A bunch of honest gear reviews from our experience with different gear we’ve taken cycle touring. We used the gear either during our France to China trip or on our world cycle tour. Gear reviews range from bicycle to camping related. We will be adding to the gear reviews as we are cycling.
All gear reviews are honest opinions of our own. We are not in any type of partnership and/or don’t receive any sponsorship from any of the product companies we review. If this does happen we will inform you in the article.
• Very comfortable.
• Nice and warm.
• Small packed size for a full length mat.
• Very thick when inflated.
• Problem with outer material separating from inner causing a huge bubble to form making it unusable to use.
• Seemed to get dirty very easily.
On our last cycle trip from France to China we had purchased the cheapest (and sometimes only) gear available to us and ended up with tiny three quarter length inflatable mats that didn’t really offer any barrier against the cold coming up through the ground, particularly on our legs which hung over and rested directly on the tent floor.
We started of our trip across Canada with these same mats, but decided after the Rockies we needed some more warmth and comfort so picked up the Therm-a-rest Evolite sleeping pad in Calgary to give our tenty home some cushiony luxury and warmth!
DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:
The Therm-a-rest Evolite sleeping pad ticked all the boxes for us. Packed up small enough to not take up much space in our panniers, insulated to keep our body heat being sucked out through the chilly Canadian earth and long enough too fully spread out and get some actual sleep on!
These pads taper away towards the feet but just enough to shave more weight off without sacrificing comfort. The cushiony ripples along the pad are nice and squishy provide plenty of comfort, 5 cm thickness means when sleeping on your side you don’t feel like your shoulders are sinking into the tent floor.
The Therm-a-rest Evolite sleeping pad seemed very well made and feel nice and rip resistant, I felt confident about putting them down directly on the ground if needed while setting up the tent without fear of a twig or rock popping them and the seams all look nicely sealed around the valve.
Everything was going great…until Prince Edward Island when I noticed the gap between two of the raised ridges in the pad had disappeared and the two ridges had joined together. I though ‘oh well, not a problem, as long as it doesn’t get any worse…” Unfortunately it did get worse, a lot worse. Once the outer layer had started peeling away and joining up the ridges, there was no stopping it from coming away further every time I inflated it.
It was developing a rapidly growing ‘bubble’ in the pad around where my shoulders rest making it very hard to sleep on. If I took my body weight off the pad you could actually hear the outer layer peeling away and eventually making a loud popping sounds the bubble grew larger and larger like some heavily pregnant orange alien. You can’t sleep on a pregnant alien, everyone knows this.
In the end the bubble expanded to the very top of the pad making it impossible to use and actually played a part in our decision to cut the trip shorter than originally intended, as I was exhausted from lack of sleep. After reading more reviews online I discovered I was not alone and this seemed to be a common occurrence and fatal design flaw in this otherwise solid piece of equipment.
So close yet so far. I loved the comfort, packed size and weight of the Therm-a-rest Evolite sleeping pad, but I didn’t like the gigantic spine melting bubble that formed. If it hadn’t have had this issue I would have gladly called this my bed for the rest of our round the world adventures, but alas, it was screwed. We ended up returning both our pads (Kelly’s was fine but feared the same thing would happen eventually) to MEC where we purchased them from and settled on the more tried and tested Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus Mattress instead as no reviews mentioned anything similar happening.
The Therm-a-rest Evolite sleeping pad gets 2.5 out of 5 for the major faults and discomfort it caused me. (Amazon/ Our Gear List)
• Very spacious inside for two people with gear.
• Superlight weight and packs down very small.
• Sets up extremely quickly with option of inner first pitching which is handy if it’s raining!
• Freestanding so doesn’t need to be staked out if set up on concrete.
• Well ventilated, no condensation issues.
• Sturdy in high winds.
• Quick and easy to take down and pack into wide opening compression bag (included).
• Material is highly waterproof but feels thin and slightly fragile like it could tear easily.
• Two of our stakes snapped.
• Floor inside the tent was always slightly damp in the morning despite using the footprint.
• Cross pole on the top of the tent started to bend out of shape.
We purchased this tent in 2015 before doing the multi day ‘West coast trail’ hike on Vancouver island with the intention of also using it for our round the world cycle trip. The major appeal of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent for me was it’s tiny packed size, weight and excellent livable space inside so we wouldn’t feel cramped up after months at a time living in it while riding.
