Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Ultra Extra Dry for adventure clothing, camping and motorcycle applications

If this product is as good as the video illustrates, I'm thinking that this Ultra Extra Dry solution could be very useful for a number of adventure travel, camping and motorcycling applications. It could be applied to clothing and camping gear for water repellency and it could be applied to a motorcycle for protection and easy cleaning. Has anyone tried this solution before?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Open Road, Open Life by Andrew Evans

Andrew Evans is a writer and traveler who explores the world in the modern context. As National Geographic's "Digital Nomad," Andrew uses new technology to experience the world in the old-fashioned manner: with rich observation and the joy of uncertainty. As a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler Evans travels the globe, creating interactive travel experiences for readers through the internet, digital mapping and social media. In 2009, Evans rode from Washington to Antarctica—primarily by bus—sharing the uncharted 12,000-mile journey with his readers in real-time online. In 2010, he embarked on a 2-month, 20,000-mile journey around Australia for National Geographic. In 2011, he crossed the Atlantic by ship, and reported on an unknown oil spill from the world's remotest island. Evans is the author of four books, including bestselling guidebooks to Ukraine and Iceland. Andrew lives in Washington, DC but works mainly in hotels, airports and on airplanes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hammock Camping for the Adventure Motorcyclist

Check it out, fellow Adventure Motorcyclist David Parkinson wrote this review about hammock camping and about the Hennessy Deep Jungle XL Hammock for 
About Hammock Camping
After a long day of riding a motorcycle in a foreign country... you’re tired... you’re exhausted. When the sun starts to set, the last thing you want to think about is finding a flat and dry place to set up your camp shelter - setting up your tent, moving your gear inside and inflating your air pad. Over the last twenty months of riding my motorcycle from Seattle, Washington to Buenos Aires Argentina, I’ve spent many nights camping underneath the stars, mostly ‘stealth camping’. For the uninitiated, that means camping where there is no official campground. While I love stealth camping, it can get tiring, especially when you’re spending 20 minutes to setup and another 20 minutes to break down. After 20 months of packing and unpacking, I admit I don’t particularly enjoy the shelter setup or breakdown process. 
(Eno DoubleNest Hammock)

But when I left the States, I didn’t just have a tent, I had a hammock!  The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” So, with that in mind, before I left the US I bought a Eno Doublenest Hammock and an accompanying Eno Guardian Bug Net.  During 20 months on the road, I spent about 20 nights in this setup.  While the setup process differed from that of setting up my tent, I didn’t notice significant time savings, nor did I have a good fly for the hammock, which meant I got rained on a few times.  Also, adjusting the hammock was a pain as I had to tie and re-tie knots with webbing each time.  When I lost some of my better webbing, I bought inferior nylon webbing, which resulted in me being dumped forcibly on the ground more than once. Also, it was difficult to get the knots out of my webbing once the hammock had been loaded.  I cannot recommend these for the motorcycling traveler.

I needed a better solution.  I’m currently plotting a motorcycle trip from Buenos Aires, Argentina through Brazil and Venezuela.  I did a lot of research on the perfect hammock at  The two best brands discussed  most often were Hennessy and Warbonnet.  What sets these two brands apart from the rest, other than their inherent quality, is that they each have a bug net integrated with the hammock.  This means no separate bug net at setup/breakdown time.  I decided to go with the Hennessy Deep Jungle XL for two reasons: At the time of my writing, 1. The Warbonnet hammocks required a 3-4 week lead time to purchase and receive a hammock, and one must buy a tarp separately.  2. The Hennessy hammocks were readily available and ship with a tarp.  
(Hennessy Deep Jungle XL Hammock)

Here are my initial thoughts on the Hennessy Deep Jungle XL Hammock.  I will also post a follow-up review after I’ve used it more extensively along the beaches and jungles of Brazil and Venezuela.

Features and Functions
Pack size/weight: I think I can scrunch the whole setup to the size of a football... and this package includes the fly as well!  It weighs in at 2 pounds 13 ounces, less than one half of the weight of my REI Half Dome 2 Plus tent!

Pouch in the hammock: You can hang gear like your keys, tablet and head lamp in the integrated movable pouch that hangs on the ridgeline of your hammock.

SnakeSkins (integrated stuff sack): These are basically nylon stuff sacks that you place on your hammock line that make packing the hammock a simple matter of sliding them over the hammock.  

