Monday, December 24, 2012

My Homemade Hammock Setup

Hello Everyone,
I thought I’d take a few minutes and write up a quick post about my hammock setup I use when I’m out in the woods. It’s a pretty basic setup, just a hammock, tarp and bug netting. The hammock is four yards of rip-stop nylon with an overhand knot tied on each end. It attaches to the trees with two 1“ thick tie downs with the hooks removed from the ends.  That way I can run the tie down around the tree, through the loop and pull it tight. I then just tie it off to the hammock. Tied properly, it has never slipped or fallen.
The tarp is a homemade 10‘x10‘ tarp made out of some sort of nylon material I bought on clearance. It gets strung up above the hammock on a ridge line and staked down on the sides.  The bug netting is just a military surplus cot net that is tied off to the ridge line and around the tie downs loosely.  this allows easy access into the hammock and closes it up around you when your in. That’s it, it takes about fifteen minutes to setup, add a blanket and an inflatable pillow and you have an very comfortable place to sleep. Sleeping in a hammock is great but it does require some practice to get it setup to your liking. As always, before you're in the woods try your setup at home and get all the bugs worked out of it, it will make for a much more pleasant experience in camp. If anyone has any questions...let me know!
Thanks for reading and I hope our paths will someday cross in the woods,
Chris (N.E.V.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Some Thoughts on Emergency Blankets

I was talking to my brother the other day and the subject of emergency blankets came up. I have always encouraged people to have one or two inexpensive space blankets tucked away in their kit.
I also encouraged people to test their kit before they head out to the woods. The inexpensive space blankets that you can buy almost anywhere for just a dollar or two are a good thing to have for emergencies but they do have their limitations.
Their first limitation is their size, if you've ever unfolded one and tried it out you'll find they are not really made for anyone larger than a hobbit. Their second limitation is how noisy they are. I ran into a situation a couple of years ago when we were camping at a canoe in only campsite in the Adirondacks. It was the middle of the night and one of my daughters threw up in her sleeping bag. After getting her cleaned up and the soiled bag hung up, I gave her my sleeping bag and grabbed the emergency space blanket I always have in my kit, unfolded it and attempted to wrap up in it. It was a chilly north woods September night and I proceeded to choose between a warm upper body or a warm lower body. My wife who was sharing the tent with me said it sounded like I was sleeping in a potato chip bag. A much different outcome from when I tested one at home. I was finally able to get a warm nights sleep after my wife helped cover me with the space blanket, a couple of beach towels, a jacket and my tarp. It was not fun.
My wife, being the absolute most wonderful wife in the world, surprised me on Christmas morning that year with the SOL brand 2 Person Emergency Blanket and the SOL brand Emergency Bivy. They are more expensive but are both exceptional products and well worth the cost. after checking them both out I added the bivy to my woods kit and the blanket to my car kit.
I still carry an inexpensive space blanket in my kit because even though they have limitations they do work and they have other uses such as heat reflectors, signaling devices, etc. But I now carry the emergency bivy also. If you choose to carry just the cheaper space blankets, I'd suggest carrying two and enough duct tape to connect them for use as a blanket.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other thoughts or ideas.
Thanks for reading,
Chris (N.E.V.)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pennsylvania Elk Country

A couple of weeks ago we took a trip to Elk Country in Pennsylvania. Living in the Northeast doesn't give us a lot of opportunity to see Elk in their natural habitat. Luckily there's a 127 mile drive through some of Pennsylvania's most beautiful country that has numerous viewing stations where they were reintroduced to the state back in the early 1900's. They now have a pretty sizable Elk population and chances are good that when you take this route, you'll see some of these impressive animals.  Our first stop at a viewing area was a bust, the second one we were able to watch a huge bull elk in the distance with binoculars, but too far away to get good pictures.  While riding down to the Elk Visitor's Center we came pretty much face to face with another very big bull elk who was on the side of the road only a few yards from us, just a little intimidating when you're on a motorcycle. It goes without saying to use caution and pay attention when driving this route. Unfortunately we were not able to get the camera out in time to get a picture and when we turned around and returned to the spot, he was already gone. Although we didn't get any Elk pictures, Here's a few pics are from our travels that day. Hope you enjoy them. We'll be returning to this area soon to do some camping and exploring on foot. It is beautiful country.
Chris (N.E.V.)

View from one of the wildlife watching areas.

Elk Tracks in the Dirt

Typical Pennsylvania Elk habitat

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Into The Woods - available for Kindle and Nook!

Hello everyone,
I've published another bushcraft themed short story for both Kindle and Nook.  It's called "Into The Woods".  It's available for purchase for $0.99 from the links on the upper right corner of this page.  Here's a short excerpt...I hope you enjoy it.
Chris (N.E.V.)

