self-customizing gear

4:57 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I invite people to talk about ways they have improved their gear to suit their needs.  A feature on one of my packs, though small and seemingly modest, has proved to be so useful that it drove me to implement it on the other packs, and on other gear.

one of my backpacks arrived years ago with glo-cord for all the zipper pulls.  if you don't know what i'm talking about, glo-cord is utility rope with a reflective stripe woven into the rope.  it is extremely helpful for finding the pulls in low light or at night, and other items (knife, for example) that may have a small loop of cord attached.  I recently picked up a larger spool because I think it would be very helpful to avoid tripping over tent guylines at night, and for zipper pulls on jackets and pants.  my expedition mitts came with the same thing on the leash, which has been very helpful too.

the same backpack also has grommet holes in the bottom of each bottle pocket for drainage, a modification I am pondering for one of my packs that i tend to take canoing. 

i realize i may be getting into a thicket of people who actually make their own gear; i'm not that ambitious.  nonetheless, i'm interested in what people do to make/modify their stuff to better suit their needs. 

 

 

6:19 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm actually in the process of modifying my MSR Skinny Too tent. If your not familiar with this model, it's a single wall three season tunnel tent. It has mesh running along the whole ceiling that acts as a gear loft, and for keeping bugs and such out when the vent above the door is open. I find this feature (the mesh) annoying and useless. Using the mesh as a gear loft only works for something very light, or your losing head space, which is lost anyway by maybe four inches or so.

I'm going to remove the mesh ceiling and the two sippers (one is for the gear loft, the other to access the vent) and put mesh over the the outside part of the vent....somehow (suggestions? Glue? Sew/seal?). Or maybe just have someone do it who knows what they are doing. Anyway, by doing this I will gain head room and not have the mesh annoyingly brush my head, and save some weight.

Inside looking out to the front vent
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The vent outside with part of the flap to close
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he tent
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11:22 p.m. on September 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Just real quickly, for a couple ideas I've implemented over my many years of hiking / backpacking:

For Boots:   I have added "life" (and a few hundred miles of hiking) to the soles, as they were wearing down to the point where re-sole'ing was imminent -- I took a Dremel rotary-tool, and some of the carbide abrasive tips / bits, and re-carved the sole gaps (between the lugs).   You can go down into these gaps about another 3/16".   Obviously, the soles will flex a little more underfoot, but not so noticeably.

In conjunction with this process, I have also taken a hot-glue gun, and deposited 'globules' of hot-glue material directly on the lugs.   This creates something akin to "hob-nail" boot soles.   Adds about 100 miles of wear to the life of the soles.

I have also done the latter (hot-glue) to running shoes.   Works especially well in less-than-smooth terrain, where the running-shoe soles get chewed-up pretty quickly, and don't offer good purchase ("bite") into harder surfaces.

They kinda go "clackety-clack" on hardwood floors, and are a little slippery, so be careful.   But, you don't use running shoes on hardwood floors, anyway ...  DO YOU?

                                                      ~r2~

1:08 a.m. on September 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

Just real quickly, for a couple ideas I've implemented over my many years of hiking / backpacking:

For Boots:   I have added "life" (and a few hundred miles of hiking) to the soles, as they were wearing down to the point where re-sole'ing was imminent -- I took a Dremel rotary-tool, and some of the carbide abrasive tips / bits, and re-carved the sole gaps (between the lugs).   You can go down into these gaps about another 3/16".   Obviously, the soles will flex a little more underfoot, but not so noticeably.

In conjunction with this process, I have also taken a hot-glue gun, and deposited 'globules' of hot-glue material directly on the lugs.   This creates something akin to "hob-nail" boot soles.   Adds about 100 miles of wear to the life of the soles.

I have also done the latter (hot-glue) to running shoes.   Works especially well in less-than-smooth terrain, where the running-shoe soles get chewed-up pretty quickly, and don't offer good purchase ("bite") into harder surfaces.

They kinda go "clackety-clack" on hardwood floors, and are a little slippery, so be careful.   But, you don't use running shoes on hardwood floors, anyway ...  DO YOU?

                                                      ~r2~

 

Hey Robert,

It's nice to see and hear that others are not afraid to take matters in to there own hands in an effort to save money.  This applies to everyone in this post that does their own "alterations"/self-customizing to their gear.

