Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Occasional Definitions: Got Gas? Got Wood?


(1) The original solid fuel.

(2) What you'd do if you could. Oh, wait a minute, that's "would." Never mind.

(3) Complex naturally-occurring polymer of sugar generally regarded as a pretty nifty thing, used to make furniture and pencils, among many other fine products. Unfortunately wood, like everything else, is at least 99% blank, empty space seething with random energies and subject to violent quantum fluctuations that can be understood feebly at best, and then only through sophisticated stochastic methods requiring the attainment of advanced educational levels at obscure institutions. It's a strange and frightening universe, so watch out next time you throw a stick onto that fire there, Bud.

Woodgas Stove:

(1) A simple but clever type of wood-burning stove in which the fuel burns from the top down, so that smoke rises into the flame and is consumed. Can be made simply enough to serve as a lightweight and nearly foolproof backpacking stove.

(2) A stove that burns fumes from wood that's been eating the wrong stuff.

(3) A mythical device created to burn naturally-occurring but evasive gas emanating from forests. Based on the "swamp gas stove," which burns naturally-occurring gas emanating from swamps. Also mythical. This was derived from the "spirit burner" a device used by third degree initiates into the secret society of transcendental esoteric ectoplasmic spiritualist chemists, who worked exclusively in the dark, behind heavy, locked, oaken doors draped with thick, sound-deadening curtains. Also mythical.

From: Fire In Your Hand

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Make Mine Dry And Crunchy

I want it. The backpacker's dream. Light water for my reactor.

Water is essential for life. Without it we couldn't go fishing or shampoo our hamsters. Or remain flexible enough to do sit ups. Your body is somewhere between 45% and 75% water, depending on how squishy you are. Bone and muscle have lower water content. Fat, internal organs, and blood have higher water content, up over 80% for blood, which is why it dribbles out when you poke a hole in your hide.

"The human body is 90% water at birth. The water content in the body of a grown-up person decreases to 70%. The water content drops to 50% with age." I got this off the internet, so it must be true. And if that doesn't fully qualify it, then the source was Pravda. Ir-forking-refutable.

The universe as a whole is a thirsty place, and it's after our precious bodily fluids, which makes hanging onto what you have ever more important.

Example: In 1965 a NASA test subject at the Manned Spacecraft Center was briefly and accidentally exposed to near vacuum while wearing a leaky space suit. He recovered OK, but his last memory before entering the inky blackness of unconsciousness was of the water on his tongue boiling away into the vacuum chamber.

Think about that one. Give space a chance and it will suck you dry. Even a phony sort of space in a cage here on earth. Backpackers know this. Water is always on a backpacker's mind. And on a backpacker's back.

Water is heavy. Try carrying a 24-hour supply of water sometime. In the summer, when the temperature is in the 90s. Maybe you can, but you won't carry much else. One gallon of U.S. water weighs 8.3 pounds. That might not sound too bad until you lift it. Try.

Next time you're out grocery shopping pick up a five pound bag of flour. Grab a 10 pound bag if you can find one. Sugar will do, too. Heavy isn't it? OK, now pick up two more 10 pound bags and one fiver. Actually, six or seven five-pound bags would be about right. With containers of water you always have to juggle a lot, so six or seven bags would be about right.

Now you have the weight of a day's water and the complexity that goes with it.

Throw in a week's worth of food, your shelter and bedding, spare clothes, odds and ends, and you have your own one ring circus. You can break into a sweat just thinking about it.

This is where dehydrated water comes in. I don't know why no one got this right before now. Must have been a technical thing, but it's here, finally. This is a backpacker's dream. You can carry any amount of water you want. It never goes stale. There is no expiration date, and it contains no fat, no salt, no cholesterol, no artificial colors or flavors.

Tired and thirsty? Just stop, break out your biggest bottle, pop open a can of this stuff, and you're just about set. All you need to do is pour it into your bottle and add water. A little light stirring and you're in the promised land. Drink up, mate. Tastes just like the stuff back home.

No only that, it's better. Dehydrated water is certified dihydrogen monoxide free. This is important for several reasons.

You have to ask yourself if you really want to put into your body something that can kill you if you inhale even small quantities of it. Something emitted from all coal-burning power plants. Something which in gaseous form frequently causes severe burns, and even corrodes metal. Think about whether you really want a substance in your drinking water supply that can short out electrical circuits and nurture cancerous tumors.

