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RVing Here and There

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  • Naturehike Silent Wing One-Person Tent

    Posted on June 14th, 2017 admin No comments

    I wanted a tent for short-distance bike touring and maybe some overnight backpacking. I didn’t need expensive top-end gear for occasional and casual use.  I researched NatureHike and found their products well-reviewed, and in the end wound up with two of their tents for under $200 combined.

    Specs and First Impressions

    This tent, the Naturehike Silent Wing 1,  is promoted on GearBest.com for $69.73 CAD plus $8.74 S/H.   Unfortunately, it’s out of stock at that price.  When I got it, it cost me C$105.12 with shipping.  There was no extra duty or tax.  I thought that even this was a reasonable price for the tent.

    It’s a bit more technical than the Naturehike Cycling tent I previously reviewed (a comparison is elsewhere).  Here are the specs, according to GearBest and Naturehike:

    • GearBest product number 487874
    • Tent inside material: 150D oxford cloth; waterproof index: more than 3000mm
    • Tent outside material: 210T plaid; waterproof index: more than 3000mm
    • Tent pole material: 7001 high strength aluminum pole
    • Footprint material (Wind Wing 1): 150D polyester oxford cloth
    • Rainproof, waterproof and windproof, three seasons design
    • 1 person tent size : 225 x 95 x 110cm / 88.58 x 37.4 x 43.31 inches
    • Product weight: 1.705 kg
    • Package weight: 1.730 kg
    • Package Size(L x W x H): 45.00 x 15.00 x 15.00 cm / 17.72 x 5.91 x 5.91 inches

    Silent Wing Close

    Package Contents

    The tent came from GearBest with the following:

    • 1 x Tent
    • 1 x Fly Sheet
    • 1 x Cinch strap
    • 8 x Aluminum Y-profile Pegs with storage sack
    • 4 x Guy lines
    • 1 x Set of Aluminum poles with storage sack
    • 1 x Storage Bag for all of the above
    • 1 x Wind Wing 1 footprint (fits the Silent Wing) with storage bag

    The tent itself, with bag, poles, pegs, guys, and fly, weighed 1554 grams; the footprint and bag were 162 g; total mass 1716 grams or 1.716 kg, very close to the stated mass (this is not always the case).

    Wind-Wing 1 by Korean manufacturer Naturehike

    Wind-Wing 1 / Silent Wing 1 by Korean manufacturer Naturehike

     

    Silent Wing vs Wind Wing

    Wind Wing Mat

    Silent Wing 1 tent with Wind Wing 1 mat (footprint)

    The Silent Wing is not even listed on the Naturehike web site.  The current model is the Wind Wing, which based on the specs at Naturehike is more waterproof (4000 mm vs 3000 mm), with reduced weight (1360 g).  In terms of layout and design, the two tents appear to be highly similar, to the point where a Wind Wing mat was included with the Silent Wing tent.

    Impressions:  The Good

    There are some technical features I like that remind me of higher-level tents such as those by MSR; I find these atrractive in a product at this price point.

    •  The crossed-pole design gives lots of headroom and a feeling of spaciousness inside.
    • It has a tapered floor, wide at the head end and narrowing to the foot.  This cuts down on mass, but also reduces floor space.  Don’t plan to take much gear inside, especially if you’re tall or broad.
    • There is a well-fitted, full-cover fly without a storm skirt.  Some people fear that this design can allow wind and rain to blow into the tent, although with other tents of similar design I have not found this to be an issue.
    • All guys and tethers are 1 mm cord, with lightweight plastic locks on the guys.
    • There are reflective strips on the fly clips — they show up quite brightly in a flashlight beam so you don’t trip on them in the dark
    • The stuff sack is roomy and I have never had trouble packing up the tent, even wet.
    • The aluminum pegs are y-beam, similar to MSR (Mountain Safety Research) Mini-Groundhog stakes.
    • The tent ground attachments are  strap-and-cord, a few grams lighter than plain straps, but still with grommets for the poles.  Compare the MSR method which puts the pole into a small tab attached to the cord and shaves off a few more grams per attachment.
    Red poles to the gold grommet (top), grey poles to the silver grommet (bottom)

    Strap-and-string.  Red poles to the gold grommet (top), grey poles to the silver grommet (bottom), peg thru the string

    Impressions:  The Bad

    I do have some reservations about the design.

