Camp War Pony Day Seven: The First Cold Night
True to prediction, the mercury dropped pretty hard last night. According to my thermometer, the low was 3 degrees Fahrenheit. As can be expected, I was a little worried about exactly how my gear would handle the temps. Up until this point I’ve just been sleeping in a pair of boxerbriefs. Last night I added some long underwear, ski socks, put a comforter on top of my bag, and got in with my down coat. Within 5 minutes the down coat was off, and I woke up in the middle of the night to take my ski socks off because I was sweating. The setup worked GREAT, and I woke quite comfortably to a bitterly cold sunny day. This was a big confidence builder. 3F is the average low in Breck in December, and I know I have several options to make everything warmer.
The only downside is that it appears that my heater setup doesn’t like to light in the cold. I have some thoughts as to why, and some ideas for fixes, but honestly even at 3F, not having a heater was an inconvenience at worst.
Ok, so here’s the scoop on the heater.
I bought a Mr. Heater “Little Buddy” catalytic heater. A catalytic heater takes a fuel (usually natural gas or propane), and introduces it to heated platinum and oxygen. This causes an oxidation-reduction reaction, the byproducts of which are carbon dioxide, small amounts of water, and heat. These heaters are optimal for small spaces because any non-catalytic gas combustion will fill a camper or truck with carbon monoxide in a short time, which is, shall we say, less than optimal.
The only problem with the Little Buddy is that it is designed to run on a 1-pound disposable propane tank.
While it will produce 3800 BTU’s for 5.5 hours in this configuration, you then throw the canister away, and buy a new one for $4-$5. A better long-term solution, in my eyes, was to buy a 2.5 gallon (11.5 pounds of propane) tank for $50. This tank costs $4-$5 to refill, and will last basically forever.
Mr. Heater makes and sells a hose to connect the Little Buddy to a regular tank with a POL fitting. However, the design of the Little Buddy requires that 1-pound bottle to stand upright, which makes this hose preeeetty much useless.
To solve this problem, I worked with the lady at the propane store and made a custom fitting which will let the Little Buddy sit on the 2.5 gallon tank. I also put a second valve on the adapter so that I can run a cook stove off the same propane tank. Looks pretty slick if I do say so myself.