Done thinking yet? Well, dehydrated water has absolutely none of that stuff. Not a single molecule. This is even better than what you get from your kitchen tap, or even triple-distilled, multiply-deionized water from the purest glass bottle.

And it gets even better yet. You can now buy clever zero-volume bottles to carry your dehydrated water in.

These, called Klein bottles, were invented way back in 1882 by Felix Klein, a world-famous German mathematician. The only missing ingredient was dehydrated water, which we've finally achieved. You can get these bottles in any size you want. Remember, they have zero volume, so the size really doesn't matter -- get it as big or as small as you want, but of course the small ones are lightest.

Ready yet?

If you want to get dehydrated water you can order as many cans as you want. This might sound wasteful at $5 a can, but remember it never goes bad. So while it is pricey, you can keep it handy forever in your gear closet, waiting for one of those hot, dry trips.

If you need something to wash down with your dry water, why not try a few canned cheeseburgers?

Each has 257 calories per 100g serving. Eiweiss is 14%, and fett of course is 12.6%. Kohlenhydrate brings up the rear at a relatively hefty 21.8%. (Babelfish translates kohlenhydrate as "coal hydrates", for what it's worth.) Cost? Only 3.95 Euros.

Wait. That's about $6.30. Well, OK, if it's made by Germans and comes in a can it must be good. They also have "Trekking-Kekse", trekking cookies. You can eat a canned cheeseburger, then toss your cookies and watch them trek away. All for only about a month's pay.

Or if not canned cheeseburgers, then have some powdered peanut butter with your waterless water. A company named Bell Plantation makes it. After no doubt years of market research they decided to name it "PB2". Bell roasts peanuts and then squeezes out the oil. "What remains is our famous powdered peanut butter." Yummy. What remains. Is what. You eat. Then.

Get a 4-pack of PB2 for $15.96, if ordered online, or spring for a semi truck load (26 Pallets at $2.69 a jar) for only $93,999.36. But if you do buy the semi load you have to call. Sorry, no online orders that big no matter what the limit on your credit card.

Next year (or maybe even before this year is out) we will finally get true, 100% American-made freeze dried water in powder, cube or crystal form. Buy it in a bag or a box, sprinkle it on anything, stir and eat.

What could be better?


Acme klein bottles
Bernard Foods dehydrated water label
Canned cheeseburgers
Canned cheeseburgers reviewed
Powdered peanut butter
Pravda story
Stupidiotic Dehydrated Water
Old can of dehydrated water by David Reeves, Flickr

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Great Hikes I Have Never Done (And Don't Care About)

I'm almost done reading M.J. (Nimblewill Nomad) Eberhart's "Ten Million Steps". This is a good book. Not great literature, and not excessively well written, but I didn't expect a diary to be, and this is essentially a trail diary. He has spirit though, and I'm learning a lot. It would be good to hike with him.

Even if the book isn't great literature you can't fault the man. He did what almost no one else can do. Go ahead. Raise an objection here. Lift your hand and wave it. Stand up and shout. Tell me about others who have hiked farther in a lifetime, or in a season, who have gone faster or lighter. Tell me something, and then watch me ignore you. That's all good, and irrelevant.

Last year Andrew Skurka hiked the The Great Western Loop, "a 6,875-mile footpath that links together five existing long-distance trails -- including the Pacific Crest Trail, Pacific Northwest Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Grand Enchantment Trail, and Arizona Trail -- and a trail-less segment through the Sonoran and Mojave Deserts".

I will never do that. I am incapable of it. That doesn't mean that I hate anyone. I admire the determination and mental toughness needed, not to mention the insane level of physical conditioning required. That said, I still say that Eberhart did what almost no one else can do. There are some like Skurka who have done "better" (farther, faster, flashier, with better advertising -- categorize it any way you want) but they haven't really. The pool of those who can hike from Florida to Quebec in one year at age 59 is so vanishingly small that I have to consider all of them as superior beings, members of one clan comprised of entities I can barely comprehend.

I'd like to see those who are now in their early 20s to mid 30s pass by about 30 years from now, heading out on 10-month trips that no one else has done. Given the way that people are leaping at new things every minute, virgin backpacking trips will be scarce as 60 year old transcontinental trekkers by then.

