Sunday, February 02, 2014

Winter Overnighter

Last night I did an overnighter with a friend and his daughter, outside of Pottstown, in SE PA.

We dragged our gear up to the camp using kid's sleds.

On the sled is my Ridge Rest foam mat, East German combat pack containing long johns, socks, and my PCU Level 5 soft shell pants, Swiss poncho, my USGI MSS, a folding camp chair, axe, H&R 20 gauge shotgun, and hunting vest. We wound up not doing any hunting, and I didn't need the extra clothes, but it was still better to have them just in case.

We built a long fire although we didn't use it to heat our shelters. It still made a nice fire to sit in front of and gave off a lot of warmth. You can see the pot and lid from my Swedish mess kit in the lower right. I used it to melt snow so we had warm water for cleaning dishes, etc.

Dinner was beans and franks cooked in a dutch oven my friend dragged up, and some hot dogs grilled on a Biolite stove belonging to another friend who couldn't sleep over. I didn't get any good pics of these.

Here's the hootch I slept in. It's a USMC field tarp over my MSS. Under the MSS I had a Big Agnes insulated air matress, Ridge Rest foam pad, a USGI casualty evacuation blanket, and snow. :) The air mattress, foam pad, and casevac blanket provided plenty of insulation from the cold ground. I used the sled to partially block off the side of the shelter near my head.

To hang the shelter I used 550 cord tied through the bungee loops that come with the USMC field tarp. This allows the tarp to give a bit if there is a gust, although I didn't have to worry about that last night. When prepping for the trip I cut a half dozen 3' pieces of 550 cord especially for this purpose. I used plastic tent stakes through bungees to secure the back of the lean-to.

Since I'm in my 40s I had to get up in the middle of the night. ;) I noticed that the underside of the tarp had a lot of condensation on it. In the morning the top side had a good coating of frost, too. It got down to about 25*F but I was warm in this setup. We didn't have much wind and it mostly came from the direction in back of the tarp.

My friend and his kid slept in this 3 season Coleman tent. Even though it's extremely well ventilated it too had a lot of condensation in the morning.

I told my friend's daughter to look like she was enjoying the zombie apocalypse this morning.

Finally, I got to try out my Kovea Spider stove under field conditions. The temp was around freezing when I took this pic.

We also used the stove to boil water for oatmeal in my friend's Kelly Kettle. To do so we had to fold the legs slightly so that the KK would fit over it, but it worked great. We'd normally use twigs like the KK is designed for, but all the wood was wet, so this made it a lot easier.

It was a fun night out and a good gear test. The USMC field tarp isn't as light as some civilian tarps, but it is very rugged. It's a good size for sheltering one person and has snaps, so you can attach more than one if you need to make a larger shelter. This was my first time trying the MSS in an open shelter and it also worked great. I wouldn't want to carry it far due to its weight but if you don't need to hump it, it's probably one of the best deals available in rugged outdoor gear.

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