(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({});
Thoughts, news and information about the world as seen through RV windows
RSS icon Email icon Home icon
  • Gearing Up for a Weekend Bike Tour

    Posted on June 15th, 2017 admin 3 comments

    My friend Brian at Circuit Cycle & Sports in Millet has organized a Meetup for a short overnight bike tour training ride.   We’ll be traveling about 27 km then staying overnight at his acreage.  It’s kind of “bike touring for absolute beginners” and it sounds like fun.  Although I’ve done backpacking, winter camping, and canoe camping (as well as car camping), I’ve never done this kind of cycling before.  I’m looking forward to it.

    Here’s a list of my gear and where/how it’s stowed.  Darren Alff, “The Bicycle Touring Pro“, says that a common beginner mistake is to pack too much.  I’m a beginner.  Am I carrying too much along?

    I’ve done a couple of “test runs” and have used all the equipment, so there shouldn’t be too many surprises.  Some items, such as the sleeping bag liner and clothing choices, may be omitted or changed at the last minute, depending on the weather, and I’ll probably be reorganizing during/after the ride.

    On the Rack

    Besides the rear panniers, my sleeping bag and tent are bungied to the rear rack.  Sleeping bag compression sack also contains the sleeping pad.

    20170615_124425

    Marmot Nanowave bag and compression bag, 1138 g; Therm-A-Rest Trail Scout and stuff sack, 636 g; both at Atmosphere. Naturehike tent from Banggood.com, 1586 g.  Footprint for tent, stowed elsewhere, 238 g.

    Rear Panniers

    These are Axiom 20L panniers from United Cycle.  They are joined so that with one handle you can grab them both.  I wasn’t sure they were big enough, but they turned out to be quite roomy and can hold all of what you see here with room for a little more.

    Right Rear Pannier:  Cooking & Stuff

    In the right rear “side pocket” are a steel mirror, some songbooks, a pannier cover, and that’s about it.  Maybe I’ll think of something to add later.

    The main right rear pouch contains cooking gear and some other stuff, organized in stuff sacks:

    Right pannier

    Right pannier

    Cooking gear and ... tent footprint

    Cooking gear and … tent footprint

    Stove and pot set

    Stove and pot set.  Trangia Mini, $45 from MEC: pot, frypan, methanol burner, pot handle

    Mess kit

    Lunch Kit by Light My Fire, in Sweden.  Lightweight, $25 at Atmosphere, but I have my doubts about its usefulness.

    Cooking stuff -- spatula, salt & pepper, instant coffee, spices, TP for cleanup, soap, etc.

    Cooking stuff — spatula, salt & pepper, instant coffee, spices, TP for cleanup, soap, etc.  Stuff I’ve had and used for years.

    Mug, utensils, & fuel bottle

    Mug & utensils I’ve used for years; Trangia fuel bottle, $22 Canadian Outdoor Equipment

    Rope & parachute cord. Not for cooking, but it happened to fit in that side nicely.

    Rope & parachute cord. Not for cooking, but it happened to fit in that side nicely.

    Some food.  It and some more will be stowed here and there.

    Some food. It and more will be stowed here and there.

    Left Pannier:  Clothes & Personal Stuff

    On the other side I’ve stowed clothes, toiletries, hat, games, and whatever.  Probably some food.  I’ve used stuff bags wherever possible for organizing my stuff <hehe>

    Left pannier

    Left pannier

     

    Hmm.  Hat, sleeping bag liner, frisby, toiletries kit, wrench, spare tube, CO2 inflator, clothing bag

    Hmm. Crushable hat, sleeping bag liner, folding frisbee, toiletries kit, wrench, spare tube, CO2 inflator, clothing bag.  First aid kit from outside pocket is bottom right.  Playing cards… where are the cards?

     

    First aid kit, courtesy of my wife the nurse. It's in the side pocket for quick access.

    First aid kit, courtesy of my wife the nurse, that we’ve used for years (updated annually)  It’s in the pannier side pocket for quick access.

     

    Spare clothing including dry pants, zip on bottoms for the shorts I'll be riding in, spare T, long-sleeved wool undershirt

    Spare clothing including dry pants, zip on bottoms for the shorts I’ll be riding in, spare T, long-sleeved wool undershirt

     

    Toiletries including camp towel

    Toiletries including camp towel, soap, etc.  Yes, I’m carrying that heavy electric toothbrush!

