Major update July 22, 2008 (originally published April 30, 2005).


Postby LoweJo » Thu Nov 10, 2005 2:44 pm

I have been thinking along the exact same lines as you except you are way ahead of me. I thought about using Tyvek, aluminum foil, treated cotton, kevlar, etc. but had no idea if Tyvek, for example, is a practical choice because of heat/fire issues. Without going into detail, you just did all my research for me. Thank you. My new idea for struts, as you call them, are the 1/16" by 24" Titanium rod sold on the BackpackingLight site for about $23 for ten of them. I bought some heavy duty 18" wide aluminum foil and taped these rods to the aluminum foil at one foot intervals using duct tape and shoved them six inches in the ground and it seems to work really well after leaving out in my yard for five days. The rods will sway in the wind but they do not blow over. I'll test the Tyvek and take some pictures, etc. but I am sure, thanks to all your work, the concept of struts and cloth/flexible materials is a real winner! In a heavy wind, with aluminum foil, you might need to space the struts at less than one foot. All this is very preliminary but I wanted to tell you about the Titanium rods. Weight: 0.194 oz/piece (5.5 grams/piece) = 0.0081 oz/inch (0.23 grams/inch)
Lowe Johnston
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Postby Jim Wood » Fri Nov 11, 2005 11:05 am

Lowe -

Thanks for your comments and input on the titanium rods. When these rods became available at BPL recently, I had the same thought about using them for the KiteScreen. I was wondering, however, if they were too flexible to adequately hold the screen in place. I'll be very interested to hear about your results - please keep me informed.

By the way, I'm working on an update to the KiteScreen article that includes info about at least three improvements to the design. A preview:

1. The heat-resistant nylon that's used in Reynolds oven bags makes a great fabric for KiteScreens. It's ultralight, can withstand temps to 400°F (or more), and is clear so that it's easy to see what's going on inside the screen. Two turkey-sized bags can be cut length-wise and taped end-to-end to create a screen that's 19" wide by over seven feet long (or shorter, if you desire).

2. For struts, I've been using ultralight aluminum arrows with the flights and nocks removed. The sharpened tip works great at penetrating even hard soils. A good choice (at about $2.50 ea) is the "Scout" model of youth arrow made by Easton and available online and in well-equipped sporting goods stores (see They weighs only about ½ oz each, or about the same as a typical tent stake, yet are strong and sufficiently rigid to hold the screen well. They're about 24" long with the nocks cut off, so they can be buried 5" or 6" and still have enough length remaining above ground to support the 19" wide oven bag screen. And if you want to get fancy, you can add a couple of ultralight plastic knobs from Home Depot to the tops of the arrows to make them easier to push them into the ground (they also keep rain out of the hollow shafts).

3. Sometimes in robust winds, air flowing over the top of the KiteScreen can still create turbulence inside. An effective way I found to eliminate most of this turbulence is to add a "roof" to the screen. Using a length of the oven bag material described above, I attach the roof to the top edges of the screen using ordinary office binder clips like these: I usually erect the screen using a square configuration that's open at the back (i.e., the cooking side) and attach the roof using 6 binder clips (2 on each of the three sides). The roof fabric barely gets warm in normal use, and the "cracks" around the edges easily allow the rising warm air to escape.

I don't have pictures yet, but will include several in the article update...

Thanks again,
Jim Wood.
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