Expedition Portal http://expeditionportal.com Fri, 24 Jun 2016 10:00:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The New Expedition Portal T-Shirts are Here! http://expeditionportal.com/the-new-expedition-portal-t-shirts-are-here/ http://expeditionportal.com/the-new-expedition-portal-t-shirts-are-here/#comments Fri, 24 Jun 2016 10:00:12 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=40354 With summer upon us and a new season of adventure beginning, we felt it was the perfect time to release a new Expedition Portal t-shirt. Great for all those trail rides and nights around the camp fire with friends, our new design features a lightweight 50/50 blend of polyester and cotton that is both soft and durable. Wear it during summer for a cool alternative to heavier shirts or use it in winter for a comfortable bottom layer.

Quantities are limited on this initial run so be sure to grab one soon to display your love for adventure before they’re gone!

Shirts are available in small, medium, large, xl, and xxl for $26 each and can be found in our store here. 

Shirt shot01

 

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/the-new-expedition-portal-t-shirts-are-here/feed/ 0
Trekking in the Sierras http://expeditionportal.com/trekking-in-the-sierras/ http://expeditionportal.com/trekking-in-the-sierras/#comments Thu, 23 Jun 2016 07:05:09 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=40310 Back in 1964, a small group of Jeepers got the idea of creating a fundraising event for the newly formed California Association of 4WD Clubs (CA4WDC). It would need to be a first-rate event similar to the then-famous Jeepers Jamboree on the Rubicon. Sacramento Jeepers member Ed Dunkley, an encyclopedia of knowledge on Sierra Nevada history and old mining routes, gathered a few folks and began searching for a suitable trail. The chosen route was a long-abandoned wagon road from Cisco Grove, California (near Truckee), to the shores of Meadow Lake and the 1860’s mining camp of Summit City. It had been decades since the “road” had been used, and Mother Nature had played her hand at reclaiming the land.

Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 002

After 2 years of surveying, clearing downed trees, and restoring the road, they opened registrations for the inaugural Sierra Trek. It was a simple 2-day affair with just 50 Jeeps, Broncos, and Land Cruisers, and Saturday night festivities included a bonfire and BBQ. Little did Ed know, but he and his posse had launched what would become a family tradition for decades to come.

Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 005

Sierra Trek Fordyce  001

As popularity grew and attendance increased, they added a Friday trail ride, the Wild West Saloon, a live band, and 50-foot concrete dance floor.  In 1980 they introduced a moonlight run called Star Trek, and in 1998 the event was expanded to 4 days. In recent years they added hot showers, guided historic and SUV trail rides, and another run called Outer Limits. Today, they even offer quad/UTV trips and a scenic 2-day tour of the Tahoe Rim Trail.

As Sierra Trek approaches its golden anniversary, organizers have pulled out all the stops. In addition to offering nine trail rides over the course of the 4-day event, they’ll have two bands, country-style meals, historical campfire chats, a vehicle show, walking tours of the Summit City Cemetery, and games for the kids. The vendor midway will be lined with manufacturers such as Raceline Wheels, BFGoodrich, Marlin Crawler, and All-Pro Off Road, and their world-famous raffle will be handing out more than $20,000 worth of cool off-road swag to lucky ticket holders.

Sierra Trek Basecamp 007

During the past 40-plus years, Sierra Trek has attracted participants from around the world; it’s become an annual summer destination for generations of four wheelers. This year’s event will be no exception and is expected to sell out. Event dates are August 11-13, 2016, and it is open to all 4WD vehicles (with a 2-speed transfer case), quads, and UTVs. Access to the Summit City basecamp at Meadow Lake is suitable for campers, trailers, and motorhomes. For additional information or to register for the West’s premier family four-wheel gathering go to http://cal4wheel.com/sierra-trek

Sierra Trek Basecamp 001Sierra Trek Basecamp 002

Sierra Trek Basecamp 003

Sierra Trek Basecamp 004Sierra Trek Basecamp 006Sierra Trek Basecamp 008
Sierra Trek Basecamp 009Sierra Trek Basecamp 010
Sierra Trek Basecamp 012Sierra Trek Basecamp 013Sierra Trek Basecamp 014

Sierra Trek’s Summit City basecamp, which rests along the alpine shores of Meadow Lake, is a hub of activity. During the 4-day event participants canoe or fish on the lake, relax along its shores, or hike in the local mountains. Each night after the bonfire is lit, the Wild West chuckwagon crew serves up country-style meals, a band takes the stage, and night owls kick up their heels on the dance floor.

Sierra Trek Fordyce  002

Sierra Trek Fordyce  005Sierra Trek Fordyce  006
Sierra Trek Fordyce  008Sierra Trek Fordyce  010

Sierra Trek Fordyce  011

The Fordyce Creek Trail is the original Sierra Trek route and traces the old Summit City Road from Cisco Grove to Meadow Lake. Although it was once traversed by ox-drawn wagons, it is now highly challenging and reserved for experienced drivers with modified four-wheel drives. There are a total of five “winch hills,” each of which is staffed by a team of skilled guides to help participants along.

Sierra Trek Historic - SUV  001

Sierra Trek Historic - SUV  002Sierra Trek Historic - SUV  003

Sierra Trek Historic - SUV  004

Sierra Trek Historic - SUV  005Sierra Trek Historic - SUV  007

The Sierra Nevada abounds with lonely dirt two-tracks, mining routes, and logging roads. The historic and SUV trips (suited for all four-wheel drive vehicles with a low-range transfer case) take participants back to an era of steam-driven ore mills and rough-and-tumble placer miners. The Wednesday overnight run follows the Tahoe Rim Trail, visits old train tunnels, and stops at the site of the 1846 Donner Party tragedy near Truckee, California.

Sierra Trek Outer Limits 001 Sierra Trek Outer Limits 002 Sierra Trek Outer Limits 003 Sierra Trek Outer Limits 005 Sierra Trek Outer Limits 004

With roots dating back to 1967, these photos of the 1984 Sierra Trek look quite contemporary. By this time Sierra Trek had grown to a 3-day event. Most of the vehicles were Jeeps, Broncos, and Scouts, but the new-on-the-scene 4WD Toyota Hilux, which was previously not allowed because it was considered too long, had a small contingent of loyal enthusiasts.

Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 004 Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 003 Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 001 Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 006 Sierra Trek - Vintage Images 007

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/trekking-in-the-sierras/feed/ 0
Overland ExPo – Through the Back Door http://expeditionportal.com/overland-expo-through-the-back-door/ http://expeditionportal.com/overland-expo-through-the-back-door/#comments Wed, 22 Jun 2016 07:47:16 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=40091 If you venture north beyond the bright lights of Phoenix and the sprawling cityscapes that occupy the once-tranquil Valley of the Sun, Arizona transitions from a sunbaked desert to a utopia of forested highlands. Each spring when Overland Expo sets up basecamp on Mormon Lake, near the 7,000-foot outskirts of Flagstaff, I ponder a new and interesting way to reach the event. Sure, I could hop on the interstate and be there in a jiffy, but that certainly would not check the “fun” box; nor would it be in the spirit of adventure.

2016 Ram-Expo 003

A few weeks before the venue I received a call from the guys at Ram Truck. It went something like this; “We’re doing an all-dirt four-wheel drive trek from Carefree to Overland Expo through the old mining camps of the Bradshaw Mountains…wanna go?” Carefree…hmm? Was this a place or an attitude? Either way, I liked it, and as you might have guessed, the answer was a no-brainer.

This wasn’t to be an “expedition,” or an epic assent of insurmountable obsticals. Rather, it was just a bunch of guys taking a day off to play on the way to another day off…to play. Big plus, in the Ram fleet were a half-dozen Power Wagons and Rebels. Yes, I do love my job!

2016 Ram-Expo 042

Rather than give you a blow-by-blow travelogue, I’ll just say that the route around Pleasant Lake up to the Wild West mining town of Crown King is one not to pass up. It winds its way through tall stands of saguaro cactus, along cottonwood-lined creeks, and up numerous switchbacks in the Bradshaws. If you have extra time, make sure to hit Whiskey Row in Prescott, previous capital of the Arizona Territory, and grab a burger in the mountainside town of Jerome.

 

2016 Ram-Expo 021

2016 Ram-Expo 0222016 Ram-Expo 026

2016 Ram-Expo 028 2016 Ram-Expo 035

2016 Ram-Expo 0332016 Ram-Expo 029

2016 Ram-Expo 032

2016 Ram-Expo 0312016 Ram-Expo 030

2016 Ram-Expo 041

2016 Ram-Expo 0442016 Ram-Expo 050

2016 Ram-Expo 020 2016 Ram-Expo 018 2016 Ram-Expo 017 2016 Ram-Expo 016

2016 Ram-Expo 0122016 Ram-Expo 004

2016 Ram-Expo 013 2016 Ram-Expo 014 2016 Ram-Expo 005 2016 Ram-Expo 008 2016 Ram-Expo 009

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/overland-expo-through-the-back-door/feed/ 0
Exploring Patagonia, Argentina—in a Clown Car http://expeditionportal.com/exploring-patagonia-argentina-in-a-clown-car/ http://expeditionportal.com/exploring-patagonia-argentina-in-a-clown-car/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2016 07:27:21 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39850 We tossed the idea of heading to Patagonia, Argentina, around for years and my friend Henry Jacobson and I finally bit the bullet and booked our flight. Our plan was set for April 2016. We decided to make it cheap and easy by car camping and wanted to spend less money on our epic adventure than we would on a new, heavy-duty bumper and winch.

