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Innovation I'm waiting for
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David Staszak
( - F
Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 11:13:15 MST Print View

An article coming out of the Winter Show listed the "innovation" that several commentators were waiting for, well here is mine: a pair of boots that are breathable and keeps the water on the outside! I don’t understand how we can be satisfied with boots that have a Gortex bootie as the last stop before the sock. We spend money on good light-weight boots that immediately double in weight with the 1st good size puddle we walk through.

Scott Peterson
(scottalanp) - F

Locale: Northern California
Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 11:24:09 MST Print View

Me too! Breathability is my biggest issue. I cannot wear Goretex most of the feet get too wet regardless of puddles or creeks...and then it's pain time!

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 11:54:49 MST Print View

There are a few companies making shoes with soft shell fabrics. Timberland and Salomon have interesting, lightweight shoes.

They are Schoeller fabrics with a very small bit of mechanical stretch, and are based on the same principle as their softshell fabrics used in apparel: water resistance is afforded by mechanical properties of the weave combined with DWR on the fibers.

Like jackets, these shoes will require DWR treatments that are so aggressive they could actually inhibit breathability. If I bought these shoes, the first thing I'd want to do is dunk them in concentrated Revivex and let them soak for a few hours before curing the treatment onto the fabrics with heat.

The problem with the softshell approach in a shoe is that it is exposed to SO much dirt that the DWR has to foul sometimes.

Interestingly, my biggest beef with traditional soft shell fabrics like Dryskin is that they absorb lots of water and take eons to dry. The softshell fabrics used in the Timberland and Salomon shoes is definitely way thinner and less absorbent than the "thicker" soft shells you are used to seeing in jackets etc.

Keen may have the one up on everybody. They are using eVENT in their shoes now. But they are Keens, which are not exactly designed around an endurance hiking last.

But even eVENT in a shoe may not do the trick. You're looking at a pretty sour microenvironment for staying dry. Even eVENT has to get overwhelmed at some point.

It's a wide open market for better technology, that's for sure.

Stephan Guyenet
(Guyenet) - F
Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 14:44:50 MST Print View

The problem with WP/B membranes on the outside of shoes is they aren't very effective. For these membranes to work, they have to have a temp gradient on either side. In practical terms, this means they have to be close to your skin. That's why you get more condensation on your gore-tex jacket if you wear too much insulation underneath.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 14:48:01 MST Print View

Speaking of shoes...

Can you gentlemen recommend some lightweight shoes that are good for trail use and stream crossings -- something that provides good support, traction, drains water, and dries relatively quickly? I'd like to leave my "water shoes" at home if I can get away with it. Thanks in advance.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 16:18:20 MST Print View

Gear I'd like to see...

(1) Trekking poles with replacable grips. Ideally there would be nordic, traditional, and self-arrest grips available.

(2) Refillable canister fuel. Ideally, I'd like to see a kevlar-reinforced titanium canister that could hold propane. I'm not joking. Camp store propane and propane from my utility costs me around $3 per gallon currently.

(3) Compact 5mp digital camera that (a) has a threaded adapter for a polarizing filter, and (b) uses AAA batteries.

(4) Lightweight nonstick fryingpan/wok with steep and deep enough sides that it can double as a bowl.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 21:24:17 MST Print View

David wrote:

>> I'd like to see a kevlar-reinforced titanium canister that could hold propane.

I had this same thought today. (What's that quote about great minds...?) I don't know if the best material would be Ti, Kevlar, Carbon Fiber, or Unobtainium. But, the *key* features are:

1) Refillable -- Reduced fuel expense, eco-friendly.

2) Light -- Maybe 3oz in a 220g size.

3) Strong enough for pure Propane -- While this is also key to make the canister easily refillable, it has a much more important consequence: Pure propane fuel would be killer in Winter! This would turn a micro sit-on-top stove like a Giga, Vargo, F1, etc. into the ultimate ultra-light snow-melting machine. ( See here for related Fuel Blend Notes.)

Heck, I'd pay up to $200 for a product like this!

Ryan J., this would make a super BMW product if you know a fabricator in the pressurized container industry. [hint, hint!]



Edited by MikeMartin on 02/01/2006 22:46:11 MST.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Innovation I'm *still* waiting for on 02/01/2006 21:55:12 MST Print View

A year ago, I was wishing for this.

Still waiting for a gear maker to pick it up and run....

A reversible down bag or garment with a light WP/B layer on one side and a highly breathable layer on the other side would greatly enhance the ability to keep the down dry and lofty. You would only use the WP/B side on the exterior when it was raining. The rest of the time, reverse it so the highly air permeable exterior would help expel accumulated moisture, while the WP/B interior would reduce moisture accumulation from perspiration or wet inner clothing layers.

By having layers with increasing air permeability from the inside to the outside, you change the shape of vapor pressure gradient through the layers, and have a better chance of staying warmer than the dewpoint curve as you move moisture through the layers -- reducing or eliminating condensation in the insulation. [so there!] :-)

Edited by MikeMartin on 02/01/2006 22:22:06 MST.

