10 Things from Outdoor Travel Gear that I Always Carry on My Rides

When motorcycling became a habit, I started checking out for motorcycle products, accessories and other adventure items that can compliment my long rides.

Back then in 2003 there were not many stores as you see today. It was just a handful of lot.. and in this narrow options, one name was prominent — ‘Outdoor Travel Gear‘.

OTG is located in Mumbai and delivers products all over the country. There are many products I have bought from here that have aided my motorcycle rides and mountain expeditions. The store has a special place in my memory lane.

Here I’m listing 10 products that I have bought from Outdoor Travel Gear that you’ll always find in my bag.

1. Waterproof Dry Bags –

Even when its summer or winter season, I expect the rains to bestow upon you anytime and anywhere. No matter if you intend to stay dry, you’ll encounter water someway or the other. Light rains, dew, slush, water crossing, bikes on boat, … there are so many scenarios and unimaginable circumstances where you’ll come close to water.

To protect my gear, I always carry a 10 liter and a couple of 5 liter waterproof bags of BOLL in my luggage. They fold up so thin that hardly any exclusive place it required for it.

Everything that I want to keep dry and moist free, I put it in the dry bag first and then the whole thing goes in the backpack. These bags also have variation and types in size and functionality. You can checkout which suits you the best.

2. Premium Quality Bungee Cords and Net:

There was a ride where I was carrying premium quality bungee cords and a net which cost me around 1000 bucks; where the same number of items my fellow riders bought for just 50 bucks. Now that’s a mountain difference when it comes to pricing. But see the results, the local bungee gear of my fellow riders didn’t even last for 500kms. At the end of the ride the hooks were snapping or getting straight, losing its curve grip; where mine! well now its been over 6 years and it still rocks. More practical way to say it, the life of the gear lasted through 5 big rides.

(The fact is that these expensive cords have sturdy hooks and strong locks attached to the bungee. No doubt that the cord itself is of good quality but the hooks play a vital role, hence they are expensive)

3. Hydra Pack:

Buying a simple mineral water at places sounds more convenient, but honestly you land up with lot of plastic along. You really don’t want to throw those empty plastic bottles just anywhere. And if you are at a location like the Himalayas, you really don’t want to leave a mess behind, specially plastic. Surely you can be responsible about it but otherwise I have found carrying a hydra pack is more convenient. When the bottle gets empty, the first thought that comes in mind is to get rid of it. At halts whenever there is some water left in the mineral bottle, I just pour it in the pack. Water also remains cool during hot days and can sip some even while riding the bike.

Hydra pack can be easily stored in your gear. I use a backpack which has a compartment exclusively for it. This gear has come to my rescue at many places; especially during solo treks. I tend to use it as that ‘extra supply’ or ‘reserve’.

4. iPhone Rainproof Cover:

Never ever I can do a ride without my iPhone. Be it going to even a local market place I need this gadget with me. Like I said above, in India you can expect rains to fall upon you anytime anywhere. In any season, the rain Gods may have a jump on you.

I always have been cautious in securing my gadgets against weather; definitely I won’t leave the phone out of it. An iPhone rainproof case comes to my rescue. This cover is always in my bag and it does the job fine.

5. Inner Glove:

I love to shoot photos throughout the ride. But when I wear my biking gloves it becomes difficult to handle the camera swiftly. The only solution I figured to this dilemma was combing two gloves. What I basically did was bought a simple thin mesh gloves which has the protective guard on knuckles; ideal for summer. During the winter I just wear the cold killer inner glove and put on the mesh one over it. So at least for two seasons — summer and winter, I have a solution where I can ride with gloves on, and use the camera conveniently.

(I’m yet to figure out a thing for the wet season.)

6. Quechua Winter Jacket:

I have said it before I will say it again. The is one thing I never underestimate is the weather of our country. How unexpectedly it can change no one can tell. And most of the time I have landed myself in a pickle because of underestimating the climatic condition. I just leave thinking I’ll manage but I land up with teeth chattering situation inside my helmet.

Now on I have started keeping a winter jacket to protect myself from the cold climate if extreme situation arises. And my favorite one is of Quencha, for simply because, its not thick as a fleece jacket, takes very less space in the bag and can take on little water splash too. Plus its a great alternate walk around jacket.

7. Set of Keychain Carabiners:

Long or short ride, I carry them as many as possible. Till date they have come in use in so many unthinkable ways.

