Category: Gear

Ocean Air Cycles Scout Book

I recently picked up a Midori Traveler’s Notebook Passport size to start using and noticed that my Field Notes don’t exactly fit inside the case. I mentioned this on the interwebz and I ended up getting a surprise in the mail.

Rob of Ocean Air Cycles sent me down a set of his custom notebooks to try out. The Scout Books are smaller than the Field Notes books and they fit right into the Midori cover.

They are simple, but that appeals to me. The cover appears to be a heavy kraft style paper. The interior paper is heavier than the Field Notes at 70#. I like that you can order custom versions of them for a reasonable price.

For now I’ve been using one as my “inbox”. The tough cover makes it easy to slide into a pocket and not worry about it too much. Or it gets slid into the Midori while I use the other inserts for their own specific uses. I’ll post more on those soon.

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Coffee and Field Notes, or Field Notes and Coffee

It doesn’t take long once you start using Field Notes that you get sucked into the hard to find or limited edition versions. Enter the coffee versions. Up in Seattle you can get some packs there are only sold at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. Luckily I have a friend that works nearby so I reached out him and these arrived in the mail last week!

The smaller books come in a three pack and have three different interiors. The most interesting part to me are the back covers. They have different regions where the coffee is grown along with some facts.

The larger books come in a two pack and have the same wood cover that the Cherry Graph notebooks have. I’ve never seen it before and it’s pretty interesting. It feels like a thin Balsa wood and reminds me of the small airplanes I used to play with. The insides of both books have the same interior, with different information on coffee.

I’ve started using one of the larger books to keep track of my coffee brews. It stays in the cabinet with my coffee making gear and will be used to keep track of the coffees that I like/dislike. It should take a really long time to fill it up. That probably doesn’t mean that more books won’t arrive though. Right?

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Camp Coffee Setup

I’ve been asked a few times now how I carry my coffee set up. It changes from time to time, but this is my core setup. I’m not gonna cover stoves because there are many ways to heat your water. I’ll do a separate post about stoves in the future.

My kit consists of an Aeropress, a Porlex grinder, mug and of course some beans. I keep the beans in a repurposed airtight canister from Teavana. It’s the perfect size for about 6-8 cups of coffee. Everything, except the mug, fits in side a Eagle Creek travel cube that I had. This makes it easy to grab and go when it’s time to head out.

I use a scale while at home, but when out and about I just eyeball the amount of beans in the grinder. I don’t always bring the Aeropress scoop, but I can get it pretty close. I also have the Porlex Travel Grinder which I prefer. The larger grinder is a little tougher to keep a firm grip on. The travel grinder has a silicone band that offers a good grip and keeps the grinder from spinning in your hand.

I always keep a metal filter with me. I use the metal filter at home everyday. When I’m out though, I tend to use the paper filters. It’s one less thing to clean. I don’t know that I can truly taste the difference between paper and metal filters. I don’t like the waste of the paper, but it’s a trade-off I’m usually willing to make.

What do you use? Leave a comment!

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SoCal Four Wheel Camper Rally

This weekend Serbrina and I went to our first Four Wheel Camper Rally. There were about 20 rigs there of all different builds/options. I was too busy checking them out and just generally relaxing to take too many pics. Kinda regret it now. We met some really nice people and saw some great rigs. Got some good ideas and info on what to do with ours in the future. Here are the few pics I did take.

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What’s Your Favorite Camp Mug?

Like all good things, trends happen in cycles. We seem to be in a “camping is cool” trend right now and I have to say that I kinda enjoy it. It’s cool to see so many companies making good outdoor gear for those of us that enjoy that kind of stuff. Some high-tech and some low-tech, and both appeal to me for different reasons. I’m one part retro-grouch and one part gadget-geek I guess.

One of the trends lately is that many companies seem to now have a camp mug. It’s like they are the custom water bottle of our time. I’ll admit that I wish I had a custom camp mug with a Frontage Roads logo but I have a few good ones so I guess it’s not a need, only a want. So with that in mind I thought I’d share the mugs I use and point out what I like or don’t like about them.

Here are the main ones that get used. From L-R, Smokey Bear Magic Mug, Poler/Stumptown Enamel Mug, Snowpeak Ti 450 Single Wall, Best Made Enamel Mug and Snowpeak Ti 450 Double Wall Mug.

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I’ll start with my top three. The two Snowpeak Ti mugs and the Best Made are the best, most useful mugs I have. All three have been on many trips now and have proved their value in the field as well as at home.

