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Random Thoughts on Gear

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I spent the weekend at home with the kids and preparing for an upcoming bikepacking vacation. Whenever I am prepping for another trip, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about gear. Today you get some ramblings in no particular order.

My bike – In reviewing this trip, I wrestled with what bike to bring? Their were 3 Salsa bike options; my Fargo, my El Mariachi and a Spearfish. Considering I don’t own a Spearfish, the choice quickly went down to the Fargo and the EM. I really wanted to ride the El Mariachi with a suspension fork but given I haven’t ridden flat bars all that much this year I was worried about repeated long days of pedaling with flat bars and hand numbness. The last time I switched to flat bars after primarily riding drop bars was Kokopelli a few years ago. My hands went numb on that trip. I can’t risk it on this trip. So my trusty Fargo with Woodchippers got the nod for this trip. For those that are about to write a comment telling me I can put a suspension fork on my Fargo, you are right, but I don’t own one any longer with a steer tube long enough. The message buried deep into these words is ride what you know. I love my Fargo.

Camera – The number one thing sending people to this site in terms of keyword searching is camera gear. In particular, Sony NEX gear. Top keyword searches and posts here on Imaginegnat are NEX 7, E mount 50mm f1.8, Sigma 19mm, and Zeiss 24mm f1.8. Well….Other than some film camera related posts, I haven’t written about my main cameras in some time, but I must confess. I have sold off ALL my Sony NEX gear. Why? Honestly, there are many reasons.

  1. The first being weather sealing. I had trouble last fall on a wet Hawaii trip and also earlier this year in Japan. In the rain, I had the camera lock up forcing me to reboot repeatedly, thus, losing all my settings and controls. It’s also very frustrating. I just can’t have that happen.
  2. Images – My family did a North Shore/BWCA trip earlier this year. I took two cameras, my Sony NEX with 2 lenses and my Nikon DSLR with 2 lenses. I shot both cameras quite a lot. Given point one above, any time we were out in a canoe or in a situation where it looked like rain, I brought my Nikon DSLR. When I returned, I sorted images for personal use, blog use and a few for a future project. Of the images I chose, about 75% of those were from my Nikon DSLR. In short, I came to the conclusion that I captured more images I liked with my DSLR. That experience also added clarity to something rolling around in my head, that being the conclusion that I liked the size and technology of the NEX cameras but I did not like the images they produce as much as my other camera.
  3. Sony support – The NEX line really falls short in it’s lens offerings. Sure I can use adapters and I did, but Sony was slow to respond with native lenses. They are slowly catching up, but when compared to my Nikon and to micro 4/3rds, they are way, way behind. Additionally, Sony has been slow to issue much needed firmware updates. Again, I love Sony for pushing the boundaries of technology, but they also need to invest in their current customers. It just isn’t happening.

There are other reasons too such as overheating of the sensor while recording movies and a few issues with the EVF in certain situations, but for me those weren’t main factors, they just added to my decision to move on.

Bikepacking Gear – That is my set up above. The bar bag is the one time per day use stuff. This includes bivy, Tyvek ground cloth, sleeping pad and down quilt. The seat bag is quite accessible and will primarily have clothes in it as well as a few misc items and some food. Framebag will primarily be water, food and very small cook kit. Back pack will be my camera and my rain jacket as well as extra water for one of the really long days in the California heat and desert.

It sort of goes without saying, but whenever you prep for a trip and force yourself to make decisions, the final choices almost always come down to what you know and what you are comfortable with.

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16 replies »

  1. Interesting comments on camera gear. I will have to bend your ear a bit when it comes time for my next camera. It’s going to be a nice one, and I’d value your input.

    On the Fargo: Since I assume you will be using a Fargo rigid fork, will you be utilizing the fork mounts, and if so, with which racks/bottle mounts?

    • GT- glad to help with cameras. Anytime you are ready.

      Regarding the Fargo, I am using the Whisky carbon fork mostly because I am lazy and didnt want to change my set up because it is working so well. Water will go in my framebag.

  2. Some time, I’d be curious to hear what dSLR you’re using these days, and what lenses you commonly rely upon. I’m still shooting my (several year old) D300, and cannot find any reason to upgrade. That + a 17-55 F2.8 is a good 70% of my shooting. A 70-200 F2.8 is another 25% of my shooting, and the last little bit is some prime glass (85mm f1.8, 50mm f1.8).

  3. When I do finally pull the plug on a mirrorless, I’ve been debating on whether I’d go Sony NEX or a micro 4/3rd (probably a Panasonic model). I love the full APS-C sensor on the NEX, and like you said, they do push the boudnaries on technology, but that limited lens variety is something to consider. With the 4/3rd system, there’s a whole lot more lens options…

    • Fonk, I am at a place where I pretty much plan to carry my full size DSLR and if I don’t the. A smaller sensor is fine and I prefer the amazing lens choices of m4/3.

  4. Do you think cool biking photos can take place with a 35mm f2.8 lens? I’m thinking of just getting a really nice point and shoot. I’m wondering if it will just suck for action (not that I need to try a lot of action shots).

    • John we are on the same wavelength. Checkout today’s post. All images are shot with a 35mm f2.8. I have also acquired a 35mm f2.8 lens for my film camera. Love it.

      That said I do occasionally miss a long telephoto lens to flatten the image up and I miss good focus tracking for action.

      Regarding a point and shoot with action I have found with manual controls, prefocusing and shooting with the burst shooting mode on most newer point and shoots works for me.

  5. Can you tell me what kind of handlebar bag that is? Looks like a compression dry bag, but can’t really tell. Do you have a clever scheme for holding it to your handlebar?

    Would you be able to provide a full gear list, before or after your trip, and let us know what you would have wished you had taken or left behind? This would be useful for those of us just getting in to the bikepacking world.

    • Steve great to hear from you and thanks for the comment.

      The bar bag is an E-Vent fabric compression sack that i attach to a Revelate Designs bar harness.

      Gear list – yes i will provide a gear list once it is complete. Love to do that.

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