A Solar Condensation Water Filter – Totally Random.

I have been working so much and so frequently on a multi-float Halloween parade entry I’ve designed with so much help from co-designer Ashley Bellet (who is an outstanding costume designer, by the way).  All I can think about in my non-work-time is going camping with two good friends, Roger and Ru, so I have been thinking a lot lately about camping and the kind of nerd stuff that I like to try when camping.  It’s almost as if camping represents some kind of peaceful non-work place where there are magic bottles of Shiner Bock just begging me to drink them, and the breeze coming off of the lake is as good as zoning out in front of the TV.

Solar water condensation filters – have you seen anything like this before?  This is the kind of stuff I dreamed in my head as a kid – my folks gave me this awesome little 18X24 drafting set when I was 8 or 9, I don’t remember.  I used to draw this kind of stuff in my room with my little t-square and 30-60-90 triangle.  I also came up with a flying ninja space wagon, a large rocket that could drive my GI Joes around the house, and for some reason, plan views of my little imaginary mountain towns… OF THE FUTURE.

Do you have any idea what it is I’m rambling about here?  From Len McDougall’s The Self-Reliance Manifesto: How to Survive Anything Anywhere:


Another way to go about this is by taking a large container and a small container and some plastic wrap to make a sort-of crock-pot style water catcher – like this:

Nothing major, imagine a black aluminum pan or a bucket, even – and inside, a smaller jar that will collect the condensate.  Over the top of the large container should be a piece of clear (or at least very translucent) plastic wrap that acts as the “airtight” barrier between the water environment and the outside air, and a little rock.  Like, a rock – not like Lynyrd Skynyrd.  When you put the rock in the center of the plastic wrap, you’ve created a little funnel that pretty much directs the water right into the collecting container!  Now how simple and awesome is that?!

Ok.  Back to your breakfast.  Just a total random bit of my brain, interjecting itself onto the world.


Solar Shower – Well, That’s Hot!


Have you ever had one of those camping showers?  I used to have one that held about five gallons – it was a black plastic bag that got hung in the sun, and it was generally pretty lame.  The handle was too stretchy, the bag got so freaking hot that you would just scald yourself when you went to discharge the water, and it was dependent on how much water was left in the bag for water pressure.  Like I said, generally lame.

My goal is to have all solar powered camping gear to have no impact on the environment, with the exception of the zillion-degree campfire that my buddies and I always make.  Fire, good.

A company called Herrington has a product that uses the same solar water heating concept – it might be a bit much for camping (as it’s two hundred bucks) but as far as concept goes, it’s pretty great.  The Solar Power Shower allows you to hook up the garden hose to it and fill up the base, giving you two hours until 140 degree water.  Use the tap on the shower to mix some garden hose water with the hot water, and mix a warm shower.  Where can you use this?  Well, anywhere you want.  I would still probably take it camping.

PS:  I didn’t have any pictures of dudes using the shower, sorry ladies.  I would have taken one of those “look how hot I am” shower pictures myself, but I wanted people to like the article.

Thanks, DVICE!

Coleman and Their 4-Panel LED Camping Lantern


I’m a huge fan of camping – I know I’ve mentioned it before.  I’m looking forward to going back to Dallas and hitting the Possum Kingdom Lake area with my buddies ASAP.  Those of us who camp a fair amount know that the company Coleman has a large market share of the consumer camping market, with their gas mantle lanterns, camping fuel, stoves, tents, and all of that other little stuff that seems to propagate at any department store wth a “camping” or “sporting goods” section.

I just read an article about a relatively omni-directional LED camping lantern from Coleman – a carryable lantern with 24 white LEDs at 5mm each, a 30 hour run time, and four sections that detach to provide four also portable LED sections.  The lantern takes 8 D-cell batteries, and the removable sections all have NiCD batteries inside.

It’s running around $70 bucks ($69.99 on Amazon) – I don’t remember how much my Coleman mantle lantern cost me back in the day, but I wonder what my good friend Ru would do without that extra Coleman Camping Fuel around to set things ablaze.

camping lantern

Solar Hot Pot – A Camping Must?


I just read an article about a cool (well, not really cool, per se) piece of cooking gear called the Hot Pot Solar Oven. It’s a solar reflector of sorts that reflects sunlight onto a black enameled steel pot.  The oven is considered “high performance” – 5.3 quarts, can reach 400° in about an hour depending on what time of day you put it in the sun, and you don’t have to expend any energy to heat it up.

