November 16, 2016
We’re broken down in Bakersfield, CA at the moment, en route to the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show. We had a suspension problem on the truck last night, so now we’re waiting for some new leaf springs to get built. Time to crack a beer and update the blog!
Gear Testing Trip
Last week we had a stretch of prefect weather in the Northwest, so Ash and I ducked out of the office for a gear testing trip in SE Oregon. Originally the whole Mosko team was going to join, but Lee had to leave for Vietnam on short notice to work on our Spring production run, Andrew had just returned from Canada and he was stuck at home on kid duty, and Tiffany volunteered to hold down the fort. So then there were two.
We had several new items to test on this trip:
The Fatty (aka Tool Roll)
It’s time to pick a name for the new Tool Roll. We’re all liking “The Fatty,” as in ‘Roll a Fatty.’
After my earlier post on the Fatty, several riders popped up in our advrider.com thread and asked about waterproofing. This is an issue because the rear pockets on the R80 and BC35 (where lots of people store tools, including me) are not waterproof. Tools can rust. And the inner waterproof coating on the ballistic nylon we’re using is bound to wear through over time.
At first we had an idea to roll the Fatty up in a waterproof cover to give it a splash-proof level of waterproofing. So it wouldn’t be waterproof if you dropped the bike at a river crossing, but at least it would stop rain from soaking through. We tried this with some paper.
Then you’d bend over the ends of the roll and clip with a side release buckle right where the tag is in the pic below. This would be pretty waterproof.
The cover works as a tool/hardware ground cover when you’re working on the bike trailside, which is a cool benefit.
The thing we didn’t like about this is that you can’t use the handle on the tool roll, which is essential for pulling it out of pannier pockets, because it’s wrapped up in the roll. So next we took a pair of old cheapo foul weather gear pants I had in the shed for crabbing, and cut them up to make a new shape roll.
The ends fold in under the handle, so the handle is still accessible, but now the cover itself is a lot less waterproof. The belt that normally wraps the tool roll now wraps around the outside of the cover, keeping it in place.
I took this on the trip and it worked great. However, while we were gone, Andrew had an idea that we like even more. I don’t have any pics, but basically it’s an envelope that the tool roll slides into before it gets rolled. The envelope has its own handle. This system is 100% waterproof, even if you drop your bike in water. We tested it in the shop and it looks like it’s going to work. More on that later.
The Nomad Tank Bag
Man, I do ever love this bag. This was the first opportunity that Ash and I had to use the latest prototypes on an extended trip (although Lee and Andrew already have).
This is how I packed the different layers. I left the beavertail open, for the camera. Just my Delorme and knife tucked underneath.
I used carabiners to connect my DSLR case in the beavertail.
Organizational layer: sunscreen, batteries, earplugs, charging cables, pen, batteries for GPS/headlamps/Delorme, business cards & stickers, plus some other stuff I added later. Love all the small-item storage on this layer.
The bottom bucket layer had Mosko catalogs, spare maps, and still lots of space for things that migrated there over the trip.
Raincover in the top storage pocket.
Backpack straps stashed away
Ash and I both decided to forgo our hydration packs. We definitely had some misgivings: we always ride with hydration packs on this kind of trip. Storing water on the tank instead of our backs was an experiment.
Guardian Gnome found a new home.
Some riders have asked why we were so dead-set on making it easy to convert the Nomad into a backpack. I originally pushed hard for this because of international trips, where I like to pop it off the bike and throw it on my back, say at border crossings or walking around a market or city. I keep most of my valuables in there (so they’re not left sitting on the bike) as well as some water, so I have all that with me when I’m out & about.
This is a different kind of trip though, and it turns out we used our Nomads as backpacks literally every single day. Hiking in the mornings, bouldering around interesting rock formations, hopping off the bike to go exploring. Here are some pics of the Nomad in action as a backpack. Love this feature.
Here’s some things we learned:
My bottom line review: this is a friggin’ awesome tank bag. It’s completely unlike any tank bag I’ve ever used. I’ve never come home and had my tank bag be so completely and totally organized. Everything found a home. No more stew of batteries, chap stick, change, receipts, garbage, etc sliding around in the bottom of the bag. Plus, doing an extended trip with nothing on our backs was just plain awesome. I always forget how restrictive and fatiguing a hydration pack can be after hours of riding. I hope to see a bunch of ADV folks moving this direction in the future. This system really works.
Tracker 10 with Reckless 80
On this particular trip we were expecting rain and chilly temps (although it didn’t actually end up raining) so we had some puffy clothes to pack. We designed the Tracker 10 as an easy add-on for the Reckless 80 and Backcountry 35 bags, and this time we both used it that way. The Tracker 10 connects to the two D-rings on the back of the Reckless 80 using Simple Cinch Straps. It’s an awesome little stash spot. We found ourselves tucking all kinds of quick-access stuff in there along with our extra riding gear: snacks, a can of beer, socks… stuff like that. This will be part of my standard R80 kit going forward.
Plus the Simple Cimch Straps can be used to carry extra firewood over short distances, in addition to the beavertail and harness on the Reckless 80. Ash and I managed to get all our gear and 4 bundles of firewood out on the Alvord Desert in a single trip.
Tent Pole Pocket
A lot of riders using the tent pole holders on the Reckless 80 are reporting the same problem I’ve noticed: that the tent pole sleeves included with most tents are too flimsy, causing the poles to vibrate through the material, and leaving big gaping holes. My tent pole bags are currently completely trashed. On this trip I used the first prototype of our new tent pole bag. It will fit on the Backcountry 30 Duffle or the Reckless 80 system.
On this prototype, we had a miscommunication with the factory over the width of the bag, so it came in much wider than originally planned. I almost left it at home for that reason, but as it turned out, I used all the space. It’s perfect for long skinny things that don’t need to be packed inside a drybag: siphon, air pump, zip ties, tow rope, tent poles, and stuff like that. The whole thing tucks neatly under the beavertail and connects to the same daisy chan as the original tent pole holder.
Still, even though I used all the space, we’re planning to make the final design about 1/2 to 2/3rds the size of this one. And we’re also planning to make it cylindrical.
20L Dry Sak
We ship a 20L Dry Sak with every BC 30/40 Duffle, Scout 25/60 Duffle, Tracker 20, and Reckless 80. These are for dirty things like shoes and laundry. This trip I took two Dry Saks, one for shoes/laundry and the other for campsite/cooking garbage. This works much better than the little plastic grocery bags I normally accumulate on a trip and save for garbage. Highly recommend this as a garbage carrying solution, it really works.
Here’s a few more pics. Wild Horses, petroglyphs, arrowheads, campfires, cocktails, big hills, dry lakes, and so much awesome desert. Damn, I love the Northwest. Hope we get another stretch of good weather before winter takes over.
Something I’ll be taking on future trips: a proper first aid kit with sutures In this case, a sliced-up shirt and Neosporin did the trick
Oh yeah, the new riding apparel was so cool! We’ll cover that in a future post. Lots happening. Exciting times!