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Touring Gear and Equipment Reviews

Old 10-22-16, 02:16 AM
  #1  
Rowan
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Touring Gear and Equipment Reviews

I thought that there is scope for a thread like this for people to offer up reviews of their bicycle touring equipment.

We all have our favourite bits and pieces, and we have stuff that hasn't measured up. And reviews are useful for newbies to sort through.

I know it is going to be quite diverse, with the definition of gear and equipment ranging from electronics through to tents and panniers, even bike components and bikes themselves, plus clothing.

However, I think the rules should be that:

  • The product be identified by name and model,
  • Date it was sourced by the reviewer
  • The price paid as well as the MSRP
  • The amount of use it has had
  • What that use and the circumstances were
  • The positives and negatives in actual use, and
  • Notes on quality versus price.
  • A statement of vested interest also should be provided when applicable.
There might be occasion for conflicting evaluations by different posters of the same product line, but again context and circumstances should be stated to allow the reader a chance to make a valued judgment based on their own intended uses.

As the saying goes, have at it.
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Old 10-22-16, 06:25 AM
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Some of those pieces of information will likely be difficult for some. In the last year or so I have bought a new tent, stove, cookset and rain jacket. I couldn't tell you what the MSRP or actual price paid for those items were at the time at the time of purchase or the dates I bought them (other that possibly the year). And that's just for the recent stuff.
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Old 10-22-16, 07:49 AM
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Great idea! I would also echo that it be stuff we have actually used not just looked at and think would be neat. I'll add something this weekend.
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Old 10-22-16, 07:49 AM
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If enough entries are posted, I've always thought of something like this might deserve a "sticky" status
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Old 10-22-16, 08:04 AM
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I previously posted a couple threads, posting the links to them below as others may be interested in them because they are still valid. I have no vested or financial interests in these products.

Pedals: Previously I posted my comments on Shimano M324 pedals and A530 pedals.
https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/10...l#post18306425

Pumps: Previously I posted my thoughts on Toppeak Road Morph G and Lezyne Micro Floor Drive pumps.
https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/10...l#post18521373

Sram Dual Drive IGH: On the folding bike forum, on a thread started by someone else I described my thoughts on the Sram Dual Drive. But that hub is mostly used for folding bikes or recumbents, so I doubt many bike tourists with conventional frames will be interested.
https://www.bikeforums.net/18934909-post12.html
https://www.bikeforums.net/folding-bi...l#post18934909
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Old 10-22-16, 11:27 AM
  #6  
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I have Been fine with my Hand Made in New Hampshire Stevenson's warm light 3R tent, (2 zippers on each of 2 doors , toothed Garment outer one would be better as a # 10 coil, just because mine lost a tooth when it was opened with Ice (dew) frozen On It.

Because it had been made to put it together flat on the ground no separate rain fly. it was useful, Put up, in some strong gale winds.

Triple bag has a Down filled airmatterss , It developed a very slow leak because of Atmospheric Mildew spores. But both are repairable and replaceable At the Company Home ..

Kept me cozy on a Bike tour From SW Ireland In February , To NE Scotland in November..


It is for sale Now.





'/,

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Old 10-22-16, 02:36 PM
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Tried and liked:

Campag euclid Derailleurs , sun tour ratchet friction bar end shifters

Phil Freewheel Hubs , Shimano & Sachs Malliard Freewheels

Scott Pederson SE cantilever brakes , SBI Mid 80s Japan made Expeditions

Bruce Gordon Racks with Beckman panniers ..

Patagonia .. clothes





'/,

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Old 10-22-16, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Some of those pieces of information will likely be difficult for some. In the last year or so I have bought a new tent, stove, cookset and rain jacket. I couldn't tell you what the MSRP or actual price paid for those items were at the time at the time of purchase or the dates I bought them (other that possibly the year). And that's just for the recent stuff.
Ditto.

Many times if a person gets something on sale or a NOS find it's extremely hard to remember what the price was - unless the deal was so great that the price is imprinted on the mind. Then again though, that price isn't very useful for someone looking for the same or similar item. IMHO, the best that a given price can do is give someone else a ballpark idea of what something MIGHT cost.

