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TRAVEL Hints and Tips Post your TIPS to travellers - all the interesting little tidbits you learned on the road about packing, where to get stuff, and how to cope with problems. Please make sure the subject describes the tip clearly!
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  #1  
Old 18 Feb 2008
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Strapping Gear Down and General Tips..

I sell a lot of Ortlieb Rackpacks through my internet shop, and to a lot of bikers heading out on trips, and I have passed on the same comment to various customers and clients regarding packing and particularly tents, but it still happens sadly...

I love the rackpacks and roll bags.. waterproof, volumous, rugged and easy to use etc. The problem is all to easy to stuff your gear in, stick it across the seat or panniers and to be too focussed on ensuring your load is not going to come free when packing your bike... Result.. bent tent poles, broken/damaged gear and extra costs, never mind the hassles on a long trip.

I don't know why I started it, but I have always rolled my tent poles and pegs into my tents when I pack them away, that way they are enclosed by padding of the tent and by consistantly packing this way it means I know I have packed the poles and pegs and not left them behind on a campsite...

So rackpack or roll bags, remember when packing what is under the straps that you are yanking tight with gusto.. I don't mind selling people replacement poles, but I would rather they were emailing me to tell me of their great trips rather than their desperate needs for spares.

Picking the right straps and points and planning your loading helps seriously avoid the issues. Get the right bag size for your gear, the right straps and practise. Load the bike, your gear and decide what you need to get your hands on first when you arrive at the campsite etc. Decide what gear might get wet, ie tents, cloths etc and decide how your going to deal with it.

I recommend people consider taking a couple of spare roll top dry bags for wet areas, and for storing muddy kit if you don't have time between stops to wash and dry it.

Prastice with your gear too... make sure you know how to use your tent, ie how it goes up, how it comes down, often they come supplied with only the minimum number of guylines and pegs. Make sure you have some hard ground pegs (most tents come with soft/standard ground pegs), enough guy lines and they are all attached, and not stuck in the bottom of the peg bag.
If your tent doesnt have one, get a tent emergency pole repair sleeve. I have given away my last two on campsites to folks who have broken poles, usually by walking on them when setting up and once by someone moving their bike.

Folding Tent Poles.. modern multi sectional aluminium tent poles that contain a threaded elasticated material should be folded in half then folded up from the former former center point out to the ends in double. Don't start at one end and work to the other.. by the time you get to the end the tension is very tight in the cord at the end and over time it weekens and will eventaully snap.

Get a ground sheet or foot print. I seriously recommend to all my customers and friends.. if you buy your self a good tent and want to ensure it lasts, get a ground sheet protector of some kind. Most manufactuers such as exped or noth face, hillberg etc do specific ones for their own tents, but you can also substitute for a cheaper tarp or plastic. Either way use something if you want your ground sheet to stay water tight.

Sleeping Mats - Nothing worse than not getting a good nights sleep. Anyone who has spent a freezing night struggling to sleep will know how torturous it can be. Don't skimp on a sleeping mat and sleeping bag if your going to be camping regularly or with a hetic schedule or in cold climes. A bad nights sleep, means tiredness, and being tired on a bike is dangerous.

Modern sleeping mats are often inflated by mouth, or by some kind of pump and its easy to over inflate and make them too hard. This can just as bad as being too soft, so again, try your mat out at home, experiment and find out how full you need it for your comfort zone.

Glasses, keys and fragile gear - Its easy to loose gear in your tent and even break things.. glasses, keys and the like. My exped tent has a couple of loops in the cieling for a "loft".. so its a great place to tuck my glasses stem through before bedding down and safely stops me rolling onto them or crushing them whilst doning gear or sleeping.. my keys go into a side pocket of the inner tent, so I know where they are and I cannot kneel on them and puncture the ground sheet. Of course I don't leave them there when I am away from the bike.

I hope these few odd tips help at least someone avoid a bit of grief..

All the best and safe travelling.

John : Gearpac
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  #2  
Old 19 Feb 2008
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Thanks for the tip about folding the shock corded poles, I didn't think of that. I always roll them in the tent but I keep my pegs seperate as I use those big 9" nails with plastic tops which are heavy but superb.

From experience, don't leave your bike keys in the pocket of your tent when you pack it away!

Luckily, I used my spares and found them the next night, much to my delight.
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  #3  
Old 19 Feb 2008
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Some sound advice, but I seem to remember Thermarest's self inflating mat instructions advise against inflating their mats by blowing into them, something about the damp air from your breath degrading the sponge inside over time.
I'm often tempted to just blow them up rather than wait, especially after they have been packed for a few days.
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Old 19 Feb 2008
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shock cord..

FlyingDoctor cheers. That was a tip given to me on one of my first expeditions. It particularly applies to those ventureing into sub zero temperature areas, the shock cords in the poles get cold and can become more brittle.

With regards to pegs, that is true, if you are rolling them into your tent make sure they are in a good tough peg bag and not going to poke a hole in your tent.

The 6" nail type pegs are great for hard stone ground, though I prefer the exped v stakes, as I have not managed to bend one yet, despite having to resort to large stones as hammers.. but the main trick is to have some.

As for leaving bike keys in the tent.. yep done that one once I have to admit.

Also packing away and jumping on the bike to remember at the last minute i still had a chain and disc lock attached.

Oh and another tip for the first time bike trippers.. make sure you have a "puck" or similar item easy to hand for when you pull up on the campsite and swing the side stand down, I always seem to find a soft spot and a fully loaded GS does seem to go over quickly. I carry one attached to a length of string in a little bag on my handle bars.. i stop, toss it out, tuck it under the side stand with my foot and rest the bike. Pop the other end of the string over the mirror for safe keeping. When I have loaded up and mounted up, I just right the bike, swing the side stand in and then pull the puck up by the string, wrap the string around the puck and tuck it away. If you put your bike up on a centre stand, consider carrying two..

