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Backpacking With A Thermometer
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Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Thermometer watch as a zipper pull? on 10/30/2013 14:13:39 MDT Print View

"tie bar or hair clip"

Surely you jest. I can't imagine a backpacker wearing a necktie. A hair clip requires that we have head hair.

When you take your trail slide rule, do you take a spare cursor along?

I found that it was lighter to take a bunch of printed log tables on the back of my topo maps.


Stephen Owens
(walknhigh) - MLife

Locale: White Mtns, AZ
"Backpacking With A Thermometer" on 10/30/2013 14:28:48 MDT Print View

I carry a fishing thermometer (glass tube w/aluminmum class) works just as well in water or air. Other than fishing, I use it to calibrate my preciption of temperature.
From anatomy class I learned the body does not measure an actual temperature, it preceives temperature by determining whether it is loosing or gaining heat to an object or the environment. This is why you feel chilled when you have a fever, because heat is radiating from your body, you preceive it as a chill. Or why water and a piece of wood at the same temperature feel different, water conducts heat better than wood. Now that is geeky.

Jean Swann
(Angelfire) - MLife

Locale: Middle Georgia
Acurite digital thermometer on 10/30/2013 14:43:50 MDT Print View

I use the Acurite Digital Window Thermometer, without the suction cup. True, it is a bit heavy at 1.2 ounces, but its usefulness exceeds its weight penalty in my opinion. I usually have a tiny digital camera with me, so each morning I shoot a photo of the campsite (which helps me keep the details of my trip straight) and a photo of the thermometer, showing the previous night's low temp.Springer Mountain GA 4/20/2013

Sometimes the weather is not conducive to reading the thermometer first thing in the morning!Springer Mountain 4/20/2013

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: "Backpacking With A Thermometer" on 10/30/2013 14:48:32 MDT Print View

The body does measure the temperature of blood in several areas including the brain. The hypothalamus is your thermostat.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Radiant heat loss effects on 10/30/2013 16:08:30 MDT Print View

> I feel like I should out-geek you with an article on the best backpacking slide rules.
I have a very nice 6" Fuji slide rule. Full function, 22 g. Does it count?
Only one cursor though.


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 10/30/2013 18:14:12 MDT Print View

Contrarian view again...

Many years ago I bought a thermometer that screwed into an aluminum case. It was an interesting toy, but really had no real use. After a few trips I left it home. Extra weight, you know.

If you are cold, or if you are hot, a thermometer isn't going to change that. With good planning you should bring the proper gear for the trip. If you didn't, hopefully you will live and readjust your kit for the next time.

As for slide rules...

Old gear 2

The only things I bring with me backpacking these days are the compass and map.

Regarding tie bars, tie pins, tie clips, tie tacks and similar ilk. Most gentlemen don't wear them, but if you must -- become properly trained in the proper use, appropriate accessories and how to accessorize of your suit.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 10/30/2013 19:19:23 MDT Print View

A long, long time ago, in a land far, far away, there was this place called REI. They used to sell mountaineering and hiking items. One of the items was a minimum registering alcohol thermometer that screwed into an aluminum case. They also carried a companion regular thermometer, and both were of fairly nominal weight. Over time REI lost its way and now cater to the urban fashionista, no longer bothering to carry such useful items. Such items were indispensable in getting your boards properly waxed, and could even be life-saving here in the Rocky Mtns and PNW (life in S. Cal. is much more genteel, I'm told).

Since this relic of mountaineering of yore is seemingly irreplaceable, I use it with extreme care, and if companions need to borrow a thermometer for their waxing, I'll loan them the aquarium thermometer that I bought at the pet store, which is quite light (12 g) and deadly accurate, but, unfortunately, not nearly as sturdy.

Not only that, it's just plain cool to say, "dang, it got down to -17F last night!"

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Retro on 10/30/2013 21:02:28 MDT Print View

Nick, you were/are so set for Y2K, EMF pulses, or a repeat of the the "Carrington Solar Flare" of 1859.

Monty, yes, I remember an aluminum-cased, minimum-registering thermometer in the REI catalog. Back, as you say, when REI carried some of the most useful gear for serious climbers / backpackers.

Daryl and Daryl
(lyrad1) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest, USA, Earth
Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 10/31/2013 08:41:45 MDT Print View


Thanks for the article. I agree with everything you said.

I currently carry an REI zipper pull thermometer and an Acurite (in bag without case for weight reduction). Have carried the others mentioned in the past.

I find inside/outside tent temps during the night to be particularly useful. Lets me know how much warmth I'm getting from my tent, sleeping bag, clothing, etc. One time, with some time on my hands during a storm, I measured the incremental temperature differences outside tent, under vestibule, inside tent unzipped, inside tent zipped, inside sleeping bag, inside clothes. I found it to be a fun way to kill time.

Comparing objective and subjective temperatures can be helpful and interesting. I asked a novice snowshoer to guess the temperature on a Mountaineer trip one time. We were going up hill and working hard. He figured it was about 60 degrees F. It was in the mid 20s. If one is warm and thinking it is 60F he/she might not realize how difficult it will be to keep warm once stopped. Knowing the actual temps helps one prepare.

I also carry a fever thermometer. One's perceived body temperature can often be off from actual temperature. Two examples:

(1)My brother figured his body temperature had returned to normal after a bout with pneumonia. His thoughtful wife took his temperature, found it was 104.5 and took him to the emergency room.

(2)I felt lousy on a backpacking trip. My fever thermometer showed my that my temperature was rising quickly. I stopped, set up camp, got into my warmest clothes and bag, drank fluids, took aspirin, etc. Fever broke in the middle of the night. Walked out and got to a hospital. Turned out I had blood poisoning from something that bit me. Red stripe up my leg, terminating in the lymph nodes of my groin. Without the objective info about the rising body temps I might have just pushed on hoping to walk it off.