I love this tent, the design, the space inside and out and I wanted this to be our home for a long time, unfortunately it just didn’t seem to last and after 4 months cycling from Vancouver to Halifax we decided it wasn’t up for a round the world trip so we ended up returning it to the store we purchased it from.
DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:
The design and layout of the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent is extremely well thought out and works beautifully. You have a huge amount of floor space for such a lightweight tent, but the big bonus of this baby is the incredible amount of headroom and a feeling of space all around you due to the ingenious vertical sidewalls that the pole set up creates.
Many lightweight tents feel cramped and claustrophobic inside, but MSR managed to make the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent feel like a mansion! We tried out several tents before purchasing this and have tried out many since to replace it, none of which felt as roomy. Several of the tents I tried were actually larger on paper, but when I got inside my feet touched one end and my head touched the other due to a classic ‘dome’ style slanting design as opposed to the Hubba Hubba’s vertical walls. I’m 6”1 and can comfortably lay down in the Hubba Hubba with a little bit of space at my feet for a small bag and we have a nice amount of room either side of us to not to feel like we’re fighting with each other for room.
The single pole deign is very clever with a central hub connecting a cross pole in the centre to give you plenty of head room and extra stability with another hub each end for the vertical side wall pole pieces to pop into. The poles are made of DAC featherlite aluminum and easily connect with each other and are super easy for one person to connect together by themselves. After you’ve put it up a few times you’ll have this bad boy fully set up in 5-10 minutes…less if it’s raining and you’re cold!
There’s plenty of mesh on the inner tent so it feels nice and airy but still enough material to keep in warmth on chilly nights. Each end of the tent has added ‘kickstand’ opening for added ventilation and to achieve a cross breeze in warmer weather.
The large D shaped doors on either side are easy to get in and out of and have plenty of clearance from the ground so water shouldn’t splash in if you’re making a dash back in to the tent in the rain. Also has built in rain gutters that channel water away from the zips so you don’t end up getting drenched when you unzip the fly.
The two vestibules either side of the tent offers enough room for all of our panniers and would be plenty of space if you were using it for hiking packs. There isn’t a porch or enough room to safely cook in the vestibules, but definitely ample space for your gear.
There are two mesh pockets at either end of the tent to store bits and pieces, would have perhaps been better having the pockets on the sides instead of the ends so you don’t lose any length when the pockets are full.
The fly of the tent is made of 20 denier ripstop nylon rated to 1200mm waterproofness while the floor is made of 30 denier ripstop rated to 3000mm. we never had any issues with rain getting into the tent through the roof, but the floor always felt damp no matter how or where we set it up even using the MSR footprint purchased separately.
In order to achieve the impressively light weight, obviously lighter materials have to be used. For me the floor just feels a little bit too thin to inspire confidence and we were always slightly worried about accidentally ripping it. No rips or tears ever did occur in the tent, but no matter how it was set up I always woke up with a wet sleeping bag from the floor.
The plastic hooks used to attach the inner tent to the poles feel very sturdy and I doubt they would ever break unless you stood on them pretty hard and crushed them.
The DAC poles are crazy light, but feel very solid and kept the tent rigid and upright even in strong winds, unfortunately the crossbeam pole in the centre of our tent had begun to bend out of shape pretty badly causing a slight sag in the top of the tent. I don’t know if it would have ever actually snapped, but after 4 months on the road with another 4-5 years ahead of us, we didn’t want to take that risk.
The ‘mini groundhog’ stakes that come included with the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent are super lightweight and work very well, but unfortunately the heads snapped off three of ours within the space of a few weeks so they definitely lose points there!
The included compression bag is a killer design making packing it away super quick and easy with two compression straps and a string and toggle to squeeze it all together nice and compact. Our bag had developed several small holes on the ends that concerned me; the bag appears to be made of the same material as the tent and if it developed holes that quickly then it might not be a good sign for the tent itself. I could be being a little unfair here as these holes did develop when doing the west coast trail which was pretty wild and rugged hiking where the bag probably took a bit of a beating on the outside of my pack.
I loved the SR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent . I wanted this tent to be with us forever, but in the end I think it was more suited to hiking and camping rather than a near permanent home that we were trying to make it cycle touring.
Design wise, there is very little I would change about this tent, for two people it hits that sweet spot between having enough space inside and not taking up a crazy amount of room to set up. When wild camping this can be a fairly important factor for choosing a tent as we tend to find ourselves setting up in a random tiny sliver of grass behind a bush on a backroad somewhere so a massive tent that requires a lot of space can be a drawback.
