Ask anyone who has done both, and they will tell you that there’s a difference between bike camping and car camping.* The biggest difference is that a bike camper is generally more concerned about the overall weight and bulk of gear, whereas a car camper can stuff loads of large and bulky items even in a small car. Bike campers tend to look for smaller, lightweight versions of camping gear. And they’ll simply eschew some items considered “essential” to your average family car camper.
One of those “leave behind” items is a lantern. Most bike campers will use a headlight, as they are lightweight and will point in the same direction as one’s eyes. Like most bike campers, this is what I generally use. But there are drawbacks to headlights, especially in a group camping setting. You’ll find this out when everyone ends up pointing their headlights into each other’s eyes at a picnic table. Here is where a lantern would be handy.
I hadn’t thought about a camping lantern in some time. Then a representative from Dorcy, a flashlight/lighting company, asked me if I would like to try out some of their new battery powered lanterns, and keep said lanterns after reviewing? Well, sure!
The first lantern that I tried was the 160 Lumens 4D LED Twin Globe Lantern, which is the biggest and most powerful battery powered lantern they stock. I brought it out on my camping trip to Oxbow in June. How did it do? Very well. Even with one of the two LED “globes” on, it was hella bright. Bright enough that my fellow campers groused about it a bit.
If I was most concerned about brightness, this would be a go-to lantern. But it’s big. It looks big even in the humongous front basket of the Crested Butte.
Next up for testing was the 6 LED Dynamo Lantern, which was the one I was most interested in, initially. It’s because it can be powered with a hand-crank, which means no batteries and no need to charge (though one can charge it via USB plug, a bonus.) This means it’s a good emergency lantern, for use if we ever get the Big One that has been threatened for years, or in case of nuclear/zombie apocalypse or general societal breakdown. To test it, I cranked it for about a minute, and left it on. I came back about 12 hours later, and it still was giving out a good amount of light!
The only drawback for me is that it’s still a bit big and clunky, so it hasn’t come along on any bike camping trips.
The winner of the trio for me is the Warm White LED Area Lantern , the one that I expected the least from. It puts out a good amount of light and even has an “amber” night light mode, when one just needs that little bit of light. And it is pretty small, too. Note how much space it takes up in the smallish basket on my Bridgestone XO-3. (The yellow thing is my sleeping bag.)
I’m not going to be taking a lantern with me on every camping trip. I doubt I’ll take one on my solo camping/touring expeditions, unless it’s autumn or winter when there’s more night than day. But in group camping expeditions, or for “lightness be damned” trips, I think I’ll be grabbing that Warm White LED Area Lantern quite a bit.
*There is also a difference between car camping and hike-camping. While bike camping shares many similarities with hike-camping, we’re concentrating on bike camping this time around.
We skipped it during Pedalpalooza. But it demands to be done. So next week, on Tuesday August 26th, Chris and myself are hosting this year’s Pizza Ride.
This ride is limited to 24 riders (and there is only 15 spots left as I write this!) And it requires registration. Full details and registration over here:
Pizza Ride 2008 photo courtesy Brad Reber.
I don’t usually plan out Sunset Burrito Club events in advance. but this one is special, on the night of the Harvest Moon. Please join us!
SUNSET/MOONRISE BURRITO CLUB, HARVEST EDITION
meet at Acapulco Grill, 819 N Lombard St
Monday September 8
6:00pm – 8:30pm, Leaving tacqueria at 6:30pm
Join us for a very special ride on the night of the full Harvest moon. I will guarantee you a great spot not only to see the sun set, but also the moon rise (which happens right afterward.) Get burrito at Acapulco (or tacqueria of your choice), then ride about 5 miles to the mystery viewing destination. BYO beverage. Sunset 7:35 PDT, moonrise 7:38 PDT.
What are you doing after SE Sunday Parkways next Sunday, August 24? What? Just going home? Don’t do something silly like that! Not when there’s the two-fer of a Ramble plus a Bike Camp Cookout directly after the ride!
POST PARKWAYS RAMBLE & CAMP COOKOUT
Meet at Coe Circle, 3900 NE Glisan St (By the Joan of Arc.)
Sunday August 24
Meet up at 4, leave by 4:30pm
Let’s finish Sunday Parkways with a fun ramble of about 10 miles. A meandering mix of paved and unpaved, flat and unflat, etc. You will be rewarded with some nice scenery and weird shit. Ride about 10 miles total. At the end we’ll have a Bike Camp Cookout in a park. Please note: camping stove required, not a grill/hibachi. No dehydrated/”instant” meals that you bought at REI. (Don’t worry, we’re stopping at a market on the way.) Moderate pace, not a loop, may not be “kid cargo bike” friendly. If you show up in lycra, you buy everyone beer.
