Sunday, February 27, 2011

Silnylon Tent Fire-Test Results

To the casual day hiker, this video seems to serve no purpose.

For some reason, comments at Youtube have ranged from, "Excellent, thanks for sacrificing your tent to make this" to, "Whats the Point? If you cooked under your couch it would catch fire too." to " I totally would have bought that tent from you".

I've been working with silnylon, sometimes called parachute cloth, soarcoat, or siliconzied rip stop for over 10 years.

I've created everything from tarps and tents, rainsuits, stuff sacks, water sacks, ground cloths, gaiters, you name it.

The backpacking community has postulated on burn time.
We all knew it would. Heat sealing has shown us that it will catch fire. Some claimed it would go up like "napalm".

Question: How easily could a silnylon shelter catch fire, and how devasting would, or could, the results be?

My tents are silnylon, as is most of my gear.
I carry the alcohol stove exclusively, sometimes known as the pepsi can stove,or beer can stove.
I've used nearly every imaginable fuel in or on that stove. Check my homepage at Brawny's Homepage to read my trail journals.

Check out the fuels listed on my The Female
webpage for full list and personal notes.

September 1, 2010 I wrote about why a person would ever think of using a stove inside a tent at my Why Cook In a Tent

The test was done by placing one ounce of fuel into a standard soda can stove and placing it inside the silnylon tent. Eventually, it ignited and continued to burn in a steady manner. At no point did it begin to rage. Amazingly, this small tent took 10 minutes to burn.

I noted that the smell should wake a person, but perhaps the first real danger is falling flaming fabric onto one's face.
Of course, no amount of burn damage is acceptable, and many viewers were able to make good conclusions.
Don't camp too close to a large fire. Watch for burning embers. Take care when cooking near silnylon. Indirect flame sources can cause damage as well.

This video is NOT aimed at eliminating silnylon in any way, shape or form.

Next question: What is the burn time/damage in pouring rain?

Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Day Off for Survival Studies

If you don't see a post for the day, please check out my

or do a search this blog using the google box found at the right side of this post.

At TheFemaleSurvivalist, I review adventure and survival situations, movies and reality shows, demo ideas and talk about survival type stuff.
I've always been fascinated with survivalism. Maybe that's what also makes me a successful ultralighter. Henry David Thoreau said, "My greatest skill is to need but little".

This also applies to daily life in civilization.
Improvisation allows us to take found objects and natural materials and make the things we need. These are skills pioneers had and taught their children. These are skills our grandparents used to get through the Great Depression.
These are skills back country adventurers used to survive unforeseen crisis and live to tell about it.

Testing innovations in the safety net of the home field allows us to perfect these skills and discover new ways and confidence. I've always maintained that the brain is our greatest asset in any endeavor.
Knowledge,creativity and persistance can make up for lack of bodily strength.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Oil Prices Create New Bicyclists

Crazy stuff is going on world wide, the price of oil predicted to skyrocket. I say it's time to bring back the bike. As in bicycles, not Harleys.

Used to be bikes in every garage, with all kinds of gizmos, racks and panniers.

Not everyone agrees bikers should have equal access to the roads, or that there are rules governing such. I found this comprehensive website which deals with all these issues.

When I lived in Illinois, I loved riding. A fifty mile ride was not uncommon. I even did a double century into Wisconsin. An amazing adventure, which I recommend to anyone with some training, a day to ride and a day to recover.

Pack light, bring money and a credit card. The same ultralight techniques apply to distance biking as it does to long distance hiking. Good solid gear, a well cared for machine, and the ability to repair the entire system yourself.

People are killed when cars dismiss the bicyclist as a strange fringe element. Yet, bikes are sustainable forms of short distance transportation, worthy of consideration. Its an effective way to stay in shape, and help the bottom line of your economy. Bring back the moped.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Shot Worth Sharing-Banish Boredom

According to Outside Magazine, these are the Ten Worst Adventure photo cliches.

My personal comments are in italics.

1-Swigging from a nalgene (who carries one of them anymore?)

2-Sunsets (at least put a friend in the photo!)

3-Boulder hopping ( yes, I agree, so trite)

4- Stream crossing (loosing stuff in the stream, now that might be interesting)

5-Boot soles (no comment, seen this a million times)

6-Coiled-rope throwing (unless you're lassoing a wolf, or something else illegal)

7-Blurry Stars ( blurry, humm, yeah. Skip that.)

8-Yoga (is this an add, or a personal photo op?)

9-Wading, pack aloft (again, get the pack taking off downstream, alone)

10-Rainbows (are you doing postcards?)

Now that most of us carry either a digital camera or phone with camera capabilities, taking hundreds of photos is possible. Think artistically, take photos of scenery from all angles, snap candid photos of friends, zoom in on animals and trail mishaps. These will bring you lasting joy down the road.

The photos people want to see from your adventures are of trail friends, gear-turned-trash shots, hilarious town days, animals raiding packs, or anything crazy like that time we pigged out on the ice cream challenge. The time we filtered red squiggles from our water. The time you picked up water near a cow pie.
Photos to go with those Remeber When Stories that leave you crying with laughter.