Maybe what's most important is not the major league sports or the extreme niches within a sport but what a person does of, by, and for himself, on his own. In other words, if you're looking for something to do, it might be that the way to go about it is to do what feels good.

Sleeping in feels good, but only on some days, and only for a while. I'm not saying you should aim for that. You need a challenge, something to define yourself and make you feel good about life while you're doing it and after you've done it. In the middle of it maybe not so much. Not everything that is good or worthwhile is fun while it's happening. As an aside here, you've probably learned by now that it's many of life's little disasters and minor calamities that make the best and funniest stories, but only later, often much later.

OK, challenge, and interesting. What then? Be specific. Trust your innards. They will let you know.

If you decide something with your head, it's probably wrong. If you think about something that you heard about, that's probably wrong too. Take Andrew Skurka. He just finished The Great Western Loop. If you hadn't heard of it earlier, you have now. It's an impressive accomplishment. Does that mean that you should go and do it too? Probably not.

Notice that Skurka now refers to himself as a "professional backpacker". In other words, he may like his work, but he's doing a job. The bigger and flashier he can make something, the more likely he'll get sponsorship and be able to earn a living. OK for him. I'm not saying that it's bad, but consider whether you want to be a government employee because the attorney general of your state just broke up a price-fixing ring. How much sense does that really make? Same with choosing the right backpacking trip.

If you hear about something, and if you've always had it in the back of your mind, and this is the last shove over the edge and you can't help yourself anymore, then I'd say you have a winner. Go for it. Not elsewise.

Kick back. Give it a rest. Let it come to you. Assuming that you have experience backpacking, and are comfortable with backpacking, and know about what you can do, and have a feeling for places you have been, then you have a good base. Let those experiences talk to you. An idea or two will come along. Reading is good, and talking to people you know is good. If someone like Skurka is speaking nearby, go have a listen. Keep an ear open for the small sounds, the little mouse squeaks that everyone else misses. Watch for the door that's open only a crack. Investigate.

Look for the oddball, out of the way place, the trail you hear about that everyone seems to pass by, saying they'd maybe like to get back there some day. Feel your way into it. You're looking for yourself in the world, for a place that needs you and where you will feel at home. It may not be the famous trail where everyone else goes. The best experiences after all are the ones that tell you the most about who you are and what life is all about, and the less baggage the better.

I've always wondered about people who hike one of the really big trails. The Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail. What are they after? I understand the idea of international borders. An international border is a useful concept, but I still don't quite understand the idea of starting at the Mexican border, touching it, and then hiking for months to go and touch the Canadian border. For those hiking the two westernmost of these three trails, that is the story, and why?

The Appalachian Trail seems to make more sense. It is still arbitrary but is also much more focused on actual geography: Springer Mountain to Mount Katahdin, no political boundaries really involved. It is about place. Going from Atlantic to Pacific makes sense too, or traveling the reverse route. Loop trails make sense to me, as do seasons. Boundaries and timetables do not.

True, if you want to do something you have to plan, and schedule, but scheduling down to the minute destroys a trip. Racing is wrong. Racing is a kind of thing I'm not talking about here. Racing is complex and done for other reasons. Backpacking is done for itself, in its own time, in its own way. There are hours and days and weeks and resupply points and there is always a limited amount of time, and you have to obey the limits but marching along the dotted line on a timetable is going too far.

It kills the experience. Dead.

Keep it simple and you will be right. You have to get up in the morning, and you do the right things in the right order to get home again, but other than that don't play along. Don't give yourself over to the rules of the game for the sake of the rules. Steer an easy course and remain in control.

I used to know someone who scheduled things a year or two in advance, and hiked with a guidebook and map constantly in hand. She was precise about always hiking the "official" trail. She had been a lot of places over several decades and yet her life didn't seem to have a soul. Not to me. Maybe I'm too small to understand, but her experience on the trail seemed to be a lot more about bagging things in the proper season by official rules than about finding joy.

And as I see it, that's what this is really about, and to do that you have to keep it simple.

I'm not in the big leagues now, and not headed there either. Maybe I truly am an idiot, but here's an idiot's advice if you want it: look for the small stuff. Go where others don't. Be quiet. Make yourself tiny. Move slowly. Stay humble. Keep your eyes open. Listen. Wait.

