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Messages - Jimbo James

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1
Other Winter Camping Gear / Re: Multi-Tools , good, bad or ugly
« on: March 14, 2009, 05:32:16 pm »
I bought a Swiss Army knif about 18 years ago and have taken it on every skiing and climbing trip I have been on so far.

It is one of the big, chunky ones with about 20+ 'blades' on it and in excess on 30 functions.  However, I have only ever used about two thirds of them (mostly the cork screw, bottle opener and tin opener...).  I still take it though because it is relatively light, compact and easy to carry in my backpack.

If I was to go on more camping trips and spend longer periods of time a greater distance from civilization than I usually do, I would definitely swap it for something bigger, more robust with fewer excessive, 'luxury' features.  A bigger saw for one thing!

Some sort of multi-tool is a God send to have, just in case.

James

2
Other Winter Camping Gear / Re: Advice on making my own 'Mukluk' boots
« on: March 11, 2009, 06:53:03 pm »
WOW!

Thanks for all that advice everyone!

My leather has come and I have tried a few patterns in card and paper (newspaper wrapped around my foot rather than a carrier bag).  The leather came out relatively thick, most of it is thicker than 3mm, and although it is lovely and soft it is way too thick to pucker up like in some plans.

I've had a good look for some rubber overshoes but can't find them big enough.  Yet.  Keeping searching on that front in case MK1 does not end up so good....

MK1 version so far has thick, tough hide for a sole (5-6mm ish) and then the softer leather built up as sort of side walls to about ankle height.  This has been stitched to the soles.  The vamp parts have proven to be a bit of a pig to fit due to the thicker leather but I think they have gone on ok.  At them moment they are simply stitched on but I hope to put another thinner leather strip over the top of them to hide the join and for aesthetics.  The overall effect of the bottom section is a little 'boxy' still but I think it will soften around the edges with wear.

A combination of laces/buckles around the lower ankle and laces/elastic bungee chord up the front will hopefully keep them on.

Now all I need is for some canvas to arrive (ordered on Monday) and I can try and sort the upper sections.

I've sourced some 'Vibrim' (?) soles.  These don't have that much tred but they are roughly 12mm thick in the toe area and 18mm in the heals and it is all a very high density foam rather than solid rubber.  Nice and light and some insulation too!

If I can figure out how I will post some pics as they progress.  Of course, suggestions are always welcome!

James

3
Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Rough/ruff question to answer
« on: March 10, 2009, 03:59:42 am »
Hi,

Just my two penny's worth...

I have been looking into shipping hides and fur from the US or Canada to the UK to make my mukluks from.  Now I've given up and am having to source them from over here - the paperwork for shipping hides and fur and tax fees are simply crazy for one guy doing a personal project.  I can only assume that it would be the same story if I was to try and get a pelt to you, but considering that I can only get coyote pelts from your neck of the woods anyway that option all seems a bit daft.  Option 2 is out then, for me at least.

Sewing my own via a kit is an option (I am quite handy with a needle and thread these days) but I'll never be as good as those who work for you.  There will be a definite quality issue I think.  And again, I have the problem sourcing a pelt.  That's Option 3 out too.

I'm more for option 1 myself.

I've used jackets with and without ruffs, and have had one with a huge ruff and one with a weedy little scruff of furr around the hood.  The first time I used the good ruff I was blown away with the difference it made, and that difference in comfort really did lift my spirits and make the whole trip that much more enjoyable.  On the flip side the weedy little scruff was next to useless, and I've never used that particular jacket with the ruff back on, it's not worth it.

The weedy scruff cost me £40 (about US$55 these days?) while the good one cost just over twice that at about £90 or US$130 ish.  If they were both zippers I would swap between jackets but the weedy one is velcro.

I like the suggestion of standardising your zippers so that extra ruffs could be bought at a later time.  It makes sence.

Personally, I would never want to go out in the cold without a good quality ruff.  If that means paying a bit extra, then so be it.  By the time you think of the years of service that a good jacket and ruff will give, spreading the extra over that time makes it a bit less painful.