Very recently we were coming back from Goa, and a fellow rider wanted to mount his backpack on the rear seat, as it was getting uncomfortable to ride with. The last bungee rope had snapped and was of no use. What we did now is use the straps of the bag to tie it on the rear seat. Followed by locking and fastening it to the bike using these carabiners. It held the luggage on to the seat firmly. And the ride was also comfortable all the way to the destination.

You’ll always see a few carabiners hanging from by belt loop of the jeans.

8. Buff:

This was never in my wishlist; I bought it in the first place on advise of OTG team. They had mentioned, it has multipurpose use and it will be very handy on my kind of rides.

Right from first day of a ride after buying this, it has been my most favored gear for bike rides — right from using it as a face mark to wearing it on my hand to protect the tattoo from the sun. Be be short or long ride, I never leave without my buff. For the record, it can be worn in 12 different ways.

9. Dry Inside Base Layer:

Once I had got this idea of wearing two layers for a ride to Himalayas. The intention was to avoid wearing anything thick. The fleece jacket takes too much important space in the bag. Since my threshold of winter is quite high, I decided to get myself a base layer which I can wear inside and put the bike jacket over it while riding or a t-shirt when walking. (Two layer clothing worn this way, is ideal for winter and cold mornings)

The Dry inside base layer of Knox is the best one I felt. It throws out the sweat and keeps you dry inside, just like how the name suggests. The product is also antibacterial and odour resistant, so it can be worn a few times before sent for washing.

10. Headlamp:

Carrying a source of light is a must for any ride. There are so many good torches and light devices available in the market. But I always thought of one scenario, where your bike tyre is punctured in the middle of night, on a solo ride.. How the hell you’re gonna hold the torch when you need both hands to fix the problem!

Headlamp is the best way around this; just wear it on your head and find light in any direction you look. Petzl is the current brand I use. This items is always in my bag.

Review: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About The ViaTerra Fly Camera DSLR Tankbag

I recently came back from my longest solo ride to the Himalayas, Jammu Kashmir State and the journey has been a Bliss.

An experience to cherish.

I believe many factors of a good and successful ride, has some relation with the gear, luggage and things you carry on the trip.

When I listed out the things I want on this ride (Clothes, Writing Material, Bike Spares), I found that a standard Cramster Saddle Bag will do fine. But the very purpose of this ride was to quench my thirst of ‘Photography Full Time’ in the Himalayas. So I wanted the camera gear to be at quick access throughout the trip.

And after putting some thought on my options, I decided to get myself the ViaTerra Fly Camera DSLR Tankbag.

I had my eyes on it since the day it was launched. Just it was a new product in the market so was not sure whether it will do right or not! — Should I take a chance or not?

But the advantage to me was that all products of ViaTerra are designed by avid bikers themselves. And FLY comes from the artist who created Bike Chronicles of India.

So using their product eyes closed, was a safe bet.

For 36 days this bag accompanied me on the trip and there are few things I learned about it on the go. Not even ViaTerra guys are aware of its Full Potential 🙂

Here I present you 5 things you didn’t know about the ViaTerra Fly Camera DSLR Tankbag

  1. Clothes: In the default features of the bag its a clear mention that its a camera tankbag. So its pretty much given, that its not to store spare clothes. Just your photography gear. Although you can squeeze something in if its a challenge. But they will create obstruction when accessing the camera. Solution! You see, at the bottom of the bag, a compartment opens up where the mounting and fastening straps are stored. You’ll be surprised to know what else it can take in. I managed to put in 1 thin towel, 2 Tshirts, 1 undergarment and few smaller items. Now that’s the luggage of a weekend trip on bike.
  2. Mount on Tank using Carabiners!  Now this one doesn’t applies to all bikes, but goes for most. There are some bikes available here in India, where you can mount a bungee net on their fuel tank. On the Royal Enfield Thunderbird 500 I used a bungee net on its enormous tank, with offcourse a cloth in between for protecting the tank from scratches. And I affixed the FLY on the net using carabiner keychains. Now the advantage? You can mount and dismount the bag quickly as compared to the bags default mounting system. The net also becomes a great utility.
  3. 1 DSLR and 1 lens? As per the specs the bag can accommodate 1 DSLR and 1 telephoto lens. But if just look inside and you’ll immediately hunch that FLY can accommodate 2 DSLRs, even if both have telephoto lens affix on them. Assuming you have nothing bigger than 50mm prime in the lens pocket. Only an experienced photographer knows that if you want to enjoy travel photography at the fullest then its best to have 2 DSLRs along; one for telephoto shots and the other for wide angle. In the process of changing lens constantly, you lose the moment.
  4. Mount Over Saddle Bag: Be it any company saddle bag, they always have a handle on the top to help you lift the bag while mounting or dismounting from the bike. Now if you see, the two handles perfectly line up along the rear seat of the bike. I kept the Fly on the rear seat and locked it down using the same carabiner key-chains on to those handles. In my personal opinion, I liked it more on the rear seat than on the tank. I’m not sure but I think this feeling is because I was riding a cruiser!
  5. For Motorcyclist – Hikers: There are hikers who use a typical trekking backpack for mountain/hill trips. There are Bikers who prefer a tank bag for short rides. And then there are some photo enthusiasts who along with a backpack or tank bag, carry one more small bag for the camera gear. FLY, just combines the 2 scenarios into 1. I’m not saying its go anywhere bag, but for the simple cool weekend rides/trips, this just fits the script.

