Monday, March 21, 2022

2022-012 | THERM-A-REST RIDGEREST CLASSIC PAD REGULAR

A WEEK BEFORE I WAS ABOUT to embark on my Thruhike of the whole length of Cebu Island, Philippines, on January 17, 2017, a package arrived at my address. It was a THERM-A-REST RidgeRest Classic Pad Regular, courtesy of a benefactor, Michael Schwarz. It was heaven sent and, immediately, it became part of my gear. It has to be, notwithstanding its size.

It is kind of bulky. If laid flat on the ground, it is 72 inches (182.9 cms.) in length, 20 inches (50.8 cms.) wide and 0.63 inch (1.6 cms.) thick. When rolled and packed inside its plastic packaging, its dimension becomes 8 inches (20.3 cms.) by 20 inches (50.8 cms.). Just the same, it cannot be packed inside the backpack but it could be rigged above or below your bag. 

It is very lightweight. It only weigh a mere 0.85 pound or a paper-like 0.39 kilo. It is constructed of cross-linked polyethylene. The patented molded design is constructed with a pattern of ridges and valleys to trap dead air that could increase its insulation value. The ridges make this pad softer and more comfortable than smooth closed-cell foam pads. Besides, it is made in the USA. 

I did not have time to test this in the field but it would immediately see action in this tough Thruhike across Cebu, from south to north, along its very rugged central cordillera, weather and all, 408+ kilometers long, which I have planned would take me 26 days of walking with three days of rest. The route explorations of the Cebu Highlands Trail had been wrapped up last November 2016, and it was time to test the route.

 

The bag I carried has only 40 liters room space. It has no more space for the THERM-A-REST RidgeRest nor can it be rigged above this bag for I placed a Galileo radionavigation tracking device, which location at the top is crucial for interface with a series of satellites. Although I am travelling by memory, the device only serves to record our progress in real time for the consumption of my “audience”. 

What I did was borrow a wide shoulder strap from another backpack and wove it through the center of the packed THERM-A-REST RestRidge and lengthen the strap with a flat shoelace and slung it on one shoulder, frontiersman style. This classic sleeping pad was thus displayed prominently on my front with its complementary plastic packaging and label. 

This unusual carry somehow interfered initially, on the first day, the view of my shoes and the ground I trod. One time, I slipped and bumped a knee on a rock, tearing fabric and skin. From that moment on, I developed a technique in carrying the THERM-A-REST this way. However, on the third and fifteenth days, strong gusts of wind swept it away, leaving me off-balanced. I adjusted the location of the RestRidge on the lee side of my bag.

 

The first day, I found myself camping below a ridge an hour before dusk. I preferred a hammock and a canopy sheet for it is lighter and does not take up so much space than a tent. I squeezed inside the THERM-A-REST RestRidge through the opened bug net and settled it as flat as possible. Then came the strong winds and it pelted rain on my campsite.

After supper, I settled inside the hammock and lay above the RestRidge. It took me many seconds to master the art of sleeping with that inside the hammock. While the rain lashed hard in torrents, I did not feel the icy fingers of cold wind that usually crawled on an unprotected back. The thick polyethylene construction simply deflected wind chill and prevent heat loss. 

I was comfortable that night and it amazed me what this lightweight sleeping gear could accomplish and it provided me a sense of comfort on my Thruhike. I slept through the night, broke camp and resumed my journey until I arrived at our next destination on the second day. The camp site was situated on a peak. Although there is an unfinished structure with a roof, it was open on three sides.

That night, winds stronger than that of yesterday’s, lashed my partly covered campsite with rain. Even when I rigged a canopy sheet to shelter my hammock apart from the roof, rainwater was able to douse my hammock wet. Were it not for the THERM-A-REST RestRidge, which kept me dry, warm and half-awake; I would have suffered a mild case of hypothermia.

The third night I slept among trees. It rained the whole night until sunrise appeared. The hammock was wet from the previous night as were my clothes. For weight considerations, I did not carry spare hiking pants and shirt. What spares I could carry where two pairs of socks, three pairs of elastic undershorts and a synthetic long-sleeved sports shirt which I used as my sleeping outfit and was partly-moist from two nights’ exposure to moody weather. 

I was comfortable on that night with nothing below my crotch. The THERM-A-REST RidgeRest curled along the edges to protect my lower legs and part of my thighs from the damp air and wind chills. The polyethylene structure with its deep grooves and ridges are well designed to trap pockets of warm air which aided in my insulation from the cold. The RidgeRest is surprisingly warm all night long!

 

The next eight nights I used the THERM-A-REST RidgeRest on the comforts of a covered structure, varying from place to place, but, just the same, I slept on bare concrete floors. It helped to keep the RidgeRest surface clean by placing it over a cheap laminated nylon sheet instead of placing it directly on concrete surface. The molded polyethylene pad acts like cushion because it is soft as it is 1.6 centimeters thick. 

