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  1. #1
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    How much security for a tour?

    One goal I have is by the end of this year is to be able to do a bike tour to a nearby camping ground. Of course, I will be carrying my usual behemoth U-lock to ensure that my bike remains put. However, for the backpack and tent, should I see about either using a PacSafe based backpack that has a woven steel mesh inside and can sort of [1] securely be anchored around some object, or the normal backpack/panniers and a PacSafe bag protector (which is steel mesh where you stick your existing stuff inside, cinch it shut, then lock it around some sturdy object.) Am I assuming the worst, or is having stuff locked down a need at parks or campgrounds, in peoples' experience?

    Firsthand, I've not had anything disappear, but I've not camped out in a long time. However, a family member had a tent (and everything inside) stolen when he went out on a hike before. Thankfully, he kept his car locked and his keys with him, so the car and the contents inside were still there, but all his camping gear was ripped off.

    [1]: Well, securely as in someone will be hard pressed to obtain the contents without resorting to tools.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I've never used anything more than a small lock to lock the bicycles on my tours.

    On a few occasions when I was going to be away from the campsite for an extended period of time (i.e. on a hike) I have checked with the campsite owner to see if I could store my bicycle, and certain more important items, inside a shed somewhere. Those few times where I've asked, campground owners have always been very nice about it and complied.

    The thing is, I don't carry anything really valuable with me (aside from my bicycle of course). Yes, my packing list is extensive, but when it all comes down to it, all I'm really carrying are some sleeping bags that probably reek because I crawl into them right after a long day of cycling ... a few well-used clothes which can just about walk away themselves ... a small collection of inexpensive/free toiletries ... a few tools, most of which are not expensive and most of which I've had for over 10 years and have used a lot ... and a small collection of food (like half a loaf of bread, and a bit of oatmeal).

    Anything more valuable than that (i.e. passport) stays with me at all times.

  3. #3
    Slowpoach
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    I'm not sure how much I can comment, I am slowly getting the impression that security is a far greater issue in the US than in Australia/NZ/Europe/SEAsia, but anyway:

    - D / U locks are good, but only if you have a narrow secure metal thing to attach to. Otherwise a cable lock or a (hardened) chain are more versatile - tree, light pole, etc.

    - Take panniers into the tent with you at night (or in the vestibule, out of sight)

    I guess leaving stuff is the time of greatest risk, what to do depends on the situation. I'd feel fine leaving a tent up in the middle of the bush, but probably not in a campground. I guess this is the "stealth" camping people here talk about.

  4. #4
    Senior Member jurjan's Avatar
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    we use the lock on the bikes to lock them up (axa sl5's or something like that).
    we leave everything except passports, money and camera in the tent.
    only once (must be about 20 years ago) have i had something stolen from my tent.
    and that was in the notorious Bois De Boulogne campsite in Paris.

    if someone wants to steal your bike or stuff: it will only take them a few seconds to open any lock.
    the most you can hope for is that a lock deters people who are into opportunity-theft.
    have a nice day,
    Jurjan

  5. #5
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    If you are thinking about using PacSafe be sure to check out the weight on those things. An ex-g/f had insisted on one whlie we backpacked India and from what I remember, it was a lot heavier than what I would want to carry.
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

  6. #6
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    I only use a cable lock---but I dont wonder off for very long either. I also lock the front brake on so if someone did take it it would make them pause for a bit trying to figure out why it doesnt roll.
    '94 Schwinn Moab 3
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  7. #7
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    I don't recommend leaving a campground setup while off for a long hike, but sometimes you have to risk it. Campground hosts can be your friends in that situation.
    Camp next to the hosts or close enough for them to keep an eye on things. most campground hosts are busybodies, they love that type of thing....

    i'd personally rather pack everything up onto the bike, and stash the bike, locked, out in the woods.

    lock the bike up, yes. i lock up at every grocery store i stop at. no county in america is immune from the ravages of the new meth, there are drug addled petty thieves in every hamlet in america as far as i can tell.

    if you want to go for a trailhead hike, ride or push the bike a little ways into the woods while no one is watching, lock it and hide it there. i have a camoflage poncho that i use to obscure the bike better. thieves can't steal what they don't know is there.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  8. #8
    Senior Member greenstork's Avatar
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    So would you all recommend two u-locks for two bikes? Or one to lock them together? I guess I'm also curious to find out if the same applies to city and town tours in Western Europe. Is theft from panniers a risk?

