Monday, May 16, 2011

GEAR REVIEW - Bemco® Backpacker's Oven Review


Overall Rating: ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ (out of 5)

Price Paid: $54.90* + 12.00 shipping
Positives: opens up your menu
Negatives: added weight

Weight: 24.6 oz (oven only)
Bottom Line: Recommend

* for deluxe 7inch oven kit with 6" shallow, 6" deep pans, gripper and ditty bag.
I recently had the pleasure of putting this little backpacking oven through its paces on an overnight car camp and then dayhike in Angeles National Forest. I first heard about this little oven from fellow members of the Los Angeles Backpacker's Meetup group of which I am an assistant organizer.
The oven folded up for transport.

The ingenious little folding oven works with most existing stoves** and includes  a thermometer, straps and a baking guide. The oven itself is fairly easy to setup, although I would probably make sure you can set it up and break it down at home before bringing it out into the field.Essentially its a metal box that sits atop your stove which heats up a diffuser plate resulting in a warm oven.
** certain canister stoves require a modified Brunton Can Stand in order to use the Backpacker's oven. Also it is not for use with the Jetboil PCS or any other stove that has plastic near the flame source.

Popping its cherry with a chicken enchilada

I first put it through its paces while camping out overnight at the base of a trailhead. I used it to make a delicious and easy to make chicken enchiladas;the recipe was included in the baking guide that comes free with all ovens.

Next I folded it up and popped it into its ditty bag, along with all the ingredients to make a personal pan pizza and set out on the trail to the bridge to nowhere with some hiking buddies. It is small enough that it fit in my daypack along with plenty of space for all the other necessities. We hiked the moderate 5 miles, navigating our way through numerous river crossings.

letting pizza dough rise
When we made it to the famous bridge to nowhere it was time for me to cook while the others went further up the trailhead. I used the baking guide recipe for a personal pan pizza. The only tough part was the dough although I eventually managed to get it into a ball and let it rise slightly while the oven was pre-heating.

As you can see below the results were fairly spectacular. And boy did it taste delicious. The hot steamy pizza was so welcomed on an otherwise cloudy and slightly chilly spring day.
cooking personal pan pizza
As far as I am concerned this little oven is a game changer in the world of trail food. I no longer intend to be limited to meals I can dehydrate or whose principal ingredient is boiled water. Its small enough that you could assign it to one member to carry on a long trip and also for solo weekender trips. Since it uses your existing stove its pretty easy to bring along.

If you're going to purchase the oven I would definitely recommend getting one of the kits which include the gripper as the pans and oven get very hot during use!! Its also helpful to have a bandanna with you to serve as a substitute oven mit.

a delicious personal pan pizza
For the price this little oven is amazing and certainly well worth it. My only regret is not purchasing additional 6" inch pans to be able to make two pizzas at a time or two enchiladas at a time since the shipping was $12.00 and it wouldn't have cost more.  I also would like to see a miniature muffin baking pan that would fit this oven. I may have to jury rig one by cutting a larger mini muffin pan down.

Gear Review - Katadyn Base Camp Filter


4out of 5
Overall Rating: ∑ ∑ ∑ ∑ (out of 5)
Price Paid: $55.96
Positives: Good Filtration, little work
Purchased from:
Negatives: a tad bulky

Weight: 13 oz
Bottom Line: Recommend

Used this water filter for a 5 day / 4 night Rae Lakes Loop Backpacking trip in Kings Canyon National Park. It was very nice to let gravity do all the work. Its pretty easy to fill at least it was in a place with flowing streams. It has an opening like the old dry bags of old used for river rafting.

I agree it would be hard in spots with very low or mucky water. In that case you would want another container to first let sediment sink to the bottom.

The flow rate isn't as fast as say the katadyn hiker pro but since you aren't doing any work for it its not that big a deal. My friend had a 96 ounce nalgene cantene that we would fill ( it would take about 20 minutes or so I would say). The filter is the same as used in the hiker pro which is a plus for those who already own the one. I don't see why if you used gloves that you couldn't use one filter for both ( although obviously one at a time).

I kind of wish that this filter had the bottle adapter that the hiker/ hiker pro comes with. Sometimes its hard to find flat ground under a tree.

I suppose quickconnect fittings would be nice but not really necessary as by definition almost any time you take this filter out you are stopped for a while and it shouldn't be that big a deal to get your reservoir out. But there is no real reason why one couldn't. I am going to look for a real cheap used hiker / hiker pro just to use the bottle adapter with this base camp filter.

Thursday, January 13, 2011



America's best idea (the national parks) just got even better. The National Park Service has announced this years free entrance dates to all National Parks.

Mark your calendar for the following free entrance dates in 2011:
  • January 15-17 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday weekend)
  • April 16-24 (National Park Week)
  • June 21 (First day of summer)
  • September 24 (Public Lands Day)
  • November 11-13 (Veterans Day weekend)

Friday, November 19, 2010

GEAR REVIEW - REI Compression Sack - 16 Liters

GEAR REVIEW - REI 16 Liter Lightweight Compression Sack

This REI 16L Lightweight compression sack compacts your sleeping bag, insulated jacket or other gear to take up a minimum amount of space in your pack.