Before we left our homes in Tucson, Arizona, we rented the least expensive car we could find online. We picked the one advertised as a VW Golf and thought that sounded decent, but what we got was a Renault Clio Mio. Never heard of it? Neither had we. You’re probably familiar with the not-so-pretty Toyota Yaris, though. It’s about the same dinky size, but even uglier. We joked that Bozo the Clown would roll in this thing—with a dozen of his clown friends, of course.

Henry and I, along with other close friends, were seasoned adventure enthusiasts and had taken many trips over the last 30 years. We sailed Hobie cats from Kino Bay to LA Bay in the Baja (fully unsupported, of course), climbed Orizaba (the highest peak in Mexico), camped and 4-wheeled around the San Juans of Colorado and pit crewed for a motorcycle team for the Baja 1000 and Baja 250 a dozen times, to name a few. Basically, we know how to prepare for self-sufficient travel. It requires a lot of gear, but since we were flying and only had limited capacity with one checked bag each, we decided to go light and be prepared to camp anywhere we found ourselves at the end of the day. We only brought our basic cold-weather clothing and camping gear.

 

1

 

TRIP LOG

Days 1 & 2

Imagine if Boston and Mexico City had a love child – that’s Buenos Aires (BA). It has the charm and character of Boston and the dense population of Mexico City. BA is a world-class city with 13 million people. That’s almost 35,000 inhabitants per square mile! It’s big for sure, but we found it both friendly and pretty clean. We booked a room in the San Telmo neighborhood. We spent our time in BA taking pictures of the architecture and relaxing in restaurants.

23

Days 3–8

We flew into El Calafate where Clio (our rental car) was waiting at the airport for our adventure to begin. We grabbed breakfast, which in Argentina means a pastry.

We stocked up on some supplies and filled up Clio at the local YPF (the Argentine national energy company). Whenever we had less than half a tank and saw a YPF, we got gas because southern, rural Argentina is typically no man’s land. There weren’t any houses, gas and even very few cows or horses. However, we did see lots of guanacos (sort of like a camel or llama), grass for miles, big views and blue rivers. It was perfect and exactly what we came for—vast and undisturbed natural beauty.

12

4445

We drove by two huge, aqua-blue lakes—about 40 miles long—as we circled north to El Chalten, a mountain town. Fitzroy Peak and its little siblings were and clear view, with the glacier right behind it. We liked El Chalten better than El Calafate since El Calafate was 40 miles away from the mountains.

It was late fall and the trees up against the base of the mountains were turning burgundy. We saw a few reliant backpackers—mostly Europeans and South Americans—walking around, probably wishing they had their own wheels like our beauty, Clio. A lot of them were hitchhiking to their next adventure. There were almost no cars coming and going though and it was getting dark. We tried to get some lodging, but were out of luck since all were either full or closed for the season. We found a camping site for $7/each.

3

It was windy, but the winds only seemed to blow from the glaciers toward us. And since the wind only ever came from one direction, the shelters only had three sides. That’s where we shared cooking and fires with Argentines and Spaniards who drank huge bottles of Malbec and gourds filled with mate until the wee hours. It got down to 25 degrees and the wind was relentlessly blowing.

Fitzroy was a stunning mountain and I loved it. We hiked for three days just to be closer to it and everything that surrounded it. We were psyched we had awesome weather. We did a side trip to the Huemal Glacier and we are the only people there. We figured backpackers didn’t want to chance a ride to a place 30 miles away. Luckily, Clio took us to amazing places.

7

 

Day 9

The weather remained relatively good so we decided to get away from the little town in the middle of nowhere since we wanted to explore. We headed north on Route 40 to Perito Moreno National Park, which only gets 1200 visitors per year. There was also Perito Moreno Glacier and the town of Perito Moreno, but they were 200 miles apart. No one we talked to in El Chalten had heard of where we were going. We loved that!

Argentina 760-X3

Argentina 754-X3Argentina 781-X3

11

 

We drove 80 miles down a gravel road, which was another 80 miles from a tiny town. We loved it and were totally in our element. We hoped we wouldn’t blow a tire since I drove like I was in the Baja 1000 VW class. We didn’t see any cars on this part of the trip. We cherished the feeling of remoteness. Henry and I talked only occasionally while we embraced the solitude. According to the park service guy, we were the only visitors that day. This would not be true in January, February or March though. All 5 campsites would surely be occupied. El Calafate and El Chalten would be Disneyland-busy in February. We logged in. There wasn’t a fee. He just pointed us to a road and we drove 30km to a campsite.

Day 10

We headed north to Chile. There were only three other cars at the border station. It was slow-paced and relaxed. The border agent went through our car and found a bottle of Argentine Malbec. He swung it as if he was going to break it on the car, but then stopped and teased that Chilean wine was far superior to Argentine. This is the first of many exchanges where we discovered Argentina and Chile were not big fans of each other.

Argentina 791-X3

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.41.43 PMScreen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.41.28 PM

The pavement turned to gravel immediately across the border. Clio Mio handled gravel so well. We drove alongside a stunning lake that was in both countries—each side had its own name. We arrived in Cochrane, Chile, five hours later. We were hungry and needed to find a camping spot. It dawned on us that we only had Argentine pesos in a country that does not like Argentina. We should have got Chilean pesos in Chile Chico. Neither of us brought a debit card and the banks were closed (seems like they closed at 1:00 PM each day). And when they were open, there were 20 people waiting for one teller. We walked the streets discussing our options for getting Chilean pesos so we could get dinner. Finally, a sympathetic storeowner helped us out and exchanged $50 US for Chilean pesos.

Chile was very friendly to us, but it was time to head back south. Argentina welcomed us back at the border crossing at Paso Rudolfo Roballos. It was old school where they logged us in. We glanced at the log and we were the only people to cross that day. There were only three other people in the last four days.

Day 11

From the time we left Cochrane and arrived back to El Calafate, we had driven about 16 hours over two days. In that timeframe, we saw a grand total of 11 other vehicles. We quit using our map since there was only one road about everywhere we went. We managed to get “lost” twice when we got to an unsigned fork in the road and took what we thought was the obvious choice. We got to see more of Argentina that way though.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.41.54 PM

We rolled into El Calafate and filled Clio’s tank. Our next stop was to the glacier and another night of camping. We got to the entry of the glacier at 4:20, but it closed at 4:00. A super-friendly park service guy pointed us toward camping 30 km away, and as we left he waved and said, “Que tengan gran exito!” which meant: “I hope all goes well.” So did we.

When we arrived at the camping area, the sign said “Closed for the Season”. I pulled out my I-Overlander app. It worked! I didn’t need cell service, just the GPS. It showed free camping nearby.

In the end, we learned to love our Clio Mio—the best clown car around. She never let us down. We drove 2800 kilometers—about 1200 of that off-road—mostly on gravel. She undoubtedly added immeasurably to our adventure.

 

Argentina 922-X3 Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 7.44.16 PM 22

 


 

Tips

1. Travel in late fall or early spring. During Argentina’s summer months of December through March, it can be more challenging to rent a car and find hotel accommodations. In addition, the trails will be crowded.

2. US dollars and Argentinian pesos are relatively freely and easily exchanged while in Argentina. If you travel into Chile, you will need Chilean pesos before you enter that country. Alternatively, you can obtain Chilean pesos from the few ATM machines that you might find in Chile.

3. Learn some Spanish! This, of course, is obvious from a communication standpoint. We immediately discovered that even limited Spanish goes a long way.

4. If you are considering an extended backpacking outing during your trip, the best bet would be to get a bus directly from El Calafate to El Chalten. There you can walk to the trailheads from town and equipment rentals, camping and backpacking supplies are readily available.

5. A passport and driver’s license is all you need. You don’t need any shots. Bring both a credit and debit card.

6. Don’t drink from the tap in BA, but you can in the mountain towns. You can drink stream water at the base of Fitzroy since there aren’t any cattle or bears on the mountain.

7. You like Malbec? We thought a $4 bottle at any store was great. BYO corkscrew though. The beer in Chile and Argentina is similar to Mexican beer. There are craft beers, too. Chile has more choices though.

8. Argentina doesn’t have salsa or spicy stuff. Pack it if you are like me and would prefer to not go without it.

9. If you like grilled meat, you are in the right place, my friend. These guys are pros.

10. El Calafate had some of the best Italian food on earth—except the pizza. Sorry Argentina, you just eclipsed Mexico for worst pizza. (We tried three times.) The pizza es no bueno. Get the lamb or pasta instead.