James

4
Winter Camping Clothing / Re: Canadian Forces Arctic Mukluks
« on: March 10, 2009, 03:38:59 am »
Hi,

I bought a pair of cold weather boots a couple of years ago and have used them on two trips to North Finland and Lapland.  I got them from a well known on-line auction site (not sure if we can mention names on here...?).  Do a search for Canadian ice boots.  The store that was selling them is UK based and listed them as Canadian Military Surplus, but I don't think they are quite the same as the ones you are thinking of.

I have been delighted with mine.  They were cheap (they cost me £40 including shipping) and have been used for mushing, general plodding about in the snow and snowmobile trips in temps from -5'C to -30'C.  Most of all they are comfortable.  I have had 3 other makes and they all have rubbed and blistered and been generally a pain in the butt.  These ones also have remivable felt liners (silver coated to reflect heat), rubber bottoms (hollow honeycomb structure in the heal and sole but no felt) and 'waterproof' coated nylon uppers, 2 velcro adjustment straps (ankle and calf heights) and a top tie just below the knee.

They might be worth a closer look if you bear in mind that they are 100% synthetic so won't breath too well in high output activities and might not be stiff enough around the ankles to give support over very rough ground.

If you need more info, message me and I will send you a link.

James

5
Other Winter Camping Gear / Re: Advice on making my own 'Mukluk' boots
« on: March 05, 2009, 11:39:55 am »
Thanks for that, Jaunty.

As it happens I have already ordered myself a copy of that book after a couple of other sources also suggested it.  It arrived this morning and has already had a good thumbing!

The patterns look relatively simple, but I see what you mean regarding the thickness of hide versus the complexity of the puckering stitch.  I was thinking of a hide about 2-3mm thick for the lower part of the boot to give good ankle support and I really don't think that a 1/8 inch puckered stitch would be possible in hide this thick.

My other area of concern was how the sizes are given on the plans.  Unless I have mis-read them, the plans are for a 10 inch foot and you just add a bit all round for bigger feet?  [I measure 11.5 inches from heal to toe with no socks so will certainly need a bigger plan!]  Seems a bit random and imprecise to me.  What about the subtle size differences between a 11.25 inch foot and a 11.5 inch foot?  Wear an extra sock, use thicker duffel cloth?

I'm thinking of building the lower section in 3 parts now - thick hide sole, medium hide 'sidewall' and a slightly thinner hide vamp.  This might give a slightly more 'boxy' finish but might get over the puckered stitch / hide problem.  And it will also mean I can stitch or glue a rubber sole to the bottom easilly.

I guess another solution might be to use a similar pattern to the one suggested for the duffel cloth bootie - thick hide sole piece, horseshoe shaped piece of thinner hide for on top of the foot, rectangular heel section and canvas / ventile gaiter stitched on top of it?  Any suggestions why the inner and outer parts have a different construction?

James

6
Winter Camping Clothing / Re: wearing down jacket under an anorak
« on: March 04, 2009, 06:27:33 pm »
From my experience with down jackets I would suggest keeping it as dry as possible under all circumstances.

I have used down a great deal over the years but mainly for winter climbing and skiing, not cold weather walking.  When it is cold and dry there is nothing to beat down for absolute warmth, low weight, easy packing and freedom of movement.  Even in high energy activities I have not sweated up, but my prefered model has a very simple construction and a membrane-free, breathable 'Pertex' outer layer.

When it all goes belly up is when the down gets wet or damp, be that through rain or excessive sweat build up.  The feathers mush together, the air pockets are lost and insulation goes basically to zero. And it takes for ever in a good tumble drier to get it back to normal again.

Some down jackets on the market have Gore-Tex or simialr outer shells (and some from RAB or PHD even have 'waterproof' inner linings too) but these are all synthetic materials which would melt the instant a spark landed on you from the fire.    Add to that the increased risk of sweat build up from the not-so-breathable outer shells when you do exercise, and you are back to square one, but this time you also have holes in the jacket too!

