2018 An Alcoholic's Lunch

2018 An Alcoholic’s Lunch

I decided I needed to field test a few pieces of gear before hauling them along with me on my upcoming motorcycle camping trips this season, and one item that I’ve enjoyed playing with is the Trangia spirit stove, or in my case, a Chinese clone of the Trangia.

I’m an Alcoholic

 I put together a wee kit and tossed onto my motorcycle and took it in to work with me with the idea of testing this out at lunch time.

It’s a minimalist set up for sure

 The pot stand is available on AliExress.com as “Argos Titanium Folding Pot Stand with Tray Alcohol Stove Solid Fuel Stove Ultralight Titanium Pocket Stove Multi-Fuel Stove”, quite the mouthful, isn’t it? The draw is that it collapses and all fits into that small grey bag. It works as a combination windscreen and pot stand, and can be used with solid fuel tablets (Esbit) or with an alcohol burner.

This thing is brilliant!

The first time I tried it in a strong wind, I had placed the burner on top of the solid fuel plate, and as the burner was too high and exposed to the strong wind, it roared through the two ounces of fuel and not much of the heat ever hit the bottom of the pan.

Lesson Learned:

  • In very strong winds you will need a windscreen or a protected area. 
  • Bring three times as much fuel for windy conditions

Today the breeze was strong enough to fly a flag straight out from it’s flagstaff, and variable, but not terribly strong. Still, it meant that I was expecting a boil time of two cups of water at 8 minutes in good conditions, and I had to wait a whole 2 extra minutes before I got a rolling boil.

At about four minutes, things are starting to happen. 

 Round about the magic 8 minute mark, there was steam coming off the water, and larger bubbles forming, but not quite a boil. You could see the heat shadows on the surface of the picnic table blowing with the wind, and the heat signature on the bottom of the stainless steel MSR Alpine (Seagull) Stowaway 775ml pot appearing and disappearing in the gusting breeze.

10 minutes saw a full boil achieved, at which time I tossed my Mr. Noodles into the pot, put the lid back and continued cooking for another four minutes. I probably should have tossed the simmer ring on once it was at a full boil to conserve some fuel, but I didn’t think of it at the time.

Trangia Clone “Go Hike” off of FleaBay

 You can get a decent Trangia clone on FleaBay such as the “Alocs”, “Esbit” or “GoHike” branded models, as well as some more expensive titanium models.

After cooking the noodles for four minutes, I snuffed the flames of the burner, let it cool off and had a peek to see that of the 2 ounces of fuel that I started with, I was now down to about a 1/4 of an ounce left. I was not expecting it to burn this much fuel, but the strong breeze would account for that. I’m sure that if I’d used a full windscreen I’d have burned much less fuel. If that bothers you, you might want to take a look at the Caldera Cone system.

The burner, and the pot stand along with a mod

 The windscreen pot stand comes in four parts

  • three identical side shields forming the triangle
  • one solid fuel tablet base that fits into the triangle
The mod I added to this is the square section of stainless steel grate. It gets placed on top of the pot stand for smaller boiling vessels like tin mugs that would plummet straight down into the burner otherwise. 
Clean up

I’ve a wee bit of soap impregnated towel, and with some cold water and a bit of elbow grease is perfect for a wash-up.

I store the pot stand, and all the bits I need inside the MSR Alpine Stowaway Pot 775ml that I recently purchased from MEC.ca  It reviews very well, and truly is bulletproof. The feature I like most is that the folding handle flips up and locks the lid into place, so all the bits and pieces of kit get stowed away inside the pot, with the drying rag there to keep it from rattling. A brilliant little piece of kit that is used by enthusiasts that want durability and functionality. It goes from the stove straight into the fire and back again with aplomb.

I bought the 775ml version. Perfect size for Ramen and solo camping

Conclusion:

I have to make sure that I pack along extra fuel and a windscreen, but I was very happy with my Alcoholic Lunch break and I hope you enjoy the review. 
 
As a bonus, I’ll toss in a YouTube Video of a world travelling solo cyclist who extols the virtues of her cooking system. Push Bike Girl – How I cook on the Road
 

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2018 The Pownal PE Shore

I’d spent much of Saturday cooking some home cured corned beef, so when Sunday rolled around, and seemed to pass quickly, I was determined to get out on the bike for a ride, in spite of the cool 11 degree Celsius, cloudy Sunday afternoon. As I was going out the door of my apartment, I opted to change out of my jeans and into some heavier riding pants, as well as to take my heated jacket in favour of the heated vest, and am I ever glad I did! It was cool just walking or sitting around, but my legs and feet said “This is fall riding weather!”.

