Hot Tent 2.0 (If at first you don’t succeed, consult a redneck)

I’m sure that wood stoves are one of the best methods of luxurious winter camping. Just not the one I bought for $75, on eBay, from China.

Guess I should have seen that coming.

A quick summary of what happened when Sam and I took the hot tent to the Adirondacks:

Stove lights, I stay in the tent and stoke it while Sam chops wood. Several minutes later my eyes begin to wate because smoke is coming into the tent. So I open up all the windows and doors, now the tent is smokey and 10F. The fire gets bigger, the smoke dissipates, I close the windows and doors. Then, the flu pipe disconnects from the stove and there is a 2 ft flame in the tent. I yell for Sam to bring me the leather gloves so I can play surgeon on my broken stove. I fix things, the tent does not burn down, it is again 10F in the tent and I am outside, trying not to die of smoke inhalation. Things settle to a normal level of “I can’t see through the cloud of smoke inside the tent. We cook Mac n Cheese on the stove. It is delicious. We admit defeat, let the fire die and pitch our backup tent. It drops to -8F that night. Snow forms on the inside of the tent. At 6am I cannot stand it anymore, rouse Sam and drive to McDonalds because they are open, serve hot beverages and are ok with two people sitting in front of their fake fireplace for several hours while we warm up.

Seriously, worst stove ever.

Seriously, worst stove ever.

I’ve read lots of reviews on hot tents and many favorable trip reports. Pretty sure my failure boils down to a cheap, no name brand stove from eBay. We tested it in the backyard a few times before going, we used kiln dried wood. Then we got to the real outdoors and it didn’t work (it was also way colder in the Adirondacks than it was in my backyard). I’m not going into detail on how all the paint fell off and I had to repaint it, the memories are too paintful.

So, after this first failure and thankfully being able to return the stove on eBay, I decided to try a novel idea. I googled how country folk do it. It turns out, their are millions of people in the United States who like to kill animals and catch fish in the dead of winter. It also turns out these good people like being warm. But, they don’t use wood, they use propane. Enter hot tent 2.0.


Mr Buddy Propane Stoves

It’s a catalytic propane heater. It uses a little bit of magic, chemistry, and platinum strips to make propane turn into heat without making CO of CO2. What this means is that you can put it in any tent you want. I ended up with two, both by Mr Buddy. The big one has a fan in it and puts out double the heat. So far I’ve used it with my Nemo Moki (3 person mountaineering tent). The small heater worked extremely well, Sam and I tested it ice climbing and neither of us even zipped up out sleeping bags it was so warm in the tent. I used the large heater in a 5 person straight wall cabin tent and was toasty in their too. The only downside is that if you use the little green propane cylinders for camp stoves they only last for 6 hours and you’ll have to swap a new one in during the middle of the night. I bought a 20lb grill tank, definitely not something you’d take into the back country, but for camping near your car for a weekend of skiing or ice climbing it can’t be beat. Well, unless you have money and get a hotel, those have showers and beds.


A picture in the Nemo Moki, it even gives off an orange glow that makes you feel like you have a campfire.


Random note, even though these heaters have built in shut offs for low oxygen levels, you should spend the $20 and get a backup )2/CO/CO2 sensor. Because not dying is worth $20, probably.



Do you even mountaineer, Bro?

If anyone actually reads this site, you might be wondering when Sam and I actually plan on chronicling some mountaineering or even just some climbing. After all, that’s what the “about” section says, and the about section of websites is always true. That’s because websites are on the internet and everything on the internet is true. Anways, I hope the day when we actually write about mountaineering comes soon too, but for now I’m just going to unveil our latest crazy idea, a new style of mountaineering: Midwestern Mountaineering.

Right now you’re probably asking:

Is this a cleaner style of climbing? Well, no.

Is this some new addition to speed climbing? Nope, not that cool either.

Did you invent a new climbing tool that will revolutionize climbing as we know it? Yeah its a called a… no, no I didn’t.

Is this a huge lead in to something I’m going to find unimpressive? Possibly.

Did you just combine things that other people have done before and label it “Midwestern Mountaineering”? Well…


On the off chance that anyone is still actually reading and not completely put off by how unimpressive Midwestern Mountaineering might be, let me paint you a picture. But not a real picture because I am not very good at painting. I could make you a picture in Auto CAD, but that takes forever and most people fall to the floor in fits of uncontrollable laughter when you claim it to be “art”.

The scene: The still of a snowy forest deep within the Adirondacks is broken by a slow crunching sound as snow is compressed. But not compressed underfoot. Compressed under 4 inches of rubber. 4 inches of insanely wide bike tire. The mountaineer is riding into the base of the mountains on a fat bike, with a home made sled in tow, piled high with gear and topped with Alpine Touring Skis.