Bubble Asym Pad: The hammock ships with an integrated bubble pad for cold weather camping.  I plan on using my hammock in hot or tropic environments so I can’t comment on this.  

Integrated Bug Net:  This saves an incredible amount of time with setup. Two zippers allow you to seal yourself in, or open the bug net and drape it. Before, I had to run a ridge line, then run clips, then hang the bug net. In addition, my previous hammock took up more space in my motorcycle panniers because the bug net was separate. 

Double Layer Hammock Material:  Mosquitos are a pesky bunch and, believe it or not, they can actually bite through a single layer of material.  When buying a hammock, I recommend you purchase a double layered hammock. 

Fly Included:  There is a rain fly included so you have a complete sleeping system.  If weight and size are not an issue, many people opt to use a hex tarp.
Fast Setup/Breakdown with Single Ring Suspension:  When it comes to hanging the Hennessy, the generally accepted model is their figure 8 lashing, which keeps their cord brand new.  The only downside to this method is that it is not adjustable.  I wanted something that’s easy to tie, easy to un-tie and adjustable for those times when one end of the hammock hangs too low or too high.  You can read more about this dilemma here.  This suspension system has made setup of the hammock no more than a few minutes.  Hennesey doesn’t recommend this system as it can lead to cord damage.  


  • Fast setup and breakdown
  • Integrated bug net
  • Great nights sleep! (I spent last night in the hammock here in the hot muggy weather of Kansas, I’m hoping it was a good test for Brazil)
  • Complete out of the box: comes with everything you need out of the box... nothing else required

  • Lacks the footbox feature of the Warbonnet hammocks.  Warbonnet hammocks feature extra material for your feet to make you lay flatter.  That being said; I slept very well in the Hennessy.  
  • Cost: it’s a bit expensive at $339.95, but the good news is there are Hennessy models starting at $99 (The Scout) I just happen to be 6’6” and needed a longer hammock.  If you compare the price of the Deep Jungle XL compared to the Warbonnet + the tarp you must purchase (if you don’t want to get rained on); these top of the line hammocks are very comparable in price.  

Closing Thoughts
I'm excited to take this gear to South America. I'll follow up from Brazil!

- David Parkinson

Read more:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Extreme Lifestyle Experiments by Colin Wright

Colin Wright is a 25-year-old serial entrepreneur, minimalist, and blogger who moves to a new country every 4 months based on the votes of his readers. While travelling, Colin starts up new business endeavours, manages his existing projects, and engages in extreme lifestyle experiments—from not wearing black for half a year to going completely paperless—in order to gain new perspective and to inspire others to make positive changes to their lives that might otherwise seem impossible. Colin writes about entrepreneurship, minimalism, and long-term travel at "I wish that the knowledge that humanity has amassed could be evenly and universally available to everyone on the planet, allowing more people to have access to the resources that will allow them to contribute to the global conversation, take care of themselves (and others), and pursue further innovation."

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Top US National Park Hikes

Backpacker Magazine has picked what they feel are the top three hikes in the US National Parks system. I may have to check out the Yosemite trail. I'm surprised that the Bryce National Park, Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Combination Trail did not make the list.

Anyone have personal experience with any of these trails?

Best Scenery 
Yosemite National Park, CA Four Mile to Mist Trail

This must-do tour of Yosemite’s granite and whitewater highlights is so breathtaking, the park’s godfather, John Muir himself, specifically recommended it as the area’s premier dayhike. But the nation’s best views can attract big crowds; hit Muir’s route on a weekday in June before summer season peaks, or wait until after Labor Day. Begin the 13.3- mile horseshoe at the Four Mile trailhead beneath Sentinel Rock and grind up 3,200 feet on more than 40 switchbacks as the morning sun sets the valley walls aglow. Catch your breath at Glacier Point while you peer into the valley from your 3,000-foot-tall perch, surrounded by the glacier-hewn faces of Half Dome, Royal Arches, the Three Brothers, and El Capitan. Descend the Panorama Trail toward the quiet of Illilouette Basin and the rumbling of two of Yosemite’s most famous waterfalls: Nevada and Vernal. Muir recommended resting your legs beside the cascades before following the Merced River down toward “the stupendous scenery into the heart of which the white passionate river goes wildly thundering, surpassing everything of its kind in the world.” Enough said.