Bill Fornshell
(bfornshell) - MLife

Locale: Southern Texas
Refill a Gas Canister-Yes on 02/01/2006 22:30:27 MST Print View

You can rig a way to refill a Gas Canister. This has been done as you can see in the picture. This setup worked but how effective is this setup is. That is a good question. It is a start, however. Look West, way West for the answer.


Locale: South West US
Re: Re: Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/01/2006 22:49:52 MST Print View

Two other companies I know that are using eVent in footwear are Hi-Tec and Kayland. I got to try on the Hi-Tec's and they are suprisingly comfortable, if you have a narrow foot like I do. Kayland has several boots and a trail runner that use eVent.

Montrail makes shoes (sustina II and stratos) with GTX on the outside, the theory is that the shoe won't soak up water weight.

I agree that there is much room for improvement in waterproof footwear. When are manufacturers gonna catch on?

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Refill a Gas Canister-Yes on 02/01/2006 23:26:43 MST Print View

Bill... Is that in Japan? The concrete cinderblocks and the gutter covers look like Japanese street side construction.

Frank Ramos
(frprovis) - F
re: Innovation I'm *still* waiting for on 02/01/2006 23:50:44 MST Print View

About footwear for wet conditions:

For warm conditions, don't even bother to try to keep your feet dry. Anything that keeps moisture out will trap perspiration in. Get liner socks and otherwise prepare and train yourself so that you can walk in wet footwear without getting blisters. In very warm conditions (desert in summer), external moisture can actually be quite refreshing (putting hot feet into a cold stream).

For cold conditions, the best solution is probably the breathable neoprene socks made by Seirus and sold by Campmor, but unfortunately not in stock at Campmor right now. The neoprene has little holes cut in it to let water and perspiration vapor out. The effect is like a wet suit. Cold water leaks in through the holes, but then the water quickly warms up and stays warm because of the tremendous insulating capacity of the neoprene. Unlike some socks, neoprene doesn't wrinkle or fold when wet, so blisters due to wetness probably won't be that much of a problem (at least eventually--there may be an adjustment period).

W/B socks are nice while they last, and the Sealskinz versions actually last quite a while in my experience, but once they get a hole in them, they are a disaster. Bring along a spare pair for this contingency.

W/B membranes incorporated into the boot itself always break, and usually very quickly. At least with the Sealskinz, you are only out $20 when the sock springs a leak, and the Sealskinz only weigh about 4 oz, so you can afford to bring spares. But what lightweight hiker wants to bring along spare boots or can afford to throw away a pair of boots every week? Yes, a week is about how long the W/B membrane lasts on boots, when used under severe conditions.

If your primary concern is the weight of boots when wet, rather than wet feet themselves, I would suggest getting a fabric boot that doesn't absorb very much moisture. Or you could treat leather boots with various oils. It's been ages since I used leather boots and maybe they have some better oils nowadays.

Military mickey mouse vapor barrier boots will keep you dry and warm in very cold conditions, assuming you bring several pairs of wool socks and change the socks as they get sweat-soaked, but they are TOO warm for 3-season use.

Most lightweight hikers just use thin nylon socks with running shoes, which works pretty well. Sealskinz or breathable neoprene socks, instead of liner socks, would be a better solution for postholing and walking in slush.

I use Teva cross-tera sandals myself, with neoprene socks as required.

Regarding Mike Martins ideas, what he is suggesting is essentially vapor barrier technology built into the bag/garment. Stephenson has been offering that on their bags since the 1960's. The problem with vapor barrier on the bag alone is that then you then can't wear your insulated clothing inside the bag, unless the clothing is also protected by vapor barrier, which is something I have long been suggesting. Use a silnylon inner shell and a goretex outer shell. The silnylon keeps most perspiration out of the down or other insulation (and also keeps the insulation clean), while the goretex allows any perspiration that does sneak in through stiching to escape, and also protects the garment from external moisture (again, some external moisture could seep in through seams). The only two vapor barrier garments I know of that incorporate this design are the military Mickey Mouse boots, invented back in the 1950's, which are a true miracle product, and Bozeman Mountain works vapor mitts. I no longer do any cross-country skiing, but I can attest to the effective of vapor barrier. I would have loved to have those vapor mitts back when I was spending a lot of time outdoors in cold weather.

The problem with a separate vapor barrier is the hassle factor. I have read people suggest using a liner glove (to keep from freezing to metal when you take your mitts off), then a vapor barrier glove, then mittens. This sounds incredibly cumbersome compared to the vapor mitts solution.

Again, imagine you have a base layer, then a vapor barrier shirt, then a down vest, then a down jacket, then a waterproof jacket. Under exertion, you might want to wear just the base layer and vest. But you can't do that because the down will get sweat soaked, especially the part against your back. So you have to wear the vapor barrier shirt. But that adds too much warmth. Maybe you could add a vapor barrier vest. Yet another layer, more weight, more futzing around trying to get things just right... Much simpler just to incorporate the vapor barrier into the down vest and down jackets, and also add goretex outer shells to these garments. If the goretex outer shell is seam-sealed, then you reduce to: base layer, vest, jacket. Simple and goof-proof.

