Category Archives: Adventure Motorcycling Gear Reviews

Stuff I’ve actually used

Tested: Mosko Moto Surveyor softshell jacket review

See also:
Adventure Spec Linesman
Mosko Moto

It’s hot

In a line
Lightweight and stylish, warm-weather (or high output) jacket.

€238 for an XL (remember: US ‘XL’ like this = XXL in European sizes/brands)

Where tested
Three weeks in Morocco in March/April

802g (1.76 lbs).

What they say
When temperatures drop sometimes a hardshell is too much and a jersey doesn’t quite cut it. The Surveyor Jacket fills that gap. Wind resistant and highly breathable, the Surveyor Jacket is built for high-output riding in cooler temps.
Made from durable 4-way stretch Cordura® for increased abrasion and snag resistance with enhanced comfort and mobility on the bike. Cut for a close-to-body over-armor fit, the Surveyor Jacket can be worn with or without armor making it a solid choice on the trail and at camp.
The Surveyor Jacket is right at home in the woods on long rides as the days grow shorter or chasing a receding snow line as the season gets underway. DWR water protection and wind resistance keep you comfortable in mild weather.
Two oversized mesh-lined hand pockets double as vents with flow-through venting. With one external and one internal chest pocket to keep essentials close at hand. Inspired by road and mountain biking bibs, the lumbar game pocket features three internal pockets for on-body storage. These pockets sit low enough to be compatible with our Wildcat Backpacks. Load them up for added storage on big days or ditch the pack and pair with a Reckless 10L.

Surveyor jacket supplied free for review by Mosko Moto


• Lightweight spandex fabric feels barely noticeable
• Looks good in Woodland green plus many nice touches
• Vertical back vents double up as a game pocket
• Will probably hold back a rain shower or two
• Wouldn’t look out of place on other outdoor activities like MTB-ing


• You’ll need separate armour if you expect to crash
• Would like an Aerostich-style big Napoleon pocket in or outside
• Miss some mesh drop pockets inside, too
• My jacket’s body colour doesn’t match online imagery (but is fine)

With temperatures rising up to the low 30s once over the Atlas, I decided my chunky, membrane Mosko Basilisk would be too warm and heavy for my spring tours, even with some showers forecast on the Marrakech side of the mountains. If it did rain it would be pleasant warm rain. Responding to my needs, Mosko sent me their softshell Surveyor to review. They say it’s built for high-output riding in cooler temps – but out here we’re mostly doing low output riding in warmer temps.

I know people go on about layering like it’s rocket science, and southern Morocco’s deserts and mountains may require that, but I prefer to just dress for the day and deal with a bit of temperature variation with the front zip, if needed. Give it an hour and things will change.
Underneath, most days I wore a long-sleeved Klim Aggressor base layer to keep the inside of the Surveyor clean, and some cooler days added an REI fleece gilet – one of my all-time outdoorsing favourites.

It was notable that when the other riders in various outfits de-jacketed, many were sweaty while I was as balmy and dry as a deodorant advert and never clammy or chilled. The thin and stretchy four-way Cordura Spandex fabric doesn’t look very breathable and the water-repelling DWR coating can’t help, but I never got over-hot riding up to the low 30s. I didn’t get rained on but wonder if the Surveyor would hold back a light shower quite well, and certainly dry off quickly afterwards.
The light olive green body has a surface texture and a slightly lower gsm rating than the smoother, darker green shoulders and arms fabric, a polyester/Cordura mix that’s presumably more resistant to abrasion, though neither feel as tough as regular jacket Cordura. Both have a bit of Spandex and the cut is bulky to accommodate separate armour which I don’t wear. Like the similar Adventure Spec Linesman, crashing hard in a softshell like this without armour will be painful.

I like the ‘Woodland’ colour scheme contrasted with orange Mosko Moto logos, though as you can see my jacket’s body was not sandy tan and a tad more green all round than official Mosko imagery. As it happens, I see now my Basilisk was the same. Don’t know if my colours were an experimental one off but light colours absorb less heat radiation. Inside a partial orange mesh lining also houses the pockets.
Not claiming to be waterproof, all zips flowed smoothly. I find zips get jammy in desert dust, but a quick wipe with a wet rag sorts that out. Fit adjustments add up to a pair of side cinch cords along the hem and velcro tabs at the cuffs. I’d have liked another inch in cuff circumference so the sleeves could be pushed up, Miami Vice style, when doing messy jobs.