Kevin Holt
(bleachpuppy) - MLife
Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 10/31/2013 14:27:24 MDT Print View

I recently picked up a Brunton ADC Pro, initially for the altimeter, though on trails I've gotten a lot more use out of the thermometer (and the clock). Listed at 2.4 oz, it's fairly "heavy" but it gives time, temperature, wind speed, barometer, and altitude, and has a decent logger.

The logging feature is fairly painless to use, and holds a few thousand records - I set it up to take a full set of measurements every 10 minutes for the duration of my recent 5 day hike. You can also change the interval, so you could set it up to take a reading every hour or two if you're going on a longer trip. My issue with min/max measurements is you don't really know if the extreme min/max were sustained or just achieved for a brief period, say where it was really windy, or where you left your bag on a hot rock under the sun. Maybe it's not a big concern, but on the Brunton it's actually surprisingly easy to scroll back through the logs, so you can tell whether that 16 degree minimum was sustained for most of the night, or a relatively brief drop from 4 to 4:30 am. The logging feature isn't at all why I bought the device, but in retrospect it was actually pretty informative.

- As Jerry mentioned, the thermometer is somewhat slow to respond.
- The logger beeps every time it takes a measurement, and I couldn't figure out how to turn that off. It's faint and I got used to it, but it still takes away from the nature experience. Also when you're sleeping you'll want to stick it somewhere where you can't hear it.
- I believe the altitude is based off of the barometer. So for the altitude measurement to be useful, you probably need to be vigilant about recalibrating when you're at known altitudes. (I didn't, so it wasn't).
- It's also heavy and expensive.

As for experience with it: On this last trip I planned ahead of time for overall night-time temps from 20 to 50 degrees, but on any given night I did find myself slightly changing my sleep prep based on the actual measured temperature (and windiness). Below ~40 I'd probably sleep in my down jacket and spend a little longer looking for a site that was well shielded from wind. Below ~30 and I'd zip things tighter and wear a winter hat inside my mummy bag. And the colder it was, the more likely I'd be to opt for a fattier dinner if possible. If I was contemplating a summit near dusk that might leave me camping high and exposed, I'd be more likely to put it off until the next day if I saw that the temperature was dropping.

I don't know if I'd bring the ADC Pro on every trip with me, but for calibrating myself -- how I react to different conditions -- I'm pretty happy to have it. My guess is after a handful of more trips with the Brunton I'll probably switch to something lighter when I'll be in familiar conditions.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"...speaking of thermometers..." on 10/31/2013 15:31:54 MDT Print View

I guess I could ditch my REI thermometer for a $450. Horus/Kestrel ballistic calculator & weather station. (Same size as all other Kestrel hand-helds but weather is integrated into a custom ballistic chart for the best firing solution for your specific load.)

In January I'll be getting one of those bad boys but for competitive long range shooting out beyond 500 meters. Definitely I won't carry one for backpacking.

But for backcountry skiing I do carry a good thermometer in my avalanche snow study kit which I use for air temps too. I didn't get to be this old by being foolish about backcountry safety and avy safety is of utmost importance in winter mountain travel.

And then, speaking of thermometers for winter, there is my SUB-NORMAL body thermometer... used anally for hypothermia victims. Yes, gentle readers, it measures body temps into the 80s F. I always carried it in my Nordic ski patrol 1st aid fanny pack (and fortunately never had to use it). :o)

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Backpacking With A Thermometer on 11/06/2013 03:30:38 MST Print View

I work in IT.

I always had this big old slide rule hanging on the wall of my cubicle.
It's always amazing how many IT people point at it and say "What's that?"

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 11/06/2013 20:36:23 MST Print View

I got that slide rule in 1969. In college all calculations had to be accurate to 4 decimal points. No programming was needed for it to remain accurate due to Y2K. I never had to replace a battery and no USB port is required.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: "...speaking of thermometers..." on 11/06/2013 23:47:38 MST Print View

>"Yes, gentle readers, it measures body temps into the 80s F."

I remember those being recommended for hypothermia victims who would be below the scale of a standard fever thermometer.

I assess hypothermia victims like I cook salmon fillets: Poke 'em and if stiff, they're done.

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
Backpacking With A Thermometer on 11/07/2013 06:52:26 MST Print View

One of my uncles used to make his living selling slide rules in Florida in the '60's and beyond a little bit.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 11/07/2013 08:03:03 MST Print View

Early 70's brought electronic calculators. Around 1972 I remember the Corvus 4 function calculator which sold for about $50.

Let me put that into perspective. In 1972 $50 would buy around 150 gallons of gasoline.

Jim Milstein
(JimSubzero) - M

Locale: New Uraniborg CO
Re: Radiant heat loss effects on 11/27/2013 14:22:32 MST Print View

I have the best backpacking slide rule, David. It is a Faber-Castell model 67/87R, 14cm slide rule on one side and pascal style adder on the other, with stylus to operate the "Addiator". It is probaby close to 100 years old, but good as new.

Don't leave home without one!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 11/27/2013 14:29:37 MST Print View

"I also carry a fever thermometer."

Rectal, I assume. Doubles as a coffee stirrer because instant tastes like .... oh, never mind....

Edited by idester on 11/27/2013 14:30:21 MST.

Leigh Baker

Locale: Northeast Texas Pineywoods
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking With A Thermometer on 11/27/2013 16:15:15 MST Print View


Hugo Matte
(Hugo_Matte) - MLife
colder temperature on 01/16/2014 10:35:35 MST Print View

Nice read, thanks for the article.

One complaint:

It doesn't seem that any of the thermometer mentioned in this article cover temperature lower then -20 degree celcius!