We pick up lots of cycle and travel tips as we pedal around the globe. Some purely out of common sense and some we learn from other travellers. In any case, each month we dedicate a space on our 'on the road' diary page to the 'Tip of the Month' and after a few years of gathering this info, we thought it would also be good to show them as an entire overview. That way you can look through them easily, to see if you can use any yourself. This page is currently being worked on, but soon we should have plenty more camping tips and tricks for you to look at. Tips include everything from where the best Arcteryx sale is, to what tents work best in rainy conditions.
February 2010 - The perfect fire starter
With all the camping in the last months and the numerous chances to light an open fire, I thought back to this great fire-starting tip I heard about while cycling in the USA.
Soak cotton wool balls in petroleum jelly (commonly known as vaseline), and store in a sturdy ziploc bag. When it comes to starting a fire, pop one of the balls on a stick and place in an optimum position under the wood and light. It will burn long enough to get your firewood properly blazing.
September 2009 - What to do with the old mattress?
We love our Therm-a-rest mattresses, but we have had problems with de-lamination deeming them useless for sleeping on. But if you are into recycling, then here's a little tip... they make great insulation or padded bags. Out of the last mattress, I designed a computer bag protector and a bike travel bag that not only fits snuggly on top of my back Ortlieb pannier, but is reasonably insulating too. The latter also doubles as a day pack and stuffed with a couple of clothes makes a great pillow. The fabric itself squashes up really small; is easily cleanable; and if it gets wet, it dries in a flash. So the possibilities are limitless... water bottle bag, hard drive protector, ipod holder...
August 2008 - Bear-proofing
Camping in a spot with no food cache? Then, here's a tip, besides the tedious hanging your food bags between two trees solution: If a rubbish bin is in close vicinity, then open up the back (you'll need two hands for this operation; to stop the bears from getting into the bin!) and underneath where the rubbish bags hang, is enough space to store your food overnight without it getting contaminated by the rubbish that comes in from the front.
December 2007 - Thermarest chair: Not just a campers best friend!
Time to give Therm-a-rest a plug. Not only have we experienced some of the most curtious and quick remedy service, but their Lite Chair kit has become a faithful friend even away from the campsite. For long term camping phanatics, they are a must and the dilema of "which position to sit in next" is solved immediately. The chair, being filled with your thermarest matress is also insulated and will provide a warm comfortable seat in the most uncomfortable of places.
Outside the camping field, we have used them in hotel rooms without chairs or with chairs that we didn't dare put our bums on. But it truly outdid itself when I recently had back problems: it supplied me with a very supportive, back-relaxing seat.
December 2006 - SilNet - silicon seam sealer
Every camper/ travelling biker should have a tube of this stuff. Made by the same people that make SeamGrip, we have used it successfully to reinforce stitching and seal leaks in our tent, fix holes in the Ortlieb bags, and even repair a resonable sized snare in a Goretex rain jacket. We use the sealer from McNett outdoor products from the USA.
November 2006 - Ockie Straps of a different type
In England about 12 years ago, we
found the ockie straps that we are still using
to this day. Also known as bungie cords, they
are made with a plastic mould clip which is virtually
indestructable. The advantage over the commom
stretch cord with wirehooks is that it doesn't
bend out of shape, rust or make unwelcome holes
in your luggage. We made our own this time round
and the separate components can be purchased from Bike4Travel should you want to try them out.
Other uses include: Winding two together and stretch between posts to make a great washing line that doesn't need pegs. Another bonus is they don't damage trees. Securing your bikes together and to railings on boats and trains.
October 2006 - feed the ants, don't kill them
Want to be sure that the ants don't raid your tent? Then give them something to eat too. A couple of sugar lumps (or anything sweet really) placed at a distance from the tent will keep the neighbourhood ants occupied for the length of your stay. Glad ziplock bags (the genuine ones not some copy brand!) are also pretty good for keeping pests out of your food supplies and are easy to wash and re-use.