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  • Shopping for a 1-Person Backpacking Tent

    Posted on April 21st, 2017 admin No comments

    When I was younger, I did a bit of bike touring and backpacking with my kids.  I toted a three-person tent for them, and a bivy shelter for myself.  Had thought for years about getting a light-weight 1- or 2-person tent and getting back into it.  But the wife isn’t into that kind of camping (her ideal is to camp in a motel) and I kept putting it off.

    This summer, I have the opportunity to do a bit of touring with Circuit Cycle and Sports in Millet, who is organizing a bunch of trips.  This gives me a chance to revisit the light tent idea.    For the first trip, there are four possibilities:

    1. Drive my current 4-person dome tent to the destination and leave it there, bike to the campsite, ride back, then drive back to the camp and retrieve the tent.  A bit of organization and time required, but only cost is for gas.  This is a good tent with full fly and huge vestibule: I can stand up in it, there’s lots of room for gear or a roommate if necessary.  Hey, I can pre-deliver lawn chairs, a table, all the comforts of car camping!
    2. Use my current “emergency” bivouac, which consists of a “survival blanket”  (from Survive Outdoors Longer),  a lightweight nylon tarp for a ground sheet, and bits of rope and parachute cord.  I’ve used this system for years for winter camping where mosquitoes aren’t a problem.  With a bit of mosquito netting, I could  probably make this work (and mossies usually go to bed shortly after I do!).   Total mass including cordage less than 0.8 kg, cost was about $25 total.  These things live in my day pack (in various iterations) and have seen emergency use over the years.

      SOL Sport Utility Blanket and a general-purpose waterproof nylon sheet

      SOL Sport Utility Blanket and a general-purpose waterproof nylon sheet

    3. Purchase a used tent.  I found a bottom-end 2-person tent by Escort for $10 at the local Second Glance store, the kind with a handkerchief-sized fly that lets the rain in when you open the door and bleeds moisture in through the fabric wherever you touch it.  Since the trip will probably be cancelled for inclement weather, this would do, but I really don’t like that kind of tent on general principles.  Still, price is great.  Mass about 2 kg, surprisingly low.    I also found a rather large and somewhat hefty used  2.5 kg Cabela 1-person tent on for $150.   Tempted by that one, despite its relatively high mass.
    4. Purchase a new tent.   Ah, but what to buy.   Prices range from cheapie Chinese knockoffs for under $100 to high-end ultra-light technical marvels in the $800+ range.

      Wind-Wing 1 by Korean manufacturer Naturehike

      Wind-Wing 1 by Korean manufacturer Naturehike

    I can afford good quality, and I generally try to buy the best gear that I can afford — but can I justify it for a few occasional uses?   I’m not apt go get seriously back into either bike touring or backpacking because I currently have no one to go with, and it worries my wife when I head off on my own (unhappy wife, unhappy life).

    In the end, I narrowed my choices to the entry-level Naturehike Wind-Wing 1 from GearBest in China ($102 delivered, complete with footprint; 1.7 kg) , and the mid-priced Spark 1 from Mountain Equipment Coop ($299 delivered, footprint extra $32, total mass 1.3 kg)

    MEC's Spark 1 is a mid-priced 1 person tent

    MEC’s Spark 1 is a mid-priced 1 person tent

    Naturehike is a Korean company specializing in outdoor merchandise.   Their products are generally well-reviewed and they appear to be reasonably well-made.   Nobody is going to pretend that they’re similar to a Big Agnes or a MSR Carbon Reflex, but for a starter tent it looks like a reasonable choice at an attractive price.

    Mountain Equipment Coop is local, and there’s some merit to spending my money in Canada.   MEC offers a rock-solid guarantee and I was really tempted by the Spark 1 tent.  It’s a bit larger and roomier than the Wind-Wing, is 400 grams lighter, and might be a little more compact when packed (hard to tell from the online images).  But at more than three times the price, it seems a bit high for “I’ll try this to see how I like it”.   If I were younger, or if I had a travelling companion, and knew I were going to be doing a lot of light-weight travel, I’d get the 2-person Spark 2.

    But life is what it is, and for now I’m on my own or going with a group.   Today I put in the order for the NH Wing 1 and paid a little extra for tracked air shipping and delivery insurance, for a total of $102 CAD. Watch for a review soon.


  • Go RVing Canada Adds Problematic Reader Blog

    Posted on August 9th, 2011 admin No comments

    Following on their “Take Your Best Shot” photo contest, Go RVing Canada has started a Reader Blog

    “It’s a place where RV enthusiasts from across Canada can map their favourite parks and share adventures,” says their newsletter.  “If you’ve had a great RVing experience, add it to the comments section for others to read.”

    Note that “map their favorite parks” part.  This refers to  interactive map that locates the topic of each blog post., which is a nice idea and seems to work okay.

    Yet the blog as I found it when I checked this morning has a couple of what I perceived as serious problems.

    1. THERE IS NO WAY TO POST!  Yup, there is exactly one post for each province, with no way to add new posts.
    2. Visitors are allowed to comment on those existing posts, but BEWARE!  Comments cannot be edited or deleted (all comments are moderated before publication, so I asked another comment to have both my comments removed)

    So for now, don’t bother trying to post at an unpostable blog that won’t let you edit or delete your own comments.   I’ll update this once I hear from Go RVing Canada.


