Category Archives: camping

A quick side step

Even though I still have a lot of trips to process, I decided to make a little side step first. The reason for this is that I get asked a certain question quite often and that is that people wonder about me traveling these regions in France completely solo.

First of all I don’t always travel solo, I have a very dear traveling companion! But when I do travel solo I take precautions.

First of all, I will always let people know where I’m going, second I carry a PLB (Personal Locater Beacon) and third (and most fun) I’m an outdoors guy a.k.a I like being outside with minimal equipment.

The video below is part 1 of a 2 night Hike & Hang (as we call them) and it will give you a glimpse of the way we travel outdoors…and yes when I’m out and about in the woods of France I do carry a firesteel, sturdy knife, a poncho for shelter and “coffee and tea equipment” (this is an insider joke, where coffee and tea in the woods in France has become a must have for the initiated ūüėȬ†)

The video is sadly in dutch and is about a 2 night hike and hang I had here in the netherlands with a very good friend: Johan van Dijk aka Born2Roam.

It shows our shelter but also cooking equipment (part woodstove and part alcohol burner from my side)..so Enjoy and please comment on the video on youtube if you want!

grts
Hans

Just an update

It’s been a while……, it’s been a long while :), but don’t worry I’m stil here.

The new job of course took a lot of my time and the time between the 2 jobs was interesting to say the least!!!

So whatsup? Well I spent some time around Ypres, was (of course) in The argonne in March, and will be around the Hartmannswillerkopf in September (Thats the plan anyway)

Soooo the next thing I’LL need to do is update the blog with my Ypress trips (yes they were 2) and share with you the plans for this fall.

THE BIG RE-SHUFFLE…PART 3

So There it is the re-shuffle part 3.

When this year started I kinda knew where it was going…but..I was wrong ūüėČ (You all already read about the timing and duration of walking14-18 being thrown into a shambles)

I came up with some viable alternatives, but it did mean the actual goal of the hike was totally shot (no other way to put it). Yet as they say “a door closes, but a window opens”..and so it was with me.

A little over 3 weeks ago, a company contacted me with a very short email, pointing out they wanted to set up a contact center, and since they found out about my expertise they wanted to “talk to me”. I googl-ed them..wondered why in the world the wanted to run their own CC, and decided to meet them out of curiosity.

What followed was one of the most innervating conversations about CRM (Customer Relations Management) in my life! I faced 2 men, who didn’t know much about CRM (a financial director and an owner) but damn wel knew how crm would help them ..and THAT was the rare bit..to them CRM was an asset not an expenditure. I can honestly say the drive, determination and vision I saw that day I only ever saw twice (3 times if i count my own views).

Skip forward a week and bit..and you face a challenge and an offer.. hike 3 months on a track that will NOT end where it was planned or pick up the gauntlet…so i picked up the gauntlet (Duh did anyone doubt that one! ūüôā )

Okay!! where is this going to you may ask..well nowhere really. May-September, or April to july walking 14-18 is no longer a 3 or 4 months hike (:-( ), but I will hike, bike, plain, train or automobile it!!! *lest we forget*.

The website and Facebook page will keep following my adventures ūüôā so in stead of one adventure It will be several smaller ones ūüėÄ

The Big re-shuffle…part 2

I still need to work out the details, but it looks like I will be jumping part of the route somewhere in the Champagne area. Not because I’ve been there before, but because from what I have heard it is the least interesting and doesn’t have as much facilities.

I’m not sure where I’ll start the jump and where it will end, but at least that part of the plan is there: In order to make it all happen, I will start and end as planned, but will skip a bit somewhere en route. It means I wont be able to claim I walked the whole of the western front, but at least I traversed it (with part public transport)!

Not at all what i wanted, but sometimes you will have to deal with the devil as they call it.

Grts

Hans

PS: Crap! I just realized 2 things 2 key subscriptions run out in April. 1st of all my spot device, 2nd this URL…not to self..tackle it.

