Jim Wood's Base Camp
An Internet Stop for Wilderness Travelers


Site Map      About      Contact    



The Super Cat
Alcohol Stove
Major Update

The Fire Bucket
Stove System

New Article


Feedback Forum


Download slide shows


Three Mods For
Your Mug

Build Your Own
Newly Updated

Interactive Trail Maps

Add a Flip-Diffuser to
Your EOS Headlamp

A Gear List
Super Model

Keeping Your
Critical Gear Dry

A Treatment for 
Silnylon Floors

The Secrets of 
Deep-Cycle Breathing

Backpacking  and
Weight Loss

Product Review:
Canister Stabilizers

Build Your Own
 Super Legs

Spoon Extender &
Bagel Toaster



The Super Cat Alcohol Stove (Major Update)  November 18, 2008

The Super Cat alcohol stove was first shared with the online backpacking community in January, 2005. Since then, it's become one of the most popular do-it-yourself alcohol stoves among hikers worldwide for probably two reasons: it works exceptionally well and it's very easy to make.

This major update to the original article incorporates many of the design ideas that SuperCat users have contributed over the years, while also significantly expanding the scope to include newinformation about materials, build methods, fuels, windscreens, stands, accessories, and real-world usage techniques. It's also being published concurrently with another article, "The Fire Bucket Stove System", which introduces an important new companion product (see below).

The Fire Bucket Stove System   November 18, 2008

This article discusses a new high-performance windscreen for alcohol stoves (especially the Super Cat) that can also serve as an efficient, stand-alone stove for burning wood and solid-fuel tablets. In its lightest implementations, it weighs only about two ounces. The Fire Bucket can be constructed from avariety of easily-obtained, inexpensive materials in either collapsible or permanently assembled models using simple tools.

When used together, the Fire Bucket and Super Cat form an integrated, lightweight stove system that's easy to build and fun to operate.

Near Italy Pass in the Southern Sierras (+)


Three Mods For Your Mug  August 4, 2008

This new article discusses three easy do-it-yourself enhancements that can help you reduce pack weight and improve the utility of your backpacking kitchen gear. You've probably never seen anything quite like the first two mods before, while the third includes a description of Jim's technique for building an old favorite.

KiteScreen Update   July 22, 2008

The KiteScreen is a do-it-yourself backpacking stove windscreen that represents a different approach to solving an old problem. Constructed from ultralight, windproof fabrics or films (rather than the usual sheet aluminum) the KiteScreen offers a number of compelling advantages over conventional designs. Of particular interest to top-mounted canister stove users, who thus far have had few appealing windscreen options, is the fact that the KiteScreen reflects almost no heat back into the cooking area, making it safe to use with butane/propane cartridges.

The original article was published in April of 2005, but with the experience that's been gained by myself and others over the past 3+ years, I thought that it was time for an update. This significantly revised article discusses new materials, tips and techniques that were not included in the original.

Interactive Trail Maps  September 9, 2007

I've been experimenting recently with several free software technologies that allow for the creation of interactive trail maps that are based upon either planned routes or upon actual tracks that have been downloaded from a GPS receiver. A few sample maps can be found using the link above. Cool stuff.

A morning view from the PATC Conley Cabin
Shenandoah National Park, November 2007  (+)

"Dry Gear" Article Update  May 22, 2006

One of the most popular Base Camp articles, "Keeping Your Critical Gear Dry" has been updated with test results for the new Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil dry bags. Ultralighters have been eagerly awaiting the general availability of this innovative new line of products, but poor water resistance (very disappointing) will probably limit market appeal.

Add a Flip-Diffuser to Your EOS Headlamp  December 19, 2005

This quick little project will easily remedy what is probably the only significant weakness in the otherwise excellent design of the Princeton Tec EOS headlamp. Because the beam of this light is focused primarily for navigating at night, it's really too narrow to provide the kind of floodlight that most backpackers want for working around camp. This simple add-on will solve that problem, enabling an EOS user to now switch instantly between spot and flood modes.

A Gear List Super Model  December 4, 2005

With the upsurge of interest in lightweight backpacking that's occurred over the past few years, more and more backpackers are now managing pack weight with the assistance of computer-based gear models. This article describes some of the issues associated with existing tools while offering a new spreadsheet template (free download) that includes enhanced reporting capabilities.

Works in Progress   November 1, 2005

Yes, there's still a heartbeat here at the Base Camp. For the past few months, I've been hard at work on a number of projects that I'll soon be writing about. The most significant is a new tent that's now under construction. Last year, I built a single-skinned, 2+ person, "go-anywhere, do-anything" ultralight tent called the "AireFrame" that I've since been trail testing. It contains features not seen on any other shelter on the market and so far, has performed even better than I had hoped. This year's model will incorporate many of the same design elements as the original, but will be optimized for solo use (though it will sleep 2 in a pinch). Stay tuned...

August snow storm during a 
1997 trip to the Canadian Rockies  (+)

Keeping Your Critical Gear Dry   June 4, 2005

Hypothermia is statistically one of the most significant risks faced by anyone who ventures into the wilderness. Because sleeping bags and insulated clothing are often the last lines of defense against this potentially deadly affliction, it's imperative that backpackers be able to keep this critical gear dry. Unfortunately, many of today's popular strategies for doing so can fail under challenging conditions. This article explains why, discusses new research into the latest ultralight technologies (some of which may surprise you), and offers a model for a dependable, lightweight "dry system" that can work for anyone.

