Juvimax adventures

An account of our lifestyle and family adventures around the world

Gear

Journey by snowshoe

MSR Denali Ascent. We enjoyed these snowshoes a lot. We also had the tails that come with it for more flotation (we never ended up using the tails). The downturn of snowshoes in general is that you have to walk with your legs spread a little which can cause tendinites and causes you to sometimes step on your other snowshoe.  Also snowshoeing is a little slower than skiing.

 Komperdell carbon ultra light c3 compact Trekking poles. These poles have a duo locking system and shock absorbers, and they weigh next to nothing. In general these poles have been dissapointing.They are expensive and the locking device keeps acting up (as in not wanting to lock, or getting loose while you walk). Though they are versatile as you can set the size. We have used them a lot, both pairs broke just recently.  We are going for rigid poles next time.

The north face darkstar sleeping bag. This was Leandra's sleeping bag. We chose for a synthetic because when you sleep outside in cold temperatures, there is always frozen condensation on the sleeping bag. down will not warm you anymore when whet, but the synthetic will. Leandra has not been cold, even at a night of -36c! Inside the sleeping bag Leandra used a silk sleeping bag liner from Mountain Equipment coop.

Helsport xtrem series sleeping bag. Philippe has had this sleeping bag for 10 years and it still does it's job! This is also a synthetic sleeping bag. rated for -40c. Inside the sleeping bag, Philippe used a silk sleeping bag liner from Mountain Equipment coop.

Cooking. Before leaving on this journey we made some food drop offs, therefore we were 'only' carrying one week of food at a time.

We cooked on fires and therefore took no cookstove. We used a kettle with a big opening on top for melting snow for drinking. the big hole is very useful because it lets you pack in a lot of snow easily. Also we had 2 big pots. One to cook food for Nanook (the dog) and one to cook our own food. 

Tent, Our North Face mountain 25 keeps amazing us. We bought this 4 season tent knowing that we would be doing adventures in all kinds of weather conditions. We've nicknamed it the Mammoth, as it is not an ultralight (3kg) but it withstands everything! still after more than 300 camps! Philippe got to thank the tent once again, this June, when he and 3 friends were crossing the Juneau icefield. they took two tents, our Mountain 25 and a new fashion ultralight one layer tent from Mountain hardwear. The one layer tent was a swimming pool every morning, they could scoop out the water with their cups. so all their gear wet, and then that tent was brand new! Our tent had no water other than a little condensation. For real winter use, for us, it would be ideal to have a tent a little bigger. As while you sleep the condensation freezes on the inside of the tent, thus when you wake up and get dressed you scrape the ice from the inner tent, giving you a chilly wake up (though it helps to have all doors open at night for airflow). Also we have had some zippers quit on us, but North face happily fixed them for us. Otherwise, we love this tent! and we take it everywhere!

 For sleeping matresses we used the Thermarest prolight 4 season 3/4length matresses. To fill up the space until the feet (to insulate from the snow) we just put some clothes or our downjackets under our feet.

 Pulks. The pulks were 'homemade'. We bought two big pelican sleds that we renovated into pulks. We added a used snowboard underneath, and added some rope to attach our gear. We decided to have rope for pulling, instead of solid tubing. This way on the downhills we would just sit on the sled and slide down! 

Clothing: we both had thermal underwear, shell pants, a light fleece sweater and a shell jacket. Even when it's cold, you're being active and you do not need that much clothing. We did have thick fleece sweaters, fleece pants, and a very fluffy down jacket. This we would put on right away when we would stop for camp in the evening, so we would stay warm while not active anymore, and this was also our gear in case of extreme weather (that we did not have).

Shoes, we used the black 'bunny boots'. These alaskan army boots are used all over the north and are truly awesome. Basically it is a double layered rubber boot with the liner in between the two rubber layers. It is your foot that keeps itself warm, even if you walk through the overflow (water on top of ice). Really great for long term travelling as you don't have to dry your liner, you just take the boots off and put them back on the next morning. Also, these boots are very comfortable for log distance walking, the thick fleece liner in the average winterboots use lots of energy, making you tired faster.

The Bunny boots come in 2 colors. We had the black version, but in the mean time Leandra has now switched to the White ones. The difference? The black version is lighter duty, it is rated to -40c. The white boots are rated to -60c.  Note that many dogmushers use these boots even without socks so you have nothing at all to dry! We used them with light summer socks, just for comfort.

Electronics, We use a Brunton solaris 12 watt solar panel and a pixo c2 universal charger to charge all our batteries. We used rechargable batteries for our headlights and our Garmin gps and had a spare battery for both our Olympus stylus photo camera and our Canon hv10 HD video camera. 

Hygiene, winter camping is special when it comes to hygiene. Having at least one week between each village (and not even every village has a public shower), means that you have to be mentally capable of being 'dirty'. While you're on the go, you never take off your thermal underwear as it is too cold (only to go to the toilet). We brought babywipes for cleaning the private parts. The trick is that on the day you decide to wash, you have to put the frozen babywipes on the inside of your layers so your bodyheat warms them up and they are ready for use in the evening. We are both fine with this but it is a serious matter to consider before leaving on a long wintertrip as many people do not have the mental to go for long (sometimes 2 weeks) without a full wash. We had added clean underlayers at our food drops, but would only change into our clean clothes if there was a shower in the village. One nice surprise is that once you take that shower, you take off your underlayers and it is almost weird to see your body after so long, and also you're a bunch of pounds lighter.  

