which to conceal himself for hunting elk, buffalo, and other big game that could also function as an underquilt.  I was designing a sleep system with the Gulf coast in mind.  That's how the Underwoobie came to be born.

WW2 Army Shelter Halves As A 4 man Shelter

WW2 USMC Poncho--Snaps All Around

Current Issue Army Poncho Liner

What I've tried to do is to combine the best feature of a shelter half:  adaptability as a one, two or four man ground shelter, with the water resistance of a poncho, and the insulation qualities of a poncho liner, with use as an Underquilt, Topquilt, or ground quilt.  Every noob who comes into a hammock forum will soon find out that a poncho liner can be quickly adapted as a warm to cool weather underquilt and DIY guides abound.  Its insulation abilities are limited, however, so I decided to use Climashiled APEX in order to have a quilt that will work in 90% of the weather one can expect. 

So here it is, The Underwoobie. 

In order to achieve the durability that Bruce was looking for with water resistance, wind resistance, and durability that Bruce demanded, outer shell: is composed of Duro Epsilon in a MultiCam pattern licensed to Duro by CryeNot only is it lightweight (1.5 oz/yd), it is extremely strong and abrasion resitant, but its soft to the touch and would make an excellent inner shell as well. It measures approximately 60" wide by 84" long, making it a full length Underquilt.

I made mine using 1.1 uncoated ripstop in MarPat .  Bruce wanted more durability in his inner shell, so his was made with a 1.9 DWR in Ranger Green.  Mine comes in at about 2 1/2 pounds with suspension, Bruce's a bit over 3 pounds.  The design mimics military shelter halves and ponchos in that any one Underwoobie can be snapped to another one to make a two person sleeping bag, or a one, two, or four person shelter.

There are three rows of snaps on each side, two on the outer shell, and one on the inner shell. This allows the side and end channels of the underquilt to be used as a storm flap when making a top quilt or sleeping bag

Grommets at the centerline of each side and all four corners allows the Underwoobie to be used as a one man shelter when used alone, or snapped together to make a two man shelter as a military shelter half would.

Since the Underwoobie is intended to have more functionality than just an Underquilt, it has a four piece suspension.  In addition to the normal shock cord cinching arrangement at the end channels, each side channel contains one length of shock cord rather than the loop found on most underquilts.  

Rather than adjustment at one end through one cord lock, adjustment is made on all four corners using a double cord lock.

When stored in the pack, or used as a shelter, quilt, or serape, each end of each channel provides for stowage of the shock cord

The 7 foot long Underwoobie hung beneath my 12 foot hammock.

As a top or ground quilt, it can be used with cinched foot box

A square foot box
Or folded in half to make a side snap sleeping bag

It can also be used as a serape in colder weather

And it does not interfere with using the hands and arms 
Temperature ratings for underquilts and sleeping bags are a very subjective judgement that is dependent on many factors.  I can tell you that as a 61 year old man weighing 215 pounds that an Underwoobie with a 1.1 MarPat inner shell is comfortable down to 40 degrees, and usable to 30, but that is based on my personal experience.  I have retained the ability of two Underwoobies to be snapped together to increase insulation effectiveness.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Apologies To The Park Service

Sort of.

All this time I had been reporting the decisions made as to how the Park and Memorial closures have come down during the partial government shutdown, I had placed blame squarely on the shoulders of Parks Management leaving the Administration as somewhat distant supervisors who issued only general instructions and did not know details. I have been critical of other decisions Parks has made in the past on several other matters, and was very vocal about the spitefulness of closing the WW2 Monument and Parks features such as scenic overlooks, privately funded museums, and picnic areas here in this post and elsewhere on the web.

This afternoon, I came across this video of the Congressional testimony given today of Parks Service Director Jarvis before the Committee that is investigating how these decisions were made.
National Park Service director Jarvis said he discussed closing the open-air monuments and memorials with the White House, as well as the secretary of the Interior Department:

"Yes, I did," says the director when asked whether he discussed the closures with the secretary of the Interior Department.

"You didn't discuss it with anyone in the White House, did you?" asks a congressman.

"Um, in -- several times, on the phone, with the White House, I presented with the secretary my decision," says the director. "But it was never the reverse--"

"So you discussed with officials in the White House your action?"

"That's right," he says.

While it is not said who in the White House he discussed his plans with, since he was on a conference call with the Secretary of the Interior, it is safe to say that the individual in the White House was fairly high up in the President's Staff.

What this means is he said words to the effect of "I plan to put barricades around the WW2 Monument and will arrest anybody who tries to get in." and nobody at the White House, and certainly not the Secretary of the Interior, thought that was a bad idea.

Monday, October 7, 2013

To The Barrycades!