Many of you must have read some of its reviews and user feedback online.But for those who don’t want to go through all the research and feedback, I’m summing it in just one sentence — FLY is a great product; your money is well spent.

Next I’m trying out this tank bag on my Ninja 250R. Whether it will hold steady! or create obstruction? Find out in my next post.

Fly tank bag
FLY in Zanskar

 

Fly tank bag
FLY in Spiti

 

Fly tank bag
FLY in Himachal

 

Fly tank bag
FLY in Ladakh

 

Fly tank bag
ViaTerra Fly Camera Tank Bag

 

Fly Tank Bag
Mounted and Fasten on Rear Seat using Carabiners

 

Fly Tank Bag
Fly with and without Rain Cover

 

Suggestions to ViaTerra Team –

– The strap for the backpack mode can be a little longer. May be 6 inches more.

– Just above the pocket of additional lens, one more fastening strip can be affixed to hold one more DSLR (when the lens pouch is empty.) So basically the bag can hold 2 DSLRs.

5 Things You Would like to Carry in Your Motorcycle Jacket

Dark Knight rides fully loaded with all his gizmos and gadgets. Right from the upper armour to the utility belt.

Now I’m not saying become the Dark Knight but I like the idea of having things which are most useful during a ride, to have it in the jacket. Most of them will come handy in one way or the other. Some gadgets, gizmos and utility items are good to have in your ride; kept in jacket pockets for quick. Read on, to know the 5 stuff I keep in my motorcycle jacket pockets.

Assuming you have an authentic motorcycle jacket, leather or textile, you surely will have more than just a couple of pockets. Here are 5 things that almost always come handy if you have them in your motorcycle jacket pocket.

5 Must haves in your riding jacket

5 ‘Must Haves’ in your Riding Jacket

1.    A Swiss knife – We all know how expensive this accessory is and we avoid buying it right out, but trust me, you’ll be surprised to know how very useful this tiny thing can be at the most vital moment. So when you spend big bucks on it, be assured that every penny is worth it, and of course, remember to buy the original. Fits just fine in any of the front pockets.

2.    All Season compact camera – Make memories each time you ride. A compact camera and an adventure trip go hand in hand. Taking shots, showing them off on Facebook and sharing memories — One gadget does it all. It should be in quick access for you, so put one in the front left pocket of the jacket.

P.S. Don’t let the rains discourage you. Go for an all weather compact camera for your trip photography.

3.    Bike papers – Mostly, it’s preferred that they are kept in the tool box or the space provided under the seat, but what happens in time is that, they tear, get soggy, become dirty and the ink on it fades away. Only when you are stopped for a routine check by officials do you realise that they are truly in a pathetic condition.

Also, during long distance travel, cops stop you and ask for papers while crossing state borders. Dash out the copies right out of your jacket pockets, instead of rummaging about elsewhere or worse still, instead of unpacking your stuff.

A Handy Tip: Photocopy the Insurance, Registration and License papers out on a single long sheet of paper. Fold and keep in a protective plastic cover before tucking into your jacket pocket.

4.    Spare key – You’ll kiss your spare key the moment you lose your primary key on a bike trip! When far from home, a spare key on a ride is a MUST. Best place? In the small pocket usually provided inside the jacket in the centre.

5.    Emergency Cash – It’s recommended that you always carry some spare cash apart from the wallet. Let’s assume your wallet is in your riding pants or jeans. Then, your spare cash has to be in your jacket pocket. Inside pocket preferably. In case you lose your wallet, your saviour is right there in your jacket pocket!

