I’ve been using the Hydro Flask Lightweight Trail Series bottles for about a year and a half. They are the first double-wall insulated stainless steel bottles I’ve found that are light enough for me to want to carry regularly.
I first purchased the 21 oz when I happened to come across it on sale. I liked it enough to purchase the 24 oz a month later when I had an REI coupon. A couple months after that I purchased the 32 oz at full price.
I primarily use the bottles to keep cold water cold. I also sometimes use the 24 oz bottle to keep hot tea hot. I’ve not timed how long they hold the desired temperature, but they do so for at least as long as it takes me to drink whatever is in them, thus resetting the clock. They do not insulate as well as my Zojirushi SM-SA48-BA, but the Hydro Flasks are better as daily, general purpose bottles.
When buying a bottle, one of the things I look for is standard threading and neck diameters. I strongly dislike being locked in to proprietary lids. Hydro Flask meets this criteria, allowing me to replace their stock lids – which are adequate – with better options. The 21 oz has a standard narrow mouth. Mine wears a Topoko Straw Lid B. The 24 oz and 32 oz have standard wide mouth openings. Mine both wear the humangear capCAP+.
If not using the humangear capCAP+ on the wide mouth bottles, a splash guard is wanted. The old Guyot Designs SplashGuard will not work, nor will the newer HydraPak WaterGate. I have found the BottlePro SplashPro to work well.
I have used the 21 oz and 24 oz bottles most. I first EDCed the 21 oz for about 8 months, before deciding that I really wanted those extra 3 oz of volume. The 24 oz has been my EDC for the past 8 months. Both carry well on the bike in a King Cage Iris Cage.
Without any lids, the three bottles register on my calibrated scale as:
- 7.80 oz, or 221.1 grams, for the 24 oz bottle
- 8.59 oz, or 243.4 grams, for the 24 oz bottle
- 10.80 oz, or 306.2 grams, for the 32 oz bottle
The bottles are not available in a raw finish. All three of mine are in the obsidian color, which is a nice chocolate brown. The paint does chip, particularly along the bottom, but this doesn’t bother me. One could probably avoid this by using one of those silicone boots, but these are not compatible with bike cages. I have dropped the bottles, and they do dent, but again, this does not bother me. If you’re looking for a pristine beauty queen, these bottles may not be your cup of tea. If you’re looking for functional, lightweight tools for a warming planet, these are great options.
The wild rag or neckerchief is an eminently functional tool. Worn around the neck, it protects from ultraviolet radiation. When wetted, it provides evaporative cooling. When dry, it can be used as a towel. It offers warmth when the mercury drops, and protection from the wind. It can be used as a furoshiki to bundle items together, or be tied into an impromptu bag. It may be fashioned into a sling, or used to tie a splint. The devolution of the wild rag into something as dumb as the modern necktie is the greatest crime perpetuated by Fashion since the invention of the high heel.
I bought my first wild rag at a used clothing store in 2004, though it wasn’t till seeing a suspiciously similar looking one as part of Viggo Mortensen’s costume in Appaloosa a few years later that I started to think of it as practical field equipment. By 2009 it was a standard part of my backpacking accouterment. Some time later the wild rag graduated to being just normal clothing, particularly when it is unusually hot or cold out. (The original rag that I bought used 19 years ago remains in the rotation.)
The standard size for a wild rag is 36” x 36”. This is larger than a pocket snot rag, which is typically 22” x 22”. It is large enough to be wrapped twice around the neck, with the tails still long enough to be easily knotted in the front. The wild rag will also usually be offered in a larger 44” x 44” size, but I find this too large to be worn.
The most common way to secure the wild rag around the neck is via a square knot. Being a gentleman of taste and culture, I sometimes tie mine in a half windsor. The so-called buckaroo square knot is another option, but I think it is pretty goofy looking. The only buckaroo I want in my life is Banzai.
