Coffee and Gasoline – Outdoor Retailer Part 4

Post by blogger | August 18, 2008      

One more dispatch from Outdoor Retailer. This time covering fuel and other miscellany.

Backcountry skiing gear.
I had big plans to hyper-mile my way out to Utah from Colorado. Reality was a bit different. Not only did I choose the scenic and hilly route up by Flaming Gorge Reservoir, but got caught by a huge thunderstorm while crossing the Uinta mountains — with associated headwinds. Even so, our Nissan Versa averaged 33 miles per gallon for the complete trip from Carbondale to Parleys Summit on Interstate 80, just west of Park City. That’s good fuel economy for a comfortably sized hatchback such as the Versa.

Key to saving gas is having good feedback. If your vehicle has an MPG display that’s probably all you need. If not, I highly recommend installing a Scan Gauge. For the install pictured above, we mounted the Scan Gauge in a CD storage compartment above the Nissan’s radio panel. To route the cable we took apart the dash, drilled a hole in the back of said compartment, then threaded the cable through the guts of the dash and down to the OBD port, where we wire tied it securely.

Backcountry skiing gear.
Back to the trade show. I’m not much of a coffee fanatic anymore. But during my days of caffeine and roses, cowboy joe boiled in a cookpot was as much my favorite as anything else. Sadly, my tar-like brew enhanced by a few chewy grounds didn’t go over that well with my bride. Thus, the best way to brew camp coffee is always a Dawson family quest. To that end, check out this self contained “Brewfire” propane powered coffee machine from Brunton.

Backcountry skiing gear.
I’m thinking this will look real nice on the tailgate of our Silverado, parked at Sand Flats campground in Moab. Lisa, what say you? Arrow indicates the gas tank. Only downside is I’m not sure that tank is reusable. Also, I’m wondering if this thing could be adapted to using the 10 lb tank we carry for our cooktop and barbecue. Hmm, this may be making an appearance in another blog!

Backcountry skiing gear.
Knives are the definition of gear obsession, so a stop at Gerber is always on the list. They showed me a radical prototype of folding hatchet that I wasn’t allowed to photograph, but seemed like a perfect item for your emergency kit in a smaller trailhead approach vehicle. On the opposite end of the scale, Gerber has a couple of new “micro tools” that look perfect for your trimmed down lifestyle. I wouldn’t want to fight off a bear with these, but it looks like they’d gut a trout or cut up some blister bandage.

Backcountry skiing gear.
Last winter I had the privilege of climbing a “Via Farrata” cable route in Europe. These things are more fun than a barrel of laughing monkeys, and we need more in North America (a few unofficial ones exist that I’m sworn to secrecy on). Ferratas have become understandably popular so several climbing gear companies are making specialized “lobster claw” rigs you use to protect yourself (Black Diamond’s is pictured above). Back in the day, people just used two biners on slings. Some folks still do so — but at their peril. If you’re on a vertically oriented cable and take a fall, you and your safety biners slide down the steel to the last anchor — sometimes far enough to jerk you with sufficient force on your harness to break your pelvis or back. Hence the need for shock absorbers such as those included on the BD rig. Nice. I’ll skip a broken pelvis any day. Now let’s go string some cable!

Backcountry skiing gear.
OR undergarment displays could be much more interesting, but this one caught my attention. Looks like they designed this wearable water bladder more for bicycle riders than anything, but how about super light and fast ski mountaineering? You’d wear this, carry a tiny pack with your shovel and cell phone, and blast.

What else? I did check out some clothing options and noticed the big fabric companies are still working with potentially awesome wool/synthetic combos. For example, Polartec has a fabric that places their Power Dry weave next to your skin, with wool on the outside. That should be incredibly effective.

Speaking of fabric companies and clothing makers, many keep hammering the recycling buzz as a marketing hook. I’m all for effective recycling but watch out for smoke and mirrors on that one, as the bulk of feedstock used for most “recycled” synthetic fabric is still post industrial rather than post consumer (post consumer is the important side of recycling, while post industrial is frequently stuff that’s always been used as part of the production process and thus a play on words). Rather than obsesses on recycling that still results in manufacturing and associate environmental issues, it’s probably best just to focus on using your clothing a bit longer and buy stuff that lasts, as in “REDUCE reuse recycle.”

Ok, that’s it for OR till this winter’s show, when we’ll focus on the newest ski gear. Till then, we’re prepping for winter!


18 Responses to “Coffee and Gasoline – Outdoor Retailer Part 4”

  1. tony August 18th, 2008 10:44 am

    Lou, How do you like the 4 wheel drive system on the Versa? Can you compare it to a Subi 4wd system? I presume it has a 4wd system? How much clearence does it have?

  2. Lou August 18th, 2008 11:04 am

    Tony, the Versa is a total mileage-mobile, no AWD, way close to the ground. We could never own it if we only had one car, but the plan is to have something like that for commuting and highway travel, then have the truck, Jeep, etc. for mountain travel that involves dirt roads, rough trailheads, etc.

    My wife is now working down the valley from here, so the winter commute will be much more manageable than heading up the road to Aspen, thus, the Versa may work fine. We did get some agro snow tires for it, but we shall see. It’s an experiment. AWD might be essential, in that case we’ll change it out next summer.

    If we could only own one car or truck I’m not sure what it would be. I’d probably have to get rid of my older Jeep that requires towing and drive something like a Tacoma or smaller SUV.