Some of my best times ever have been the unexpected ones, in places other people just don't go. Sometimes this is only a few feet off a trail. Cut off the trail, get out of sight, sit on a log and have lunch. See what happens. If you're patient and quiet, things begin to happen. You can have the same sort of experience while hiking on a non-name-brand trail. Simply follow the same rules.

I can't explain it to anyone -- they don't want to listen. No one knows what the hell I'm talking about anyway. They are blinded by the bright flashing lights and the dayglo colors. But the small trips have often felt like they were the culmination of a dream long gestating, and that tells me that they were right. I haven't had to fly between continents or hire guides. I just go somewhere interesting and see what happens. If I try to stay light then I almost always come out ahead.


Nimblewill Nomad web site.

Ten Million Steps.

Andrew Skurka.

2007 Adventurer of the Year: The Walking Man (National Geographic Adventure).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Fly Me Up Scotty

Now it is April, and time to start thinking about a new backpacking season. Well, maybe not. A person should never quit thinking about it, but some of us haven't mastered the art of being busy little beavers all winter, and refining or remaking our gear when we have a good chance.

We (me, I, myself) get lazy and sloth around. Personally I like to nap a lot, and scratch those places Mom said not to scratch in public. Winter is good for that too, and this year hasn't been great for getting out. Not where I live. Too icy, and there has been snow in even the low hills, which is unusual. The average temperature for last month was six degrees below the same month last year, and we've had cold weather all winter.

True, this weather is pretty mild in an absolute sense. I spent my first 28 winters in North Dakota, so I've had my nose hairs frostbitten a few times. After a few years of that you don't ever lose all your winter hair again, not even in high summer, and you learn not to turn your back on winter, mild or otherwise. But still it's been a good winter to loll around and read books.

Snow pack is heavy I hear, too, from 100% to 160% of normal, depending on location. So this year will have a slow start to it. Maybe I have time to catch up.

One item I've been thinking of working on is a new fly for my hammock. I really need two, and one I've got already.

The hammock I use is the Hennessy Adventure Racer, base weight, 15 ounces (425 g). It isn't intended for backpacking, and is guaranteed for only one year, but I've used mine for about six seasons with no problems. I'm light and careful. The fly, like all by Hennessy is a diamond shape. This is fine for most conditions but not for all.

Given a cool night with a slow and steady downslope air flow, I can just lower the upslope edge of the fly and horizontally pull out the downslope side. With the hammock pitched level across the slope, I'm cozy and have a view. It's like using any other tarp.

Wind is tougher. A steady breeze coming from either the head or foot end can be defeated by pitching the fly almost closed at that end and leaving it open, funnel-like, at the other. Moisture escapes at the open end and cold wind is blocked at the other. A side wind is more like an overnight downslope flow, but harder to deal with. The fly tends to rattle if not pitched right, and usually has to be re-tensioned at least once during the night. The downslope side has to be pitched lower, too, to prevent backflow from turbulence.

Still not too bad.

Things get worse when rain falls. Now you have to worry about both wind and wet. They usually come together, if not now then later, when the night is dark. The fly has to be set up carefully to protect from falling rain, from blown rain, and from water dripping off the fly itself.

Cinch it down too close to the hammock body or attempt to wrap it against the hammock at all, and you get wet. Your sleeping bag too. Another set of issues come into play as well, because setting up the hammock and fly for sleeping may not be right for evening or morning chores.

This is especially true with the tiny fly of the Hennessy Adventure Racer. I've cooked and eaten breakfast under the hammock, and gotten dressed, but not stayed completely dry. This sounds odd, but the usable area right under the hammock is really cramped. There is just enough room for me to sit in one spot and be protected. This doesn't leave quite enough room to set up even my tiny alcohol stove and cook kit, let alone lay out my food bag and pack, or change from jammies into hiking clothes. Putting anything even six inches off to one side or the other, or out front or back gets it into the rain.

My other Hennessy hammock is an obsolete model called the Ultralight Backpacker. It weighs about twice as much. It's fine but I don't often use it. It's fly is also bigger, but not hugely, and has the same sorts of problems.

Both flies are diamond shaped as I said. The way this works out is that they have a really long axis that covers the length of the hammock (roughly 10 feet or 3 meters), and a shorter secondary axis from side to side. There are pointy ends at the head and foot, and two more points guyed out to the sides. Trying to find cover under the pointy edge of a fly is hard. There isn't much room there, so while a fly of this shape naturally fits the hammock and is easy to guy out, it isn't useful in general.