Pretty cool, in my humble opinion – although burning stuff underneath a cast-iron pot of campfire chili (which I rock, by the way) is half the fun.  This invention is considerably more eco-friendly, isn’t it…

Amazon is selling these through Gaiam for $58.  It’s 19 pounds shipped, so shipping is a little over 30 bucks.


Thanks, EcoFriend!

SteriPen – De-Deathify Water On The Go

An old friend emailed me to tell me about some of her trip to India.  I think in total she spent about three weeks there, and during the whole time she said she never bought a bottle of water, and drank water from the tap in a bottle she got there.  For a moment I thought that she must have the most stainless steel constitution in the whole world, because the rumor is that tap water and gringos visiting India don’t go well together.  I’ve been to some places in the United States that had water that didn’t “agree” with me, per se, for lack of a better phrase.

Again, I gotta chock up a win for the ninja of light, ultraviolet light.  Do you think that UV light’s ninja suit is indigo colored, or traditional black?

This friend told me about the SteriPen – a device that uses ultraviolet light to kick the butts of nasty, nasty life screwer-uppers like Botulism, Cholera, Dysentary and Typhoid from water.  Have you ever seen what Cholera does to someone’s insides?  I’ve only seen video, but holy crap.  She’s no BS artist, so I gotta believe it worked for her.  I believe they had some rural locations in their India trip – they visited Delhi, Rishikesh, Kankal, Varanasi, and Haridwar – some of these locations have awful pollution problems with their water.  Hydro-Photon, the company that makes and sells the SteriPen, recommends it for emergency situations, military folk, people traveling, camping folk, and anyone else who needs to make nasty water drinkable.


The SteriPen sits for about a minute and a half in your water bottle – and there are three flavors of the pen.  The UV lamp is rated at 8,000 hours, and there’s even a solar case for charging the batteries if you choose to get that option.  I’ve done a lot of back country camping where it wasn’t too advantageous to take extra water – and I think those water purifier tablets and drops that supposedly kill protozoa and microbes taste like crap.  SteriPen is taste and smell-less, which is already a big plus.  It’s small, with is another plus, because I’ve usually got enough beef jerky and Cheetos in my camping pack for a weekend outside.

I found a few videos on the pen – here’s a decent one:

There are three different models of the SteriPen, ranging from about 70 bucks to about a hundred.  There’s the Classic model (the basic package), the Protector model (marketed towards military personnel), and the Freedom model (which seems to be geared towards outdoorsy use).  There’s also an Adventurer model, which is about half the size of the Classic, and an Emergency Pack, geared for emergency situations.  Oh, and the Ultra — USB rechargeable, no batteries needed!  Several package deals exist too – with a solar charger, several carrying case and accessories deals, and a few others – check out the line of products here.

I’m going to pick one of these up soon – if you already have one and use it, please post in the comments!  I really want to hear your stories of the device.


TentLED – No More Busting Your Rear At Night

I love to camp.  I love it.  A bunch of friends in Dallas and I used to camp as our regular “man activity” when we needed a weekend away of burning things, smelling like a monkey’s uncle, and eating foof cooked over an open fire.  Oh yeah, and drinking Lone Star beers out of a can.  In my camping gear there are tons and tons of LED devices that are just cool to have at night in the middle of the woods.  I just discovered one that makes so much sense to me right now, but never even crossed my mind whenever a certain mishap occured.

The mishap is something that most people who camp have done – in the middle of the night all of the Lone Star calls to your bladder and says HEY!  I NEED OUT RIGHT NOW! so you get out of the tent and stumble your way to whatever spot has been designated as “the spot.”  In the process, your foot catches the several ropes employed to hold your tent down, and down you go, face first into the dew covered night grass.  Oh yeah, I’ve been there.

Enter the TentLED:


Now, how great is that?!  I’ll never trip over my damned tent ropes again.  The TentLED just rigs onto your rope, and is water and shock resistant.  Once you put them on, you won’t have to take them off.  Such a simple device with a large impact.  At least a large impact for my poor face in the dark while camping.

The company who came up with this, Van Berlow Strategy and Design, won some recognition at the International Forum Design for this product.


Thanks, GizMag!