  9. #9
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    I never carry a u-lock - too heavy! Sometimes I carry a medium-duty cable lock, sometimes just a really light cable and a combination lock that I bought at the grocery store. For 2 bikes, I'd say get a light weight cable and a "real" lock of your choice, girth-hitch the cable to something, and lock the 2 bikes together with the real lock with the cable through it.

    Like others said, I rarely leave my camp set up, and if I need to be away from my bike for a long time, usually you can find somewhere to stash it - chamber of commerce/info center, library, campground host. I once went to the movies in Tasmania and the movie theater let me put my loaded bike in their back room.

    I guess there is theft risk everywhere... but the packsafe option really doesn't buy much security for the weight. I wouldn't bother. I think those are more relevant for backpackers who are travelling by tour bus, where their stuff is out of their control for long periods of time.

    I always have my real valuables with me - passport, wallet, camera.
    ...

  10. #10
    Senior Member eric von zipper's Avatar
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    just remembered that there was a recent poll on crazyguy about security. the link:
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/forum...=lt&poll_id=21
    Surly Cross Check, Thorn Sherpa

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    here are drug addled petty thieves in every hamlet in america as far as i can tell.
    How do you tell?
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  12. #12
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    I just use a small cable lock. I have my valuables with me in my handlebar bag. I'm not worried that someone is going to steal my smelly clothes.

  13. #13
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    I just carry a small cable lock and take my handlebar bag (w/ valuables in it) with me when I lock up the bike. If I need to leave my bike for any length of time I just find someone to look after it for me.

    I bought a pac-safe a long time and have never used it on a trip. As someone else mentioned it is so heavy and such a hassle it is just easier to be less paranoid.
    safe riding - Vik
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by vik
    I just carry a small cable lock and take my handlebar bag (w/ valuables in it) with me when I lock up the bike. If I need to leave my bike for any length of time I just find someone to look after it for me.
    Agreed.

    I have never really been concerned about leaving a campsite set up. However... I do avoid campsites that have permanent residents that obviously don't care about their surroundings.

    There was a particularly seedy one in France in 2003 that I couldn't really avoid, but I was nervous about just leaving my gear to shower. In the end, I didn't even do that!

    I've gone into a few campgrounds/caravan parks in Australia, ridden around and gone straight back out again and freecamped outside town.

    A shambles for a campground usually means *no-one* cares about anything or anyone except grog and domestic fights, but a well-kempt one with a few signs up about noise curfews, and with friendly hosts usually indicates a degree of security. I agree on the busybody assessment -- they do have their uses.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  15. #15
    George Krpan
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    I had a bike stolen last year that was locked up with a cable lock so I don't have much faith in those. I now use a super heavy U-lock on my urban bike. I wouldn't take it on a tour, too heavy. Instead, I would just find a lighter u-lock from a very reputable maker.
    If there is no one to watch your bike and there are a lot of people around lock it up where the most people can see it.
    To discourage casual theft put the panniers and other gear in the tent and lock the tent door zippers together with a luggage lock.
    I have never had anything stolen. One time when I returned to my tent my fellow campers told me that a homeless guy was snooping my tent. They made sure that he noticed that they noticed him and he split.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenstork
    So would you all recommend two u-locks for two bikes? Or one to lock them together? I guess I'm also curious to find out if the same applies to city and town tours in Western Europe. Is theft from panniers a risk?
    I wouldn't recommend ANY U-locks!! I carry enough stuff as it is without adding all that extra weight!!

  17. #17
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    lock the bike up, yes. i lock up at every grocery store i stop at.

