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Published on May 10th, 2011 | by Greg


Mountainsmith, GSI, and Detours: Bike, Camp, Tour

We’re ex­cit­ed about go­ing out this sum­mer. And we don’t just mean am­bling down the street or walk­ing to work- some of our staff are se­ri­ous bik­ers, who know what a pan­nier is and can dis­cuss sad­dles with­out even think­ing about hors­es. Oth­ers do reg­u­lar overnight hikes, lightweight camp­ing, where size and weight mat­ter. Our best sea­son may be look­ing to be over- sum­mer here isn’t near­ly as nice as spring- but we’ll be out­doors nonethe­less, and like­ly car­ry­ing around three new pieces of gear with us.

Let’s start with the cheap­est, and per­haps most gen­er­al. Most any­one could use a good cam­era bag- think fan­ny­pack, but a bit high­er and big­ger and prob­a­bly more stylish. They al­so call it a “waist­pack”, and the Moun­tain­smith Tour FX Re­cy­cled caught our eye with the name alone. Per­fect for a small­er DSLR cam­era and some as­sort­ed gear, it can al­so hold a 22 ounce wa­ter bot­tle and can fit an ex­tra lens (or two, if they are small or a Lens­ba­by). It’s hard to com­plain about the col­or or the small touch­es- bright yel­low cinch strap­ping for vis­i­bil­i­ty along with slight­ly re­flec­tive zip­pers, a re­mov­able and in­clud­ed shoul­der strap should your waist not quite work. We hear, but did not have on hand, full back­pack “strapettes” that ap­par­ent­ly work with the bag as well.

And we loved the dura­bil­i­ty- Moun­tain­smith makes sol­id gear that is fair­ly weath­er re­sis­tant. The 100% re­cy­cled ma­te­ri­als are an eco-bonus, but you bet­ter like your bag in black. They sug­gest use for a Nikon D40 or D60, or a Canon Rebel XSi, and lens­es up to 70-300mm- plen­ty of room for most cam­eras and with a fair­ly ad­justable di­vider sys­tem. A rain cov­er is in­clud­ed as well, and the walls are well-padded for pro­tec­tion against bumps and even light drops. But we do have to say that the cam­era isn’t that much dif­fer­ence from oth­er cam­era cas­es- it of­fers more op­tions for car­ry­ing, but if you pre­fer an over-the-shoul­der bag you might want to fo­cus on one of the many avail­able. Se­ri­ous pros al­so should look else­where, as larg­er cam­eras sim­ply won’t fit. But for the en­thu­si­ast or am­a­teur, es­pe­cial­ly one look­ing for some­thing good for a day on the trail, the Tour FX might be just the tick­et. $80 or so, avail­able on­line.

If you’re look­ing to car­ry stuff, but would rather be on two wheels, con­sid­er the De­tours Toocan bike pan­nier bag, an ur­ban util­i­ty mul­ti-car­ry that can han­dle gro­ceries and hard­ware and a lap­top with equal aplomb. This is a fair­ly heavy bag at three pounds, and not re­al­ly built for shop­ping about on foot- but the su­per-heavy-du­ty rub­ber bot­tom can han­dle scrapes and falls with­out a nick. The in­clud­ed rain cov­er was nicer than we ex­pect­ed- packed nice­ly with a cute pock­et, and pret­ty easy to put on, it came in handy dur­ing one sud­den storm. Plas­tic clips at­tach eas­i­ly to most any rack, but weren’t quite as sol­id as the rest of the bag. The padding was ex­cel­lent, and we liked the mul­ti­ple col­ors and styles avail­able- but most of all, the rea­son­able price. At $40, this is the best pan­nier bi­cy­cle bag we’ve seen, and an ex­cel­lent buy. It holds up well, of­fers some small but OK re­flec­tors, and is just the right size.

Last but not least is the GSI Crossover Kitchen Kit. We’ve tried out quite a few camp­ing and hik­ing kitchen kits, and GSI makes some of the best. They of­ten in­clude some pieces you won’t need or use, and this one is meant more for car camp­ing than back­coun­try ul­tra­light back­pack­ing. It in­cludes a scrap­er, scrub­bing pad, small cut­ting board, tongs, spoon, spat­u­la, spice hold­ers, small tow­el, and bot­tles for soap and oil. All in all, an odd mix­ture to be sure.

The neat­est parts are prob­a­bly the tongs, spoon, and spat­u­la, all of which fold via a nifty piv­ot sys­tem and felt well-made enough for reg­u­lar use. The tote is al­so quite cool, fit­ting ev­ery­thing in nice­ly and tight­ly, and with a to­tal weight of un­der 10 ounces. The spice shak­ers screw to­geth­er and close tight­ly, but can’t re­place a good grinder. And the scrub­bing pad is al­so eas­i­ly re­place­able with a bet­ter one. At $35 and avail­able wide­ly, it feels a bit over­priced, though it is well put-to­geth­er and well-made. It’s per­fect, though, for the camp-side chef who aims high­er than freeze-dried meals.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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