Sunday, 3 December 2017


Woodlanders is a crowd funded online film series that seeks to document the work of people who care for and depend on forests for their livelihood and well-being throughout the world. 

Definitely worth your time. And your support.


Monday, 27 November 2017


My new compression panel day pack, the Squish’mups. 
(And just to give you a sense of the size, I’m 203 cm (6'7") and 113 kg (250 lbs). Yes, I make a 130 lb. Great Dane look small.)
I’ve tried a few approaches to this idea, and they all fell a bit short. But I’m certain this will be the solution! I think. Maybe...

The idea is to have a detachable day pack that I would have with me on a two hour hike or a two week canoe trip. There are things that are necessary for both –what changes usually is insulation, shelter, food, etc., on longer trips and time of year. I want to have a way to carry the necessities; water, means to purify it, first aid kit, rain protection, some insulation, a day of food, etc.

Besides being able to carry it as a stand alone day pack (with or without a waist belt, and with a frame sheet, aluminum stays, or both, or none) or have it attached to a frame (Kifaru or the one I’ll eventually build), it’ll serve as a compression panel. Between the Squish’mups and the frame I can carry a no-frills pack sack (the next thing I’ll make), a duffel bag, a dry bag, a barrel, a Pelican case, a rifle drag bag, etc., etc.

The difference between some of my other attempts, is to have a pack not very deep, but wide and tall. Keeping the depth of it down helps prevent the center of gravity from being put too far out.
The dimensions are 60 cm (23") x 33 cm (13") 10 cm x (4").

Using some very complimicalated mathematics*, I derived at a figure of this being about a 37 liter pack, or approximately 2250 cubic inches. 

*( C = W + D x 2 ÷ π ÷ 2 = R
π x R² x H = V )
Some of you will automatically recognize that the belt and the way it’s attached, and really the whole suspension, is pretty much my take on the Kifaru Omni system. I’ve been using it for a decade, it works very well - so why re-invent the wheel as far as that went. Some ideas for the belt were also nicked from the Hill People Gear Prairie Belt.)

Some closeups of the belt. I changed the Delta Straps a little by adding removable ladder locks. In Kifaru’s the webbing is sewn into the belt. I wanted to be able to have this as a stand alone belt if need be, and wanted to be able to remove them altogether. (The HPG belt does something similar.) I also added four tabs along the top so that I could attach suspenders. The other things I did was attach Eva-Zote foam and spacer mesh to the belt (as well as two strips along the back) both for padding and - hopefully - a bit of comfort on hot days.

Another view of the belt with the ladder locks removed and the suspender tabs more visible. The other thing I did was use a buckle arrangement similar to the HPG Prairie Belt.

The back, showing the inside and outside. The 2" straps at the top go all the way to the bottom, and serves as a carry handle.
The back, showing the inside and outside. Inside I put 4, ½" strips of webbing on both the front and the back, so that I could hold things in place with bunjee cords and cord locks. Inside is also a slot for an HDPE frame sheet and you can just see the 2" slot pockets for aluminum stays. I can use one or the other, or both, or none.

Bottom. Bit hard to tell, but it’s an irregular hexagon. One piece of gear that I absolutely wanted to use was my MSR Titan Kettle – which was a bit bigger than the depth I had envisioned for this. I shaped the pack so that only the bottom part I would put it in was sized to accommodate it. The rest tapers away to be as slim as possible.

Sides showing the water bottle holders (corsets so that any size bottle can be accommodated), compression straps, and the daisy chain riding up the sides and over the top. 
Top, again showing the daisy chain and the compression straps, as well as carrying handle (the straps go all the way along the back to the bottom). 

Trekking pole holders on the front. A strip of ½" webbing, sewn to be 2 channels, with bunjee cord and a cord lock.

The straps that will attach the compression pack to the frame. (You can also see how I shaped the front to accommodate the larger kettle at the bottom and then flare away to a narrower wifth.

Some closeups.
Closer look at the water bottle holders. I wanted to be able to accommodate different sized bottles if need be. I did the bottom so there is a hinge, to better fit either Kleen Kanteens or the Classic 1 liter Nalgenes. And on the bottom by the seam you can see the two holes I put for the cord to emerge from.
The Kifaru E&E and the Squish’mups side by side. I got the E&E a decade ago for the purpose I outlined earlier. Just found it too small for my needs. I also found the fact that I can only attach it via the sides meant it always sags down.