    • Better quality tents generally have a ridge-pole across the top that extends the fly over the door.  This little roof peak provides additional headroom and helps keep rain out of the tent when the vestibule is open.
    • The vestibule is quite small.  There’s not a lot of room for gear storage there.

    The Silent Wing appears to be an earlier version of the Wind Wing, and I expect the latter to have some changes/improvements to reduce the mass even further.  Perhaps the grommets are red, for better color matching with the poles.

    Tapered footprint cuts down weight, but reduces floor space

    Tapered footprint cuts down weight, but reduces floor space

    Impressions:  The Ugly

    It’s not something I’d considered before, because my previous tent had a front entry.   The Silent Wing is a left-handed tent.  When you are inside, looking out the door, you are laying on your right side.  Your left hand is free, so that is the easiest one to use to unzip the door.  I’m right-handed, so this is just a bit awkward.    I can push myself up with my left hand and open the door with my right.  Not impossible, just awkward.

    My sleeping bag has a left-hand zipper.  When I am lying on my back, the zipper is on my left side.  It’s never bothered me before. I turn that way and undo the zipper with my right hand.  But in this tent, the zipper is on the side away from the door; unzipping the bag puts me with my back to the door so I have to undo the bag further and roll over to access the door.  Not impossible, just awkward.  A sleeping bag with a right-hand zipper would make this easier…but am I prepared to buy another sleeping bag just to make the tent easier?

    Conclusion

    My first impression is favorable.  This light-weight Naturehike Silent Wing tent appears to be well-made and quite suitable for bicycle touring and backpacking or to toss under the back seat of the pickup for emergency use.  I expect that it would wear well and last several seasons of occasional, casual use. The greatest drawbacks are the small vestibule and a fly designed to let rain in when you enter or exit the tent. And the awkwardness of the left/right thing.   We’ll see if actual use confirms the first impression.

    Read More

  • 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

     

  • Cycling Red Deer to Lacombe and Back

    Posted on May 29th, 2017 admin No comments

    One Saturday, as part of a Meetup bike trip, I rode the Trans Canada Trail from Red Deer to Lacombe and back, roughly 55-60 km.  The trip was a training ride for the Leduc-Camrose MSBike, one of many such events to raise money for MS research.

    It was the longest ride I’ve done so far — and I survived!

    We Meet Near Cronquist House

    We — Susan, Mesut, and me — started at historical Cronquist House beside Bower Ponds in the Red Deer River valley.

    From https://www.ehcanadatravel.com/gallery/index/category/1891-bower_ponds_park

    Cronquist House:  From https://www.ehcanadatravel.com/gallery/index/category/1891-bower_ponds_park

     

    The ponds themselves are a delightful park, and I had come half an hour early to bike around the ponds and to wait for the others in the group.  Bower Ponds Map

    We took off on time at 10:00 am, and stopped briefly for photos at the Trans Canada Trail Pavillion, which is just a bit south and east around the first pond.CTC Pavillion

    CTC Pavillion Close

    Mesut and Susan

    After our photo stop, we rode out for the long uphill that is Taylor Drive.  The ride through the city is not bad, a wide paved route though residential, green, and industrial areas.  There was a 20 kph headwind to cope with, but it mostly just kept us cool.

    At the northern end of Red Deer, the trail moves onto the old CE Trail.  We biked around a bit before reconfirming that our route was straight across the highway.  The Calgary-Edmonton Trail is a paved but shoulderless rural road that  I enjoyed thoroughly.  This scenic route passes through fields and forests, past ponds and acreages; there was little traffic, flat travel, and open vistas.

