Make Your Own Gear: Igloos
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Make Your Own Gear: Igloos on 02/28/2012 12:46:49 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Make Your Own Gear: Igloos

Elliott Wolin
(ewolin) - MLife

Locale: Hampton Roads, Virginia
RE: Make Your Own Gear: Igloos on 02/28/2012 19:31:30 MST Print View

Partial solution to keep from losing your snow saw/knife: drill a hole in the end of the handle and tie a few feet of red cord (e.g. avalanche cord) to it. It's not hard to avoid stepping on the cord and you can see it pretty well until it gets dark. If the saw gets covered by snow when you put it down (happens all the time) the red cord stays visible.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Cool on 02/28/2012 20:36:55 MST Print View

Tad you're cranking out some great "How To" articles! I like it, we need more like this! I love those diagrams. Unfortunately we have shortage of snow where I'm staying (Texas) so I'll have to wait on trying this out.
Thanks for writing.

WV Hiker
(vdeal)

Locale: West Virginia
Icebox on 02/29/2012 06:39:37 MST Print View

Nice article but if I were going to do it I would just get an Ice Box from Grandshelters by Ed Huesers. Simplifies the process greatly and has years of use behind it. Nothing wrong with doing it yourself and learning the fundamentals though.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Make Your Own Gear: Igloos on 02/29/2012 08:05:59 MST Print View

I think this same technique could be used for building quinzies.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Make Your Own Gear: Igloos on 02/29/2012 11:01:12 MST Print View

Tad, the article turned out great!

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: RE: Make Your Own Gear: Igloos on 02/29/2012 11:19:42 MST Print View

To:
WV Hiker, The IceBox really "Simplifies the process." I have seen and looked into the IceBox years ago and though it looked fun to use I decided it was far to heavy for the value it gave (measured here in BPL at 5 lb 3 oz) and that weight doesn't include a shovel which is needed to used their system. So when compared to just a snow saw at less then 1 lb or my snow knife at 12 oz, well there is no comparison! And you can build an igloo faster my way.
Your argument is the same as saying a Large heavy 7 lb pack "has years behind it" and "simplifies" backpacking. This is BPL, I hope we are in search of a lighter, better, faster, more comfortable ways of doing things and my system fits that far better than the IceBox system.
I agree, there is "nothing wrong with doing it yourself" especially when it is lighter, faster, more fun, far simpler to use and you don't have to carry a 5 lb contraption around. Now I'll get off my soap box and just say, please give a lighter weight option a try.

Elliot, not a bad tip of drilling the saw/knife and using a string. My only thought is the string might be get in the way while using the tool, all tools have a full tang and drilling wouldn't be easy especially with the knife. Also the knife handle fits well in my hand and I don't think I would like something hindering my grip. Still I will think about it further and maybe try it on one of the saws first.

Luke, your are kind as always

Chad, yes you could but the sleeping tunnels might be a little more difficult with a Quinzie.

Sam, thanks and thanks for encouraging my to submit it.


edited to make the wording sound less combative

Edited by bestbuilder on 03/01/2012 12:10:54 MST.

Christopher Knaus
(Knaushouse)

Locale: Northern California
Make Your Own Gear: Igloos - Some QC During Construction on 02/29/2012 11:28:20 MST Print View

>> “After undermining, continue laying additional rows of blocks. Each row should continue in a spiral, constantly leaning inward; remember, you are creating a dome, not a cone. Eliminate any low spots in the spiral, they will only cause trouble. To help the blocks fit better, I bevel the sides a little “in to out” just before placing, helping the blocks bind and support each other.”

When building the walls, as you wind around the perimeter, it can be difficult to gauge the proper angle and placement of each successive row of blocks. One technique is to stake out a cord at the center of the floor with a length equal to the intended radius of the igloo. As you lay the rows, check the placement of the block using the end of the rope, adjusting the block’s position (in or out) and tilt accordingly. This helps guard against a too tall and steep an igloo (quasi silo; think Dan Aykroyd and The Coneheads) or too shallow (flattop, difficult to finish and more susceptible to collapse). Of course, you need to maintain the “island” in the middle with the stake and rope while you dig out the interior blocks, but this island can easily become your final block(s).

Rob Vandiver
(ShortBus) - M

Locale: So Cal
Great article! on 02/29/2012 11:54:38 MST Print View

That looks like so much fun I can hardly stand it.