7:54 a.m. on September 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Thank, Brian.

I am an inveterate "tinkerer".   Always thinking of the proverbial "better wicket".

I am a pro musician, and some of my horns are what the guys in the biz call "Frankenhorns".

They are amazing horns.   Other horn players always notice my sound and tone.

I would hope to help you apply this principle to your tent ideas.   I think you are really on to something with your ideas and plans.

                                                      ~r2~

10:37 a.m. on September 7, 2011 (EDT)
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"Playing" with ones gear is great fun.I sew a lot of my own and modify retail gear if it "improves"it,will not modify just for the sake of being different.Love your boot soles thing Robert,never thought of that one.Have made stuff sacks,anorak,overmitts,gaiters,foot prints,gear loft,insulated water bottle covers,full zip rain pants etc.It paid to be raised by a mother who sewed atr home to earn extra money,I did have to fight kids when growing up because they found out I was sewing.ymmv

10:40 a.m. on September 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Never.  All I own is perfect gear.

; )

1:03 a.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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1:06 a.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Original Marmot Taku had 3 poles...Bomber!... I added a 4th pole...Nuclear!

1:11 a.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Schlockmyr said:

Original Marmot Taku had 3 poles...Bomber!... I added a 4th pole...Nuclear!

 Oh yea?  I have that tent and it is a bomber tent.  Did you put in interior pole pockets?    I would be very interested in seeing and hearing more about this?  Could you by chance measure the exact length of the new pole?  This is one of the next tents I was going to feature next  under the single wall tent thread?  It's nice to see someone adding weight to make a stronger tent rather than taking away weight to make a lighter less strong tent.  Do you by chance have any original paper work for your Taku?  Kuddos at ya!!!

11:04 a.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I shorten abandoned stuff sacks from camp chair covers and mattress pad covers to fit other items.  Sewed the flex pocket shut on the side opening of my Osprey Argon so I could put in smaller items without the pocket puking them out. Cut up heavy aluminium serving pans to make windscreens and shields for stoves.

6:16 p.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I attached some shock cord to my pack on top (Deuter ACT Lite 65+10).  That's about it!

6:22 p.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I typically don't mod anything. Causes issues with manufacturers warranties.

8:21 p.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Rick-Pittsburgh said:

I typically don't mod anything. Causes issues with manufacturers warranties.

 ditto.  I might add accessories, but I rarely (maybe never?) remove anything in a permanent manner.

I doubt many people buy new gear with resale in mind, BUT if you're busy modifying something, don't be surprised if that item holds its value, or shoots up in value, yours isn't worth a thing when you do decide to sell it.  Not too long ago, someone on this board wanted to sell a Kelty all-Spectra pack that would normally sell for $250-500.  After modifying it to death, getting someone to pay even $100 for it was going to be difficult.  "But they're selling for $300 on eBay!"  Not with all the straps cut off, the extra pockets missing, and you having turned it into a duffel bag.

I love reading about modifications, but it isn't something I'm personally interested in doing to my gear.  It's not really the financial thing.  The mods I would make are huge, and I'm better off buying another piece of gear with those things already part of the design.

11:57 p.m. on September 8, 2011 (EDT)
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I DO take the risks of voiding a warranty ... but, with careful considerations.

Rarely, have I not succeeded.

I have an engineering background, and  I do not mod anything haphazardly.   Considerable thought is in the process.

I mod music-instruments, and make a profit on them when re-selling.

Plus, I am a 'natural-born risk-taker'.  If I take a hit in a re-sale ... so be it.  I can afford it.   It's MY money, in the first place.   Screw 'em.

I am VERY frugal to begin with ... soooo, even if I do take a hit, I save elsewhere.  

Heck -- I have boots and backpacks over 30 years old, and they are still providing good service to me.   My "daily-driver / prime-mover" is 30 years old.  (I have three others that don't get used much).   My monthly electric usage is averaging less than 110 kwh.  (Last month was the highest, due to the excessive heat here in Maryland during July and August).

IDGAD.

                                                    ~r2~

12:41 a.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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When I first saw this topic I thought, hmmm, gear that customizes itself; must be some new kind of tech, how interesting! :-). Anyway, I second the idea about reflective cords. My BA tent has them for the guy lines and they are great. I plan to buy some of that cord and use it for other purposes too.

