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Messages - DebKirk

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General Discussion / Re: fitting tents into rear panniers
« on: July 12, 2012, 03:32:24 pm »
The MTX Trunk Bag by Topeak has fold down panniers. We have them on both bikes. They clip into a rack made by the same folks. The bag is about $100 and the rack is about $40. The MTX has a large storage space in the main compartment. It has a smaller compartment on each side and this is where the panniers store. You can roll around in the daytime using the center compartment for items. When the time comes that you need the panniers, just open the side pockets, and voila.
We have an REI Halfdome 2+. It fits nicely in one pannier and the rain fly and footprint fit into the pannier on the other side. We fasten the poles and stakes to the bike frame using Velcro straps.
Because the bag slides off the rack, it can easily be removed and carried like a day pack for those times when your bike is locked up, you don't want to leave your gear, and the bike will be unattended. It even comes with a shoulder strap for that purpose. We are still impressed with our choice. The price is really reasonable if you figure you will not ever have to buy another one.

Gear Talk / Re: Any suggestions for headlights that are tour-worthy?
« on: July 11, 2012, 04:22:49 pm »
Give the NiteRider MiNewt  350 a look. It runs off a 2700 MiH battery which is about twice the juice from smartphone batteries. I paid about $150 for mine and thought I had lost my mind. The two things that reassured me were the performance; I get 350 lumens and 100 yards of good light spillage with no dark spots, and the fact that I could NOT run the battery down. The light charges with a mini USB charger ; the same as my cell phone. We are trying to reduce the amount of techno junk we ride with, so this helps. I can recharge it with a solar charger I have when there is no juice. The light goes on and off the bike for use around camp and in the tent. Not having to. Worry about losing your light due to a wimpy battery. The website says you get 4.5 hrs run time with a full charge.

Deb and I looked at Bastrop State Park and the adjoining Buescher State Park. It is as remote as it needs to be and there are plenty of logging roads and some single track with hills. The only issue is that a good piece of these parks was ravaged by a forest fire and parts are still picking up debris and other parts look like the surface of Mars.
We have been looking for a state park tour south of Austin to take 3-4 days. We thought of starting at McKinney Falls SP, taking a road ride to Lockhart SP, then on to Palmetto SP just north of Gonzales. The ride between the parks is about 30 miles. this option puts you on the road more than it sounds like you want, but the scenery is nice, you can follow the San Marcos River part of the way and the barbecue in Lockhart is worth walking the trip barefoot.
Anyone got any improvement suggestions.

Gear Talk / Re: solar battery chargers
« on: April 26, 2011, 01:46:21 am »
We started looking into this when we figured our off- road trips would take us away from a place to charge cell phones, GPS units, and other essential hand held devices. The thing we found is that Solarmio makes a portable charger (we got ours from REI) , as does SolarFocus, and so on. Two different types exist, as we saw it. First there were the panels, that supplied a charge directly to the device. Then there were those which took a solar charge from the panels to an on board battery from which you can then charge your device. The one important lesson we learned is that battery power is measured in Milliamp Hours (MiH). Most cell phone batteries put out somewhere between 900 and 1100 MiH, so your source battery on the charger must be at least that to fully charge the device. The charger we have has a battery with a 600 MiH output, so when wo connect it to, say my Blackberry, which was an 1100 MiH battery, I can expect about a 50%-60 % on the device. In that the charger is an emergency device, we are okay with a less than total charge. Our charger cost about $140.00. In case anyone cares, we also looked at powering a full size laptop and the charger for that is about $400.00. Good Luck

Gear Talk / Re: Touring Tent Talk
« on: April 26, 2011, 01:03:06 am »
Well, I'l  tell ya, you have some options; We saw that the REI Halfdome got rave reviews last year, so when the Halfdome 2+ came out. we gave it a try, much to our satisfaction. In Southeast Texas, we are much like a greenhouse in Panama, so abundant screens are appreciated for their "breeze value". The rainfly has a diagonal zipper which allows you to keep the sides open while keeping the top area covered. The tent only takes about 5 min. and about the same number of brain cells to put up. I suggest you look at REI's site and give it a look.

Gear Talk / Re: Ipad, Tablets vs. Netbooks
« on: April 26, 2011, 12:47:06 am »
We have discovered that having a small, limited capability laptop is a nice thing to have. With an aircard, we can surf the net, look up technical data on repairs, upload and edit photos taken during the day, and of course get news and weather. The plus side of the little netbooks is that you can get 8-10 hours of use per battery charge, whereas our full size laptop was only good for 2 or 3. The absence of a disc drive in the little ones means no DVD movies at night.
We are convinced that if we were to venture out on a planned trip of over 4 or 5 days, we would  take a solar charger capable of charging up the notebook computer (a solar charger for your cell phone is a must in our opinion) and thereby charging anything that charges with a USB.

Gear Talk / Re: Long Two-Person Trip Tent
« on: March 01, 2011, 06:13:04 am »
REI Halfdome 2 Plus is the BOMB. This tent is a 2 person rig, but it has added length and girth, hence the Plus. The tent has a screen roof and two screen entry points on either side of the tent, so nocturnal potty trips do not disturb your partner. I think the tent was about $225.00 or so. We have slept in ours 3X and love it.

General Discussion / Re: Luxuries
« on: March 01, 2011, 01:12:21 am »
Well, I tellya, one must have coffee. Starbuck's has come out with an instant that is actually quite good. We added a solar charger for cell phones and ipods. About $100.00 will buy you one that works well, assuming you have sun. That way you are not tied to 'shore power'. It reduces the anxiety of getting your phone to its next 'fix' of AC power.

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