Offroad Trailblazers and Envoys

COMPLETED: Ocala Nat. Forest DEEP FREEZE, RTT Test

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by DirtyBacon04 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:03 pm

My good buddy, and fellow member (CoastieMike) was able to drive down from GA to join me on this. We've been friends for over 10 years, but since 2005, only seen each other 2 or 3 times. I was glad he was finally able to drive down for this trip. He's used to primitive/backpacking style camping. He's not quite used to vehicle based camping yet, or the fact that he doesn't have to bring a tiny stool to sit on, a small back packing stove and pots, and freeze dried food. So that was entertaining.

I know, I know. You northerners sneeze at my title of Deep Freeze in Florida. Well, it was the coldest night of this winter, dropping to a bone-chilling 25 degrees!! Add a 20knt wind on top of that and it made for a good maiden voyage for my RTT and my -20 rated Kelty sleeping bag. I also received my new laptop that morning, so I brought it along without any programs, mostly to see how I liked having it in the truck. I had a Verizon JetPack hotspot, and this was the first time I've ever had Wi-Fi at a campsite. The hot spot had full bars of 4g where we were, so I could've sat back and streamed Netflix, had I wanted to. So, JetPack might actually be a good investment for Mission: Expedition.

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We did some adventuring trying to find a good spot. We settled on a place that I discovered a few days prior, called Hopkins Prairie. 90% of ONF seems to be all closed in dense trails. So this several hundred acre clearing was a nice relief. We set up camp. Me in my Smittybilt RTT and CoastieMike in his Hennessey hammock tent. Once the fire was roaring and the long johns were on, it was a rather comfortable evening. The wind shifted in the middle of the night and not in our favor. Especially for Mike. A 20 knt wind starting coming in right off the prairie and made Mike's night rather uncomfortable. I did not feel the slightest wobble or swaying in my tent. I heard it whipping around, but that was the extent.

I've discovered even more features on this tent. Small things, but I was impressed with the thought that went into it.
For example. This is how I've always set it up. We'll call it, full condo mode.
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As you can see, those window coverings look like giant sails. And i was wishing there was someway to "batten down the hatches" for high wind situations. Well, even though it held up nice over night with the wind, as I was packing it away I noticed there is a way to streamline it for high wind. All the window coverings and rainfly have these simple tie downs to hold it closed.

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which allows me to turn it into, what I call, turtle mode.

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This changes my post-fold-open work to only 2 rods for the opening rainfly. BUT WAIT THERES MORE!! If you're in a dry climate where you're not expecting rain or morning dew, then take the rainfly off with 6 buckles and 3 rods in pockets, and store in tent. Then your post-fold-open work is simply rolling up the doors.
Here's how I slept. The Kelty bag was incredible. I slept without the slightest chill in my toes. The interior has plenty of room, so it's easy for 2 straight men to sleep in their own bags in this tent.

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The next morning, after some hot chicken and mashed potato breakfast, and some log posing, we packed up for some more exploring.

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We found several other campsites that I marked for future adventures. Many portions of the trail opened up into obvious, previously burned areas with nothing but sugar sand whoops. At one point, while going through these whoops, a bit faster than I should've... I look behind me, and about 100 yds back, I see Mike outside of his truck. I get out to start walking back and over the radio he says "HEY!! Come get your gas can!!" Sure as shit, my 5 gallon can somehow got unlatched and flew out of the tire carrier. No damage to the can, and I just twisted the chain a few times to tighten up when I put it back on. It was rather hilarious.

Now for some more pictures.

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After I got home, I downloaded a demo version of TopoFusion to try out. I plugged in my Garmin and it automatically plotted my course through the forest, including the waypoints I saved. This might be a good buy... Stay tuned for more experimentation with that.
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I'm also going to download a trial version of Adobe Premier Pro for video editing. I've watched the tutorials and it seems pretty awesome and easy to use.
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by CoastieMike » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:19 pm

Excellent trip brother. I was rather impressed with your Condo. Very well made and thought out. It was great to see you bud.

And no mention of the stock 05 Tahoe Z71 tearing it up?? Haha


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by Norcrosski » Sun Feb 22, 2015 4:35 pm

So the tent is well worth its money
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by v7guy » Sun Feb 22, 2015 7:11 pm

Looks like a nice lil trip! Any thoughts on a more secure mount for the ole gas can while you're out prerunning for the 1500s in the future? LOL
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by DirtyBacon04 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:23 pm

hahahaha! Usually I had a few strips of inner tube under the can to fill the gap and have a lil cushion. I didn't put them in this time. I think twisting the chain is a pretty good solution, though.

Mike, you're supposed to fill in your 2 cents from the trip! Pics included!!!