It’s packed size is truly impressive and fit perfectly on my front rack without the need to split the tent up or share the load by one of us taking the poles etc.
In the end the frustration at the leaky floor and our uneasiness with the bent pole made us decide to return the tent while still could taking advantage of Canadian outdoor store MEC’s excellent return policy.
To replace this tent was a tough decision as every other tent we tried after this paled in comparison. In the end we opted for another MSR tent, the Elixir 2 as it is extremely similar in design to the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent, only made of heavier thicker materials. The weight difference is fairly significant (over a kilogram) and it doesn’t pack down as small, but we are hoping that the thicker materials make it longer lasting so we can enjoy our home for years to come on the road! When we’ve actually started using the tent I will post a review of the Elixir 2.
I give the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent a 3 out of 5.
In many ways the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 Person Tent is my dream tent and it would have scored higher if not for the durability issues we had. Amazing tent for weekend cycle trips and hikes, but perhaps just not up to the rigors of long term cycle touring. (Amazon/ Our Gear List)
Price paid; $850 Canadian dollars, no tax paid! RRP was $1120+tax so I scored a bargain as it was the previous years model and I bought it from outside Canada I didn’t have to pay tax. Woohoo!
Note: I am pretty clueless about technical bike stuff so I have no idea what any of the specs mean, so this review will just be pretty basic about what I like and don’t like about my new baby!
Outstanding price for a Chromo touring bike with disc brakes.
Nice upright position, good stem angle.
Wide drop bars giving plenty of hand positions.
Brakes feel solid and dependable when fully loaded.
Looks like a sexy old school classic tourer.
Bar end shifters kick ass!
Rims take up to 38c tires.
Mid blade fork braze ons for front rack / fenders.
Three bottle cage spots.
Slightly wobbly fully loaded (but this was EXTREMELY fully loaded at the start of trip before I got rid of excess crap).
Although it can take 38c tires it gets pretty tight with fenders.
Paint seems to scratch very easily, cables on head tube rubbed the paint on the logo completely off.
Snapped two gear cables and the chain in 4 months, never had any problems like that on our previous trip with cheap hybrid bikes in worse conditions.
Our previous cycle tour from France to China had been done on a pair of second hand ex rental Trek hybrids that were too small for me and too large for Kelly. So this time I was determined to get bikes that were more up for the task of riding around the world! I had my heart set on a steel framed tourer this time as we would be travelling in so many different conditions that I figured the sturdiness and durability of steel made sense.
I researched the options for buying touring bikes at home in Perth, Western Australia, but our options were fairly limited, more expensive and when you add in the cost and hassle of transporting them to Canada by plane it made more sense to buy bikes in Vancouver at the start of our trip.
I researched as many bike shops as possible in Vancouver contacting a whole bunch and ended up being offered the bargain price on the Brodie Circuit 2015 with the added bonus of not having to pay tax as the purchase was made outside Canada. Kelly’s original bike was a Norco Search from the same shop, but this didn’t work out as I think has been covered in previous posts and she ended up getting the 2016 flat bar model of the Brodie Circuit that I’ll cover in a separate post.
DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:
The Brodie Circuit 2015 was exactly the bike I’d been hoping for with my limited funds! I spent hours staring at the pictures on the Brodie website and from the bike shop, but it is still a bit nerve racking purchasing a bike that you intend to ride around the globe without ever actually trying it out first!
I was thrilled to finally see it up close in the shop and over the moon to find that it was actually a good fit for me! I was in love.
The angle of the stem puts you in a nice upright position for long days in the saddle and the nice wide drop bars means you have a fair amount of space for a handlebar bag without losing hand positions.
The curve and length of the drops are excellent making it nice and comfortable cruising along in the drops without feeling like you’re hunched over too much.
Finally having a bike large enough for me felt great, everything just felt right. The bonus of having a 60cm frame is plenty of room for water bottles! One design flaw for me was the placement of the main bottle cage on the seat stay, using a standard top release aluminum cage; the cage actually interfered with the shifting of the front derailleur. I remedied this easily by bending the cage slightly, but the cage mounts could have perhaps been placed slightly higher on the frame to avoid this interference.
Front and rear facing eyelets on both the fork and rear give multiple rack set up options along with mid blade braze ons on the fork giving added mounting versatility.
