Monday, April 10, 2006

Really cool and useless stuff

If Tom Kyte can write about random links, and random stuff he's bought, so can I!

So I bought the World's Warmest Sleeping Bag. I was in this REI shop in Denver looking at warm sleeping bags (I've had cold feet since my birth) and this retired doctor walks up to me and explains that if I want REALLY warm sleeping bags I should go to ...

Bingo! Look at this text, for instance:
"Antarctic Sleeping Bag

Product #: 6.3.1

A -60 degree bag. I believe the Antarctic model is the only -60 degree bag made in the world. The loft averages 10 inches, and the weight for a regular length, wide body model is 6.5 pounds. The long wide body weighs 7 pounds. Add $144.00 for the Flexible Temperature Range Sleep System (FTRSS)."

Of COURSE I added the FTRSS option, which will take it down to -80F (or -60C). The result was that Cary Millsap's wife Mindy had to order it and I had to carry it home from Dallas after the Hotsos Symposium.

Let me just say, that having the World's Warmest Sleeping Bag means you also have a very, very big and heavy sleeping bag. In fact, I think it's easier to pack the rest of your stuff, including your backpack, into the sleeping bag.

But man, is it warm and incredibly thick and cool. It's currently stored on my loft.

But go and enjoy their website - it's the only sleeping bag made in the US, and the guy writes the right stuff in the right sort of language that generates trust.

Then I needed a pair of boots, because I have talked myself into doing the World's biggest march, the Nijmegen ( , this July.

Four days with 40 km per day, including 10kg of lead somewhere on your body because I'll be walking on a Danish military team along with a small guy from Miracle called Martin Gamtofte (he's about 2 meter and 5cm tall and wider than most doors), who has done the Nijmegen NINE times, including once where he managed to actually do permanent, structural damage to his heels, yet continuing.

So I needed a pair of boots. Was in the UK last week, so went looking for English boots on the internet - figured they must have been doing some walking for some years over there, and in various climates.

Then I found it: The last British boot maker, with a fantastic website:

Well, fantastic in the sense that they have a LOT of text on the front page. A lot. They're bootmakers, not marketing people.

And then, halfway down in the text, you'll find this very very cool thing: They are discussing the good things about their competitors. Not a bad word about them, just facts about the good things they're known for, and who have been especially happy with them, etc.

These Alt-Berg guys are not marketing guys. They're bookmakers. So again: Instant trust.

I wrote them an email asking where I could buy their boots in London, but got no reply, of course - they're bootmakers, not webmasters.

But James Morle knew a place that might have them, because he went to college on the opposite side of the street: (or

So I went there (Mile End Road - very fitting name), and found a very small shop, and a very big warehouse behind it. Two guys working in the shop (servicing a couple of English troopers on their way to Iraq) and 20 guys or more working in the warehouse.

Yep, they had begun selling Alt-berg five months earlier. Might they suggest their Peacekeeper P1 boot, not water proof of course? People appeared to be rather happy with that one...

If the boot didn't quite fit, I could ship it to Silverman's and they would have the changes made at Alt-berg and shipped back to me. No problem.

The guy had only worked in the shop for 18 years. He knew SO much about even the Danish military camouflage patterns, webbing stuff and what have you. If you ever see their catalogue you will be impressed, too. Professional people, who value knowledge and advise over slick impressions, yet seem to make a good living out of it - and man, must they enjoy their work.

It would appear that a lot of stuff is a bit cheaper there than in many of the more fancy outdoor stores, too, according to my daughter who's a scout.

So I went walkabout in them new boots yesterday (or tabbing, as the Brits would say) for 17 km's and they were good and nice to wear. No blisters. My wife even thinks the boots look nice with a pair of jeans.

So there. Important information for the masses.


Anonymous Leon Parren said...

So you have not opted for the full 50 km walk! I have never actualy done the vierdaagse, I only go to the after party.

If you like long walks you should look at this link for next year.

Good luck

4:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

40km/d ... 4days ... how about 100km in one night : De Dodentocht

oh - it's also sponsored by DUVEL if you get thirsty

1:14 PM  
Blogger Moans Nogood said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah - this Martin Gamtofte from my company has done the death march, too. He says the really scary thing is not so much doing 100 km in 24 hours, but the stopovers where excellent beer is offered. If you fall for it, you're dead.

Duvel is one fantastic beer, by the way.

What does 'Pikers' mean? Haven't seen that word in English before...


2:11 PM  
Blogger Moans Nogood said...

To Leon Parren -

No, I haven't opted for the 50km thing. I think - but I don't know for sure - that for military teams, where the men have to have 10 kg on their backs, there IS no 50 km option. Do you know if that's correct, or just a myth I've picked up somewhere?


2:19 PM  
Blogger jimk said...

Very neat. I'm suitable impressed.

I do a local walk every couple of years. It is a very long relay race. (Mt Hood to the Oregon Coast - run - or the Portland to Coast Walk.)

It is a lot of fun, but not as grueling as the one you describe. For the Portland to Coast walk it is 128 miles in 24 sections. You have 12 walkers and they each take turns. Each section is about 5.5 miles. It takes awhile to do, but is not as ardouse as yours.

Good luck.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Leon Parren said...

Yep, I looked it up. There is no 50k walk for the military teams. They do 40k's. Maybe next year you can do the 50k one, and the best thing is: you don't HAVE to carry around a 10 kilo backpack.

Anyway, the very best of luck.


10:50 PM  
Blogger Tharg said...


a piker is someone who does things by halves, and/or in an amateurish way.

It is being used here in it's most common deployment, as a subtle form of sarcasm mixed with a tad of irony.

The guy who's just walked 100k's carrying 3 tons of lead, whilst wading through molten lava, could be called a piker, by the dude who did all of the above, but blindfolded with his feet cast in concrete.

Piker, if used appositely, can thus almost become a term of approbation.

It's a bit like Bjarne Stroustrup calling Kernighan and Richie pikers - true in one sense, but a mark of total respect in another.

hokey dokey me ol' fruit?

3:06 PM  
Blogger Moans Nogood said...

Thank you for your comments - good info.

I did 34 km with total of 14 kg on my back on Friday in the Altberg boots, and did get two small, nice blisters. Not bad at all.

This coming weekend I'll do something called the Ringborg March in Jutland - 2 x 40 km. Let's see if I can do it with the weight all the way or not.

It was funny on Friday to re-discover the old truth about walking alone and not having the support of a team, etc.: Your brain at some point starts telling you all sorts of good reasons for giving up, even if there are only a few hundred meters left. That's why the UK SAS selection is all about the individual walking up and down mountains alone for a week or two, I think :-).

It's all in your head, as they say, although a bit of preparation might be in good order with events like the Nijmegen.

I like the meaning of Piker - thank you for that clarification.

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