Its been a busy week on the Barrycades.

In addition to the massive Civil Disobedience by Veterans at the WW2 Memorial, crossing Barrycades placed in front of it by an ungrateful government on an almost daily basis for the past week , Marine Corps Veterans knocked over Barrycades at Marine Corps War Memorial, commonly known as the Iwo Jima Monument.
In case you don't believe it, here's a picture of them doing it, from a story in their Hometown Newspaper.

Citizens visiting DC area Gravelly Park created their own parking spaces when they arrived this weekend to find the Parking lot Barrycaded, creating an unsafe condition that perhaps the Park Service should have considered before spending the money to barricade something that costs nothing to leave open.

The park, closed by the government shutdown along with the rest of the public spaces administered by the National Park Service, was teeming with families Sunday night. Cyclists, fishermen and folks just looking to wind down the weekend filled the park even though it isn't technically open to the public.

"I think this is the best kind of salute back to the guys on Capitol Hill," said Andrew Holt, who came to the park Sunday evening to fish. "Telling them how everybody feels about it."

Gravelly Point's popularity has created some safety hazards as park-goers improvise parking spots instead of leaving their cars in the parking lot, which has been barricaded by park police during the shutdown. Park-goers have parked their cars on the shoulder of the road near the park and even on the grass.
In the meantime, soccer moms have been routinely tearing down Barrycades at "Turtle Park." 
According to sources, angry moms near the Eastern Market are of Washington, D.C. have been diligently tearing down barriers erected by the National Park Service around Marion Park, or the turtle park as it is commonly referred to because of the fake turtles that children like to play on.

Sources said that the park was blocked off by park officials, but the source suspected that neighborhood moms have been taking down barriers to the park so their children could play there. In response, park officials keep erecting new ones, which the moms promptly tear down.

That story also notes that another park with the same Park Service funding that is "close to the homes of “quite a few” Democratic senators" who are regularly seen there that has not been shut down.

There's no word yet on the fate of the Barrycades at Mount Vernon.  In addition to closing down the bus turn around, they've closed the Parking Lots.  They can't shut down Mount Vernon itself, its a privately owned and funded museum, so they spent money to erect Barrycades at the parking lots to keep people from going there.

And while things are quite this bad at Mount Rushmore (yet)

It does look like this.
As with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Park Service has attempted to outlaw sight seeing, blocking off access to the scenic overlooks that tourists use to take pictures of Mount Rushmore.  The State of South Dakota, has some problems with that, though.

The Buffalo News reported that a tour group of dozens of people from western New York was unable to take pictures of the monument because highway viewing areas were coned off.

“It’s all closed up,” the newspaper quoted North Collins, N.Y., resident Hilde Werneth as saying. “They won’t even let you stop and take a picture. You can only drive by.”

Jim Hagen, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Tourism, said the situation is hurting people from out-of-state and international visitors who are in South Dakota to visit the monument.
Bicyclists on the Crescent Bike Trail are routinely ignoring Barrycades there

US News & World Report has a story about acts of Civil Disobedience on the Barrycades.

At one padlocked restroom on the Mount Vernon bike path that snakes along the Potomac River in suburban Virginia, two bicyclists expressed their disgust at Washington gridlock by letting it fly on the outside wall of the building. "This is a urination protest," one of the bikers said. "Maybe it'll catch on." On the nearby door to the shuttered bathroom was a sign stating, "Because of the federal government shutdown, this National Park Service facility is CLOSED." For extra emphasis, the word "closed" was bolded and underlined. 

One of ticketed parkers was outraged. "I'm just here to go jogging, and I end up with a hundred-dollar fine," he said. "I thought Michelle Obama wanted us to all stay in shape, but the cops just threatened to tow my car. It's ridiculous – regular people are not the problem." Another park visitor said, "I just saw somebody flash a badge and drive right on out of here; do they have plain-clothes undercover cops patrolling parks to make sure nobody is picnicking illegally?"

At nearby Jones Point Park, two National Park Service patrol cars blocked the vehicular entrance. On normal days, these lots are unstaffed, and in most cases entrances are ungated. During the shutdown, barricades have been trucked in and erected to block off lots and armed police stationed there to bust offenders. According to the Office of Personnel Management records, U.S. Park Police officers make between $52,020 and $155,500 a year. Congress ought to hold hearing investigating how much is being spent to barricade and police empty parks and parking lots and who gave the orders to lock down so many sites.

 Meanwhile, in Badlands National Park, one family had their own method of expressing their displeasure with the Barrycades put up at scenic overlooks there.

Word is that this picture has inspired a movement to remove the cones and send them to or put them up at the Government Agency you'd most like to see shutdown instead.