 

Journey by Canoe

 

Canoe, Because we were travelling with our dog, and were spending lots of time on the water, we decided we needed a sturdy canoe that was not too tippy, so we could freely move around without risk of capsizing. We bought a square end 19ft freighter canoe made by Grumman.  We attached a custom made rowing attachment to it that we bought online. The canoe was great, it felt like a home on the water. We never had any water come in thanks to the spray rails, and the keel makes it super stable. In the canoe we had installed a rope attached attached at bow and stern, to this rope we attached our gear with carabiners. This way if we would capsize, our gear would stay attached to the boat, and we wouldnt' lose anything.

Gear storage, To protect our gear from the water and eventual capsize, all our gear was stored in waterproof bags and pails. We used the drybags from OR. Also we used waterproof pails from Vieux Campeur (french outdoor store), we had 3 x 68l, 1 x 3.6l and one 6.5l . One Pail contained our sleeping gear, another contained food, and another contained clothing etc. The small pails were used for gps, wallets, bear spray, flares, passports, solar panel etc. Also we had one heavy duty drybag from Vieux Campeur for dogfood. Food and Dogfood had their own pails as it is very important to have your food, dogfood toothpaste etc, FAR from your tent when camping in Bear country! 

For the days off and for visiting villages, we had a small backpack with us so we could take our important belongings with us while we'd explore.

Clothing, Since we were canoeing a big river long river, we decided to take drysuits with us, in case we would encounter nasty weather or big rapids (there is one rapid  called 'the rapids' on the entire yukon river that can be a challenge, but this depends on the water level). Otherwise, each had 2 pairs of Fast drying pants from Mountain equipment coop, a couple t-shirts, a goretex soft shell and thermal underwear. For raingear we used the old fahioned rubber. We were wearing rubber boots, and had brought along some sneakers for at camp and for visiting.

Sleeping, Ofcourse 'the Mammoth' our North face mountain 25 was part of this journey. 

For sleeping bags we both had a down sleeping bag from the brand Pyrenex. The brand Pyrenex is from the Spanish Pyrenees and is made with local high quality duck down. These sleeping bags are over 10 years old, and they are still amazingly good. 

In our sleeping bags we use Silk liners from Mountain equipment coop.

We slept on orange Thermarest prolight four season, the 3/4 length version of this matress. They do their job.  

Cooking, Drinking, Washing Before leaving on this journey, we stocked up on pastas, mashed potatoes, rice, bread, jam, and all the rest of the food for at least a couple of weeks. Later on we stocked up on the necessary groceries in the villages along the way.

We cooked on fires and therefore took no cookstove. We used a kettle for tea and coffee, a frying pan for eggs and bacon, a normal pot for rice pastas etc, and a small pot for sauces and deserts. 

The water of the yukon river is silty, and some villages run their sewer water into it, therefore we decided to use a 20l waterpail to store clean drinking water that we would get from creeks coming in to the river, or that we would get at showerhouses in villages. For cooking we used the river water. Wherever we go, we always have purifying pills with us, but since we're used to drinking bush water, we only use the pills if we don't trust the source.

In most villages along the Yukon river there are Washeterias, here you can do your laundry and have a shower. Otherwise, there is a big river to bathe in! (just stay very close to shore as there are lots of currents and people do drown in this river..)

Electronics, We use a Brunton solaris 12 watt solar panel and a pixo c2 universal charger to charge all our batteries. We used rechargable batteries for our headlights and our Garmin gps and had a spare battery for both our Olympus stylus photo camera and our Canon hv10 HD video camera. On this journey we also took both our Ipods, that we charged on the solar panel.

 

Journeys by bicycle

 

Bicycles:

29'er Gary fisher x-caliber mountain bikes with front suspension. Philippe had the 2007 model, Leandra the 2008 model.Our bicycles were equipped with v-brakes and Sram components. During our travels we learned that Sram is hard to find in other parts of the world. The parts that needed replacement, have been replaced by us with Shimano, as this brand is found everywhere. 

We equipped each bicycle with luggage racks on the rear, cramponed pedals, 2 bottleholders.

Bob:

We used the bob trailer for our extra gear. We love this trailer as i is extremely versatile. The one wheel makes it a true 4x4 trailer, the weight doesn't need to be balanced (we heard complaints from people who had one of those bicycle wheel 'one wheel' trailer, that they had to be super careful with the weight balance), also the drybag makes the trailer float when crossing rivers which is very handy. We've used the trailer for 15,000km we've regreased the bearings once, as maintenance, but actually it wasn't necessary. The only 2 downturns on the bob are 1) the weight. it is fairly heavy. 2) As they say on their website, the bob is not made for 29'ers. We had lots of derailleur hanger problems, as when going over obstacles, the bob attachment would push on the derailleur, benting the derailleur hanger (we took about 5 spare derailleur hangers).