End of the road for the Versys
Charlottetown PE to Stratford to Pownal and return

I decided that I’d scope out the Tim Horton’s parking lot just down the street, and sure enough there were a couple of older riders there, Derrick a Ducati pilot, and ???? I forgot already, although he was mounted on a nice well maintained 2016 Honda CRF250L. We chatted for a while and they headed home, while I headed East across the bridge, then turned south past my office to follow the shoreline. I thought about heading out to Point Prim, as the lighthouse out there is pretty nice, but much of the ride would have been on the boring Trans Canada Route 1, so opted instead to stop at all the little access roads that I could find that took me out to the south shore of Stratford as I made my way East.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Versys doesn’t like wet clay, and to be truthful, neither do I. It’s slicker than snot and harder to get off your clothes. Luckily the roads were dry enough for me to have a wee bit of adventure without calling a friend for recovery.

The Ministry of Defence Rifle Range… Red Flag is up!
 
 
There is a mud hole just up ahead.

Yeah, I’m a wuss, and the thought of trying to pick up 500lbs of street bike just didn’t appeal, so I turned around rather than test out the Shinko 705s in that mud hole just up and around the corner. Beat a hasty retreat back out the road to look for another likely candidate to take me out to the shore.

 
 
 
 
 
 
The apple blossoms are beginning to litter the shoulder with their petals
 
 

Back in Charlottetown I found that I wasn’t quite ready to put the bike away yet, so headed around Victoria Park and back over to the Timmies where I ran into some of the Red Isle Riders that were out with the same idea as I, although when Mikala asked me if I wanted to join them for a ride out to Montague, I suddenly remembered I had an appointment with my couch and a nice hot cuppa. 😀

Brighton Lighthouse, Charlottetown PE

And that was pretty much it for today, just a short Sunday fling that made me remember why I bought those tires for this bike, and why I enjoy riding the Versys instead of a sport touring bike. 😀

I hope you enjoyed the pictures.

Cheers!

 

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Campsite chairs

To sit, or not to sit…

The OUTAD folding chair
 

You pull up to your campsite at the end of a long day, swing a leg off the bike and unload your tent and get it set up as the light begins to fade…

A cow pasture along the shore of the Annapolis River NS

 Now do you sit down in the wet grass and dirt, or do you climb back onto your motorcycle’s seat? If you are fortunate you have a picnic table in your campsite and you take advantage of it to set up your stove, relax and enjoy your evening, but if you are me, you pretty much eat standing up or wandering around because you are too cheap to pay for a campsite, and you found something like a cow pasture, or the backside of a community centre or fire hall…

It was getting to me and I started seeing more posts in a group I belong for recommendations for camp chairs, and I came across one for a chair that ticked all the boxes for me:

  • cheap
  • compact
  • lightweight
  • sturdy
  • well reviewed
  • cheap (oops, back to that again are we?)

I’d done a five day ride a couple of weeks ago, and spent a full day at the racetrack to which I hadn’t brought a chair. I got to watch the races sitting on a comfortable cement block, while those around me sat in comfort.

 

Alright, one is sitting comfortably

Anyhow, I’ve packed along a folding metal chair a few times, one that went over 8,000 kilometres to Labrador and Newfoundland and back, and while I got plenty of use out of it, it was so much easier sending it up with the purse (car trunk) rather than trying to fit it on my motorcycle.

Back in 2006 I’m packed up for a weekend

Two days worth of camping, and back in 2006 I’ve got the bike loaded down with far too heavy a load. I’d like to say the panniers were loaded down with the booze and mix, but that would be a lie. I was roughing it and would be leaving the mix behind.

That was a $10 dollar Canadian Tire special that I used for years, but with a steel frame, and it’s long length,  it was just too heavy and bulky. When I tipped in on the twisties, it was like an outrigger and I could see the feet in my peripheral vision, dipping down into the inside corner. I stopped taking it on the bike with me.

My friends would take this up in the purse for me, CSBK Mosport

In 2011 I crossed the Trans Labrador highway and hauled along a three legged “Bass Pro” special that while much smaller and a bit lighter, was still too heavy to be dragging around on the bike as pretty much dead weight.

The Bass Pro three legged chair, and Suzi waiting for her dinner
 

My friends invested in some camp chairs made of mesh and aluminum that made me think that my 245lbs would either have the chair resting on the ground, or the mesh seams ripped apart in no time, plus the price wasn’t appealing, and for some reason all the other chairs got used before it did…

Hey, all the chairs in one shot! How cool is that?
VRRA weekend at CTMP

My trip around the Cabot Trail this past July, and then my Lighthouse Route ride in August saw me do a lot of camping, and at the end of the day I really wanted to sit down with some back support, unlike sitting upright in a tent, for example.

You know, the more I look at it, the more interesting the design of the REI – Trail chair becomes, as it could easily be used inside your tent where most of the others would damage the floor and footprint. In fact, I think some people use this as both and sleeping pad. There are other on the market designed to do exactly that. Think of rainy days where you wait out the weather under the tent… Hmmm.

