Category Archives: me

Lightweight Camp Shoes For Backpacking

I got the idea to make these DIY camp shoes from a backpackinglight.com thread.  The blue foam pad only costs eight dollars in Walmart.  They weight in at 1.6 ounces for a pair, size 12.  I probably could get them a little smaller and down to 1.3 ounces.  With one pad, you can probably make at least three pairs too.

Lightweight Camp Shoes

Lightweight Camp Shoes

Some tips:

  • If you have an existing set of flip flops, then try to use that as the template otherwise trace your foot on the back of some old wrapping paper
  • I thought of making a velcro adjustable strap but that’s not needed.  Just duct tape it and you’re done
  • Be sure to fit it with your socks on.
  • Once you make one, trace that one and flip it over to make the other side.

Most ultralight backpackers are against camp shoes of any kind, but at 1.6 ounces, how could you resist?  I’m looking forward to changing into dry socks and my camp shoes while making dinner the next time I go backpacking.

Two Night Backpacking Loops in the NorthEast

Surprisingly, it’s hard to find good backpacking loops that you can do in 2 nights, 3 days.

1. Mt. Marcy: Adirondacks.  Lean-tos, water falls, cantilevered bridges, a wooden dam and climbing the highest point in NY are all some of the highlights for this trip.  I have done this trip two times and it was awesome every time.

Lake Colden Lean-To

You’ll start your hike at the Adirondak Loj parking lot near Heart Lake.  Their is a fee to park and you’ll need a bear canister and possibly crampons if there is still snow.  You can rent them there, but call to make sure they are not out.  They also have a gift shop, food, supplies and hot showers for after your hike (50 cents?)

Day 1:  Arrive Friday afternoon and hike to Marcy Dam.  Take Avalanche Pass to the tip of Lake Colden and snag a lean-to.  Visit the gigantic park ranger’s log cabin and talk to him about recent bear sightings.  ~ 6 miles

Days 2:  Head East toward Lake Tear of the Clouds and ascend Mt Marcy, the highest point in NY. Enjoy awesome 360 views and your lunch.  Head back down the North face towards Indian Falls.  Find another lean-to at Marcy Dam  ~10 miles

Day 3:  A short 2 mile sprint out of the park and back to the car to shower.  Remember to bring some soap and a towel with your clean change of clothes.  Head into Lake Placid for breakfast/lunch.

Please see the map for the route described above.

Notes:

2. Stratton: VT.  At first I wasn’t excited to hike to the top of a ski mountain, but it’s nothing like that.  You wouldn’t even know you were on Stratton mountain until you get the fire tower and see the lifts on the other side (barely).  This loop features a 20 person shelter as well as beautiful Stratton Lake and classic Vermont hiking on the Long Trail.

Mount Stratton Peak

Day 1:  Park at Old Rootville Road just off of Route 30.  Note that the road is named “Rootville Road”, but the maps incorrectly shows “Old Rootville Road”.  There are a few small parking ares by the water tower on the right.  Hike up Rootville road and stop at Prospect Rock and enjoy the views of your early ascent.  Catch the Long Trail heading SE towards the South side of Stratton pond and hopefully grab a bunk at the spacious Stratton Pond shelter (sleeps 20!).  Always bring a tent just in case, but chances are if you get there around 4pm, there will be room.  You might consider cooking/hanging out at the shelter and then sleeping in a tent.  The reason is that it can be quite loud with twenty or so people milling around.  We also had some quite rude people show up at midnight which can be quite noisy.  Hopefully you’ll meet a few AT thru hikers which will be more than happy to eat your extra food.

Day 2:  Leave most of your gear except your lunch and wind breaker at the shelter and ascend up to the top of Stratton Mountain.  Climb the fire tower and enjoy views all the way up to Killington.  You’ll descend the way you came up again and pick up your gear before you head towards Bourn Pond.  At Bourn Pond, head North on Branch Pond Trail to the WIlliam B Douglas Shelter.   It only sleeps about 5-6 so you’ll need to get there around 4pm to have a good chance of having a spot.  Otherwise there is plenty of tenting spots.