Cheers
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Old 10-22-16, 06:24 PM
  #9  
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Blackburn Outpost Series Adjustable Frame Bag (Med.)

I'll review a piece of kit I recently bought and used on my last tour, the new frame bag by Blackburn.

Some background:

Living in a hole in the ground I had never really heard of bike packing gear until I began frequenting these forums in the last year or so. I have never seen anyone use this stuff IRL so I had a pretty open mind as far as the potential and practicality of it. I like to use and adapt gear, looking at function first and don't really care about genres or styles too much as I rarely even ride with anyone else.
One piece of kit that caught my eye as being potentially pretty practical was the frame bag, seeing as it goes in the diamond where space is under utilyzed and weight can be centered mid frame (at least those were my thoughts at the time). I though, given the opportunity, I would try one out. As luck would have it I spied this one in a store and bought it to try and used it across Western Canada in varying road/weather conditions.

The bag is listed online at Blackburn for about $60USD but sold up here in BC, Canada for $110CAD. It appears to be well made with good material and workmanship. At first I wondered what the advantage of being size adjustable would be as I can't see why one would want "less" of a bag but have since seen that open it will fit my mtb and closed it will also fit my Trek step thru. I bought a medium size (the only one available) which in retrospect was a bonus because it gave me a frame bag but still allowed me to use a water bottle cage. I suspect the large would take up most of the diamond.

Features:

  • Zipped adjustable size
  • Many attachment points for frame
  • Large zipped main pocket with velcro baffle to keep sides from bulging
  • Second thinner zipped pocket
  • Two mesh side pouches
  • Port for camel back type hydration hose

On the road:

In the main pocket I put my extensive tool kit, bug spray, daytime food, jar of peanut butter and cell phone and felt there was more room if I packed tightly. The zip worked well and seems robust. It is not water proof (isn't advertised as such) and got a little damp after weathering thunderstorms and a lot of rain. Something to make note of if you put tools in there and never check on them. In the thin pocket I put spare spokes, zip ties, Ipod and my Mora knife. In the mesh pouches (which I could do without really) I put nitril gloves and my go pro so I could deploy it while riding. I don't know what they (Blackburn) envisioned going in there because the space is pretty small.

Overall the bag felt secure to the frame, robust, was really useful storage space and didn't cost me anything in terms of displaced alternatives (except one bottle cage). If Blackburn wanted to hit it out of the park they would put a bearspray pouch on the side instead of the mesh. How important the adjustable part is depends on the user I think. If it only goes on one bike forever it's a bit of a useless feature but if you mix it up it may come in quite handy.

How does the Blackburn compare to other brands? I don't know. It's the first piece of bikepacking equipment I've ever owned. As it is I give the frame bag two thumbs up and can't see myself touring without one again. It's just a sensible, convenient storage solution that actually works well with no downsides I can see.
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Last edited by Happy Feet; 10-22-16 at 06:36 PM.
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Old 10-22-16, 06:51 PM
  #10  
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Query about bike-packing frame bags.

Do the straps that secure the bag to the top tube of the bike frame interfere with exposed brake and derailler cables that run along the top of the top tube?

Cheers
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Old 10-22-16, 06:58 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
Ditto.

Many times if a person gets something on sale or a NOS find it's extremely hard to remember what the price was - unless the deal was so great that the price is imprinted on the mind. Then again though, that price isn't very useful for someone looking for the same or similar item. IMHO, the best that a given price can do is give someone else a ballpark idea of what something MIGHT cost.

Cheers
If you can't remember the price, look it up on the internet and quote the current price.
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Old 10-22-16, 07:03 PM
  #12  
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Miele
I don't think so. The velcro can run under the cables and there are many possible loop points in case one interferes with a cable stop. In my case I ran the cable through a sleeve and then wrapped it in handlebar tape as I got sick of kicking and damaging it with my hiking shoes. Why they put exposed wire on top of a top tube is beyond me.
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Old 10-22-16, 09:06 PM
  #13  
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Thanks Happy Feet. Neat review and just what I envisaged.
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Old 10-22-16, 09:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Miele
I don't think so. The velcro can run under the cables and there are many possible loop points in case one interferes with a cable stop. In my case I ran the cable through a sleeve and then wrapped it in handlebar tape as I got sick of kicking and damaging it with my hiking shoes. Why they put exposed wire on top of a top tube is beyond me.
Thanks.

