26 August 2010
Field gear that I loved this summer
Posted by Callan Bentley
Here’s some stuff that I used this summer and found to be awesome and well worth investing in.
MSR WindPro camp stove – Unlike most MSR isopro stoves, where the stove screws on top of the squat fuel canister, in this one, there is a little hose that connects the two, side by side. This means it’s MUCH more stable. Having a campstove that’s not tippy is super important — getting scalded by a pot of boiling water is no fun, especially when you’re camped in the backcountry or some other site far from a hospital. Highly recommended. Cheap and lightweight, too!
GSI Pinnacle dualist cook set – A backpacking cook set designed by clever folks who also go backpacking. Everything is high-quality and nests together, with thought given to insulation on the bowls, a dependable handle for manipulating hot pots, and a lid that doubles as a strainer. I was really impressed with this. There is even a rubberized carrying case that can double as a “sink” (or a dog dish, if you take the pooch camping with you?). GSI also offers a “soloist” (smaller cook set) if you go camping by yourself. Highly recommended. The only thing that doesn’t quite measure up are the “sporks” that come with it. I stuck with my Nalgene spoon and fork, and my Swiss Army knife instead.
Belomo 10x triplet hand lens – A huge improvement over the hand lenses I grew up with. It’s bigger and clearer, and if you buy it from geo-tools.com, they include a brilliant neck strap that has a detachable clip. We’ve all been on field trips where people don’t bring their hand lens — this makes the sharing of a lens so much easier — just unclip and pass it over! I also prefer it to my 30x hand lens — which achieves high magnification at the expense of distortion of the image everywhere except the middle. Go get one; you won’t ever look back. Highly recommended.
Have you discovered any new gear lately that you would recommend to others? Let’s hear about it!
I love the MSR stoves. I bought one about 20 years ago, and it still functions great… gasoline, coal oil, alcohol- it will burn anything. Before MSR, I had a Peak 1. It too is a good stove, but if using in sub-zero, one must heat the manifold with a combustible paste. And, that is just extra gear to pack along.
That was one of the selling points of MSR; the cup at the base to heat the stove for cold weather use. Of course, since it is so durable, I just dump a little gasoline on it and light. Then connect the fuel supply. Too, it would boil water in 5 min!
Re: the Belomo. A good lens, no doubt. But, no comparison to a Bausch and Lomb Hastings. I find that the Belomo has spherical aberration problems off axis, but I love the lanyard.
I pack one everywhere, but also in my pack is Plossl 4 element design(25mm) that was intended as an ocular for telescope. They can be picked up cheap, and offer about a 60° apparent field of view. The AFOV and distortion is much less than 3 element designs common to hand lens.
Other great lenses that I have acquired are the optics in the old microfische readers. They can be found at surplus sales for universities and city governments… cheap!
Occasionally, one can find the old zoom models. In those, the focal lengths, that I have found, are about 10-20mm and 20-40mm giving a mag of somewhere around >20x to <10x, but the AFOV is only about 40°.
Too, the ones that I have come across have threads that fit 1.25" OD plumbing fixtures, so the can double up as a nice variable eye piece for your scope.
I am crazy about the Cocoon Grid-It organizer and have been recommending it to everyone. Field notebook, camera, power cords, pens, sample bags, you can keep it all together. I found mine on Amazon for < $20.