Monday, March 17, 2014

Helinox Lightweight Walking Poles

Oh boy, I have hit the jackpot here. I thought I was on to a winner with the Fizan walk poles and have used these for a couple of years. These weigh in at 185gms each. But just got my Helinox - these are soooo light and collapse to 52cms!!

Stumbled on to these through sheer luck, I was looking to buy a Stick-Pic (more about that later) for my Fizan poles to accommodate my camera, but the supplier said the Fizan pole was one, of the very few, they do not fit to. I started to hunt around the web for the ultimate lightweight pole that can take the Stick-pic. Found Helinox out of Australia

Here's my logic: In planning for a PCT long thru hike. I feel, given a 70% cell phone coverage, carrying a smart phone would make sense, However, power supply was a major draw back. Enter the Suntactics solar S5 charger (234gms) - a separate review on this after next tramp and field test. Now I could do away with my Samsung light camera (185 gms) and use the iPhone (141gms).

I also needed a way to attach the iPhone (camera) to my hiking poles to take video and photos when by myself and on the move. This is done via the Stic-pic (11gms)  and a smart phone holder (50gms) - the Glif

OK, are you getting a bit confused now!

Here's the benefits...

No more spare batteries, camera, maps. Take the iPhone, that's all you need. It has a torch app or get the "core" power unit for the Petzel headlight that can be charged off the Suntactics Solar unit.

The iphone also gives me email, internet, music (with lightweight earphones - 14gms) and through a host of APPS many other "delights" like weather, GPS, compass, stars etc etc.

Here's the weight breakdown:

Helinox Poles - 150gms each - replace my Fizan at 185gms each
iPhone - 141gms - replace camera at 185gms, but a huge range of additional benefits with built in maps, GPS, emergency contact, email, music, lighting, time, alarms, loading pics and reports to blog/FaceBook/Google+ etc.
Stick-Pic and iPhone holder - 61gms
Suntactics solar power supply - 232gm - no spare batteries

Here are some pictures - I will be "road testing" this set up April 10 weekend in Nelson and Easter Weekend on Stewart Island, but I do insist I am concentrating here on a one month plus thru-hiking with cell coverage 70% of the time.

Suntactics Solar Charger
Suntactics with UBS

Helinox Poles
StickPic with



Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Power Pot

This has got to be the most ingenious hiking invention ever - the Power Pot. Light a fire, put the pot, full of cold water near the flames, plug in cord to your iphone (or any UBS chargeable device) as the water heats up your device charges. It is quite heavy though at 500g.

I think I will stick to my Suntactics at around 250g. But if your interested check it out at

PS: Just tested my Suntactics today. Review on the way

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Lightest Poop Scoop on the Planet

OK, to hell with the weight, I'm going "green".

In the early days my bush loo was a hole dug with the heel of my boot. Toilet stops became more "sophisticated" when I started using hiking poles. Now I could scrap a bigger indent. But at the end of the day these disposal techniques were rudimentary and not bush friendly!

Enter the titanium Cathole Scoop. At 17grams it's a small price to pay to ensure my waste gets a decent burial. I love their inclosed instruction of how to use and the benefits to making Poop Soup. A lot of info here that opened my bowels  err I mean eyes to how to best dispose of human waste in the outback.

Check out

Here's a photo of my 18cm Big Dig model - can't wait to make Poop Soup!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gear Research for PCT

Hi All - as you know I am a gear freak and really enjoying my research into my gear needs for the up and coming PCT section hike. Or for ANY hike :-) Let me mention a couple of must haves for the PCT.

Firstly, I have ordered the Suntactics Solar S5 Charger

This CD size charger is getting rave reviews and charges your cell phone, GoPro, Head Torch with core pack etc. With Apps on iPhone you can have the works - GPS. maps, weather, email, music, journaling and more all on one lightweight appliance - so cool! Verizon has 70% coverage on the PCT.

Secondly the Spot Connect. At the size of a cigarette box and 140grams! It bridges the gap when you have no cell coverage and it connect your cell phone to satellite for total cell and App usage. The only issue is it only carries batteries - can't charge directly of the Suntactics charger above. So will need to get the Suntactics battery charger option - blast, a bit more weight!

Another cool feature of the Spot Connect is the blue tooth connection - no need to carry additional cords, not to mention the instant customised messaging system you can set before your hike, Check it out at

Thirdly, the Sawyer mini water filter is the rage of the PCT hiking community. This incredibly lightweight weight filter is fabulous. Read and order it at

Finally the Glif cell phone holder. Allows you to use your iPhone on a Pic Stick to hold your camera or Gif attachment. This will allow you to shoot photos and video on your cell phone with a 360 vista without having anybody to hold the camera/phone.

You can be a solo movie maker and blog on the hike. With Spot Connect and a Suntactics power supply you can upload from your camp site. Only works if you use a walking pole. The Glif attachment to you Pic Stick to hold your mobile phone attachment is at

The Pic Stick in itself will work for your normal camera and I have used this may times. The Glif adds the iPhone ability - do away with camera and have add feature with Apps on your phone!

I'm hooked!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Xmas 2013 Tramp

Check out my "Trips" page in main menu for photos of our recent hike in the South Island

Monday, December 16, 2013


As you may have seen in my gear list, I have been using the Mont Bell blow-up pillow (68g) for a couple of years. This Xmas trip I am trying out the Zpacks stuff sack pillow (47g). Basically this will drop the Mont Bell pillow weight off my pack weight, bar the weight of a small square of fleece. 

Joe at Zpacks has taken the normal cuben stuff sack that I use for holding clothing and sewn soft micro fleece to one half on the inside. You just flip the dry bag inside out as shown below and fill it with your spare clothes and gear to use as a pillow! 

The fleece is more comfortable on your face than the plastic feel of a normal stuff sack. It has the same normal roll top and the seams are all taped, as usual. As with my blow-up, I'll use two strips of velcro to keep the pillow from slipping off my mat (see earlier post on the NEO ultra light mat).

Joe makes these in two sizes for around $US30. See

I will report comfort rating, verses blow-up pillow after Xmas trip.

UPDATE - Following Xmas trip pleased to report pillow worked great. Depending on your clothing inventory, you may want to investigate the larger size? I am OK with medium. I will stick with this configuration for my PCT trip.  

How to Blow Up Your Air-Mat Without Passing Out

Guys - came across this today via Jolly Green Giant's blog replies. It's a classic!! And you don't fill your mat up with condensation. See a video on how to do this at