11. You can rent or buy any backpacking and outdoor-related equipment once you arrive in Patagonia. Little did we know they had Patagonia and North Face stores in El Calafate.

12. Download the I-Overlander app. Among other things, it’s great for finding vehicle-based campsites—whether organized or just rogue spots.

 

10 6 2 14 8

 

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/exploring-patagonia-argentina-in-a-clown-car/feed/ 0
Magpul Releases a New Line of Travel Clothes http://expeditionportal.com/magpul-releases-a-new-line-of-travel-clothes/ http://expeditionportal.com/magpul-releases-a-new-line-of-travel-clothes/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 10:00:23 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=40246 We’ve all seen them, the funky looking “travel” clothes floating around department stores and luggage shops. They come in an array of strange colors, can make even George Clooney look frumpy, and offer protection from sticky fingered passerbys through safety in numbers. I mean they can’t possibly pick ALL of those pockets right? The truth is that many of these shirts and pants do one thing well, and that is make you look like a tourist. For this reason we find it is far better to wear something stylish, comfortable, and most of all inconspicuous; which is why we’re excited to see a few new products that fit the bill perfectly.
GetImage (1)
The latest additions to the traveler not tourist boat are our friends over at Magpul, makers of the Daka Pouch. They have put together a new line of clothing that will not only let you look good while traveling abroad, but be comfortable enough to enjoy yourself at the same time. From shorts and pants to button downs, polos, and tees, there is a little something to fit every taste and style, and it can all be found on their website below. Of course before you browse the details, we encourage you to check out the awesome video they shot first. There’s no sales pitch, no specifications, nor any talking of any kind; just a bunch of sequences that are almost guaranteed to give you the travel itch.
Editor’s Note: Before someone loses their mind in the comments section, Rhinos were not harmed in any way in the production of this video. The crew was on a driving safari, purely enjoying the beauty of these impressive animals. That a few hunting rifles were shown on the lead-in sequence is purely incidental, and footage from a training session the crew members also took part in.

 For more information on their clothing or to see the full lineup, check out their online store here. 
]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/magpul-releases-a-new-line-of-travel-clothes/feed/ 0
A2A Expedition: Traveling the Planet with Children http://expeditionportal.com/a2a-expedition-traveling-the-planet-with-children/ http://expeditionportal.com/a2a-expedition-traveling-the-planet-with-children/#comments Mon, 20 Jun 2016 07:15:51 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39933 I met a wonderful couple at the recent Overland Expo West held in Flagstaff, Arizona. This is the second time we have met and I am glad we did. They are just so wonderfully enthusiastic, kind and engaging that the cynical bugger living in my skin was convinced after the first meeting that they were “taking the piss,” to quote the English. They were not. They are so similar in positive vibe, athletically fresh, wide eyed wonderment that I at first assumed that they were siblings, not lovers. The planets must have collided gently and with a warm embrace when they first met, two souls so wonderful and rare that it could not be anything less than a miracle that the two met. They feed off each others positivity, they encourage each other and are strong, brave, beautiful and everything we all want to be. I want to meet their parents.

We used to be ordinary people, to be honest, we still are. Back in the pre overlanding, suburban bliss life we loathed but worked so hard to achieve, we went through the daily cycles spun by the vast majority of the world’s people. We woke up reluctantly, forced the children to wake and fought to dress them in the colors of their school, pouring cereal down their throats and dropping them off at the gates of an institution where people indoctrinated in the philosophy of the collective waited impatiently to squeeze every last drop of the individual out of those sweet, innocent souls. If those souls resisted the constant daily onslaught, we, the parents, would then be pressured by the collective, resistance is futile, conform or you will be banished. By now you will realise that we certainly did not live in Scandinavia.

Keelan and Jessica, Rocky Mountain NP

We chose exile and were liberated. We chose to be responsible for our children’s education and we chose to take full responsibility for the outcome of our actions. Besides, I once asked a particularly obnoxious headmaster (think about that title for a moment) to take responsibility for the failings of his school and he responded by telling me that I, as the parent, am the child’s primary educator and therefore I must assume full responsibility for my child’s failures and the school will take the credit for his success. Well, that’s that then, no more school fees and constant notes demanding involvement, contribution, charity and assimilation.

Jessica, Alaska 2015

DSC_0207_DSC0119
DSC_0202DSC_0122

They say that the accountant’s son becomes a hippie and the hippie’s son becomes an accountant.  Often a father will encourage his child to follow in his footsteps because he has walked the path for many years and can guide his child through a career. It was good enough for my son, it will bloody well be good enough for you. Many sons rebel, rejecting the paternal path, criticising the father for settling, for being a hypocrite, emboldened by the certainty of youth, desperate to be their own man, unaware what the father has had to sacrifice in order to be a good father, in order to do what he should, in order to provide.

We have decided to work to our children’s strengths instead of trying to choose a path for them. Our son is left handed, mathematically minded and intrigued by architecture, technology, archaeology and food.  Our daughter learned how to read and write in a matter of weeks and has a way with words and animals, her touch reduces any beast to adoring servitude. We have provided them with a results driven curriculum of maths and English (which will enable them to write exams and qualify to attend universities in either Norway or Slovenia where higher education is free, even for foreigners), all other skills are learned through their adventurous lifestyle and through the amazing people they meet while on the road. They have become friends with scientists and millionaires, aviators and artists, potters and mechanics, bankers and soldiers and the intentionally homeless. They will not be shown the “door” when they come of age, instead they will be encouraged to stay with the tribe, to contribute and to leave when they are ready and return at will.

And if one day someone meets them and cynically refuses to believe that anyone so wonderful truly exists, then the wife and I will have down our work well, we would have parented with love and wisdom and we would have given our children the keys to true success.

 

PS. No, we are not rich.

 

IMG_0052-2

 

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 7.52.39 AM

 


 

Read more stories from the Bell family by visiting the links below. And from all of us at Expedition Portal we wish them safe and happy travels.

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 8.27.04 AM

Adventure Interview: Graeme Bell of A2A Expedition

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 8.18.06 AM

Staying Safe on Your International Overland Journey

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 8.16.58 AM

How Can You Afford to Travel the World 

 

a2a2a

Offroader vs. Overland Traveler


 

Don’t forget to buy their first book: We Will Be Free

23

 

 

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/a2a-expedition-traveling-the-planet-with-children/feed/ 0
Mercedes Benz Announces New Sprinter Worker Van http://expeditionportal.com/mercedes-benz-announces-new-sprinter-worker-van/ http://expeditionportal.com/mercedes-benz-announces-new-sprinter-worker-van/#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:16:02 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=40226 These are interesting times if you follow the news out of Stuttgart. Mercedes, the brand synonymous with luxury and refinement is shifting gears and becoming decidedly more pragmatic, even utilitarian. Hot on the heels of the news of their stripped down G350D Professional G-Wagen, a model deprived of any lavish appointments, they announced this week that a spartan Sprinter will be delivered to the States. Best of all, it will be positively––cheap.

Available for a paltry $33,000, the new Sprinter Worker model is obviously targeted to the commercial driver and will be quickly snapped up by tradesmen and fleet services, but we all see the potential for a live-aboard adventure mobile. A blank canvas begging to be customized, the Worker will make for a fantastic travel platform. 

Fitted with Mercedes’ popular 2.1-liter inline four-cylinder Bluetec turbo-diesel, and paired to a seven-speed 7G-Tronic transmission with paddle shifters, the new Sprinter has a 24.5 gallon tank giving it proper travel range. With 161-hp and 266 pounds-feet of torque, it will provide ample power to move the 3,512 pound payload capacity.

2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-engine

Amenities within the cab are few and far between, but include Bluetooth connectivity, crosswind assist, six front airbags, load-adaptive traction control, power windows, air conditioning, a four-speaker AM/FM radio, and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. Beyond that, you get adjustable arm rests and cup holders, but that’s it.

2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-front-interior-view-03

The base model will have a 144-inch wheelbase, but will be available with a 170-inch chassis. Roof heights will be offered in standard (66.5 inches), high, and super-high variations and the Worker can be ordered with the 4×4 drivetrain. Pricing for the added features has not been announced, but there is ample potential for the MSRP to climb to nosebleed digits.

There has been scuttlebutt that a few start-up companies are getting underway to offer pre-cut interior kits for the Sprinter. With the popularity of the German van on the rise, a number of other websites and blogs have popped up with build ideas and plans. With a little creativity and elbow grease, the new Sprinter Worker could be the perfect overland project vehicle.

 

010-mercedes-sprinter-worker-1 2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-front-three-quarter-in-motion-06

2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-front-three-quarter-in-motion-092016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-front-three-quarters-in-motion-04

2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-front-three-quarters-04 Screen Shot 2016-06-16 at 8.04.45 AM mercedes-benz-sprinter-crew-vans_100545207_l 2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-interior-view-02 2016-mercedes-benz-sprinter-worker-interior-view

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/mercedes-benz-announces-new-sprinter-worker-van/feed/ 0
Let there Be Light http://expeditionportal.com/let-there-be-light/ http://expeditionportal.com/let-there-be-light/#comments Thu, 16 Jun 2016 07:15:46 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39968 It wasn’t all that long ago when the typical campsite was illuminated by little more than a fire and moonlight. The advent of the LED has radically changed how we see at night, and with every successive season new lights enter the market. There are so many lighting options available now, it is hard to know which versions are worth your hard won cash.