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Make Your Own Gear: Igloos - Some QC During Construction on 02/29/2012 13:01:01 MST Print View

Christopher, good thought, instead of a string you can use your hiking/ski pole as a gauge (it also helps to hold up the block while you are setting the next one. I do find that leaving a block or two uncut from the center gets in the way and I trip over it too much, then again I've been doing this for a while and the angle is second nature now.

I have yet to see a new igloo builder make the wall angles curve in too sharply and I do agree that a gauge of some sort is very helpful to start and maintain the correct angle.
Here is an igloo that the builders lost track of the necessary angle and started build a silo, also the base was too large for a beginner.
silo-igloo

I think a combination of too small of blocks in the middle section helped mess things up and improper angle could have meant disaster without a dogged determination to finish. If the dad had been a inch shorter this one may never had been closed in.

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/29/2012 13:03:38 MST.

BER ---
(BER) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Igloo on 02/29/2012 13:47:14 MST Print View

Tad,

Nice article! Looks like a lot of fun. I agree with your comments regarding the IceBox. It's a fun tool, and potentially useful in my part of Wisconsin where we have not had decent snow for the last few years (and certainly not enough quality snow to cut blocks from). But it is quite snow-quality dependent, and a bit tedious. Its not the tool I would take hiking (even in a pulk) if I was in an area with better snow.

But for backyard fun with the kids...

igloo

...it's not bad. :)

Edited by BER on 02/29/2012 13:48:22 MST.

WV Hiker
(vdeal)

Locale: West Virginia
Icebox on 02/29/2012 18:42:25 MST Print View

To:
WV Hiker, NO the IceBox DOES NOT "Simplifies the process." I have seen and looked into the IceBox years ago and though it looked fun to use I decided it was far to heavy for the value it gave (measured here in BPL at 5 lb 3 oz) and that weight doesn't include a shovel which is needed to used their system. So when compared to just a snow saw at less then 1 lb or my snow knife at 12 oz, well there is no comparison! And you can build an igloo faster my way.
Your argument is the same as saying a Large heavy 7 lb pack "has years behind it" and "simplifies" backpacking. This is BPL, I hope we are in search of a lighter, better, faster, more comfortable ways of doing things and my system fits that far better than the IceBox system.
I agree, there is "nothing wrong with doing it yourself" especially when it is lighter, faster, more fun, far simpler to use and you don't have to carry a 5 lb contraption around. Now I'll get off my soap box and just say, please give a lighter weight option a try.

Tad,

From the sounds of it you have never tried the Icebox, is that true? I didn't say it was lighter and heavier does not always mean less simple. Sorry but your soapbox is a little flimsy, IMO. I guess I'm open to all kinds of options. It seems to me as though many in the UL camp become extremely frustrated when someone even so much as suggests using something that is a bit heavier.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Icebox on 02/29/2012 18:58:55 MST Print View

Some years ago when I was doing more snow camping, a buddy and I were somewhat interested in the IceBox tool, and we found out about a retail outdoor store that had them. So, next time we were driving that way, we stopped off at the store to see it in the flesh. As they pushed the box toward me, I could tell that it was going to be much heavier than I had hoped. After poking around at all of the pieces and parts, we decided to snow camp the old fashioned way, using one shovel and maybe one snow saw.

I have seen an abandoned igloo that was obviously constructed with this tool, and it did look very neat.

--B.G.--

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Winter Shelters on 02/29/2012 20:41:51 MST Print View

WV Hiker, let me brace up my "flimsy" soapbox.
You are correct I have never personally used an Icebox to make an igloo. Like Bob, I have handled them; I was looking to purchase one myself. I have read and re-read their literature and viewed the videos they have posted, as well as many others posted on Youtube. I have build an igloo right next to one being used (they took longer to build theirs than mine). I think I have a good understanding of how they work and if one was handed to me I could probably use it without instructions. So I would hope I am able to make a educated comparison.

You wrote "It seems to me as though many in the UL camp become extremely frustrated when someone even so much as suggests using something that is a bit heavier"
That sounds like most of the people in main stream backpacking circles.

I don't need to go out and use a 7 lb ArcTeryx backpack to know that it is too heavy for the hiking I do, no matter how well built it is or how bombproof it is. Yes the ArcTeryx pack works for backpacking, but there are other options, that are better suited to the objective at hand. My old 4 lb Gore-Tex hiking boots work, but my 1 lb trail runners are better. My old 10 lb tent works, but my 1 lb tarp is easier to carry. My pots, stove, clothing, etc, etc, etc... I hope we (those on BPL) are trying to find the best system, which admittedly is not always the lightest option.