1:01 a.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Apeman,

     Installing the 4th pole in my Taku was actually very easy.I Took care to sew three velcro tabs along the 3 upper seems of the tent and I then took care to sew two pole pockets along the bottom side seems. I have put together many articles over the years from scratch , so this was not a big task at all. However for the pole pockets I just took nylon webbing , the same as you stake your tent out with and folded the lower section over onto itself and stitched the edges. Placement of the pole was a little bit of mathematics and the availability of pole sections that I picked up in a mountaineering shop that were leftovers. Finally I did some bending of the poles (aluminum) to match the proper arc in the tent. I did this by slowly heating the poles one at a time over my gas stove in my kitchen . Finally, I installed shock cord in the poles. Did I worry about voiding the warranty...Nope! Didn't give it a second thought. I think of it as being innovated and creative.

        

1:51 a.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Schlockmyr said:

Apeman,

     Installing the 4th pole in my Taku was actually very easy.I Took care to sew three velcro tabs along the 3 upper seems of the tent and I then took care to sew two pole pockets along the bottom side seems. I have put together many articles over the years from scratch , so this was not a big task at all. However for the pole pockets I just took nylon webbing , the same as you stake your tent out with and folded the lower section over onto itself and stitched the edges. Placement of the pole was a little bit of mathematics and the availability of pole sections that I picked up in a mountaineering shop that were leftovers. Finally I did some bending of the poles (aluminum) to match the proper arc in the tent. I did this by slowly heating the poles one at a time over my gas stove in my kitchen . Finally, I installed shock cord in the poles. Did I worry about voiding the warranty...Nope! Didn't give it a second thought. I think of it as being innovated and creative.

        

 

I would agree on the warranty issue and as old as it is, and as fine a product as it is I would guess you would never need the Warranty.  Would you by chance give me the length of the new pole?...........and how many pole sections you used? It would save me a bit of time and from making mistakes.  Thanks and again, good job!

11:54 a.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I too am conscious of the mfg warranty and resale, see my other recent post about that.  I agree, if you physically cut things off, all bets are off for resale, and you are definitely voiding the warranty.  if you are buying quality gear that claims a lifetime warranty, it's worth thinking about whether modifications are worth it.  mostly, my 'modifications' are more like replacements, like ditching the stock guylines for the glo-line, or additions that can be removed. 

 

12:34 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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I believe I'm in the camp of retrofitting a piece of equiptment without disturbing its structual integrity.  First off, I do a lot of investigation (usually) on all the equiptment I buy in an effort not to have to do anything extra to the piece of gear.  The exception is boots, I still have to just buy and try but I only pick tru time tested vintage boots to try.  I alwasy go for the best option in what I'm looking for which usually means for the most part it was the most expencive piece of gear when it came out.  What works for me is that I buy used, and I sometimes look for years for the right item (s).  By the time I get my hands on it, it usually has years of reviews and again is a used, or a new old stock item so it is not revelent in the pricing of new top of the line gear.  What this allowes me to do is by the best for the price of a lower to medium priced newer items.  As an example:  I have a Marmot Taku like Schlockmyr in his above post.  I think I can add my fourth pole to the Taku by adding the pockets to the end of the pole rather than sewing to the tent itself.  As the poles in that tent fit so tight there is little likelihood of any movement.  As a precaution I will put some silicone on the end cap pockets and a thin film along the top of the fourth pole to aid in keeping it in place so as not to have to do any sewing of velcro tabs in thetop of the tent as well, therby not screwing it up and not voiding the warranty as well as not wrecking it's value as a vintage stock item as this tent was made in 1978+/-.

11:10 p.m. on September 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Apeman,

       5 sections...66.5 " in length

6:36 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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As a recent example I ran the "crossing pole" for my TT Moment solo tent inside the tent for better canopy support. It runs out through Velcro reinforced holes at the apex of the end vents.

 I also replaced grossgrain ribbon ties inside and out with Velcro or toggle tiebacks for the doors. I added 4 stake loops equidistant around the tent's hem and coated the top 1/2 of the canopy with a thin coat of silicone sealant.

A 3,000 cu. in. Camelback Commander camo backpack I bought for backcountry skiing needed extensive modding.

