A couple of months ago we did some filming for MeetMeInKlamath to promote bicycling in the area. The video is finally live! The shoot was ambitious and hectic since the area has so many bicycling assets. There is everything from mellow road rides at the Running Y Resort, mountain biking through a lunar landscape on the High Lakes Trail, epic gravel rides around Hagelstein County Park and newly built singletrack trails on Spence Mountain (you can find out specific route details at RideKlamathRide.com. For the shoot we worked with dedicated locals to scout locations as well as be talent for the video. It was an immense group effort where we got up at chilly predawn hours to get the best morning light and shot late to capture the sunset. All the while we were constantly adjusting our schedule to avoid wildfire smoke that was creeping into the area.
Looking back, it was a crazy week of long hours but we are really proud of the end result. Our clients were so pleased with the video that it’s going to run as a TV spot! Check out the video and let us know what you think. If you do take a bike vacation in Klamath County, be sure to bring all your bikes.
Winter is coming! With warm summery days behind us, I dug up our bag of winter cycling gear and filmed a video on our glove strategy that we’ve used the last couple of years. For those that would rather read than watch, here’s the executive summary.
After a lot of trial and error and lots of cash spent, we’ve found that there is no ONE perfect glove to cover the varying degrees of cold and wet here in the Pacific Northwest. It is a constant balance between breathability, warmth and affordability. A glove that is waterproof may be too hot or not warm enough in certain situations. Likewise a glove with lots of insulation will keep you warm when its dry, but will turn into a sponge when the sky opens up. This is our current setup for winter gloves.
Think of it as a baselayer for your hand. By itself, a liner glove is perfect for those early autumn days when it is crisp but not actively raining or snowing. On a spirited road ride or short commute this might be just the right amount of glove. A good liner glove also forms the base of a winter glove system. Liner gloves come in a range of materials from synthetic to wool. Our preference is for wool like this Ibex glove since it will still insulate when wet.
When it is cold and starting to rain, we reach for our waterproof gloves like the Pearl Izumi WXB. We will wear them by themselves if it is a “warm” rain or pair them with the liner glove when it is a cold rain. They also come in handy for long descents in the winter where you’ve built up a sweat climbing and now have to bundle up for the downhill. While the Pearl Izumi WXBs claim to be waterproof, I have managed to fully saturate them in a long enough deluge. Anything with seams will leak eventually so take waterproof claims with a grain of salt. That said, they are a winter staple.
Insualted Lobster Gloves
When the weather turns downright frigid BUT dry, we reach for our Planet Bike Borealis gloves. We’ve had these for years and they perform best on freezing days with no rain. The Borealis gloves also include a fleece liner glove which alone is pretty warm in its own right. These gloves are semi-lobster mitts with a bit more articulation than other mitts so you can still easily use brifters on your road bike. The downside is that they are not waterproof and will soak in a lot of water once the rain really starts coming down.
So those are our tips for keeping your hands warm in the winter. One way to simplify it is to think of it as if you were layering clothes for winter. You start with a wool baselayer and add a waterproof shell or down puffy jacket as the weather dictates.
During the last few months we’ve been mixing it up on our Youtube Channel expanding the types of content from just bag reviews to include tech and some travel vlog style content. Our interest in vlogging has evolved slowly over time as a means to share what we do in a little more immediate way. While testing the waters with this format, we didn’t really want to spend a whole lot of money and wanted to use gear we already owned. For us, that meant an iPhone with a few choice accessories. The bonus with doing it on the iPhone is that I could edit videos at night in the tent!
You can see the results from our experiment in our #GreatWesternRamble playlist. While the production value is a little less than the client work that we do, having a small innocuous system really allowed us to capture some great extemporaneous moments. Some of our favorites include interviewing the owners of Tiger Town Brewing and Spoken Hostel in Mitchell, OR. Sure, we could have rigged up the larger camera, but at the cost of these quick great moments.
Here’s a list of the gear we used for vlogging during the summer and some notes on whether we would use the same thing again or not.
The Saramonic iMic is an ESSENTIAL piece of gear. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about video, it is that you can get away with a little sub par video if the audio/narrative is strong, but not the other way around. The Saramonic is small and inexpensive and works pretty well. You do have to use it fairly close for best results (about an arms length away) but for most vlogging uses that is fine.
Gorillapod and Phone Holder
This Gorillapod and phone holder combination came in handy as well. The Gorillapod allows you to extend your reach to capture more of you, your surroundings and your partner in the frame. It was also great for setting the phone down on a table or wrapped around a bike for quick timelapses. If there is one flaw in this system it is the cheap phone holder. I went through two of these in a month. If I were to do it again, I would get something nicer like the Glif!