The ½" strips of webbing and how things are held in place with bunjee cords and cord locks. If it was a top opening pack I could just shove things down inside. Given that it opens all the way up, I wanted to makes sure everything stayed put when I opened it.
To give a description of what’s all here:
Starting top left, first aid kit (I’m going to make one specifically to fit along the width along the top, and have it be a tear-away), below that a pouch with some miscellaneous stuff - repair kit, toiletry kit, headlamp, gaiters.
To the right of that, at the top, an inflatable seat pad, below that a ground sheet (foot print from a 1 person MEC tent) below that a bag with approximately a days worth of food.
To the right of that a bag with a sweater, gloves, socks, toque and buff, all in merino wool.
To the right of that at the top, a Swiss mesh scarf. About a meter square, it’s one if those items I could in theory live without, but it’s so versatile it always comes along and I always find a use for it. As a scarf, I drape it over or wrap it around my head when I sleep, I’ve rigged it up as a sun shade, it can serve as camouflage, collect leaves for a debris shelter, I’ve strung it up as a place to put gear so it’s off the ground - the uses are endless. Below that is a cozy that fits a home made dehydrated meal and inside of it is my trusty MSR Titan kettle and LMF cup with a homemade stove and wind screen and fuel bottles and lighter. Below that is an Integral Tactical silnylon poncho. Thin and light, it serves as both wearable rain protection and shelter.

Anyway, my confident prognostication that this will be THE solution ... fell a bit short. It’s very close, but not quite. It’s really comfortable, but then again, it’s an Omni suspension, so it would be. 

My biggest gripe is the water bottle carriers. The bunjee cord adjustment system mainly. The next go round will be attached in the seam at the bottom, and via SRB at the top, and instead of a cord lattice, it will be webbing straps adjustable via Velcro. 

 The daisy chain up the sides and top will be dispensed with, since its main purpose was for the bottle cord lattice to weave through. And my initial thought was maybe use as an attachment point for something. Would rather dispense with the weight. 

Also the way the compression straps attach to the pack itself when not on the main frame, will change. I had attachment points all the way up the sides, top and bottom. Instead there will only be tabs specifically for those straps to connect to. Again, unnecessary weight for, maybe I might attach something to it some time.

The way the compression webbing attaches will be different as well. Part of my original design was to have a mesh panel that I could use to stick a wet rain jacket or tarp under. Then it hit me. Duh. Why not just use those compression straps for that purpose. The next iteration will do away with the metal tri-glide / loop-loc attachment, have it be one piece and route through webbing tabs. I can loosen it, stick what I need under it and cinch it tight. Basically, the Kifaru Cargo Net. Slightly different, but essentially, as soon as it’s no longer sewn to the pack, that’s what it became.

Another idea that seemed good at first, but had to actually use for a while to realize the shortcomings of, are the trekking pole holders on the front. The next iteration will have them be attached to the main frame instead.

It will also be just a pocket, rather than a full on pack. Rather than a built in suspension, I’ll simply attach it to the main frame. I think I may keep shoulder strap and waist belt attachment points (and maybe include pockets for aluminum stays). If I want to take it off the frame and carry it alone, I can if I do that. I intend to put a pocket along the back to slip a piece of foam in, both as a seat pad and to give the pack some rigidity. (And that would also clear up room inside currently taken up by the inflatable seat pad I have in there.)

I also have the idea to do an iteration of it which is just a top opening pack, rather than a full clamshell opening. While everything is neatly attached, I wonder if it’s really such a good use of the space available.

Some more photos.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Union Special 38200 C

One of the many weird and wonderful (and very old) sewing machines at my work.
It’s a Union Special 38200 C.
I believe that’s known as an aggressive auxiliary puller.

Friday, 27 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - From Nowhere – Volor Flex

From Nowhere – Volor Flex

This feels more like a couple of tracks stuck together. More an EP than a track. But it’s Volor Flex, so whatever.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - If I Had A Heart – Fever Ray

If I Had A Heart – Fever Ray

Fever Ray remind me a bit of the slower, dirgier Sisterhood and mid 80s Sisters of Mercy.

