A coffee update

A while back I wrote a post about coffee, and our options for coffee while camping. I said that I’d never tried the pour-over method.

On a recent trip to REI (I swear, that place has become my new Home Depot) I showed Michael the GSI version: GoGoTacoNegro

He saw the price ($12.95) and said “why not?” So we added this bad boy to our coffee arsenal.

The GSI takes up a fraction of the space required by the French Press. But how did it work?

GoGoTacoNegro

I am happy to say it worked like a champ. I’m not completely sure, but I believe we used less grounds than with the French Press, too. I think we have a winner!

One last note. On some other trip to REI (this one was to the Denver Flagship store) we found a screaming deal on a portable speaker. In the photo below, it’s to the left of the coffee.

GoGoTacoNegro

The ECOXGEAR EcoExtreme is a portable, waterproof speaker. Now, I don’t think these are all that expensive to begin with, but we found ours for just $20. Again – we said, why not? If it really sucked we knew we could return it.

And maybe it’s not that great. I mean, I’m a musician but not a speaker expert. But I have to say I’ve been pretty impressed with this little speaker. I think it sounds great! We hook our iPod up to it, although we could also stream Pandora if we were in range. (We had zero cell phone reception on this trip.)

The EcoExtreme really is waterproof – we left it out in the rain while we got the chairs, blankets, tea, and reading material together under the tarp. Supposedly the batteries last for 30 hours, but I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Overall – on both the coffee and music fronts – I’d say a win for Team Drazsnzak!

 

UPDATE: the search for a waterproof duffel

I’ve been trolling the internet in my search for a waterproof duffel bag.

I finally found one! From Cabela’s: The Boundary Waters Duffel Bag. Not cheap, but definitely not as expensive as the Patagonia bag. And this one is fully waterproof! I ordered the large and it arrived over the weekend.

I was so excited! Then I pulled it out of the box. And suddenly I’m not so sure I ordered the right size…

GoGoTacoNegro

It seems a bit larger, yes? Like, more space than I need. A lot more.

See, one of the things I’m going for here is simplicity. Minimalism, if you will. And if we’re going out for 10 days, how much crap do I really need to bring?

The funny thing is that I actually didn’t know how big the REI duffel was. I bought it on a prodeal years ago. I was guessing based on some measurements I took that kind of matched with what REI puts on their site.

So, now that I have them side by side, I looked up each on online again. The REI size large is 5,125 cubic inches. The Cabela’s size large is 5,880 cubic inches. So… not that much bigger.

I think the Cabela’s bag is a keeper. We’re planning a quick overnighter next week, so I’ll let you know how it works out. If it rains, that is. Spring seems to have ended on June 1st here. We went from cool, rainy weather to the mid-80’s overnight. By the end of this week daytime temps are forecasted for the 90’s. Every day.

So that overnighter might be up to the high country.

 

Gear Review: the Luci Light

I remember one of our previous trips to Moab. We went late in the fall – like, right around Election Day. In some ways it was the perfect time to go. Daytime temps were in the 60’s.

But it was after Daylight Savings Time started, so it got dark at 5pm every day. Also, as soon as it got dark it got cold. So on that trip we spent a lot of time at the Moab Brewery. We watched Sunday Night Football… Monday Night Football… Tuesday night election coverage…

We also went through a lot of batteries. After we’d get back to camp, we needed to see where were were going. We wanted to read before going to bed.

This time, we wanted to go at least partly solar. Enter the Luci light.

Luci Light

We found these at REI for about $15. They come flat, so they don’t take up a lot of room when you’re packing. Then you inflate them when you want to use them. It cracks me up that there is a warning label on the box, telling people that these lights are not, in fact, flotation devices.

The Luci is made by a company called MPOWERD and the lanterns are pretty cool. MPOWERD says they’ll charge fully in about 7 hours, and last 12 hours on the brightest setting, which is 50 lumens.

GoGoTacoNegro

If you look at the hood of the truck in this photo, you’ll see our Luci lights charging up.

We have a total of 6 Luci lights. Because they have a strap along one side, we can even hang them inside the tent. I do love these lights! They pack down small, don’t weigh anything, and are bright enough that even one inside the tent would be enough for us to see what we’re doing.

But we have 6 because we like to read in bed. And one light is not enough to read by. Maybe that means I’m getting old? Whatever.

You can get the Luci Light at REI, and I think they’re worth every penny. Long live solar power!