Why would you need a sled to climb a mountain in the Adirondacks? Why would you need to pull it with a bike? Now minimalists won’t understand this, so they should probably stop reading. But the answers are obvious:

1. You can fit a lot more beer in a sled than a backpack.

2. Because I don’t have enough money for a snowmobile…


So here’s how it will work. The fat bike pulls the sled, where all the food, gear, and beer for a week of backcountry skiing goes. We ride into the back country on the bikes, which even going slowly is faster than I can snowshoe… by a lot, I think. It should be faster anyway. This whole setup hasn’t been tested, so it might not work at all. I think it will though. A normal person would ask, why are you writing about it then? Because we already built it.

Fat Bike

So here’s the bike, I should probably figure out a way to hook it up to the sled…

photo 3 photo 2

So here’s the sled. Its an old pair of skis, a cage made from PVC and some ripstop nylon across the bottom of the cage. It’s almost done, we’re planning on adding some net material to the sides so things don’t fall out. It’s actually pretty light. If I was patient enough, I could have ordered some different PVC pieces from the internet that would replace the wood on the bottom and it would be really light. Maybe I’ll have more patience later and fix it. Waiting those 3-4 days for something to ship is rough…

On the off chance that anyone ever thinks this is a good idea to repeat, making the nylon bottom part was horrible. The people who write articles about how you can use PVC and nylon to “easily” make a dog bed are liars. I know this is hard to believe since they wrote these things on the internet and everything on the internet is true.  Pulling teeth is easier than pulling the nylon tight. Also, screws and drillbits don’t mix well with nylon. If it wasn’t for the wonderful people at Yuengling Brewery and their delicious lager, I probably would have set the whole project on fire and thrown it off a cliff. Which should really illustrate how frustrating this was, because my trash can is a lot closer than the nearest cliff.
Since I’ve definitely pushed the boundaries on how-many-words-can-you-write-about-building-a-sled, I’ll stop. You can expect a similarly ridiculously long post on the test results once it snows. I know, the entire internet is probably holding their breath in anticipation.



P.S. I’m sorry to all the sled dogs who I just put out of business. It’s really my landlords fault, all these problems would be solved if he’d let me have 20 huskies. Plus this article would be way better if we took a sled dog team ski mountaineering…




$8 Belay Glasses

I like gear. Actually, anyone who’s been to my house knows that’s kind of an understatement. This is where I’m supposed to say “I’m Matt Stroebel and I have a problem.” Except when you try to explain your addiction to shiny new cams at an AA meeting you’re kindly asked to leave.

So anyway, after climbing at the RRG and using a friends belay glasses I was hooked. Except for the $75 price tag. Plus I recently got a dremel and who doesn’t like dremeling? (Well my one climbing partner who calls it the thing that spins and cuts things, but she’s in the minority) After a “productive morning at work” I’d found someone who’s cheaper than me and found a way to do this for $8. So why are you reading my blog instead of his? After all he’s the original genius. You’re right, but he lacked one thing, Aviators.

To start with you need a pair of aviators. Luckily for me, Sam gave me a $0.99 pair a few years ago as a joke. Really you could use any pair of sunglasses, but if you spring for the aviators you can force your climber to refer to you as “Goose” and make jokes about “requesting permission to buzz the tower” when they take a huge whipper. You also need a pair of upside down prism glasses, which are marketed for people to watch tv while lying down because they can’t be bothered to lift their heads up. It makes more sense when you think of bedridden people, though I like to picture a chubby American family spread out on the couch watching TV with these. Ahh, the American Dream.

Step 1: Get your glasses, you know mine are quality because they are from China and I can’t pronounce the name, therefore they are fancy and high class.


Step 2: Cover the lenses with tape so you don’t scratch them with your dremel.

Step 3: Go to town with your dremel, you only want the lenses and the plastic housing around them. Try and keep as much extra material so you can conform them to your aviators.

Step 4: Figure out how far apart to space the lenses by putting them up to your eyes and securing them to something flat like a Popsicle stick. Tape them down to the Popsicle stick so that they are parallel to each other, otherwise you’ll see double vision and probably get a headache.

Step 5: Shave the side that will be glued up against your aviators so that it fits as well as it can. Then use hot glue to tack them down to the lens of your aviators. Make sure the lenses stay taped to the Popsicle stick so that they stay aligned.

Step 6: Reinforce the hot glue with JB Weld or another epoxy. Make sure to use a lot, dribble it all over the lenses. and really make it look home made.


Step 7: Let them dry and take your extremely stylish glasses out climbing. When your partner refuses to be belayed by such a fashion disaster, belay her anyways and say things like “I have a need, a need for speed” even if it’s totally out of context and makes no sense.



You cynics out there who are saying that it cost more than $8 are right. I spent an extra $0.35 on shipping and Sam almost spent a dollar on the glasses. But $9.34 belay glasses just didn’t flow. And this is the Internet so I’m always right, even if I just started a sentence with “and.”