Day 3:  Quick hike out to the car.  Head to Bob’s Diner and enjoy a great meal before heading home.

Here is a map of the route.

Notes:

  • Camp fires ARE allowed so think about bringing some steak to grill for the first night.
  • Each one of the lean-to sites has a privy, but bring your own TP.
  • There are plenty of places for water, just remember to always chemically treat or filter

If you have any other suggested loops, please post in the comments.  I’m always looking for new hikes.  As always, make sure you are practicing ultralight backpacking as well.

Prius Home Generator

My original home generator system consisted of a 7000w power generator hooked up to a manual transfer switch which would power ten circuits in my house.  It was a perfectly fine setup, but once I started researching other alternative options, I knew I had to change my approach.

After doing a LOT of research, I was able to find examples of how I can have my Prius power my house.  What’s unique about my setup is that it takes the 110v that the Prius generates and transfers it into the 220v manual transfer switch.  The flow is: Prius -> Inverter -> 15amp plug -> 30amp plug -> 10 circuit manual transfer switch.

The four main components of the system are:

Lets go into detail on some of the items:

 

Inverter:  The inverter I chose can generate 1000w of electricity and peak at 2000w.  After doing several tests, I knew that I didn’t need any more than 800w so a 1000w inverter would be more than sufficient.  Additionally, I opted for a more expensive Pure Sine Wave inverter because I wanted to be able to to power electronics such as the TV, cable box, cable modem and routers.  I also wanted a quick an easy way to connect the inverter to the Prius.  You could go with alligator clips similar to how you would jump start a car, but after finding Woodman’s setup, I knew this is how I would need to set it up.  I have more info in the video, but here is the parts list:

Instructions for building the cable can be found here, but included in my video are a few tips on actually putting the cable together.  Also, the crimping can take some practice, but this crimping video should help.

Manual Transfer Switch:  Even though I didn’t have a lot of circuits to power at one time, I did have at LEAST six circuits I wanted to power.  You can find 4 circuit transfer switches which are made to work with 110 volt cables, but it doesn’t seem like they make 6 circuit’s anymore.  My setup allows you to power ten different circuits using a 120volt input

Custom Cable:  They do not sell 15a to 30a power cords.  If you want to mimic this setup, you’ll have to create your own.  I followed the here.  In my video I talk a little bit about it, but there are a few things you should note:

During the installation of my manual transfer switch, my electrician found some serious issues with my subpanel.  I had double tapped breakers, no grounding to the main panel, neutral and ground bars mixed up and multiple MBWC.  I actually paid him to rewire the subpanel to sort out those issues which needed to be fixed regardless of generator setup.

Watch the two videos which show how I setup everything:

Through my research I found many folks who thought that using a Prius as a generator was not worth risking the car’s durability.  Here are my thoughts:

  • Why would you risk your $30k+ as a generator when you can buy one for 500?  For me, it was a fun project and I wanted to be able to user my existing car as a way to power my house.  The cool factor for me outweighed any potential risk I was putting on my car.  If I think about how often I have lost power in the last 10 years it’s probably been only ten days total.  To be able to use the Prius in-case-of-emergency is not going to put a burden on the car or the traction battery for the few times that it would be needed.  Also, I can always switch to portable generator like a Honda EU2000is in the future if I sell my Prius or don’t have a hybrid car in the future
  • The Prius is not an efficient generator.  Actually it is!  I can’t find the link on Priuschat.com at the moment, but from the spreadsheets that I saw, it was as efficient as a conventional generator (non inverter type).  This means that with a full tank of gas in the Prius, I should be able to power the house for a few days.
  • The Prius can’t generator enough power for the home.  That’s simply untrue and really depends on how much power you need to generate.  While there aren’t a lot of videos on Prius’ powering the home, a lot of people have successful powered their homes with small Honda generators:  BillyNewport powers his Home with a 2000w Generator (and subzero fridge!), Honda EU2000is connected to a home, Another Honda powering a home,

So now I wait for the first power outage and we’ll see how my setup performs in a real life situation.  I tested the setup a few times and everything worked flawlessly so I’m excited to try it out.  However, if I never have to use it, that’s ok too, at least I’m prepared.