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Thursday, April 26, 2012

A couple updates on clothing, equipment, and all that business.

I've talked about a few new acquisitions over the past few months, giving my initial review and impressions. Thought it would be good to check back in and see how things were going with all of it!

MUSA Knickers by Rivendell
I acquired these "plus-fours" last month from Philip of Bike Tinker. (If you want to read the Doctor Who filled initial review, go here.*) I've worn them pretty consistently over the past month. They've been my "pants" for two of the three bike camping overnights in April.

After wearing them for a month, I must say that I do like them, despite some nitpicks. They are comfortable both off and on the bike. The front pockets are deep. They wash easy and dry quicky.

And with the velcro leg enclosure I can hike them up pretty good, just below the knee. This is a good feature as I intend to wear them a bunch this summer. I'm generally a shorts person once the weather gets consistently warm enough, 68F/20C and above. But if I go on a tour, I may want something a little more versatile than just shorts or having to bring both shorts and longer pants.** Having pants that are long enough for when its cool yet short enough for when its warm has great advantages. I tested this the other day by wearing them when it was 82F/27C out. They did fine. Yes, having shorts would have been better but I didn't feel too sweaty.

My nitpicks are still the ones I expressed in the initial review. Lack of belt loops, drawstring style belt, no place to tuck the drawstring, and no fly. It would also be nice if there were one or two utility pockets as well. Besides all that, I think these are some good pants. So much so that I would consider getting another pair.

Esbit Coffee Maker
I got this moka-pot styled camping coffee maker at the beginning of the month. It has accompanied me on all three camping expeditions in April. It has worked well! I've played around with the amount of coffee and got it to a point where it consistently has made a good cup o' joe. There are a few drawbacks with the Esbit, though. Usually one fuel tablet is what it takes to make coffee, but there has been at least once where I had to throw an extra tablet on. And the "steam escape valve" always seems to have steam escape, whereas on a standard moka pot it rarely does.

Would I bring it on a longer tour? I don't know. I guess it would all depend on how much other stuff I'm bringing and how much space there is to spare. It's a nice coffee maker but a bit redundant when I always have a pot to boil water in, and my coffee infuser nests inside my coffee mug.

Mini Trangia 28-T Backpacking Stove
I've used a Trangia burner for almost a year, so I already knew I liked Trangia. But I only got this particular setup in the beginning of the month, and have tested it over the camping trips of April. It has also performed admirably. I was worried that food would burn to the sides of the 0.8L aluminum pot, but I haven't found it to be the case. The small frying pan works good as well, and was put to the test when I cooked some eggs last week. The windscreen/pot stand is stable. The pot grabber is on the flimsy side but I haven't had any mishaps. I might get a better one, though. This kit will be seeing a lot of appearances on campouts this summer!

*We've been watching a lot of Fourth Doctor/Tom Baker episodes. Yes, Mr. C, we know that amuses you.
**Yes, I could get around that by getting convertible pants with zip-off legs, but I've never found a pair that I liked.


  1. I like the MUSA Knickers. I've avoided wearing mine when I know you'll be there so as to not be twiners.

    1. Dude, everyone knows I'm a twiner with all my Grant-approved twine rapped 'round handlebars. And I own a Surly!* It's amazing that as a Riv owner you still haven't twined and shellacked your bars. You haven't gone down the full road of Rivendell yet if you haven't. For shame! They're gonna kick you off the BOB list, fer shure.

      *For the record, Grant approves of Surly.

  2. The MUSA clothes are great I am (of course) a big fan. I haven't gone for the knickers though, but I have the pants and shorts. They keep improving them two, I've got three pairs of the shorts and each one has gotten better. I meant to write this in your last post about the knickers, but I've always assumed the reason there is no fly is so they can sell their clothes as unisex. The margins always seem so tight on clothing for Riv that if they had to have separate mens/women's line they couldn't do as much.

    1. Robert, good call on the fly. I always assumed that Grant had some weird aversion to zippers, and if I complained about it I'd get three pages of explanation why zippers are bad. ;-) Anyways, it's still more fun to believe my misguided notion vs. your rational approach!

      I may get another pair of the knickers and maybe even the shorts, but I'm too much of a cheapskate right now. I'm hoping that the old version stuff comes down in price, but I doubt it with how much Grant fretted when they did their only sale. (And yes, I understand as a small company with small margins sales aren't always practical.)

  3. Yeah the stuff ain't cheap, but it lasts and cost over time evens out I think. I just wish they'd stock a new Seesucker Shirt - I love those and my original ones are starting to fray a bit.

    In my mind a fantastic bit of touring clothing is convertible pants - shorts with zip on legs. I like the Riv pants but wish they made a convertible pair, but perhaps that's not quite in their aesthetic (this is hard to say, as convertible pants are pretty utilitarian and geeky which they don't shy away from).

    1. Yeah. I've always liked the idea of convertible pants, but never found a pair that'd I buy, even after 12 years of looking. Maybe that's why I like the knickers as they are the Missouri Compromise. Long enough, yet short enough. The key thing with knickers is length of socks.

      Seersucker shirt would be nice, too.

    2. Seersucker shirts are the best, one of those things I was initially skeptical about when Grant started promoting them. But he was right about wool so I gave it a shot and they are hands down my favorite riding top. Worth trying to find them, but its hard to find long sleeves which is what you want.

      REI sells a convertible pant that is made from cotton and not some "technical" fabric. Those are the ones that I've like the best - they just look like your average cargo pants. I've also got a pair I bought on Salt Spring Island on my first tour that are pretty nice, but I can't recall the brand. Though as I said I would dig a pair of MUSA convertible pants.


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