    Blindman River Bridge

    We had one little blip at the end of the CE Trail, when a traffic sign read “No Exit, Subdivisions Only”.  There really should have been a TCT sign on that post!  Fortunately, both the TCT app on my phone and my travelling companions (who had done the route before) said that was the way to go.  Sure enough, there was a little footbridge at the end to get us across the Blindman River.   Fran, the fourth member of the group, met us there.

    Photo by Mesut

    Fran, Tom, Susan.  Photo by Mesut, obviously.

     

    Blackfalds and Abbey Centre

    The four of us set out for Blackfalds, where the trail took us through some residential areas and eventually to the Abbey Centre, a 41,000 sq. ft. recreation complex.  The Trans-Canada Trail runs right through the building.  I think we entered at the treed area in the upper left as shown in the photo below, rode a ways, then came down a flight of stairs to emerge in the parking lot, lower left.

    Photo by Town of Blackfalds

    Photo by Town of Blackfalds

    We didn’t take much time to explore the fitness centre, but did pause to have our photo taken by the big trail sign:

    Photo by Fran M.

    Susan, Tom, Mesut, Fran.  Photo by Fran M, courtesy of a passerby.

    A brief pitstop at the centre’s washrooms, followed by a quick (and slightly confused) circumnavigation of the Centre saw us en route for Lacombe.   This stretch of trail, the County of Lacombe Trail, was another wonderful and scenic stretch that meandered through fields and forests and took us past the Lacombe Agricultural Research Station into the city.

    Tom on a stretch of the Lacombe County Trail.  Photo by Fran

    Tom on a stretch of the Lacombe County Trail. Photo by Fran.  Shows you what wonderful weather we had.

    Lunch at Ugly’s Pub & Grill

    Fran led us downtown, to Ugly’s Pub and Grill for lunch, at about 12:20 (a little later than estimated.  Oh, well).

    Ugly's Pub & Grill

    Here we are, all filled up with beverages and pub grub:

    Lunch at Ugly's

     

    And Back to Red Deer

    After that, there was nothing to do but go home.   The trip back always seems shorter, and this time we had the wind mostly at our back.  Even so, some of the little hills just south of Lacombe seemed pretty nasty to tired legs, and at least one cyclist walked a bit (not saying, but not me).

    We stopped at a picnic area just northwest of the Blindman bridge for a rest break and to say ‘bye to Fran.  Then back along the CE Trail, as pretty coming as it was going.   Finally, we finished with the long downhill on Taylor Drive, varied with a little hop across the road on a pedestrian bridge and straight down into Bower Ponds, a more direct route than we took on the way out.

    Who, Me, Tired?

    I had had a big beer and a big glass of water at lunch, and still by the time I reached the Lions Campground, some 6 km downstream, I had sucked my water bottle dry.  I guess that where the group did roughly 55 km, I must have added another 12+,  which is almost the distance I have to ride for MS Bike from Leduc to Camrose next month.    A little nap after supper, followed by two rum-and-Cokes and a lot of peanuts and potato chips (must have been short of salt!  Next time I’ll remember to have a sports drink) and I was fine.

    So what did I do the next day?  After my meetings at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, I went for another hour and a half bike ride.  But that’s another story.

     

  • Americans Scientific Illiterates?

    Posted on May 23rd, 2017 admin No comments

    “Though the discourse of science is metric,” writes Elizabeth Kolbert in a note to her book, The Sixth Extinction, “most Americans think in terms of miles, acres, and degrees Fahrenheit.  All the figures in this book are given in Englisn [Imperial] units…”

    This unfortunate observation implies several things:

    America is Scientifically Illiterate

    First, the average American is scientifically illiterate.  A scientific paper that mentions centimetres, or joules, or kilograms is incomprehensible.  A hectare  is meaningless.  Symbols like  kPa or kWh might as well be hieroglyphics.   Even my spell-checker, set to American English, marks “centimetres”  — the official Système International spelling — as incorrect; it expects “centimeters”.  Americans don’t even spell like the rest of the world, let alone speak the language of international science.