We live in such a media rich world. Take a risk when taking those shots. You can always delete them. Who knows, you may end up with a winner.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Extreme Sports

Darcy Africa is doing amazing things. I first read about her in an Outside 2007 Buyer's Guide I picked up last week. It was free at local library.

She was 32 in 2007, and completed the Grand Slam, an ultra marathoner's dream of four 100 mile races.

The Outside Gear Guide is a great resource, and humbling. So many sports, so many gifted athletes, and extreme human exploits.

It's good to get a taste of various sports. I've done some snorkeling, running, long distance biking. One of my most memorable experience is completing a Double Century
(200 miles in one day on a bike).

This summer I plan to learn white water kayaking. A person who will be working with me in the Grand Tetons taught that sport. With the Snake river in our back yard, we should get plenty of opportunities on days off. My wet suit and helmet are on my packing list.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Trail Injury and Sickness

First, a disclaimer. I'm not a doctor, nurse or even CNA. I've taken some first aid courses, been through various emergencies, and developed strategies for coping while out for months at a time.
As a minimalist, my pack contains basic supplies. Treating cuts, burns, bruises, sprains, diarrhea, various aches and pains are just normal stuff. When you head out alone, having these skills will make life easier.
Keeping your pack light allows you to carry the necessary food and water. That weight changes each resupply, and lessons. But if you're overloaded with fluff, those stress fractures and knee sprains will slow you down, depress your spirit until, seeking medical attention becomes an issue. Lighten up before heading out, both in pack weight and body weight. Muscle, not fat, is your friend.
Still, if you're out long enough somethings going to happen.
Treating the pains by taking Ibuprofen on an empty stomach can cause bleeding. Too much Tylenol will wreck your liver. Putting ointment on a fresh burn before cooling it down can deepen the damage to tissue. If at all possible, cool the burn in a running stream. If no stream is close, cool the burn with water you're carrying. Prevention, and attendance to all cooking will prevent this. Never use a wet bandanna to move a hot pot. I use my gloves as pot holders cause they're always dry.
When ever treating an open wound, cut, blister, or burn, keep things clean and sterile. Use antibiotic ointment after all debris is removed from scrapes, and the wound is air dried. Infection can be a killer, take this seriously, even that tiny blister on the heel. I never remove the skin, just drain the puss with a sterile needle. The skin protects the wound.
Its easy to over estimate your abilities and underestimate nature. Caution, and realistic expectations will keep you on trail. Watching for snakes in shady places, near logs, under rock ledges is important as soon as the first leaves appear in early spring.
Before pitching tarp or tent, check for ant hills. Don't pitch on the down hill side of a slope. If it starts to rain, you can become flooded.
It doesn't matter what type of tent or hammock you're carrying, the brand of your pack, the make of your sleeping bag. Whether you have a cat stove, a Pepsi can stove, or a whisper light, bottom line : you get the gear to Katahdin, the gear doesn't get you there.
You get the gear to Canada, the gear doesn't make or break the hike. The one thing thru hikers have in common is the burning desire to do the entire trail.
Giardia, West Nile, and Lyme Disease is on the rise. If you loose all energy, suffer vomiting and diarrhea for several days, get help. Go to the
nearest town, get to a clinic. If you don't have health insurance, ask for help anyways.
I was told, if you can stand the pain you can stay on the trail. That works up to a point. Be wise, and live to hike another day.
This is my final thru hiking planning post. Please e-mail with anything else, or comment.
Happy trails.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Movie Genre Review-The Apocalypse

Today I'm doing a review of a bunch of movies whose central theme is the Apocalypse or its aftermath.
for the writeup.
E-mails and comments are always welcome.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hand Sewing Part 2

The second part of the hand sewing video talks about custom ditty bags, how to make a knot to finish off a seam, threading a cord into a draw cord casing, and putting on a button.

We also repair a tear mid fabric, and utilize heat sealing and super glue.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hand Sewing, Gear Repairs

Creating these hand sewing demonstrations was fun. They're longer than I'd expected, but I enjoyed talking to you and sharing some stories and tips, too.
Hope you enjoy it. This will be three part series, cause I don't want to wear you out.
Happy Trails!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What is the Optimal Tarp Size?

I received this e-mail about tarps and thought I'd share it with you.
Hi Brawny,
This is S-. I thru hiked the AT (NOBO) in 2009 and considering a SOBO this year. I'm modifying my gear list now to lighten up and considering a tarp. I don't have the resources to sew my own so I'll have to buy one.

Do you have any suggestions on which brands offer the best construction and configuration of tie outs? .... Seems you lean towards the 10 x 12 size as well? Just wonder if that's overkill for a thru hike?