No, I promise that this blog is not going to become some type of Successories product. But sometimes I take notice of inspirational signs. Especially when they are on bike routes.
Thursday morning I was running late to work, and in my flustered state I took a turn earlier than I should of. This was a blessing in disguise, as I noticed a home-made sign tacked to the telephone pole on SE Salmon at SE 26th:
SE Salmon is a popular bike route, and yep, this is near the top of a hill.
I love these type of signs. Regular bike signs are great, but they are dry: they provide information, but no encouragement. You may know where you’re going, but do you know that you are almost to the top of the hill? Do you need a little mental boost? The standard white-and-green “Bike Route” ain’t going to do that. This sign, however, will.
This reminds me of another “sign” found on a rock at the base of the Loup Loup Pass summit sign in central Washington, which we crested on the Big Bike Tour back in 2011.
Hey there, friends. So now I’m back in Portland, after wrapping up the tour. I would have liked to blog along the way, but spotty wifi/3G, lack of time/places to charge the phone, and just lack of time for these things meant it didn’t happen. I’ll be getting my thoughts together in a more coherent post or two this week. In the meantime, enjoy the “postcard reports” below. And check out what photos I have right now on my flickr. (More photos to come in the coming days.)
Hello friends. Last post I was (be)moaning about the lack of bicycle camping/touring adventures I’ve had this year. Well, today I actually depart for one of my mini-tours!
This evening I’ll be taking the Amtrak Cascades train up to Seattle, where I will spend the night. The next morning (Thursday August 7th), I’ll take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island, then ride north through the Kitsap Peninsula to Port Townsend on the Quimper Peninsula (and the furthest north-east part of the Olympic Peninsula), where I’ll spend the night.
Then on Friday morning (August 8th), another ferry will get me to Whidbey Island, and I’ll ride north through the island then across Deception Pass to Anacortes where I’ll camp for the night. On Saturday morning, another ferry (are you seeing a theme here?) will bring me to Lopez Island in the San Juan Archipelago, where I’ll spend the night. You may remember during my San Juans Tour last September I didn’t get to spend as much time on Lopez as I wanted as I was running from the coming storms. So now I will get to spend time here!
On Sunday morning, the final ferry ride back to the “mainland”, Anacortes* then ride through the lowlands towards Seattle. I’ll probably hop on transit around Everett which will bring me back to Seattle, where I’ll spend the night. Then on Monday morning (August 11th), I’ll take the train home.
This should be a fun trip. I love the Puget Sound area, and the weather promises to be good, with no rain in the forecast. And the sea water will moderate the temperature, quite the relief after all the hot weather we’ve been having in Portland.
I’ll try to send a few posts from the road. Check out my flickr account, as I hope to upload some photos there too.
*Yes, I realize that Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island, which is technically not the mainland. But it is connected to it by a bridge.
Attention Kmart shoppers, er, dear readers: I don’t know if you have noticed, but we are already a few days into August. And if you are in the northern hemisphere, that means we’ve already passed the “hump” of summer. Now, I definitely know that it’s still summer here in Portland, as it’ s been sunny and the highs have been between 85F and 95F for, oh, most of July. (Except for those few days of rain, of course.) But as August starts its march toward September, I realize that there’s not that much summer left, and I haven’t seized summer in the way that I want. And the way that I want to do that is by bike touring.
The big problem is because of my current work-life-typed-thing, big epic tours are not in the cards for 2014. (Maybe 2015, we’ll see.) At best, I can hope for two weeks of week-plus vacation from work, and maybe a couple 3-4 day “mini-vacations”. I already used one of my vacations to go out to Minnesota for the Three Speed Tour in May. And that was a worthy adventure. But spending a week doing that means I only get another week-plus vacation to do a bike tour. And I have maybe the two 3-4 day “mini-vacations” to do mini-tours.
That leaves me with bike overnights, the overnight camping adventures that can “fill” out the rest of the calendar. And I haven’t done as many of those as I want. Looking back, I haven’t really done many at all. Oh sure, I got an early start and did an overnight in February, then I’ve managed to do at least one every month since then (two in June and July). To most people, that’s “a lot”. To someone like me, who loves bike camping and is jonesing for a real tour, not enough. And many of those were more about expediency and proximity, so rather than explore new destinations (which I prefer), I repeated a couple, like Battle Ground Lake and Oxbow. And now that I think of it, I haven’t done anything resembling a bike tour since last September…
Thankfully, I do have a couple mini-tours slated in the next couple months. And I get to take my next (and final) vacation of 2014 in mid-September. For the full vacation, I’m planning on doing something involving portions of the Oregon Outback route with stuff around the Cascades. More details to come.
For now, I’ll just have to be an armchair bike tourist, read Gypsy By Trade, and get jealous.