    America Gets the Kindergarten Version

    Second, reporting or explaining scientific terms or achievements or research to Americans thus requires an additional layer of translation or simplification.  To Americans, even more than to citizens of other countries, science is a foreign language, as incomprehensible as French or German (as when they write Voilà! as Wallah! or zaftig as softig).   This puts them at a distinct disadvantage in trying to comprehend the modern world: they can only grasp the kindergarten version, the watered-down summary, the oversimplification.

    How Many Pounds in 328.7 Kilograms?

    Third, it leaves average America open to errors of conversion, mistakes in translation.  Many examples of conversion error disasters exist; some of them are no doubt apocryphal, others are apparently well-documented.  Such famous errors have cost the US millions, perhaps billions of dollars, as well as lost time and international embarrassment.

    • 1998, a joint NASA/ ESA project, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) lost all communication with Earth.  A conversion algorithm from English to metric units had been omitted from some of the control files.
    • 1999, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices reported a case where a patient received 0.5 g (grams) of the sedative Phenobarbital; the prescription was for 0.5 gr (grains; a gram is about 15 grains). Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States, says the FDA.  How many of those errors are due to misreading of units?
    • 1999, NASA lost the Mars Climate Orbiter ($125 M) after a 286-day trip to Mars.  Miscalculations due to the use of English units instead of metric sent the craft slowly off course.
    • 2004, Tokyo Disneyland — The Space Mountain ride was derailed due to a broken axle.  The axle was the wrong size, due to a conversion from English to metric units
    • Probably hundreds of minor errors go unreported each year.

    Doesn't Use the Metric System

    You Have to Wonder Why

    One has to wonder why America ties itself so firmly to a version of the Imperial system.  After all, they fought a revolution to be free from England.  Why cling so tightly to the past?

    As early as 1866, metric measures were legal in the USA, with various acts and agreements passed during the succeeding century and a half (see 150 Years of Legal Metric Usage in the USA for the sorry history) yet today even Britain is more thoroughly metric than  America, according to that article.  The USA is woefully behind the times and most other countries, choosing alchemy over science, the past over the present, the antique over the modern.

    Okay, it’s not quite that bad, and America has managed to become a world leader in science and technology despite their handicaps.  Their trade deficit, on the other hand…

     

  • 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.

  • Square Dance Attire: Trapped in Time

    Posted on May 1st, 2017 admin No comments

    We call it “Modern Western Square Dance”, but you might not think it so “modern” to see us.    “Appropriate Square Dance Attire” for ladies requires huge skirts and voluminous crinolines.

    The crinoline began in the early 1850s as a cage or device of hoops and straps, made of wood, metal, horsehair, whalebone, or some combination of these materials, designed to expand the skirt and so make the waist appear more narrow.

    Several modifications were made to the design of the crinoline before [it] began to fall out of fashion in the 1870s….”

    Fashions circa 1850-1870

    Fashions circa 1850-1870

    Ridiculing Crinolines. Women had such a love for their crinolines that they appear to have been willing to accept men’s ridicule and to withstanding the perils encountered when wearing them.

    Men complained that women encased in their huge contraptions were unapproachable; therefore they could not escort them or offer them their arm. [One source] refers to the analogy of women in their crinolines as being like a majestic ship, sailing proudly ahead, while her male escort trailed along behind…. From the point of view of men, crinolines distorted the feminine shape. In Germany, many males swore that they would not marry a girl who wore such an apparatus. Some men went as far as comparing women’s iron hoops to weapons of armory….

    When women wore their crinolines they encountered problems such as walking through doors with someone else or sitting on a sofa with another woman. When sitting down their crinolines would be tilted up in the air, revealing too much [exposure of a lady's bloomers was scandalous!]. When walking around a room accidents could happen to the ladies such as knocking over an occasional table laden with bric-a-brac, or they could inadvertently become combustible if they came too close to a fire. Due to the enormous size of their skirts fire victims could not be saved by rolling them a rug. Getting into a carriage was almost impossible and women also had to be careful when approaching a carriage otherwise they could get their hoops entangled in the wheels….

