Ok moving on to some of the smaller gear type items:
Goal Zero Guide 10 Plus Solar Recharging Kit: I wanted to be as self sufficient as possible while traveling, and tent campsites don't usually have power, so charging my electronics is tricky on the road. I have my phone which is mounted to my handlebars and plugged into my battery while I ride (see below) but I also have a Go Pro with Remote, a Sena helmet bluetooth system, a regular digital camera and an iPad that I travel with. This solar recharging kit can do a lot of things, albeit slowly depending on its exposure to the sun, but it has sturdy rings that can be strapped onto luggage or bags while traveling. I only used it at my camp this time but on my longer trips I plan to strap it on while I'm riding during the day and see if it works that way. It can either charge up a battery pack that contains 4 AA batteries for your devices – or the battery pack itself, once charged, and then have things plugged into it like a normal portable power supply to take on the go. Lastly you can plug things directly into the back of the solar panels (comes with several different adapters) to power things directly from the sun / panels.
RAM Mount X-Grip Universal Holder Handlebar Mount: I've used this mount on both my Honda Rebel and now my Harley. Fits tight and adjusts to different handlebar thicknesses, holds the phone securely (although I can't speak to super high speeds or racing conditions) and allows me to still charge the phone while I'm riding, so it wins for me over the aqua box. Plus I wasn't able to use the touch screen through the aqua box for some reason. Instead I opted for the more inexpensive of the Life Proof Case lines – the “Fre” – it was only about $35 and makes my phone completely waterproof so I can still use my GPS function and have the phone mounted in inclement weather. I bought a white one for my white phone but it comes in multiple colors.
Go Pro Hero 3+ Silver: I'm still experimenting with this little gadget but I bought the Go Pro Smart Remote that goes with it and strapped that to my handlebars next to my clutch hand. You can push the button on the remote and snap either pictures or start / stop video footage while riding with relative ease.
As far as mounting the camera I got an inexpensive kit that contained multiple mounting options. In the end I put it on the right handlebar of my bike, turned outward. I will probably play around with some different mounting techniques but the handlebar mount was really sturdy.
Battery Tender USB Adapter: I use an iPhone. It drags a lot of battery when you want to listen to music AND have GPS running concurrently / constantly. I ran out of battery several times while in the middle of nowhere and had trouble finding my way back before I came up with this low cost solution to installing a charging port on my bike. I already used a battery tender setup to trickle charge my battery when I'm not riding the bike, so this little adapter allows me to use that same setup that's already wired to my battery and run my charging cord up to my phone mounted on the handlebars.
Sena SMH 10 Bluetooth Headset: This particular purchase was the end of a long road of frustration for me. I wanted to be able to hear the turn by turn directions from the GPS on my phone but headphones kept coming out of my ears and were really hard to adjust inside the helmet. I had used this system (borrowed from a friend) on a trip around Mount Hood and out to Newport a couple of years ago and being able to talk to the other rider made a big difference. I also wanted to be able to listen to music, but since my bike is not equipped with a touring package (I ride a 2013 HD Dyna, Super Glide Custom) I spent a lot of time scratching my head on how to give myself the comforts of touring without upgrading my bike. The RAM mount and battery charging setup I came up with were great for keeping the phone charged and in view, but hearing it was a different story. I even bought some expensive bluetooth earbuds that were supposed to stay in. They didn't. Finally I pulled the trigger on this setup and haven't regretted it since. It has adapted easily to both my helmets and the sound quality is excellent. The only downside is it really needs to recharge regularly and does so fairly slowly. Not sure how it will hold up during long multi day trips, but I'll let you know.
The other plus is that it's not only compatible with other SENA systems it's also compatible and can be paired with most other non-Sena systems too so you can “link up” with whoever you're riding with. My friend bought a different Sena with a smaller profile and we had no trouble pairing them whatsoever.
Shoei Neotec Modular Helmet: It took me three years to upgrade to a high end helmet, but working as a nurse in a Level 1 Trauma ICU convinced me that there is no price that can be put on your brain. Besides that, helmets are not a guarantee. They fail. They crack. They break apart. You can also still get a really bad head injury even while wearing a helmet.
The bottom line is, we've never taken a Shoei off a head and found it cracked or failed. That's good enough for me, because the worse the impact, the worse the injury, as a general rule, and after seeing the consequences and recovery path of head injury patients day in and day out I'm just not willing to risk it. You can break every bone in your body but if your head's ok chances are you'll live and recover. Not so the other way around. Anyway, I'm not here to argue or tell anyone what they should or shouldn't do to protect their own coconut. This is what I did:
I decided on a modular simply because the face shield flips up to be able to talk, eat and drink at a quick stop or gas station without feeling like Daft Punk. My previous helmet was great no complaints it was a Snell / DOT certified Bell Vortex. Highly recommend it too if you're not ready or able to move up at this time.
Eddie Bauer Headlamp: I camped for a lot of years without a headlamp and I'm really not sure why. They're kind of an indispensible item for setting up, tearing down, finding things in your bike in the dark, even going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Any activity where you need light AND both hands free 🙂 This one has multiple settings including a red flashing beacon as well as several super bright white light settings. I'll never camp without one again.
Things I'm considering purchasing next include:
- A small hatchet (for creating kindling/fire making)
- Collapsible mug and collapsible coffee drip system
- Compact travel blanket that can be used for the beach or grass to sit on, or as a waterproof base for the gear sitting in the vestibule of my tent
- Another 20 L waterproof dry bag for packing things onto the bike and making room in my luggage for clothing etc on longer trips
- A hanging toiletry bag that folds up / clips shut but with clear pouches to organize not only toiletries but possibly also cords / chargers, and other small items. It could be hung from a clip inside the tent or brought to a bathroom / shower.
- Oh and for me because of my poor circulation I might get some of those fingerless glove liners that keep your hands extra warm!
I think that's about it for gear for now! Hope this helps some of you to find what you're looking for and have awesome adventures!
Go to: Gear Reviews Part 1