I leave the head and foot ends of the fly attached to the hammock for simplicity. At the sides I use my trekking poles for stakes. Conventional stakes are pretty much useless, but the trekking poles are great. In soft soil I can bury one 18 inches or more (0.5 m.) and it will stay put. I can put a huge amount of tension on it, and since the poles are adjustable, I can raise or lower the pitch as needed. When the weather is calm and dry but I need some protection from the overnight downslope flow of cool air, I can just let the upslope part of the fly hang with my trekking pole in one of its guy loops. The fly tensions itself while hanging straight down, and you can't get better draft protection than that.

But that still leaves me with a fly that has too many points on it. As mentioned, this is not a problem in decent weather. In fact it's an advantage because a tarp with this geometry is very frugal with fabric, and therefore light.

So the problem if any comes in really windy weather (which isn't too bad) or in wet weather (which can be). The biggest problem would come if camped in one spot for several days, or if stuck with serious rain for days on end even if changing campsites on a daily basis. Either way, with days of rain, you need some real protection.

Hammockers have found basically two solutions. One is a rectangular fly and the other is a hexagonal fly. Either one provides more coverage than the standard diamond shaped fly.

So what is a rectangular fly and how does it work?

Eh? You dumb or what? A rectangular fly is rectangular. It pitches over the hammock like a large pup tent, held in place by two attachments, one at the head of the hammock and one at the foot. As with all hammock flies, this may either be attached to the main line supporting the hammock or may have its own guy lines. Some like it one way, some like it the other way.

Supporting the fly by its own lines allows the hammocker to raise or lower the fly independently of the hammock. And the fly does not sag with the hammock when you get into it. On the other hand, the fly does not sag with the hammock when you get into it, which means that you can get a lot of headroom between the top of the hammock and the fly. Separate suspension is also more complicated, but then again it allows you to quickly remove the fly from the hammock and use it as a pack cover or as a separate tarp, or as a poncho. Some hammock flies are made to be used as ponchos. It's a matter of personal choice.

So then, on to hexagonal flies. Which are basically rectangular with an overhang on each end. They pretty much are the same as rectangular flies but can be a bit smaller since their shape is a closer fit to that of a hammock. Because both this kind of fly and the hammock are pointed at each end, and because the very head and foot of the hammock contain no useful space, this is a better use of fabric. Hexagonal tarps also tend to be catenary cut so they pitch better and use even less fabric. But there is no reason a rectangular fly can't also be made with a catenary cut.

Both hexagonal and rectangular flies share a significant disadvantage. They both need at least four side guy points compared to the diamond-shaped fly's two. I'm not sure how I'd handle this, unless I start carrying four trekking poles instead of two. But I've sewn on some extra tieouts to my existing flies, and added line, and maybe I could do this on a new fly. Just stretch out the line and tie off to trees, shrubs, or fallen wood. This could be a bit dicier in rough weather, and I might need to carry a pair of long stakes, since rough weather would be the whole reason for using a non-diamond tarp.

Materials is another question.

The flies I have are both from Hennessy, and the quality of the fabric is first rate. It is silnylon, silicone-treated nylon. This weighs roughly 1.4 ounces (40 g.) per square yard. Another possibility might be Cuben fiber fabric. It is much lighter (something like one third the weight) but is horrifically expensive (in the neighborhood of $30 a linear yard).

At least for experimentation, three mil poly film should be OK. This might even stand up to a season's backpacking, but might have to be replaced yearly, at least. This is polyethylene sheeting (heavyweight painter's plastic dropcloth). Normally you can get this in clear and black. It is maybe twice the weight of silnylon fabric but much cheaper. Silnylon is around $12 a yard, or roughly half that if you can find "seconds", fabric with cosmetic blemishes.

I've briefly tried an eight by 10 foot (2.4 by 3 m.) three mil poly tarp for camping on the ground. Mine weighs about 25 ounces (709 g.), which isn't bad, and the coverage of a tarp this size is fantastic. I got the idea from one of Ray Jardine's books. He said that three mil plastic could stand up to a whole season's use, and it may. I don't know how that translates to use as a hammock fly, but it may work.