Saddlemen BR4100 Dresser Backseat Bag

Most cruiser motorcycles have a back rest for the pillion rider to be at comfort during rides. But, what about the rider? If there was some cool backrest for the rider, wouldn’t that be great? I found a cool solution — A Saddlemen BR4100 Dresser Back Seat Bag!
Saddlemen BR4100 Dresser Back Seat Bag

Okay, so you are all set to cruise along on your bike, as you rest your back, right? What we have here is a bag that can accommodate your luggage, and double up as a good back rest.

Yes, you read it right, the saddlemen br4100 dresser backseat bag is the perfect accessory in the tail bag segment for a motorcycle tourer.

The sturdily constructed bag has a rigid design. You can lean on the bag even when it’s empty. The bag opens on the top, offering flexibility in packing and loading. When not on the bike, you can easily carry it by simply holding on to the handle or better still, as a backpack!

Most solo riders eagerly wish for this feature. The innumerable pouches on either sides to store things are a great boon — they can come in handy to store several things. A strap on top can hold your jacket, helmet or even perhaps a roll of sleeping bag/ tent or tripod.

There are a couple of mounting straps that tighten the bag on the rear seat. The Saddlemen BR4100 dresser backseat bag fixes on the bike securely; and what’s more, you need not worry about balance.

Tip: Pack properly — balance your items inside the bag.

Saddlemen BR4100 Dresser Back Seat Bag
Features at a Glance:

  1. Fully rigid; lets you lean against it even when empty
  2. Two tie down straps
  3. Full size top opening for easy packing
  4. Top carry handle and backpack straps for easy toting
  5. Top accessory straps allow you to add on a Saddlemen roll bag, extra jacket, etc.
  6. Extra side mesh pouches perfect for maps
  7. Constructed of UV- water- and weather-resistant 1200-denier SaddleTuff™ and leather-like vinyl panels
  8. Dimensions: 18.5” H x 21” W x 19” D; measures 4,100 cubic inches

The bag is priced at USD140 / INR7000 – shipping charges extra, of course! You can buy them from Revzilla or at Motorcycle Superstore.

Quick Mounting Tips:

  1. Pack your contents properly. It should be well balanced inside the bag.
  2. Installing luggage or placing mounting straps near the exhaust system can create a fire hazard. So make sure that after you are all set, you check if nothing is hanging close to the silencer.
  3. Always follow the manufacturer’s mounting instructions for proper installation on your motorcycle.

 

Article I have originally penned down and posted on MyBikeMyWorld.com

 

Timberland Radler Trail Camp Shoes

Carrying two pairs of footwear is a difficult task on bike trips. Especially when you intend to pack light, carrying one for pure biking purposes while the other for casual wear. Biking shoes obviously are on your feet most of the time but accommodating the other pair is a dilemma. So now, what would be the best thing to do?

While browsing on the web I dug out a pair of cool folding shoes designed by Timberland for trekkers and hikers; but that which a rider can make good use of too!

A rider can just fold and zip-up a pair of Radler Trail Camp shoes and simply put them in the luggage or just hang them in style.

When you are at your destination or not riding on a particular day, you don’t want to put your feet back in your biking shoes. Simple lightweight footwear always come handy on these bike trips. They’re even better if small and portable – tiny enough that they hardly occupy any space in your luggage. Radler Trail Camp shoes do just that.

Redler Trail Camp Folding Shoes

Redler Trail Camp Folding Shoes

  • Cool features of these folding shoes
  • Water-repellent
  • Lightweight,
  • Fleece-lined,
  • Unisex,
  • Treated ripstop fabric,
  • Removable OrthoLite footbed for underfoot warmth and comfort,
  • Compact upper design,
  • Features 42 per cent recycled rubber lug outsoles for superior traction in the woods.
  • Durable Green Rubber™ used
  • A clean profile and slight lug for traction

 

OrthoLite:

OrthoLite comfort foam insoles provide breathability, moisture transport, antimicrobial function and long-term cushioning. The ultra-breathable material used won’t break down or lose cushioning over time – and your footwear will remain comfortable and supportive.

Green Rubber™

The shoes feature Green Rubber™ outsole made with 42% recycled rubber.

Timerland Radler Trail Camp

Timerland Radler Trail Camp

You can comfortably and confidently wander around your destination wearing them. They are available at Timeberland stores or you can buy them online through Amazon for a reasonable price of USD50-70 a pair.