It rides beautifully. I hadn’t owned a steel framed bike before and could definitely notice the difference in handling particularly on bumpy roads, the steel seemed to keep me a bit more stable and jarred less when hitting rough patches.
I never felt like I’d run out of gears on this bike, even in the Rockies I felt 24 was enough to get me up the steep passes, I also like that an 8 speed chain and cassette is relatively easy to get a hold of when in random spots around the world.
Can’t comment too much on the stock saddle and tires (Brodie saddle and Kenda Kwest 35) as I swapped them out straight away for my brooks B67 and our Schwalbe marathons, but the saddle did seem decent to be fair.
It looks sextacular. I will not lie. I have a total man crush on my bike. The dark grey paint job with white Brodie logo looks great and gives it an old school charm. While it looks like a classic road tourer, it actually handles light off road and rocky tracks like a beast too!
The Brodie circuit 2015 feels like a serious touring bike when you hop on. The weight of the bike and the beautiful neat welds inspired confidence in my shiny new machine from the first meeting!
The Alex rims took a fair amount of punishment on some of the rougher cycle trails we chose to take and came out unscathed. At the start of the trip I had a ridiculous amount of weight on the rear rack and had feared that I’d end up busting a rim, but they held up beautifully. I’ve since scaled back the crazy amount of crap I was carrying to a slightly more sensible load.
Light rust developed in some of the braze ons, but that’s kind of to be expected being left out in rain and frost across Canada so I’m pretty sure any bike would develop a minor amount.
The paint job while looking fantastic, it does seem to be fairly fragile and it didn’t take long for scratches to appear. The major paint problems were from the gear and brake cables rubbing on the head tube of the bike giving the Brodie ‘B’ logo a nasty scar straight through it. Also had paint rub off under the straps of my top tube bag, I’ve since used tremclad rust proof paint over the patches, but I was hoping the paint job would be a little tougher.
I also managed to wipe out pretty badly in the Rockies while trying to take a photo while pedaling (yeah I’m not the brightest) but the bike took this pretty solid hit and came out fine!
I was surprised to snap a chain so quickly on this bike and go through two gear cables, but I am putting that down to the insane load I was trying to carry so can’t really blame that on the Brodie Circuit 2015.
Overall after 7000+kms I am super happy with the Brodie Circuit 2015 touring bike! It handles beautifully, feels solid like it will last me for the next 4-5 years of this trip and beyond and is also versatile enough that it can be used on road and also on trails making our route choices more open. I feel incredibly lucky to have picked up a brand new 4130 Chromo touring bike with all the bells and whistles for $850 and even if I did pay full price it would have still been a solid choice.
It was also kind of nice riding across Canada on a Canadian bike!
I give the Brodie Circuit 2015 model a 4 out of 5 stars. Excellent value and a solid touring machine! (Gear List)
SPECS for the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack:
Dimensions: 38cm x 35.5cm x 35.5cm
Price paid: $55 USD + postage on Amazon
25 kg capacity!
Well-made and sturdy ‘one piece’ construction
Plenty of attachment points for cargo
Looks cool with a kick ass matte black paint job
Can fit pretty much anything you would ever need on tour on the platform
Very wide and awkward for touring / locking in public bike racks
Mounts in the thru axle, which can mean buying a longer quick release skewer on some bikes
Cannot carry panniers
Does not come with longer quick release skewer or even instructions on how to mount the rack
I purchased the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack while still at home in Perth, Western Australia to aid me in my never ending beer runs from work (at a liquor store) where I was constantly lugging 30 plus cans and bottles of sweet delicious life giving beer home for essential taste testing. I was so impressed by the way I could pile huge amounts of weight onto this bad boy without it even flinching that I decided to pack this big bulky awkwardly shaped bugger into my backpack to come for an adventure with me across Canada and beyond. And just like that the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack became apart of our gear for our trip across Canada.
DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:
The Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack is a very well thought out and designed piece of equipment that also adds a classy stylish professional cargo bike look to any bike you use it with.
Designed to attach in three points to your bike; above the fork in the same hole you would attach fenders to and at the bottom of the rack using your bikes quick release axle skewer. I attempted to attach the rack using the skewer my bike came with but it was not long enough to lock down with the rack attached so I had to get creative and use the lower fork eyelets to attach the rack.
