Our Gear Reviews 2013 Spring

Last couple of months, we had been laying our hands on new gears. Recent camping trips both  comfort and off-road bike camping under wet weather condition was excellent which put many of our new and old gears to the test. 

Reviews Below 
  • Bikes
  • Ortlieb Roller Classic Panniers
  • Travel Life Bike Carrier
  • Tents
  • Alite Monarch Chair
  • DoppleGanger Mini Fold Chair
  • Fire Maple Micro Folding Table
  • Vargo Titanium Hexagon Wood Stove
  • Trangia Alcohol Stove, Fuel Bottle and 6.5" Cast Iron Skillet
  • Cobb Premier Grill
  • Daiso Stuffs
  • Paradox Rain Suit
  • PureEasy Water Filter
  • Petzl Tikka XP2 Headlamp

Last year, both bikes were built up by myself. They had never tested in real off-road condition. The last camping trip had put both bikes to the test and it handled pretty well. Both the Old Man Mountain and Topeak Super Tourist DX Racks handled rather well especially the stretch of steep downhill and we could hear the panniers rattling on the bike rack. 

I am rather pleased with the steel frame, it was a very rigid frame and riding up hill was much better compared to the previous Giant Trance X0 frame, read here for my frame setup. As for my partner's Merida bike frame, I am still sceptical, do not think the frame suits her well enough. Probably should get her a ladies bike frame instead.   

This is the first time these panniers went off-road fully loaded. Excellent waterproof bike pannier, after the rough usage, sliding it beside a landslide rock and throwing around on the camp ground. The panniers did not suffer any physical damages. However we will need to rectify the rattling sound when riding on rough terrain.

We have never carried 2 bikes on this carrier before. One the first day while loading the vehicle, we found that 2 bikes could not fit on the carrier, ended up with only one bike on it. On the last day camping, decided to examine the problem and found the bike's  rack was in the way. After a few adjustment on the carrier, both bikes could fit on it. Driving in off-road condition the Bike Carrier handled well, on the road at time speed of 110km/h, there was not a problem with it. 

This was the biggest disappointment, all three tent were leaking, Scooda Side Awning, REI Quarter Dome T2, and the Walrus Tent. On the first night, after rigging up the Scooda Tent it started  a heavy downpour. Later we realised the inner tent was sweating but the waterproof seams still looked good. 

It seems the water was coming in from the fabric itself. Think we knew the problem, since the day we got this tent, it was kept in the vehicle all the time. Over last 12 months it was under hot humid sun that might have cause the fabric to deteriorate.  

As for the REI and Walrus Tent, we already knew the problem but did not expect to be that major. The 15 years old Walurs Tent and Foot Print totally loss it's waterproofing so we need a MacNett Tent Sure to repair it. 

We camped the REI tent without the inner netting, just the rain fly and foot print. During the downpour, rain water was sipping into the tent. Closer examination, it came from the seams itself but the side wall was also sweating on the rain fly. We have bought a bottle of MacNett Seam Sure, wonder should we consider using the MacNett Tent Sure instead

The chair was fun to sit on it even the kids loved it. Since it is a 2 legged chair one problem we faced when we have to get out from the chair and the fabric touches the ground. Not a real issue but on a wet ground the fabric starts to get wet and Partner was complaining about it. So we have decided to order the Alite Mayfly Chair and the Monach Chair we leave it for guest or considering selling it away. 

During the camping trips, the DoppleGanger chair was basically use for our Chuck Box stand. The height was perfect for our mini kitchen setting. We did use it on 2 occasions, one time we let the kids used it. It was fun watching the kids sitting on it and where ever they go, they took the chairs with them. The other time was on a wild hot spring camping exploration, it was perfect just to rest the legs and do some cooking or playing around with camp fire. We like this mini folding chair lightweight setup. 

