Making your own stuff, and other cures for the winter blahs.

Not everyone is the do-it-yourself type, but myself I enjoy tinkering even when the resulting creation is a total failure that’s relegated to some box in the corner whereupon it gets tossed in the trash during my next cleaning spree. When it comes to making my own gear, I inevitably spend more time and money trying to make something myself that I could have just went out and bought as a finished product. Alas I’m an addict, and I don’t think I’ll ever get past the urge to tinker. All I need to trigger an episode of DIY is a cold winter evening, a basement, and a wife and daughter that have decided that it’s a good night for a chick flick.

I recently ran across something that has worked great for me for many different uses, and really doesn’t require any particular skill set, (Hence it works so well for me) or tool beyond owning and being able to use a pair of  scissors, so I felt it was worth sharing.

After rehydrating a couple of meals on the trial during cold weather and having them near frozen a few minutes later when I ate them, I decided to follow-up on an idea that I had seen online by making myself a couple meal heater pouches. Essentially all I wanted was an insulated pouch to slip the meal into once I had added the boiling water to the meal pouch. The idea is that you stick it in the insulated pouch and it keeps things hot while it rehydrated.

After a trip to Menards, I returned home with a roll of this reflective bubble insulation and a roll of the tape used to join it. (Remarkably the bill was under 30 bucks.) In a matter of a few minutes I had fashioned a couple pouches with Velcro closures. (I had some adhesive backed Velcro lying around from another project.)   These heater pouches worked better than I could have imagined. I whipped up a batch of my trail rice pudding mix, added boiling water and stuck it into one of these pouches. I intentionally left it in there for 45 minutes in temperatures well below freezing. I opened the pouch to find rice pudding that was still piping hot. I was amazed at how well the pouch held the heat in. I tried the pouch on a couple of different meals and found the results to be the same each time.

I was so impressed with how well the pouch worked that I made this pot cozy. This works under the same concept as the pouch in that you get a meal going on your stove that you are cooking right in the pot, and then take the pot off the stove placing it in the pot cozy. It will hold enough heat to continue cooking and maintain heat in one part of your meal while you have something else cooking on your stove. In my test run I boiled a pot full of water, placed it in the cozy and found it to be extremely hot to the touch 30 minutes later.

This next item is probably my favorite so far. For lack of a better name I’ll call in my mini outback oven. I was a little concerned about the amount of heat that the insulation could handle but after a little research I found that it would take more heat than one would expect. Using my small alcohol burner, I’ve baked muffin mix and pound cake in this and I really can’t envision a more perfectly baked cake or muffin coming from any other method. To date everything that has come out of this has tasted outstanding. The entire kit can be folded down and tucked in the stuff sack under my cook kit.

 

 

My Svea123 backpacking stove nests in a small cook pot with a little room around it making it a bit clunky without something wrapped around it in the pot. A bubble insulation wind screen fits the bill perfectly. I took the foil tape and coated the entire face of the insulation with what amounts to another coating of foil creating a windscreen that also makes the Svea fit snug in the pot without adding much weight. The extra layer of foil tape on the entire surface of the wind screen made it just a bit more rigid than just the insulation alone. I don’t think you would want to get the insulation too close to the burner on the Svea but anyone that owns one of these stoves knows that you don’t want to tightly screen a 123 …. Bad things can happen if it overheat’s.

 Most recently I found that I can carry a pretty good size piece of insulation folded up in my small pack that I have found to be a comfortable, dry, and most importantly a warm seat to throw down anyplace while out snowshoeing. The packaging that the insulation comes in states that this insulation will reflect 97% heat and you can really feel this when you throw a piece down next to a tree and plop your rear end down on it. It beats the heck out of a cold tush.

Lastly my new pair of cold weather boots were purposely purchased one size larger so that I could add an extra layer of socks. I found last weekend while snowshoeing that two pair of socks were warm but allowed my foot to have too much movement within my shoe. Using my insoles as a pattern I cut a piece of insulation and placed it under the insoles. This gave me a perfect fit with no slop in my boot, and it gave me a more cushion as well.

I still have a lot left insulation on the roll and I think the possibilities are endless. Who knows, maybe next week I’ll post a picture of me sporting my bubble insulation sports coat and pants. I’m thinking along the lines of an old DEVO album cover.

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