XT660R Heaven

XT660R Heaven
Life on the road is fab...

Camping Gear...

So the bikes take up loads of the kit list space, but there are the rest of the stuff that you need for a trip like this... we want to wild camp in as many places as possible so tents, stoves, sleeping kit etc all need to go into the panniers... so I thought I'd list the kit I use here with some pros & cons of it.

Over the years I've used a lot of outdoor equipment, I've designed it, tested it, abused it, lost it, thrown it away or praised it... so maybe some of my comments can help others make a decision about what to take with them, still half the fun of travelling is finding that great piece of kit that works for you!

So to start...

Tents - 
I use a couple of different tents these days, dependant upon where I'm heading too & whether its hot, cold, wet etc...

I have a Macpac Microlight for the serious weather, anywhere where it's gonna be windy, wet, cold etc. These are a 1 man 4 season tent weighing in at 1.8kg, If you know your tent partner well you can share, but it will be a cuddly night!

Its a pretty small tent, single pole & takes 2 minutes to put up. These types of tents require the pegs & guy lines to be anchored pretty good, but once they are, they just sit there taking just about any abuse the weather can throw at them. They are made in New Zealand & so have a good testing ground for them..

Macpac Microlight Tent

They pitch outer first & you can clip the inner in after, great if you just need to get out of the rain for a brew etc.

The downside to this kind of tent is that the inner can sag a little, which feels a little like it has less space that it actually has. The storage area in the porch will easily take 2 panniers & a top bag.

Highly recommend this tent, well made, well proven design & not too expensive either for what you get

Coleman Viper Tent
My other tent is a tent that's not made anymore these days that I'm aware of. It's a Coleman Viper. This is a tent that has done a lot of miles with me. I've used it in more countries than most of my other kit put together. It's great, simple & takes a couple of minutes to put up. This one pitches inner first, then you throw the fly over it. The inner has mesh on the top half, the mesh is fine enough to stop midges & mozzies getting in to munch on you at night, there is loads of headroom inside & the storage space in the door takes the panniers & a topbag easily too.

Again this tent is a single pole, 1 man tent, which can sleep 2 but as above, it's a little cuddly... The fabric & waterproofing on both the groundsheet & the flysheet isn't as good a quality as the Macpac, but then it's used for places where the weather is less severe anyway. Plus it cost me around £70 ten years ago, so I'm less careful with it that the £250 Macpac.

I guess the replacement these days would the Aravis 200 tent, I've not seen this as yet but its a cheap alternative lightweight tent that sounds good on paper & is around £100.

If you want something that is totally bombproof & has more space then have a look at the either the Terra Nova Hyperspace or a Hilleberg Nallo tents. These are pretty expensive mountain tents, built for some very serious weather, where weight is an issue as well as storage space, I've used these tents in a fair few environments & would highly recommend either one. They both sleep 2 people comfortably with plenty of space to store gear etc.

Cooking - 
So I have quite a few stoves in my collection from cheap gas ones to fancy multi-fuel ones that cost a fortune & are made of super high tech alloys etc. My favourite stoves for the bike trips are the from MSR range.

For the last few years I've used an MSR Whisperlite Stove, which packs pretty small, boils water fast & you can strip it down in the field & replace virtually any part on it. It suns on petrol, Coleman fuel, (Posh super clean petrol) & Kero. To use normal petrol or kero you need to put in the kero jet.
Both normal petrol & kero are a little dirty as a fuel, they can leave sooty deposits on both the stove & the pans if the stove flares. (They generally do this if the jet is blocked or the stove metal work isn't warm enough to turn the liquid to a gas). This then takes ages to clean off & you get filthy in the process!!

20+ year old MSR XGK Multifuel Stove
 I also use an ole MSR XGK Multifuel Stove. The stove I have is 20+ years old, I bought it off a mate in Katmandhu, this stove has been on climbs on the South face of Annapurna, Lhotse & on Everest & Cho Oyu.. so it has a bit of history behind it... I brought it back home expecting to have to replace a lot of bits in it, but I put some petrol into the fuel bottle, pumped in some pressure, pre-warmed it & hey presto off it went, it boiled a 1 litre pan in about 3 minutes!! Not much has changed since this early design, it's got lighter, a bit bigger & a little more stable but it's essentially the same stove... Fab!!

I've used the more modern version in the Antarctica recently & found it to be as solid & reliable as the old version I still use. You can replace most of the parts in the field, except for the rigid fuel feed pipe as that is braised to the body, so look after that bit!

I also have an MSR Micro Rocket - wow - this burns very hot, its clean, easy & very small so if you can get gas cylinders wherever you go, buy one... It's fab!

For Pans I again have a few that I've tried over the years... to be honest I've never found a pan I really like, I don't understand why they always seem to have a few good features but continually miss out something essential, basically they are such a simple thing that always seems to be missing something... mmm rant over!!
So the things I look for are a single pan with a lid. it needs to be able to cook for two as I usually do the cooking on the bike trips. the lid needs to be able to be secured to the pot, then I can use it as storage & not waste space, the lid needs a small knobby handle on the top to take the lid off but that doesn't burn your fingers as you lift it. The pan needs a good pan handle with a lip that doesn't distort when it gets pushed into panniers etc. The bottom of the pan needs to be domed to slow the build up of CO when cooking
in a tent & to provide a drip feature for the condensation that builds up as you cook etc...
Is this sounding a little anal yet?? :-) I'll move on to the models I use...