     

    Handlebar Bag

    Bought this bag from Circuit Cycle last week.  It opens from the front.  Why do they make them like that?  It would make much more sense to me to have it open from the bike side, where I’m sitting.

    Handlebar bag

    Handlebar bag.  Jacket not shown.

     

    Inside the handlebar bag: binoculars, reflective vest, sunglasses, riding/camp gloves, TP & Kleenex, headlamp, carry strap. Missing: jacket

    Inside the handlebar bag: binoculars, reflective vest, sunglasses, riding/camp gloves, TP & Kleenex, headlamp, carry strap.

    Oops, forgot these were in the side pocket: lip balm, bug repellent

    Oops, forgot these were in the side pockets:   lip balm, bug repellent

     

    What’s it Weigh?

    I’m still moving things and have the food to stow, but for now, here’s how things measure up:

    • Sleeping bag, sleeping pad, compression sacks: 1.8 kg (3.1 lb)
    • Tent & Bungies: 1.7 kg (3.5 lb)
    • Panniers: 6.1 kg (about 13.5 lb)
    • Front Bag: 1.8 kg (about 3.7 lb)

    I also plan to carry my hydration pack with 2L of water and maybe some other bits of gear, plus two 750 ml water bottles for another 1.5L of water.  The mass of 3.5 L of water can be taken as 3.5 kg (love the metric system!) or about 7.7 lb; call it 4 kg or about 8.8 lb.

    So I’ll be toting roughly 11 kg (24 lb) without including water, 15 kg or about 33 lbs including water.

    I haven’t bothered to list the clothes I’m wearing.  Nor did I think to include things in my pockets,  etc. that will go into a bag somewhere.  Those items include a light wallet with credit card, drivers’ licence, Alberta Health card, and a little money; a small Swiss Army knife, a comb,  Sugoi cycling jacket, light raincoat.  They’ll add some mass too.

    Did I get it all?

    Please comment below if you notice something missing!  Or if you see something in the list that I could do without.

     

  • Naturehike Ultralight Cycling Tent: Life Inside

    Posted on June 14th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Naturehike Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

    I’ve had this entry-level backpacking/cycling tent for a month and have used it several times.  When first I received it, I reviewed the specifications and gave my first impressions.  Then, I reviewed the ease (or not) of setup and takedown.    Now it’s time for a quick review of life under the flysheet, actually using the tent.  I have spent five nights in this tent so far, enough time go know the pros and cons.

    Two Versions:  Plain and Storm Skirt

    There are two versions of the fly sheet.  The first one is a normal “full-cover” fly, as shown below. This version allows air to flow from the bottom of the fly up and out through the vent.

    Naturehike NH18A095-D without storm skirt

    Naturehike NH18A095-D without storm skirt

    The second version of the fly has a storm skirt, also known as storm flaps or snow flaps.  This is the version I received from Bangood.com.

    Set up in my back yard for first impressions

    Set up in my back yard for first impressions, showing the storm skirt

    Con:  Ventilation Limited; Tiny Vestibule

     Ventilation is minimal in this tent, limited to a little triangular aperture above the head end.

    One one occasion, I set up during a warm evening as a thunderstorm was coming in. The air temperature dropped while I was putting up the tent on wet grass, and immediately there was condensation under the fly. The storm hit and I ducked inside and closed the vestibule. With me inside, water was running down the fly (but fortunately, not dripping into the tent). A couple of hours after I went to sleep, I woke up hot and sweaty — the tent was like a sauna, warm and damp.

    I hauled my gear inside the tent, undid the vestibule, stretched the left panel as far to the right across the tent door as I could, to try to minimize the rain coming into the tent,  and went back to sleep in my damp bag.   Aside from what came in through the door, there was no water inside the tent.

    Fortunately, the next day was sunny and I was able to dry everything out.

     

    Pro:  Relatively Roomy

    I’ve already discussed ease of setup, ability to put up the fly first then add the tent underneath (I did this in a dry run, but fortunately, I haven’t had to do this yet in a storm), and some other features.  During use, I found another advantage to this tent.

