Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Gear Talk: East Side Tour notes

This is just a quick post to review some gear selections and issues from the recent tour.  Above are the two totally new pieces of gear used on their first tour: a Thermarest Neoair Trekker and the super fantastic Instaflator!

The Trekker, while not the lightest of the Neoair series, is a bit thicker and a good deal more durable--perfect for my needs.  The large model featured is a full 72 X 20 inches, so when I pile up rain gear/sweater/etc. for a pillow, my 6'4" frame fits just fine.  With 3" of thickness, I can dial in the softness for side-sleeping, too.  This is the best back packing/cycle touring pad I've ever used.  It's a good deal lighter and more compact than the Exped or the Camprest I've used in the past.  And it works well with a Big Agnes camp chair, which I can't recommend enough.  My back can't take sitting on the ground without support for long periods, and the chair kit makes rest days especially restful.

One drawback to non-foam filled air mattress, such as a conventional Thermarest, is the dizzy-inducing need to pump them up.  At the end of a had day's riding, the last thing you want to do is blow into a big pad and fall over like a drunk.  Enter the Instaflator.  This is an ingenious device that weighs only a couple of ounces and allows one to pump the bulk of the air into the mattress very quickly.  And it will break your bank at $3.95.  Below, I'm giving the tube a quick puff to open it, then one simply rolls the tube like a giant tube of toothpaste (see above).  Presto, you've got a pumped up pad.  To get the pad firm only takes another breath or two at the valve.  Be careful not to push it too hard as I did first time out.  I busted the light plastic, which I easily fixed with some clear packing tape.  The whole pump rolls up into a small handful when you're done.

The grey tent in the photos is my trusty Light Year by Sierra Designs.  If I were in the market for a single person tent, I'd go with the Eureka equivalent: Spitfire I.  It's lighter, somewhat better price, and seems to garner excellent reviews.  Both of these work well for tall guys.

Blogging was accomplished with my Dell Windows Tablet and Fintie keyboard--great gear!

I was able to keep things charged up with an Instapark Mercury 10 USB solar charger, which I highly recommend.

More my next tour on the Haluzak, I'll be ditching the yellow panniers.  They work, but hassling with the zippers gets old after a while with the way the bags fall open like a slacker's mouth.  I'll get an underseat rack and use the LLoonngg panniers we purchased for out desert trike trip last Dec.:

I'm not sure these are still available from ERRC (Easy Riders Recumbet Club).  I'll check and report back.  These are big, waterproof, and just the best recumbent panniers around.  Pretty light, too, checking in at under 3 lbs. for the pair.

Ride on, brothers and sisters...

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