With the camping season in full swing, I set out to evaluated some of the best LED lighting solutions to see how they stack up. I tested lights that could play music, charge your phone, and even draw power from the sun.

 

[Click on each title to visit the product website.]

 

Black Diamond Moji Charging Station, $79

DSCF6017

Black Diamond’s Titan, Apollo, and Orbit lanterns have been my go-to lighting solutions since they were first released in 2011. While I have no real need to replace them, I was excited to put Black Diamond’s new Moji lanterns to the test, namely the Charging Station. At just 430 grams with a compact 4×3.5-inch size, this is a great lantern for all camping scenarios. Capable of producing a variable range of light from 10 lumens to an impressive 250, the Moji can burn for up to 50 hours on the highest setting, and 150 at the lowest.

Adding to its utility, the Moji Charging Station is powered by a Li-ion battery pack augmented by four AA batteries. As the name would imply, the Charging Station can be used to power mobile phones and other handheld electronics via a single USB port. The frosted globe produces a bright glow without any harshness and the double-loop hook allows the Moji to be placed overhead securely. Although small in stature, the Moji can broadcast light in a 45 foot radius.

Verdict: This is a great light and the lack of any folding or collapsing components is nice. The rounded edges allow it to slip within the snug confines of any bag, and the variable light output ensures just the right amount of soft glow for any task. The added backup of AA batteries is genius.


Brunton Lightwave Amp, $199

DSCF6026

The Lightwave Amp is the most full-featured lantern in this review––bar none. Aside from its retina-searing 750 lumen output, it can also cast light in five different colors in an array of strobing, pulsing, and steady patterns. Sound like a disco party? It is when you wirelessly connect the Amp to your smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth to pump your jams through the built-in speaker. Unlike most wireless sound systems, the Amp’s speaker sounds fantastic with excellent tonal range.

The 20,000mAh battery can provide up to 13 hours of light at full power with the speaker in use, and dual 5V/2.1A USB outputs allow handheld devises to be recharged simultaneously at rapid charge speeds. Adding to the convenience of the Amp is the Brunton B-Sync mobile app which wirelessly connects the lamp to your phone or tablet. I know that sounds wholly unnecessary, but it is a feature I have used more frequently than I thought I would. It is not particularly small at 11×6.5-inches, and it weighs over 3-pounds, but it is built exceptionally well and weather resistant. Some may find the price a bitter pill, but considering it is a speaker, charging station, and a high powered light source with full remote controls, I feel it is a good value. If you want to spice up your group camping scene, this is the lamp to have.

DSCF6029

Verdict: This lamp is clearly over the top, but as crazy as it sounds, it is fun to use and convenient. The wireless app does come in handy when turning the light on and off without crawling out of my sleeping bag. The sound is amazing and it charges quicker than I anticipated. It is also the brightest light in this review by a considerable margin. This is one of my favorite finds of the year.


BioLite NanoGrid, $109

DSCF6038

Versatility scores high with me and the BioLite NanoGrid offers several useful features not found in other lights. The core of the NanoGrid system is the PowerLight, a 250 lumen dual-beam flashlight with an additional 200 lumen bi-directional lantern. Powered by a 4400mAh li-on battery, the exact type built into the Tesla electric car, it can be used to recharge handheld devices via a USB port or power the SiteLite daisy-chained auxiliary lights.

Used on its own, the PowerLight is small enough to fit in a pocket and only weighs 7-ounces. With enough power to recharge most phones at least twice, the PowerLight is useful day or night. When connected to the two SiteLite lamps, the three components make up one of the best cooking or tent lights I have ever used as the multiple light sources eliminate the heavy shadows that emanate from a single light source. The clever design of the SiteLites keeps the cords stored securely in transit, and each lamp can be powered on or off independently. If you need to light a large area with a compact system, there is no better solution that the NanoGrid.

DSCF6036DSCF6034
Verdict: I genuinely love this light. Placed within a tent, or over a cooking station, it produces nice even lighting for a wide area. Each satellite light has enough braided wire to connect lights across an entire camp. I find I keep the main flashlight component in my pocket all night when not in use.


Luci Light, $15

DSCF6044DSCF6042

There are not many things worth buying for less than $20, but the Luci Light is one of them. This popular LED light, powered by a built-in battery and charged by a tiny solar panel, is not just useful, it has a feel-good story behind it. The founders of MPOWERED created their inflatable lantern to help provide light to the 1.5 billion people of the world living without electricity. For $10, you can donate a Luci to someone in need and they will dispatch it to the far corners of the globe. Although they are available directly from the MPOWERED website, and sold on various outlets like Amazon, you can often find the Luci Light at your local hardware store or outdoor retailer.

Verdict: For $15 you can’t go wrong. Buy one for your glove box or emergency bag. They do take 8 hours to charge, which can be a bit of a pain.


Coleman Conquer Spin 550L Rechargeable LED Lantern, $65 (Value Award)

DSCF6030

I have always had a soft spot for the Coleman brand which is based in my home state of Kansas. Billed as “The Outdoor Company,” Coleman has inspired millions of people to load up the car and get out of town. Who among us has not used a Coleman lantern or two-burner stove? They have always made their equipment affordable to everyone and their $65 Spin 550L lantern is the best value of any light in this review. With 550 lumens powered by a rechargeable battery, the Spin has four output levels and can run on the highest setting for up to 15 hours. An innovative Battery Lock system allows the batteries to be completely disengaged from the power contacts during long-term storage. It can also be used to charge handheld electronics. One nice design touch is the internal storage compartment that houses the charging block and USB cable.

DSCF6032

Verdict: This is a value that can’t be beat, but there are some minor missteps in the design. It is a large lantern and the light it produces can be a bit harsh on the eyes. The on/off dial is a little fickle and it takes 12 hours to charge. But, for $65 it really is hard to complain about such minor quips.


LumiNoodle, $20

DSCF6048

This is another product that should cost way more than $20, if for no other reason than the cool factor. A five foot long waterproof strip of 26 individual LEDs, the LumiNoodle can be powered by any USB compatible energy source. When used inside a tent or placed above a tailgate, they provide a soothing glow with no harsh shadows. If you don’t feel inclined to hang them in a long strip, you can leave them bundled in the translucent carrying bag which illuminates like a frosted globe. Each LumiNoodle strip comes with three rubber attachment bands and a nylon loop at the far end for multiple hanging options. Better yet, the strip has magnetic contacts which allow it to be quickly attached to any steel surface. Surprisingly bright at 180 lumens, the LumiNoodle is available in 5 and 10 foot lengths, with or without a 4400mAh power pack.

Verdict: I dare you to buy a Luminoodle and not brag about it to your camp mates every time it gets dark. I love this thing and use it more often than I ever thought I would.


Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry, $36

DSCF6013

Call me a sucker for cool designs, but Princeton Tec’s line of Helix lanterns won my undivided attention before I ever hit the power button. The distinctive collapsable rubber globe and the folding legs don’t just look great, they’re multi-functional. The Helix lantern line is available in two sizes with the Backcountry the smaller of the two, but it still produces powerful 150 lumens on the high setting and 30 on low. The unique power button responds to a swiping finger motion and the globe can be removed for a more focused beam of light. The folding legs allow for a number of hanging and standing configurations. The globe produces a soft glow that isn’t hard on the eyes and when switched off it glows in the dark.

DSCF6015DSCF6014
Verdict: If you need a small, versatile lantern at a very reasonable price, this is one worth buying. The swiping on/off switch can be cantankerous at times, and folding the legs out can be challenging, but it is an otherwise very nice little lamp. Perfect for motorcycle touring where space is a premium.


Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini, $60

DSCF6023

All of us at Expedition Portal were early adopters to Goal Zero and their entire catalog of products. One of their latest offerings, the Lighthouse Mini, is a staff favorite. Although small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it cranks out 210 lumens on the highest setting and can burn for 500 hours on the lowest. With a 1A USB port for charging handheld devices, the 3,000mAh battery has enough juice to charge most mobile phones at least once. The Li-NMC battery within the base of the Lighthouse can be removed and a freshly charged battery put in its place. The Lighthouse can also be recharged with a Goal Zero solar panel, or with any Goal Zero power pack.

DSCF6024DSCF6024 (1)
Verdict: I like the ability to insert a fresh rechargeable Goal Zero 18650 battery into this unit, as well as the infinitely dimmable LED lights. The folding legs place the light beam high above table level and two attachment options allow the light to be placed easily overhead.