Big Disappointment :)

Overall Rating: ∑ 
Price Paid: $22.50
Positives: Lightweight
Retailer purchased from: REI
Negatives:  Difficult to Use, Not Durable

Weight: 3.2 ounces
Bottom Line:  Don’t Recommend

1out of 5

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Los Angeles Outdoor Events Nov 19-21

Los Angeles Outdoors Events and Happenings:
A quick preview of some events and happenings this weekend that LAoutdoorsers might want to be aware of:

  • Saturday November 20th, 2010 
    • Heal the Bay November Beach Cleanup    at Playa Del Rey Join Heal the Bay for its monthly beach cleanup. Meet like minded singles while cleaning up a beach. No preregistration necessary but they ask that if you bring a group of 10 or more that you preregister. See the website.
      • 10:00a.m. - 12:00 p.m.m Free, TOES Beach 6200 Pacific Avenue, Playa del Rey, CA 90293 (map)


    • Free Archery Class at Cheviot Hills Archery Range in Rancho Park This is a reoccurring event held every Saturday at 11:00 a.m. and on the second Sunday of the Month. After taking part in this free class, students shoot for a short period. Then they can shoot for free with free equipment during open shoot times.
      • 11:00a.m. - 1:30p.m. Free, Rancho Park Archery Range , 2459 Motor Ave. Los Angeles, CA, CA 90064 (map
    • 5th Annual Great Los Angeles Walk from Downtown to Santa Monica
      This should be on every Angeleno’s bucket list as it’s one of the best ways to enjoy our city. This year’s Walk returns to Wilshire Boulevard, starting off at Pershing Square downtown and ending in Santa Monica — that’s 15.6 miles. The afterparty will be at Border Grill in Santa Monica. Email greatlawalk [at] to participate.
      • 10am-6pm. Free. Start point: Pershing Square in Downtown (map).
    • Inaugural Harvest Beer Fest at the Echoplex in Silver Lake
      This boozy charity event will benefit 826LA and feature over 50 West Coast and national beers, unlimited sample pours, food trucks and live music by local bands like Vaud & the Villains and Last Round Down.
      • 12-7pm. $30. Echoplex and the Echo, 1154 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles (map).
    • LA Derby Dolls 2nd Annual Chili Cook Off in Downtown
      It’s supposed to rain this weekend and what better way to keep warm than lots and lots of chili? For just $10 you get all the chili you can eat OR if you’re more the competitive type, you can enter your famous chili recipe for judgment for $20. All proceeds go to benefit the LA Derby Dolls travel team. To compete email bongjovi420 [at]
      • 3-6pm. $10-$20. La Cita, 336 S. Hill Street, Downtown (map).

GEAR REVIEW - Camelbak® Hyrdolink™ Filter Adapter Review

GEAR REVIEW - Camelbak® Hyrdolink™  Filter Adapter 
 The Camelbak® Hydrolink™ Filter Adapter is a great idea in principle but we have some issues with it. 

Essentially the adapter is a kit of three pieces. One attaches to the end of your reservoir line. A second inserts in the output hose of your favorite trail water filtration system, and a third connects valve on the reservoir line to the mouthpiece.  

One great feature of the kit is that the quick release valve on the end of the reservoir (item A below) has a valve allowing you to stop the flow of water. This is extremely useful for topping off a partially filed reservoir. The reason is that it solves the one drawback of the Katadyn quickconnect™  fittings which is that the quickconnect™  fittings lack a valve and can thereby get you wet if you accidentally drop the reservoir tube after you have filed it or if you are toping off an already partially filled reservoir.

As previously indicated in the Hiker Pro review, the Katadyn quickconnect™ fittings can get your backpack rather wet if you aren't very careful when filing an already partially filed reservoir or if you drop the reservoir line after filling it. The Camelbak® Hydrolink™ Filter Adapter definitely solves the problem with the Katadyn quickconnect™ fittings but it has a serious problem of its own.

SERIOUS ISSUE ( no 90°drinking ):
But a serious issue we have with the kit is that the part meant to be in the end of the reservoir (part C above)  doesn't allow for the 90 degree bend that we have come to love from the camelbak hydrolock. It also renders your existing camelbak® hydrolock™  worthless. (At least if you follow Camelbak's instructions).

We have come up with an excellent workaround for this drawback. Unfortunately, it involves purchasing two of the Camelbak® Hydrolink™ Filter Adapters and using two of the Part E's above. You then have to cut the tubing from your reservoir to the existing mouthpiece and use a second Part E.

Essentially the workaround allows one to disconnect the Camelbak bite valve area from the reservoir and filter directly into the reservoir.

The lack of the ability to return to a 90° drinking angle that we are used to is a definite flaw in the kit. But for 6 dollars we feel the closable valve would be worth it by itself. So buying two kits isn't the end of the world to have spill-free direct reservoir filing while maintaining the  90° drinking angle that so many of us have come to love.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

TRAIL REVIEW - Sykes Hot Springs


One of the cemented rock pools at Sykes Hot Springs

Overall Rating:∑ ∑ ∑ ∑
Bathrooms: new pit toilets on route and at Sykes Camp
Difficulty: moderate
Best times of Year: Any
Distance: 20 miles roundtrip
Water: plenty of sources along trail and at camp
Dog : Y off leash
Elevation Gain: 2380'
Solitude: not much
Elevation Loss: 1490'
Map: Wilderness Press