DeFeet Woolie Boolie Socks…

31 05 2013
Short pants + long socks...

Short pants + long socks…

I like capris for riding and camping in because they are adaptable from hot to cool temperatures. When it gets really chilly I layer a set of running tights underneath. For less cold days I like long socks with my capris. There are lots of long sock options, but one I sourced locally at MEC.ca was these DeFeet Woolie Boolie socks.

Side view...

Side view…

They are wool, they are long and they are black. Thin enough not to be too hot and thick enough to be useful. Layering these with my running tights should be nice and they can be rolled down if it gets hot.

If you are into more snazzy fashion look for colourful ski socks on sale now that winter is over.

Here is the DeFeet product page for these socks.

They cost $25 & 1yr warranty.





Summer Bikepacking Shoes…

30 05 2013
On the move...

On the move…

I’m trying to figure out what shoes best meet my needs for summer bikepacking trips.

  • all day pedalling comfort with MTB platforms
  • reasonable grip biking through technical sections
  • able to hike-a-bike comfortably for 4-5hrs at a time over rough ground
  • excellent traction off the bike
  • breathable
  • fast drying after rain or creek crossings
  • need to accept my semi-custom insoles
5.10 Impact Low...

5.10 Impact Low…

My favourite cycling shoe is this 5.10 Impact Low model. They are super comfortable, very durable, grip the pedals like glue and have great traction off the bike. The only downsides are 1) they take forever to dry if they get wet, 2) they are pretty heavy/overbuilt for touring and 3) they don’t breath all that well. If they dried fast I could live with everything else.

I really hate riding in wet feet so these are not a good choice if I think it might rain and/or I would have to carry my bike through any creeks/rivers.

Montrail trail runners...

Montrail trail runners…

I love these Montrail runners. They are super comfy and work great on/off the bike for touring. Although they dry faster and are more breathable than the 5.10’s they are not great in either category. They are also on their last legs having been shredded on many previous adventures – soles are almost worn away at the heel, cushioning is compressed and uppers are starting to tear. I just repaired the uppers with shoe goo so I could use them on my last tour, but Sharon laughed at me and said it was time to let them go. I probably will have to do that, but not until the end of the year! 😉

La Sportiva trail runners...

La Sportiva trail runners…

I bought these La Sportivas to replace the Montrails above, but never loved them enough to actually part with the old shoes. There is nothing wrong with the La Sportivas. They do everything well enough, but somehow the fit/performance just isn’t as good as I would like. On the plus side they are light and breathe/dry well. I’ve worn them enough that they are starting to fail at weak spots, but some strategic shoe gooing means they be good for another full year.

At the moment these are the best bikepacking shoe I own and when I have to throw the Montrails out they’ll keep me rolling until I find a replacement.

In terms of bikepacking downsides:

  • raised instep not uber grippy on the bike pedals [not awful, but just okay]
  • not as stable during hike-a-bike as my other shoes
  • lightweight construction not super durable [I’m okay with this as a trade off for fast drying]
Merrel Gaulley water shoes...

Merrel Gaulley water shoes…

I bought these Merrells when I broke my foot and needed a soft stretchy shoe to accommodate my swollen foot. They are water shoes which means they breathe and dry very fast, but they are very flexible and don’t offer much support. I have toured in water shoes before with no issues, but those tours did not involved any hike-a-bike over rough ground which my current trips seem to feature. These shoes also have a fairly non-aggressive sole so I don’t know how well they will do walking/pushing on steep loose terrain.

On the plus side is they fit me, they accept my insoles and they are paid for! 😉

I need to try a hike-a-bike tour with them and see if they work okay. They would definitely be my choice for a trip that I knew would involved a lot of wet feet.

Vibram Five Fingers...