Gear Review: Coleman 424 Dual Fuel Stove

Coleman 424

We’ve had our Coleman 424 Dual Fuel Stove for years. Mostly because a few years ago it quit working. We changed out the generator but that didn’t help. I was working at REI at the time, and I found a Coleman combination grill/stove at a garage sale for something like $20. So the 424 ended up in the shed with all the other gear we never use but won’t get rid of for some reason.

Coleman Stove

The combo grill/stove runs on propane. Specifically, those small propane canisters. We’ve used this grill for a couple of years now, and I like it. It works great, it’s reliable and easy to use. But the propane canister thing has always been a hangup.

See, those propane canisters aren’t recyclable. And you never get all the propane out of them. Once they get too low, the stove won’t work anymore. So they get tossed before they’re totally empty. What a waste!

We didn’t want to contribute to landfills like that, so we pulled out the 424 again. We replaced the generator (again) and on our deck at home, Michael got it to work just fine. So we took it along on the trip.

We also brought a backup – our MSR Dragonfly backpacking stove.

We needed it. I finally named the 424 “Vera, the World’s Most Temperamental Stove.” You practically had to sweet-talk Vera to get her to work. Sometimes we’d put a pot on the burner just so that we didn’t have to look at the orange wall of flames coming off it. Usually we’d eventually get a nice blue flame from Vera. But not always. So the bottoms of the two pans we cook with have a nice, thick layer of soot on them.

Look, it’s not just us! I found a great website by a Dutch couple who’ve been traveling in their Land Cruiser since 2003: LandCruisingAdventure.com. I found a whole post where Coen talks about his and Karin-Marijke’s adventures with their 424:

“I will admit that the Coleman stove isn’t like a normal propane or camping gas where you turn the knob and have a regulated flame. After preheating the generator, getting your flame to burn nicely with blue flames (instead of orange) requires the right pressure. And while altitude and fuel quality have great affects on the blueness of your flame, once you get to know your stove well, I find it not that hard to manage (Karin-Marijke doesn’t entirely agree with me on this issue).”

Sounds kinda familiar…

Anyway, we plan on sticking with the 424 because of the fuel it burns. It runs best on white gas, and you can find that at just about any outdoor store, Wal-Mart, and the occasional gas station. White gas burns at high altitudes, low temperatures, you name it. And the true beauty of this stove is that it actually will run on regular gasoline too (hence the “dual fuel” in the name). So it can go anywhere.

I guess I’ll just have to learn to work with Vera.

Gear Reviews

Time to take a look back on the trip… and see what worked, and what didn’t.

First up: The Yeti 45 cooler

Yeti 45 cooler

People who are familiar with Yeti coolers seem to either love them or hate them. The hate mostly stems from the price – would you believe that bad boy costs $350???

Yeti Tundra coolers are heavily-duty. In fact, Yeti says they are “damn near indestructible.” You can stand on it, sit on it, drop it out the back of your truck (it’s been done, and it’s on YouTube). The latches are made from heavy-duty rubber and sit flush with the cooler, so they won’t break off. Yetis are also bear proof!

The double walls means they don’t sweat. They definitely keep ice better than a cheapo cooler, for a few reasons. The walls and lid are extra thick, with over 2″ of polyurethane foam. Also, the seal around the lid is a freezer-quality gasket. (Just like on the fridge/freezer in your house.)

Sounds great, right? We got our Tundra 45 (it means 45-quart capacity) at REI, because we like their return policy. They didn’t have the next size up (a 65-quart), and honestly, we thought the 45 would be plenty big enough.

We were wrong.

With a 10-lb block of ice in there, we ran out of room for all the things we needed to keep cold for a 10-day period.

That’s actually my only complaint about the cooler. It worked like a champ. That block of ice lasted for the entire trip. I love the basket that comes with the Tundra:

Yeti tundra basket

It holds all the little stuff that you don’t want to get wet.

So when we returned the 45, we headed over to Cabela’s. Their coolers are cheaper and get similar reviews. But we found the Cabela’s version to have a larger overall footprint. The Yeti has rope handles only. The Cabela’s Polar Cap Equalizer rope handles, as well as plastic handles that stick out farther. Also, there is no basket.

These seem like small things, and Michael and I talked about it for a while, standing right there in Cabela’s. And while it pained us greatly to spend the extra money, we went over to REI and got the Yeti 65.

Of course, I may change my mind yet again… which is one more reason I like REI so much.

There is one other company we considered – RTIC. They’re considered a Yeti knockoff. Literally! I read that Yeti is actually suing RTIC for stealing their design. Maybe that’s why when we tried to order one, it was on backorder for 6 months?

Let me know what you think in the comments! Are we crazy for going with Yeti over the Cabela’s version?