I would suggest a wool or synthetic fleece under your (damp) cotton anorak for use in camp and possibly save the down jacket for very low energy activity away from fires or for sleeping insulation?

James

7
I'm a recent convert, but huge fan, of merano wool.

I bought my first set of tops and long jons a couple or years back and was mamzed by their warmth and comfort.  I've never really got on with woolen jumpers (especially the ones granny knitted for me when I was a kid!) as they were so itchy.  Merano is just so much better! I wear it right necxt to the skin with no worries at all.

My current tops are made by Rohan - a UK based travel clothing manufacturer.  I have also used the 200wt Icebreaker ones but these ones had high collars with a super-fine zipper that failed on both tops after only two trips.  No good at all!  The Rohan ones are crew necks.

What I like about them is not just the warmth and wicking but the way they hug close to you and seem to allow other layers to move over them without rucking up - a pet hate of mine!  I'm sticking with these for for forseeable future, but be aware that if you seek out your own that the sizings are nuts - I usually go for med-large for must upper body layers but need a small for these.

James

8
Winter Camping Clothing / Making my own Mukluk Boots
« on: March 04, 2009, 02:35:01 pm »
Hello all,

I'm new on here, please treat me gently...  I think I might have wrongly posted this in the 'Gear' section.  My appologies.

I'm after some advice and suggestions to help me make my own mukluk-type snow boots and other winter clothing.

My girlfriend and I are planning another trip to north Finland and Lapland later this year when we hope to do a 5 day husky trip.  We have done similar, shorter things over the years and have either rented or borrowed clothing and boots to cope with the severe cold (last time we had daytime temperatures down to -32'C).  However, we have never been particularly comfortable in this gear (who known how many sweaty toes and armpits had been there before ours...?) so for this longer trip we are hoping to source our own gear with a more traditional rather then high-tech approach.  As a bit of a personal challenge, and as a birthday present for Lou, I am hoping to make us a set of boots, mittens and a shell anorak each.

I have done a fair bit of research and background reading / surfing and have some idea about the style of boot I am after - duffel cloth or wool felt liner, leather lower and canvas uppers.  I have found UK sources of felt liner booties (to use as insulation), various hides and canvas / ventile.  As added potection I would also like to add a synthetic rubber sole to my creations.  I know this is not traditional but I would feel happier with them on!

All I need now is some patterns to follow.

If anyone could point me in the direction of websites, books, magazines or individuals who could assist and advise me then I would be very grateful.

Many thanks,

James

9
Other Winter Camping Gear / Advice on making my own 'Mukluk' boots
« on: March 04, 2009, 01:49:01 pm »
Hello all,

I'm new on here, please treat me gently...

I'm after some advice and suggestions to help me make my own mukluk-type snow boots and other winter clothing.

My girlfriend and I are planning another trip to north Finland and Lapland later this year when we hope to do a 5 day husky trip.  We have done similar, shorter things over the years and have either rented or borrowed clothing and boots to cope with the severe cold (last time we had daytime temperatures down to -32'C).  However, we have never been particularly comfortable in this gear (who known how many sweaty toes and armpits had been there before ours...?) so for this longer trip we are hoping to source our own gear with a more traditional rather then high-tech approach.  As a bit of a personal challenge, and as a birthday present for Lou, I am hoping to make us a set of boots, mittens and a shell anorak each.

I have done a fair bit of research and background reading / surfing and have some idea about the style of boot I am after - duffel cloth or wool felt liner, leather lower and canvas uppers.  I have found UK sources of felt liner booties (to use as insulation), various hides and canvas / ventile.  As added potection I would also like to add a synthetic rubber sole to my creations.  I know this is not traditional but I would feel happier with them on!

All I need now is some patterns to follow.

If anyone could point me in the direction of websites, books, magazines or individuals who could assist and advise me then I would be very grateful.

Many thanks,

James

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