Thursday, October 30, 2014

When a dirt Bike Ride Goes Down Hill

Okay, I'm a nut about motorcycles. Just ask my wife and she'll simply roll her eyes in confirmation. Like many riders, I started riding when I was a little kid on my hand-me-down Honda Trail 50 and it has been my passion ever since. It's been 30 years since first discovering this love of mine and luckily I've learned a few things along the way. One quickly realizes that if you want to continue your journey in this fantastic hobby, you will want to outfit yourself with the best protective gear you can afford. You also figure out that there are a few tools and emergency items you'll want to have along with you as well. I consider these statements to be pretty obvious ones and like to think I do pretty well to abide by them since we all know what happens when you don't. Right, Murphy's Law gives you a sly smirk and proceeds to promptly bite you in the ass as it is tasked to do. Unfortunately this past weekend I discovered that I am not above that law. 

I am telling this quick story because it has to do with one of our products at 180 Tack, the BearLine+. I always carry my personal BearLine+ in the tail bag of my trail bike on any ride I go on. It's just there, just in case and not only because I am a co-founder of this company but because I truly value it as a tool not to be left at home. I dutifully point it out any chance I get to those who feign the slightest curiosity. We put the "+" sign at the end of the name because it is much more than your average hang-a-meal bear line. In my hobby, it's a life saver! No, of course I don't mean I'd actually parish without the BearLine+, but I would be stuck for a very long time off trail without it possibly wishing I could die as I struggle with the weight of my 400 lb motorcycle. 



If you have ever lost your dirt bike or 4-wheeler over the side of a steep trail edge where the only way to continue on is to get your machine back on the trail, you know what I talking about. Frankly, it sucks! Even if you have a riding buddy with you to help work it back onto the trail, they are heavy and it's extremely exhausting. The BearLine+ is the absolute necessary tool to have with you in these situations.That's because this versatile system acts as a compact winch system because you can arrange the 500 lb test paracord and climbing-rated carabiners into a block & tackle system allowing you to easily hoist your machine back onto the trail. 



The reason I bring up this weekend's ride is because it was the first time I failed to have my BearLine+ system on my bike and it was, of course, during this ride that we needed it. My riding buddy and I came around a corner to find another rider about 25 ft off the trail down a very steep embankment. He was already exhausted from trying to get his bike back up to the trail and he had only been there a few minutes. His rear tire was dug in and his bike was going nowhere. We fortunately did luck out in this particular situation because 4 other riders came across our little scene and were available to assist. Of course the first tongue-in-cheek question posed by one of those riders was "does anyone have a come-along?". You can imagine my frustration when I had to explain that "I own a company that manufactures this great product and if only I had it with me today, I could show you how well it works!" But I did not have it this day of course and could not demonstrate it. Luckily, between the multiple riders we had available, we were able to sweat and grunt to get the heavy bike back to the trail where it belonged. But, most of us also ride in places where we're not likely to run across 5 other riders to help us out of our predicament. So, by learning my lesson and posting this quick blog about it, I hope I've convinced you to take a hard look at your tools and emergency equipment you bring along with on your next adventure. The BearLine+ will always be in my tool kit from now on. No excuses will be tolerated! ~ Travis

You can find the 180 Tack BearLine+ by following this LINK Don't leave home without it.


Monday, October 27, 2014

What Kind of Pan is Best for Backpacking?



180 Stove

All pan materials will work well with the 180 Stove.  Some are better for backpacking than others.  That said, here is a rundown of a little of our research.

Cast iron – too heavy for backpacking, but perhaps the best material for cooking.  It spreads the heat evenly, minimizes scorching, and some believe the healthiest material to eat from.  If pan metal “leaches” into the food, it is iron – a vitamin.

Aluminum – light and common as a backpacking pan.  There are lots of “unproven”  health concerns about eating from aluminum cookware especially when cooking acidic food like tomatoes, lemons, etc.  For simply boiling water, this is a minor concern.  But, this is one of the reasons our stoves are not made of aluminum.   Once the aluminum has been anodized, then this concern is mitigated significantly as long as the hard anodized layer is not scratched.  I do cook with anodized aluminum from time to time.

Anodized Aluminum with 180 Stove


Stainless steel – thin stainless steel is great for backpacking; strong and light.  While it is possible for trace amounts of chromium to get into the food, this is minimal and not a real health concern.  This is my favorite backpacking cooking material.  It will scorch food more than some materials, however, but this is common for most thin backpacking pans.

Titanium is known to be one of the best materials to cook with as it is highly unreactive and does not leach metals into the food.

Pans with a larger diameter base heat water more quickly, as a rule, but they can take up space in the pack.  They have the added advantage of working better for cooking eggs and the like.  Our stoves are sturdy and have no issues cooking even with large, cast iron Dutch ovens.  Other backpacking stoves cannot do this.  They are simply too small and flimsy.

Can your backpacking stove do this?


Make sure whatever you use comes with a good lid.  It speeds up boiling time and doubles for a plate or bowl. 

One thing to keep in mind is that some natural fuels will coat the outside of the pan with creosote.  This is because the pan has cooler water or foods inside that allows the creosote to condense onto the pan.  This creosote causes no harm, and does not even stain the pack once it is cool.  It can be “cooked off” by heating an empty pan, but I usually don’t bother as it causes no issues.  However, I would not use my wife’s favorite pans when burning pine, especially….  Some people coat the outside of the pan with a little soap before cooking as it reduces the “smoking” of the pan.  Again, I don’t bother as the creosote is a non-issue to me.

And don't forget, the 180 Stove works well without a pan too as a packable grill.


Packable Grill






180 Flame
 Have fun!  Get out there!