Friday, January 9, 2015
Do you get wet when it rains? Can you feel the weight saving on your back? Are the tiny interior proportions worth a few fewer ounces? And, most importantly, can it contain an 85lbs, half-wild dog? We spent a week living in the 1 lbs, 9 oz Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum so you don't have to.
First, we should probably qualify the lightness thing a bit. There are lighter shelters out there. The Hyperlite Mountain Gear tarp that Chris has been living in on his 'round the world adventure for the last few months weighs just 1lbs, 2 oz. Big Agnes' own one-person version of this tent weighs 2 oz less. But, as far as I can tell through my research, this Fly Creek 2 Platinum is the lightest double-wall tent that will stand up with its own poles and kinda sorta fits two-people in a pinch.
So it's light, but is it…?
Note the large hole in the door. Thanks Wiley.
Is it strong? Or, better yet, one person and a dog, which is why I opted for the 2P. Wiley and I have tried sleeping in my old 1P backpacking tent a few times, but that invariably ends with him sleeping on my face and me not sleeping at all. Can the Fly Creek Platinum hold him? Well, the second morning into our five-day trip to the Lost Coast, Ty's dog Sansho ran past our tent at sunrise and Wiley decided he wanted to chase him. He stood up inside the tent and, in a single leap, tore the large hole in the door you can see here. So the answer to that question is "no."http://ift.tt/1DGSmxd...
The reason this tent weighs so little and costs so much ($550!) is that Big Agnes has spec'd some of the thinest, lightest materials I've ever seen on a shelter. The gossamer-like bathtub floor and transparent fly are an ultralight ripstop nylon that's so thin it feels like you'll tear it just setting the tent up and are only treated with a polyurethane coating on a single side, rather than both sides as is more standard practice. The rest of the Platinum's body is a very light no-see-um mesh.
Going into the trip, it was actually those drastically thin nylon sections that I was most worried about. They're colored, but so thin they are actually see-through and feel to your hand only like slightly more robust cellophane. So, it came as a surprise when it was the more substantial-feeling mesh that failed. The floor and fly actually proved far more robust than they look.
The tent's hardware is surprisingly robust. Clips, straps and grommets make no durability sacrifices, pointing towards a long service life.
Is it easy to use? We set up camp at 1am the first night during pouring rain. This was only the second time I'd set up the tent and doing it in the dark, in the rain, I was worried I'd get the thing soaked before I even had a chance to get in it. Luckily, with only a single pole and idiot-proof plastic clips, even I could get it mostly ready in under 60 seconds. Fiddling with the last couple stakes and clips on the sides took a little longer, but the tent was mostly protected by then.
Taking it down is similarly speedy. Pull the stakes, undo the clips, remove the fly, pull the pole and roll the whole thing up.
The "freestanding" descriptor could certainly be argued though. You need to stretch the tent's foot panel out to each side, then stake out the fly and clip the tent body to it in order to achieve full set up. "Self supporting" might be more accurate.
It wasn't until what ended up being the last night that I was totally happy with the tent's tension. It's heavily reliant on a very solid stake out and, camping on loose mulch the first night and soft sand the next two, I wasn't able to achieve that. But, up in the mountains on firm soil, I finally achieved a level of tension that made the tent feel solid. A good thing, because that night a huge storm began to roll in that would cause us to evac the next day.
Matt, pictures, is 6' 5". It's a tight fit, but it is a fit. You could never fit two of him in here though.
Will you get wet? But, once it was up, it didn't stay dry inside. There's two problems here: 1) the minimal fly overlap allows falling rain to splash through the mesh body. And 2) There's no way for a tall guy like me to sleep in it without pressing my feet against the foot of the tent and my torso against its side. That results in a lot of contact with the fly around the feet (it runs super close to the tent body at that point) and exposes my sleeping bag to the splash back on one of the sides.
The materials used to construct the Fly Creek Platinum also seem to be more prone to wet-through than other tents. My buddy Ty was carrying the 3 lbs, 7 oz MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2P along on the trip and setting it up and using it in identical conditions (10 feet away) the whole time. While he was packing his tent away wet too, the Big Agnes came out of the packs at the end of the day noticeably wetter and took hours longer to dry out.