Pockets and venting
Though I usually end up wearing a daypack most of the time, I do like a jacket with pockets for stuff you want to have on you at all times. Many times I forget my backpack at roadside stops and on this trip I ditched the pack to allow the jacket to vent better. I kept a bottle of water in the tank bag.

The Surveyor has two vertical side pockets which inside are about a foot in height so will take a big paper map or foot-long Subway. Running these pockets open will aid through-venting but of course means anything inside is not so secure. I kept them closed.
The chest pocket is bigger than the zip suggests – I kept my camera here for quick access. Inside the jacket is a small zipped pocket that’ll take a phone and a passport. I’d have preferred this one to be an inch or so wider to securely stash a dirham-packed wallet which will stay put even if you forget to zip up. Zipper pulls were skimpy bits of knotted cord; I added some plastic pullers on the ends to make them easier to grab with gloves on.

Like the AS Linesman there’s a game pocket at the back: two vertical venting zips into the orange lining (left). The mesh lining has pouches sewn inside, like road cycling shirts, to stash an energy snack or similar. You could probably put a bladder in there and you can operate these rear vent zips with the jacket on. There are additional rear vents where a flap of the green shoulder fabric overlaps the body fabric below which might help a little more with airflow.

The second week-long tour I did was quite a lot warmer and where the Surveyor came into its own. Road riding up up to 100kph and trail riding at a third of that speed, the vents became useful. I am conscious that when it gets very warm, too much venting exacerbates water transpiration; ie you lose a lot more fluid than you would zipped up and which can see dehydration creep up on you. The Surveyor kept me comfortable and didn’t see me need much water through the day while reducing the feeling of wearing motorcycle clobber. You’d want another jacket for regular all-weather riding, but for somewhere like Morocco in springtime the Surveyor was just right.

Tested: Mosko Moto 2021 Basilisk jacket

See also:
Adventure Spec Linesman
Adventure Spec Trail Waterproof Shell
Klim Overland
Aerostich Darien

Klim Traverse 2

Tested: Mosko Moto Basilisk 2021 jacket over a month in Morocco + wet winter’s weekend in UK

In a line: Smart looking, well vented with an eVent Expedition 3-layer membrane in a tough waterproof shell (since superseded by a newer model)

EU price: Was €475,20 (20% discount)

Weight: 1550g (verified)

Size tested: XL (me: 6ft 1in/186cm • 205lbs/93kg)


• Good combo or lightness and crash-ready ruggedness
• Tough Super Fabric® abrasive panels on outer arms and shoulders
• Sleeves are good and long
• Bicep vents work well (out in the breeze)
• Looks good in a pale olive green and black
• Vertical back vents work with a daypack


• Bulky sleeves obscure mirrors
• Would like an Aerostich-style big Napoleon pocket outside
Mesh-backed vents don’t open wide

What they say:
Refined for our third round of production, the [discontinued 2021 Mosko Moto] Basilisk is our waterproof/breathable enduro-touring kit, for long-distance, multi-day trips through primarily off-road terrain. It combines super-premium materials with clean lines and minimalist design. With an articulated fit for freedom of motion and easy layering, the Basilisk is designed to work with separate armor systems for superior protection and versatility. It packs smaller than a traditional ADV jacket, for stashing on your bike when things get hot.

Mosko have new Basilisks out for 2023 (right). Looks-wise, I prefer my more muted sage and black 2021. The new model has a front zip rain flap (good), additional vents on the forearms (OK) along with full length front torso vents. I can only see one exterior chest pocket. Other than the colour design, the rest seems similar.

By the time I got to actually use my 2021 Basilisk they were bringing out a new model (see above), but here are my impressions after a hot, dry month’s riding in southern Morocco.
When it comes to jackets I prefer a light but reliably waterproof shell like my old Klim Overland, their original Traverse and lighter Traverse II. 
Mosko call these trail-biking or enduro jackets to separate them from heavier high-speed touring coats, but the Basilisk comes with a reassuringly heavy-duty shell under which you can layer and armour up all the way to an electric vest like their Ecotherm.

Second opinion by Ian T

When: End Dec full day road/trail ride.
Where: Wiltshire and Somerset 
Ambient temp: 12 deg C
Weather: heavy rain most of the day, windy. 

