One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Category: Gear

Lube Is Better than Spit; Get Some Tri-Flow!

Super quick review. Tri-Flow TF21010 Superior Lubricant– this shit works waaayyyy better than spit. I am a simple guy and try not to get to crazy with having a million different options for every individual situation. I happened to have Tri-Flow recommended to my by one of the world’s dopest bike mechanics right before I raced the Tour Divide a few years back. Without a doubt in my mind, it is the best all around bike lubricant. I used any time I needed lube during the Tour Divide, and I’ve used it in all four seasons in the Midwest as well. Hot and dry to cold and salty, it holds up. I will admit that during the Tour Divide I had to put it inside my jacket to warm it up in the early mornings up north. Other than that, I have had absolutely no problems with it.

tri-flow tf21010 superior lubricant

Seriously, get yourself some Tri-Flow!

Now for my normal sage wisdom. I am paraphrasing what I have heard from a few “friends”, You can’t just spit on that shit, spit isn’t lube. So if you need a good all around bike lube when spit just won’t cut it, get some Tri-Flow.


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The North Face Thermoball Hoodie

If you’ve followed me for any amount of time, I have no doubt that you’ve seen me in this jacket. It’s been all over the world, and has done almost everything I have. Racing, camping, giving presentations, bike commuting, lounging around.

North Face Thermoball Hoodie

More riding than lounging around, however.

But I have used this jacket to almost the end of its days, which is actually getting very close now. That makes me sort of sad. It has been absolutely solid for the last few years. I recently sat and thought about how many hours of use I’ve gotten out of my Thermoball, and if had to guess, it would easily be in the thousands. I just got a Patagonia Nano Puff Air Hoodie to replace it and it still feels like I am cheating. When I get ready to leave the house I hesitate before grabbing the Nano just because the Thermoball has been so good to me for so long.

North Face Thermoball Hoodie

Mine smells like campfire smoke. I recommend you treat yours similarly.

Like all things, the Thermoball isn’t perfect, but the only real down side I found is the breathability. It does collect moisture when you start building up a good sweat, or if you are using it as a layer inside your sleeping bag. That’s it! That’s the entire con list.

North Face Thermoball Hoodie

As I mentioned, it’s also good for lounging. It’s also good for holiday photo ops.

The good far outweighs the bad. It’s lightweight, packs down very small, keeps you warm, and it does a decent enough job at keeping the wind out (though it is not a shell, but nor is it advertised as such). The zippers on the pockets as well as the zip closure have never failed or gotten stuck. The hood has a nice fit for either under my bike helmet or without it. The waist tensioners have done a fantastic job at keeping the wind off my back and the snow out of my butt cheeks, which as you can imagine is pretty important. You can read all the technical specs on the jacket here, if you like.

North Face Thermoball Hoodie
Overall my vote is two thumbs up. If there weren’t new innovations to keep me dry while I’m working hard, while giving me a greater range of motion, I would without a doubt buy another Thermoball. The durability is hard to beat, that’s for sure!

If you’re looking for a great all-around jacket for outdoor activities that will also serve you well while traveling or even a trip to the bar, you’ll be hard pressed to find better than the North Face Thermoball Hoodie.


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Resetting your Lefty Fork

I spent hours searching the internet, watching videos, and reading technical specs about resetting the needle bearings in my Lefty fork. I was worried I was going to take it apart and ruin it. Truth be told, resetting it is one of the simplest repairs I have ever done. Less than five minutes, super common tools and a little brute force.

Most of the references I dug into, talked about the shock length for different travel forks. If you open it and the measurement is inside a specific range of errors, just reassemble it and let it be. That seems silly to me. If I put my tire pump on and the tire is 10% low, I am going to put the air in it while I am there. That is why I suggest that when you have your fork apart just reset the bearings even if it is only 10%. It takes an extra 30 seconds or less.

Another aspect that I realized it that you just slam the fork down and bottom it out. That is it. Give it a good whack. No need to make this technical. “With the traveling velocity of a common sparrow and end force of applied squares” Blah blah blah. Whack it hard.

Last step, adding air .Start with 3/4 of your weight in pounds. I weigh around 180 so that is 135 pounds. I actually ride at 140 pounds because I like a little stiffer ride. No rocket science of sag percentages, travel ranges, rebound speeds. Start with a good guess (Which is what the charts are anyway) and then adjust it to what makes you ride the best and feel the most comfortable. As long as you don’t add 1 billion psi or have in zero, if it feels good, it is good. It is that easy. Check out the video below and watch me reset mine in around 3 minutes.