The fly material is so thin you can see the tent body through it. It's perfectly stable in high winds if you point its foot towards them, but side-on, that large flat area is literally a sail.
Is it livable? One of the reasons to opt for a tent over a tarp or other ultralight shelter is that tents tend to be more comfortable places to spend time. The floor separates you from the cold, wet ground; the body keeps bugs out; the fly deals with rain and wind; and the vestibule stores you're gear in its own separate garage.
Surprisingly, the Fly Creek actually does pretty well on the storage front. Two slash pockets on either side of the door hold large, heavy items (like a big knife and wet socks), while a pocket above the door is a great place to stash your headlamp; from there it provides perfect tent illumination. There's also an optional gear loft that clips into the roof. The vestibule is very small though, only leaving enough room for a pair of boots and maybe a small pack, at most. http://ift.tt/1iAo7Mm...
Elsewhere, the tent makes some noticeable quality of life sacrifices. See that big gap between the ridge pole and the tent body over your lower half? Well, that makes it uncomfortable to sleep with your head in that end. The tent is designed to be stable in high winds only with its foot pointed windward so, set up on a slope with downhill wind and your head's gonna be shoved in that mesh all night. And, if it's raining, against a wet fly too.
And you can barely sit up inside the head at the best of times; just enough to change your pants.
Fitting two people in here would be a real stretch. One night, Ty and our 6' 5" friend Matt snuggled in the larger, heavier Hubba Hubba along with Sansho, Ty's 65 lbs Karelian Bear Dog. Wiley and I barely fit inside the 2P Fly Creek if I brought my pack inside too and there's no way my six-foot tall girlfriend would have been comfortable in here too, much less another dude.
Look at all that space between the tent body and ridge pole at the rear! Sleeping with your head back there is very tight.
Is it light? It is, and it's small too. But, ultralight backpacking is more about taking a systematic approach to your gear than it is simply buying a flashy tent. Paring your needs down to a minimum, taking advantage of multi-purpose items and leaving luxuries at home is what you need to do to achieve the lightest possible pack weight.
If you've already done all that and already shaved ounces off your other two "big three" items — your pad and bag — then it may be time to consider spending some extra money to shed the last few ounces off a tent. But doing so certain comes at a premium. The Platinum costs $200 more than the regular Fly Creek UL2 while only saving you 6 oz. We actually prefer the 2 lbs, 13 oz Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 ($400), it's just that much more livable that it easily merits the weight penalty. http://ift.tt/1oCKQPu...
At no point during the trip was I glad I wasn't carrying Ty's heavier MSR tent; it was our good food and pots and pans and the bottle of Pappy that made our packs heavy, not a small difference in our tents. In general I had a slightly lighter load, but that was as much due to my nicer sleeping pad, lighter sleeping bag and cuben fiber backpack as it was the sub-2 lbs difference in our tents.
Is it for you? The Fly Creek Platinum was designed for a very specific user. Someone who's prepared to spend a large sum of money to achieve the lightest possible weight, but still prefers a tent over a tarp. Someone who wants to take their entire system to its lightest possible weight and is prepared to sacrifice some comfort to achieve that. Someone who doesn't own a big dog. If that's you, then there is no better tent. But, it's probably not you. The vast majority of you will be better served by other tents in the Big Agnes range.
IndefinitelyWild is a new publication about adventure travel in the outdoors, the vehicles and gear that get us there and the people we meet along the way. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram .
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The Nalgene line isn't limited to just the classic Wide Mouth 1-Quart Bottle. It includes a wide variety of sizes, lids, and colors so suit your use cases and cup holders.
The Nalgene isn't the right water bottle for everyone however, only about 8 percentage points separated first place from fourth in our voting, so we're going to dig in and recommend some great bottles for a wide variety of needs.
Not plastic, and insulated...
The Hydroflask took third place in the voting. Stainless steel, attractive, and again sporting a wide variety of sizes, colors, and lids. It'll keep your cold drinks very cold and your hot drinks very hot.
If you don't want plastic or stainless steel...
Many readers were not convinced of the safety of BPA-free plastic and are sensitive to the taste stainless steel can add to water. The Lifefactory was one of the most enthusiastically recommended glass bottle across the comments, and also got a nod from The Sweethome.
For coffee or tea...
Cheap enough to lose...
The classic Gatorade Squeeze Sports Bottle finished just a couple votes out of the top five.
For cleaning your bottles...
We recommended the Oxo Good Grips Water Bottle Cleaning Set to clean your Travel Mugs, and are doing the same here.
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— Kinja Deals (@KinjaDeals) June 9, 2014
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The time-travel thriller Predestination, is already gaining a cult status, and it's easy to see why. This movie takes the most famous story about time paradoxes and elevates it to a great psychological study. And it features one of the most powerful performances we've seen in ages.
Predestination is very closely based on the short story "All You Zombies" by Robert A. Heinlein, which is probably the most emblematic story of time-travel-related causal loops ever written. In "All You Zombies," a bartender meets a younger man who recounts a bizarre story of tragic romance, involving a mysterious stranger, a missing baby and an involuntary gender reassignment surgery. And it just gets stranger from there.
In a nutshell, the core idea of Heinlein's story is, "What if someone was their own mother and father?" And Heinlein goes through a lot of amusingly weird plot gyrations to make this premise work, creating a story that closes its own loop with no loose ends.
The movie version, written and directed by the Spierig Brothers (Daybreakers), hews very close to the Heinlein story, while adding a brand new subplot and a whole lot of thriller-movie tropes. But more importantly, the movie adds a lot more emotional realism and connective tissue to Heinlein's zany tale, and features powerful performances by Ethan Hawke and Sarah Snook.
The movie version picks up the absurdity of Heinlein's story and adds a lot of weight to it, creating an ultimately tragic and bitter portrait of someone who is trapped inside a cosmic joke. The freedom to move through time, and navigate history the way regular people walk down the street, actually forms the bars of this person's prison, and the temporal paradox at the center of the film doesn't just remove John/Jane's free will, it also turns his/her life into an inescapable trap.
Anybody who's interested in seeing time-travel done well, with a great deal of internal consistency and cleverness, should definitely make time for Predestination. And fans of Heinlein will be over the moon.
But those aren't the main reasons to watch Predestination — the main reason is that Sarah Snook, who plays both male and female versions of the same character, is absolutely captivating and lends a poignancy to every scene she's in. (Check out our interview with Snook about the unique challenges of this film.) Snook constantly seems on the edge of insane rage, even before her character becomes the victim of a cruel twist of fate.
And Snook really gets to the heart of the violence that's done to her character, who's subjected to incredibly unethical surgery without her consent. (The non-consensual genital surgery and consequent reassignment of her character from female to male put me in mind of John Colapinto's book As Nature Made Him. In real life, these things don't tend to turn out very well.)
What's more, playing a character who could easily have seemed a lifeless tool of the plot, Snook does the near-impossible: take a character who's got no free will, and give him/her a sense of agency.
That said, this might be the rare case where a movie is actually too close to the source material. Heinlein's original story is a brilliant proof of concept, but it also feels like he's tossing out a bunch of amusing ideas at top speed, not all of which land that well. (Heinlein famously wrote "All You Zombies" in a single day.)
It's a similar situation to "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which is basically just Fitzgerald saying "Wouldn't it be funny if a guy aged backwards?" and then tossing in a bunch of funny gags along the way. The screenwriters of the Benjamin Button movie kept Fitzgerald's basic concept, along with a few key details, and then crafted a brand new take on the idea. But the Spierig Bros., faced with a similarly sketchy tale from another great writer, are reverent, preserving every last detail.
So, for example, Heinlein's story includes a 1970s space program that sends male astronauts into deep space for months at a time. And then he adds a bizarrely unlikely initiative, where the space agency recruits female sex workers — who are required to be virgins — to relieve these male astronauts' sexual frustration on their long journeys.
It's an incongruous, credulity-stretching idea, that adds almost nothing to an already overstuffed story, and it could easily have been dropped from the movie. But it's in there. And so are a few other things that Heinlein brings up in his story, has fun with for a paragraph or two, and then never mentions again. (If we had a well-known program sending people into deep space for months-long journeys in the 1970s, a lot of things would inevitably have been very different.)