    During the storm, I took my gear (two 20L panniers and my shoes) out from under the vestibule into the tent with me — fortunately there’s enough room.  I’m a short guy (5’7″, 170 cm), not too big (155 lb, 70 kg) and I find this tent roomy.  On my last trip, I had two 20L panniers and a front bag, plus my shoes, in the tent with me.  I can put them at the head or foot of the tent, or range them in a row beside me in any combination, and still not press too badly on the sides of the tent.  A taller, bulkier traveler will have enough floor space for comfort, but might not have room for gear.

    Of course, I’d much rather those things didn’t share my tent, and there’s just barely enough from for them in the vestibule.  There’d probably be enough room there for a small backpack.   But it’s marketed as a cycling tent.

    In the meantime, I picked up a lightweight nylon tarp to use as to extend the vestibule, to give more room for gear and so I can enter and exit the tent in a storm without letting in too much rain.  We’ll see how that works out.

    Conclusion: Decent Tent

    I’m quite satisfied with this tent, given its $75 CAD pricelist (shipping included).   The tent is lightweight, compact, reasonably well-made, and serves its purpose as an entry-level one-person tent for occasional use. Its major flaw is that there is no “roof peak” over the entry, so rain can come right into the tent if the vestibule is open or as you enter/exit the tent.  Naturehike has other lightweight 1-man and 2-man tents that do not have these restrictions.

    The tent is available at Banggood as I write this.

    Disclaimer:  I am not connected with either Banggood or Naturehike and I have received no compensation or incentive for this review.

    Further Reading on Naturehike Lightweight Cycling Tent

     

  • NatureHike Ultralight Tent: Set-up and Take-Down

    Posted on May 16th, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Set-up and Take-down of the Naturehike Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

     

    • BanggoodProduct ID: 1020476
    • Color: Orange
    • Brand: Naturehike
    • https://www.naturehike.com/cycling-ultralight-silicone-one-man-tent/
    • Model: NH18A095-D Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

    Good First Impression

     

    I bought this tent for occasional casual use in backpacking and bike touring.  It made a good first impression: compact, light, well-made, and well-presented. All the parts were there, including a footprint; pegs, poles, and footprint came in their own storage bags; everything fit nicely into the tent storage bag. Fit and finish were decent. Time to set it up.

    The tent and footprint before first opening

    The tent and footprint before first opening

    Steps to Set Up the NatureHike

     

    Setup was quick and easy.   A waterproof Ikea-style picture instruction sheet is sewn into the tent bag so it can’t be lost. It’s typical pole-in-grommet setup, with clips for the fly, similar to most tents I’ve used over the past two decades.

    If you jam the poles into the ground and throw on the fly, you can in fact then add the footprint and tent afterwards, out of the rain. Might cover that in a future post. However, the normal setup is:

    1. Remove items from the storage bag and lay them out in a convenient order. In windy weather, place pegs and poles on top of tent and fly so nothing blows away (you hope)

      Everything set out and ready to go.

      Everything set out and ready to go.

    2. If using the footprint — advised for rocky or rough terrain — lay it out and peg it down square, with one corner facing the prevailing wind. Is there a right way up for the footprint? Yes: the little buckles should point up. Put the rest of the pegs and their storage bag into the main bag so they don’t get lost or blow away.

      Footprint staked down

      Footprint staked down

    3. Spread the tent out. Note the orientation of the door; your head will be to the right as you look at the door from the outside. You want the door at a 45 degree angle to the prevailing wind. Peg the tent down square.

      Tent spread out and pegged down

      Tent spread out and pegged down

    4. If you have the footprint down, slip out the pegs one at a time and add the tent strap, then reinsert the peg.

      Tent and footprint pegged together

      Tent and footprint pegged together

    5. Remove the poles and put the pole bag into the main bag so it doesn’t blow away (by habit, I stow everything in the tent from this point on). Open the poles. The longer part, with four sections, will go to the right as you face the door. Insert the poles into the grommets in the straps. If you have the footprint down, put the pole through both grommets.

    6. Clip the tent to the poles, using the attached hooks.Tent hooked to pole

    7. Open the fly sheet, orient it so that the vestibule is over the door and put it over the poles and tent.. Move around to the back of the tent, flip up the fly, and tie the three straps to the central pole. Use slip knots (like tying a shoe lace) so you can undo them easily later. Why do this from the back? Because if you’re oriented to the prevailing wind, you can hang on to the fly sheet more easily (the voice of experience!).  These ties make the fly and frame a more integrated unit, so that the wind guys are attached to the frame (poles) not just to the fly.