Shape and fit
to allow movement on the bike and extra layers.
Kept the rain out for most of the day, with a similar performance to the Darien pants worn on the same trip, considering the soaking from puddles and passing cars on flooded roads.
Reasonably warm with merino t-shirt, heated base layer and thick merino pullover underneath.
Adjustability is good.

Could do with some more pockets. There were enough for keys, phone, wallet and spectacles but my Darien easily holds these as well as a balaclava, overgloves, travel wallet and visor de-mist.
Would it replace my Darien jacket? No, but maybe I’m stuck in my ways.

The coloured shell is ’70d x 160d’ nylon with two layers of polyester 600D Super Fabric with ceramic plating across the black sections outer arms and which all contributes to the Basilisk’s heavy duty feel without making it a heavy jacket. Colourwise, I like the sage green and black combo. Anything’s better than dreary all black, but I do miss a bit of reflectivity for road riding.
It’s the little things that set a jacket apart from a bin bag with sleeves. The cuffs have a chunky velcro closure. Inside the hem is cinchable with a toggle easily accessed on the front left edge. The collar has a synthetic suede liner and another cinch cord toggle at the back. There’s also an in-built ‘dirt skirt‘ you can join up with studs to seal off the jacket’s lower edge with help from a stretchy silicone band, keeping the core warm which maintaining the shell’s articulation. Other snug fitting adjustments include two big and easily adjusted velcro flaps on the sides to help haul the belly in.

To get the air flowing in the warmer conditions I experienced, the Basilisk has three pairs of mesh-backed vents: a set in the upper arms; another pair at chest height neatly in line with the zip pockets, and two exhaust vents at the back. In my experience this set up works best for through-flow to cool you off while keeping the jacket zipped up and wearing a daypack. But in overly warm southern Morocco the small screen on the 890R I rode most of the time reduced the airflow on the body. The vents’ mesh backing reduced the aperture too, so standing up was the only way to get some venting going unless I undid the main zip. Apart from a couple of chilly mornings in the mountains, I rode with all vents open all the time.

Pockets add up to two exterior vertical zip-ups above the hem (deep enough to be secure of left unzipped) and two small chest pockets inside. I miss a huge map-sized vertical zip exterior chest pocket, as on the Aerostich Darien and as pictured on the 2023 model.

All exterior zips are chunky YKK Aquaguards but once desert dust gets on them they get stiff to operate; probably the price of being water resistant. A daily wipe with a wet cloth would fix that, but the 2023’s rain flap will keep the dust off.
The Basilisk doesn’t include any pockets for armour. I’m with Mosko on this. If you’re serious about body armour (for my sort of riding, I’m not) then get one of those close-fitting strap-on MX body armour outfits which work best close to your body (ie: under the jacket).

Bulky sleeves…

If I’ve one complaint it’s that the sleeves are too bulky so the stiff shell obscures the mirrors’ rear view; I could easily get my legs down these sleeves! I spend a lot of time checking my mirrors on the occasions I’m leading a group, and pulling them in greatly improved rear visibility. Maybe there are XL riders with huge arms, but the simple solution for all would be a velcro cinch strap or two to draw the slack in, like Aerostich do on the Darien and Klim did on the old Overland.

I don’t have a bike in the UK right now but when I get to ride the Basilisk in the pouring rain I’ll update the review.

KLR650s in Canada’s Yukon, BC & NWT (2001)

Se also: A new KLR for 2021

The full 41-min Call of the Wild was added to the Desert Riders dvd
Six-minute Nat Geo Channel version below.
Original photos long lost. Crumby stills from the video.

It was 2001 and with a quiet summer ahead, I was in the mood for a long ride. So when Adventure Motorcycling Handbook contributor Tom Grenon offered his spare KLR650 for a trip into the wilds of western Canada, I booked a flight to Vancouver and started oiling my boots.

Mid-August at Tom’s place on Vancouver Island: Bill and Norm rock up and the all KLR-mounted Northern Foursome saddled up for the 500-km ride to Port Hardy at the island’s northern tip. From here a ferry saved our tyres 2000km by transporting us along the mist-shrouded coast to Prince Rupert in northern BC.

Thumbnail graphic by

Prince Rupert is among the wettest places in the temperate world and docking around midnight, a storm was rolling in off the Pacific as we pressed down velcro flaps and splashed into town and a cheap motel.

Tom’s plan for the trip was to boldly go where no bike had gone before. First up, we’d try to follow the long abandoned 400-km Telegraph Trail which started a couple of days up the road. We had little chance of making it through: long-collapsed bridges or rivers two KLRs deep would soon stop us. But it should be fun trying.