Other wise, popular mod on the GS's is to buy an ice hockey puck and drill and bolt it onto the end of the side stand. There are also aftermarket side stand extenders made by various companies too.

Oh and if your leaving your bike on its side stand, do check on it from time to time. Side stands can often settle into the ground over time especially if its soft, a puck or extension piece can prevent this, but its still wise to check.

Bill :Your right indeed some air mats allow for infaltion by breath, some not, some like exped down mats come with a pump sack to inflate them. What ever you do, if you want your kit to last then read the instructions.
Anyone with an exped down mat, definitely don't blow into it as the moisture will certainly damage the goose down fill material (its treated against mildew, but will degrade and clump eventually if you inflate them by breath), and the pump sacks work a treat.
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Last edited by JohnW_Gearpac; 19 Feb 2008 at 10:49.
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  #5  
Old 21 Feb 2008
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exped goose down mat

Fab piece of kit
Great nights sleep
but I only wish there was a way of attaching the bag to the valve properly and not just a 'push-on'.
As you have to use the bag to inflate it, it is maddening the number of times it slips off the end of the nozzle as you pump it up...
EXPED...hope U R reading this and make a mod! (please? !)
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  #6  
Old 21 Feb 2008
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Technique..

Hi Bert,
I have not had that problem with mine and not had any of my customers mentioning it either.
How I inflate mine is to open the valve fully, ensuring its been turned anti clock wise to the stop point, when facing the valve. Then place fore finger and index finger either side of the valve with palm of my hand away from the mat, i then push on the pump sack valve, and make sure its fully fitted, then use my left hand to open the pump sac and roll it close to trap the air. Then push it down and squeeze the bag in toward the mat, not straight down.
Can only recall having the pump unplug when I have not had it pushed on far enough.

If thats not the cause and you still have a reciept then might be worth contacting exped directly or your retailer as they are warrentied and seeing if maybe a new pump sack might solve it.

Whem you push the pump sack on it should be a nice tight snug fit and the valve go in about 1.5 to 2cm..

I have recently been considering a poss adapter to allow me to use my electric tyre pump, with a light push fit, to ensure it doesnt damage the mat by over inflation. But thats a work in progress.

For me, the down mats and the comfort foam mats really are the best out there. I cannot recommend them highly enough.

I have some notes I put togather for an expedition group recently about petrol stoves,which I will try to post up shortly too. Might help people with their stove choices.
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  #7  
Old 21 Feb 2008
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For our Exped sleeping pads we use a 12 v. air pump designed for air mattresses. It won't pump to over 4 lbs. no matter how long it runs. And this is just right for sleeping, firm enough to not hit bottom, soft enough to contour for hips and shoulders. And it only takes about 20 seconds to do it!
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Old 21 Feb 2008
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Talking of the Downmat - take a look at this....

EXPED Downmat 7 dlx ยป Journey To Russia

I've just bought one of the Exped airbags with the mat tube - I now inflate my 7DLX in three pumps rather than 15... so much easier!
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  #9  
Old 3 Mar 2008
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If you look closely you'll see a bit of red above my right side saddlebag. That is my tent poles. I find keeping them separate makes packing the tent easier as well. I can throw my tent in a compression sack and crank all the air out of it, but when the two were packed together that wasn't possible. Also the spot where the saddlebag and seat meet are a great place to fit something long and thin. It takes up next to no room, so win-win situation.

Another tip for strapping down is that I use boating straps. The nylon belts with the metal spring loaded closures. Pull and go. Work like a charm and are super durable.

Thanks JohnW, some great tips in there. The puck on a string idea is one I think I might just use.
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Old 5 Mar 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wile e View Post



If you look closely you'll see a bit of red above my right side saddlebag. That is my tent poles. I find keeping them separate makes packing the tent easier as well. I can throw my tent in a compression sack and crank all the air out of it, but when the two were packed together that wasn't possible. Also the spot where the saddlebag and seat meet are a great place to fit something long and thin. It takes up next to no room, so win-win situation.

Another tip for strapping down is that I use boating straps. The nylon belts with the metal spring loaded closures. Pull and go. Work like a charm and are super durable.

Thanks JohnW, some great tips in there. The puck on a string idea is one I think I might just use.
Better than the puck on a string is to weld on a larger foot plate to your sidestand (if it's not a casting). Remember to totally disconnect your battery!!!!!!!! Then the bike wont sink and you wont need all the hooha of strings etc.
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Old 10 Apr 2008
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Something to consider..

Something to keep inmind, if your spacer/puck is permenatntly attached, and you need to stop suddenly on a off cambered road/track/ground, you might not be able to get the stand down at all.


Pitching Tents & Pegging Out - I was out camping over the April Bank Holiday here in the UK and weather was gales and snow. Lots of people on the campsite were having problem. Its made me consider doing a guide on the subject, whats peoples views.. would it be useful?
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Old 11 Apr 2008
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I don't pack my poles and pegs in the trent.

Reason - if someone takes the gear off the back of the bike - they might have my tent .. but without poles ... Also means there are fewer possiblities of puting a hole in the tent.
The poles and pegs go in the hard panniers .. safer from bending. I'm trying to figure out a way of carring the pegs so they are low and secure.. but keep the dirt out of everything else..

I try to only have soft stuff on the rear of the bike .. thinking that if I hit it (or it hits me) the damage (to me) will be minimial. I'd like to do the same with the tank bag .. unfortunaltly that is the best place for the camera..
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