 

 

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Repairing your tent- Don’t just pitch it

I was very seriously considering throwing away my trusty solo tent. Read about it here. I have got a lot of use out of it, The mosquito netting was ripped and it started to lose it’s waterproofing. I have been eyeballing some newer tents that would be an upgrade. Getting new gear is fun. You get to open it up like it is Christmas and have the excitement of trying something fun. These are all of the excuses I have been making to justify buying a new tent. What I really needed to do is, not be lazy and spend the hour and $10 and repair my tent. So that is what I did. I bought a sewing kit for under $2 and some Scotchgard Water Shield for $8 and got to work.

The first problem that I addressed was the rip in the netting. Everyone has been in a hurry to get out and got the zipper stuck and just kept pulling anyway. Good news is that it is simple and easy to fix.

tentripped

 

The first step is to zip the door closed so that you can see how big the hole is. It also helps you know how much pressure to put on the stitches to get it repaired while still allowing the zipper to close full and not further damage the tent. Why not just zip it all the way shut? Then you cannot get your hand inside to push the needle back out.

tentzipperopen

The next step is to start sewing. I started at the bottom and worked my way up. I cut off about a 6 foot piece of string to work with. It was way too much length but, for the cost and not having to try and start sewing again in the middle it was worth the waste. Starting the repair is the hardest part. You have to tie a knot in the string. I pushed the needle through the zipper in and out as close together as I could and then tied a simple overhand knot. After that I started working both sides of the rip together. Making sure to go into the netting 1/4 of and inch. This is due to the netting ripping slightly when you pull it tight. If you have the thread at the edge it will just rip out. Then I stepped up 1/4 of and inch. Repeat until the hole is closed.

tentzippersewn

 

As you can see it is not perfect and large bugs could get in easily. That brings us to the next step. Gorilla Tape. I already had some lying around so it worked out perfect. I tore off a piece slightly longer than the tear and applied it to the outside first. This would insure that I got the entire rip covered and wouldn’t have to worry about the tape sticking to another part of the netting. Next I unzipped the zipper and attached a similar sized piece to the inside. Last I rubbed the two pieces between my palms to make sure it was stuck down as well possible.

tentzipperdone

That’s it. All done.

Now onto the even easier part. Restoring the waterproofing.

The first step is to clean the tent. I used a microfiber towel to wipe down the floor and a shop-vac to pick up way was left behind. Time investment was 2 minutes.

tentcleaning

 

Then I applied the waterproofing spray. I made sure to spray up the sides of the bathtub just in case. I didn’t spray above it for two reasons. One is that the rain fly covers that area and two if there is water that deep you are in a world of hurt anyway as the water will rush in the bug netting and door.

 

scotchgardtentbathtub

 

Just follow the directions on the can for application. It says to make sure it is covered but not saturated or something to that effect. That means it should be wet but it should not have puddles or be dripping.

Next up is the rain fly. After attaching the rain fly, I made sure to first coat all of the spots that were over lapping, Zippers, flips up vents, etc. Then I applied a nice even coat like I did the inside floor.

tentzipper

Once the tent had dried fully, I did add a second coat of spray to the bottom side of the tent just in case I missed a spot. I had extra and I wasn’t going to save a small bit in the can in hopes of finding a use for it.

So all in all I had about one hour and $10 into repairing my tent. I think I can get another 50+ nights out of it now. I will keep everyone updated.

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As an added bonus, when I had the sewing kit out, I repaired the tent bag. tentbag

Sleep System

Excluding food and water, your sleep system will be the majority of your weight and bulk while camping or bike packing. Because of this, there should be a lot of consideration in which items you use.

The largest item will be the tent. I really like the Eureka brand of tents. There are several reasons for this; size, cost and weight. I have spent a lot of time balancing these all out in my system.

20160311_142807

My main tent when bikepacking is the Eureka Spitfire Solo. It has a very roomy foot print for a solo tent. I am over six foot and can stretch out fully inside with room to fold my clothes at my feet and have my back pack above my head. There is also enough head space to sit up and change with out struggling. It is a two part body and fly system with a nice vent at the top of the rain fly. I have used this tent from 20 degrees up to 100. Condensation has yet to be a problem. The few times that water has built up on the inside of the rain fly, it wasn’t much at all, and it hasn’t dripped through the bug netting. The waterproofing is top notch as well. I have over 50 nights in this tent and the only time I have had a problem with water penetration is a recent cold weather trip and I hadn’t reapplied the water proofing that wears out every so often.  I even had a night in the mountains where I had to bring all of my gear into the tent, excluding my actual bike, due to rain rushing down off the mountain side and under the tent a few inches deep and everything remained perfectly dry.