Andrew: Yes, so far the tent to seems to be well worth it's cost! Very impressed.
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by Trail X » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:27 pm

Fantastic Bacon! Thanks for the writeup. 25 does sound cold though. Last TECORE it was about 20, and that was certainly cold enough for me. You must have a thing for cold weather camping.
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by DirtyBacon04 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:30 pm

I'd rather sleep in cold and work in heat... I must be backwards.
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by Norcrosski » Sun Feb 22, 2015 8:33 pm

Right there with u on sleep in cold work in heat
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by bartonmd » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:00 pm

v7guy wrote:Looks like a nice lil trip! Any thoughts on a more secure mount for the ole gas can while you're out prerunning for the 1500s in the future? LOL


It doesn't need to be more secure, it just needs to be installed right... :poke:

This is the rear tire/jack/fuel swing that I ran for a year or so, with a full fuel can in it the whole time, including when I was running dirt bike woops at 25mph, trying to break the prototype set of Radflos (or put my strut mounts through the hood... whatever). I never had any rubber in it or anything. I just made the chain a link or so long, and you twist it to get exactly the right tension. When you get it tight, you need to move the can around a bit to make sure the chain isn't going to work around the edge of the can and cause it to get loose.

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by DirtyBacon04 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 9:25 pm

I have been twisting it to get it tight. I guess it was this one time where it wasn't tight enough.
Plus, gave me some confidence in the durability of the gas can.
The only recurring issue I'm having with the swing gate is that damn gas strut. Blew another one. I haven't replaced it yet, just tied a rope at the right length as a limiting strap. If I do replace the strut, I might have an actually nylon strap made to the right length and bolt it up.
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by bartonmd » Sun Feb 22, 2015 10:07 pm

Have you just been letting it fly open? About the only way those come apart is if they impact at the end of their travel.

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by DirtyBacon04 » Sun Feb 22, 2015 11:28 pm

no. the first time, ok... I backed out without it latched. The second time, I walked it out 95% of the way, and let go just a tad to early and it went POOF...
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by bartonmd » Mon Feb 23, 2015 9:29 am

DirtyBacon04 wrote:no. the first time, ok... I backed out without it latched. The second time, I walked it out 95% of the way, and let go just a tad to early and it went POOF...


Yeah, there's a lot of weight for that little spring to stop. You really do have to walk it all the way out to the end. Having said that, I also had the jack mounted on it, and accidentally let the first one go from about 1/2 way once, and it didn't break, so who knows... May have gotten a weak one this last time.

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by Jrgunn5150 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:08 pm

Nice trip! It's -14 out here today... But at least it's a dry cold lmao.

I am interested in your Topo app, it imported that info from your GPS and made a little route map? That's pretty sweet.
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by DirtyBacon04 » Mon Feb 23, 2015 8:49 pm

I'm wanting to try it out some more. I might just use it after a shift at work to see where I patrol...
But yea. Pretty much just plugged it in, selected "Garmin USB" and then I was able to transfer individual routes (by day), waypoints, and speeds. Then I was able to mark waypoints in the TopoFusion and transfer it onto the Garmin. Seems nifty thus far. Downside: requires internet connection for map download. I think there's a way to purchase offline maps by state.
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by AA1PR » Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:28 pm

that looks like so much fun, excellent read !
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by CoastieMike » Wed Feb 25, 2015 1:16 am

My 2cents? Well I was surprised how well my stock Hoe did and very happy with my new tires (Goodyear Wrangler MTRs with Kevlar) did in the sand without being aired down. It was the perfect weather, even though I was a In a hammock.

I've been wanting to try out the hammock (Hennessy Safari) with vehicle camping since. As far as mounting to the truck there was no difference as I would to a tree and I could still use all my doors. What REALLY sucks is that I had ordered cold weather gear not for specially this trip because we did not know it would be the coolest night since 1958, and of course Luck of the Irish, it showed up the next day after I got back.

Vehicle camping is something I have never done before and Was a great experience for my cross country drive in AUG2016. I will have to reach the levels of organization that Bacon has as far as sectioning out boxes.

I also had the chance to run two new stoves In a cold and windy environment, you know the exact kind of environment that you will NEED your stove to run well and the hardest (besides elevation) environment for it to run. Stove one was a Trangia Spirit Burner which worked excellent once a windscreen was applied. Second was a MSR Whisperlite Universal which was very important to run because this will be my primary means of cooking for all long trips and my cross country trip.

As far as gear and amenities I will be adding I know I will be adding a table of some kind and spotlights on the back of the Hoe. Also I should have a CB radio next time I link up with Bacon.

At one point during the trip I thought I had broke something when I heard a metallic noise every time I would accelerate.. I got pissed at myself. But when I inspected the underside I found a damn stick between the gas tank and brake line, problem solved.

All in all it was a great trip and I hope the next time Bacon and I are legally permitted by the U.S. Government to be without leashes will be sooner then the last.


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by HARDTRAILZ » Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:27 pm

Nice pics and write-up. Looks like a great trip and always good to get to hang out in the backcountry with a good friend.

--Is the strut the same as the ones on my dual swing? Wondering because i am not the nicest to them, but have less rotating mass.
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by Trail X » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:55 pm

Bacon, did you do any more videos from this trip? I know you've been working on your editing skills.
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by DirtyBacon04 » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:01 am

yes I did. I'm still in the process of moving everything over to my "new" computer, once I do I'm going to download the trial of Adobe Premier Pro to see how I like it. Once that is done, I'll post another video
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