Having the Fire Maple Table was a bonus, we used it for our vehicle camping mini kitchen setup. It provided extra space to place our stuff. The Cobb Premier Grill sat just perfectly on this table for roasting. It does take up space for bike camping however we stuff it in the tent pack. Worth the investment. At least for wild camping, we have a table to cook on. 

Vargo stove was easy to setup, we used it as a stove support for the Trangia Alcohol stove and it held pretty well even with a 6.5" Cast Iron Skillet. We did cooking with it almost 70% of our last camping trip. Had a small camp fire until the rain came. Back home, noticed black soot had stained on the plating, did a steel wire scrubbing and that was what of it on the photo below.

One problem we found is that the securing slot on the stove was not strong enough, tried moving the stove once and the whole thing start to come loose. Now I am looking for a small pin to fit into the slot hole so that it will not come apart again

 after burning wood and a hard scrubbed 

weak locking slot

Trangia Alcohol Stove, Fuel Bottle and 6.5" Cast Iron Skillet
This is my 3rd Trangia purchased. Was I please with it? Yes and No. Trangia Alcohol Stove is a slow cooker. It burns more fuel compare to our custom CiT Alcohol Stove. In 2 days, we had used 300ml alcohol from the Trangia fuel bottle. However it was fun using it especially when cooking up a gourmet....then again gourmet cooking requires more fuel. We did enjoy this new camping kitchen setup. The Trangia fuel bottle was nothing special but it did help fuelling the alcohol stove with ease and without leaks.   

This is the first time we have a cast iron set in our camping trips. This Taiwanese made skillet works perfectly for couple camping trips. We just sat there all night grilling meat, veg and drinking beers. Unlike previously camping trip, partner commented this is the first time we had so many variety of dishes. So thumbs up for the skillet. 

This is one of our favourite kitchen set, once set up, have a beer for one to two hours and the meal is ready. We did 2 different smoked roast chicken on separate camping trips with friends. Everyone was digging their hand into the Cobb. We had even one camping friends wanted to buy the Cobb for his brother to bring it back to US. Size is a little too big but for car camping, we prefer the Cobb to a Dutch Oven. Sorry Dutch Oven guys, your stuff weighs more than a COBB.

Daiso Stuffs
We got a few Diaso stuffs to add to our camping gears. Some of the stuff we were pleased with it others not. One of the favourite is the Daiso Wide Pot, it served us well however the fry pan was a failure. Thinking it should be a non-stick pan but it did stick. The BBQ grill was fun to use with the Vargo Stove but after BBQ Shishamo fishes (my favourite) had made the fish meat stuck to the grill. There is another Daiso grill which we tested at home (will post photo on Facebook later) worked rather well for those fishes.   
Daiso mini BBQ Grill

Daiso Wide Pot

Paradox Rain Suits
These are our new rain suits. We used these rain suit for cold weather layering, layer with inner Giordano G-Warmer, fleece jacket and Paradox Rain Suit to keep us warm.

Last wet weather camping trips it did the job pretty well. When it was not raining, we stuff into our Therm-a-Rest Pillow to create more comfort. The real test came when we had to break camp and pushing our fully loaded bikes up steep hill climbs under the rain. Our inner clothing did get damp, not by the rain but from our body. Overall we are please with the performance. 

PureEasy Water Filter
One of our favourite water filter, lightweight and easy to pack. Without this filter our last wild camping trip would be a disaster, the river water was filled with so much sediments. One of our Fan had suggested to add another filtering layer so I did that mod...Genius idea!! You can read the post HERE

We have been a Petzl Fan, love their headlamp and creativity. However last camping trip when we had to do an emergency break camp and pushing our bikes up the mountain in the dark, the headlamp brightness was not sufficient. On a raining and slight foggy night, we could only see clearly 5 metres away. Yes it does laminate far around 15 metres but it was not clear at all. Guess we will get a Chinese made mini Cree handheld lamp as backup. 

Who says camping was never fun under these condition. We were glad we did and understood our gears better. Time to improve or get better gears. More wet weather please :p

No comments:

Post a Comment