Though not very romantic, for this application (igloo building) a lightweight shovel, snow saw/knife are all the necessary tools needed to accomplish the desired objective.

In backpacking there are some great "tools" out there, but in the lightweight arena I feel my method is the better way to go. YMMV

edited to add: Sorry for pushing back so hard- to me its like someone saying "its simpler to use Leatherboots for hiking". I would probably get a little unnerved with that comment also.

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/29/2012 20:49:20 MST.

Marty Coatney
(mcoatney) - F - M

Locale: Willamette Valley/Cascade Foothills
IceBox Tool on 02/29/2012 20:49:32 MST Print View

I have used the IceBox tool quite a bit to make some pretty bombproof shelters. The tool is heavy and bulky but divided between a group a people, the weight is negligible. Plus Igloo Ed is someone I feel good about supporting. Nice guy all around.

@Tad- If your first comment was "edited to sound less combative," I would hate to see the original post. Excellent article though.

Gustav Bostrom
(gusbo) - MLife

Locale: Scandinavia
Nice article on 03/01/2012 09:49:41 MST Print View

Thanks for the excellent article!
You make it sound so easy. I couldn't imagine you even built igloo's faster than with the ICEBOX. I would think that an Icebox igloo would last longer in general though since it would normally be more precisely built.

Anyway, since I just got my Icebox tool and used it a few times, I thoght I'd plug my blog and an article with initial impressions:
http://thebearablelightness.blogspot.com/2012/02/unbearable-wait-for-snow-and-joy-of.html

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Nice article on 03/01/2012 13:18:55 MST Print View

One thing I didn't mention is that this system allows for one person to build an igloo by themselves. You would just make the starting circle smaller- like 4 ft and undermine to get the necessary length. You could even undermine in an oblong fashion to fit a tall person. You could build it mostly from interior blocks- I would start with outside blocks first to make sure you had enough. Makes for a good emergency shelter.

Marty, no matter how you divide it up, 5 lbs it is still 5 lbs.
My old scout troop used the same argument with their old 10 lb tents (divide it up to make it lighter), but things were much easier on everyone when we replaced them with 2 lb tarp with pole. Also the icebox takes up a lot of space- 24"x14"x3", and you can't get it smaller than that (minimum box size). That would take up half my winter pack.

Hey all IceBox owners, I'm not knocking the product or your purchase. I didn't want this to get into a "my brother is tougher than yours" kind of thing. I'm just offering a lighter weight option (I'm a little passionate about it).


BTW, the below picture shows that these igloo's are as bombproof as needed (unless under a mortar attack)
Supporting 5 guys- not bad?
5 on igloo
These two igloos were connected by a sleeping tunnel and they both used the same entrance, we thought that was pretty cool. Seven people shared these two igloos, five using sleeping tunnels off the right igloo and two used the igloo on the right with out the tunnels. The five boys and I had the one on the left finished before the 4 adults working close by were 3/4 done with theirs. My second adult showed up after we were finished and we build the one on the right in an 1 1/2 hours.

Edited by bestbuilder on 03/01/2012 13:33:07 MST.

Kier Selinsky
(Kieran) - F

Locale: Seattle, WA
Rate of failure? And other questions... on 03/01/2012 13:48:31 MST Print View

I'm man enough to admit it: being buried under snow terrifies me. But, the idea of hiking to the mountains and building one of these is downright tantalizing. So, what's the rate of failure on these? I see you and your daughter, and that group of kids all piled up on them and they support your weight. But, you know what you're doing - I was clueless, and after reading this, am still largely clueless. What are the chances I'll be digging myself and my son out at 3 in the morning?

Also, have you ever put in a chimney and built a fire in one? Just curious as I've heard the eskimos would keep a fire.

Gustav Bostrom
(gusbo) - MLife

Locale: Scandinavia
time to master the skill on 03/01/2012 15:14:48 MST Print View

1 1/2 Hours for one large igloo. Wow! Certainly not that much time or any at all to be gained by using an icebox then.

I still wonder how long it takes to learn the skill sufficiently well. Anyway it's a great example of how skills can enable you to go lighter.

Building snow trench with a roof should also be very easy to do with this technique.

Q Smith
(neotech@ktc.com) - MLife

Locale: Texas Hill Country
OMG on 03/03/2012 08:10:55 MST Print View

I do not think i am man enough to do what yawl do... correction - i know i am not man enough.

q

Edited by neotech@ktc.com on 03/03/2012 08:13:11 MST.