      The the fly to the poles

      Tie the fly to the poles

    8. Clip each corner of the fly sheet into the buckle. Don’t tighten the fly straps just yet.

    9. Stretch out the vestibule and peg it down.

      Stretch out the vestibule and stake it down

      Staking the vestibule

    10. Go around to the back side, stretch out the fly sheet using the attached strap, and peg it down.

      Stake the fly at the back

      Stake the fly at the back

    11. Now go to each corner and stretch the fly straps so that the fly is properly centered over the poles. You may need to readjust this in rain as the nylon fly will stretch a bit. Don’t forget to relax the straps as the fly dries out.

    12. Add the guy lines if heavy weather is expected. Or just to be safe.

      Guy line added at head end

      Guy line added at head end

    I am able to set up this tent by myself in just over five minutes in calm conditions. It takes a little longer with a strong wind (I didn’t time it, because I needed to concentrate on getting it up and getting my gear stowed).

     

    Taking Down and Packing Up the Silicone Ultralight

     

    Take-down in dry, calm conditions was simple and took only a few minutes. In windy conditions, folding the tent and fly was a bit of a fight. Fortunately, there’s lots of room in the tent bag so I didn’t have to be terribly precise about folding; everything went in fine. I was able to fold the tent fairly dry under the fly in the rain, so that only the footprint and fly went in wet. I was able to dry everything out and repack it with no harm.

     

    Notes and Observations

     

    • This is a free-standing tent, which means that if you need to you can unpeg it, and move it to a new location or better orient it to the weather. It also means you can tip it onto its side to dry the bottom off before packing up.

    • The fly on my particular model has what NatureHike calls a skirt, little flaps that spread on the ground on each side. I know them as storm flaps or snow flaps, and the tent is steeply pitched enough that it might withstand snow. In the winter, shovel snow onto the skirt; in summer, pile rocks or sand or sticks on the flaps to keep the wind out in heavy weather. Not sure there’s enough ventilation, though — we’ll see. There is a little triangular vent at the head end.

      Vent propped open

      Vent propped open

    • The vestibule is tiny, barely enough room for shoes in the corner and a small pannier on either side. The rectangular floor inside is fairly large, room enough for me and gear.

      Vestibule with a couple of Axiom panniers.  Crawl over them to enter tent.

      Vestibule with a couple of Axiom panniers. Crawl over them to enter tent.

    • The pointy top means tight head room when you’re kneeling or sitting cross-legged. Other designs give a greater feeling of space even with smaller floor plans. I didn’t find this too bothersome since I’m mostly sprawled out when I’m in a tent, or propped up by my pack.

    • The tent has a hook at top for a light, and a small gear pocket at the head end by the door.

    • Some of the stitching is off-center, and might eventually have to be redone, but all look reasonably secure. I expect at least a summer of use without problems.

    • The Velcro fasteners on the vestibule do not look firmly sewn. We’ll see how they hold up

     

    Further Reading

  • Naturehike Ultralight Cycling Tent: Specifications and Impressions

    Posted on May 15th, 2017 admin No comments

    Naturehike Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent

    Purpose of Purchase

    I bought this tent for entry-level bike touring and maybe a little weekend backpacking. I figured that I didn’t need expensive top-end gear for occasional and casual use. It’s hard to tell from photos, and ordering online can be a bit of a risk.  However, I researched NatureHike and found their products well-reviewed.   I’ve also had good results generally from the place where I bought it, Banggood.com.

    The tent and footprint before first opening

    The tent and footprint before first opening

    Specifications of the NH Silicone Ultralight

    • Banggood Product ID: 1020476
      Color: Orange
      Brand: Naturehike https://www.naturehike.com/cycling-ultralight-silicone-one-man-tent/
      Model: NH18A095-D Cycling Silicone Ultralight One Man Tent with skirt
      Capacity: Single person
      Color: orange
      Package size: 400x150x150mm
      Size: 2050x1550x1100mm (exclusive of storm flaps)
      Weight: 1300g (excluding pegs and guy lines)
      Flysheet Material: 20D 380T rip-stop nylon, waterproof to PU1000, UPF30+
      Inner tent material: 210T ripstop polyester fabric* + B3 high density breathable mesh
      Floor material: 150D ripstop plaid oxford*
      Poles: 7001 aviation aluminum

    Package Contents

    This Banggood product came with the following:

    • 1 x Tent
    • 1 x Fly Sheet with optional storm skirt
    • 1 x Cinch strap
    • 8 x Pegs with storage sack
    • 2 x Guy lines
    • 1 x Set of Aluminum poles with storage sack
    • 1 x Storage Bag
    • 1 x Footprint with storage bag

    Good First Impression

    The tent arrived surprisingly quickly from a Canadian warehouse (ordered April 21, 2017; arrived May 10, 2017; only 19 days!).

