So, this past week, I trekked back to MEC to see about exchanging it for a larger one. Getting a refund was a breeze — I was in and out of customer service in under 10 minutes (that said, I hadn’t used the tent; just set it up indoors). Then, it was upstairs to get a bigger tent. It took a while to find someone with knowledge of the tents / features to help me choose a replacement; and, eventually, when I did find someone to help, we determined the Wanderer 2 would be a suitable replacement (see the image at the right). It cost $100 more and weighs a bit more; but is a bit longer and taller; and it also has a separate, enclose-able awning — perfect for storing gear such as laundry (which you want to keep indoors but don’t want to be smelling as you snooze). Lesson learned: when buying a tent, set it up and lie down in it before leaving the store.
I have acquired most of the equipment I will need for my journey.
A few weeks back, I made a pilgrimage to Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC); and purchased most of my camping gear–sleeping bag, stove, cook set, tent, etc. As it turned out, the tent I had purchased — The Camper-2 — was on the short side for my 6’1″ frame; and my head was touching one end of the tent while my toes were touching the other. Not good since, as anyone who has camped in the rain knows, if you touch the inside of a wet tent, water seeps in. That said, it’s otherwise said to be one of the higher-quality basic tents for the $169 price.
In other news. I picked up my new riding boots from GP Bikes this week. For some time, now, I have been searching for boots that are: waterproof (I expect rain); relatively warm without being too bulky; rise halfway up my shins (helps keep the legs warm and have that classic riding look); include ankle protectors; and are flexible with an aggressive tread so I can wear them hiking in the mountains during stopovers. Finding boots that meet all these criteria is the proverbial needle in a haystack. You’ll find racing boots that have the high cut and protection around the ankles (as well as everywhere else); but the treads are smoother and the boots are sometimes heavier. Then there are the lower-cut “adventure” boots; again, though, with a smoother tread (and less protection). Then, there are the “cowboy” boots — great if you’re riding your hog to the saloon (paht-nah).
As I stood there, staring at the plethora of boots on the wall, mentally calculating the impact of compromises and trade offs, a light bulb began glowing radiantly over the head of Isaiah, GP Bikes’ very helpful sales associate. “Wait — I’ve got just the thing,” he says. “I’ll be right back.” Minutes later, Isaiah returns with a pair of Forma Adventures. They’re perfect — high cut, Italian leather; aggressive tread (but not too aggressive); ankle protection and sturdy construction while maintaining flexibility for walking around; reasonably insulated for warmth (but not somuchso as to cook my feet). Best of all, they are waterproof — check out this submersion test (Part 1 and Part 2). The boots are a bit heavy; but, otherwise, these are the right ones for my trip.
So: Tent; boots. That takes care of most of the larger items on my list. I still have a few bits and pieces to acquire — first aid kit; extra stove fuel canisters (to carry spare fuel for the bike in case I run out on the Alaska Highway); mobile phone holder; and a bunch of other miscellaneous what not. Stay tuned!