 
 
Bed, chair. Chair-bed? Bed-chair?
 

Nor do I want to pay $200 or more for chair made in China or Taiwan and resold by REI or MEC, so I did some research and found a compromise in the form of an OUTAD chair sold on eBay.ca for about $40 CDN. It ticked all the boxes for me, and hopefully it will arrive before my next adventure into the great unknown.

 
  
  

Right away I can see the feet sinking into the ground, so a little searching and I found a great hack for that issue in a post “Don’t Let Me Down Big Agnes” By Irv Oslin, 2015

The camp chair feet hack

I’ll be sure and review it for you once I get it on the slow boat from China. Perhaps a trip sometime this fall.

Before I leave you, I’ll pass along some of the recommendations that stand out and suggest you visit Trailspace.com for some excellent reviews of various camp chairs.

 

Kermit

 

Helinox – Chair One
REI – Trail Chair

Obviously there are many more chair styles out there, but these three tend to top the lists. Once again, check out the trailspace.com reviews for many more camp chair ideas.

Personally I think the Outad chair is a knockoff of the Helinox Chair One. I hope I made the right choice.

Cheers!

Update 2017-08-29: 

Mail for you Uncle Ron!

I just got the chair in the regular mail run, and for $36 CDN / $27 USD this is what you get:

  • zippered bag with webbing loops for attachment to straps or bungee cords
  • aluminum and plastic legs/back/seat
  • seat and back
It’s wee, but not that wee. 
  • weight: 873 grams or 1lb-15oz
  • packed dimensions: 350mm x 140mm x 110mm or 14″ x 5.5″ x 4.3″
There goes the famous eBay selling tactic of key words such as ULTRALIGHT BACKPACKING etc. I suppose you could backpack with this for day hikes, but don’t let that ultralight fool you. 
 
All this and no instructions
The frame is certainly decent in quality, with a couple of minor scuffs
It will almost assemble itself if you shake it just right

 It sets up easily, although I was confused at first how the seat went on as it ships without instructions, and I found after one trial run, that I could set it up in 1:45 minutes, and the tear down was just 1 minute!

The aluminum looks durable and think enough for the job
The tolerances could be tighter
Only time will tell how long these will last with my fat arse on it.
It does stow away easily
Assembly in under two minutes

 The legs will sink a tad in hard mowed lawns, and reviews of this type of chair indicate that in softer soil, I’ll need to be prepared as the feet will sink in.

 

It racks around a bit, as the tolerances between the legs and the plastic hub are generous, but I suspect that it is also the nature of the chair and it’s design. I’m just not used to it.At six feet and about 245lbs I find I tend to slouch when I sit in the chair, as the seat base isn’t quite deep enough for my comfort, but I also think that with time, the chair seat will stretch down and I’ll be more comfortable as it does so. The height above ground is more than adequate and I had no troubles getting in and out of the chair, and found it very easy to lift up and set down again to reposition it.  

 
Note that I should have chosen to assemble the chair with the carrying bag slipped onto the poles to provide a wee storage bag and to prevent the carrying bag from flying away in the wind. Easily done with the generous loops provided on the ends of the bag.
 
The bottom.
Want a second look?
I could stuff a hat, scarf, and mittens in there!

The carry bag is spacious enough that you simply disassemble it, fold the legs up, fold the seat back in half then roll it around the legs and stuff into the bag without much of a struggle. I can see myself stuffing extra bits of camp gear into this bag if I wanted or needed to. The material looks to be a waterproof nylon material, with single sewn seams and reinforced stitching for the webbing attachment points.

 

The first thing I looked at were the attachment points where the rods enter the seat back, and they were constructed of a heavy PVC type of material fastened to double thickness material similar to cordura.

Summary:

It definitely a knock off of the Helinox chair that retails for $150 CDN including shipping, so for one quarter of the price, you too can have this well made copy. Only time and use will tell if I got my moneys worth on this deal, but for now, I no longer have to park my butt in the wet grass and that makes me happy.

I’ll be sure to provide an update once I put this to some serious use.

Pros:

  • Price – 1/4 the price of similar camp chairs
  • Performance – easy to set up and tear down
  • Materials – supports my old man lard @ss
  • Size – assembled it works for me, and I’m a 6 footer, packed it will be easy to strap onto the motorcycle
  • Carry bag designed with webbing loops for attachment to packs and bikes

Cons:

  • Weight – I’d be happier if it was lighter, but then I would I would lose the trade off strength for weight
  • Racks, rotates, moves when I am seated in it and I adjust my postion. Not alot, and I think it is the price you pay for the design. A minor annoyance
  • Feet sink into the ground. Anyone who does their research knows this about this style of chair (See the Hack for a fix)
 
 

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