    On my Australia tour, I would lock my bicycle when I went into the grocery store too ..... but I also packed my panniers in a very specific and deliberate way. I set them up so that if someone popped the clips open to have a look inside .... the first thing they would see would be my dirtiest, smelliest, most horrible clothing. And believe me, as a woman on a tour, I had some clothing that would have a lot of guys (in particular) gagging in the ditch.

  18. #18
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    I usually go with one other person, and we both take long skinny cables with heavy locks, then lock both bikes together with both cables and locks to something substantial. Granted, if somebody can get through one lock, they'll get through both, but they're getting the bikes anyway either way. But with two cables and locks, it might just be too frustrating to the theif relying on oppurtunity.
    And I never take anything so nice I'm out much cash if I lose it. If somebody wants to steal my smelly worn out clothes, let 'em!
    The risk with going away from the campground for a while and losing your stuff is the same as if you were car-camping and going away for a while.
    But we always lock the bikes, even if we're in the market for a few minutes. Walking away from an unlocked bike is like leaving your car keys in the ignition and the engine running while you go into the bank. Its worth the extra moment or two to lock it up.

  19. #19
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    On my Australia tour, I would lock my bicycle when I went into the grocery store too ..... but I also packed my panniers in a very specific and deliberate way. I set them up so that if someone popped the clips open to have a look inside .... the first thing they would see would be my dirtiest, smelliest, most horrible clothing. And believe me, as a woman on a tour, I had some clothing that would have a lot of guys (in particular) gagging in the ditch.
    Hahaha....I don't want to even imagine!....
    safe riding - Vik
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  20. #20
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlts22
    One goal I have is by the end of this year is to be able to do a bike tour to a nearby camping ground. Of course, I will be carrying my usual behemoth U-lock to ensure that my bike remains put. However, for the backpack and tent, should I see about either using a PacSafe based backpack that has a woven steel mesh inside and can sort of [1] securely be anchored around some object, or the normal backpack/panniers and a PacSafe bag protector (which is steel mesh where you stick your existing stuff inside, cinch it shut, then lock it around some sturdy object.) Am I assuming the worst, or is having stuff locked down a need at parks or campgrounds, in peoples' experience?

    Firsthand, I've not had anything disappear, but I've not camped out in a long time. However, a family member had a tent (and everything inside) stolen when he went out on a hike before. Thankfully, he kept his car locked and his keys with him, so the car and the contents inside were still there, but all his camping gear was ripped off.

    [1]: Well, securely as in someone will be hard pressed to obtain the contents without resorting to tools.
    I would like to ask the author where he/she plans to travel and just what property will need protection?

    I've toured in Canada and Western Europe and I have to say that only once did I have a problem. I do the usual lock bike to immoveable object thing, but I don't lock panniers or have any mesh. I find now that I have a few tours under my belt I worry less about theft.

    I found I could leave my locked bike with panniers and roll all day in big cities. There are just too many people carrying bicycle helmets for theives to bother.

    I stealth camp in a hammock and occassionally can't get my bike to the site, so I do carry a 'dollar store' personal safety alarm which I connect to the bike. It's only got off once, and not knowing what to do, I started barking like a dog. I seemed to work.

  21. #21
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    rowan asked how do i tell there are meth addicts in every county in america?

    watching the national sherrifs association on C-Span, and the president of the association spoke out how meth has affected every county in america...

    A Kryptonite Mini U-lock mounts in its bracket nicely from the seat tube towards the seatstay. add a stout cable and you are pretty much golden for a lot of locking situations out on the road.

    if the lock weighs a pound and a half, pretend your bike weighs a pound and a half more than it really does. I ride with a mini U-Lock mounted this way in the city, it pretty much becomes part and parcel of the bike.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  22. #22
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    rowan asked how do i tell there are meth addicts in every county in america? watching the national sherrifs association on C-Span, and the president of the association spoke out how meth has affected every county in america...
    Ehh, that's a load of BS. Meth usage actually dropped between 2002 and 2005:

    http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov/...ine/index.html

    (Other stats indicate usage has more or less hovered between 4% and 5% since 1999)

    Robbery rates did jump in the US in 2006 iirc, but as usual there is no single / unique perceptible explanation for this. Unless there was an enormous leap in meth usage in 2006, it's doubtful that was the sole factor.