  • Camp Finder App – Find RV Parks by iPhone

    Posted on June 21st, 2011 admin No comments
    Camp Finder

    Camp Finder Splash Screen

    On the road and looking for a camp site?   There’s an app for that!

    Just released this month by, the Camp Finder application costs only $1.99 and provides access to some 14,000 US camp sites, according to a media release June 7, 2011.

    The app allows users to

    • “Search for campgrounds and RV parks by name, city and state or current location.
    • “Check rates, amenities, camping discounts, contact details, photos and camping reviews to find the perfect campgrounds and RV parks….
    • “Other features include advanced search, directions to your campground destination…
    • “Access to the latest camping and RV tips and articles from”

    No indication of when or if the app might be expanded to include Canada, but still of value to snowbirds taking the RV south for the winter.

    Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad with iOS 4.2 or later.

  • Buckskin Mountain State Park

    Posted on June 17th, 2011 admin No comments

    I can’t believe that here it is June and we’re still sorting out photos and details of our winter trip!  Okay, some things got in the way…

    Dawn relaxing by the cabana at Buckskin Mountain State Park

    On our way back from California to Canada last March, we stopped at Buckskin Mountain StatePark on recommendation of both friends at home and people we met while traveling.

    Except for lounging on the beach during the warmest part of the day, we didn’t take part in any of the water activities.

    To clarify, the missus lounged while I went hiking !  To me, the hiking was the best part of that stop.  In one afternoon, I covered the short but steep Lightning Bolt Trail, took the guided nature walk called the Buckskin Trail, explored a series of abandoned mines, and wandered some unmarked quad trails that headed off into the desert.

    A view of the Colorado River from a trail on Buckskin Mountain

    It was only about four miles, but there were lots of stops to read about and examine desert plants, and it took time to poke into old mine shafts, and just wander about to see what’s over yonder knoll.

    I’m a fairly strong hiker and did it all in one go, but some seniors (senior to me!) I met along the way were doing one trail per day and taking their time.  We agreed that it was a pleasant hike.

    I’d have liked to visit Interruption Point too (only another mile round trip) but it was getting close to suppertime and I knew Dawn would worry if I were gone any longer.

    Ah well, it’s good to save something for the next visit!

  • RV Park Superpages Far From Super

    Posted on April 17th, 2011 admin 16 comments

    I surfed into something called RV Park Superguide, “The quickest, easiest way to search, browse, and reserve North America’s most popular RV parks INSTANTLY!”

    I’m not going to give the link, because IMO it’s not worth much, and I’ll explain why in a bit.

    There’s a lot of hype on the page.  Access over 17,000 campgrounds. Search for RV parks anywhere and everywhere [in North America, we assume].  Find RV parks with the amenities you want.  Access maps, weather, campground descriptions. Special page to store favorite parks.  Sounds okay…

    California Resort Shown in Alabama

    If you click on the “Give me free access” control, the next page is a hard sell page that has the look I associate with scam sites.  Forget free — pay this and that and the other.  Premium features.  Half-price camping.  And I bet that if you reach this page, it’s limited to the next  250 43 subscribers!

    But bypass the huge graphics for Silver Access ($67) or Gold Access ($97) and watch for the tiny print that says “No thanks, Andrea, I just want access to the free directory”.  Andrea is the marketing robot, I guess.

    So here’s what you get:  Something called RV Park Superpages with search fields for state/province, city, and campground name.   I tried it on a few favorite campgrounds and I’m not impressed.  It missed a major well-known local RV resort (Glowing Embers near Edmonton, Alberta) but no campground guide can catch them all.  The real bugbear was that regardless of location or number of resorts a search turned up, the maps all showed a single campground in the Talladega National Forest in Alabama!

    Might be worth something if you stay in campgrounds a lot, but I’m sure glad I didn’t pay for the search service.

    Oh, I also got an automated email from Andrea chiding me for not buying a premium package “like most people do.”  I expect that until I “block sender” I’ll be getting a lot of emails urging me to buy.

  • Snowbirds Fly South to Arizona, California, Hawaii, Other Warm Spots

    Posted on December 13th, 2010 admin No comments

    A lot of our friends have left for warmer climes. A couple are headed for Hawaii, another to Texas. Some are already in California and Arizona. Haven’t run across anyone going to Mexico (including us; our last trip was three years ago to Puerta Vallarta).

    We spent a week in Yuma, Arizona last year, and a few articles showed up from that trip. We were too busy having fun for me to spend a lot of time writing, though.

    We stayed at or visited Fortuna de Oro, West Winds, Cactus Gardens and didn’t write them up. Maybe next time.

  • Remembering Summer Camping and RVing

    Posted on December 5th, 2010 admin No comments

    This time of year, with snow on the ground and winter se


    Alpenhorn Players at KIOTAC 2010

    ttling in for the long haul, we often find ourselves looking over photos of camping and travels and reminiscing about good times along the way.

    I’ve shared some of our stops with Suite101, and readers of this blog are welcome to check them out:

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