Vibram Five Fingers…

So far I haven’t bothered with a second pair of shoes on tour. Wearing trail runners on my bike means they are comfy for wearing around camp and BC has barefoot friendly campsites [no thorns or sharp rocks] so I can just go without shoes if I need to air out my feet. However, I started to think that maybe carrying these Five Fingers wouldn’t be a bad idea. I could wear them during creek crossings to keep my main shoes/socks dry and they’d be fine in camp if I didn’t want to go barefoot. I could even ride or hike in them if I needed to. Plus they are also paid for! 😉

Most bikepackers who carry a second set of footwear seem to favour flip flops. Presumably for their lightweight, easy packing and low cost. That makes sense – except flip flops are pretty useless in a raging rocky creek or for anything more demanding then chilling in camp.

I’ll test the Five Fingers out this summer and see if they are worth hauling along or not.

Montrail Mountain Masochist trail runners...

Montrail Mountain Masochist trail runners…

I’ve got troublesome feet so I can’t simply order some shoes out of a catalogue and have much success. I’ve got to try on every pair that interests me and see what feels okay in the store. If I am hopeful I’ll buy a pair and wear them at home for a couple days to see what problems crop up once they are on my feet for several hours at a time. If that seems promising I start wearing them outside and give up any hope of returning them for a refund.

My success rate even with this sensible systematic approach is pretty grim. Shoes my feet really love are few and far between. I have given away quite a few pairs of shoes over the years that I thought were winners until an extended trip where their comfort was lacking. Which is why I’m starting to think of this now even though I can keep my La Sportivas going through to summer 2014. It could easily take that long to find a worthy successor! 😦





BFLs Wanted…

29 05 2013
Big Fat Larry on a Jones...

Big Fat Larry on a Jones…

Update – Found some. Thanks! 🙂

I would like to buy 2 BFLs. I need the 120tpi version in good shape at a price that rewards me for not buying new. If you have some you aren’t using drop me a line and we’ll talk. 🙂





Bikepacking Cooking…

28 05 2013
The cooking gear...

The cooking gear…

Here is the latest iteration of my bikepacking cooking setup:

  • 700 ml MSR pot w/ lid
  • Trangia stove
  • stove stand
  • MSR windscreen
  • spork
  • small lighter
  • 30 ml alcohol fuel x 2
  • 125 ml alcohol fuel
Carried inside pot...

Carried inside pot…

The stove, lighter and 60 ml of fuel fits inside the pot. The stove is typically wrapped in a small cloth that doubles as protection from the pot’s handles that get hot. For longer trips where I might cook regularly vs. boil water for a camp meal I would add in a small bottle of dish soap and a cut up scrub pad.

Weight with 60 ml of fuel...

Weight with 60 ml of fuel…

I’m not trying to go ultralight here. I just want the weight to be low enough it’s not a major burden and I also want the packed shape to work with my bike bags.

125 ml of feul...

125 ml of fuel…

Each 30 ml bottle will boil 500 ml of cold water. I carry two 30 ml bottles inside my pot and the Trangia can hold a lot of fuel in the stove body itself if you want to pre-load it before you pack it. If I need more than that I have a bunch of 125 ml bottles like the one shown above that I can carry.

Trangia and stand...

Trangia and stand…

I love my little Trangia stove. It heats water well. Is easy to use and very reliable. It can be used to simmer food unlike a lot of lightweight alcohol stoves. The stand is very strong and stable.

Stove ready to rock...

Stove ready to rock…

I use a MSR windscreen to keep drafts at bay. It’s a bit large and I’m going to downsize it a bit so it fits better and packs smaller.

Stove in action...

Stove in action…

With no moving parts and constructed of brass the Trangia is a bombproof piece of gear.

Ready to light...

Ready to light…

You can see in the picture above that 30 ml of fuel is just a dribble at the bottom of the Trangia. I purposely spill some fuel on the top of the stove to make lighting easier.

Let's boil some water...

Let’s boil some water…

I timed boiling 500 ml of cold tap water using the Trangia in 8 mins. The 30 ml of fuel burned for 10 mins before running out.