This was not a major issue, but the lack of mounting instructions and hardware provided was a bit frustrating and I was lucky that I happened to have some spare screws and washers that allowed me to mount it in this fashion.
The lower attachment holes are designed for the quick release skewer to fit through with the skewer end cap holding it in place, so as such the holes are quite large openings and cannot be used with the smaller M5 type bolts that fit in standard bicycle attachment points without use of an oversized washer to stop the screw from simply slipping through the opening and not holding the rack in place.
To get around this I simply had to use a large washer to prevent the screw from slipping through the racks attachments holes, again not a major issue and I still feel it was perfectly secure in this manner, but not quite as neat looking…to be honest I’m not a fan of racks that use the skewer as an attachment point anyway as I think it can put added stress on a fairly important part of your bike!
Apart from my axle mounting issues, the rack was fairly straightforward to attach to my bike. The legs of the rack are extendable and can be used on bikes with 26-29 inch wheels and lock in place with use of bolts and holes screwed at various intervals along the extendable portions of the legs. The extending portion of the legs can take a bit of convincing to pull out, but were easy enough to twist and pull down with my bare hands without the use of pliers.
The top attachment point is also adjustable so you can fine-tune the angle and distance the top platform sits in relation to the bike.
I love the layout of the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack! It has four thick, round bars on the massive top platform plus the outer frame making it incredibly easy to attach anything you want to this rack without much hassle at all. The multiple struts connecting the top platform to the legs give you endless possibilities of places to loop your straps or bungee cords around and keep your load safe and stable as you cruise around town.
When loaded up heavily it does drastically change the feel and steering of the bike…but that is always going to be an issue when riding with a loaded bike. This is especially the case when the weight is high up like on a cargo rack, but you do get used to it and just have to take the load and weight into account when cornering and steering. Ultimately having the load up high and the way it effected the cornering caused me to reconsider riding around the world with this rack, but as a grocery runner and general around town hauler this rack is a total boss.
The all in one construction means it is super strong and feels rigid and sturdy when attached as opposed to some racks that fold down and require assembling. The thick and strong round aluminium struts make you feel totally confident about the durability of this rack and it’s ability to carry pretty much anything you feel like strapping to it…as long as it’s under the HUGE max weight limit of 25kg.
I’m actually pretty sure I’ve exceeded that weight limit hauling beer around town before and had no problems, but probably wouldn’t recommend it.
The tubes on this rack are super thick and all the welds are very professionally done and neat with multiple struts reinforcing and holding the top platform in place.
I can attest to the strength of this as unfortunately, I have crashed my bike with it on several times. I’m a bit of clumsy fool and took a few tumbles at home on bike paths after sampling a few too many of my works goods, plus a fairly major fall in the rocky mountains near the start of the trip. The rack did hit the pavement in the crashes and came out fully intact, some very minor scratches to the paint but otherwise unscathed. Considering the impact that the rack took I was very surprised how well the rack survived and particularly how well the paint job stood up.
Bomb proof rack!
I love the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack. I do not want to get rid of this rack, but I kind of feel that I have to.
If I was running errands around town, picking up groceries and doing beer runs, I would never need any other rack than this, but for long distance touring it’s just not working out for me.
When fully loaded with rear panniers and a backpack on the top of the rear rack the addition of any substantial weight high up on the top platform of this rack makes the ride wobbly and unstable, so on the next leg of our trip I will be opting for either low rider front racks or fork mounted bikepacking style cargo cages such as Blackburn Outpost Cargo Bottle Cage or Salsa Anything cages. As for the beer – I’m going to be carrying growlers in future (no joke)!
The wobbly unstable ride is not the fault of the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack, the fault lies with the amount of crap I’ve been carrying on tour. It’s not meant to be a rack for touring; it’s a cargo rack…for carrying cargo around town.
If you are considering getting the Origin8 Classique Cargo HD Front Rack to tour with I would have a good long think about exactly how much stuff you intend to carry high up on the front of your ride, because chances are you don’t need a rack this big and capable carrying such weight. Also consider the width and chunkiness of this rack for touring; if you need to squeeze it into a bus or car to hitch a ride, it can get awkward. I’ve also found it difficult locking Kelly’s bikes and mine together sometimes as the rack gets in the way and pushes the bikes apart.
However, if you’re looking for a rack to haul all sorts of crap around town and help your best friend move a fridge, then this baby is for you! Well made, looks sexy and super easy to strap stuff too.