A slide can be used in place of a knot. I have a couple of slides which are simply elongated ovals of leather with a snap in them. They work, and look nice, but are not as secure as a good knot when flying down a mountain on the bike. One could also use a woggle, but this is associated with people who march around in brown shirts, which I am allergic to.
The proper material for a wild rag is silk. People will try to sell you polyester rags, or blends of silk and cotton. Both are less functional than real, natural silk. The range of weather conditions in which silk remains comfortable is unusually wide. Avoid all imitations.
Silk rags are primarily offered in either Crepe de Chine or Charmeuse. Charmeuse looks and feels incredibly luxurious. It is very soft. One side is shiny and the other matte. But it is also warmer and slightly heavier than Crepe de Chine. Crepe de Chine has a rougher, pebble-like texture to it. It is lighter weight (by about 10 grams for the finished scarf) and better for warm weather, but still useful in the cold. Jacquard, where a pattern is sewn in with a lighter colored thread, is usually applied to Crepe de Chine fabric. Start out with one Crepe de Chine rag, then get one in Charmeuse. Next buy a few more of both, because this is an addiction.
Hems should be serged. Many sellers of silk wild rags offer the same patterns. They’re probably all buying the same bolts of fabric from the same suppliers. When you choose a seller, what you are really buying is the hem. A silk wild rag is not just a piece of fashion, but a durable, long-lasting tool. Serged hems will provide a longer service life than a hem which is simply rolled and stitched. You may save a little on the price with a lesser hem, but you will be disappointed in the long run. I wasted money before learning this lesson.
The best places that I have found to purchase a wild rag are Cowboy Images and Wild West Rag Co. Both apply serged hems to real silk. I’ve bought from both in the past and will buy from both again in the future.
Alternatives like shemaghs and neck tubes have their place, but my preference sits strongly with the silk wild rag.
These gateways bypass the traditional APRS messaging requirement that both parties be online at the same time. With the SMS Gateway and Email Gateway, I can send a message to someone back in the world, and the message will arrive on their computing device as normal SMS or email. Critically, both gateways store messages for 24 hours and allow receivers to request unacknowledged messages be resent. This means that someone can reply to my SMS or email at any time, even when my radio is off. I just have to turn on my radio at least once per day and instruct both gateways to send me any new messages.
The Softstar Shoes Hawthorne Chukka is one of my favorite shoes for everyday wear. I bought a pair in “Hickory” (brown) in 2016, and liked them enough that I went back and bought a second pair in “Onyx” (black) one month later. The chukkas feature a stitched leather midsole with a glued outsole, which means they are resolable. The outsole they ship with is an 8mm Vibram Super Newflex (Vibram catalog number 8868), which Softstar calls their “Geo” sole.
This past February I decided it was time to resole the brown pair. They had begun to feel a little slippery on wet concrete, and when I flipped them over to look at the bottom I could see that I had worn the rubber away completely in some spots.
When I visited my neighborhood cobbler, he did not have any sheets of Vibram Super Newflex. He did have a sheet of Vibram Newflex (Vibram catalog number 8870). I went with that.
Newflex is denser and a bit stiffer than Super Newflex, with a classic herringbone tread pattern that feels like it ought to be better for dirt. Newflex is what Softstar uses on their Dash and Primal running shoes (they call this one “Omniflex”) and is what Luna uses to build their classic Leadville Sandal, so the material has strong trail running credentials.
The resoled chukkas are probably a few grams heavier than they would be with Super Newflex rubber, and perhaps ever-so-slightly stiffer, but when wearing them I do not notice a difference in either department. With a fresh coat of Obenauf’s oil I think the refreshed shoe looks great.
I liked the Newflex sole enough that I went back to the cobbler 6 weeks later and had him resole my black chukkas. These weren’t as worn down as my brown pair, but were still worn smooth on the balls of the foot (there is a pattern here).
Resoled leather footwear is better than new. You get fresh tread, but keep your well-worn leather that has already molded to your foot. I’m looking forward to wearing both these soles down and revisiting the cobbler in another 7 years.