Pot inside my framebag...

Pot inside my framebag…

The shape of this pot fits nicely into my Porcelain Rocket framebag. It also works great in my bar bag or seatbag – just depending where I want to carry it.

Methyl Hydrate...

Methyl Hydrate…

I use methyl hydrate to power my Trangia because it’s easy to find locally. I’ve spilled this fuel in my bike bags and unlike gasoline or naptha there is no horror show. It just evaporates and no damage or smell occurs. I like that!





Continental Trail King Tires Review and Renew…

27 05 2013
Fresh rubber...

Fresh rubber…

I love my Continental Trail King tires. I’ve used my first pair for over a year and had zero flats, burps or other issues. Just great traction and reliable performance.

So when I started to uncharacteristically spin my tire on steeper looser climbs I checked my rear tire and it was worn badly. Time for new rubber.

The new tires say Rubber Queen on them because that’s what Trail Kings are called in Europe. Different name, but same tire. I bought the UST version again. They are heavy, but I love the traction and how great they are to setup tubeless. I chose the 2.4″ size a second time because I love how the large diameter tire rolls over roots and rocks. Skinny tires aren’t faster if you get hung up in every tech section.

I’ve heard some good things about the Schwalbe Hans Damf tire, but I figure why mess with success?

I really can’t say one bad thing about these tires. I hope Continental makes a 650B version when I get a new mountain bike.

She's hefty...

She’s hefty…

I kept the old front tire as a spare...

I kept the old front tire as a spare…

The rear was toast...

The rear was toast…

The Stans sealant in the tires had dried up...

The Stans sealant in the tires had dried up…

Letting the tires seal...

Letting the tires seal…

I used CO2 to seat the tires...

I used CO2 to seat the tires…

My Nomad waiting for the new rubber...

My Nomad waiting for the new rubber…

No more slipping on climbs...

No more slipping on climbs…

Ready to ride...

Ready to ride…

Time to shred the new tires for another year...

Time to shred the new tires for another year…





BC Rando 400K…

25 05 2013
Mike in control...

Mike in control…

I helped Mike and Steve run the Hell Week 400K last Thursday. The weather was awesome and the riders put in strong performances which made running controls easy. We enjoyed some lovely sunshine running a control near the Denman Island Ferry and then retreated to the Best Western Hotel in Chemainus where we watched the NHL play offs while waiting for riders to come in for a 280K control plus the final control. Luxury hotel rando volunteering. 😉

I posted some photos to Flikr here.

The start...

The start…

Folks familiar with the BC Rando Club’s Hell Week will notice far too much smiling in these photos. Sadly the excellent weather meant that the legendary level of suffering for this week long Super Randonneur series has not materialized.

Eric on the move...

Eric on the move…

I offered to blast riders with cold water from a garden hose at the 280km control so they could get more suffering value out of their ride, but nobody took me up on it! 😉

Ken doesn't look like hell at 280kms...

Ken doesn’t look like hell at 280kms…





Vargo Triad Stove Review

24 05 2013
Looks sexy...

Looks sexy…

These Vargo Triad Ti stoves look sexy, but work like crap. Don’t waste your time buying and returning it! =( I tried one of these out in 2008 and was disappointed. I figured they might have improved it since then so I bought another at MEC.ca.

I filled it with methyl hydrate which is the easiest alcohol fuel for me to source. Lighting it was no problem, but even with a windscreen and inside my garage it was unable to boil 2.5 cups of water that I typically need to rehydrate a camp meal. The water ended up warm, but not boiling.

With my usual Trangia burner I can boil that much water for a meal and if I am lucky boil another cup for tea.

Too bad!

Too bad!

I’ll go back to using my trusty Trangia and try some of the DIY beer can stoves for an ultralight option. This Triad is going back to MEC and I won’t waste my time trying them again.