Saturday, December 30, 2017

Southern Highlands

Bunnings Toplift Trunk Trolley Courier
Headed off for a few days to test some gear and to explore the area where I was to camping a bit more. The gear test happened, the explore - no so much.  I'd forgotten about holidays. There seemed to be some events happening so I mostly stayed to one corner of the area and watched the passing traffic.

Gear tested:

The cart is small - not much larger than a "seniors shopping cart".  It has done a few trips with me about the suburbs, though, with how I load it, it looks less like a shopping cart, and more like a homeless persons'.

The main reason for using this cart is it is not much larger than a shopping cart and that it can fold down. A bonus is that  wheels are gel filled - so no punctures. It has a weight capacity of 200kg, but my load was more modest.  The picture to the left shows it with 20 litres of water capacity on the bottom and my newish pack sitting on top. On the outbound trip there was nothing strapped on the outside.  But the sudden realisation just at 5am that I had less than an hour to pack and make my way to the distant train station, meant packing shortcuts. Surprisingly nothing fell off while running on bush tracks and corrugated dirt roads.

The cart worked surprisingly well.  Total load was approximately 40kg including the cart.  The 8" wheels handled the bitumen and dirt roads, soft sand and across country hauling without too much resistance. Larger wheels are better and I had hopped, but the larger diameter wheeled carts didn't fold and were much larger and heavier.  Pushing the cart was preferable. But pulling was better over rough ground or on steep uphills. I was able to easily drag the cart fully loaded over downed trees. The downside of pulling was it was best to be facing backwards and pulling the cart. Facing forward and pulling the cart behind - unless done always with two hands on the cart, resulted in a twisting force on the body. My knees complained after I pulled it one handed over obstacles. 

More thought is needed on the cart use for offroad use.  I liked not carrying the weight. But the cart weight is fixed and moving it involved a certain amount of effort and course selection. With less gear, could I have carried the my gear and water, and not had the cart?  I plan to repeat the trip soon - while the weather is similar and test the idea.

My newish 65L pack was an $80 impulse buy. Initially it seemed an great deal. With more time and use, I have some dissatisfaction with it. One issue is that to use the outside pockets - unless for small items - they require space from the main body of the pack.  From the above picture - if the main body of the pack was packed tight - then the water bottle would not fit. I could (and might) cut the fabric and add more material in to stop this.  The rear mesh pocket is so small as to be almost useless.  I added several tap loops and elastic cord to be able to hold items in this pocket. There are other pockets - that also remove space from the internal body of the pack - not so handy I think. Added weight without much benefit. The internal frame is a solitary stay in the center of the pack. While this seemed okay at first, it doesn't distribute the weight as well as having two stays. I've thought of moving the centre stay and adding a second, but haven't yet. It may be better to just replace this pack than do to extensive modifications.  I did however make some other small modifications.  It had a small pocket on the side of the hipbelt. I cut this off and reattached it further forward on the belt. Where it was located, my arm hit it with each swing of my arm. My greatest addition was to the base of the pack where I crafted a pouch with several velcro closing pockets. It added three separate carry locations.  Unfortunately, while it seemed a great idea, and took me a long time to sew up, using it wasn't so great. The material was too heavy for what was needed, and the velcro not easy to open and close.  I removed it on returning as it added too much weight for little benefit. I'll have another attempt using lighter fabric and either elastic closures or a zipper.

My sleeping bag from the Bibbulmun track walk had a meeting with the scissors. I nearly always use a sleeping bag like a quilt - as I move about a lot and find zipped up sleeping bags too confining. It weighted 1067 grams without the stuff sack. (I don't use the stuff sack.) After meeting the scissors, it weighted 683 grams. I cut off the hood, zippers and zipper baffles to turn it into a flat quilt. While on the camp, I sewed the foot box up again. I found I liked having a foot box. Without it, I kept poking my feet out the bottom.  I didn't add straps to hold the quilt down  - so more care was needed rolling over.  The zipper and baffles did help keep the edges of the bag down. I might add straps in the future. I might also add a closure for the top.  I like the lighter weight of the quilt, but as I'm still using it with a lap rug when the temps drop towards (and below) 10C, there is still room for improvement here.  It will do for summer use with temps greater than 10C.

The other gear change was not taking gear. Even so, with culling down what I wanted to take, I still ended up with necessary gear adding weight and bulk. Sitting in my shelter on the second night looking at the stuff I had, too much of it was unnecessary. I keep packing "comfort items" - items that I don't really need, don't add comfort, add weight and bulk, but that seem vitally important when thinking about what "might be needed". 

Next time - take less.