I think the exposed cables on top of the top tube were intended to have less likelihood of getting fouled with stuff like mud.

I'm thinking that for some of my short tours i might try a frame bag in lieu of the rear panniers. I can still carry the other needed/wanted stuff on to of the rear rack and of the handlebar ala bike-packing style.

Cheers
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Old 10-22-16, 09:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
If you can't remember the price, look it up on the internet and quote the current price.
I recently bought a bunch of NOS stuff including Dura Ace AX brake shoes, Dura Ace AX pedal cleats, Uniglide cassettes at extremely low prices from a bicycle shop outside of a small city. Those items are very seldom listed on the web.

Cheers
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Old 10-22-16, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Miele Man View Post
I recently bought a bunch of NOS stuff including Dura Ace AX brake shoes, Dura Ace AX pedal cleats, Uniglide cassettes at extremely low prices from a bicycle shop outside of a small city. Those items are very seldom listed on the web.

Cheers
Yes, but have you used them enough to provide a worthwhile review of them? You seem to think the price is a roadblock to providing a review about anything. If what you are reviewing can't have a price attached because of the circumstances, just say so.

Frankly, the comparative rarity of NOS means a review of it might not have much relevance in the face of new stuff that is appearing on the market... and that's what most product reviews anywhere else are about.
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Old 10-23-16, 07:59 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
Blackburn Outpost Series Adjustable Frame Bag (Med.)
.....
From the photos, it appears that you put bar tape over the top tube. Was that to protect the paint from chaffing from the frame bag straps?
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Old 10-23-16, 08:39 AM
  #18  
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No, long before the frame bag. The attachment loops can easily run under the cables.

Some bikes have exposed cables on the top of the top tube and every so often I tag them with my hiking shoes when I mount/dismount, especially when tired. Maybe I have lazy legs though I prefer to think they are so big because of muscles So this build I decided to run the brake cable through a guide and wrap that with bar tape so I wouldn't damage the cable on the road. Works good. You can run new cable because I left the ends of the guide exposed. It also can pad the TT a bit if you carry the bike like a cyclocross racer but with the frame bag that's not important.

Just a little mod thing I find useful for me.

To augment this bike I plan to add a "Salsa Everything" type expandable bottle cage on the DT when I see one so I can carry a larger water bottle there and fully utilyze that space.

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Old 10-23-16, 11:17 AM
  #19  
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Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter

Purchased 2012 (?)

Price: $60 (the price has come down since)

Number of uses: Used on 2 trips

Where: A hike to an alpine lake and on a 3 day mountain bike tour in Colorado

Positives and Negatives:

It worked okay on the first trip straight out of the box. The pouches are hard to fill in a stream because they don't open up well. They would work well if filled from a faucet but for filtering in a high country lake, they simple can't be filled by immersion. I found a small drop over a rock that allowed me to fill it so that I could fill my Camelbak but it took a while.

Once the bags were filled, the flow through the filter was good and I had no problems actually filtering water but the filling part was futzy.

On the second trip, I took a water bottle which I used to fill the bag. It worked but was just another step that really should have been necessary. The real problems occurred after the bag was filled. The filter would only dribble out a small amount of water even under high pressure. It took approximately an hour of hand cramping squeezing to get enough water to reconstitute a freeze dried meal.

As I was out of water and needed roughly 3 liters to fill my Camelbak for the next day's riding, I wasn't sure of what to do. I also needed about another liter for food and coffee in the morning. I eventually found that I could place a large rock on the bag and I could filter about a liter per hour of filtering. The bag only holds a liter which meant at least 3 hours of filtering. I filtered 1 liter before dark then filtered another liter overnight and finally filtered the 3rd and 4th liter in the morning before I broke camp.