Nite Ize 3-in-1 LED Mini Flashlight, $12

DSCF6040

I stumbled across the Nite Ize 3-in-1 purely by accident. A promotional gift from a trade show, I slipped it in a drawer, quick to dismiss it as just another cheap freebie. Months later the power in my house went out and as I reached for my fancy $200 boutique flashlight, I inadvertently grabbed the 3-in-1. It has been in my glove box since. With a high setting of 80 lumens the single AAA battery can power the light for up to 2 hours, or 9 hours at the lowest setting of 15 lumens. Light can be focused through the flashlight lens or via the slide-out lantern globe in either red or white light colors in steady, strobing, or SOS flashing patterns.

Verdict: Cheaper than a twelve pack. What more do you need?

DSCF5625

There are so many good lights on the market, but after several months of searching for the best, I landed on this list. None of them are terribly big, with a couple of exceptions. Most will work for any type of backcountry travel, and if you need me, I’ll be jamming out to the Brunton Amp around camp.

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/let-there-be-light/feed/ 0
Bruder EXP-6 Trailer http://expeditionportal.com/bruder-exp-6-trailer/ http://expeditionportal.com/bruder-exp-6-trailer/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 10:00:29 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39408 One of my favorite aspects of overlanding is that your means of transportation doesn’t matter as much as the journey. We all love to drool over awesome vehicles and gear, but at the end of the day some people are happiest with a small ground tent and a jet boil, while others connect with an Earth-Roamer’s granite counter tops, wine cooler, and 41″ tires. Neither are wrong, they are just different. The point is that there are so many ways to experience the world around us, and now an Australian company called Bruder has given us one more. It’s called the EXP-6, and it might be the biggest, baddest trailer rolling on dirt.

Bruder.8

As you can already tell, the EXP-6 isn’t your run of the mill travel trailer. From the overbuilt chassis to its advanced suspension, it is tougher and more capable than many similarly sized unit in the states; and for good reason. Unlike road trips in the U.S. where crossing the country means long miles on smooth pavement, the outback is full of harsh dirt tracks with corrugations that will shake and rattle a standard camper to death. The founding brothers of Bruder know this well, as they grew up exploring the most remote regions of Australia with their father. While the duo initially settled for leaving the caravan behind as a basecamp, their growing families soon made them realize that this was no longer an option, and thus the EXP-6 was born.

Bruder.24

The concept was simple enough; create a capable caravan that brought luxury to the back-country. However great performance is only achieved when it is planned from the ground up; and for Bruder that meant literally beginning at the frame. They started with a laser sighted 4mm galvanized chassis capable of withstanding 11 times its own weight, and then sealed it to be air-tight preventing water, mud, sand, snow, and grime from making their way in to damage or rust any components. It was then tapered and contoured to avoid hang ups and snags on technical terrain, and integrated with Warn winch recovery points for when the going gets really tough. Finally the team made sure the frame achieved the widest possible track-width for handling while still keeping the overall width less than 2 meters. This not only makes it possible to take the EXP-6 on many narrow trails, but it also improved fuel economy and road performance by maintaining a width close to that of the tow-vehicle.

Bruder.15 Although a trailer relies on many components, the suspension plays one of the most crucial roles for service life and capability. The Bruder system starts during sub frame assembly where rubber absorption mounts are used to dampen the body. This can help prevent the high frequency vibrations from weakening various components over time. Next they installed a progressive multi-link air suspension with four independent a-arms for a soft yet responsive ride. An internal compressor controls the airbags via remote and allows the driver to adjust for optimum performance at all times. This includes changing the ride height for clearance or accessibility, compensating for varying loads, or softening the suspension for rough terrain. Sadly we have not had the chance to test any of this, but from published videos it looks to handle quite well. It’s worth noting that the EXP-6 suspension also has an impressive amount of travel for such a large caravan, over 300mm in fact.

Bruder.471

Bruder.52Bruder.13

But let’s be honest, a trailer this size will always be more limited than say an AT Chaser, so what additional luxuries do you get? Well lets start with the huge kitchen. Since the point of an off-road trailer is to escape into nature, you will most likely want to cook outside when possible, which is why Bruder made an external prep and entertainment space fit for a king. In the front slide an Engel fridge and two cabinets give you plenty of room to store your food as well as some additional counter space when needed. The main galley contains magnetic silverware holders, several shelves for holding pots, pans, and spices, as well as lighting for nighttime visibility. A two burner cooktop is integrated on the right hand side as well while a hot and cold water faucet is installed on the left. But what if the weather is terrible and you want to cook inside? No worries, the clever brothers made the kitchen accessible from the inside as well so there is no wasted space and no need to transfer food.

Exterior-4

When its time to retire for the night or escape the rain, you’ll find the interior a spacious and luxurious oasis. Inside the heated and air-conditioned cabin a queen sized bed flanked by two large windows awaits. Above it a skylight will allow you to enjoy the stars or watch as palm trees sway gently in the breeze. Storage is hidden everywhere for easy organization and access, while a comfortable couch and adjustable kitchen table give you room to eat or work.

Bringing family along? No worries, the EXP has room for six occupants and includes safety nets to keep children from rolling off bunk beds at night. A pop-top roof with several windows puts out plenty of natural light while increasing headroom, and a space efficient bathroom and shower is always ready to go. Generally we don’t care for television when you’re out to enjoy the world, but a movie can be nice now and then if you’re living on the road. Just set your wine bottles in the custom holder, throw some popcorn on, and relax for an evening with the HD-TV.

Interior.11Interior.5

Interior.21

Interior.2

At 22 feet long the EXP-6 is far from small, but with a total weight of just 3,700 lbs it is surprisingly light and well within the towing capacity of most four-wheel drives. Combined with the high clearance and overall narrow width we’re betting that it would make the perfect forest road cruiser for North America.

Bruder.23

Although Bruder is Australian, the EXP-6 is designed and built for international compliance and can cater to Fleet, Military and Commercial requirements. They currently ship to the USA, Canada, Europe, UAE, and Russia, which leads us to hope we might see one stateside soon. Unfortunately until that dream comes true we will just have to drool over more great photos and videos like those below, and watch their adventures through the company’s Instagram page here.

For more information check out the Bruder home page here. 

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 11.46.22 AM Bruder.29 Bruder.55 Bruder.57

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/bruder-exp-6-trailer/feed/ 0
Rite of Passage http://expeditionportal.com/rite-of-passage/ http://expeditionportal.com/rite-of-passage/#comments Tue, 14 Jun 2016 07:09:32 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39762 It started with an ending.

Last month my husband, Darin, and I found ourselves on Porcupine Rim in Moab, Utah, finishing a mountain bike ride I had started last fall during a bikepacking trip from Durango, Colo. On the last day of the trip you are suppose to ride the Whole Enchilada, which ends with 13 miles of Porcupine Rim (the complete route is 32 miles). Due to several different circumstances our group had opted to ride out on Sand Flats Road, a less technical fire road. Even though it was the safer thing to do that day, I felt defeated.

Fast-forward eight months. Darin and I decided to drive cross-country to Asheville, North Carolina. We would mountain bike in as many spots as we could along the way. We had 16 days to do it. We decided to take the northern, I-70 as we headed east, so we put Moab on the list as our first stop for a ride. I would be able to finish what I had started.

The trail was technical and beautiful, with the landscape changing all the time as we made our way to the output at the Colorado River. About two-thirds of the way down Darin had a pretty major crash, endo-ing as he came off some rock drops. He collected himself and after taking inventory, determined he may or may not have broken his wrist. Second full day of the trip, first real ride and we could have a serious problem.

porcupine 3

We finished the Rim and headed back to our campsite to pack up and head to Fruita, Colo., Darin’s wrist swelled slightly. He iced it and took some ibuprofen and we decided we would see how he felt in the morning and go from there.

The next morning, Darin’s wrist was still painful and swollen. He started to think about trying to find a hospital to get in X-ray so we would know one way or another. I left him alone for a bit to get some work done, and let him think about what he wanted to do. While I was gone, Darin started talking to the people in the campsite next to us. Turns out, one of them was an ER doctor. He did a quick assessment of Darin’s wrist and didn’t feel, in his opinion, that it was broken. He said Darin should keep riding.

gettingontheroad

fruita 3 joes ridgefruita 2 prime cut

fruita1

That was the confidence we needed. We grabbed a brace at Walgreens and headed out to the Area 18 Trails in Fruita to get back on our bikes. It’s amazing how quickly things can change and how big of an impact people on the road could make.  Our list of mountain bike stops for the trip ranged from the well-known, top spots to lesser-known areas that we had to seek out.

