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Messages - hpscott

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Gear Talk / Re: Panniers = racks= bike
« on: April 02, 2011, 07:57:20 am »
Not everyone cares about the extra weight.  I just figure that it should at least be factored in to the decision.  For me it is a non starter, for someone else it might be the first choice.

I agree with staehpj1: whether or not the weight matters depends on what you want to do.  And, I don't think of it as being just the weight of the rack -- the Surly rack provides a platform for carrying extra gear above the rear wheel.  If I were doing something for which I needed that extra capacity, it would be a good choice.  But, for my on-road tours in the U.S., I've never had the need for it: four panniers (front and rear) has been more than enough capacity. Perhaps it is a silly argument, but knowing myself, if I did have that platform I'd end up carrying yet more stuff... stuff that I don't really need.  So, the weight would become differential would be even greater!  ;)

Seriously though, there's that old adage about making things as simple as possible, but not more so and, IMHO, that applies here.  The Surly rack is just too much for many tourers, so why take that extra stuff along?  Again, some may need it, and in that case of course go for it but, if not, why bother?

Gear Talk / Re: Ipad, Tablets vs. Netbooks
« on: April 01, 2011, 12:55:50 pm »
I carried an iPad for the entire Northern Tier last summer, and I got all the power I needed for it, my camera batteries and my cell phone from my front hub generator and an E-Werk.  I imported my photos and wrote a blog entry every night in my tent and uploaded it whenever I could find free WiFi.  Only in Glacier NP was I unable to find free WiFi.

I didn't use a GPS, so I can't comment on that, but I very much liked the iPad for daily blogging and annotating photos.  This was particularly valuable for me because I'm a college professor, and I teach a course entitled "Geology of the National Parks" each semester.  I visited Olympic, North Cascades, Glacier and Acadia National Parks along the way (plus many other examples of interesting geology in between) and did a LOT of photography for classroom use.  

It was great to be able to do some photo editing along the way and even create annotated presentation files (using Keynote) that I'm using in my class this semester.  I was self conscious about the daily blogging, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much support I received from my university. I suppose it helped to demonstrate that at least some of my two-month vacation was of value to my teaching :)

I would not want to have done this with a smart phone / camera combo. Although I didn't carry an SLR-type camera, I used a high-end compact, which was much better for my purposes than any phone-based camera.  It was great to be able to pull the photos from the camera each day.

Anyway, my point is just that whether or not carrying a computer or tablet is worthwhile for you depends on what you want to do with it. It was definitely worth it to me, but it wouldn't be worth it for many.  

I found carrying the iPad to be quite trivial: I got a cheap padded zippered case for it, and it nicely slipped into an integrated sleeve in one of my front panniers.  Although the typing experience isn't ideal, the lack of keys or a hinge makes it very easy to care for. For me, the iPad was a great compromise between weight, power management, ease of protecting and usefulness.

If interested, here's a link to the blog:

Routes / Re: WiFI access on Northern Tier
« on: October 26, 2010, 04:23:10 pm »
Thanks for the responses, everyone!  I was surprised by how easy it was to find WiFi.  The only places I couldn't readily get access were the national parks, but that was fine. Otherwise, even small towns usually had libraries with free WiFi, and the networks were often available after hours outside. 

Routes / WiFI access on Northern Tier
« on: June 25, 2010, 07:35:44 am »
Are there any WiFi junkies with recent experience on the Northern Tier route willing to post about the frequency at which they were able to get access (free or otherwise)?

My intention is to camp most of the way, so I'll be mainly looking for cafes and the like, rather than hotels.

Classifieds / SOLD: North Lakes 3-Map Set
« on: June 19, 2010, 11:31:09 am »
This is the three-map set for the North Lakes Route.  I used parts of these maps for a trip I did roughly around Lake Michigan in 2007, but the maps are in great shape.

The member price for the set is ~$30, but I'd be happy to send these to a good home for $15 -- shipping by USPS Priority Mail included.

Weird: I specifically sought this forum out so I could see what kind of bag folks recommend for the Northern Tier.

I'll be starting early July and going from west to east.  I decided to get a warm-weather bag: the 40F-rated Big Agnes Yampa to go with my Big Agnes Air Core inflatable sleeping pad.  I'll couple that with a Sea to Summit Reactor Thermolite liner (it claims to add 15 F to a bag's rating), and at least for the high country I'll carry warm long underwear, warm socks and a hat.  I'll be using a tent as well.

I'm hoping that this system will give me a nice balance of compactness, low weight and versatility for comfortable sleeping under most conditions I'm likely to encounter.  That said, I think there's a decent chance I'll have a few cold nights, but I'll have enough clothing that I could bundle up if necessary. 

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