The big re-shuffle

A small, not entirely¬†good update I’m afraid.

Right now this trip is starting to look a little shaky, most of it caused by scheduling problems at work.

Is it fully over? No it isn’t, but it’s been cut by a whole month and will need to start a whole month earlier.

The fact it needs to start earlier is a¬†challenge, but shouldn’t be a showstopper, it just means the¬†nights at the start of the trip will be a lot colder (potentially below zero Celsius…but I have been in France with stunning spring temperatures as well in April), so i will need to make some choices there. Also several camping’s in France may not be opened yet at the start¬†(That I could potentially cover with the more costly B&B’s¬†option)

Changing it from 4 to 3 months however is a bigger¬†issue, it basically means it will be difficult to do the route as i had originally planned. Could it not be done in 3 months? Sure it is not impossible in theory, but it means increasing daily distances substantially and it also means I will not really have time to stay in one area for any length of time to enjoy the sites in more detail…so the trip then would be a footrace to cover the distance and no longer be about the journey, but about the destination….Not what i wanted!

The only other option would be shortening the trip: i.e¬†¬†starting halfway¬†or skipping parts. I¬†don’t know what I’ll do with it yet, basically it changes everything about the trip.¬†Right now skipping the less interesting (or already seen) parts seems to be the best option, since it doesn’t change what the trip was originally all about¬†so much, but it will make planning more complex, since at certain parts of the hike I will have to find some form of (public) transport to skip ahead.

All in all I need time to think and go back to the drawing-board, the original plan is simply no longer an option.

I guess it’s safe to say I’m bitterly dissapointed ¬†and feel just ¬†empty right now after preparing for¬†well over a year, but if it means the difference between changing plans and not going at all, I know what avenue to investigate.

Stay tuned…walking 14-18 isn’t dead yet…just down for a sec.

grts
Hans

Synchronosity

So here i am tonight out on what they call a farmers camping.¬† A weird place really, this one takes care of pensioned horses. Tomorrow is another JJ outing but that’s far from my mind

I’ve met this catlady (Dawn), she takes care of all the small animals here, a lovely old lady..I Guess in a way she’s a trailangel since she’s been offering me warm blankets and a couch to sleep on (which i didnt need ūüôā after seeing my seatosummit DUO that I was using as a shelter and¬†a fresh egg for Tomorrow … Ever so sweet!

So a simple camp out becomes that little bit more…

You go out with next to nothing and by connecting you get so much more!

Camp routine

Last week I spent a whole week in north east France strolling through the WW1 battlefields, as usual it was fantastic and what we had planned to see didn’t come close to what we actually got to see :)…but that’s part of the game, as is managing to slip and trip and fall over, which I seem to do at least once on all my trips there, again with no consequence bar a scratch, a bruise and a dent in my dignity. (one day I will pay attention to that liltle voice in my head when it tells me that slope could be slippery)

But that is not what this entry is about, but its about camp routine

What¬†I mean with camp routine is not just setting up your camp, that¬†I could not practice since our base camp was¬† a B&B, from which we made our trips everyday for a week deep into the woods in France looking for those forgotten traces of the war. Camp routine is also comming back to your base, taking your shoes and socks off, rincing out clothes and swapping into the “dry gear”.

And that is what I experimented with and even though i had been told what and how to do it, I was thourougly surpised on how well it worked. The weather we had was fine, not extremely hot yet, but when you are clambering up and down steep slopes, through threnches and undergrowth plenty of sweating is done (and again the first two days I learned how much water you actually loose and how not drinking enough will come back at you).

So what was the routine:

  1. Get out of the clothes you wore during the day (duh!)
  2. Rince feet with cold water (ow goodie that feels goodie)
  3. thourougly rince (and soak!) socks, T-shirt and (once every few days) shirt
  4. wring swirl and slap as much water out of your washed clothes as you can and hang it all up
  5. loiter at the bar till dinner was served (or in  a outdoor situation, cook dinner)

So what was the result?
Well very good actually, both my T-shirt and shirt would be dry or as good as dry the next morning, during the whole week I did not use any soap whatsoever, just rincing and soaking for 10 to 15 minutes did the job and the T-shirt and shirt stayed perfectly fresh.