Can be operated one handed on the bike (flip top mouth piece)
Comes with caribiner and attachment point for connecting to backpack
Leaks when not upright
Don’t get big gulps of water due to water passing through the straw fibers
On our previous cycle trip we relied on a Steripen U.V filter and iodine tablets to purify drinking water that we suspected was not clean and while both these methods worked fine, the Steripen is very time consuming and requires batteries and the iodine leaves a pretty funky taste in your mouth and doesn’t filter out any chunky bits so we were very excited when we came across the LifeStraw Go water bottle filter!
This a brilliant piece of equipment and integrates Lifestraw’s revolutionary Personal water filter into a water bottle for conveniently transporting filtered water instead of just being able to suck it up directly from a lake / stream river / puddle or whatever you can now fill up and filter on the move!
It uses hollow fiber membrane strands packed tightly inside the large straw to prevent pathogens and bacteria from passing through so you only get a mouthful of good clean H20 instead of all the other potentially nasty stuff that could be lurking in the water. It’s super easy to clean out only requiring you to blow out the excess water from the straw to expel any dirt or nasty stuff that his been trapped in the filter and you’re good to go again!
The manufacturer claims that the straw can filter up to 1000ltrs before being replaced which is pretty impressive and I’m guessing it might even be more than that depending on how dirty the water is that you use with this. We’ve used it collecting water from rivers and lakes across Canada that appear fairly clean so I think we’ll get at least a thousand liters out of it if not more as opposed to if it were being used in muddy rivers or ponds.
The most appealing part of using this water bottle for me is the fact that you don’t have to sit down and pre filter your full days worth of drinking water; you can simply fill all of your water containers with dirty water and just refill the LifeStraw Go water bottle filter with the dirty water throughout the day and filter it as you drink! Saves a lot of time and messing around and you don’t have to ration your drinking water if you haven’t filtered enough at the start of the day.
DESIGN AND DURABILITY:
The bottle itself is pretty sturdy and made from solid plastic, so not quite as convenient for cycling as a squeezy bottle, but that’s not what it was designed as so I guess you can’t hold that against it! A few weeks ago going over some pretty rocky cycle paths in New Brunswick the LifeStraw Go water bottle filter popped out of cage at fairly high speed and hit a rock on the side of the road. The bottle itself didn’t crack, but a small piece of plastic from the near the mouth piece broke away, I think it is made very solidly though and any other bottle would have probably sustained similar damage from the impact.
The bottle has a rubber seal around the top that doubles up as an attachment point for the included caribiner clip which is a very nice touch and would definitely come in handy for lashing to a pack when hiking or even clipping on to a pannier if you don’t have enough bottle cages on you bikes.
The mouth piece is a flip top with convenient thumb grip to get it open allowing you to use it one handed when on the go hiking or riding and has a soft silicone covering over the valve.
The straw itself is completely protected inside the water bottle, but if it were dropped when refilling the bottle I think it would survive pretty well as it’s constructed of hard plastic and feels solid so would take a fair bit of impact to cause it any damage.
There are only two major drawbacks with this bottle that I can see, the first is the volume of water it can carry, 650ml is not a whole lot really, but is still enough to keep you going for a short period. If LifeStraw came out with a larger volume version with a longer straw, like maybe 850ml that would be ideal for touring and hiking.
The second and most annoying drawback for this bottle is that it is not leak proof despite being advertised as such. The leak doesn’t occur from where the lid attaches to the bottle, rather from where the mouthpiece pivots to join the lid. It’s not a heavy leak where if you turned it upside down the water would flow out of the bottle rapidly, rather a slow leak where the water drips out gradually, but it is still enough of a problem that I don’t trust it in the tent at night or lying on it’s side for long periods. This problem occurs with both mine and Kelly’s bottle so I don’t believe it is simply a faulty bottle, I think it’s more of a design flaw…still not a major issue just a minor irritation.
I give the LifeStraw Go water bottle filter 4 out 5 due to leak issue, other wise this baby is a total life saver and an essential bit of kit for a world cycle tour!
This was one of those purchases where at the time we didn’t really think we needed it as we already had a filter, but since using it for the last 4 months cycling I cannot imagine living without it! It’s extremely convenient and totally reliable, as you won’t get caught out by batteries dying on you when you’re parched. Having the ability to filter ‘on the go’ is awesome and gives you a sense of security when cycle touring knowing that you can filter water in an instant and the fact that it happens to fit in my bottle cages is an added bonus!
