LooseCrew-JeffO: Stuff I've made


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Stuff I've made

When I started out, I didn't have much of an income, and so I couldn't afford much fancy gear. If it wasn't at KMart or the Army Surplus Store, then I had to make it myself. In Wichita, KS, the only place to get fabric was Ponca Tent & Canvas. At that time, they were conveniently next door to the biggest surplus store in town. Since Wichita has tons of aircraft plants, there was no shortage of fasteners and other component gadgets and materials.
It also helped that I was a machinist.
I had my own waterproof, nylon bush-hat long before Columbia's bush hat and the Seattle Sombrero.
I had tent stakes made of aluminum tubing (one end of an arrow cut to length) before you could buy the gold-colored ones in the outdoor gear stores. And now I have a few titanium tubing stakes, which you can't buy anywhere, yet.
I made a 1.3 lbs. tent with poles made from aluminum arrow shafts.
I was making ascent vests years before The North Face made one. That item didn't sell well so they yanked it.
I made some snowshoes that allowed me to attach my ice crampons into them. That way I didn't have to add claws to the snowshoes, and I didn't waste time taking snowshoes off, then putting crampons on, and then reversing all that on the way back.

The snowshoes are lighter than any you can buy, but with my rudimentary tools, I couldn't bend the aluminum sharp enough to get the front of the snowshoe angled up high enough. Consequently I occasionally trip.
Grivel made snowshoe/crampon systems like that - about 5 years after I had already done it. They didn't sell well so they stopped selling them. The crux was you had to own one very specific model of crampon or you couldn't clip in. They should've made a universal clip-in and/or strap-in binding. (Hey, they should've given me a call!)
Fleece gloves, caps, earbands, GoreTex mittens, climbing nuts from T6 aluminum with Spectra cord, regular gaiters, tobagan cover, backpacks, stuffsacks, ... I can't remember everything.

Plus a plethora of modifications to items I've bought and improved on.
My best item is my snow pants. I designed these pants because even Marmot and The North Face lacked all the features I wanted. My pants have suspenders, the back drops down to easily "do yer bidness". The gaiters are built-in to the ends of the legs.
I hate velcro. Snow gets iced into it, water freezes into it, it wears out, it sticks to stuff you don't want it sticking to,... So my pants have two zippers on each side, one inner and one outer. A zipper is also much faster and easier to operate than velcro.
The crampon-guards on the inside of each leg are slick, heavy-duty pack cloth. I've tried cordura and Kevlar, but my crampons would catch those more-textured fabrics and cause me to snag and trip often. Not to mention those snags would lead to tears in spite of how heavy-duty the fabric was. Slipprier pack cloth doesn't snag, and it reduces the weight of the garment (I always sweat the weight).
The knees have 1/4" fleece padding and are covered in Kevlar.
The seat has 1/8" neoprene padding and are also covered in Kevlar.
The main fabric is 3-ply bonded GoreTex. There's only one layer to sew, because the three layers are bonded into one. This GoreTex never wears out.
One time I was crossing a creek on a snowbridge. It gave way. Both feet went underwater up to mid-shin. I jumped to the other bank and assessed the damage. I was dry inside - not one drop got into either boot.
These pants are BOMBER!!!!


At 10:16 AM, Blogger John Wright said...

This is so cool Jeff. I want to learn more so anytime you can post more details that would be great. I had no idea that all the necessary ingredients for bomb-proof and usable gear were widely available allowing someone with enough ingenuinity as yourself to create customized gear.


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