Rain mitts

Rain often means cold weather, and using trekking poles leads to cold wet hands or cold wet gloves. To this end, I decided to make some simple rains mitts to keep my hands warm when it’s wet.

I used the pattern and instructions here. I found the original pattern a little too large for my hands, so printed the final pattern out at 90%, before cutting the waterproof, breathable fabric from Extremetextil in Germany.IMG_8527


The fabric is great weighing in at 80 gsm, a hydrostatic head of 20,000mm and moisture  rating of permeability 15,000 g/sqm/24h.

After sewing, I used SilNett sealant to finish the seams on the outside. Although this looks a little messy, it is very effective when I tested the mitts by filling them with water and then hanging them from the washing line. Not a drip to be seen!


Overall, I;m very pleased with the final product. Quick and easy to make and very effective.



Bivy bag is taking shape

My DIY bivy bag is taking shape, I’ve now finished making the groundsheet and top, which is made from bug netting and a Pertex like material called Skylon. This has been sewn to the sil-nylon groundsheet with flat-felled seams.

Although my stitching is a bit wonky, I’m quite pleased with the result thus far.

My next job is to sew in WPD fabric panels for the head and foot, which should complete the bag, ready for my trip to Wales next month.

Designing a bivy

Some time ago, I took my shelter, a Six Moon Designs Deschutes tarp, and sewed in a bug net floor and door to make it inset proof. Although this design works quite well, it has almost doubled the weight of the tarp and  it means that I have two layers of material underneath (with the groundsheet over the bug netting).

So I plan to reconfigure things, removing the bug netting and using a bivy bag to give me a bit of protection from draughts that blow under he sides of the tarp.

I also might add a bug net skirt in case I want to leave the bivy bag at home.

To this end, I have been sketch out some designs, which are an amalgam of the Katabatic Bristlecore, Enlightened Equipment Recon and zPacks Splash bivy bags.

Let’s make a backpack

For my first attempt at making a backpack, I made a prototype from Tyvek using an external carbon fibre arc-ed frame bought from zPacks.

Shoulder strap pouches

The straps have a slight S-shape for comfort, with small Lycra mesh pouches, sized to hold my camera or phone.

Stuffing CCF into the shoulder straps

The undersides of the straps are made from a 3D spacer mesh, the padding being 10mm thick CCF. Stuffing this into the straps was my least favourite part of the build.

The frame holders

After many hours sewing the frame components, I can really appreciate how much work zPacks have put into their packs and their designs. to get things just right. I really struggled with this part.

After much pondering. I decided to make a second prototype with an internal frame and external sleeping pad holders similar to one of my favourite designs, the Gossamer Gear Kumo.


Designing the side pockets. Large enough to hold two 1 litre bottles side by side – elasticated draw-cords at the top so the pockets can be cinched tight when partially full.


Back, front and base panels sewn together.


Next, one side panel is sewn to the back panel, with the front panel being sewn to that side panel. The second side panel is sewn to the back panel, then everything is sewn together inside out.

The Final Pack


Sizewise, the packs works out about 45L total capacity, about 35L inside the main compartment. The frame consists of two carbon fibre struts run vertically up the sides of the back panel inside the pack, easily removable when not needed.

So, that’s the prototype made.  After making some adjustments to the dimensions to suit my back length better, etc, I’m really looking forward to starting work on an xPac version of the pack, but realistically, that’s unlikely to happen for a few months yet!



R1 Pack – version 0.2

The new prototype is complete. For the back system, I have fitted external sleeping pad holders Gossamer Gear style with sleeves to hold the frame and a sheet of CCF internally.

I tried out two different styles of water bottle pockets on the sides of the pack, along with two different sides of compression.

As with my first prototype, I learned a lot in making this pack and look forward to getting on with the real thing.

The Elephant’s Foot

After our last microadventure, with two of us in a tarp designed for one, the foot box of my sleeping bag got damping. To address this, I have added yet another job to my list of MYOG projects. I am calling it the “Elephant’s Foot”.

This will be a simple bag like creation, made form a WPB fabric, that will slide over the foot-box of my sleeping bag, tube . I think I will bind the open hem in elastic to help it stay in place.

It remains to be seen if this would work. I do wonder if a condensation on the inside of the Elephant’s Foot might wet the sleeping bag’s foot box, but there’s only one way to find out!

Deschutes tarp mods

In an earlier post, I mentioned that I planned to make a lightweight shelter of my own design. I used SketchUp to produce the initial designs on the computer, then spent a considerable amount of time working out the the best sequence for making the shelter.

My next step, was to start making a prototype using an old builder’s tarp to check that both the design was right and that my manufacturing process would work. Building the prototype confirmed my worry that I would not have time to complete the project before heading up to Scotland later this year to walk the West Highland Way. My other worry was would I succeed? I had used a sewing machine at school, (ahmmm) few years ago, but apart from buttons have sewn nothing since.

So, I moved to plan B and bought a Six Moon Designs Deschutes tarp, which looks a bit like this

I am currently modifying the tarp a little, to change the guying arrangments as I don’t like the strap and buckle system it uses.. I am also adding a bug net floor and door zPacks Hexamid style.

Things are progressing well and I am quite looking forward to my new cover from the sky; a phase which made me think of this song.


Making a Flat Cat

For a long time, I have been cooking on a Fancy Feast stove in combination with a conical cone windshield/pot stand made from a turkey roasting tin. It is not the world’s most attractive set-up, but it works.

One concern with this set-up was, however, the amount of fuel it took to heat things up. Evidence enough that my stove was nothing like as efficient as the commercially available offerings out there.For my West Highland Way walk, I decided it was time for to try out something new – my DIY version of a Flat Cat Gear Snow Leopard stove.

Part 1 – The Burner

I started off with a cat food can (Felix with real turkey if I recall) and marked a line 10 mm up from the bottom.


Next, it was time to empty the can and clean it up.

Off with his head, as Alice would say.

We now drill sixteen 3 mm holes equally spaced along the line 10 mm form the can’s base.


Using sharp scissors, slits are now cut from down to these 3 mm holes.


The flaps of aluminium are now pushed down into the centre of the can, each over-lapping one of its neighbours and “under-lapping” the other.


Pressing down close to the perimeter of the cans creates a knuckle to keep things in place.


Finally, it was time to smooth down all of the rough edges of the can with emery cloth.

Part 2 – The Windshield

I made the windshield from a piece of titanium foil I bought off eBay for £9.99. I first cut the foil to a length, which means that the windshield encircles the pot with a 10mm gap all the way round, overlapping by 25%. The height was cut to internal height of the pot, plus 10mm. I haven’t explained that very well, have I?

Next, I cut a series of tabs into the top of the foil. These are folded over to reduce the amount of heat that will escape out of the gap between the pot and the windshield.


Finally, I tried to drill some holes through the windshield to provide air-flow to the burner and to locate two tent pegs that will serve as the pot stand. This was a disaster as the drill bit kept on tearing the foil. In the end, I restored to using a paper punch which could just about reach far enough, so this has been a compromise.

Nevertheless, I am quite pleased with the result.

In Use

I have now used the stove on a few occasions and overall am very happy with it. It is most definitely an improvement on my previous system.

A single fill of the burner (approximately 10 mls of meths) will heat enough water for a big cup of coffee or a dehydrated meal in about six minutes. OK, its not quite as fast as a JetBoil, but this that just gives me extra time to commune with nature.


The pot is stable in the pot-stand and it packs up to a very compact bundle, packing in my mug.


And finally, how much does it weigh. Not a lot!