I would definitely recommend the LifeStraw Go water bottle filter for cycle touring. (Amazon / Our Gear List)
Easily attaches to mid blade eyelets and lower fork eyelets
Doesn’t interfere with mechanical disc brakes
Low profile, Can’t be seen when panniers attached
Unstable, causes “wobble issues”
Cheap poor quality materials and substandard welds
Will break…multiple times
Aluminium is not easy to weld if (when in this case) breaks
No stability loop bar over the front wheel
I had made it all the way to Regina from Vancouver with far too much crap piled up high on the bikes’ front cargo rack which caused my front end to sway out of control if I wasn’t giving the handlebars the ‘grip of death’ constantly to keep it stable and I had finally had enough. I needed to re distribute the weight, a low rider rack and front panniers seemed like the best option.
In Regina I had the choice between an axiom lowrider and an EVO Low Rider fork mounted front rack and seeing as I had been told bad things about Axiom racks from a Warmshowers host I opted for the EVO Low Rider fork mounted front rack…oh what a horrible choice!
DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:
The EVO Low Rider fork mounted front rack is a simple design attaching to the bikes mid blade eyelets and lower fork eyelets and has some slight room for adjusting to fit your bike with three possible different attachment points for the mid blade eyelets so you can have it angled to suit your needs.
Right out of the package it was very simple to fit to the bike and I was able to position it easily so it did not interfere with my disc brakes, it does however limit the use of the wheels quick release lever so I needed to position the lever in a way that I could still gain access to it once the rack was attached meaning I needed to tighten the nut on the opposite side of the wheel to the quick release lever more as the lever could no longer move freely. Not a major issue as it is not advertised as disc brake specific rack, but something to bare in mind.
I purchased a pair of Axiom Typhoon 18ltr panniers at the same time as they were the only bags available to me and they fit the rack perfectly, it has plenty of space on the bottom bar for the bags to hook on to and the top bar is nice and wide allowing the clips to drop into place easily.
That’s about where the positive features of this rack come to an end.
When riding with the panniers loaded you can actually see the rack slightly flex back and forth due to the lack of a stability loop over the front wheel to connect the two sides of the rack…I knew these guys weren’t going to last pretty early on.
It had been my hope that getting the weight lower on the bike would stabilize my ride and get rid of the wobbles I’d been experiencing, but unfortunately due to the flexing issue they only added to the problem.
It didn’t matter what I had in the front panniers; I tried it with heavier gear like our food up front and lighter stuff like sleeping bag and clothes, but it didn’t matter what the racks were supporting, they still flexed and wobbled horribly.
These things are a joke. It took less than a week for the first break to occur snapping at the top weld connecting the flat inner bar to the outer frame. Luckily for me we were staying with a Couchsurfing host in Manitoba who just so happened to have a blacksmith neighbor with an aluminium welder who managed to reconnect the broken section, but I was warned by the welder that he felt it was a cheap alloy and would most likely break again. He was correct.
Over the coming month these pieces of shit snapped in several different places and I had to hold them together with hose clamps until finally the outer was no longer salvageable and I limped into Ottawa with these useless hunks of crap flapping wildly on my front forks.
Contacting EVO was pretty much pointless. The customer service was terrible and I was told ‘sorry for your misfortune’ which pissed me off even further. It was not my misfortune, it was their terrible product that was the problem.
POWER SOURCE: USB Rechargeable built in lithium battery
RECHARGE TIME (MANUFACTURER CLAIMED): 2 Hours
RUN TIME (MANUFACTURER CLAIMED): 20 Hours
Attaches to bike very easily and securely
Super rugged and water resistant design
Very good bass and loud enough to be heard over traffic
Good battery life
Quick charge time
Uses AUX cable to attach to device instead of bluetooth so doesn’t drain devices battery as much
Function buttons on outside of case make it very easy to control while riding
All in one case design means it protects and stores your MP3 device safely during use
Glove friendly large rubberized zippers to open case
Slightly heavy / bulky for cycle touring
Despite manufacturers claim, the battery does not last for 20 hours
Slight distortion at high volumes (very slight)
My first speaker purchased malfunctioned and had to be returned to manufacturer
I need music while travelling. There are times when my brain turns to sloppy mush after a hundred plus kms in the saddle and I need distracting with some tunes. So there was no way I could survive a round the world cycle trip without some speakers along for the ride!
