Saturday, November 25, 2017

Body armor/steps for the Tacoma

I was considering this particular set of steps/bars because they look good on the truck and they will give enough protection to the rocker panels from bouncing rocks and scraping on dirt and small rocks on the trail. I like that they tuck up high and snug to the truck. Most steps hang low and screw up ground clearance. After reading all the reviews on these Body Armor side steps (especially the installation comments) I bought and installed them. It took a bit over an hour for the two of them. Like the previous reviews I suggest ignoring the instructions and put the brackets on the bars first then install them on the truck. There simply isn't the room to tighten/adjust once mounted to the truck.
What I did was this, (Step 1) I mounted the brackets to the bar in the center of the adjustment slots. Using blue locktite I fully tightened the bolts to the bars. (step 2) I supported the bars with buckets and blocks of wood until they were within an inch of the mounting holes. (Step 3) Starting with the front (only one bolt on 2012 and newer trucks) I mounted the bar onto the truck with the bolt very snug but not tight again using blue Locktite. Moving to the second on I checked to alignment of the slots with the mounting holes. It'll either be right on or just off slightly if you were carefull in Step 1. If they are off a bit, take a rubber mallet or a hammer and a block of wood and hit the bracket into alignment. Insert and snug up the bolts and repeat for the last bracket. (Step 4) Tighten all the bolts and repeat on the otherside. Enjoy!
While the steps are strong as a slider, they are not true rock sliders because they don't attach to the frame and shouldn't be use as such. I'm very happy with the results and would recommend them.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Tacoma Suspension Upgrade

Awesome. If I had only one word to describe SuperSprings SumoSpring product line that is the word. Fortnately, I can us a lot more words here in this review. I have made several upgrades to my 2012 Tacoma Sport 4x4 (stock suspension) and this is by far the single best upgrade I've made to my truck. As all truck owners know, trucks have poor ride quality unless they're loaded with a few hundred pounds of cargo. That's how and why they are designed. Most of us however, drive around with an unloaded truck. My Tacoma Sport has a firm but smooth ride by design but while the front is well behaved the back end is choppy going over pot holes, man hole covers, washboard etc. when empty. Until now that is. After the SumoSpring installation the truck feels like it's loaded even when it's empty. The rear suspention absorbs bumps and dips like the front end. They also stabilize the truck side to side when cornering hard similar to an anti-sway bar. The truck handles in a much more balanced and predictive way.
I just returned from a thousand mile road trip that covered freeway, city, and four wheeling in the back country. It didn't seem to affect the off-roading in any significant way that I could tell. It was the most comfortable drive of any pickup, SUV I've ever driven or been a passenger in other than a highend luxury boat not suitable for heavy hauling or off-roading. I can say with certainty that I will install SumoSprings on every future truck/suv I purchase.
One last thing, I took a friend for a five minute drive around his neighborhood in my truck. He was so impressed he immediately ordered a set for his Ford truck. If you do a lot of different things with your truck like I do, loaded, unloaded, road trips and off roading do yourself a favor and purchase a set that fits your truck.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tato Gear AB-13 Max Hybrid Stove

After using a Varga Triad Alcohol Stove (see review here) for the better part of a year, I've decided to abandon it for something else. That something, is the Tato Gear AB-13 Max Hybrid (hereafter referred to as the stove) alcohol stove.

First, a brief background to the pros and cons of alcohol stoves vs other types of stoves.

1. Simple.
2. Light.
3. Cheap (usually, depends on what it's made of and whether or not it's a DIY stove).
4. Fuel is cheap and easy to find.
5. Best use is for heating water.
6. Fuel has dual use.

1. Not as hot or fast as canister stoves or white gas stoves.
2. Not as efficient at high altitudes or very low temperatures.
3. Not the best for cooking. Best use is for heating water. (This stove being the exception).

Here is a description from Tato Gear website of the stove.

The AB-13 MAX Hybrid Alcohols Stove builds on the technology of the AB-13 Hybrid. At 1.5 times the diameter of the original, this stove packs a powerful punch with more than double the BTU’s. Still with integrated pot stand legs for easy use. It brings the best of both worlds together in a compact, light weight alcohol burner that is a hot burning design. The folding design minimizes loose parts that could otherwise be lost easily. It’s fold flat design provides a compact and easily packable stove. This super strong design  is rugged and sleek yet strong enough to place your larger pots on. This stove can be remote fed and extends burn times.
This stove is perfect for the minimalist backpackers. Perfect for those long distance trips where fuel weight would be too high to carry.
Hunters love to have this stove in their packs for emergency situations. Everyone gets turned around in the woods from time to time. This stove provides the means to boil water for drinking. Don’t get lost without the means to survive.
Place this stove in you BOB or Bug Out Bag. Lightweight and compact and an essential item to carry.
The AB-13 is a practical lightweight alcohol stove that is compact enough to carry everywhere. Whether backpacking, hunting or prepping, don’t leave home without it.

Comes with zippered pouch, Remote Feed Cap w/ Feed Tube and 2 oz Bottle.