  3. Dongshow August 18th, 2008 11:14 am

    Lou, I’m very intrigued with these cable routes. I’ve never really come across them before. What exactly is it, just a 3/4″ steel cable draped from the summit? And how do they anchor the cable?

  4. Lou August 18th, 2008 11:23 am

    The cable routes are pretty simple. Just a bunch of anchors, usually bolts, with steel cable strung. They’ve been around for a long time, in various forms.

    The tricky part is making them safe enough if a person really takes a zinger.

    They’re super popular. Imagine, it’s pretty nice to just grab our day pack and a pair of climbing shoes, then take off for a really nice climb without the need of ropes, partner, etc.

  5. BStory August 18th, 2008 11:28 am

    Lou –

    I have to disagree with you on the need for ferattas in the US. After seeing them and using them for descents in the Itallian dolomites, I came to the conclusion that they are excessively impactive.

  6. Lou August 18th, 2008 11:37 am

    Perhaps, but what if all those people were on ATVs instead of climbing?

  7. Dongshow August 18th, 2008 1:22 pm

    I can think of a numerous places I wouldn’t mind stringing some up. I agree they’d be massively impactive, but I also wouldn’t want them everywhere. But many places are so over run with people will anyone really mind a cable.?

  8. BillL August 18th, 2008 3:56 pm

    I think that we could use some more wire in the US. I did one in Arco with my wife and niece. We were we passed by two hotties in short shorts and we had our chance to pass a group of four elderly Brits. It was a blast.

    Generally VF provide super-fun low-effort ascents and safer descent routes. That pesky batch of wire in California is very popular for both reasons. VF routes are mostly 3rd and 4th class and don’t compete with 5.anything so you don’t have to worry about Royal Arches or the Diamond getting all strung up. The descent route, North Dome Gully, would be better for some wire, and so would the descent down the back of the Redgarden Wall in Eldorado. Existing rules will keep the wire out of wilderness areas.

  9. Lou August 18th, 2008 4:54 pm

    That sounds great (the wire, not the hotties).

  10. Dongshow August 18th, 2008 11:25 pm

    Lou, all this cable route stuff got me thinking, and with too much time on my hands I wrote quite a lengthy response (located at our own site) but to summarize I feel anything to provide good easy access to certain areas will only concentrate traffic leaving more open spaces for everyone else.

  11. Lou August 19th, 2008 6:52 am

    Some of the most fanatical environmentalists I’ve known acknowledge the need for “sacrifice zones.” I’d never apply such negative thought to healthy recreation (we’ll leave that one up to the preachers of doom and gloom), but the fact is that recreation tends to naturally concentrate, and such can be a plus in terms of management and cutting down crowding in other places.

    That said, I’ve always been an advocate of cutting down some of the concentration by building a few more backcountry roads, trailheads and trails.

  12. Paul August 19th, 2008 6:53 am

    Lou, I’d be interested in learning what you carry with you in your pack. I assume you’ve puled together an optimized emergency kit. What’s in it?

  13. stuart August 19th, 2008 9:11 am

    Funny you should mention via ferratas. My wife and I will be in europe in September and plan on spending 5 days in the Dolomites via ferrata-ing. I could take some spectaculair pictures of my new BCA pack traveling through the dolomites! 😉


  14. Lou August 19th, 2008 9:47 am

    Stuart, PLEASE do a guest blog or two! Just a few photos and some words about your travels on the wire. Just email me the ingredients and I’ll whip something up. Would be fun.

  15. stuart August 19th, 2008 10:58 am

    I would be more than happy to do a short blog.

    I don’t know if people here are aware that the via ferratas in the Dolomites really got started during WWI, protecting the Italian border with Austria. They were built to transport men and supplies into the Dolomites. Much later, the 60’s I think, they became tourist attractions and are now maintained by the Italian Alpine Club.

  16. Lou August 19th, 2008 11:01 am

    Excellent Stuart, looking forward to it. The history is awesome and contributes so much to enjoyment of these sorts of things.

  17. tony August 21st, 2008 10:26 am

    Getting back to the subject of hypermileing, does anyone know why they reccomend coasting in neurtral down hill to save gas? Thats what I heard from several media sources, but I have been doing it for years without ill effect.

  18. Lou August 21st, 2008 10:50 am

    Tony, I think you mean _don’t_ coast in neutral?

    With a manual tranny it doesn’t nothing more than perhaps creating a safety issue because you don’t have any engine braking.

    With an automatic, there are issues with how the tranny lubricates itself. From what I’ve learned about a modern automatic, coasting in neutral won’t save much gas compared to just letting the tranny do its thing.

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  • Lou Dawson 2: In Western Europe, I sure see a lot of people driving... it's not the nirva...
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  • Maz: So when you're in Europe, how do you enjoy the "grunged out subway cars and...
  • zippy the pinhead: Rob, Answer to your question seems to be "yes".
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  • rob trauscht: Possibly dumb question on the soles, but is anyone resoling AT boots? Seem...
  • Scott S Allen: Thanks Lou for the feed back, I really appreciate it! I have worked with B...
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  • Mammut Dave: Forgot to mention--regarding durability, with any of these light packs you ...
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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information & opinion website. Lou's passion for the past 50 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about ski touring and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free ski touring news and information here.

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