(Note: I haven’t written here in a while, so I thought I should write something, even if it is just a rant.)
I can’t tell you how often it is that when I can’t comfortably sit outside for long periods of time, I want to be outside the most.
Winter, if nothing else, is the time of year when I am most likely to make camp gear lists. (When I want things that I can’t necessarily afford, I make lists of things I can’t necessarily afford. It’s kind of not at all like having those things.) My camping gear lists inevitably include things that match at least one of a few criteria:
1. Military surplus. (My favorite is the canteen cup stove kit)
2. Ultralight things (titanium spork anyone?)
3. Things that have multiple uses. ( I hear this is junk, but I want one.)
Inevitably, I pounce (electronically) on anything that matches #3, especially if it matches #3 and one or both of the others. I usually stumble upon these items when they have either been discovered to be complete crap, or when they are still in development. Oh I wish I wish I were one of those bloggers who get sent expensive camping gear to try out in exchange for online reviews. Those companies would get very positive reviews simply because I am incredibly easy to please, haha.
Anyhow, lately I have been on a kick of checking out shelter related items. That is partially that until recently I had only a teeny tiny tent that doesn’t pack away all that compact. Naturally, I found the following two awesome concepts.
The JakPak was the first item I found. It seemed cool, though reviews online varied. At the same time I found a conceptual design for one called Vessel, which may appear even more promising. Note that the JakPak is now commercially available and I still want one, but can’t afford one. The question of whether the Vessel will ever be commercially available or not is more confusing now than it was in the past as far as I can tell. They have added other products, but apparently they are all conceptual. Admittedly, these shelters are not big either, but they aren’t nearly as bulky as the tiny tent I now own.
More recently I stumbled on alternatives to the Vessel and JakPak. Some alternatives, including this modified camo military poncho (ignore the goofy stuff at the bottom, haha) actually appear affordabe enough to start with. The traditional military pup tent from various global armed forces has also been sometimes used as a poncho in times of war, though it has many limitations. On the military front, however, what I really want is not a shelter (Okay, maybe just this one), but the incredibly well received Extreme Cold Weather four part sleep system used by US military. That, too, is expensive, though I think I need one for my backpack, and one for my emergency car kit.
I had never thought about the potential of multipurpose, compact camping gear for the homeless. Luckily, someone did. In Australia they have this great Backpack Bed which was designed for the homeless, but has seriously cool potential (and a high pricetag for casual users). This would also go great in my vehicle emergency kit. Better yet is the brilliant coat that turns into a sleeping bag! The site is currently only really organized to purchase these coats for those in need, but I guess it is getting interest from casual wearers that might boost it into commercial sales (which look like they would be affordable). Better yet, it employs those in need to make them! (This woman should join forces with the Backpack Bed folks to make a modular sleep system). That jacket should be in the trunks of every person living in the cold northern states.
Needless to say, much of this is just a case of wanting things that I don’t have and often can’t afford. On the other hand. When my vehicle decided to die on me this year, I was given the chance to purchase a new one for a nice price. In checking out the vehicle, I opened the back tailgate (since it has a tonneau cover) and discovered a tent inside. Upon closer inspection, the bag it was supposed to be in was corroded, with a bad zipper (I switched bags immediately). All the poles were present though. I put it up, cleaned it out, checked it for problems, and found that the only problem is a missing rainfly (which I can replace with a piece of tarp easily).
Now, I can’t say that owning a much larger tent will keep me from making camping gear lists during this long winter, but I can at least shrug and say “Meh, I have a good enough tent for now.” On the bright side, my tiny one-person tent now has a permanent home behind the seat of my truck, right alongside much of the other emergency gear.
It’s good to be spoiled. Now I just need to get out camping when everything warms up.