Updated December 2018
Reviews of much used gear but not the expensive stuff (the expensive gear is more thoroughly, and always honestly rated, in a separate post).
BeFree Katadyn water filter
Small, easy to pack, wide mouth opening and same content as the water bottle fitting in a bicycle frame. I have filtered the most untrusted water sources; works perfectly. The BeFree filter is easy to clean, very detailed booklet and lightweight.
After about 6 months of use, following the instructions, the filter is broken, according the integrity test. I use it still though and there seems to be no obvious health reactions. A nwew one was send out to me in Paraguay. Thank you Katadyn!
MRS Titanium Cup
This cup is the best, and actually only one, I ever had. It keeps chai/coffee really warm. The rim does get hot too but since I drink straight from boiling, it doesn’t bother me much.
Solar panel Solarmonkey Adventurer
After 2 years of use: still works, and that’s all that matters but it’s falling apart more and more. It hangs together with duct tape. It usual (with average sunshine) take days before the solar panel is fully charged and only powers one gadget (tablet), or two small (iPod and Samsung) ones fully.
However, the outer is flimsy and start to fall apart soon, also the USB entrance is not very well protected so sand can be blown in easily. In general the solar is good, the wrapping around it not at all.
September 2016: BROKEN! Left it behind in Bolivia…
Somewhere in 2018: A new solar panel is send out to me. I could only fetch it once I was in the Netherlands, and that was after my cycling trip. I will use it nevertheless on camping trips. Thank you Solarmonkey Adventurer!
Keen Whisper sandals
I am really fond of them, so I bought a second pair. The first lasted at least two intense years.
Changed dishwasher gloves for waterproof
They’re not cheap (over 50 euro) but really not better than dishwasher gloves! In fact, I bought hardware rubber gloves to keep my hands dry in Patagonia early winter as these Extremities gloves from Terra Nova make my hands wet in half an hour.
2018: I complained at Terra Nova who redirected me to the shop where I bought the gloves. This shop, Bever, took time out to help me and in the end the product was reimbursed. I could order something else at Bever. Thank you for the excellent service Bever!
Big Agnes Tent
For one person an excellent tent in summer weather. The zippers are thin/weak and easy to break so be careful with those. The tent is extremely compact and fits in a front panniers. As with such a tent, things will become a bit wet, but it is to overcome. The ground-sheet must be tucked under very secure so Big Agnes won’t collect too much water inside. For one person in moderate weather circumstances this a good choice. It is a free standing tent with much mesh. Without the outer tent you have a very good netting to spend the night. Big Agnes has stood some very windy canyon sweeps, and she is extremely bendable but also very light weight that it is really a thin layer between you and the air. It won’t keep you warm. The zipper derails quick
North Face Meso Tent
The zippers of the Meso are strong, the weight is moderate with less than 2 kg. It is a bit bulky and won’t fit in a front pannier. I had it rolled up at the back rack. It has quite some space because it is actually a two persons tent, but only if you’re lovers. It is a free standing tent but without using the guy lines the outer sheet collapses a bit. With the guy lines attached the back still touches the inner tent quickly. The inner tent has moderate netting/mesh. Only the door is provided with mesh and air doesn’t flow easily through. After I washed it, it lost much of it’s waterproof ability (I restored that with a spray), make sure the outer sheet is not touching the inner and things keep dry enough.
After 2 years of much use: the zipper eventually derailed and the hooks and Velcro to attach the outer sheet to the poles came off.
VDO Cycle Computer vs. Cateye
The VDO has completely broken down after 3 years. The mount was renewed once. Now the little press-buttons on the side started to come loose. Once they fell out I couldn’t operate the tiny cycle computer anymore. Still the temperature and altitude keeps working. The wires can break quickly, or come loose. The Cateye has no wire, no altitude nor temperature. Cateye is Japanese and I find the instruction to set it up complicated ; )
Julbo sunglasses with an inner pair of prescription glasses are lightweight and you will hardly notice them when on your head. Excellent glasses! But the downside is that because it is so lightweight and fragile, they’ll eventually brake on two pieces! Ah, what a pity, they were not cheap, yet the inner pair of glasses broke while the sunglasses themselves are full with scratches. I will try to fix is somehow… ‘One second’ glue helped before they completely cracked in two.
Map Reise Know How
The maps of Reise Know How I find the best. They are water- and rip proof. One little drawback is that some villages depictured are actually so tiny that no food can be found there. So not all places mentioned on the map are actual worth mentioning. It is more an indication than anything else, unless you like to go off the road and cycle through a tiny settlement. But you don’t need a map for that ; )
Petzl Tikka headtorch
When my orange Petzl had been stolen I was lucky enough to find another one in Iran. This Petzl has more functions, such as a little red light which is very good for reading in your tent while you don’t want to be spotted. It has 5 different kind of light options, thus makes it worth it’s price.
Go to this shop and be surprised:
An excellent mountaineer outdoor shop in Sanadaj: SHAHO, (square) medan Azadi, (street) gyaban Hassan Abbad, near to Maskan bank, 0918 3734500. It’s on a main street on the big roundabout near mosaferkhaneh Nehro
Exped Synmat UL 7 M vs. Therm-A-rest Self Inflatable
After 3 months of use the separation got loose. A big hump is now appearing, and it doesn’t lay smooth (I hope to see a new one coming my way). A pity, this bump in my bed… However, in perfect shape, the mat is a good one. I sleep deep and long on it and am fit enough to cycle long days. Nov. 2012: The whole mat is by now out of shape, a new one is send to my home address by Outdorado.
