Glenn Charles


Photographer/Videographer specializing in Life Style, Travel, and Aerial Imagery.  FAA 107 Certified for sUAS flight operations throughout the US.  Fully insured.  Videography work is limited to Aerial productions.

Based in Maine (May-December) and SWFL (Jan - April). Available for travel year round.

Filtering by Category: UL Gear

The Simplicity of Tarps

Just back from another spectacular bikepacking trip on my Salsa Mukluk, I can honestly say that for 90% of my trip needs, a Tarp is the perfect shelter. For the last 5 years I have experimented with tents, bivies, and a number of different Tarps, so I believe that for me, I have acquired a fair bit of experience through a multitude of conditions. 

With the exception of some very specific situations and scenarios, the Tarp has ruled the roost.  With a bike, I can string a tarp anywhere I want, including the middle of nowhere.  Using my technigue for anchoring the bike with line and stakes, it serves as the perfect highpoint for one end of the tarp.  The other end can be anchored to some other fixed object, or with the aid of your helmet or stick, stood on end, you have enough lift to comfortably sleep without and contact between your bag and the tarp. 

Add in an UL bivy, like one from MLD, and you have bug and splash protection at your disposal.  Thus carrying a Cuben tarp, a set of UL stakes and a UL bivy, you are set to string up protection no matter where you travel.  With some larger fixed structures to anchor to, you can easily create a very comfortable living space that protects you, your bag and your gear from the elements.   

My current Tarp of choice is the Cuben Fiber tarp made by Hyperlite Mountain Gear.  I have been traveling with this tarp for almost two years now and it has proven itself as completely reliable.  The attention to detail is amazing and the Cuben Fiber is not only light but absolutely waterproof.  One very nice feature of Cuben is that it does not wet out.  What this means is that after a night of rain, simply shake the tarp and the vast majority of the moisture is displaced, thus keeping your UL tarp in a UL state.  I have found that Silnylon has a tendency to wet out and thus your super light tarp is no longer super light and you are stuck packing an item that is soaked through and through.

For those that are serious about traveling light, the combination of a Cuben Tarp, UL Bivy, a Neo Air pad, and a set of UL stakes is the ultimate combination for light weight, flexible shelter.  Simple to setup; flexible in how you use it; and a multitude of useable configurations with very few things that can break! 

 HMG Cuben strung over rock

HMG Cuben strung over rock

 Creative use of endpoints, a helmet and bike lashed to table

Creative use of endpoints, a helmet and bike lashed to table

 Camp full of Tarps, all off of the table

Camp full of Tarps, all off of the table

 Using the bike as an endpoint

Using the bike as an endpoint


Fuel Storage


As spring approaches one of the great things for us UL travelers is that we get to put away the big (relative) white gas and propane stoves and bring out our lovely little alcohol stoves.  If you are not familiar with Alcohol stoves, they are small, uber lite, and run on denatured alcohol or some other derivative.  For three season camping where all you are doing is heating water for coffee and tea, or boiling some water for pasta or soup, these stoves just cant be beat. 

While many opt to make super lite versions out of assorted types of aluminum cans, of which there is a plethora of You Tube directions, I prefer the strength and stability of the Trangia.  Trangia is a Swedish company that builds a complete cook system around their little stove, but for those wishing simplicity, you can simply purchase the burner without all the pots.  These are wildly popular in Europe for good reason. They are just bomber little devices.  I use the base Trangia unit paired with the little Trangia Triangle which forms a windscreen and pot stand  when in use and folds flat when you are done with it.

As with all stoves you have to carry liquid fuel, and while the big bottles sold by MSR work great for the highly toxic white gas they carry, I prefer something more simple for the trangia.  I have discovered over the last year that the folding bottles from Platypus work amazingly well.  I can take .5 liters of fuel on a trip in one of the collapsible bottles and as the fuel is consumed, the bottle gets smaller and smaller, taking up less and less space.  If you are simply going for a one or two day trip and don't need that much fuel, you can start out with the amount you need and the bottle will shrink to a very manageable size.  With regards to durability, I have had fuel stored in one of these bottles for the past 5 months with no apparent degradation to the bottle or the cap. 


At my presentation the other night a student picked up the little Platypus bottle and asked why my water bottle said 'TOXIC' on it.  I told him it was not water and that instead was my way of insuring I did not accidentally drink my fuel.  Apparently it works!!

Trangia Triangle, Trangia Burner, Platypus .5L Fuel Storage

The little Trangia Burner

cool new piece of UL kit

I discovered the North Face Verto Micro Hoody today. A hybrid style jacket with a blend of 800 fill down for the core and a Pertex shell for wind resistance, this could be a bomber piece of kit to add to your stable. In my mind it falls somewhere between a Patagonia Nano Puff and the Patagonia Down Shirt. The Pertex shell insures it will be lightweight and weather resistant, something not true of the Patagonia Down Sweater that I do very much love.

Weighing in at about 240 grams, this is definitely a piece of kit worth checking out.