The socks needed more time, they would not be dry the next morning and¬†I wouldnt wear slightly damp socks knowing I would have to do 15 to 20 kilometers¬†that day,¬†so 3 pairs is a must, two is cutting it to fine¬†since my feet are my main asset for 4 months in 2015¬† (in summer with warm temperatures¬† the socks probably would dry, but the added weight of one extra pair is not worth the agony ;). also¬†I noticed that just rincing and soaking on socks may not be enough (yes.. sorry ladies¬†us guys do smell our clothes just to check :P). The socks were fresh-ish but not as fresh as the T-shirt. Where I can now safely say i could use the rince/soak routine for months on a t-shirt and it will work, I’m not sure on it sockwise, a litle soap is probably better in that case…which brings me to soap..

Soap: I’ve known this for quite a while now, but a different soap for showering, and one for your hands/washing, and one for your clothes and one for shaving and one for doing the dishes etc. is just BS!..trust me it trully is. A simple block of (unperfumed) soap worth 90 cents is all you need. It wil take care of all your cleaning needs!

Last but certainly not least: washing oneself, we (western humantiy) trully  seem to have gotten realy lazy on that part, I had the luxury of a shower in in my room for sure,  but ffs whats wrong with a cloth/your hands, some soap (yes that same cheap block) and some care, 5 minutes later you are all fresh, presentable and not offending anyone!

A couple of notes:

  • My clothes are hi-tech outdoor materials, cotton or wool would certainly take longer to dry
  • If you run into a week long downpoor it’s going to be a challenge no matter what

Did I learn anything?
Of course I did! Mainly what I thought would work, actually did (isn’t that nice ūüôā ? ) and I may be switching my routine to wearing one,¬†¬†drying one, to: one wearing while hiking and one wearing in camp ( more of a jungle setup). Both systems are very close, but are different in principle.

And that’s it for this entry, this time not a lesson from failure, but from success, which is always great:)

Regards

Hans

PS: Yes I will blog pictures from my latest trip, but that is for a later blog!

 

Cooking Equipment (and some gear in general)

Last weekend¬†I spend a night outdoors, with 2 good friends, it was just a “hangabout” but since I’ve been swapping so much gear around, for me it was also a gear test.

The main thing I’m always fooling around with is cooking gear, most importantly “burners” (pots and pans are easy. I’m moving to titanium nowadays, but aluminium is easy to get to and all you need to do is figure out what size pot(s) you need)

I do strugle with the combo burner>>windshield>>potstand though. Years ago I started with the wellknown Trangia, it’s a great alcohol stove, cheap as chips, and works consistantly everytime, but it’s quite heavy. Also it needs a separate windshield and potstand, which adds weight and packing volume. I started out with the UL 27 set and o be honest there isnt anything wrong wih it but I want it lighter and a LOT smaller.

So for some years I have been experimenting..penny stoves, cutting two aluminium strips to create a potstand, using big nails as a potstand….combining a honeystove with a trangia (good combo actualy but finicky putting it together) etc etc etc.

It all kinda worked, some worked better than others, but it wasnt the “next great thing” and common sense told me..trangia won again.

On my quest for the next cookkit I bought the Evernew Apelachian trail set. It’s a nice compact light titanium set, which is multifuel (alcohol, wood, esbit) and it all pakcs away in the 500 ml pot…great!!! It comes with it’s own alcohol burner ( a trangia type model) and a base/windscreen which doubles and a hobo stove and esbit burner (I never tried the esbit bit, because cooking on esbit for me is kind of a last resort thing)..so how did it perform?