1. cut off the thin cloth waistbelt & replaced it with an REI padded waistbelt which I slid behind the unstitches sides of the pack's  lumbar pad, then had a shoemaker bartack the lumbar pad.

 

The same shoemaker sewed on two  1/2" webbing straps & buckles to the pack's bottom for attatching a sleepng pad.

Finally I reinforced the flimsy plastic "sheet frame" with two vertical 1" flat aluminum pieces of bar stock and a horizontal bar connecting them at the top. I hand contoured the vertical stays. Four stainless bolts in holes melted thru the fabric and frame sheet hold the frame in place. 

 

Now I have a pack that can hold up to 45 lbs. in relative comfort. I expect that most times I'll be skiing with only 20 nlbs but last winter I ski camped with 40 lbs. in the pack.

 

 

6:47 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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As for "resale" of my modded equipment so far I have just used the stuff until it wore out. The one exception was a North Face "Ruthsack", one of the first internal frame packs on the market. I made it into a two compartment pack. The guy that bought it told me that he didn't notice for two years that the sewn-in middle floor was made to zip open if a one compartment pack was desired.

Like "Schlockmyr" I sewed Velcro male/female strips inside the Moment's canopy to hold the interior crossing pole in place. Thorough seam sealing was required afterwards.

 

7:18 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Re: self-customizing gear - siping lug soles

I'm taking the Dremel with a micro-thin circular saw blade to a pair of hiking boots. The traditional Vibram Montagna Bloc sole is wonderful in dirt and broken rock, but on smooth, wet rock or ice it just slips. I'm putting sipes in each lug at 90 degrees to direction of travel; two per lug and 1/8" deep.

Has anyone else siped their lug soles? I started it just to get a grip, but it is not a bad task for a winter day. Suggestions on depth?

9:21 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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overmywaders, I'd love to see the results when you're finished.

10:39 p.m. on October 2, 2011 (EDT)
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Re: self-customizing gear - siping lug soles

overmywaders said:

I'm taking the Dremel with a micro-thin circular saw blade to a pair of hiking boots. The traditional Vibram Montagna Bloc sole is wonderful in dirt and broken rock, but on smooth, wet rock or ice it just slips. I'm putting sipes in each lug at 90 degrees to direction of travel; two per lug and 1/8" deep.

Has anyone else siped their lug soles? I started it just to get a grip, but it is not a bad task for a winter day. Suggestions on depth?

I would start at 3/16 an inch.  You can always go deeper later on but you can never go back if you go to far.

4:42 p.m. on October 11, 2011 (EDT)
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Re: self-customizing gear - siping lug soles

overmywaders said:

I'm taking the Dremel with a micro-thin circular saw blade to a pair of hiking boots. The traditional Vibram Montagna Bloc sole is wonderful in dirt and broken rock, but on smooth, wet rock or ice it just slips. I'm putting sipes in each lug at 90 degrees to direction of travel; two per lug and 1/8" deep.

Has anyone else siped their lug soles? I started it just to get a grip, but it is not a bad task for a winter day. Suggestions on depth?

 

Yeah.   I've done it.

Pretty much the method you have selected.   I used the "Holy Grail" of siped soles, the venerable Sperry Top-Sider, for a guide.

If you've ever owned a sailboat, you know what I'm tawkin' ....

I went about 1/8 to 3/16ths of an inch.

It works.

~r2~

1:27 a.m. on October 14, 2011 (EDT)
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I tried to modafy a small pack for one of my kids, it was a summit pack, held about 20-30L.  The problem was the frame, made of plastic was bending and pushing into their back.  But the waist belt was attached to the frame, so if I removed the frame them there was no hip belt. 

I finally took out the frame and used some straps to hole the hip belt on, it worked for the light loads they where carrying.   The problem was the pack was just to small for there clothing and sleeping bag and it would distort the frame.  Ended up using large pack the next year because they had grown so much.  They don't carry a lot of weight, but all there stuff is bulky. 

I have been thinking about modifying my pack but I just don't have the skills to do the sewing on a pack.  I think for now I am going to leave it as it is.

Wolfman

2:50 p.m. on October 14, 2011 (EDT)
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Used a BA Linx 3 Footprint as a entry ground tarp for my MH Skyledge 2.1.

A little customizing for the tents vestibule and with the 1/2 pound extra for this entry tarp camping is much better.

Love it.

September 2, 2014
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