Cost, as I've noted, varies. The plastic sheeting is by far the cheapest, and is the heaviest. Things usually work out this way.

Esthetics are another matter. If they matter.

Hey. One thing I found out while trying the plastic tarp was that it was really cool to look up at the sky through my tarp at night. There would be no privacy during the day, but that is also true if you use Cuben fiber fabric. And there would be no protection from sun, if you camped on one spot for more than a night. Once again, it all depends.

I've never used Cuben, but the silnylon I've got in the two commercially-made flies is great. A little crinkly, but that isn't an issue when the fly is guyed out. The only real issue with those is getting one that is the right color, and you have to take what comes with the hammock. If you buy your own fabric your color choices are still limited, but at least you have some choice.

I've figured that if I choose a larger diamond-shaped tarp, an eight by eight foot (2.4 by 2.4 m.) one might work just fine. This would give a diagonal length of about 11.3 feet (3.4 m.), more than enough to handle the hammock's length.

If my choice is to go either rectangular or hexagonal, I thought I'd try avoiding a longitudinal center seam. I get skittish thinking about having a seam running the full length of my hammock fly, directly above me. In a hammock you can't just roll away from a leak.

The idea (and I think it will work) is to make the tarp from three pieces of fabric. Silnylon is 60 inches (1.5 m.) wide, so that would cover me, and I would use that for the center section, lengthwise. To flesh out the width, I'd sew another piece on each side. During rain, the two seams would be off to the sides, and any leakage would either run down the under side of the tarp or drip straight onto the ground beside the hammock.

I could design this to be either "flat" or catenary cut. A catenary is a hyperbolic curve. Hold a string between your hands, but not tight, and the pull of gravity on the string forms a catenary curve. Catenary curves are like pre-stretched fabric so it's easier to get a taut pitch, but they're fussier to make.

If I used poly film I'd just cut it down to the size needed, no seams or sewing required, but making guy points would be a bit harder.

An eight by eight diamond would be the smallest and lightest option but would also have the least coverage, which is what I'm really after here. A more rectangular fly would contain more material and also offer more coverage with more weight.

Luckily for me, there are commercial options to eyeball (though I prefer to make my own stuff), and several hammock-oriented web sites, like "Just Jeff's Hiking Page", so I can get ideas from what other people have already tried, and also see pictures.

As with most things, this will take a little more thinking and fussing. Backpacking season is still a few weeks off, so I once again have a bit of a grace period.


Just Jeff's Hiking Page: How Do I Stay Dry in a Hammock?

MacCat Tarps.

Jacks 'R' Better, LLC.

Speer Hammocks.

Hennessy Hammock.

Oware. And again.

Mountain Laurel Designs.


Cuben fiber at Quest Outfitters.

Cuben Fiber/Wikipedia.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Occasional Definitions: Titanium

(Definition 1)
Proof that you've spent more money on your cook set (or stove, or boot lace tips) than anyone else in your group.

(Definition 2)
Proof that you're a trendy idiot.

(Definition 3)
Metal incorrectly described by absolutely everyone stupid as "amazingly lightweight and strong, and perhaps the way to go if you're obsessive about ounces." It isn't.

Titanium is a metal. Titanium is light, compared to uranium, but not compared to steel. Aluminum is the way to go if you're obsessive about ounces. Titanium is only 12% lighter than steel, though it has most of steel's strength.

Aluminum is 54% lighter than steel and has 75% of steel's strength. Titanium doesn't ding or dent very easily (making it tough), and is highly resistant to corrosion (which keeps it pretty).

If you want a cooking pot and you don't care a lot about how pretty it is, but you do care about how heavy it is, then aluminum is the way to go. You sort of care how tough a pot is and you probably care a lot about how much it costs.

You may also kind of care how gunky it's going to end up looking. Titanium is significantly heavier and vastly more expensive than aluminum, but tougher, and those who own titanium gear feel smarter because it looks new longer.

A lot of people who feel that way don't go backpacking because if they go backpacking they will get their clothes dirty, they will get sweaty and tired, and they really above all want to keep that just-off-the-shelf look.

Titanium is for them. Titanium is for people who don't want to sweat or ever walk uphill.

(Definition 4)
The Fairy Queen in Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream." Nope. Wrong again. That was Titania. Dang.

From: Fire In Your Hand