We started, as mentioned, in Moab, Utah and in addition to Porcupine Rim we rode the Practice Loop on the Slickrock Trail; a surreal experience of riding straight up grippy rocks. In Fruita we rode Prime Cut and Joe’s Loop. Following a quick stop in Denver we drove across Kansas and Missouri, stopping only for food, including our first ever Sonic experience as well as authentic barbecue at Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City, and to stretch our legs by biking on some dirt roads off of the highway. We had heard there was some good mountain biking in Lawrence, Kansas, but we decided to push through to Nashville, Tennessee for our next riding experience.

biking on dirt road

Nashville is a spot that holds special meaning to us because it’s where we got engaged seven years ago. In Nashville we found Percy Warner Park, seven miles of trails for all ability levels bordering the Percy Warner Golf Course just 20 minutes from downtown Nashville. We took the Boulevard out to Hop Project, Humdinger and a few more trails for some fun riding through trees. The dirt was muddy and slick in spots because it had rained the night before, and felt completely different than the pumice we ride at home.

percywarner2

It was here that I really started to notice the vibrant green vegetation. This was a different type of green than the mountains that surround us in California. This green seemed to glow.

After our ride it was on to the Promised Land and our furthest point east — Asheville, North Carolina. Here we planned to slow down the pace and spend three and half days. We met up with some good friends from Kentucky who had been to Asheville many times before and would act as our tour guides.

Up to this point we had been splitting our time between camping and hotel rooms but a special treat awaited us in Asheville at Engadine Inn, Cabins and Venue.

This 12-acre spot just outside of Asheville in Candler, NC is an historic bed and breakfast, plus it has six private cabins scattered across the property for additional lodging. We stayed in the cabins and loved the tiny-house feel they provided. Owners Rick and Tom purchased Engadine in 2014 and are steadily turning it into not only a lodging property but also a wedding venue. With its views of the Blue Ridge Mountains it’s quite the rendezvous point.

AshevilleCrew

As for the biking in Asheville, I can honestly say it did not disappoint. We checked Pisgah National Forest as well as DuPont State Forest, and at the end of every trail we rode I found myself grinning from ear to ear. My favorite ride was definitely Ridgeline. The dirt was wonderful and the other people out riding were friendly. Plus, the selection of breweries and the places to eat at the end of each day’s adventure were plentiful and delicious. We even snuck in some rafting on the French Broad River. I told Darin he may have to go home without me.

After three days of fun with friends we were pretty tired, which is why things fell apart in Memphis. We drove from Asheville to Jackson. Tenn. and stayed the night. As we drove into Memphis the next morning we didn’t have a clear game plan for where we would ride. The lack of direction and the fatigue overcame us. We drove to three different spots, Nesbit Park, Wolf Creek and Shelby Farms but couldn’t decide on which one to try.

As we started to bicker in the car, I remembered some lines from 20th century overlander, John Steinbeck, in his classic, Travels with Charley. “A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the-glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away.”

So I told Darin I thought we should just skip the ride. After some hesitation he agreed and we went to the giant pyramid Bass Pro Shop, instead.

As the saying goes, when one door closes another opens. With the little bit of extra time afforded to us from skipping the bike ride we were able to eat lunch at a great little spot called the Lunchbox. Plus, we had time to tour Graceland. We had debated whether or not we would just drive by or actually go inside, but once there I felt lame not going past the wall. So we were able to check out Elvis’ home in all of its 70s glory. It had turned into a lovely day.

cedar glades

We drove on to Arkansas and were able to ride bikes the next day at Cedar Glades Park, which had a bike wash station, and was minutes from downtown Hot Springs, with its beautiful and historic bathhouses.

Following Arkansas, the last place we biked on our way home was Albuquerque, New Mexico. We found a set of trails just off the highway. It was a completely different landscape than anything we had ridden to that point. It was steep and rocky, and cacti lined the trail. Falling was not an option.

We camped that night and when we woke up the next morning, Darin’s bike tire was flat, most likely from a cactus the day before. We counted ourselves lucky though; we only had one full day left of the trip and this was our first flat. So we packed up camp and decided to go see the Grand Canyon to cap off the trip.

albuquerque

When we weren’t on our bikes we were racking up the miles in a 2016 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4. If you are going to drive cross-country, this is the car to take. Not only is it comfortable, making 8-10 hour driving days completely bearable and even enjoyable, but it takes the stress out of driving with all of its bells and whistles. Basically all you have to do it steer.

We got a kick out of the adaptive cruise control and the fact that the car was its own hotspot. This was a huge benefit since we had to work along the way. Whoever wasn’t driving could catch up on emails in the passenger seat.

Another great feature was the automatic high beam headlamp control for those late-night drives. I often forget to turn down my high beams when another car is approaching, but this car did it for me.

In fact, the car played such a big role in our trip that when some of our friends asked us what we had talked about during all that time in the car that we never thought we would talk about as a married couple, our response was, “The car!”

blueridge parkway

Driving cross-country is a rite of passage for any American, no matter what you drive or how you do it. The opportunities are endless, but I for one walked away feeling much more familiar with my country after 5,850.4 miles and 106:16:18 hours in the car.

Having the mountain bike focus helped to ground the trip. Our country is huge and if you have limited time, as we did, it can get overwhelming. You could spend years on the road trying to see everything, and while that’s not a bad thing, most people have to get back to work.

Using mountain biking to guide us, and then working in iconic spots along the way, helped us make the most out of the time we had.

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/rite-of-passage/feed/ 0
Two Wheeled Nomad: A Go-To Library of Female Rider Resources http://expeditionportal.com/two-wheeled-nomad-a-go-to-library-of-female-rider-resources/ http://expeditionportal.com/two-wheeled-nomad-a-go-to-library-of-female-rider-resources/#comments Mon, 13 Jun 2016 07:30:49 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39644 So where do you, a fellow female motorcyclist, kick-start your interest if you’re toying with the idea of jumping in the saddle? How do you go about sourcing the right person to help improve your confidence on the blacktop, or teach you to take the reins and wield your trusty steed off-road? You might just fancy widening your social circle of riding companions, making some fast friends if not lifelong ones along the way. The strapline isn’t ‘You meet the nicest people on a Honda’ for nothing.

By no means exhaustive, the following resources have been collated to provide the content and tools to connect with women riders, and thanks to the spirited movement of motivational ladies already out there, will help to spotlight the way in showing you how achievable it is in taking charge of your own handlebars. As well, if desired—to become the best version of you astride two wheels. ¿Cómo no?

Lisa Morris6

Lisa Morris in the ragged peaks of the Andes. Image by Jason Spafford.

 

Bridging the gender gap

It’s 2016 yet there’s still a gender gap between the sexes in the motorcycle industry, where all things moto are predominantly marketed at those with XY chromosomes. In today’s information-laden world, we’re constantly bombarded in our newsfeeds with the ‘must haves’ and ‘must dos’ from: the best clothing riders should don, the sturdiest gear to adorn the latest bike on which to ride the world’s most alluring hotspots. Coupled with that, it quite often errs towards the male point of view. Which for the guys is superb. However, what about us ladies: just how much of a gender gap have we yet to bridge?

According to the 2012 Statistics Annual by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC)—the industry trade group that tracks the number of females in motorcycling—women made up just shy of a quarter of the US rider population. That’s an impressive 35 per cent increase from 2003 making women the fastest growing demographic in the industry. Moreover, female motorcyclist numbers continue in a realm that year on year, is increasingly healthy (detailed figures reported here). Especially over the last ten years, which have been revolutionary in terms of redressing the balance within the two-wheel community.

“Women continue to embrace motorcycling like never before,” said Sarah Schilke, National Marketing Manager of BMW Motorrad USA and chair of PowerLily, a group consisting of female motorcycle industry professionals. “Of the 9.2 million motorcycle owners, more of them are women than we’ve ever recorded. In fact, the number of female owners more than doubled from 2003 to 2014.” Which drives home to folks that we are finally getting out of our own stereotypes and gaining serious momentum. Any preconceived notion of a sexual apartheid has long been discarded among today’s well-informed riders.

Lisa Morris8

Image by Jason Spafford.

 

In the saddle, we don’t have a “handicap” or “special needs”, we simply want a suit that fits and functions as standard, and the freedom to be fairly well catered for—where comfort and cut shouldn’t be compromised for performance. Foremost—and no offence intended to anyone that can pull off the pink—without strong connotations of princess, bedazzled sequin or sparkle. The token gesture to women’s gear by taking the men’s equivalent and featuring it in a girly fashion.

Although equal to any male rider out there, women still remain the minority in a male-dominated sport—whether we’re proactive about changing that or not. Inevitably, we are privy to less resources and riding wear specifically geared towards women. Moreover, because it’s still a numbers game, that includes the channels to connect with female riders doing a phenomenal job in inspiring more women into local, national and global communities. Namely making women more visible within the motorcycling arena.

Lisa Morris5

Image by Jason Spafford.

 

Inspirational books and DVDs 

Read the personal stories of these inspirationeering women riders, of motorcycle culture, as they chronicle their two-wheel adventures. A diverse mix of unputdownable page-turners; insightful narratives by self-effacing authors who are hilarious as much as they’re honest. As seen from female eyes, some tales are heartening, uplifting and moving. All are encouraging and impassioned. It won’t take long before you notice a common thread running through the offering: you’re left feeling ‘Yes, I could ride my own bike’. Head and heart given to the road, these women will captivate your soul, compel you to take stock and embrace life before it passes you by.

Carla King

More noteworthy books and DVDs, courtesy of Women Riders Now.