Telegraph Creek is a quaint old town where the southern end of the Trail begins, or should that be: began. Situated on the Sitkine River, it gets by on logging, mining and a trickle of adventure-seekers like us. At the general store we got the drum from a helpful Mountie: on bikes it would be tough and he didn’t rate our chances much beyond KM20 unless we came back in winter on skidoos.

We camped by the Sitkine that night, and next morning headed up the Trail, nothing more than an overgrown ATV track leading into the thick forest.

“It’ll be rude” said a local, leaning on the door of his pickup.

Splashing through a couple of creeks was fun, but after four hours of sweaty, bug-infested pushing, paddling and wheel-spinning we had to concede the Mountie’s prediction was on the money. We found a patch of level dry, ground and by 9pm were fed, watered and zipped into our bags for the night.

Next morning the ride back to Telegraph Creek was a doddle, but an 800km detour through the Yukon to the Trail’s northern end revealed the same story. Without an Argo (an amphibious ATV) or a skidoo (plus snow) we didn’t have a chance. We left the Telegraph Trail to the beavers and the caribou.

Now back on the Alaska Highway, we knocked out another few hundreds clicks to our final jaunt into the Northwest Territories. At Watson Lake (and its famous ‘sign forrest’) we tanked up with 40 litres each for the few days exploring along the valleys on the far side of the Mackenzie Mountains.

Our destination was the ex-mining town of Tungsten atop the largest deposits of you-know-what in the free world. In the 1980s bolshy unions and undercutting saw the mine close, but in the summer of 2001 Tony Blair did the local economy a favour by banning the use of super-hard depleted uranium by the UK’s arms producers. Tungsten is the second hardest metal, perfect for the business end of a missile and so Tungsten town was back in business which for the Foursome (if not others) was good news. A phone call to the local Roads Department confirmed that a river which had blocked Tom’s progress on a previous visit was now bridged. Nevertheless, to save fuel we kept it down to fifty, and 80 miles from Watson poured in a gallon can, stashed another for the ride back, and kept a third for later.

For me the ride into the Nahanni Ranges went some way to fulfilling the promise of impressive scenery. Up till now I’d seen a lot of trees resembling the drabber parts of the Scottish Highlands on a monumental scale. But as we neared the pass on the Yukon-Northwest Territories border it all looked glorious, and even the showers chasing us up the valley couldn’t dampen our spirits.

Part of that reason was we’d finally located a cozy hunter’s cabin described in a local guidebook. Out here on so-called ‘Crown Land’ (undeveloped wilderness) you can sort-of build a cabin wherever you want. Effectively you’re squatting, but that’s how much of the New World got colonised in the first place. Locking up a place would only see it broken into, so an unwritten custom states: ‘Make yourself at home, leave it as you find it and cut some extra firewood before you leave’.

After breakfast we nailed back the door and window shutters, filled up from the stream and continued up to the pass where the amazing colours of the turning foliage filled the lower half of the spectrum. We eased over the watershed into the NWT and, ignoring ‘Keep Out’ signs and hard-hatted jobsworths, rode through Tungsten like Gary Cooper in Gore-tex. In Tom’s view the access road had been built with tax dollars so we all had a right to ride it through town and beyond.

There was said to be a hot spring near the airstrip just south of town and sure enough there it was, a warm outdoor pool and just beyond, a little A-frame where a stone tub bubbled at an ideal, muscle-soothing temperature.

Suitably revived, the meatier exploration prospects lay north of Tungsten, where in the 1960s a track once led to a sister mine site. We rode back through town and took the turn-off down into the valley. The day before we’d met some hunters with an Argo who reckoned we’d get about 30kms in before a bike-proof river stopped us. By now the skies were clearing again to give a grand view up the Nahanni River valley which we would parallel.

After a kew kilometres we clocked some rangers’ cabins (handy if the weather turned) but soon came to a large flooded area. A family of busy beavers had woven a twig dam, turning a stream into a lake that backed-up half a kilometre and submerged the track under a metre of water. The only way forward was to roll up our trousers and pull it apart. After an hour’s work the water had dropped significantly, so I undertook a test-wade up to my knees after which Norm rode across. Beavers tend to rebuild these things overnight, but we’d face that problem on the way back.

Beyond the stream we were on the look out for a trail that led down to Flat Lake and hopefully, another cabin. