Gram Counters…… (Jetboil Flash)

When I’m skinning, I tend to sweat a lot, so avoiding dehydration is quite a big thing for me. It has many negative implications:

  1. They say that when you lose 2% or more of your body weight in sweat, you reduce your performance by between 10% and 20%. Now, I weigh around 100kg, so that’s 2 litres of water which sounds like a lot but in reality it’s not and it can go faster than you think, so, all of a sudden, things are much harder work, I’m slower and I’m not enjoying myself as much.
  2. Not only that, as you dehydrate, you lose electrolytes  (sodium, potassium, magnesium e.t.c.) which are essential for your body to be able to transport water to and from your major organs. If you exercise for anything up to 45 mins, this isn’t a problem but when you start doing endurance sports (I suppose skinning is endurance), it’s important to replace the electrolytes, especially if you are an “excessive” sweater like me (I don’t seem to have much going for me!), as you lose much more salt and become dangerously dehydrated. Before I started using sports drinks, I used to have trouble retaining water even though I was sweating and drinking like crazy. I would continually need to pee. It didn’t make sense. Then I learnt that as I continued to sweat, my sodium levels were becoming depleted. And I was diluting them even  further by drinking just water. Work that one out. Of course, I’ve since learnt that sodium is needed in order to retain liquids. Aha! So, sports drinks were the answer and have made a world of difference for me during and post exercise, especially in recovery.
  3. And of course dehydration will not do you any favours in staving of hypothermia in cold climates and frostbite.

So, drink (and not just water, add a sports powder)! I try and have a drink every 25 mins while I’m skinning and never wait until I’m thirsty (that is when you are dehydrated!). As I lose so much liquid, I end up carrying a fair amount too. And water is not that light either. Depending on the length of skin, I’ll carry at least two litres in a Camelbak and more often than not an extra litre in a Nalgene bottle. So that’s 3kg of liquid. Thankfully, as the day progresses it disappears…..

So, how could I save a bit of weight (questionable) and have more water….? Maybe a nice little stove. I was looking at the Jetboil and thinking, wow what a nifty little stove. Wouldn’t that be great if:

  • the proverbial hits the fan and I’m benighted
  • I want to have something warm to eat/drink when I’m cold or mix up the boring granola bars/GU with e.g. noodles
  • I’m out of water and need some more (especially if the proverbial hits the fan)
  • Camelbak splits/freezes
  • I’m solo (of course!)

The problem with all this gear is weight and where to draw the line. You could never have enough gear if weight wasn’t an issue but it is and it soon adds up. Shaving weight is a favorite past time for anyone in the mountains and I think I’ve managed to do that and get a Jetboil into the bargain! Ha! Leave the Nalgene bottle and a litre and half of water at home and melt any additional water needed on the way (I know, I’m a bit slow. Climbers do this all the time).  That’s a saving of ca. 1.6kg and a gain of around 600g with the gas canister included. A saving of 1kg at the start of the day and a gain of 440g at the end of it. The Jetboil Flash is supposed to be pretty speedy too, so should get enough water melted in a 15min break. Obviously, not the best solution for days where speed is of the essence but a good addition to the arsenal.

For those interested in the lightest stove combo and efficiency, check out this link: http://thehowzone.com/how/jetboil/8 (Jetboil Vs. Pocket Rocket with titanium Trek 700). The Jetboil wins comfortably.

And for comparisons to the MSR Reactor which is better than the Jetboil Flash in some instances but not for what I want, check out this link: http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2007/01/17/integrated-canister-stove-showdown.html

If you can think of improvements, it would be great to hear them.

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0 Responses to Gram Counters…… (Jetboil Flash)

  1. Nick says:

    What’s the effect of cold water vs warm: do you hydrate more with 1ltr of warm water from a flask than 1ltr of ice cold water from a frozen camel back? Is is worth carrying a flask?

    • paulholding says:

      Mate, you would have to put a spanner in the works! I suppose if it’s frozen, you’re not going to get very far! Good urban myth and I’m none the wiser but here’s my 2 pence worth on the subject (I’m still learning about all this)….

      As far as I know, a liter of water will hydrate to the same amount regardless of temperature. The difference is the rate of absorbtion. Slightly off track but sports drinks can help a lot and come in three guises: Hypotonic, Isotonic and Hypertonic. The main difference between the three of them is the concentration of carbohydrates and electrolytes which will also dictate the rate of absorbtion. The less carbs, the greater the rate of absorbtion and the more carbs the less(http://www.pponline.co.uk/encyc/0813.htm). The hypotonic version is the easiliest absorbed of the three and supposedly can be absorbed more quickly by the body than water but it is low on carbs. The Hypertonic version has the most carbs. It basically depends what activity you’re doing and what you want. I like more carbs. When I started using them, the difference was night and day during exercise and the next day but then I lose masses of salt. I’m not sure if the difference is so pronounced if you’re normal. You can get all you need from eating after exercise too coupled with water but that’s no good while you’re exercising.

      So, back on track….Drinking cold water supposedly requires more energy as it has to be heated to body temperature first (which could mean it’s absorbed a little more slowly, I’m not sure). More importantly in the mountains is the impact it would have on your core temperature. Drinking cold water reduces your core as the cold is transferred from your stomach and the body tries to reach thermal equilibrium. So, if you’re boiling hot, good. If you’re already cold and struggling to stay warm, not so good. In which case a flask would be great. But….. (my 2 pence on the subject again) your average 0.7l flask weighs around 450g empty plus another 700g with the liquid, so you could carry a small stove like the Jetboil which is around 660g and have enough warm water (assuming snowy climbs) and more if things go wrong for less weight (but admittedly a bit more time and not so comfortable in less than ideal conditions).

      Just a thought……

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