Whiteburn's Wanderings

One man's wanderings backpacking around Scotland plus the odd digression

Bits & bobs

Bloggers are often guilty focusing on their latest piece of expensive stuff, usually one of the Big 3 (backpack, sleeping bag+pad & shelter) well here’s a selection of some of the smaller items that I’ve found pretty good & don’t break the bank; I probably as have least as many failures.

Having changed over to the H600W Zebralight last winter I had to look at batteries & charging. After a bit of research the 3400 Ahr Panasonic 18650 cells, $17 for 4, 45g, fit the bill & have proven to live up to their specification.

For normal home charging I’ve a Opus BT – C3100 V2.2 Intelligent charger, £32, which will charge all the various cells around the house as well as the 18650’s; probably a bit of an extravagance but it did mean I could ditch a few cheap Ni-cad chargers I had hanging around.

A much cheaper way of charging a single 18650 cell is the Miller 101 charger, $3.26, 33g, a neat but of kit that can also can turn a spare 18650 into power bank for phone charging; it does need a mains USB charger in addition.

miller-charger-large

Mains USB chargers come in all shapes, sizes & cost; my main requirement is that they must be 2A to be able to charge the phone or cells quickly; I’ve two units that I’ve found reliable.

The UK 2A mains USB charger, £4.79, 55g, a bit on the heavy side but does have two USB outlets so that 2 devices can be charged simultaneously, has folding pins to make it easier to pack & will pump out 2A into the phone or Miller charger.

uk-usb-large

The European mains 2A USB charger, £2.99, 27g, has only a single USB outlet but on trips to the continent I like to carry 2 units anyway for redundancy so not an issue for me.

euro-usb-large

A bug bear of mine is the reliability & quality of charging cables; failures & high resistance being common problems. Common with most people my electronic stuff employs the ‘standard’ micro-USB connection & I have found these USB charging cables, $2.98, 10g, reliable & work very well. I prefer the short USB cables but they do present an issue when the socket is half way up the wall; the simple solution, hang the device from the charger inside a Tread-lite stuff bag, 2g, (which normally carries the charging bits anyway)

charging-hanger-large

I’ll normally carry 2 cables on a long trips to provide some redundancy & it’s worth noting that there are micro-USB to ‘odd’ phone adaptors available e.g. iPhone adaptor.

An essential device for around the house to check function of USB chargers & cables is the Charge Doctor, £1.78, this was probably the initiator in ditching a few ‘slow’ chargers & ‘dodgy’ cables.

charging-large

A short circuit of 18650 Li-ion cells is really something to be avoided if you don’t wish to start a major melt down. Some wrap their spare cells in tape or cling film & then put in a waterproof bag, I prefer a more functional solution. For a single cell, I use a MYO case made from a 25ml plastic measuring cylinder with a plastic tube plug, 10g, 100% waterproof so I’ve no issue with carrying somewhere it’s easily accessible.

single-case-large

For 2 cells I’ve the 18650 Waterproof battery case, $0.98, 20g, again tested waterproof OK.

double-case-large

The Tread-lite LED lantern, £8, 8g, is a really UL & effective solution for tent/ tarp lighting; the only negatives I have is that to change the cells in the Mini LED light inside needs a tiny cross head screwdriver & the light can be a activated by a simple squeeze as well as the switch (I’ve experienced 2 sets of flat batteries presumably because of this).

The Mini LED light, £2.28 for 10, 7g each (after the key ring is ditched), are very similar to the Tread-lite one’s & are easily carried as a spare, but a word of caution, some are more easily activated by squeezing than others so you may not get 10 ‘good’ lights.

mini-leds-large

A recent acquisition has been the 1m LED Fairy lights, £1, 12g, 10 micro LED’s which I found it great for draping across the Duomid vestibule giving enough light cook by without the annoying shadows you get from a single light source. They may not turn out to be very robust though with the conductors being fine single core copper (lacquered) wire which may easily break so I’ve taken to carrying it wrapped around a small piece of CCF. I’ve made a small mod by adding a JST plug & socket, £0.99 for 5, so that I can disconnect the LED ‘string’& plug in a single LED (recycle from a Mini LED light), 1g, into the battery pack which can then fit inside the Tread-lite lantern.

led-mod-large

I’ve tried various spectacle cases over the years, the last MYO one only succeeding in holding the broken bits together (an expensive lesson), this Specs case, £0.99, 26g, is the lightest I’ve found while still being reasonably tough (a piece of microfibre towel complements it & doubles as a lens cleaner).

specs-case-large

I loath disposable razors; OK they’re only 5g but I only ‘tidy up’ once a week on the trail & find that they invariably clog up. I eventually found the plastic Safety Razor, £0.99, 8g, not as good as the traditional butterfly design safety razor but at least it works, cleans easily & I suppose I can pop the blade out for minor surgery.

razors-large

Another trail annoyance is the campsites & refuges that haven’t heard of a wash basin plug (or they’ve been stolen) making soaking the laundry a pain. Have tried all the plastic bag tricks I finally bought the Sink plug, £0.99, it’s 26g that’ll definitely get packed on the longer trips; I did customise it to make it a little more packable.

sink-plug-large

For summer trips the Naturehike UL pants, £14, 85g, not very tough or high fashion but they’ll primarily get used for sleep wear & secondly for laundry days, saves me carrying LJ’s & shorts so will save about 100g.

nh-ul-pants-large

Lighting the alcohol stove when it’s cold can be a pain but not with a ‘turbo’ lighter, the Torjet lighters, £3.50 for 5, 20g, have proven pretty good. The Waterproof turbo lighter, £2.25, 30g, has also worked well & has survived being drenched a number of times.

The Ceramic knife, $3.40, 30g, very sharp, slicing through hard salami/ saucisson, big chunks of cheese or even a tomato with ease; it replaced my Wengler 14 penknife on long Pyrenees trips (only thing I miss is the cork screw but I can always find someone who has one in France/ Spain), saving 45g.

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2 comments on “Bits & bobs

  1. Kirsten
    November 28, 2016

    Thanks for your tips on useful bits of kit. I’ve been carrying the same Lidl cheapo lighter (pack of 4 for about £1.20) for a couple of years and it’s still going. The sink plug is a good one to remember, and, yes, specs cases are a pain! I use clip-on sunglasses so the case is essential.

    • Paul Atkinson
      November 28, 2016

      I use the clip-on sunnies too, the case that they came in is slim, light & pretty tough but when carrying spare specs the clip-on’s usually live there, hence the need for a decent case.

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This entry was posted on November 28, 2016 by in Gear and tagged .
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