Burns Hot Like a Jet Stove • Compact Like a Wick Stove • Legs Folds for Compact folding • Light Weight only 23 Grams • Super Strong Rugged Design • Use Multiple Wick Configurations for Different Burn Patters • Remote Feed for Long Burn Times

Product Specs-

.8 oz (23 grams)Folded – 2 1/4 X 1Unfolded – 3 1/4 X 1.5Anodized Alumimun

As of this writing, I've used the stove over three backpacking trips. For a total of 6 nights and 7 days camping.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Ribz Chest Pack

For many years I've been a big fan of chest back while backpacking. Moving just a few pounds from your back to the front makes a HUGE difference in the walking stance while hiking. Balance is better, not to mention that you can access more than just chapstick wearing a chest pack. Several years back I tested a first generation pack from Ribz. Lets say it needed more design work and some time to get the kinks out. I just purchased a third generation pack Ribz and it's a much better pack. The access to you stuff is much improved and with the addition of interior pockets your gear is organized! I won't get an opportunity to test it on a hike for a few weeks, I'll update this post when I have used it on a hike.


Well I finally had an opportunity to use the newest version of the RIBZ chest pack. It performed to expectations. It carries a bunch of stuff from water and food to my multi-tool. My main concern was if the chest pack would interfere with my arms moving back and forth using the trekking poles. Happy to report that there was no problem with that. All of my previous chest packs hung from the main pack suspension. Which works fine but, if you wanted to take the main pack off, the chest pack had to take the chest pack off first. With the RIBZ chest pack, it goes on first then the main pack. So when taking a break long enough to warrant taking the backpack off the RIBZ stays on with my lunch/water and most of my essentials still on my body. Light, comfortable and close at hand. Awesome, a very good purchase for me.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Enlightened Equipment Revolt Underquilt

8/6/2015 - Just arrived! My new Enlightened Equipment Revolt underquilt for my hammock. Craftsmanship and quality materials is fantastic. This model is the 55in, 20°, with DownTek. It Weighs a tad bitover 16oz. Couldn't be mor pleased. Will ad to this review when I get out in the wilderness.

Well I finally got out on a cool enough weekend to use this quilt. Short version, it works exactly as advertised. Warm, easy to set up and just big enough to cover me from my neck to mid calf, and wide enough to easily cover my shoulders. The secondary suspension keeps the quilt up and snug against the bottom keeping you warm and draft free. Karo style quilting keeps the down in one area and makes it easy to fluff and move around a wee bit. Awesome.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Vargo Tiad XE alcohol stove

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: Don't remember for sure. Less than $30/35 perhaps.


This stove works as advertised. It'll heat enough water for your meal and a hot drink. But there are issues.


Reasonbly light, but there are lighter stovesDuel fuel designBeing titanium it's strongBurns fairly hot


Big pain to fill/refillOdd sized stand for my particular pot

I've used this stove perhaps 40 times in the past year or so. And while it's not a bad stove, it's not a great one either. My biggest issue is filling and refilling the stove. The fuel "capsule" cap is removed from the stand and taken apart. Filled to approximately 1oz and the cap replaced. Every freaking time.

Other alcohol stoves that have an open top are much easier to cook longer because of the easier refilling procedures. Ultimately, that's the main reason I choose to replace the stove with another alcohol stove. That review will come later when I've used it a few more times.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Jordan Hot Springs June 2014

This was my second trip to Jordan Hot Springs. The last time was in 2010. This is a fantastic area to backpack into. We went in from the TJ Corral trailhead up the Little Bear Trail to the Middle Fork of the Gila River. This route to Jordan Hot Springs begins with 750 foot climb over two miles (give or take) climb before topping out. From there we begin a gentle decent into Little Bear Canyon. This is one my favorite sections on the entire hike. Towards the end of Little Bear Trail the canyon narrows rapidly and becomes a slot canyon with a spring that feeds the Gila.

We got to the Middle Fork of the Gila about 9:30am and we took a short rest before pushing off for the hot springs upstream to our campsite and lunch. From here on in, it's a water hike. You will get your feet wet. This is where the trip differs from the last time. Sometime in the last couple of years a massive flood came down the canyon and washed out most of the established trail. So it was walking on the rocks and sand for the next two miles. Kind of a pain to tell the truth of it. I don't know about you but sand is the worst. Next is steep climbs. Ugh. But I digress, back to the trip itself.

Once we reached the hot springs we found the east side of the canyon to have had a lot of camping spots at the lower end washed out. Being higher up the side of the hill, the hot pool is basically unchanged since my last trip. The west side of the canyon was basically unchanged since my last trip. Which is good considering that most of the camping sites are here. For the rest of Saturday most of us alternated between the pool and napping. A very pleasant afternoon indeed.

We were up and breaking camp fairly early as we had a five and half hour hike ahead of us and then. An additional six plus hour drive home that afternoon/evening. Hiking out we backtracked the two miles we walked upstream the day before to the junction with the Little Bear Canyon trail. The difference here we continue downstream instead of going back up Little Bear. The remaining six or seven miles trail down stream on the Middle Fork of the Gila was washed out or covered with sand making the walk out a quite a bit more work. Honestly, taking my time and carefully placing my feet on the rocks was a lot easier than the frigging sand. Other than that, it's just as beautiful as before. Glad
I went and I look forward to other trips on other routes into the Gila Wilderness.