Edited by frprovis on 02/02/2006 00:02:28 MST.

Joshua Mitchell
(jdmitch) - F

Locale: Kansas
Be careful refilling Pro/But mix canisters with pure propane... on 02/02/2006 07:57:37 MST Print View

The vapor pressure of pure propane is significantly higher than that of Pro/But... the tiny canisters aren't 'reated' for it... refilling the green coleman propane canisters is typically okay as they are designed for pure propane... be wary of doing the tiny canisters, however.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: VB vs WP/B on 02/02/2006 08:57:54 MST Print View

Frank writes:

>> Regarding Mike Martins ideas, what is suggesting is essentially vapor barrier technology built into the bag/garment. Stephenson has been offering that on their bags since the 1960's.

I've long been intrigued by the Stephenson's bag you mentioned. It seems like an interesting approach, but as you said, it doesn't integrate clothing well into the sleep system. I think an Arc-style bag using this approach, with a silynlon interior and Pertex Endurance exterior would be a cool product. But, that's not what I'm suggesting here.

What I propose is not a true vapor barrier. In fact, for the WP/B side, highly breathable fabric should be used. (Right now, the best candidates are eVent for its breathability, or Pertex Endurance Quantum for its light weight.)

The well-known problem with using a WP/B shell repeatedly on the exterior of a down bag or jacket is that moisture will accumlate in the insulation, degrading its loft. This is not just because the WP/B layer is not breathable enough, though. It also occurs when the inside of the WP/B layer is cooler than the dewpoint, causing the vapor to re-condense on the inside surface of the WP/B layer and wick back into the insulation. If the temp is well below freezing, the problem is even worse as the condensing moisture can freeze to the WP/B layer, creating a non-breathable barrier.

With the reversible bag/jacket approach, you could still wear your insulated clothing inside the bag. Moisture would still migrate from the inside, out. But, the WP/B layer on the inside of the bag would reduce condensation in the bag's insulation by slowing vapor transmission at this layer, thereby depressing the dewpoint inside the bag as mentioned in my last post. You could even dry your wet clothing inside the bag this way, as the insulation outside of the WP/B layer would keep the WP/B layer above the dewpoint, preventing condensation from forming on the inside of the WP/B layer and wicking back into your clothing.

Pretty much identical reasoning would apply to a reversible down jacket.



Edited by MikeMartin on 02/02/2006 09:17:04 MST.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Be careful refilling Pro/But mix canisters with pure propane... on 02/02/2006 12:10:01 MST Print View

Good God yes, this is a photo of an explosion in the making!

Propane has a 70 F vapor pressure of 8.4 atmospheres.

n-Butane has a 70 F vapor pressure of 2.05 atmospheres.

The butane-isobutane-propane blends will have a higher VP than 2.05, but nothing approaching 8.4.

Never, ever put propane in a container not rated for its use.

David Bonn
(david_bonn) - F

Locale: North Cascades
Re: Innovation I'm waiting for on 02/02/2006 13:11:09 MST Print View

I'd agree around $200 would be a reasonable price point. I know I go through more disposable canisters than that most years.

As someone else noted, pure propane has a ferocious vapor pressure. The kevlar-reinforced aluminum idea has been used with oxygen bottles for fighter aircraft and high-altitude mountaineering, and I suspect that a similar design would work fine for compressed propane. You could probably get away with a canister that was twice as heavy as a disposable one, that would be partially offset by the warm glow of virtue at not consuming "disposable" canisters and by the superior heat output of propane and by the superior heat output by having the fuel at a higher pressure, at least when you are starting out.

You'd probably want a regulator for refilling the canister. That should be a separate component that can either be mailed in a drift box or left at home.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
micky mouse boots and vapor barriers on 02/08/2006 09:10:40 MST Print View

Quote -"Military mickey mouse vapor barrier boots will keep you dry and warm in very cold conditions, assuming you bring several pairs of wool socks and change the socks as they get sweat-soaked, but they are TOO warm for 3-season use."

I wore a pair of the white 'bunny boots' on a 28 day
winter trip in the the steens and hart mountains
of eastern oregon. Temps were -10 to 45 F. Never
had cold feet and wore THE SAME SOCKS EVERY
DAY. I slept in other socks at night and put the
daytime socks in my sleeping bag to dry at night.
They were moist but not dripping. There was less
odor than summer time socks too. It was the
first of about 9 long winter trips I had done where
my feet were never cold. Vapor barriers rock if
you have good insulation to use outside.

As an experiment I also have worn neoprene socks for a nine day
SUMMER trip in the Sierra inside leather hiking boots. No blisters, they worked fine. I had origionally brought them for stream crossings
but found they worked great as everyday socks. I
believe Stephenson's claim that vapor barriers stop
insensible perspiration.

Some of my guide friends who guided on McKinley
in the 70's had vapor barrier lined down sleeping
bag liners. I think they were made by Camp7.
They raved about them. They used bunny boots