IMG_20151218_211256

Numbers you want to hear about- Cost of the tent full price is $140 here. I replaced the steel tent stakes with aluminum ones  for under $15  and cut out a half pound of weight. This brings the tent down to 2.2 pounds.

Next up is my sleeping pad. I use a Nemo Ora 20R sleeping pad. Unfortunately, it looks like this model is no longer in production, but you can still find them around. This pad is rated down to 15 degrees. This is another item that I have over 50 nights of use on and have had no problems. It is dirty and stained but, there is not a single patch on it and it has never had a leak. I originally purchased a Big Agnes aircore pad that failed within the first few hours I slept on it. It was a freezing cold night with no ground insulation. I then got the Nemo with the consideration that if the pad were to lose air in the night, I would still have the insulation to keep me warm even if not fully comfortable.

IMG_20160309_143934

Numbers you want to hear- Cost of the pad full price was $80 last time I saw it on Amazon. It packs down to 5 inches by 7 inches and weights 1.25 pounds.

Last is my sleeping bag. I have a Montbell Thermal Sheet Burrow bag. This bag is rated for a comfort rating of 50 degrees. I have used it down to 20 while wearing dry fit shorts, my Northface Thermoball Jacket and wool socks. It is very comfortable between 40-50 degrees for me when used with the sleeping pad. The bag has a spiral cut design that allows you to roll over comfortably and then removes excess air by spiraling back close to your body. There is no hood on this bag to save weight and bulk. Every one has a hat with them when they camp and bike pack anyway, and this also keeps moisture from being trapped in the bag. Good news, if the bag gets soaking wet, it is synthetic and will retain almost all, if not 100%, of its warmth.

Numbers you want to hear- The full price cost of the bag is $109. It packs down to 5.5 inches by 11 inches and weights 1.25 pounds

This brings the total full price cost of my sleep system to $344. The sleeping pad can be found for $10-15 off almost everyday and you can find the tent for between $100 and $115 most day with one quick Google search. The sleeping bag I have never found on sale. If you shop around you can get the whole set up for under $300 shipped to your door.

The weight of the tent is 2.2 pounds with the aluminum stakes, the pad is 1.25 pounds, and the bag is another 1.25 pounds. Giving you a full tent, pad and bag, that weights under 5 pounds.

Bonus- It all fits in an 8 liter bag. I put it in a 12 liter for ease of packing.

20160311_143929
Additional note of interest- I do have a Borah Gear bivy sack coming which is the size of a softball and weights under 13 ounces. This will cut almost a pound and a half off my system. I will keep you updated on the system when it comes in.

Montbell Versalite Rain Suit Review

I’ve been waiting to write a review of these until I used and abused them more thoroughly, but after the amazing performance of them in a recent rainstorm I cannot wait to tell you how awesome my Montbell Versalite Rain Suit performed.

Montbell Versalite Rain Suit

I caught the very beginning of a huge rain storm the other day and tossed these on. I biked the rest of the way comfortably. I really liked the feel of the pants. They fit nicely in the crotch and it didn’t feel like I had restricted leg movement or a diaper on. When I got to my destination, the sky unleashed the fury.

I stayed perfectly dry. For the next few hours I was in and out of the building carrying heavy bags. By the time that I got home a few hours later, the sweat from riding there had even dried.

I am very happy with this rain suit. The pants and jacket have a combined weight of 11 ounces and pack smaller than a Nalgene 1 liter bottle. The cost for the quality is very reasonable as well; it was $85 dollars cheaper than the Marmot Super Mica jacket that I had as my last ultralight.

versatile rain suit

I will keep you updated on the durability and longevity, but so far so good. You can check them out here- Jacket and Pants


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Water Filter

My go to water filter is the Sawyer mini. It is reasonably priced, light weight, and you don’t have to hunch over at the water source like you would with something like a Life Straw. One suggestion I do have for it is to throw away the bag that comes with it. It is a giant pain to get any water into it. Grab yourself a 1 liter smart water bottle and you can save a bunch of time and stress.

sawyermini

When you are actually filtering water, every time you reduce the water by half- full to half, half, quarter, loosen the filter and allow air to fill the bottle. It will save you the struggle of getting the bottle smashed down super small. Check it out and enjoy not getting GI distress or some horrible illness.

 

 

 

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