The other problem with Predestination is that the Spierig Bros., trying to impose a more conventional tone on Heinlein's off-beat storytelling, lean heavily on the "thriller" aspect. There are dark hallways, fistfights, men in suits, ominous conversations, wheels inside wheels, terrorism, and One Last Mission. The thriller stuff feels somewhat dull and rote, especially when juxtaposed with all the elements of the insanely quirky and silly Heinlein story.
At the same time, the main subplot that the movie adds to Heinlein's story does pay off prety well — adding a final note of insane darkness to a already dark story.
The best time-travel stories usually have an element of existential bleakness, as their characters try to create meaning in a universe where things are essentially meaningless or pre-determined. And Predestination captures that sense of existential bleakness very well, while creating something that's both strikingly absurd and emotionally powerful. Despite some flaws, this is already a strong candidate for most mind-blowing film of the year.
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Saudi blogger Raif Badawi. Image via Facebook.
Saudi blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah for "insulting Islam" on the internet. His sentence began on Friday. Read the rest
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Headphones or earphones or whatever listening apparatus you have access to are crucial to having music and staying sane, so it's important that you treat them with the care and respect that they deserve. Keeping them in top condition is good for both your hygiene and the audio fidelity, so we've put together a variety of tips for doing just that.
Take care of your headphones while you're using them, as it can make more of a difference than you think. Even basic precautions, like avoiding very high or very low temperatures, and pulling on the end plug rather than yanking on the cable to remove them, can have an impact on the lifespan of your listening equipment. Remember that this gear is not necessarily as robust and as durable as you think it is.
At the more expensive end of the scale, Dr Dre reminds us that liquids and high humidity should be avoided, lest the sensitive electronics inside the headphones become affected. It's also worth considering the size of your eartips, if applicable, and making sure you're using ones that fit your ears comfortably and with a minimum amount of pushing and squeezing.
The advice from Bose is to check for dirt and damage on a regular basis and give your headphones a quick wipe down after every extended period of use. Depending on the make and model of your headphones you may be able to replace certain parts (like the ear cushions or the ear tips) rather than using the damaged or worn originals. Treat your headphones with as much care as you do your smartphone and you shouldn't go far wrong.
It goes without saying that water and cleaning products don't usually mix well with electronics. A soft cloth, warm water and perhaps a little soap are usually the best way of keeping your headphones or earphones sparkling. Err on the side of caution when it comes to the amount of water and soap to use. It's worth checking the instructions that came with your kit, if you didn't throw them away with the packaging.
Keep a small towel to hand and you might also find a dry toothbrush helpful to dislodge bits of dirt and grime and get inside meshed areas of the headphones or earphones that a cloth can't immediately reach. In the same vein, cotton swabs or even a toothpick (used carefully) can make a difference on particularly stubborn areas. Dab down your kit with the towel afterwards and give it plenty of time to dry naturally; this isn't really a job you want to be doing just as you're on your way out to catch a bus.
If you don't want to use a cloth then restaurant or baby wipes can do a decent job as well. If your earbuds have silicon tops to them, then remove them to clean them separately; the cables could probably do with an occasional wipe down as well, though you're obviously going to be focusing most of your attention on the parts of your headphones that come in contact with your ears (it might be a good idea to clean those out, too).
You should store your headphones in a clean, dry place and make use of the supplied case (or invest in a third-party one) where available. Again, temperature extremes are best avoided—you might want to think about that before leaving your equipment sweltering or freezing inside a car. If your headphones or earphones need folding up, follow the official instructions to reduce wear and tear while you're not using them.
Tangled cabling is a perennial problem and one that can cut down your listening time by a good two or three minutes when you set out from the house. One way to avoid this, aside from using a case that keeps the cable organized, is to wrap them carefully in a figure-eight shape around two of your fingers—see the video below for details of how to do it.
This 'hook-em-horns' method is one of the ones featured in a comprehensive list put together by our friends at Lifehacker—follow the link to read through a number of different options, covering everything from binder clips to braiding. Hopefully there's something there that will suit your needs, and you can always resort to wrapping your headphones around your smartphone to keep them tangle-free (though again, treat them with due respect).
Taking better care of your headphones isn't particularly difficult or time-consuming but the long-term effects are going to be noticeable. If you've got any cleaning or untangling tips of your own that you've discovered, then share them through the discussion below.
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