Into The Woods (Excerpt)
Copyright 2012 Christopher M. Charlier

       It didn't end like he expected, in fact, life for most everyone else went on as it always had. There was no meteor strike or power grid failure. No rioting in the streets. Life just went on without him. It wasn't the end of the world as we know it, it was the end of the world as he knew it. It happened so fast, it was almost unbelievable, he had moved to a new town a few months ago, he had a good job, a decent apartment and some money in the bank. And all at once it was gone. His job, his apartment, all gone in a matter of days.

      It started with the flood, it rained for three days straight, not just rained but poured rain. After the second day, while Daniel was at work, the river overflowed and filled his apartment with thick muddy water. He didn't even know there was a problem until the power went out. They sent everyone home, Daniel didn't have a car, he always took the bus to and from work but because of the flooding, no buses were running. A coworker dropped him off as close as he could get him to home. Daniel could see his apartment building, the water was up to the middle of the second floor, his apartment was on the first.  

Friday, July 6, 2012

Views of The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon

A week or so ago, my wife and I decided to combine two of our favorite past times, the outdoors and motorcycling.  We took a ride down to Leonard Harrison State Park just outside of Wellsboro, PA.

The Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is actually the Pine Creek Gorge, and some of the best views are from Leonard Harrison.

It's also nearby where George Washington Sears (Better known as "Nessmuk") lived.  There's a sign in the parking area about him.

Here's a few other pictures my wife took, click on any of them to see them full size...

Google will you all the information you need if you want to learn more about the PA Grand Canyon, It's a beautiful area with a whole lot to do.
Thanks for reading!
Chris (N.E.V.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Video - Super Cheap Cookset

Hello all,
Here's a video I shot on one of my recent trips to the woods on a day hike. It features what I call my Super Cheap Cook set. The sound is a little bit off but I have recently purchased a new camera and hope to post more videos in the near future.
Thanks for watching,
Chris (N.E.V.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Guest Post - The MAlice Pack

Hello all,
Here's a guest post from my good friend Tim.. I hope you enjoy it.
Chris (N.E.V.)

ALICE.  Even the name sounds comfortable.  Like ordering your usual at the hometown diner on a Tuesday morning in November.   ALICE.  All purpose Lightweight Individual Carry Equipment.  Some say she was named Alice so the troops could call her unsavory things.  I disagree.
The Alice pack was designed in 1967 and is still in limited use with the US military today.  The Molle pack has definitely stolen Alice's thunder in recent years.  I am still a huge fan of ALICE gear.  It can be had for a fairly small investment.  It can be upgraded and modified cheaply.  Best of all, if you ruin your Alice, there are plenty of surplus outlets that are happy to send you another.  In other words, they're everywhere.
I purchased a large Alice pack with frame, kidney pad, and straps recently.  I bought this system with the naive expectation that I would be using it in it's stock form forever.  Not true.  I don't believe I have ever left anything that I have purchased in Its stock form- even my 1996 Geo Tracker - but that is a different, and much more embarrassing, post altogether.
I took my first trip with Alice and N.E.V. in August of last year.  She was good to me.  Not great, just good.
 I am a six foot four inch guy who doesn't mind weight on my shoulders.  I definitely felt Alice.  She felt top heavy and not so good on the shoulders even though i had a kidney pad and tried to pack her so the load would be felt on my lower back.  Having used other non-military backpacks before, all I wanted was a sternum strap.  This was not an option.  (ok, sure, EVERYTHING's an option when you have paracord, but it wasn't a pre-installed option.)  The kidney pad was quite inadequate for a guy of my size.  I knew the kidney pad was the first place to look for a comfort upgrade so I went  go out on a limb and ordered a much larger Molle kidney pad for Alice.
 Ok.  Again, it's honesty time.  I ordered this off eBay from a good seller with a badly described Molle kidney pad.  His description made it sound more like a patrol belt.  The pictures did not clearly show me, and the price was great.  I bought it with that intention.  Turns out it was a backpack kidney pad.  It was serendipity.  I installed it on my large Alice and loved it.  It was so much more supportive than the original.  All I had to do was remove the original, use the 2 straps per side on the Molle unit, and strap them to the Alice frame, as seen here in this picture.
 Piece of cake right?
I then started looking into Molle shoulder straps, as I found the smaller Alice units to allow the frame to dig into my back at the top.  I ordered a set of Molle straps from eBay, on purpose this time.  I figured there has to be a way to make them work.  They're only straps.  Besides, they are one unit where the Alice is two small pads.  The Molle unit allows sufficient coverage over the metal frame on the Alice.
After receiving them I removed the old straps from my frame and put these on like so:

The MAlice pack is born.  It's like giving a piggy back ride to a unicorn. yes. It's that much better.  I will need to modify the straps for the main flap so it's a quick release..  I don't like the stock design.
There's nothing new under the sun.  I am definitely not saying I'm the first guy to do this.  I know I am not.  This is just a quick description of how I went about modifying my Alice to work for me.  I hope this write up helps you if you are so inclined to go out into the woods with some ex-enlisted equipment.

Happy trails!