Tires:

We found some amazing tires at Decathlon in France (B'twin pneu vtt 9.90 euros). Rather than buying the superpricy marathon tires, we decided to give these 10 euro tires a try, we added a liner to them and we were stunned by their performance! The rear tires would blow between 4000-6000km, and not because the thread was worn out, but because our rims are made for tubeless tires, therefore the tire would wear out and blow around the rim. I don't remember any blown front tires, so most likely the front tires made 7000km (as we changed them between the two journeys). Also we had barely any flats. Knowing the rear tires would blow up after 4000km, we took 2 spares with us on our journeys. 

As these tires are a little different size than the 29'ers, we used talk powder to ease putting the tires on the rim. 

Panniers: We used the ortlieb bags, totally waterproof and light. Philippe had a cannondale front bag, it was made from fabric and not waterproof, this was annoying at times of rain. Leandra had a no brand front bag that was totally waterproof. 

Clothing: On our first journey, we both had 1 pair of fast drying outdoor pants from Mountain Equipment coop, and 2 t-shirts each. We are respectful towards the dresscodes, therefore in the Middle eastern countries, we were always wearing pants and a t-shirt with short sleeves. 

Our second journey, as we were travelling through western Europe, we decided to wear fast drying zip off pants and still 2 t-shirts. We chose to take only one pair of pants (besides our Goretex rain gear) to be light.  Philippe was wearing Mountain hardwear Mesa zip off pants, Leandra had North Face paramount peak zip off pants. Great choice to have taken these. as it does save weight and space to take one pair of pants that can make shorts as well... Also we had one goretex soft shell each, and thick fleece sweater and we took buffs.

One lesson we learned is to ALWAYS have thermal underwear with you! We decided for a change not to take any thermal underwear on our journey to Northcape and around Iceland, and boy did we miss our thermals on those colder or windy days!

Shoes, For shoes, we just wear our regular hiking boots. Philippe has a pair of Han Wag Lima hiking boots, with which he is very content. after 15,000km they are still waterproof and still in excellent condition. Leandra had a pair of Merrel hiking boots. They are still incredibly comfortable, but they have never been waterproof, are too rubbery therefore make sweaty feet, the sole has split, and so has she sewing. Currently Leandra is awaiting her new Scarpa pro Nepal GTX hiking boots that are to replace the Merrells.

Raingear, Philippe has a Millet Goretex shell that we bought at an outrageous price. We were fairly dissapointed by this supposedly amazing goretex piece of equipment that after not many uses was starting to let water through (though I must admit that that's during days of full hard rainy weather). Leandra had a Schoffel Goretex shell, that was also letting water through after hours in pouring rain. For rain pants, we had TAKU shell pants from REI, we've been happy with them. Leandra had a pair of B'twin gaiters to protect her non'waterproof shoes. The gaiters were good to protect the top, but water would come in anyway from the bottom. 

 Sleeping, We used the same gear as usual.

Our good old 'Mammoth', The wonderful mountain 25, from The North Face, once again did an excellent job on keeping us dry and providing us a home.

For sleeping bags we both had a down sleeping bag from the brand Pyrenex. The brand Pyrenex is from the Spanish Pyrenees and is made with local high quality duck down. These sleeping bags are over 10 years old, and they are still amazingly good. 

Inside our sleeping bags, we use silk liners from Mountain equipment coop.

We sleep on orange Thermarest prolight four season, the 3/4 length version of this matress. They do their job.  

Cooking, drinking, Washing, We used our MSR whisperlite for our cycle journeys, this stove can use any kind of gas and is therefore very versatile (we've had this stove for over 10 years so it's noisy compared to the new whisperlite)also this stove is very reliable. We used a smaller 3l pan that actually came in a fondue set that we never used and therefore gave a use by taking it on our journeys!. our kettle was a small GSA hae tea kettle, that worked great and was light and fitted inside the cooking pot, to save space.

For drinking, we had our water purifying pills with us that we used to purify water from sources we did not trust. In Eastern europe and the middle east we were often buying water in the stores as there were few drinkable sources. In western and northern Europe, and in iceland we found lots of drinkable water along the way. 

On our journey from France to Northcape and around Iceland, we gave ourselves a budget of 10 dollars a day including everything. Therefore we camped wild all the time. We washed in creeks and rivers...  And if we couldn't find any we'd stop during the day at a campground (if we came across one), shower, and go again.

Electronics, We use a Brunton solaris 12 watt solar panel and a pixo c2 universal charger to charge all our batteries. We used rechargable batteries for our headlights and had a spare battery for both our Olympus stylus photo camera and our Canon hv10 HD video camera.

Hygiene, Since we were on a short budget the on our way to Northcape, we were washing in creeks and rivers. Whenever we felt we needed a wash, we would stop at the first river or creek we saw. Another method we used if there were no rivers in the area was to stop at a campground and ask to use their showers, we did this twice and were not told no. On our way to Egypt, we stayed in campgrounds once in a while and took our showers there.