A Treatment for Silnylon Floors   May 11, 2005

Originally developed for high performance parachutes, silicone impregnated nylon ("silnylon") is now being used in a wide range of ultralight backpacking applications (great!), including floors for silnylon tents (not so great!). When used as a flooring material, this fabric can reduce a tent's weight, but at the same time, creates three problems that cause frequent user complaints. This article presents a single do-it-yourself treatment that solves all three problems at once, transforming silnylon from a generally poor choice for tent floors into an excellent replacement for the heavier polyurethane coated fabrics that have traditionally been used for this purpose. It even works with other silnylon-based products (like stuff sacks) to improve water and puncture resistance.

Crossing the Sierra Crest during a
 2001 visit to the Emigrant Wilderness  (+)

The Secrets of Deep-Cycle Breathing  April 22, 2005

Trudging up steep mountainsides while carrying full packs is one of the most demanding things that we backpackers do. For many years, I've been using a breathing technique that has helped to make the struggle a lot easier, and thought it might be of interest to others. Called "deep-cycle breathing", the technique (along with a few other hill climbing tips) is described in this brief article.

Backpacking and Weight Loss  April 14, 2005

One of backpacking's greatest secrets is its ability to promote rapid weight loss. When hiking in demanding terrain, an overweight backpacker can lose 5 to 10 pounds a week (or possibly more) while at the same time, significantly improving fitness levels. This new article describes in detail why backpacking almost certainly ranks among the very best ways there is to lose weight quickly and safely.

Product Review: Canister Stove Stabilizers  April 3, 2005

Over the past few years, top-mounted butane/propane canister stoves have become exceptionally popular with lightweight backpackers. These stoves enjoy a long list of advantages over alternative technologies, but still, are not perfect. One of their principal weaknesses is poor stability when used on uneven surfaces, an issue that often limits safe placement options in camp. This new review discusses three approaches to solving this problem: two commercial and one do-it-yourself. If you use a canister stove, you'll want to read this article. 

Build Plans for Super Legs Released  April 3, 2005

Attaching a set of Super Legs to your stove (or lantern) canister will significantly enhance steadiness and safety, while also allowing you position your stove in places you would never have thought possible. This is great news for anyone who has ever wished he or she could locate a stove on a rock or log in order to raise it to a more convenient working height.

An Autumn morning in the West Virginia Highlands
 (Dolly Sods Wilderness - October, 2004) (+)

Build Plans for Spoon Extender and Bagel Toaster  April 3, 2005

Do you ever eat directly from Ziploc or freeze-dried meal bags and end up with food-covered hands? When stirring a simmering soup or stew on your stove, have you ever wished for more of a buffer zone between your naked hand and the hot liquid below? Have you ever pined for a way to toast bagels or other breads using your camp stove? Ever wish for a way to dry out kindling in order to build an emergency campfire? If so, then you may find this two-part project interesting

Slide Show Gallery Launched  April 3, 2005

Populated initially with five self-contained slide shows from Jim's library, the Slide Show Gallery will be made available (if there's sufficient interest) to other backpackers who may wish to post chronicles of memorable expeditions.

Base Camp Website Launched  April 3, 2005

The Base Camp website was launched today following the publication of two previous articles regarding the Super Cat alcohol stove and a do-it-yourself stand. Both generated a great deal of interest among alcohol stove fans and contributed to the decision to create this site. 

Copyright 2005-2009 James E. Wood. All Rights Reserved.




  • Perfect Trail Popcorn

  • Advanced Map and GPS Techniques

  • Pillows and Pads: Secrets Revealed

  • Eliminating Silnylon Shelter Misting

  • Gear List Super
    Model Update

  • Ultralight Guylines:
    Kelty Triptease vs Air Core Pro Dyneema

  • Unsolved Equipment Mysteries

  • Cool Tricks For Your Vacuum Food Sealer

  • Backpacker Radio:
    A Modest Proposal

  • A Backpacker's Food Weight Calculator

  • Silnylon: The
    Inside Story

  • Dealing with Fear in the Backcountry

  • A Tent Design
    White Paper

  • The Versatile
    Snow Stake

  • The Quest for the Ultimate Pee Bottle


This non-commercial site is designed to serve as a means for sharing information among those who are passionate about wilderness travel, especially in the form of lightweight backpacking.

Over the next few months, I expect to publish dozens of articles containing product reviews, tips, build-it-yourself project instructions, and a wide range of commentary.

The site also incorporates a feedback mechanism to allow readers to express their views about the content presented here.

Thanks for visiting and good trekking...

Jim Wood.

About the Banner Photo

Taken in early September, 1998 during a backpacking trip to central Alaska's Denali National Park. 

The weather had been cloudy during the most of our visit, but on the final day, the skies cleared spectacularly, revealing Denali's (Mt McKinley's) peak for the first time.

This shot was taken by my brother (Jonathan Wood) from a flight-seeing plane at about 12,000 feet as we circled Denali's summit (20,320 feet elevation).

See complete photo here