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Backpacker Magazine – December 2007

Make Your Gear Last Forever

Backpacker's Ultimate Fix-It Guide

by: Annette McGivney, Illustrations by Supercorn

PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11





MISC

Liquid Fuel Stoves

fix icon Choose clean-burning fuel (Online Bonus)
Just because you can run your liquid fuel stove on kerosene doesn't mean you should. Harold Wray, Coleman consumer service manager for nearly three decades, warns that diesel and other varieties of gasoline clog the stove jet and other parts with soot. The cleanest fuel is white gas, followed by naphtha (lantern fuel); gasoline should be a last resort. If you must, find the lowest octane available.

fix icon Don't overfill your fuel bottle
Respect the fill line. Too much fuel means there's not enough room for the pressurized air, which can lead to clogging, priming troubles, and other stove malfunctions.

fix iconTune up your stove
After an extended trip, or whenever you detect a dip in performance, disassemble and clean your stove. Remove baked-on carbon residue with a scrubby pad. Grease O rings with a silicone lubricant, and replaced cracked ones. Clean the fuel line by scouring it with the internal cable and wiping it clean. Then flush the fuel line (with the cable and jet removed) with a small amount of fuel.

fix icon Clear the jet (Online Bonus)
Stove flames that are sputtering and yellow instead of blue and steady indicate carbon buildup. Most new models have a built-in needle that clears the jet every time you shake it. Otherwise, use the wire tool that came with your stove.

fix icon Pressureless pumping
If you get little or no resistance when pumping, the pump cup has likely shrunk or dried out according to Wray. It may require replacement (an easy fix), but Wray says first try this: Pull the plunger out of the pump assembly and look for the cup–a tiny circle of leather or neoprene. Moisten it with motor oil or vegetable oil–even sweat from your forehead works in a pinch. Remember to lube the pump cup as part of your regular at-home maintenance.

Canister Stoves

fix icon Safeguard the spark (Online Bonus)
The key to maintaining these delicate auto-igniters is preventing the Piezo quartz crystal inside from cracking. Drop it, and you're back to flicking a Bic.

fix icon Stop a fuel leak
Worn O rings, gunked-up seals, and stuck pins can cause fuel to seep from a stove. Can you say fireball waiting to happen? Chris Currah, product manager for Brunton, advises that after several trips, check the O ring seal inside the screw cap. Oil it, and replace any rings that appear old or cracked.

fix icon Build a wind block (Online Bonus)
Because the fuel on a canister stove is located right below the flame, using a windscreen that encircles the stove (common with liquid fuel stoves) is dangerous because it traps the heat and sends it back onto the combustion source–which can melt stove dials or even cause an explosion.

Use your backpack propped on its side to create a windblock that still allows ventilation. A rock or log will also work; just keep object a safe distance from flame and make sure air can still circulate around stove even though big wind gusts are blocked.

fix icon Poor cold-weather performance
The main drawback to canister stoves is their poor performance in sub-freezing temps. Backpacker editors have had good luck boosting performance by taping a handwarmer to the bottom of the canister or placing it in a bowl with an inch of lukewarm water. In the winter, store canisters overnight in a stuff sack at the bottom of your sleeping bag.

Fact or myth? (Online Bonus)
Q: Spent fuel canisters cannot be recycled.
A: Myth! After burning the fuel off, just puncture them and shake out any residual gas. Then you're good. Aluminum canisters are easier to puncture (Coleman's Powermax containers with a puncture tool and crush easily). Steel canisters can also be ruptured manually (with a nail and rock, for example), but don't do anything that would cause a spark (like using a drill). Check with your local public works department to find out whether to put them out with your recycling or take them to a designated facility.


PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11

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DO NOT listen to the recommendation from John regarding putting the footprint INSIDE the tent. His reasoning, that a regular footprint will create a bathtub, makes no sense, and if you put the FP inside, then puncture a hole in the actual tent, water will still seep inside causing the very problem he discusses (bathtub). If you are going to take one, listen to everyone else and use it as intended, outside and beneath the tent. I'm like most others, depending on the situation I may or may not take one.