    Wearing a crinoline on a windy day was quite a feat. To begin with there was the embarrassment of skirts lifting up high in the air exposing more than what was considered proper for a lady. Fortunately for milady,…lacy pantaloons were now in vogue. In windy weather the gals that were light as a feather risked being blown off their feet, or even over a cliff. With luck, maybe their crinoline might have acted as a parachute. By the 1870s, the exaggerated skirts lost their appeal and women began to wear closely fitted garments, doing away with the crinoline.

    Source: http://www.fashionintime.org/history-womens-hooped-petticoats/3/

    Page from a 1952 catalog advertising nylon “Bouffants to set your skirts afloat.”

    Page from a 1952 catalog advertising nylon “Bouffants to set your skirts afloat.”

    From the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, the crinoline resurfaced as fashionable wear, but it was more of a stiffened or starched petticoat worn under a “swing skirt”. “Give your skirt a whirl and a twirl” urged the crinoline ads of the day. These lighter, softer, and more practical versions provided the waist-narrowing effect of the wide skirt while avoiding most (though not all) of the difficulties of the hooped versions [along with some modern issues such as getting them caught in a car door].  A fad for a mere half-decade, the fashion vanished with the poodle skirt.

    Catalog page showing the 1950s precursor of square dance skirts.  Polka dots and floral prints were also  popular, as were fancy accessories such as bows, lace, ruffles, and flounces.  The square dance movement at least dded a great deal of color to the style.

    Catalog page showing the 1950s precursor of square dance skirts. Polka dots and floral prints were also popular, as were fancy accessories such as bows, lace, ruffles, and flounces. The square dance movement at least dded a great deal of color to the style.

    Yet somehow, like a pig mired in mud, the crinoline and swing skirt became inextricably stuck in the square dance movement. It is clear that for the ladies, “appropriate square dance attire” is an outright imitation of late 1950 styles, based in turn on those of a century earlier. Our dress code follows fashions over a century and a half old. Yet we dare to call ourselves “Modern Square Dance”. Au contraire, we should bill ourselves as “Vintage Square Dance” and put on demos in museums and historical societies.

    It would seem likely that insisting on styles from 1850/1950 has square dancing trapped in the past.

  • First Spring Ride

    Posted on April 28th, 2017 admin No comments

    Edmonton Oilers vs Annaheim Ducks in the second playoff game at Honda Center in Annaheim tonight, so my friend Brian at Circuit Cycle and Sports kindly moved tonight’s scheduled ride to Tuesday.

    Getting the Road Bike Ready

    In other exciting news, today’s weather was decent, sunny with no wetness from the sky, so I dusted off my road bike.   Literally.  It had sat in the garden shed all winter and was dusty.  Tires a little soft but not bad, and the battery was low in the trip computer.

    I had bought new panniers from United Cycle at their MS Bike open house, and put them on just for fun.  They don’t fit well, so I’ll have to juggle some racks around and modify the attachment.

    Axiom Appalachian 2L panniers from United Cycle, Edmonton

    Axiom Appalachian 2L panniers from United Cycle, Edmonton

    Anyway, with no more maintenance than a dusting, a check of the brakes, and a poke at the tires,  off I went for the first distance ride of the year.

    I put in a few kilometers around town doing errands — stopped to pick up a check from a MS Bike sponsor; dropped some stuff off at the second-hand store; got a new battery for the computer; pumped up the tires a bit; bought some camping gear and did other shopping — then took off for a ride around the Leduc multiways, west and south into the new developments.

    Bike computers have dropped so much in price -- this one is only $14 USD

    Bike computers have dropped so much in price — this one is only $14 USD

    Cycling Further, Harder, Faster

    But was that ride ever a shock!  Discovered that all my cycling over the past three weeks (in the rain and snow) had been at a doddle.  When I started out today I was averaging 10 to 12 kph at a cadence of 50-60.  Two years ago I was averaging 18 to 20 kph when cruising and could do 30 km/h on the flat, with a cadence  between 70 and 80.