Peruvian Aluminium pot

This is a cheap one I picked up in Peru a couple of years ago, the size is great, the lid is shite & the aluminium tends to be dirty which make me think its really cheap alloy, I'd like to take this one on the trip but as weight isn't that much of an issue I may well take the stainless steel one I have, it'll take the knocks better but isn't quite as good a shape... hey ho, compromise time again...

I like a big cup of either coffee or tea in the morning, so a big cup is essential, again I've had loads over the years, my current version is pretty good, tested in the kitchen so far so we'll see how it stands up to the abuse of being bounced around in a pannier!! Insulated, simple stainless steel inner to stop some of the staining issues from these type of cups...

Thermal mug & a tea strainer

I have a lady friend from Switzerland who introduced me to 'posh' tea, since then I'm hooked, so I now like to take little bags of loose tea leaves from some very swanky shops, but you need a decent strainer to let it stew a little & then be able to throw away the used leaves when you've done, I bought this one in a small village in France, it's been fab... Next is to find a little coffee pot to take with me, maybe the States will have some good ones...

Ortlieb 10 Litre Water Bag
Two people use about 10 - 12 litres of water for an overnight camp in a wildish place, (so away from  habitation & showers etc). This usually includes a couple of brew's, some water for cooking & cleaning your teeth... so I picked up an Ortlieb 10 litre water bag

I've had this one about 15 years now, its never leaked, never needed cleaning, doesn't seem to get any mouldy bits inside when you leave it in a cupboard for a year & has been packed into more rucksacks, panniers & plane bags than I can remember, it's a great piece of kit. It can be used as a shower too, (better if you get the black one as the sun will warm the water up better), but for me it saves me multiple trips to the river when I'm in camp.

On the subject of water, I generally don't bother with purification these days, I do boil the water for a good long time though & I'm very choosy about where I take my water from, always fast flowing & the clearer looking the better, especially if I can see wildlife drinking from it.. it's not a total fool proof method but it's done me right for years now.

Other than these major bits of kit, I carry a sharp knife, a decent spoon & a teaspoon, a small tub of washing up liquid, a scourer sponge & that's about it really. Hey presto the kitchen!

Sleeping Kit -
So inside the tent I use a 3/4 Thermarest on the bike trips, there are several other makes available but again I've had this mat since I was in my early 20's, that's a long time these days!! It's had 2 punctures but still going strong, I tend to fold it into a flat block about 30cm x 20cm as this packs really easily, it sits with my sleeping bag in a side pannier, then its a soft landing for the bike when I drop it. If I'm on a posher trip I'll use a full length one which is more padded too, but that is a luxury really. Under my feet I'll often pop my motorbike jacket or trousers if they're dry or a bag etc, anything to keep my feet off the ground really.
I have a few different sleeping bags but for the bike trips it depends upon the temperatures I'm going to & if its wet... For this trip I'll use my PHD Minim bag which is a super lightweight down bag. It has no zip which makes it less bulky & warmer but you then can't use it as a duvet cover when it's a bit warm. Still this is another very well provern piece of kit, it's done umpteen bike trips, I slept out in it in Corsica for 8 month's whilst guiding over there & I camped on the top of Mount Kenya in it & was just about warm enough to sleep... (that was the upper end of its limits I reckon!).
PHD are a great brand, very specialised down clothing & equipment for the toughest of environments, the gear just lasts for years & they will make things to suit your size if you need them to. Very friendly team & excellent knowledge of their products.
That's it for me, I keep it very simple in this area but make sure I can buy the best I can afford, after all a bad nights sleep makes a very bad day the next day or so!

The odds & sods of camping, I always carry a Petzl Headtorch, my current favourite is the Tikka XP which I've used for a lot of different things from fell running, climbing & of course camping. There are cheaper torches out there, but these are the best around at the moment, great for everything from fixing punctures in the dark to finding your way back to the tent after a visit to the pub.

A repair kit goes in for all of the things listed, with some good old Duct Tape & some electrical tape for the colder climes. The best glue around for repairing tents is called Aquasure, technically it's a neoprene repair type glue for all watersports stuff, but in practise it works really well on all outdoor nylon & polyester fabrics. It takes 12 hours + to go off & needs to be put on in a dry ish atmosphere, but once it sets it'll outlast whatever you've put it on... some cable ties, some bungee cord & maybe some fabric patches to glue on... that's about it - great stuff!

Hygiene-wise I carry some little bottles of soap liquid, for washing hands, hair, body etc, a toothbrush & toothpaste & a towel, which is one of my little luxuries, it cost £20.00!

It's called a Tek Towel. It's been fab & it's big enough to actually dry you off totally whilst still being fairly small & lightweight. The only downside to it is it can get a bit smelly by the end of a week as it gets used then not dried properly & used again, (that's the polyamide in the mix, smelly helly stuff for those that can remember them!)... a quick spin through the washing machine soon sorts that though!

All in all that's the majority of my gear, it's all been well tried & tested over several years & works for both my guiding work in the mountains & for the motorbike tours across the world. Happy days!!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.