085: MacGyver Moments

Show Notes: Episode 085

Today on the First 40 Miles, if you’ve ever been involved in a wild international caper involving Caribbean terrorists, a stolen helicopter, and a roll of duct tape, you might be MacGyver. But if you’ve ever eaten a freeze dried meal with a titanium tent stake, you might be a backpacker. Then on today’s Top 5 List, we’ll help you with a simple numbers decision. For the SUMMIT Gear review, we’ll be reviewing a tent that is light—literally! On today’s Backpack Hack of the Week, we’re going to talk about something that is simply bulgar.


  • “MacGyver Moments”
  • Tent stakes and bowling alleys
  • In order to have these MacGyver moments, it helps to have the right tools and the right mindset.
  • What are the moments on the trail that force us to be rely on our creativity?

Top 5 Benefits of Buying a 2-Person Tent

A two person tent is the most common size

  • Means that you can pick on up on your way out of town for under $60
  • Certainly you can pay more, but if you’re new to backpacking, you can start with a cheap pup tent, take it out all summer, destroy it, then make a decision about what kind of tent features are important to you.

Lightweight per person

  • REI Passage 2: 5 lb 6 oz (2 lbs 11 oz per person—that’s sub 3 pounds for a tent!)
  • REI Passage 1: 4 lbs 3 oz (4 lbs 3 oz per person)
  • Larger is harder to divide up weight evenly
  • With our two person tent, one of us takes the rain fly and poles, the other takes the tent and stakes.

It gives you space to decide

  • If you just have a 1 person tent, then that rules out a spouse, family member or no-snoring hiking buddy to join you
  • If you have a two person tent, it opens up the options. It also means that if you’re out with your buddies and someone has a gear failure, you can offer half of your tent

A three+ man tent is too big

  • A two man is easy to find a tent site for. Any bigger than that, and someone is going to be sleeping on roots or a slope

If you like to backpack alone, a two person means gear space and room to spread out

  • You can still get a crazy light 2 person tent—and not sacrifice too much weight.
  • Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 Platinum 1 lb 13 oz $549.95
  • https://www.bigagnes.com/Products/Detail/Tent/FlyCreek2Platinum

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Big Agnes Copper Spur UL2 mtnGLO


  • Two doors and two vestibules—and vestibules are covered areas outside of your tent, great for storing gear, setting your shoes
  • Vestibules are also great if you just want to expand the footprint of your living space and reduce that cramped feeling that you can sometimes feel when in a tent.
  • Tent body is breathable nylon and polyester mesh
  • Comes with 8 Superlight aluminum J stakes
  • Foot area of the Copper Spur mtnGLO narrows, which means a little less interior space for your extra gear. It also means that this tent isn’t reversible.
  • Tent walls are more vertical—which gives you that spacious feel, even though you’re in a tent.
  • Guylines are a mix of reflective and bright orange
  • This tent has four interior mesh pockets and two internal media pockets
  • And the media pockets (designed for phones) are brilliant. You slide your phone in this inverted triangle pocket, and the bottom corner of this pocket is open so you can slide your earbuds through the hole


  • The pole system is pretty unique and intuitive—it’s not just two identical poles.
  • When completely assembled, the main pole segment looks like the letter “Y with stacked on top of an upside down Y. When the poles are all assembled it can be a little gangly and unruly, but relax because everything fits into place really quickly and easily
  • The orange poles go into the grommets on the orange tabs, and the silver poles go into the grommets with the silver tabs
  • The second pole is the cross pole for the tent. It’s about 3 feet long and goes across the tent—perpendicular to the main pole segment. Once that second pole is in place, everything will be taut, airy, and spacious
  • The Copper Spur 2 mtnGLO has the fast pitch option, which means you leave the tent at home and only bring the poles, rainfly, stakes, and a separate footprint (waterproof groundcloth)
  • Fly and floor are silicone treated nylon rip-stop with 1200mm waterproof polyurethane coating (That’s pretty strong water resistance!)


  • Weighs 3 lbs 6 ounces
  • The mtnGLO battery pack weighs 2.1 ounces (with the 3 AAA batteries)


  • AAA batteries
  • Lights can be powered by any USB Source
  • Also, if you want your batteries to last, unplug the battery pack from the tent


  • $479.95


  • Looked for LED lights in stuff sacks…then realized they are integrated into the tent itself
  • The battery pack, is a small on-off switch that protects the battery pack from accidentally getting bumped on.
  • When Heather put up the tent for the first time, she decided to not to read any instructions or cheat by looking at a picture—just to test how intuitive it was to set up. It took 6 min and 35 seconds from the time she started taking things out of stuff sacks, until the tent itself was pitched (not the rain fly or stakes). Even though it has a non-traditional design, it came together really quickly
  • Headlamps and flashlights are strong, direct sources of light. The mtnGLO feature on the Big Agnes tents gives a soft light and is a great feature if you’ll be spending time in your tent decompressing after a long day on the trail.

Backpack Hack of the Week™: No Cook, Dirt Cheap Dinner: Bulgar Wheat

  • 1 cup bulgar wheat
  • 1 cup water (any temperature)

Wait 90 minutes, then add any other ingredient to flavor or add texture. No need to drain water—the bulgar soaks it all up.

Your add in options are limitless:

  • bouillon cubes or powder
  • dehydrated onions/chives/garlic
  • cheese
  • salami
  • herbs/spices
  • hickory smoked almonds
  • apricots
  • currants

Nice if you are on a budget or if you want to backpack without a stove

Bring a screw top container, such as a peanut butter jar or Nalgene screw top container, to rehydrate the meal in.

Trail Wisdom

“I always carry with me soy sauce, bacon bits, Parmesan cheese, curry, olive oil, garlic powder, bouillon, and oregano. With those items, I figure I can make a tasty meal out of dirt and grass if necessary.” —John Fayhee