And I would have to do this one more night. Thankfully there was a single store in Tin Cup, Colorado that had bottled water so I didn't have to filter nearly as much water the second night. Boiling water was out of the question due to some of the logistics of boiling that much water and not having enough fuel to do it.

I found out after I got back from the trip, that even though I had followed Sawyer's instructions for storage, I needed to flow vinegar through the filter to open up the pores of the filter. As I don't regularly carry vinegar on tour, this isn't something that can be done in the field. Having no way to get more water isn't just inconvenient.

People have told me that I should have known the need for flushing with vinegar beforehand but that requires physic abilities that I don't seem to possess. Sawyers' instructions do not include any warning about the possibility of the filter clogging except with regards to particulates and back flushing the filter. I've used other filters in the high country of Colorado many, many times and never had the filter fail as spectacularly as this one did.

From now on, I'll use MSR Sweet water filter and leave the membrane style filters alone.
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Old 10-24-16, 01:02 AM
  #20  
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Thanks Stuart. Informative. Have you let Sawyers know that vinegar isn't exactly the sort of stuff normally carried by adventurers and that is a fundamental flaw for someone relying on fresh water in remote locations?
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Old 10-24-16, 08:20 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
Thanks Stuart. Informative. Have you let Sawyers know that vinegar isn't exactly the sort of stuff normally carried by adventurers and that is a fundamental flaw for someone relying on fresh water in remote locations?
It's been a while but I think I did. The problem doesn't arise until you dry the filter completely between adventures. Although it seems to be a known problem most people don't discover it nor the remedy until, like me, the unit fails on them.
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Old 10-24-16, 02:27 PM
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I have never heard the vinegar story for a water filter. I have a couple of Katadyn filters and an MSR filter, have not used a Sawyer. I would be hesitant to try a chemical treatment that the manufacturer had not cited in the instructions that came with the filter. Coffee makers, it is part of their manufacturer instructions, thus I do that treatment method regularly.
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Old 10-24-16, 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
I have never heard the vinegar story for a water filter. I have a couple of Katadyn filters and an MSR filter, have not used a Sawyer. I would be hesitant to try a chemical treatment that the manufacturer had not cited in the instructions that came with the filter. Coffee makers, it is part of their manufacturer instructions, thus I do that treatment method regularly.
The Sawyer is different from the Katadyn and MSR ceramic filters. It used hollow fiber filters which work well but they do have issues if they dry out. Material either precipitates out in the pores of the hollow fiber filter or the pores just close up. Leaving water inside the filter would be best but other issues can arise...molds and mildew...if you do that.

Both Katadyn and MSR make hollow fiber filters now. I haven't gone looking from them and I would be leery of getting one given my experiences with hollow fiber filters. I'd rather carry a 11 oz of equipment that I know is going to work vs carrying slightly less weight that leaves you high and, well, dry.
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Old 10-25-16, 09:49 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
The Sawyer is different from the Katadyn and MSR ceramic filters. It used hollow fiber filters which work well but they do have issues if they dry out. Material either precipitates out in the pores of the hollow fiber filter or the pores just close up. Leaving water inside the filter would be best but other issues can arise...molds and mildew...if you do that.

Both Katadyn and MSR make hollow fiber filters now. I haven't gone looking from them and I would be leery of getting one given my experiences with hollow fiber filters. I'd rather carry a 11 oz of equipment that I know is going to work vs carrying slightly less weight that leaves you high and, well, dry.
Thanks. I always dry out my filter before storage, which reminds me, I should check to see if the filter I set out a week ago is dry yet?
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Old 10-27-16, 07:44 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
Thanks. I always dry out my filter before storage, which reminds me, I should check to see if the filter I set out a week ago is dry yet?
Backflush the Sawyer filter with clean water (with the provided syringe) periodically while on a trip and especially before starting the next trip. Vinegar will help dissolve accumulated minerals if left in the filter for, say, overnight (do this between trips), but flush with clean water afterwards. I have no problems with mine and use a gravity system with no squeezing. If it's clogged, backflush with CLEAN water. I like the Sawyer because it filters to smaller tolerances (depending on which model) but this also means that it clogs more easily.
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