Worth watching just for that absolutely chilling opening scene for Vikings, which this is from the soundtrack to.

Monday, 23 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - Iron – Woodkid

Iron – Woodkid

I have no idea what is going on in the video, but it looks great, and I have no idea what genre this might fit into, but it sounds great.

A seemingly notable artist who has completely slipped past me before this, but I’m really intrigued.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Saturday, 21 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - Human – Rag’n’Bone Man

Human – Rag’n’Bone Man

Not often stuff I hear on commercial radio stations when I venture out into the world that impresses me. But this is so good.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - Freaky Deaky Machine – Egyptian Lover

Freaky Deaky Machine – Egyptian Lover

While it sounds like it’s really good electro from the early 80s, it’s actually from 2015, by one of the progenitors of the genre. Using all the instruments - and recording techniques - of the early 80s.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - Escape – Vacant

Escape – Vacant

I think what I like about a lot of this genre, is that it hints at a pop song, and then subverts the whole premise.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

S.o.t.D. - Saudade – AK x Sublab

Saudade – AK x Sublab

My sewing has failed...

I have to admit with some chagrin, the first instance of my sewing failing. Walking along, and .... my bag is on the ground.

2½ years ago, one of the 2 buckles (the prongs on the male part) connecting the shoulder strap to the Messenge’mups broke. Three years of anywhere between 5 to 30 pound loads hanging from those delrin side release buckles - for easily many thousands of hours - that was its limit revealed. (The breakage hierarchy is hardware, thread, webbing and then fabric.)

Since the 2" webbing was sewn right along the entire length of the back, right into the seams, my only option for repair was to hacksaw off the buckle, take a piece of 2" webbing, another buckle and sew it to the existent webbing. Easy. Took my usual approach, a needle and thread and fixed it. Meant to bartack it, but it was put off for so many more pressing, and let’s face it, fun projects.

So, 2½ years of once again, thousands of hours of heavy - way too heavy - loads, and the standard 69# thread gave out. Buckle’s fine. Thread broke.

I've been trying really hard for many years to destroy what I make. I like it and all, but I have to see what it can withstand. And this is without doubt the most strained part of anything I’ve made. The way I do stuff is maybe a bit weird, but I’m still fairly confident in the results.

Good thing I have more than one bag to use till I fix this.

Don’t Say Velcro

Not the biggest fan of this stuff - it has its uses, but it’s used WAY too often in applications it shouldn’t be used in - but this is pretty funny. A musical number about trademark law.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Sunday, 24 September 2017

S.o.t.D. - Spacer Woman – Charlie

Spacer Woman – Charlie

From 1983, and new to me. Italo–Disco was a genre that completely slipped me by. Totally hokey and clunky in some respects, and totally fun and catchy in others.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

S.o.t.D. - Youth Without Youth – Metric

Youth Without Youth – Metric

Really tight band that crafts really catchy, 80’s new wave influenced rock, that I should pay more attention to. Canadian too eh!

Purple Dahlias

I think they’re dahlias?

Bryce Huffman Paintings

Sadly, Bryce Huffman is leaving Cottage 13. He’ll still be putting his fine tattoos on people, just at a different shop. And he’ll still be doing his fine paintings, but they just won’t be hanging up at the shop. :-(

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Uli’s Stairs pt.2

I’ve mentioned these before.

Possibly my favourite thing in Hamilton.

I’ve been there a bunch of times since I posted those photos (6 years ago already - yikes), but hadn’t bothered taking any more.

Took some friends and their kids there on Sunday. A few changes, but still the awe-inspiring combo of an amazing feat of one (in his 70’s [!] )man’s ingenuity and hard work, and a beautiful natural area.
When I take my millions, and build the giant theme park of my dreams, it will feature stairs like this leading up to all sorts of magical sites.
Uli has added his own whimsical sign to the official legalese sign.
The lookout as you walk up.
The lookout.
Top of the stairs.
And Uli’s warning sign at the top.
The reward at the top. The Red Hill Valley.
The Niagara Escarpment.
And then I was dropped back off close to home.