    The whole package struck me as being compact, light, well-made, and well-presented. It also came with the footprint in a separate bag. On opening, I found all parts present and in good packaging. By this I mean that the tent bag has handles and snap-straps to cinch it up; the aluminum pegs and guy lines were in a plastic ziplock bag inside a cloth sack; likewise the aluminum poles. The tent itself was bound with a little cinch strap. Eventually, I’ll probably be getting rid of some of this to cut down the weight by a few grams. But it does make a good first impression.

    Set up in my back yard for first impressions

    Set up in my back yard for first impressions

    Initial Conclusions

    This looks like a well-made light-weight tent for backpacking and bicycle touring.  I expect that it would wear well and last at least one season for occasional, casual use.  However, this is only a first impression.  The tent has yet to be tested in actual use.

    *Note:  Physical examination and measurement with calipers suggests that the fly and inner tent are made from the same material.  They look and feel the same, and a double fold of each measures 0.004 millimeters.  The floor material is heavier (thicker): a double fold measures 0.006 mm.

    Read More

     

  • MEC and COBS: Camping and Bread

    Posted on May 8th, 2017 admin No comments

    A meeting of the Edmonton & District Callers & Instructors Association (EDCIA) and the Community Dance Capital Dance Association (CDCDA) on Sunday ended around 4:00.  The venue, Queen Mary Park Community League, happened to be a few blocks north of Oliver Square in Edmonton.   Oliver Square happens to be the home of

    1. The new Mountain Equipment Coop store, which happened to be having its grand opening that day
    2. COBS Bread, a well-known bakery chain from BC
    https://meccms.imgix.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/17_CM_0006_StoreEdmondton_Store_OPEN_Post_Phase_Hybris_5x2_FA.jpg?v=1493682555&w=1000&h=400&auto=format&q=40&bg=0FFF

    Concept design of the new MEC store in Edmonton. It actually looks pretty much like this! Image from MEC.

    First, we toured MEC.  It’s huge.   I’m not sure, though, that there are more different items than in the old store.  There are certainly racks and racks of each item.   Great fun to walk around and look, as MEC specializes in good-quality gear.  So much has changed since I was backpacking  and camping with my sons in Scouts twenty or so years back .  Equipment is lighter, more compact, more technical.   There seem to be a lot more choices.

    I wound up buying three little gel-snacks (Clif  Shot Energy Gels, @ $1.50) a Swedish Trangia mini-stove with cookset (4000-918, $48; a bargain compared to $116 plus shipping at Amazon.ca!), and a nifty little MSR folding spatula ($6.95).  The gels are for my MS Bike this June, and the other items are for future planned bike touring.  But they’ll be handy just to throw in the truck with a pack of freeze-dried food to have for emergencies.  Maybe we’ll carry it in the RV to be tossed into the daypack for hot soup or tea on a cool hike.

    The Trangia alcohol stove has been around for at least 40 years, I think.  We built tin-can alcohol burners with the Scouts, so certainly this is old and low-tech.  What is new (to me, at least) is the little cookset, which is light and compact.  The 15 cm aluminum frypan is non-stick coated.  The burner and pot handle fit inside the 0.8 L bowl and the frypan clips on top to hold everything together.  The stove is said to boil 750 mL of water in about 6 to 10 minutes.   Didn’t get fuel, but looking forward to testing this out; it will bring back memories.

    Trangia mini-cookset and alcohol stove.