The Goal Zero Rock Out 2 speakers ticked all the boxes for me on paper. USB rechargeable, water resistant, system for securely attaching to the handlebars and uses an AUX in cable instead of Bluetooth. So far they have survived 7000kms across Canada and I am extremely happy with their performance and very glad I chose these over other products on the market.
The sound is crisp and incredibly clear for the size of the speakers and the bass is rich and deep. Far far better than I could have hoped for! I listen to a wide variety of music from punk and metal through to softer folky acoustic stuff with the occasional bit of hip hop chucked in for good measure and for me the sound is lossless. I don’t feel like I’m listening to a track through a tin can like with some other portable speakers.
These bad boys get LOUD!! There have been times where the traffic has been screaming past us or flying down a mountain with the wind howling past my ears and I can still hear the Goal Zero Rock Out 2 speakers pumping out the tunes over the top of it all!
Overall I am very happy with the sound quality the Goal Zero Rock Out 2 speakers offer. I have only ever had any sound quality issues when they are on maximum volume and some slight fuzzy distortion occurs on the bass, but really minor in comparison to other similar portable speakers.
DURABILITY / FUNCTIONALITY:
The Goal Zero Rock Out 2 speakers are as tough as nails! I feel very confident that they will be with me for the rest of the trip and survive perfectly. The outside material is made from some form of tough woven nylon material wrapped over a lightweight wooden or plastic box with the front face plate made of hard plastic with metal screws attaching it to the box.
I have dropped these and they survived perfectly with the added bonus of protecting my mp3 player inside which is housed in a mesh pocket with bungee cable and soft plush liner.
They are water resistant, but definitely not waterproof. I have ridden with these in the rain because I’m an idiot and forgot to take them off the handlebars and had no issues with the speakers getting water logged or damaged, however there were drops of water inside the case that I suspect leaked through the zip so there is the potential for rain to get inside the case and damage your mp3 device if left out in heavy rain. I believe light showers would be fine, but if it gets heavy pack them away hombre!
The control panel is a total breeze to use with all the function buttons (power, reverse track, forward track, play/pause and volume controls) set out in a clear obvious manner and easily accessible on the front of the speakers. The buttons are low profile and rubberized and set a mm or so apart from each other making it easy to know which button you are pressing when you’re on the move.
The zippers to open the case and access the mp3 player and leads are large and rubberized making it very easy to open and close while wearing gloves and feel solid and durable.
The inside of the case is very neatly set out with both the usb charging cable and built in aux cable recessed into the plastic case with a hook to keep them in place when not in use. The built in usb cable is a very handy feature and the perfect size. Not too long that it gets in the way and not frustratingly short like some other speakers.
One of my favourite design features of the Goal Zero Rock Out 2 speakers is the attachment system on the back of the speakers. It uses a super neat bungee cord and five small plastic hooks that can be configured in multiple different ways allowing you to attach the speakers to various different things however you see fit.
I have them set up on my handlebars and looped around the handlebar stem. It’s quick and easy to attach and they do not move or bounce around at all. It’s an absolutely rock solid attachment set up and no way of them working themselves loose on bumps or rocky trails. When you hit the campsite they detach easily and can be hung from a tree, inside the tent or where you want them pumping out sound! I can also imagine them being handy and very easy to attach to a pack for hiking.
The only slight downside to the Goal Zero Rock Out 2 speakers is the weight issue, but I feel 340gms for the quality you get is actually pretty good. For me there is no point taking any of the smaller ‘pop up’ style speakers as you can’t actually hear them while riding unless you’re on a dead quite back road with no wind. They are small enough to stuff into a pannier or backpack without really taking up a whole lot of room. Also, they feel pretty light in your hand while still being super tough and durable and capable of protecting your device and keeping everything neat with no cables sticking out all over the place.
I give the Goal Zero Rock Out 2 Speakers 4.5 out of 5. It would have been a solid 5 if not for the fact that the first set of speakers I ordered malfunctioned within the first week distorting horribly at anything above the lowest level and one of the speakers barely having any output. Though at first I was understandably less than impressed, the customer service from Goal Zero won me back by having a new set shipped out to me in just over a week without the need to send the faulty speakers back to them. Excellent service particularly seeing as I bought them from an ebay store. I would most definitely recommend these speakers for cycle touring, hiking, camping any outdoor activities and even for use at home or on road trips. These speakers are a beast! (Amazon / Our Gear List)