The new mat developed the same problems…
Well, the mattresses are very comfortable, I reckon the best among air mattresses. However, it takes quite some effort, for me, to inflate them. A hand pump was an extra piece to carry with not much of being a help so I send that home. Although the air mattresses are comfortable, they eventually all break down. I think they’re just not meant to be for long, rough cycle trips. After two ripped mattresses I choose an other form of bed, see link.
Saddle Liberator from Terry
I am not satisfied with it, although I can not say for sure if the saddle can be blamed. I suffered a lot of saddle pain, irritations, redness and the sort. I replaced it with a Brooks saddle and it feels already a lot better. It slide more, it’s harder and it seems I can sit on it without wearing the cycle shorts, which I find the most annoying thing to wear!
Beautiful textile. Fashionable, durable. After almost a year of regular wear it has only one little hole.
Very fashionable indeed, but an Indian tank-top will do too. Quality/price is not balanced for a cycler living on a budget.
Schwalbe Marathon Dureme
Bad luck. Already in Paris I had a deep puncture and it continued to attracted thorns or sharp stone, so that once in every country I got to fix the inner tube. I changed the tire for a Schwalbe Marathon Mondial. Excellent!
MSR Water Filter
Used it only 3 times and find it a lot of work. You have to clean it after every use and so it’s a bit of a maintenance when on the road. However, the water is clean!
I gave it to a friend who in return gave it back to me and I send it back home. Hardly used it as the tap water in Africa is safe to drink and I’m never so far from civilization that there are no water pumps anymore. Besides, the little packages of water, sachets, are so cheap that no filter can match.
Roeckl Cycle Gloves
After continuous wear of 5 to 6 months I think they did fairly well. The textile is very thin and breathable and so it did get torn. The price I find very high (about € 35) and therefor I would not buy them again. I got a new pair from another brand and will see how long they last. Gloves not only protect against shaking but also prevent your hands from getting tanned (which I prefer not to be brown and wrinckly) and from getting black from the rubbery handlebars. I would not like to do without them.
After a few years cycling, I stopped wearing gloves.
Their appearance is about the same as Teva, a little better than Crocs though, yet still very anti-stylish! I had doubts whether to buy them, but did so when I found out they were with a 30% discount. All very strange reasons to get sandals; I hope they are comfortable and strong and sturdy when it comes to cycling in the hot dessert and along the African Westcoast.
The sandals promise no odor but that’s a lie. At least for my feet. They do stink and I keep them outside my room when I am in it. Dirt is collecting inside and stones easily slide between the gaps which makes it uncomfortable at times. But on the whole: they walk and cycle perfectly. I don’t care about their appearance anymore.
2014: after two years of continuous use still going strong. A bit broken here and there, but fine enough.
2015: still fine, although cycling with Adidas sneakers from India in East Europe…
2015: bought new one and they still last…
Icebreaker Igloo hood & Buff
This Igloo hood is almost a jacket but light enough to wear as a pullover. It’s from Icebreaker, so it’s made from wool. The reason why I choose Icebreaker is that I wanted it to be natural, so no synthetics. It’s quite expensive but it’s already paid it’s value for me: I wear it at work underneath my clothes and I keep ‘toasty’, as Icebreaker promised.
2014: I never go on any ride without them, whether it be India with 50 degrees or Iran with 0 degrees
2014 end: Big thin patches started to break down, then big BIG holes! Had to buy a new hoody. I find the price/quality too high. Won’t buy Icebreaker again.
2017: the Icebreaker buff is cut into two pieces and used as neck tie and head scarf against the harsh desert sun. It has many holes but still works.
For the female travelers among us, although after some months of testing this little mysterious thing, it is a very practical object for all of us, women. Our periods. I never wanted to use tampons and using pads can be a nuisance when the climate’s hot. It stinks. It shifts from right to left, front to back. The quality of sanitary napkins abroad isn’t that great and it’s relatively expensive too. I never had problems finding ‘Always’, as how I asked for them at any counter anywhere in the world, but I already think Mooncup is the best thing to use when having my periods, especially when cycling. Without doubt more reviews will come…
Mooncup is great. By accident I let it drop into the toilet (after I used it thoroughly), washed it and fine again. It holds no smells at all. I clean it once in a while by let it sit in boiling water for 20 minutes.
2015: perfect going…
2018: perfect still…
I had a Primus first, which kept my tea really warm and even hot for a long time (in summer). I bought the Stanley because of the big opening but am not sure if you should buy Stanley to keep your hot tea or hot coffee hot for very long. It doesn’t do what it says it should.
I find it very handy for the ‘salon du thé’ in Morocco where I let it fill with mint tea and drink it in the room.
Primus Eta Power Pot 1.7 ltr.
After about 3 months of intensive use the lidhandle broke off. Impossible to repair unless I would like to pack it with a non-folding standing handle. Primus directed this failure to the shop where I bought it (Outdorado). The failure is replaced by Outdorado.
2016: I am still using the pan and very content.