  23. #23
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    having the president of the national sherrifs association state no county in america is immune from the ravages of meth is a load of bull? yeah, i'd trust the white house and what they have to say right now.....what does a purported drop in meth use have to do with its pernicious nature anyway?

    yeah, I'll listen to some talking head on the internet, versus the national sheriffs association president, speaking on behalf of law enforcement adressing his peers.

    I've come across meth waste dumps on dead end spur roads in the sticks, rural counties. smells like chemicals, toxic really. no fun to come across.

    i've also seen firsthand the ravages of drugs in rural counties. Wacked out speed freaks are everywhere, baccialupe. Its one of the drugs of choice among blue collar and soccer moms both, if they get bit by the meth drug. As a tragic example, some speed addled trucker killed two scientists with his log truck on the olympic peninsula last year.

    my caution to the OP is this: just because a campground appears safe doesn't mean it is.

    Drug addled petty thieves can be roaming. the scourge of the new meth has hit every county in the USA.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    lock the bike up, yes. i lock up at every grocery store i stop at. no county in america is immune from the ravages of the new meth, there are drug addled petty thieves in every hamlet in america as far as i can tell.
    Generally, I too lock my bike almost every place I stop, including the tiny towns. I used to not do that, but whenever I was inside a store, I couldn't relax for fear of my bike, my gear, and worst of all, my tour--being stolen in a heartbeat. The odds are greatly against it, but all it takes is one thief to seize on an opportunity.

    As I mentioned in another post, I was warned by some locals in a KY rural town to be very careful, as many local people were really into get-high prescription drugs and would steal for them if they had to. I'm not picking on KY (it's a beautiful ride on the TransAm and there's many wonderful people there), that's just where this experience took place.

    David in FL

  25. #25
    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bekologist
    no county in america is immune from the ravages of the new meth, there are drug addled petty thieves in every hamlet in america as far as i can tell....
    What is this "new meth?" Speed is speed, the chemistry hasn't changed in the last 20 years.

    Obviously you can't mean "increase in meth use," since the evidence indicates it's declined slightly (at least up to 2005).

    Maybe you're talking about the new press coverage around meth. They pretty much hype it the same way as they did PCP and crack cocaine use in the past (epidemic rates, one usage will hook you for life, users turn into violent fiends, etc).

    Or maybe you're talking about oxycontin? I was under the impression that was the New Hotness in drug abuse.

    After listening to a few decades of anti-drug hysteria, I'll take factual information and statistics over anecdotal evidence any day.


    yeah, i'd trust the white house and what they have to say right now.....
    Since you didn't bother to read it, the White House got its stats from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which is run by a division of the Department of Health & Human Services. I'm not aware of any similar surveys conducted by the National Sheriffs Association.


    what does a purported drop in meth use have to do with its pernicious nature anyway?
    If the perception that meth use is a) rampant b) epidemic c) a primary factor in robbery, that theory is undercut by the combination of declining usage and a recent increase in robbery rates.


    Wacked out speed freaks are everywhere, baccialupe. Its one of the drugs of choice among blue collar and soccer moms both, if they get bit by the meth drug. As a tragic example, some speed addled trucker killed two scientists with his log truck on the olympic peninsula last year.
    *sigh* more fear-mongering....

    Truckers have used stimulants for ages -- occupational hazard, I suppose -- so that's hardly an example of "omg meth use is out of control."

    If you're going to advise caution, I recommend you do so based upon verifiable resources and statistical evidence, such as FBI statistics on robbery, and/or robbery rates in comparison to other countries.

    I have no doubt that drug use occurs in many places, nor do I view rural communities in the US as an idyllic paradise untouched by crime; but the reality is that most of the US is fairly safe. Just use a bit of common sense, lock up your bike, and always keep the really valuable stuff at hand and you'll be fine.

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