Note:  Women must order a size smaller – so if you normally pick an 8, simply order men’s 7.

For those who like to take impromptu hikes on their bike rides, but always seem to have the ‘wrong’ shoes for the occasion, these ubercool shoes from Timberland might just be the answer to that.

Photos: Timberland

Also penned by me in MyBikeMyWorld.com

Taichi Drymaster Storm Jacket: A Review

You don’t want your aggressive riding jacket while riding for city meets or close destination rides.

I tested the Taichi Drymaster on road under the sun, rain and wind and it is best to go light and safe frankly anywhere.

Tiachi Drymaster Jacket
You have a motorcycle jacket which does the job while riding and touring, but most of the ones available in India, are suitable for high speed touring and aggressive riding. They are not very feasible to carry them around once you reach your destination.

Here is where the Malaysian make, Taichi Drymaster storm jacket, comes to the rescue. It’s very suitable for almost all popular riding situations – Touring, bike night or a club meet. It’s designed to be used for all kinds of riding and correspond well with the needs of riding gear. This cool, light weight jacket can easily replace the most commonly used motorcycle textile jacket.

Some Quick facts:

  • Light weight material
  • Waterproof textile
  • Removable hood
  • Front left pocket 100 per cent waterproof
  • Removable industry standard guards on back shoulder and elbow
  • Compatibility to insert front /chest guard
  • Ventilation zips available under triceps and on sides
  • Adjustable Velcro straps on wrist, arm, waist and elbow
  • Cross zip all the way to the top
  • Breathable membrane
  • Stylish and fashionable


Available colours
: Charcoal green, white black, ice red, charcoal pink, black white and black red.

I wore it during the heavy Mumbai monsoons and came home, dry and warm. After using it on a couple of rides and a few visits around the city, I can safely say that it’s best suited for short distance touring, cool city rides and meets as well as club hangouts and bike nights. Since the material is light weight, it becomes easy to walk with it and blends in with any occasion, too. It’s not too flashy. And, the design makes a style statement. I kept my iPhone in the waterproof pocket and what a relief when I found not a single drop of water had reached the handset!

However, it’s not suitable during peak summer. You can wear it on a ride but you’ll sweat profusely when walking around with it. During winter, this jacket can protect you from cold winds and snow.

Priced at approximately Rs. 10500/- these jackets are available online.

I’ll certainly recommend this jacket to every rider. On a scale of 1 to 10, I’ll say this one deserves 8.

Also published at MyBikeMyWorld.com

Alpinestars CR-4 Gore-Tex XCR Boot : Quick Review

Last week, one of our team members was able to get his hands, or rather feet on the 2011 fall collection of Alpinestars motorcycle shoes. The particular product we got was the CR-4 Gore-Tex XCR in Anthracite/Red.

Wearing and riding for couple of days has given us positive feedback. It offers protection with hiking boot style and comfort. Tough materials along with Gore-Tex membrane has been used to build the body. So it is waterproof as well as breathable. Performance and longevity are also its attribute. So, it can be said rightfully, that these boots will stay with the rider for a long span.

Have a quick look at the features:

•    Along with highly breathable GORE-TEX® XCR® membrane, the collar and tongue also feature waterproof and breathable mesh lining.
•    The lace system is strictly like the hiking boots, with metal eyelets and two hooks on each size.
•    Notice the reflective inserts on the rear of the boot.
•    It is layered under the leather internal toe and heel counter.
•    EVA midsole are shock absorbing.
•    PU coated leather shift area.
•    Wrap-around rubber outsole reinforced with metal shank in the heel and a TPU shank in the Plantar Arch for enhanced rigidity.
•    Mesh lined anatomically profiled EVA foam foot bed.
•    Upper constructed from a combination of PU coated leather, suede and textile.
•    Foam backed, double density impact protector on the both sides of the ankle.
All-in-all, these boots are ideal for motorcycle riders. It can be used in any season and any terrain. One can even go hiking with it. Cleaning it requires very minimal efforts.

P.S. Now just in case if any water enters the boot from the top, or you are standing in knee deep water, the best and the fastest way to dry your shoes is to keep them overnight under light, fan or in windy area with the interior of the shoes stuffed with newspaper balls. It’s the oldest trick in the book and it definitely works.
Alpinestars CR-4 Goretex

Also published on MyBikeMyWorld.com