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You’re not sure how to stake multiple tents. You’re dying of thirst in winter and there’s no water. You can’t figure out what 'EN Tested' means. Quick, what do you do? Don’t stress--that’s what. Take a deep breath and relax. If you have the right gear and know what to do in challenging situations, you can rest easier on every adventure. We’ll help you figure out what to take, what to leave, and most importantly, what to do.
Iodine is one way to treat water in the backcountry and a great choice when weight is a concern. We use Iodine Crystals that can treat up to 2000 gallons of water. One good system for using iodine is as follows. Always have 2 water bottles. One is for the treated (clean) water and the other is where the treating is taking place. The treated bottle needs at least an hour if the water is warm and longer if cold. When it is done, pour it into the clean bottle. This pouring dissipates the iodine vapors and improves the taste of the water. At this point you can add powdered drink mix to flavor the water if desired. Never add it during treatment because the iodine can bind with the drink mix and the water will not get purified. Now you can fill the treatment bottle and add more iodine.
Being able to regulate body temperature quickly without taking off your backpack is important and saves time. The easiest garments to remove are hats and gloves. I often grab my hat and stuff it down my shirt for easy on and off access. (Some guides use a carabineer on their pack to clip hats and gloves to) Hats can warm or cool quickly. With gloves I either stuff them in my shirt or, if skiing, pull them over the tops of my poles. After these are off I start to pull up sleeves, unzip every zipper, and as a last result stop and take a layer off. When stopping after an uphill workout, remember to put those layers back on quickly. It’s much easier to stay warm than to get warm.
Have a Secret Stash - When traveling in a foreign country it is important to have a secret stash: a backup copy of your passport and credit cards, along with extra cash. Consider making an electronic copy of your documents and emailing them to yourself. In addition, keep a photocopy of your passport, other documents, and extra cash deep inside your luggage.
Melting snow for all of our drinking and cooking water requires between 200 and 250ML of white gas per person per day. We don’t want to carry too much (8 pounds per gallon), or too little fuel.
Kelty has always tested sleeping bags to make sure that our customers are warm and comfortable on their adventures. Now we’ve adopted the European Norm (EN) 13537 test process which provides a standardized comparison method for all sleeping bag brands so that it is easier for you to choose the right sleeping bag for your needs. The two temperature ratings listed are “Comfort” and “Lower Limit”. “Comfort” is defined as the temperature that a standard woman (60 kg / 132 lbs) will be comfortable at versus “Lower Limit” which is the temperature that a standard man (80 kg / 176 lbs) will be comfortable at.
When setting up multiple tents, it’s best to share stakes/anchors. Place all tents in a row side by side with all entrances facing the same direction. The side ties can actually tie to the tent next to it and the front and back ties can share a common anchor with the tent next to it. This system will reduce the number of anchors we need to carry. To further shave weight, use small nylon stuff sacks filled with snow and buried as a lightweight snow anchor.
Tents are strongest (and quietest) when the fly is tightly staked out. As guides and instructors we always check the tent anchors and guy lines anytime we are going to leave camp and every evening before bed. We also put extra snow on anchors so they do not melt out during warm days.
We teach students in our courses to visually check that tent guy lines are tight and anchors are secure every time they walk past their groups’ tents. This awareness and attention to detail is critical to keeping tents secure, particularly during periods of inclement weather.
To make a strong tent anchor on hard or rock ground where stakes don’t work, we use the big rock little rock system.
We tie the guy line to a smaller rock and then place a large rock, or pile of rocks, on top of the line directly behind the small rock leading to the tent. The small rock acts as a chock stone and cannot be pulled under the bigger stone. This creates a strong and effective anchor in areas where it is difficult to get a good anchor otherwise.
We set up the guy lines on all of our tents the same way using a slider knot to attach the line to the tent. The slider knot is a self-tightening knot that can be adjusted by moving it up and down the line. This allows the line to be tightened without retying any knots. On the other end we tie a loop that can be girth hitched to any anchor. It’s important that all tents are tied the same. Nobody wants to get out of bed in the middle of the night to tighten lines and find a random knot that requires a gloves off retie.
In our experience, it’s the small things that contribute to successful trips. Of course it’s important to tie the knots correctly, but it’s equally important to remember to tighten the tents before leaving for the day. A loose tent fly can cause tent failure and ruin a trip. If this happens at high camp on Aconcagua, it can have life threatening consequences.
In future articles we will address valuable protocols and processes as well as the technical tips to guarantee fun and safe outdoor experiences.