Hi S-,

Congrats on your sucessful thru hike.
I actually like my ultralight silnylon tent which weighs the same as the tarp in the video. I make my own gear, and size it accordingly. A single wall tent has limitations, only one person will fit into it, if you're sharing a shelter a tarp can help block the wind coming in that opening.
The 10 x 12 is huge, and I made it for the YouTube video, versatility of base camping, tarping over a hammock, a one person castle (or tent tarp configuration, or up to 4 people could share it. I met 3 guys on the PCT sharing just one 10 x 10 silnylon tarp.
So, basically, its what your style and body strength is. If you're over 6 feet, you'd love the larger tarp.
I don't recommend any company in particular. Don't get grommets, tie outs are way better. I used to sew tarps for people and one guy actually bought a 10 x 16 foot tarp so he could use it on the AT for his thru hike.
The most popular size for a single person was the 8 x 10. However, with that you would need a ground cloth. A sheet of plastic is the lightest way, tyvek is bulky, but lasts forever as a ground sheet.
Once you get your tarp, practice several configurations. I did 3 separate videos using a 5 x 8 tarp, and called them parts 1, 2, and 3 Five Pitches on YouTube
They may help you get some ideas.

Best wishes on your upcoming southbound plans.

Monday, February 7, 2011

My Favorite Tape

I carry electrical tape, wound around water bottles and my hiking poles for gear repairs. I love the stuff. It stays on gear for years if applied while dry
If you've done much hiking, you've seen those obnoxious duct tape scraps on the trail where it just got wet, and fell off. Not so with electrical tape.

Take care however, cause it does stretch somewhat. When winding around water bottles for future use loosely unroll from the spool and loosely wind around the bottle.

If its raining and you get cut, a band aid won't stay put. Instead, thoroughly clean the wound, apply antibiotic ointment, a portion of clean cotton ball, and the electrical tape.

Tape can be used to prepare boxes for shipment, eliminate rubbing of shoes on sensitive areas, repair torn books, gear, etc. I also like the fact its black.

The simplicity of these trail tools make it easy to carry in a pants pocket.
Without having to drop the pack, you can accomplish tasks and keep hiking.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Right Super Glue

The right superglue has a host of uses. This one, bought at the dollar store, two for a buck, is the best find for all around trail repairs.I like this brand because it is free flowing and can be closed tightly for months of use. A tube which is metal tends to glue itself shut and in wrestling it open corrupt the tube. Then, it drys out.
So, for long term use, choose free flowing.
Some ways I've used this product are:
If the tape is coming loose on a repair, apply glue all around the edges for a quick reseal.
You can seal frayed edges, glue patches onto gear and if you're OK with it, use it for wounds that have been thoroughly cleaned. I'm not a nurse or doctor, so the emergency self care is suggested at your own risk.
A finger or hand cut which will not quit bleeding due to constant use can benefit from a bond such as this. If its not cleaned, however, an infection can set up. Let it bleed, scrub under running water, pat dry and bandage tightly. If this doesn't work, you can opt for using the super glue, or get to a clinic.
I learned this trick when we boarded dogs years ago. Sometimes a female in heat would be attacked by other jealous dogs. The owners of these dogs didn't take them to the vet. Too expensive, they said. Instead, they'd clean up the dog, give her some antibiotics and super glue the wound shut, instead of stitches.
We were at a back country camp and this guy took out his knife, laid an apple in his hand, then proceeded to slice it. Yes indeed. He sliced right through the apple into the palm of his hand.
Some in camp thought we should scrub it up, and sew it shut, ourselves. I wanted no part of that. He was evacuated to a local hospital.
Prevention is key to staying safe.
I read the book Woodswoman and Anne wrote about recognizing her vulnerability alone in the Adirondack wilderness cabin. This made her slow down and think through any potentially hazardous undertaking.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dental Floss-a Trail Must Have

Its been two years since I last visited the dentist. Yesterday, after a cleaning, exam and 4 bite wings, I received a clean bill of health, and praise from my dentist. He's seeing fewer people coming in due to the economy.

By brushing before bed, and upon rising each morning, and careful daily flossing, you'll prevent costly damage. Do not try to hike for any length of time without flossing daily.

Taking care of your teeth on the trail is not optional.
Be sure to bring a tooth brush, either dental powder or toothpaste, and dental floss.

Dental floss makes a great thread for repairing gear. Be sure the eye of your needle is large enough to thread the waxed floss trough it.

Its incredibly strong and can be used to repair packs, clothing, tents and tarps, holes in socks and clothing.
More importantly you'll love yourself when the dentist commends your beautiful teeth. Studies now link bad dental hygiene to increased risk of heart attacks due to inflammation.
Check out more hygiene tips for the trail at

Seam Seal A Sil Nylon Rainsuit?

I received an e-mail asking this question, and thought I'd share it with you.
I have used my sil nylon rain suit, and sewed them for others for many years. See my home page for more

Hello Brawny,

I have gained a great deal of knowledge from your book and website, thanks. As I am sewing up my gear for my great escape to the AT this spring, I had a question. Did you seam seal your rain suit?

Thanks so much for sharing your story,


Hi S,

I did not seam seal it.
A little body moisture will build up inside of it anyways, I just wear a tank top underneath unless its really cold, then I wear fleece which drys so fast.
If you use the rain suit for vapor barrier, you can take it off, turn it inside out, and let the moisture evaporate.

Best wishes on your upcoming hike.