The way From the El Portal entrance, take El Portal Rd. and Southside Dr. to Four Mile trailhead. After hiking, take the free Valley Shuttle to the visitor center, then the El Capitan Shuttle (runs until 6 p.m., June-Oct.) back to Four Mile.

Best Solitude 
Theodore Roosevelt National Park, ND Achenbach Trail

Big sky, wind- and rain-etched buttes, and the wandering Little Missouri River make up the wild and less-visited north unit of this off-the-radar park. The park sees a fifth as many visitors as Yellowstone, so you’re more likely to meet a bison than a hiker on the 9.4-mile out-and-back to Achenbach Spring, even during peak season (July and August). Watch for pronghorns, golden eagles, and beavers as you test your routefinding skills on game trails crisscrossing the rust and ochre badlands. You’ll ford the river (check with rangers for levels) as it traverses the rugged, silent Achenbach Hills. Yearning for more? Cross the Little Missouri again for a 17.8-mile overnight loop. Come in June to catch prairie wildflowers in bloom, including prickly pear cactus and prairie rose, or wait until fall to dodge the heat. Pack in all your water.

The way From Watford City, go 14 miles on US 85 S. Turn right on Scenic Dr. and go 4.9 miles to the Juniper Campground.

Best Swimming Holes 
Shenandoah National Park, VA Whiteoak Canyon Loop

Nine waterfalls with ideal splash ponds and a natural slide await on this tough, 8.6-mile loop through two of Shenandoah’s steepest (and most beautiful) canyons. Whiteoak’s falls draw crowds, so plan an overnight to have the pools to yourself. Start from the Whiteoak Canyon trailhead on a weekday afternoon and set up camp in the first .7 mile (not allowed past this point). Wake up early, load a daypack, and alternate sweating and soaking on the Whiteoak Canyon Trail—you’ll soon enjoy dips beneath six waterfalls—as you work your way up 2,450 feet to the Whiteoak Fire Road. Then drop into Cedar Run basin, Whiteoak’s quieter sister canyon. Its three falls make for a grand finale— the final one has a natural slide carved in the rock. Take the link trail back to Whiteoak to grab your stashed pack on the way out.

The way From Sperryville, take VA 231 S 10.2 miles. Turn right on SR 643. In 4.5 miles, bear right on Weakly Hollow Rd. to the trailhead.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The USA's Ten Best Motorcycle Roads

On my recent adventure across the western part of the USA, I have been fortunate enough to travel down a number of amazing roads. The travel website Lonely Planet has come up with what they are calling the USA's Ten Best Motorcycle Roads. I've been down a few of these byways and can offer a few photos, but what do you all think?
According to Lonely Planet, "A great road is a great road, but if you’re riding a motorcycle, you’re looking for something special: twisties, vistas, turnouts, that perfect stretch of smooth tarmac, and biker-friendly stops that make getting there most of the fun. Here are 10 of the best roads across America for an unforgettable motorcycle journey."

10. The Great River Road (Hwy 61): 2,552 miles from Itasca State Park, Minnesota to Jackson, Louisiana 
9. Route 66: 2200 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica

8. Overseas Highway (Hwy 1), Florida, 100 miles from Key Largo to Key West

7. Coastal Highway 1: 170 miles from Kittery to Bucksport, Maine
6. Highway 12: 124 miles between Bryce Canyon National Park and Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

5. Beartooth Highway, (US 212): 68 Miles in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

4. Going to the Sun Road: 50 miles in Glacier National Park, Montana
3. River Road, (FM 170): 120 miles from Terlingua to Candelaria, Big Bend, Texas

2. Appalachian Mountains: 770 miles from Front Royal, Virginia to Deal’s Gap, North Carolina

1. Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1): 1700 miles from Astoria, Oregon to San Juan Capistrano, California

Read more by the Lonely Planet at: The USA's Ten Best Motorcycle Roads

Sunday, July 7, 2013

What's Wrong with Volunteer Travel?: by Daniela Papi

Daniela spent six years living in Cambodia where she founded PEPY, a youth leadership and education organization, and PEPY Tours, a development education travel company. PEPY Tours, which started as a "voluntourism" organization, is now a leading advocate in the shift from service to learning travel and Daniela blogs frequently about this and other topics through her blog, "Lessons I Learned".

Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Most and Least Welcoming Countries for Foreigners

The Washington Post and writer Max Fisher published this article based on a World Economic Forum report about the most and least welcoming countries to foreigners. Some of their ratings simply do not make sense to me. Of course, data can always be manipulated. I tend to value personal experience more. What do you think?

Buried several hundred pages into a new World Economic Forum report on global tourism, past the sections on air travel infrastructure and physician density (by which they mean the number of physicians per capita, not the mass-per-cubic-meter of individual doctors), are some very interesting numbers. The WEF has compiled survey data from 140 countries estimating the attitude of each countries’ population toward foreign visitors.

The results, mapped out above, seem significant beyond just tourism. Red countries are less welcoming to foreign visitors, according to the data; blue countries are more welcoming. Click the map (or here) to enlarge the image. The WEF gathered the data from late 2011 through late 2012 by asking respondents, “How welcome are foreign visitors in your country?”

The WEF explains that the survey results are meant to help “measure the extent to which a country and society are open to tourism and foreign visitors.”

According to the data, the top three most welcoming countries for foreigners are, in order: Iceland, New Zealand and Morocco. Other high-ranking countries include the rich and peaceful of the Western world (Ireland, Canada, Austria), a few tourist havens (Thailand, United Arab Emirates), and, for some reason, big parts of West Africa.

The three countries least welcoming to foreigners are, in order: Bolivia, Venezuela and Russia. Other poorly ranked countries include the more troubled states of the greater Middle East (Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia), Eastern Europe and two East Asian states I was very surprised to see so near the bottom: China and South Korea.

See the full article at The Washington Post

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Conversation with Adventure Motorcyclist David C. Parkinson

I recently had the opportunity to chat with a fellow adventure motorcyclist named David C. Parkinson. I thought that some of you might be interested in what we talked about.
David, tell me why?
Ever heard of the Langston Hughes poem "A Dream Deferred?"  Hughes mulls on what happens to deferred dreams.  Doing this motorcycle adventure to South America was my deferred dream... I had always wanted to go on a long trip from when I was a little boy.  In college I had an opportunity but started a company instead.  When I left my job at Microsoft I had another opportunity but started anothre company instead.  I knew at some point I had to make this happen; or else I would never travel and my dream deferred might shrivel up or explode!  
The best thing about my motorcycle is…
I ride a 2005 Suzuki DL650 V-Strom. It's incredibly reliable.  I have put 20,000 of the most difficult miles for any motorcycle to take but the V-Strom keeps coming back for more.  

The worst thing about my motorcycle is…
At 250kg dry, without gas and gear. It's a bit heavy for off-roading but that hasn't stopped me from taking it plenty of places it was never intended to go!

I cannot travel without…
My Charles Schwab check card. This is a travel secret everyone should know about. It's one of the only cards I know of that you pay 0% foreign transaction fees on, is free to use at all ATMs worldwide, and finally they'll reimburse you for the ATM fees the ATMs charge you. So essentially you can get money out for free, whenever you want, whatever country you're in (no limits). The account is free (you must set up a brokerage account and a checking account) with no minimums. What I do is transfer $1000-2000 into my Schwab account to cover a month's expenses. With this technique you stop thinking about the ATM charge as they are reimbursed at the end of the month, and it makes it easier when you know you will be exiting a country not to have too much currency left over.

When I’m riding solo, I think about…
What a lucky bastard I am to have the opportunity to travel by motorcycle in Central and South America.  More people should travel this way!

I like it when I ride into a town and…
See the smiles on people's faces.  There's something about a motorcycle that just cheers everyone up.  

I would like to go back to…
Mexico, Colombia, Nicaragua.  I was in love with Colombia and spent nearly 6 months there!

I was surprised to find out that…
Almost anything can be repaired. When abroad, it's normally the case that repairing your items is far cheaper than buying new items. Locals' ingenuity have repaired everything from my tent, my motorcycle, my watch, my aluminum panniers, to my GPS
My attitude about travel is…
Do it when you have the opportunity.  

The single most important thing that I could tell someone is…
When you like a place; stay there for awhile.  When you meet a person you like, stay there for awhile.  It's great travel advice that I wish I had followed more often.

You can read more about David and his adventures at his website

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