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APPLICATION - to test Grand Shelters Icebox - Andy H.

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  • a_henrichs
    APPLICATION TO TEST GRAND SHELTERS ICEBOX TOOL Please accept my application to test the Grand Shelters Icebox Tool. I have read all pertinent information in
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 14, 2008
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      Please accept my application to test the Grand Shelters Icebox Tool. I
      have read all pertinent information in the Survival Guide, including,
      but not limited to Chapters Four, Five, and Six of the new
      BackpackGearTest Bylaws, version 0609. I will follow all requirements.
      My tester agreement is on file with BGT.

      Biographical Information

      Name: Andrew Henrichs
      Age: 27
      Gender: Male
      Height: 6'2" (1.88 m)
      Weight: 185 lb (83.9 kg)
      Email address: a_henrichs(at)yahoo(dot)com
      City, State, Country: Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA
      Date: November 14, 2008

      Backpacking Background

      I first started backpacking in college when a friend and I took a road
      trip out west (I was living in Wisconsin at the time). I was hooked
      immediately, and have been at it ever since. Most of my trips are 2-3
      days, but I have taken several trips of 5-6 days. The highlight came
      during the summer of 2005, when I was fortunate enough to have
      thru-hiked the 476 mile Colorado Trail over 35 days. Recently, I have
      been leaning more and more towards the lightweight side of the spectrum.
      I shave ounces when I can, but I still prefer a solid frame in my
      backpacks, and usually take a couple luxuries on trips. Most of my
      backpacking has been in the mountains of Colorado and the deserts of the
      southwestern US. Most of my backpacking takes place during the spring,
      summer, and fall, but I'm getting more and more interested in winter/ski
      camping. In addition to backpacking, I also participate in rock and ice
      climbing, backcountry skiing, road and mountain biking, and whitewater

      Field Information

      If selected for this test, my testing will take place throughout the
      state of Colorado, probably in the Elk, Sawatch, and Front Ranges of
      the state. These ranges average 300 in (762 cm) of snowfall annually. I
      will use the Icebox at elevations ranging from 8000 ft (2400 m) to over
      12000 ft (3700 m). I'll build my igloos far and wide, from sub-alpine
      pine and aspen forests and to perches above treeline. I would expect to
      experience extreme low temperatures of -10° F (-23° C) or colder
      and highs of 45° F (7° C). I would expect to encounter a wide
      variety of weather throughout the testing period. This would likely
      include sun, rain, snow, and high wind.

      Test Plan

      I initially brushed this test off when I first saw it. I've seen
      the Icebox tool in stores but never actually looked at it. When I
      started to read more about the Icebox, I started to get a little more
      excited. I think this could be a very useful tool, but I am a little
      concerned about convincing my girlfriend to help me build igloos. If
      selected for this test, I will definitely get the minimum of 5 nights
      use out of the Icebox, and probably at least 6 nights. My new job has
      been consuming much more time than I expected, but it sounds like things
      will slow down a bit soon. I will try my hardest to get in more than 5
      nights use, but I see my major obstacles being finding someone to
      accompany me and ensuring I have time off of work. If I'm unable to
      find people to accompany me on my outings with the Icebox, I will learn
      how to make a solo igloo.

      One reason I was initially skeptical of the Icebox was due to the
      low-density snow common in Colorado. Upon reading the instruction
      manual, it appears that this actually results in the most stable igloo.
      I've gotten more serious about snow camping in the last couple
      years, but I have never built a snow shelter before. I know how to, but
      have always relied on a tent. I've become familiar with the
      benefits as well as the drawbacks of tents as winter shelters. I've
      often had the desire to dig a snow cave, but again, the low-density snow
      of Colorado has always deterred me. Based on the information on the
      Grand Shelters website, low-density snow has met its match in the

      Snow has been falling in the mountains for several weeks now. Hopefully
      we get some big storms soon so I can trade my hiking shoes for skis.
      I've decided to not get a ski pass this winter so I can maximize my
      time in the backcountry. As things stand right now, I plan on
      backcountry skiing at least four days each month. Some of these will be
      day trips, but I would like to take at least one overnight trip per
      month. I had previously hoped to take only a few overnight trips this
      winter, but if I'm selected for this test, I will take at least 5.

      The manufacturer claims that, since igloos are so warm, one can bring a
      lighter sleeping bag into the backcountry in winter. This makes total
      sense, but does scare me a little. What if it's late in the day and
      my igloo fails as I'm constructing it? What if there's an
      emergency or I'm caught in a whiteout and can't afford to spend
      3 hours setting up my shelter. Thoughts like those ensure that I
      won't give up my serious winter sleeping bag until I have the utmost
      confidence in my ability to use the Icebox correctly.

      If selected, I will pay particular attention to the following aspects of
      the Grand Shelter Icebox:

      Ease of use: Based on the instruction manual and the Icebox-related
      forums, this tool takes some practice. It sounds like a fair amount can
      go wrong if you don't follow the direction. Will there be a steep
      learning curve? The manufacturer states the Icebox isn't designed
      for solo use, but they include directions for solo use in the
      instruction manual.
      After acquainting myself with it, will I be able to construct an igloo
      by myself?

      Time requirements: The manufacturer states that building an igloo takes
      between 1.5 and 3 hours, but I've seen reports of it taking up to 12
      hours in certain snow conditions. How much time will it take me? The
      prospect of ski touring for most of a day before spending 12 hours
      setting up my shelter is not comforting. I will definitely have to
      practice with it close to safety before I rely on it further in the

      Igloo stability: It looks like these igloos are bomb-proof. I
      can't believe the picture of 3 people standing on one! Will the
      igloos I construct be as stable?

      Igloo warmth: The temperature claims made by the manufacturer are
      similar to claims I've seen regarding snow caves. Will I be able to
      bring a lighter sleeping bag on my winter excursions if I use the

      Igloo condensation: Will there be much condensation inside the igloo?
      If there is condensation, will it roll harmlessly down the walls or drip
      all over me?

      Durability: How tough is the Icebox? The manufacturers claim it can
      resist temperatures down to -70° F (-57° C). I have no desire
      ever to test that rating. However, if I have the Icebox strapped to the
      outside of my pack, as the manufacturer recommends, and I take a fall,
      will the plastic break? Will the poles resist bending during use?

      Thank you for considering my application. My previous reviews can be
      found at:

      Current Tests:

      Patagonia Ascensionist Jacket – in FR phase

      Brooks Range Sharktooth Mini Pro Shove – in FR phase

      Outdoor Research Highpoint Cap – in IR phase

      Outdoor Research Neoplume Pants – awaiting arrival

      Pending applications:

      Outdoor Research Zenith Gloves

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