MED RES Lisa Morris_TWN_Female Rider Resources

Motorcycle-oriented travel blogs and personas 

There is something in this selection for practically everyone: showcasing a stirring array of female motorcyclists spanning all age groups, race and ethnic background on a broad spectrum of wheels—cruisers, dirt bikes, dual sports, mopeds, motorcycles with sidecars, scooters, sport bikes, tourers and trials bikes etc. They have undertaken, or are still on jaw-on-the-floor journeys of all durations and destinations. Myriad miles of firsthand experience lies within; I defy you not to daydream of travel and visualize yourself following suit after reading a handful of these:

Alisa Clickenger

anna

Carla King

Elsebie Olivier

Kate Peck3Kate Peck2Kate Peck

View More: http://lyndsayessonphotography.pass.us/heather

 

Kinga Tanajewska, On her bike

Kinga Tanajewska

  • Lillian Hobbs, Touring Biker

Lillian Hobbs

Lisa Morris1

Lois Pryce1

Liz Jansen

Lorraine Chittock

Madeleine Missrider

Martha Forget3Martha Forget2

Melodi Barker

Michelle Morgan

Shannon Mills2

Sharon Faith

Sherri Jo Wilkins

Steph Jeavons4

Stephanie Terrien

Multimedia resources 

An assortment of multimedia resources about women and the art of motorcycling

Included here is some of the most forward thinking, respected and trusted champions—authorities on the women rider segment of the motorcycling industry worldwide. Highlighting a wealth of material from an abundance of pre-eminent women; let’s ensure that their achievements, offerings and services are not under-publicised or lost in the ether. If this group can’t fulfill your expectations of a role model for the new and aspiring riders of today and tomorrow, then no one will.

  • Big girls on big bikes and the roaring relationships of women on wheels
  • Black Girls Ride magazine “Black Girls Ride is not an exclusive racial statement, rather it’s an inclusive celebration of all women who live to ride. It’s the positive, fearless, unapologetic, take charge attitude we exhibit on these machines, as we navigate the streets of our respective cities. We live the urban biker lifestyle, we work in board rooms and classrooms across the nation, and we find joy on the open road.”
  • BMW GS Girls “It’s all about the girls and GS motorcycles. A page where we celebrate our passion for riding, for adventure, community, and for our BMW GS Motorcycles.”
  • Dirty Girls ADV “Women motorcycle riders exploring dirt bike, dual sport, off road, street and track adventures, motorcycle training, travel & connecting with riding groups.”
  • Global Women Who Ride “An exciting project that aims to profile at least one woman motorcyclist every country on the planet—collectively undertaking all types of biking, not just adventure riding.”
  • Horizons Unlimited – Pertinent women’s topics among one of the premier sources for information on motorcycle and overland adventure travel since 1997. “For questions which are specific to women, including travel-related challenges to do with menstruation, contraception, she-wees, pros and cons of riding pillion, women travelling solo, safety concerns, etc..”
  • Motoress “Women and motorcycling, racing or otherwise, there’s much to be said…MOTORESS® is the
  • only on-line women’s motorcycle magazine of its kind devoted to women motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages and styles. We deliver an insider’s guide to a woman rider’s total motorsport lifestyle and expression!”
  • New rider tips
  • PowerLily “A professional network for women in powersports, founded in 2009 to offer support in times. The group includes women of diverse backgrounds and experience who support each other with connections, insights, promotions and other help. Our mission is to foster professional growth and personal empowerment among women in powersports by sharing resources and opportunities.”
  • Rowan Public AffairsBarbara Alam, a motorcyclist and director who engages in specialised public policy and communications that focus on issues in the motorcycling sector, working with the full spectrum of stake groups across the motorcycling community to protect and promote all motorcycling.
  • SheADV A resource to inspire, share, and help women pursue their motorcycle travel dreams.
  • The Moto Lady Created by Alicia Mariah Elfving as a way to “encourage current and aspiring women riders and replace the bad reputation the sport / hobby has racked up over the years with a positive sense of community…Those who appreciate women riders can find a massive amount of media here for daily distraction, education, and inspiration. Real women who ride, motorcycles in art, design and marketing, motorcycle fashion, gear reviews, industry news, one of a kind articles and features, and submissions are a few of the things covered.”
  • Torch Motorcycles “A community of female riders, builders, designers, community leaders, artists, entrepreneurs, inventors, makers and collaborators who design and build new cafe racer bikes, components, and apparel for women, while promoting safety and building community.”
  • Women Motorcyclist “Whether you ride on your own, ride as a passenger or simply enjoy the motorcycle lifestyle; this website is dedicated to sharing the passion of motorcycles and the freedom of the open road.”
  • Women’s Moto Exhibit “The Women’s Motorcycle Exhibition was created to document the new wave of modern female motorcyclists…that live to ride…It hopes to help discover and present female riders from all different communities, riding backgrounds, styles, and influence connectivity among riders from these different areas…The show hopes to promote and present, the freedom, independence, excitement and personalities’ of “the born to be free” woman motorcyclists.”
  • H-C Travel “We offer motorcycle tours and motorcycle hire on all 5 continents, and whatever your experience, whatever you want, and whatever your budget, we have something for you. From riding Route 66 on a Harley, climbing the highest pass in the Himalayas on an Enfield, off roading in Morocco, and adventure tours in Chile to and the sublime road riding in New Zealand, we do it all, and a lot more besides…”
  • Tiffany’s Travels Tiffany is possibly the world’s foremost solo female bike adventurer with her travels including Australia, Timbuktu, East Africa, northern Alaska, Labrador, Tierra Del Fuego, the Silk Road, Siberia, Madagascar and Outer Mongolia. “I’m employed as an international freelance motorcycle guide. If you’re feeling inspired, you too could join me in an adventure, check out the GlobeBusters selection of tours amongst others. In June 2016 I’ll be leading another women only tour in India. Ladies in Ladakh will be an opportunity of a lifetime to explore this beautiful Himalayan region on Royal Enfield bikes.”

Tiffany Coates

  • Women’s Motorcycle Tours “Come motorcycle riding with us and have the ride of your life. We offer small groups, interesting scenery, fun places to explore and the best riding we can find in each area. Led by highly experienced tour guides all of whom have ridden hundreds of thousands of miles on two wheels.”

National and International Women’s Motorcycle Clubs

An extensive list of local, national and international motorcycle clubs provided by Women Riders Now and Bikers Mag. Neither make recommendations on the clubs or groups listed and advise to use discretion when meeting up for the first time with riders you don’t know. Organisations span the US, Canada, England, India and Australia.

Instructor Jenny Huntley from Simon Pavey’s Off Road Skills Motorcycle Training School, Wales

Targeted motorcycle training for women

As an advocate that it is advantageous to participate in some additional training after getting your ticket to ride—be that on the blacktop to improve your safety through traffic and confidence. And, or on a designated course that is held off road to ascertain a whole new skill set and competence you might never have thought possible on uneven terrain. Both can open up a whole new world.

And as someone that’s a far cry from being a natural rider—and helmet off to you if you are one of those individuals that learn heuristically—by self-discovery—I spent two intensive days engrossed in a basic off road skills course prior to riding the Americas. Chiefly because I didn’t wish to feel altogether inadequate in front of my partner, who had two decades of riding experience on me.

Pretty much clueless with regards to throwing my motorcycle around on anything but the smooth stuff, my dual objective was to increase my chances of coping on the rough roads ahead of me, and doing it without constantly holding my riding partner back. It was the best $600 USD I’d ever spent, and that’s as big an accolade I can give any motorcycle-related endeavour. Although my nickname still remains “Captain Slow”—my ‘marvellous other’ will eat my dust one day.

Lisa Morris11

Image credit: Jason Spafford

Single-sex or mixed group training

There are two schools of thought around women-only motorcycle training. If the idea of entering a mixed group of trainees doesn’t sit comfortably, then go female-only. It can sometimes feel less intimidating in same-sex classes; the absence of any bravado may keep tendencies towards the gung-ho approach at bay. Although I’m not suggesting that would always or necessarily happen in the presence of men. However, an environment free of males might be one less thing to think about. Rather, keep you better focused on learning, assimilating and then executing the new skills and techniques in the relative comfort of your fellow female peers. Remember that taking a leap of faith will stand you in good stead although be patient with yourself, which might be the hardest part of the whole course.

Personally, I took advice from a woman owner of the training school I chose, and opted for the mixed group training with a woman instructor. Was it the right choice? For me, yes. As the weakest link in my class of two women and three men, I bonded well with a chap who consistently waited for me on the trail riding aspect. He ensured I wasn’t left behind or feeling dispirited at the back. Furthermore, there were no incidents of the ‘domino effect’ where one trainee claims that they can’t undertake an exercise because it looks too challenging, which can sometimes create a culture of fear and instill the same ‘can’t do’ attitude among same-sex students.