    Trangia mini-cookset and alcohol stove. Image from amazon.ca

    There are offshore versions of the Trangia for about half the cost — such as this one from TVCMall for $15 CAD plus $5 S/H — and they would probably serve.  I could have purchased one of those, plus an inexpensive cook set such as the NewStyle 8-piece, which might even have room for the stove, for about $20 from amazon.ca or even less from a place like Banggood or GearBest.  This is cheaper than the Trangia Mini from MEC, and would include more items, two bowls, a spoon, and cup, a pot-scrubber and a rice ladle.   Every camper needs a rice ladle!  Benefit of buying from MEC was that the item was on the shelf and I could examine it before purchase, and at least some of my money stays in Canada.

    The Newstyle 8-piece cookset from Amazon.ca

    The Newstyle 8-piece cookset from Amazon.ca

    Our second stop was COBS Bread, just across the parking lot from MEC.   Delightful place.   We bought fresh-baked filled croissants: one ham and cheese for me, one spinach cheese.  They were warm, flaky, and tasty and a wonderful ending to our visit to Oliver Square.

  • 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 kijiji.com 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.

     FOLLOWUP

    I wound up purchasing the WindWing from GearBest, but also found another Naturehike product at Banggood.com for only $75 CAD shipped to my door. Now I have two tents!   I thought I’d select one for personal use and sell the other.

  • Go RVing Canada Hosts 2011 Photo Contest

    Posted on July 30th, 2011 admin No comments

    Camera-toting RVers, here’s your chance to show your stuff! Enter Go RVing Canada’s 2011 Take Your Best RV Shot Photo Contest

    GoRVing Canada is inviting RVers to submit their best RV-related camping photos for a chance to win prizes and bragging rights in four categories:

    • Fun-filled discoveries and activities
    • Family portraits
    • Memorable sunsets
    • Breathtaking nature

    No purchase necessary, no entry fee.  Entry deadline is August 29th, 2011 at 11:59:59 pm ET, with winners announced on September 2nd, 2011 at 2:00 pm ET

    It’s not entirely clear how winners will be chosen.  There is a chance for people to view the gallery and “Like” a photo — but WARNING!  You only have ONE “Like” vote, so view all the photos before picking one.   Oddly enough, when I checked, every photo had 45 “likes”.  Every last one.

    Prizes:

    • Grand Prize – $750.00 gift card to Henry’s, Canada’s Digital Camera Centre
    • Category Prizes –$200.00 President’s Choice gift card

    Tips:

    • JPG format only
    • Available to residents of Canada (age 13+) only
    • Henry’s is an eastern outfit, so any winner west of Winnipeg will have to order online.
    • Be sure to read all the rules and regulations
    • Enter by uploading your photos to the contest site
    • The entry form lacks a field to choose the category, so be sure you indicate one in your title or description
    • Photos must be yours, and you give up all rights forever without recompense
    • You have to have written consent from people in your photo

    RV shutterbugs, take your best shot — and good luck.

  • 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!

  • Fulltime Families Winner

    Posted on May 16th, 2011 admin No comments
    Fulltime Families is a web site and magazine for a niche RV market of families on the road.

    Kimberly and Chris and their four “kidlets” are living the dream of full-time RVing.  They established their site to help link other travel families for support, education, socializing, and problem-solving.FTF Logo The site continues to grow in response to recognized needs particular to families living in the RV.

    I’ve subscribed to Kimberly’s excellent magazine from the beginning, and it’s always a good read even if our family isn’t full-time.

    It was a nice surprise to receive this email from Kimberly:  “Congratulations to Tom Gray, who found the “Happy Camper” hidden in our April Issue.  He won a Rand McNally Boredom Busters Gift Pack!”

    Thanks, lass.  I look forward to receiving it, and to future issues of FtF Magazine.
  • Full Time Families – Online Magazine for RVers

    Posted on January 7th, 2011 admin No comments

    The new Full Time Families magazine is aimed especially at full-time RVers but is of interest to any in the RVing community.

    If you travel by motor home, trailer, caravan, or camper, please subscribe. It’s free, and the monthly eMagazine is well-done, full of recipes, family activities, events, and more.

    And if you’d be so kind as to include my name (Thomas Alan Gray) in the comments section of the subscription form, I have a chance to win a nice prize: a one-year membership in the Harvest Hosts program. This program invites RVers to stay overnight free at working vineyards and farms in the US (at present) and Canada (scheduled for 2011) .

    Thank you in advance to anyone who helps me out!

     

    Update August 1, 2011

    The magazine is no longer free.  A subscription membership is $15 USD.

Supporting your fulltime RV adventures and aspirations