    So I pushed up the pace, aiming for an average speed of 20 km/h and average cadence of 75.   Even though I’ve been walking 30 minutes a day since April 1, and cycling at least 30 minutes a day, I found that this left me a bit breathless.

    Dressing in Layers

    The weather was really changeable.  In the sun, the bike computer read 20C.  When the clouds came out, it read 10C.   Riding in the sunshine, I was too warm.  Riding under the clouds, I cooled down quickly.  I was happy to take advantage of the need to stop to zip up or unzip to maintain temperature, to give me a chance to catch my breath.

    Courtesy www.experienceketchikan.co

    Courtesy www.experienceketchikan.co

    At least I have collected enough apparel over the years to meet those conditions.  For today’s ride I wore warm moose socks from Finland (not made from moose hair, they just have moose silhouettes on them), leggings, and bike shorts.  Up top, a base layer of a light a long-sleeved sweatshirt, then a biking jersey; for insulation, my light Sugoi cycling jacket; and over top a RaceFace wind-jacket with pit zips, which I left closed.  Riding hard in the sun, I had to unzip the top three layers; under the clouds, all got zipped right to my neck.   I was comfortable in all conditions and wasn’t damp inside when I got home.

    Overdid It, Maybe?

    Wound up logging 14.5 km on the computer, and probably did 5 km before replacing the battery.  But oh! are my legs ever tired!

    And on checking the bike computer, I see that when I put the new battery in, it reset the wheel size, so I’m not sure just how fast I went, or how far….

    For Further Reading

  • Ride in the Rain, Cycle in the Snow

    Posted on April 23rd, 2017 admin No comments

     

    Or, I Wish You Had Been There!

    Our Meetup ride around the Leduc Multiways was a great ride — too bad nobody came!

    I biked from home to the parking lot that was the trailhead, and  waited from 1:45 to 2:20. My apologies to Joan, Deloris, and Catalina if they arrived after I left . I was dressed warmly enough that, with everything zipped up, I was not cold as I waited in the wind shelter of a dugout at the ball diamond, in sight of the parking lot.

    After it was clear that no one was coming, I went for a ride by myself, and  was a nice enough ride.   By then, the multiway paths had been either cleared or had melted clean, and the wind had died down enough not to be much of a nuisance.  I had one fewer layers than I wore this morning, and was totally toasty but not too warm for the entire ride.

    Test Your Cycling Gear

    Deliberately riding in inclement weather is excellent training for both how you dress and how you ride.

    You get to test your gear, to see how things work.  Too cold?  Maybe one more layer.  Too warm?  Open the neck or pit zips, or strip one layer.   Wet feet?  Maybe better footwear or rain booties needed.   Cold head?  Maybe a skull cap, or masking tape over the helmet vents.  Getting wet?  Either you are sealed up too tight in waterproof gear (aka portable sauna), or something leaks.

    What about your bike?  How does it handle snow or puddles?  Are you comfortable with how it handles?  Can you manage the gear changes required?  How do your brakes hold up when wet (stopping takes a lot longer!)?   How wet will you get from splash back from the front wheel?   Does your back fender or trunk bag stop water from giving you a wet stripe up the back?

    Test Yourself

    You also get to challenge yourself, to learn how to handle adverse riding conditions.  It’s important to know what you can stand and what you can stand up to.  It’s better to do this deliberately — as a training exercise, on a local ride where you can head for home or the car quickly if something is amiss — rather than run into bad weather on a longer trip where you’re unprepared and have no easy out.  Knowing that “I’ve handled worse than this in training!” makes it easier to cope with what the sky throws at you.

    If you’re packing your gear, this is a reality check — how quickly can I access my rain gear and get into it?  Is what I need readily accessible?  In this as in most things, practice and experience pay off.

    Conclusion

    Personal experience:  a ride like today’s, in +2C with light snow and wind, is far more pleasant than riding in light rain.  Riding in heavy rain, even if you’re well-equipped and properly prepared, can be kind of a drowner.  Uh, downer.

    Other Ideas

     

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