Well the actual hobostove/windscreen bit I really like, it’s small not to hard to assemble, it seems sturdy enough and does what it needs to do…kinda. How about the alcohol burner you probably ask? The evernew titanium stove works..no doubt about it, and at 35 grams compared to the 100 grams trangia, we’re in bussines you’d think. It lights quick, it blooms like a monster and pours out heat..aaaaand that were it looses from the trangia…big flames everywhere lots of nice warmth, but that also means it takes over 30 ml of “spiritus” to heat a simple pot of 450 ml of water, add to that the fact you cannot use a simmerring, or the fact there is no decent way to blow it out (no you cant trust me) and poor the¬†leftover alcohol back¬†into your fuel bottle¬†and even the most diehard gear freak (like me) once again has to admit…the good old 1960’s trangia wins again!! ( to the guys of Evernew..redesign you titanium burner with a screwlid top so I can save on fuel I’m¬† not using and can pack the thing topped off in my pack..add a simmerring if you like, but there are ways around that..please..pretty please)..so the evernew titanium alcohol burner was out, sadly..

Bummer..now what..google, google, browse browse, youtube youtube and hey! up popped the vargo triad!. Tiny , has its own potstand, lightweight at 26 grams, alcohol you don’t use just poor back into your bottle (yeh right!..see where this is going?)..so H hit that “buy now” button, paying was easy enough, as it always is ūüôā and two weeks later everything arrived (2 weeks because in that order was also my ULA Ohm 2 which wasn’t in stock..great backpack)

Happy happy happy, it all arrived about 45 minutes before i was scheduled to leave the house for the “hangabout”, about as perfect as can be. Initial tests on a picknick table were promissing during lunch , though¬†I way overfilled it, but it bloomed, it cooked..it flaired.. it spit..it growled¬†and spewed (did i mention some people warned me about this damned thing?). Pooring fuel back was like hit and miss but hey! 50% saved is 50% right (I still blamed myself for over filling it..JOHAN STOP LAUGHING!!!). Later that night I filled it more carefully, remembering the instructions and the youtube vids, and the result was? YUP, 30 minutes to cook 400 ml of water, it took 15 minutes to bloom pooring back was still a b*&ch..but at least it didnt spit, growl and spew at me. Back home¬†I did some carefull tests, basically to cook on this thing you have to balance intricatly between filling and overfilling, results may vary, but when it blooms like it is supposed to, it works and works well, and don’t bother with the “pooring back”, just toss it. The manufacturer talks about 44ml to fill and prime, forget it, its like 70ml to fill and prime! Shame on you vargo!

So now what? Well the apalachian set but with the old trangia burner is a good combo! So if you want to spend the money by all means spend the money on the DX set as they call it, don’t bother with the burner, but what aboout the Hobo stove bit of it? To be honest it’s tiny and that worried me and¬†I was right, but I dont want to burn that litle set down (pun intented). The smaller the stove the harder it is to get a hobo stove to work and the the DX stand is no exeception. It does it’s job and has enough air for it’s size judging by the ammount of soot on my pot, but it trully cannot handle anything above 2x pencil size (and that’s pushing it), it cooked my 400ml of water, it took 20 minutes, but it worked as you should expect from something that small (but to be honest do we really need a hobo stove?).

So the end result is? DX stand, with a trangia combo, yep that works. with the rest don’t bother and save yourself some money.

Is there any light on the horizon for us diehard alcohol cookers? wel actually there is, yesterday I finally got around to building a “Fancy feast wick stove” and this looks promising, about 15 ml of alcohol to cook 450 ml of water in about 10 minutes, it has it’s own postand and it’s light! Slap a cheap ass windscreeen around it and you are good to go. It’s simple, not sure if it would last 4 months on the trail, but initial tests (see pic below) does seem to indicate it works..I will be testing this one some more!

Image

 

So that’s where we are at cooking wise ūüôā but what about the rest of the gear test? Well that was about shelter.

