Gear review

The gear reviewed here will be colour-coded excellent mediocre or poor

Bike stuff

Revelate bike bags – unfortunately the zips of both our frame bags and Gina’s front pocket failed within the first 3 months of cycling. Revelate was so kind to send us warranty replacements. However, the zips of both Gina’s second frame bag and her new front pocket failed yet again. Might have been overloading or faulty zips, either way roll tops or velcro might be the way to go. After 6 months the harnesses show wear and tear. The back bags have held up really well so far.

Knog N.e.r.d 9 cycle computer – We love the way this attaches so easily to the bikes. It is also fatbike compatible as there was no issue with the sensor reading the magnet at least on my 65mm rims. It’s got a good interface and seems durable in build. When the speed displayed jumps around it’s time to change the battery (which lasts a long time though). Lasted the entire trip and beyond (plastic pretty worn out and snapped on the piece next to the tire a few months after the trip, but after 20.000k that’s pretty minor…).

Clothing

Gore lady’s cycling pants – seriously disappointing. After only a couple of weeks the stitching (everywhere) started to come apart. I emailed the store I had bought them from and got a replacement. The stitching of the new pair started opening up again after only one week of cycling! I got some used RBX cycle shorts later on that did a fantastic job (despite already being worn out they lasted another couple of months). Dan’s Sugoi cycle shorts were going strong for about 5 months but he wore regular shorts on top and ended up giving the cycle shorts away to use his shorts by themselves. However, later on I had some Sugoi midzero tights, again after only a few weeks the stitching opened up. Sogoi did not respond to any emails.

Arxcteryx rainjacket (shell) – disappointing, after moderate use over the past years the material started to come apart at the end of the sleeves. Arcteryx would only warranty it if we sent the faulty jacket back to them so they could repair it as in such an instance they would not provide a new jacket. In any case, however, they would not be able to ship to Peru. For once, sending the jacket would mean not having a rain jacket for a while, and not getting it shipped to where we are is another big issue. We hoped that a company which is truly about adventure would recognise the difficulties of traveling to locations where warranties are made difficult and help prolem solve. It seems like people in need of durable products due to traveling in various countries can’t rely on Arcteryx to help them out in a difficult situation.

Soigneur merino cycle shirts (sponsored) – We have been using our strong merino shirts since February, day in day out, and they have held up fantastically. Not a single hole or open stitching.

 

Electronics

iPad mini – we love it! We store maps and photos on it, can edit photos with various apps, and watch movies… If weight wasn’t an issue a 11″ MacBook Air would be more versatile, but the mini does a great job. The camera connection kit is great as well. Note, if you want a cheaper option, the android tablets have some good apps too, and the Ota cables are cheap and more versatile than on the iPad.

Oregon600 (GPS device) – very happy for having made this purchase. It makes navigating our route so much easier, and it is nice to be able to record where we actually end up going so we can share nice routes with other cyclists. We are using rechargable batteries, a pair lasts about two days. Had some issues with the device just shutting down and not noticing it as we used the “screensaver” function, but since we’ve kept the display on (which doesn’t use up much more battery if it’s a constant image) we haven’t had this problem anymore.

Camping gear

Petzl tikka xp (2014 model) – these have been disappointing if I’m honest. They are built for climbing so I would have thought they’d be durable, but unfortunately mine developed cracks with very little use as well as corrosion on the inside which I think must be due to its cheap plasticky build. It seems to have nothing in the way of rain resistance although it does state it is water resistant and I didn’t encounter issues in the rain. It was bright and lightweight, but it wasn’t very secure in its up and down positioning. Gina still has hers, I bought a fenix headlamp. We will see if her’s will eventually have problems too.

Hilleberg Staika – what a fortress! Hilleberg lives up to their name “tentmakers” – they do know how to build tents. The Staika, a black label (four season) tent, is strong and durable. She is easy to set up, with two entrances great for two people, provides great ventilation, is quite spacious, and just a great shelter. One “annoyance” are the amount of zippers which adds to the Staika’s weight (almost 4kg), the reason we decided to send her back home and replace her with a Hilleberg Anjan.

Exped downmat 5 lite and thermarest x-therm – the exped downmat is very comfortable and warm (baffles going lengthwise). Dan’s mat got a small hole at one point but was easy enough to fix with the provided exped glue. Dan swears on thermarest though (in my opinion less comfy as the baffles go sideways) so he ended up getting his thermarest sent to him. After having had it stores for a very long time, the mat developed a huge “bubble” and become unusable. Without hesitation, Cascade Designs sent a warranty replacement down to Peru at no cost. They absolutely support adventurers!

MSR stove: Very happy! Dan has had it for about five years, he used it all through his cycletour through Australia and since we’ve been fatcycling. No simmering function but pretty damn reliable. The fuel filter gets pretty black with all the cheap fuel down here so it’s a good idea to bring down a few replacements. We ran out but Cascade Designs sent us some for free, they are excellent at replacing stuff even in ‘difficult’ countries. It started acting up near the end of our trip and we sent it home with Dan’s parents and got sent a new replacement.

Sawyer squeeze mini water filter – a very small and very light filtration system. The only time one of us got sick from water (Dan got giardia) was when he didn’t filter a stream’s water (it was high up but there were cows around – so be aware!). Cons are that it takes quite a while to filter, it mustn’t freeze – and you can’t tell whether it actually works… After a while it didn’t screw well onto bottles anymore and there was a lot of water leaking at the sides. So we decided to get a steripen!

SteriPEN Ultra – When we got it we were worried it wouldn’t turn on as some reviews had said, but it did, and has been doing so for a long time now. While it’s not ideal for turbid water, you can tell whether it works easily (there’s light!), and it’s so much faster than the sawyer squeeze (90 seconds for a liter).

Freshette – I love this thing very much and couldn’t imagine travelling without it anymore. It is probably the most frequently used part of gear after our bikes, quoting Dan. I had heard about female pee devices a few years ago but didn’t really give it second thought. I found it very tough to find “pee-spots” in Central America as it is so densly populated and we spent a lot of the time on busier roads. That is when I remembered and decided to just give it a try when I had the chance. So, Dan’s mum gave me a freshette for Christmas and I have since used it everyday on the road. No leakage problems whatsoever and it still looks like new!

Special thanks to

 download WheelLife Cyclery (Canada) sold us our lovely fat bikes and shipped them to us.
 surly Our bikes are Surly Pugsleys, bomb-proof cromoly frames which are great for remote touring.
 revelate We got our bike bags from Revelate Designs (Alaska). Good manufacturing (unfortunately we have had issues with the zippers) and friendly service although replies are slow or infrequent.
 soigneur Soigneur (NZ) – sponsor of some lovely Merino wool shirts.
 HubCycleNewLogo2 Daisy and Bruce from Hub Cycle (Canada) generously sold us fat bike tires at reduced rates. Tires are one of the highest costs we are facing; 4 new tires every 5000 km or so that we had to ship to various locations along the way.
 porcelainrocketlogo Porcelain Rocket provided us with a free new custom-made roll-top frame bag for Gina and a camera slinger for Dan.
 aurisonicslogo Aurisonics sent Dan a pair of Rockets to try out. They’ve been living up to his expectations!
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