Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2

A tent and a bicycle in a park

Garry’s latest acquisition to his kit is the Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2, a lightweight three-season two-person tent. And although he’s only taken it on a few trips, it’s already becoming his go-to tent when heading off on his bicycle. Over the years, Garry’s had several tents, some good, some not-so-good. But the Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2 is one of the better ones.

It reminds Garry of the first tent he used when he first started cycle touring, the MSR Velo. It should have been the design MSR stuck with, but that’s a different story, which you can read about here.

The Big Agnes

Garry has one or two reservations about the Big Agnes Blacktail Hotel 2. The materials seem a little less superior to some of his other tents. And the zips don’t fill him with confidence that they will last. But time will tell on those. The pegs that came with the tent were cheap and nasty and were discarded immediately, replaced with Groundhog pegs. The top vents on the tent are also a bit of a concern. And Garry’s not too sure how good they would be at keeping out rain in a strong wind.

The inner tent walls are predominantly mesh, which might be a problem when the temperature drops. And there is a significant gap between the sides of the outer tent and the ground. But that, along with the upper vents, allows for plenty of ventilation. Keeping condensation down to a minimum.

It sounds like Garry isn’t too impressed with the tent, but nothing could be further from the truth. Garry loves its roominess and excellent headroom. The large vestibule allows Garry to store all his gear inside the tent. The vestibule also allows Garry to cook in if it’s wet. And if it’s been a wet ride, he can change out of his wet gear without getting the inner tent wet.

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Abus Bordo Granit XPlus-6500


The Abus Bordo Granit XPlus-6500 is Garry’ choice of padlock for the safekeeping of his bicycle. The folding lock has temper hardened steel bars encased in a soft coating to protect the bike’s paint. The links and body are also made of hardened steel. And the flat bars of the lock makes it almost impossible to cut with bolt croppers! In addition, the links on the lock are protected by the “ABUS Link Protection Shield”, which offers even more protection from the sawing of the links. The cylinder on the lock is the Abus XPlus which offers exceptionally high protection against picking and comes with two keys. One of which has an LED light!

Bike with padlock
The Abus padlock around Garry’s bike

The Abus Bordo Granit XPlus-6500 also comes with a handy bracket. Which can be attached to the bike with bolts in place of a water bottle. Or mounted to any of the bars of the frame, using the supplied straps, which was Garry’s choice. Especially as Garry tends to need all the water he can carry!

Bicycle and water bottles
TheAbus Bordo Granit XPlus-6500 fitted to Garry’s bike
Abus Bordo Granit XPlus-6500
It’s a weighty thing

The only downside to all this security is the weight! The lock and cradle weigh in at just under 2 kgs! But Garry would rather carry around some extra weight and know that his bike is safe at night, left outside the front of a hotel! As has happened many times in the past!

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Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95

Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95

The Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95 is Garry’s newest camera. After many years and thousands of miles sitting in the bar bag on the front of Garry’s bike, his old Panasonic camera has given up the ghost!

Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95
Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95 in zoom mode

Since his old Panasonic had been so reliable and had taken some good photos over the years, Garry decided to stick with the Panasonic brand. But which one should he buy? There were so many!

After looking online and getting very confused! Garry decided to head to his local camera store and seek some advice. Initially, Garry bought the Panasonic Lumix DC-FZ82 4K Bridge Camera. Being a bridge camera, it’s a lot bigger than his old camera, but Garry was convinced it would be okay! It wasn’t! No matter how much he tried, it was just too big for his bar bag! And despite the DC-FZ82 being a great camera, taking some great photos, it was no good for going on a bicycle tour. And had to go!

Back at the store, Garry now went for a point and shoot camera! As he should have done in the first place! And went for the Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95. Click here for all the technical specifications. They go way over Garry’s head and are better explained on the Panasonic website! All Garry knows is that it has a flip-screen and can take 4K photos!

Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95
Rearview of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TZ95

Hopefully, Garry can get back to some serious touring soon and will get a chance to try out his new camera! But, until then, Garry will try it out on some day rides. You can view his efforts on the odd photos section of the website, which generally gets updated each month.

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Samsung Galaxy S21 5G

Mobile phone

Garry’s updated his old phone to the brand new Samsung Galaxy S21 5G. After struggling with the memory of his old Samsung for the past year or two. He finally bit the bullet and upgraded! He was thinking of swapping over to an ios phone, but after thinking about it, he decided to stick with an Android phone. And what a difference it makes. With 256GB of storage and 8GB Ram, it’s lightning-fast and more than capable of handling all the apps Garry will ever need. At the moment!

The phone comes equipped with two decent cameras. The back camera is capable of taking 64mp photos and zoom up to 30x. While the front-facing camera is also of good quality at 10MP.

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
The three different lenses of the S21 5G

The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G also has dual sim capability. So when Garry finally gets back to touring abroad! He’ll be able to buy a local sim and use that along with his home sim and avoid those expensive roaming charges!

Although the phone is slightly bigger than his old one, at 152mm x 71mm x 7mm, it weighs 3 grams less. Which is still relatively small compared to some of the phones on the market!

Samsung Galaxy S21 5G
Garry’s phone loaded with some of the apps

Garry’s looking forward to getting back on the road to try out some of the new apps he’s downloaded, specifically for touring. Although he’s already using some new apps for work.

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