For a long trip where weight is an issue I leave it, but for shorter hikes I prefer to have it. When there are two or more in our party we split up the gear (like fire starters, water purification and food stores) and one takes the footprint while the other packs the tent, that way if there's a separation the second person can make a quick shelter if need be. It's also great on protracted afternoon showers to create a quick retreat where we can fix lunch and enjoy the surroundings.

john
Apr 03, 2012

the idea of using a tent footprint under your tent is asking to make your tent into bath tub. water driving by a little wind or where part of the footprint is exposed causes water to fill the space between the the footprint and the bottom of the tent. no tent bottom is of totally water proof for long.(micro holes caused by sand) A better and cheaper idea is to cut a piece of plastic to fit the inside of the tent. This layer can be replaced as needed. so you will a thicker replaceable water proof layer between you and the ground

Jim
Apr 03, 2012

You do not need the grommets in your plastic sheet footprint to help protect the bottom fabric from wearing out sooner, just cut it so it matches the bottom. If you want to use the above idea keep in mind that most footprints use nylon straps so the only the strap goes to the pole. This helps keep it from collecting water. If you want to use the above idea with plastic sheet you should consider trimming only a thin width of plastic out to the pole and reinforcing this area with either clear packing tape or duct tape before installing the grommet.

Brian Preston
Apr 03, 2012

I am disappointed at the print option for these wonderful tips. There's way too much white space and pointless icons (I get that you have to sell ads to stay in business) so the print-outs are about twice as long as needed--wasting the trees I want to see when I hike. Your online print options need to be reconsidered and streamlined.

Eliza Winters
Jan 09, 2012

Thanks for all the great tips on how to care for outdoor adventure products. Getting all of the gear can be a huge investment and it is a shame that people do not care for it well enough and end up buying new equipment every year. I would rather invest in lasting equipment than spend more, in the end, repurchasing cheaper products.

http://relivetheoutdoors.com

Chris
Aug 01, 2011

As an added step to the hydration bladder hanging tip, instead of wrapping the rough edges with duct tape, use a open flame to melt the rough edges to create a smooth tip.

Brandon
Apr 15, 2011

I've found that washing my sack, sleeping bags, mats etc by hand with no or light detergent like organic soaps with out caustic chemicals then I hang dry my items until bone dry then put away. Sometimes with dryer sheets or ceder blocks sandwiched in. But this is not required for neutral smelling gear.

rr
Mar 01, 2011

@ Joe Jul 20, 2010 MiraZym helps really well against mold/mildew on sleeping bags/tents/pads

Joe
Jul 20, 2010

Anyone know how to get rid of mold/mildew on sleeping bags/tents/pads?? I had some mold start growing in my basement, and of course it was where my equipment was. Any ideas on cleaning my equipment without destroying my equipment? Thanks!

ryan b.
Apr 29, 2009

When cleaning a hydration system, pull out the hose from the balader, with a pair of pailers, so you can clean the whole hose,

hoosurdaddy
Apr 27, 2009

Contemporary fabric softeners tend to be based on quaternary ammonium salts with one or two long alkyl chains, a typical compound being dipalmitoylethyl hydroxyethylmonium methosulfate.[2] Other cationic compounds can be derived from imidazolium, substituted amine salts, or quaternary alkoxy ammonium salts. One of the most common compounds of the early formulations was dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride (DHTDMAC). I looked it up. see Wikipedia cut n paste. no animal fat here.

Jefferson
Mar 03, 2009

Under "Pole problems (Online Bonus" it should read "splint the broken pole," not "split the broken pole."

sol
Feb 04, 2009

no, eric's right - the first posting says mentions washing in a top-loading washer. the second posting specifically says to never do this. (the second is the right one; never wash a sleeping bag in a top-loading washer)

Sean Columbus OH
Jan 19, 2009

A point about dryer sheets, the main ingredient in them is rendered animal fat (look it up people) so you may smell pretty good to a bear. In areas with uber predators, keep smell to a minimum, in camp and on your person.

oki
Dec 14, 2008

Uhm, not really Eric. It just says to wash them.. sparingly. And then it tells you how. :B

And no, Anon, I don't think dryer sheets would attract bears. They smell more chemically than delicious or even edible.

Anyway, this article is great! Wow, so many tips. I suppose it's okay to store bags and pads rolled/stuffed if they're clean and dry and in a dry indoor closet, right? Plus my Thermorest doesn't have foam.

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