Clip on Wide Angle Lens
We used the least expensive and Primeable clip on wide angle lens we could find at the time. A wide angle lens is essential for talking into the camera (especially with two people). The wide angle also allows you to hold the camera closer to you and thus improve the sound quality of the mic. The clip on mechanism worked fine but was fidgety when aligning it for the best quality. If you missed the lens on the camera you will get some extremely soft corners. It was also a bit of a pain to have to unclip and reclip it to switch between forward facing and rear facing cameras. Ultimately, we would have liked to get something like the Olloclip but weren’t ready to invest that kind of money.
Vlogging is a good way to run down your phone battery! Some sort of external battery pack is essential especially if you are touring through remote areas without a way to charge things. Fortunately, external batteries have gone way down in price (like this one!) and allow you to travel and shoot for several days “off the grid”. A bonus is that a lot of gear these days (GPS, camera, phone, lights, etc.,) can also be charged by external battery packs almost getting rid of the need of other heavy and complicated systems like dynamos and solar panels.
Dedicated Vlog Camera
One of the things we considered was getting a dedicated vlogging camera. Perhaps the most recommended is the Canon G7 Mark 2. It is packed with lots of great features like image stabilization, high image quality and a passable mic. However, it DOES come in at a hefty price point for a camera with a singular purpose. We are on the fence on this one, but if we did have the available funds it would be a strong contender.
We are pretty dedicated to doing future vlogs on upcoming trips. For us it is a fun way to share our experiences with others. The gear we use may ultimately change, but for us using the phone was a good place to start. One of the cameras we are eagerly anticipating is the Lumix G85 which works well with our other camera lenses, has a mic input and amazing image stabilization. Stay tuned for more vlogs in the future and a gear update when we get that sorted out.
In this vid, we review the Leatherman Squirt PS4, a tiny multitool packed with lots of useful tools for everyday tasks. For those that would rather read than watch, here is the written executive summary
I’ve owned and lost many tools during our travels, but the only one I’ve decided to repurchase is the Leatherman Squirt PS4 – it is just THAT handy. What really sets it apart from similar tools like the Leatherman Juice is the size. The Squirt weighs in at 56 grams compared to the Juice’s 125. At less than half of the Juice, the Squirt is a multi-tool you can have on your key ring that won’t feel like a boat anchor at the end of the day.
Beyond just the size and weight savings, the Squirt also has really useful tools. The primary tool is a pair of pliers which are capable of most light to medium duty tasks. The bonus is that they also manage to squeeze in a pair of scissors! Scissors are one tool that is pretty unique and hard to replicate with another tool, so it is such a boon to have them included in a small multitool.
If you’re looking for a great tool to take on tour or just for every day carry purposes, we highly recommend the Squirt PS4. I probably use mine atleast half a dozen times a day! Buy yours locally, or if you want to support site, you can order one through this link.
In our latest video review we take a look at the Topeak Rocket Ratchet Lite, a tool that we’ve been using for well over a year at home and when we travel. For those that don’t want to watch the full video and prefer a written review, here is an executive summary.
Overall, the Rocket Ratchet Lite is a fun tool to use. It is somehow more enjoyable to use a ratcheting mechanism than constantly removing and inserting a tool if it can’t do a full rotation. I also think that the ratchet reduces wear on bolt heads that aren’t made of very good metal. I don’t know if it is the satisfying clicking noise or what, but it is a pleasure to use. It makes short work of installing or removing racks and fenders and other tasks where you are generally turning in a single direction for a majority of the time. We even use ours to remove pedals from bikes (our pedals have allen wrench sockets in the back).
Where the ratchet is more liability than asset is tasks where you have to reverse direction very quickly. For example, straightening or adjusting the height of a seatpost. It’s a not a big deal, but it does make the task less fluid. It is also not ideal for working on parts of the bike where you are using various bit sizes simultaneously. Another shortfall is the nylon case. The bits are held in the open sided case by small elastic pockets. Most of the time they do their job, but I have opened up my bike bag to find that some of the bits had tumbled out.
Despite these flaws I still really really like this tool. The ratcheting system is just a joy to use and makes certain tasks much faster.
+Fun to use
+Makes certain tasks easier (removing fenders, racks, pedals, etc.,)
-Slow to Switch Directions
-Slow to Switch Bits