“I am woman, hear me roar” might be overdoing it, although hitting the loose gravel on Ruta 40 in Argentina wasn’t half as scary because of the training I’d undertaken. Nor was it miles outside of my comfort zone or stressful as I’d anticipated, thanks to the incremental learning received, my instructor’s flair for knowing exactly when and how hard to push me, intuitively mingled with a considered amount of encouragement from her. Utterly indebted to my teacher for the rich and rewarding experience, it paved the way for the gloriously rugged trails ahead of me, and as an unexpected bonus, noticeably enhanced my road riding to boot.

Schools around the globe offering women-only training

You’ll learn skills such as: techniques in sand, gravel, mud and water, riding on corrugations and in ruts, learning hill momentum and corner hairpin bends, body positioning for off-road riding, controlling the clutch, throttle and brakes, weight-shifting techniques for steering and counter-steering the bike, balance techniques, obstacle avoidance, intentional front and rear wheel skids, hill climbing and descents, how to recover from a stall on a steep hill, picking your bike up solo (ask about the ‘monkey lift’ when there’s two of you), and how to turn around a fully loaded bike on a steep hill. If there’s anything you really want to master, be forthcoming about that before you begin.

Lisa Morris12

Image credit: Jason Spafford

 

Apparel and footwear

No longer does the myth surround women’s existence in the world of riding, although it did for decades, which consequently impinged upon any true product innovation towards riding gear designed by and aimed at women. Fortunately, strong headway has been made in recognition of making decent provisions for ladies astride their motorcycles, the more apparent we become.

Compared to even ten years ago, the offering of women’s motorcycle gear has improved in leaps and bounds. However, which companies genuinely do justice in customising apparel and footwear for the female form? My biggest complaint when it comes to motorcycle apparel isn’t so much the range of gear on offer or what colours they are—although it is refreshing when there are options other than bubblegum pink without the words “biker chick” written in a swirly font type on the garment. No, it’s actually finding something that fits well.

Pants are commonly too long and don’t always accommodate the reality that women are shorter than men on average. The fit for jackets can be troublesome too, as often times the manufacturer presents a jacket as womenswear just because they sell it in smaller sizes, not factoring in the difference in circumference of the chest for instance.

So where should we look to find something that isn’t loose and baggy? The demand for riding gear that articulates well on the motorcycle shouldn’t be a tall ask. Nor should a suit that steps up when the weather changes: keeping us warm and dry, or cool and ventilated. Not to mention protective as aggressively as the menswear. After all, that’s the industry standard for the guys.

 

Lisa Morris10

Image credit: Jason Spafford

 

A-Z of women-specific brands

A directory to get you started—precise but adjustable fits, suiting women from almost every riding discipline, a variation of budgets, body shapes and personal preferences.

Online retailers

If your bank account isn’t up to a splurge on brand new gear, why not look to find out if an online riding community, your local motorcycle club, eBay or equivalent eCommerce company has what you’re looking for. But before you do: try on, ride in and sample as much gear as you can. You’ll soon know when it looks and feels right, and ultimately, does what it’s supposed to.

Product reviews

Conclusion

The above material has been collated to make a few inroads into any unanswered questions or queries you may have from the female biking perspective. If there is anything you wish to add or ask, thank you for leaving your valuable comment below. It might just encourage a fellow woman to join, better engage in or trail-blaze her own path through the world of two-wheel enlightenment.

Personal thanks goes to each and everyone of you that contributed to the piece, every last detail of information received was insightful as much as valuable.  And your images are testament to just how amazing female motorcyclists out there really are. Collectively, you’ve constructed a vehicle that promotes the real perception of women riders today, which I hope taps into the need for independence, spirit for living and sense of liberation through motorcycling. I really do.

 


 

 

Wendy Peters

Wendy Peters

 

Veronika Gonzalez

Veronika Gonzales

 

Vera Sommer3

Vera Sommer

 

Susan Johnson

Susan Johnson

 

Rashmi Tambe2

Rashmi Tambe

 

Pauline Sloan

Pauline Sloan

 

Nicole Espinosa

Nicole Espnoza

 

Nichele Weathered

Nichele Weathered

 

Migle Kibiene

Migle Kibien

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

Michele Lamphere

 

Maggie Magowan

Maggie Magowan

 

Julie Sanders

Julie Sanders

 

Jolandie Rust2

Jolandie Rust

 

Jude Rosenthal

Jude Rosenthal

 

Josephine Flohr

Josephine Flohr

 

Jessica Leyne

Jessica Leyne

 

Jess Sjiriki Zekusn8

Jess-Sjiriki-Zekusn

 

Jess Sjiriki Zekusn7

Jess Sjiriki-Zekusn
Heather Lewis
Heather Lewis
Emily Hicken2
Emily Hicken
Elspeth Beard_1982Elspeth Beard_Today1
Elspeth Beard

 

Doris Wiedemann

Doris Wiedeman

 

Diane Murphy

Diane Murphy

 

DCIM100GOPRO

Claire Newbolt

 

Cathy Birchall

Cathy Birchall

 

Carol-ann Duval

Carol Ann Duval

 

Belinda Peck

Balinda Peck

 

Barbara Alam2

Barbara Alam

 

Ann Redner3

Ann Redner

 

Anita Yusof

Anita Yusof

]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/two-wheeled-nomad-a-go-to-library-of-female-rider-resources/feed/ 0
Abenteuer & Allrad 2016 The World’s biggest Off-Road Show http://expeditionportal.com/abenteuer-allrad-2016-the-worlds-biggest-off-road-show/ http://expeditionportal.com/abenteuer-allrad-2016-the-worlds-biggest-off-road-show/#comments Fri, 10 Jun 2016 10:00:47 +0000 http://expeditionportal.com/?p=39848 This year the Abenteuer & Allrad show in Bad Kissingen held a lot in store for visitors and exhibitors alike. The weather had been threatening some horrific storms and, on Saturday evening, made an impressive visit with downpours, gales and thunder. Thankfully the remainder of the show was fair to hot other than a few occasional showers, which were unable to deter a record number of visitors during the four days. 55000 enthusiasts from all walks of life and every corner of the globe came to see the latest equipment and the newest vehicles, and to talk about their own experiences past and journeys future.

IMG_2269 (Copy) IMG_5690 (Copy) IMG_5446 (Copy)

The dedicated campground was also bursting at the seams: nearly 4500 people arrived in just over 2000 cars and trucks of all ages, shapes, and forms. VW buses, Land Rovers, Mercedes G, Unimog, MAN Kat, URAL, everything from 4×2 to 8×8 and, of course, motorcycles with and without sidecars were all present. This was my third visit and the camaraderie among the guests was just as infectious as I remembered as they wandered from camp fire to camp fire, meeting old friends, making new ones and sharing their tales. It wasn’t until Sunday, after the heavy storm of the previous evening, that part of the terrain near the river turned into a quagmire necessitating a large tractor to come in and tow some of the less fortunately parked out of the sticky situation.

IMG_5748 (Copy) IMG_5631 (Copy) IMG_5613 (Copy)

Land Rover was once again the largest single exhibitor. Occupying the Island inside their own test track, visitors were invited to experience some demanding terrain as a passenger in a vehicle of their choice from the fleet of latest models, and a Defender 110. The Show also hosted the first of nine qualification camps in preparation for the 2017 Land Rover Experience Tour to Peru. Between two and three hundred applicants took the challenge each day, completing a number of tests including a questionnaire, a GPS task on foot, driving skills, a special Peru challenge and some basic catering abilities.

IMG_5549 (Copy) IMG_5683 (Copy)

For visitors looking to drive something a little larger, the organizers and some of the exhibitors provided a Hummer, some ex-military 4×4 MAN KATs, a newly built expedition truck and even a retired IVECO 4×4 firetruck. Each could be taken out on a trial course originally designed by the German army to include steep inclines, deep water wading and the toughest traction testing on unpredictable surfaces. It’s worth noting that the aged firetruck, with its standard road tyres, quickly became a favorite as it held its own against the more adequately equipped machinery (despite burying some of the auxiliary firefighting equipment attached to its front on some of the very steep descents).

IMG_5687 (Copy)

IMG_5733 (Copy)IMG_5749 (Copy)

IMG_5447 (Copy) IMG_5449 (Copy)

IMG_2270 (Copy)IMG_2273 (Copy)

For any Overlander in search of a vehicle, inspiration for a conversion, or simply everything from a winch to a kitchen sink, the Abenteuer & Allrad has grown into the biggest show of its kind worldwide with 250 exhibitors. Beginning with popular vehicles such as the Toyota HZJ 76, 78 and 79 models to Mercedes G Wagen; from small van conversions to the most elaborately equipped 8×8 expedition trucks; from water purification to salvage equipment.

Basically you can find every conceivable piece of gear to prepare you for the expected and unexpected.

IMG_5735 (Copy) IMG_5731 (Copy) IMG_5697 (Copy) IMG_5438 (Copy)

IMG_5423 (Copy)IMG_5432 (Copy)
]]>
http://expeditionportal.com/abenteuer-allrad-2016-the-worlds-biggest-off-road-show/feed/ 0