My dd Hammock has double layer that could fit a insulation mat, but i was “hangabout ” with my ticket to the moon. Why you want to know? well because it’s smaller and lighter and a mat in the hammock is the same as a mat in between two layers right? ..no it bloddy well isnt! Within 5 minutes my hammock tossed me out with my sleeping bag, and neolite mat and¬†I landed on the (soft) forest floor..it was vey gentle landing I must admit ūüėČ

Luckily Alex handed me a thin light radiator foil type insulation to try out earlier and yes it worked, but it wasnt quite enough for an early march night, the night was doable but cold (definitely a lil very much cold..JOHAN STOP LAUGHING!) 

And that ladies and gentlemen was weekend “hangabout” with quite a lot of failure and therefore succesfull..better find out now that next year right ? ūüėČ

Cheers

H

 

 

 

 

Packlists

When going on an extended hike, it all boils down to packlists, here is mine for now, still designed around 1 small week solo without support (with water for 1 to 2 days depending on conditions, and food for a week), it still needs some work since it totals at 21,5 kilograms and a bit which is quite a lot!

The food is just a random selection of what one could have around, the redlines are areas where i’ve just made guestimates for weights (so im probably a little below 21,5 kilo’s, but it will do for now.

Areas where there can be improvements are Tool/ict,packing and shelter (I have some ideas for that). Also¬†I can loose some weight in the cooking category by swapping out all nalgene’s by platypus’s

Yes most of it is in ductch, but where it’s not obvious…google is your friend ūüėČ

Kooking
1 firesteel
2 aansteker
1 schuursponsje
1 trangia brandstoffles vol
1 waterfilter inc boek+hoes
1 titanium 500ml pot
1 Ultralight Titanium DX Stand (EBY-257
1 microfgripper
1 trangia brander
1 folding cup
1 folding fork
1 folding spoon
1 platypus
1 Nalgene standaard
1 nalgene folding bottle 1L
1 zelfbouw snijplankje
1 opvouwbord
1 grote zakdoek KL
1 trangia koekenpan + greep van de set hierboven
Shelter
1 hammock
1 treehuggers
1 hoes van tarp
1 Tarp groen
1 slaapzak
1 slaapmat
1 Zak + patch van matje
8 tentharing alu
1 plastic voor op de grond
1 kussen
1 zitmatje
Clothing
1 Reflectiv hesje
1 sea2summit poncho
1 haglof tshirt
1 haglof tshirt
1 overhemd lange mouwen
2 onderboek odlo
1 onderboek odlo
1 outdoorbroek
1 outdoorbroek
1 wandelsokken
2 wandelsokken
1 Wandelschoenen
1 paar slippers
1 zonnebril
1 tropenhoed
1 buff col
1 microfleece
regenjas
Tools/ICT
1 rugged phone
4 aa batterijen
1 trekking poles per paar
1 hoofdlamp
1 Fenix e1
1 roll ducktape
1 ipad mini
1 goal zero leeg
1 Nomad 7
1 usb kabel
1 stekker USB uitgangs spanning
1 Mora compagnion
1 Victorinox
2 10m paracord
1 GPS + hoes
landkaarten
1 iphone
1 DC4
1 Rugzak
1 8L sea2summit drybag
1 35L sea2summit drybag
1 20l sea2summit drybag
1 casio PRW-5000T-7ER
1 kompas
1 schepje
Hygiene/ehbo
1 Tandenborstel
1 microfiber handdoek
1 Scheermes
1 rol wc papier
1 blok zeep
1 potje vaseline
1 EHBO Klein
1 Kneebrace
1 rescue blanket
1 talkpoeder
camfor spray
1 antimug
Various
1 bankpas
1 randomreader
1 creditcard
1 plastic fluitje
1 Velden van weleer
1 zorgverzekeringspas
1 reisverzekeringspas/info
Food
1 Pak zilvervlies rijst
1 blik ravioli
1 pak gedroogde tortelini
3 water per liter
10 Hero n between
8 hardkeks
1 unox hamburgers