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The two Snowpeak Ti mugs are the best of the three for out in the field use. The Snowpeak Single Wall Ti probably being the best of the top three, as you can boil water in it. In fact, I carry it in a small homemade bag that includes my Catfood Can stove, matches, lighter and bandana so it’s always ready to go at a moments notice. The bottom of the cup shows some wear from some heavy usage, but that’s what gives it character. The drawback to the single wall, and the enamel mugs for that matter, is that it gets really hot. I use the “Hot lips” on this mug because I’ve learned the hard way that you need let the mug cool before taking a sip. You can also see some strategically placed Sugru on the mug handles and side for the same reason. A bandana does the same trick but it’s good have some extra protection, unless you like burned fingers of course. The trade off of being able to cook in the Single wall is that the contents can cool off quickly. That’s where the Double Wall comes in.

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The Double Wall Snowpeak Ti mug takes care of the heat loss from the Single Wall. However, you cannot set it on your stove. Inside the Double Walls is a layer of air that keeps your hot things hot and your cold things cold. This means that to use this mug you’re gonna need to bring a separate pot or kettle to boil your water. Not a deal breaker but something to consider. What you get though is a longer lasting warm drink for that morning coffee or evening tea. Also, the insulating lid will help to extend this time.

Next up is the Best Made Camp Mug. Now these are kinda fancy I’ll admit it, but this mug is built to last. It’s comparable to the Poler mug only in that it’s a camp mug. It costs twice as much, but it feels like it will last a lifetime. I’m not opposed to paying a little extra for something that is quality and will last forever. This mug is comparable to my Swrve Denim Jeans and my Red Wing Boots. It will get better with age and I hope to hand it down to my nephew some day. (Not any time soon!) These mugs, while they do get hot and can be hard to handle, will probably outlast all of the other mugs I own, maybe even the Ti mugs.

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The Poler mug is similar to the Best Made except that you can feel the difference immediately. It’s a little smaller than the Best Made but very similar. Where they differ is the quality. This cup feels so much thinner and lighter. It came with a couple bumps, which isn’t the end of the world but I would prefer to dent and ding up my stuff myself. Also, the enamel coating isn’t as good as the Best Made. There are a couple areas on each cup where the coating has small holes in it. I think that over time these Poler mugs are going to get spots of rust on them if they aren’t kept dry and clean. That can be tough when using them outdoors all the time.

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Holes in the coating of the Poler Cup

Honorable Mention goes to the Smokey Bear Magic Mug. This mug is the baddest of the bad and coolest of the cool. You can find them online, but I got mine from Topo Designs. When you pour hot water in it the trees burn up and Smokey gets bummed. Ok, he doesn’t really get bummed, but you know he is bummed when the forest burns. I mostly use this mug at home because I don’t want to damage it, but I would take it out on a car camping trip. It’s just too good to be cooped up in the house all the time.

Smokey Bear Magic Mug

So those are my camp mugs. I’d love to know what your favorite camp mug is. Do you use the same ones? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Four Wheel Camper Window Covers!

So, I’m kinda goin’ outta order here. Let me back up a sec and say we are now the stoked owners of a Four Wheel Camper. I haven’t taken any good pics of it yet, so I haven’t had anything to post. Basically though, it’s a Hawk Shell model with some good, for us, options. I’ll post a full report on it soon.

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Since we ordered the Shell model we were able to pick and choose the options we needed/wanted and build it out to our own spec. One of the things I couldn’t see paying for was curtains. I can sew, so I figured I would take care of it. Last summer I was gifted a few leftover yards of a thick vinyl fabric, so I knew that we could use that for the window covers. So I took the measurements, cut the fabric and started the work. So far I have one done and installed. The next two are in process and I will install grommets later tonight. I’m using adhesive hooks for now to attach them to the interior. We will see how that holds up in the long term.

Feels good to be back making stuff on my own again. Things are more enjoyable when you know they were made by your own hand.

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Brunton Inspire

For this weekend’s brevet I knew that my GPS would run out of power at some point. I have a Dyno hub on the Pelican but I don’t have a way to charge the gps AND power the lights at night. So I brought along my Brunton Inspire battery pack.

I had to plug it in to the GPS about 12 hours into my ride. It worked pretty well except for one issue. The cable kept pulling itself out of the battery pack and the GPS would beep that it lost power. The cable that it comes with isn’t very long so the battery pack ended up hanging from the cable and inevitably the cable would pull out. So at the next scheduled stop I bought some electrical tape and taped the cable to the battery. This simple bodge job did the trick and I made it the rest of the distance with no problems.

I ended the ride with a fully charged GPS and still had a pretty full charge on the Brunton Inspire. Looks like it will work out good for the upcoming 400k.

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