On the twelfth night, I camped in the woods in close proximity to a big stream where, again, it rained during the night. The dampness in the cold air was felt but the THERM-A-REST RidgeRest stayed the same, giving me the same warmth and comfort that I had so appreciated on the first few days camping in the wild. From that day on, until I reached the end of my journey, I slept in covered structures with the same luxury experienced during the middle part of my Thruhike. 

My Thruhike would have fared different if I did not have the privilege of using a THERM-A-REST RidgeRest. It was never in my plans nor was I giving priority of acquiring it. It just appeared from out of nowhere on the most vital point of my planning and preparations. Without second thoughts, I immediately accommodated this as part of my load and gear. It may stand out due to its bulk but it was compensated by its weight.

When I had the opportunity to travel to Luzon, I brought this with me and showed this to my benefactor, who was most happy to see his goodwill had been one of the factors that led to the success of the Thruhike. We both camped overnight in Itogon, Benguet and four days more in Masinloc, Zambales to celebrate that freedom of the hills with his gang. 

Upon my final analysis, the THERM-A-REST RidgeRest delivered during my epic Thruhike of Cebu, an expedition that was a first in Southern Philippines. I have benefitted from its design and make and, altogether, it made my trek tolerable and, at the same time, comfortable, especially where I needed it most. The warmth it gave me was unexpected and was the deciding factor why I finished the Cebu Highlands Trail in 26 days! 

I highly recommend the THERM-A-REST RidgeRest Classic Pad for camping and normal domestic use. It complements very well both hammocks and tents. Sleeping on the ground with it insulates you from the cold ground and rain runoffs. Sleeping over it while hanging inside a hammock protects you from wind chill and from moisture caused by rain and mist.

The THERM-A-REST RidgeRest can be acquired online in the Philippines from its local distributor, The Outdoor Armory at P1,490, excluding shipment. However, this sleeping pad can also be bought from Lazada and Shopee at the same retail price. Most likely, shipping fee would be added. Read the details before adding it to cart.



Wednesday, March 16, 2022

2022-011 | FINDING "FORRESTER"

OUTDOORS COMMON SENSE TIPS: When you have 50 sets of hiking shoes using the same trail, you need to isolate, at least one print of a certain shoe, so you could have an idea where the owner is going.

I just love this moment. Keeps your mind sharp.

 

First seen in Facebook

November 18, 2018

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GENUINE OUTDOORSMANSHIP IS A collection of skills, crafts and common sense that may bring about a semblance of understanding nature better but it demands more than a thousand days and nights outdoors. A big chunk of that is learning for more knowledge which he or she initiate on their own lonesome self. 

The true gentleman or lady of the outdoors spends most of his/her time alone. He or she prefers no distractions so he/she could focus on all the skills and knowledge that was fed into him/her through the years and apply it where it is most applicable. One of the skills which gave him/her sheer satisfaction is tracking. It is a special skill that cannot be learned overnight or a decade of watching YouTube.

Tracking is neither good nor bad but it is as old as time. Tracking demands space, time and isolation. Tracking is very discriminating. The tracker disregards the rest when he/she finds what he/she is looking for and hugged that trace until the very end. On a well-trodden trail or on a well-paved path it is a nightmare but patience and common sense would win him/her over. 

Tracking both human and wildlife is easiest in the dead of winter or where there is still snow; on muddy places or on moist patches of dirt; on hardened crust of silt above a sandy floor like deserts and dry riverbeds; and on very tight places. Tracking the most deceptive wildlife is easier than trailing a human who thinks. 

One of the best cerebral exercise is to identify a footprint from a set of 25-50 footprints passing on a very well-used trail on a weekend. Isolate this imprint and familiarize the lugs and identify the make. Remember, one single print could have many owners. Measure the length with a stick as well as its width. Notice the depth of the print which would give you an idea as either a male or a female. Then the depth might also tell you of the load the owner carried.

Measure the stride if you can see another same print ahead which could tell you further if the owner is indeed male or female. The length of stride could also tell you more about the height of the owner and the pace he or she exacts. It would not be easy to spot a clean print with so many people using the same trail which could easily contaminate your specimen.  

When you do catch up with the hikers, make a comparison with each individual you see. Use the “theory of deduction” to save time until you believed your “quarry” is found. Looks could be deceiving. Be very sure since that specimen print you zeroed could have many owners. When you found correctly what you have been trailing for so long, relish on your success and reward yourself with an ice-cold bottle of beer!  

Anybody can be an outdoorsman and it is not a big thing but the there is an invisible line that defines a true gentleman or the lady of the outdoors from a somebody. The latter has their own set of culture, dress code and crowd while the former does not care, yet they would know those of his or her kind upon first impression and of those who could never be his/her own. 

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WARRIOR PILGRIMAGE BLOG, personified by this writer, is synonymous with the Outdoors, since Bushcraft and Survival is its niche. Safety and Security are its bedrock when it ventured into organizing outdoor events that involved people as in adventure/pilgrimage guideships and seminars; and explorations and expeditions. 

Through tutorship, experience, folk knowledge and good old common sense, this writer was able to collect useful information which he is currently documenting in a book titled, ETHICAL BUSHCRAFT. He shares some of this information and knowledge in his training sessions; in his social-media account; and in this blog.