Review - Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel Charger and Venture 30 Power Bank

In the search for charging solutions when bike touring, I have tried everything from dynamo hubs to café plugs. The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel is my first solar solution – paired with a Goal Zero Venture 30 Power Bank it is performing well.

The need for power when bike touring is a constant conundrum. A dynamo hub is reassuringly self-sufficient; but you risk it failing and leaving you without power. A collection of power banks, recharged in cafes and hotels is another solution; but they are heavy, and charging is slow. Solar power is a potentially more sustainable and reliable option, and the offering from Goal Zero is one of the most impressive on the market.

The Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel is a portable and rugged solar panel, ideal for providing power when cycle touring, trekking, kayaking, sailing, or in any other outdoor pursuit.

The Nomad 7 panel is 24cm x 16cm in size and folds out to create an area twice that width (24 x 32cm). It is the smallest solar panel within the …

Review - Chapeau Summer Cycling Base Layers

Cyclists can underestimate the power of a good base layer — it is the foundation of a layering system, and wicks sweat away from your body to leave you cool and dry. The Chapeau base layer is a great example of summer cycling base layer.

A base layer is not a complicated piece of clothing: it is a single layer of fabric, which needs to fit like a second skin in order for it to perform its wicking function effectively. The key for any base layer is the fabric, which must be both moisture absorbing and super-fast drying, in order for it to transport sweat away from the skin's surface to the outside atmosphere.

UK brand Chapeau Cycling is new to the base layer market, but their summer cycling base layers are a great first venture. The lightweight fabric fulfils the required attributes, and the short-sleeved layers fit well, even in the cycling position.

It might not be summer as I write this review, but summer weight base layers are also ideal if you are into indoor training or spi…

Adventure Life - Zone3 Open Water Swimming

Life is short; and the wild is a vast and beautiful place. Bicycles have allowed me to explore and embrace many new wild places and adventures; but this year I came to the realisation that I should also turn to some new exciting sports – to widen my wild horizons. Open water swimming is my most recent endeavour…

Living on an island has always given me a fond association with the sea and open water. I was never much of a swimmer and never liked the confinement of swimming pools, but I have always been a keen sailor and sea kayaker. Now, living just a stone's throw from the beach, I decided that open water swimming could present a great cross-training sport.

With the cycling season coming to a close in autumn, I knew that if I was to dive into the world of open water wild swims, I would need some kit – namely a good swimming wetsuit, and protection for my extremities. I opted for the great value Zone3 Vision Wetsuit, wetsuit booties, and wetsuit gloves.

Kitted up… I headed out int…

Review - Norrona fjørå Powerwool Long Sleeve MTB Jersey

I have used the Norrøna fjørå Long Sleeve MTB Jersey for everything but mountain biking: as a casual long sleeve tee, as a base layer under a winter jacket, even under a gilet when gravel biking in the high Dolomites mountains (okay, that is probably mountain biking) – in all of these pursuits, it has excelled.

Norrøna is a Norwegian brand, who are know for their superb quality outdoor sports apparel. The Long Sleeve Thermo Mountain Bike Jersey is one of their ventures into the bike world, and it shows great promise.

The fjørå Powerwool jersey itself is nothing extraordinary in terms of features – in essence it is a loose fitting long sleeve t-shirt, without any pockets or zippers. The exceptional aspect of the jersey comes from the fabric, which is Polartec's award-winning Powerwool. This soft blend of merino wool and synthetics creates an insulating layer that is highly flexible and versatile in use, while also being superbly durable.

Whether hiking up an Italian mountain or re…

Review - Bridgedale Stormsock Waterproof Socks

Waterproof thermal cycling socks can be a great asset in the cold months of autumn and winter, especially on muddy and wet cyclocross and mountain bike rides. The new Bridgedale Waterproof Stormsock Thermal Socks are a great example.

Overshoes are ideal on the road, and even for most off-road pursuits; but their capabilities are diminished if you are required to dismount and walk through mud or water; in these environments you find water and mud seeps in between shoe and cover, and quickly soaks your socks and feet. The solution I have found is waterproof cycling socks – these allow you to walk through anything up to ankle deep puddles, and retain warm and dry feet.

The Bridgedale Stormsocks come in a variety of cuff lengths and thermal insulation levels; I have been testing the mid-range option; the Bridgedale Stormsock Midweight Boot, which is cut as a standard crew-length sock just above the ankle.

The socks are made of a three layer construction: with a soft Terry pad providing …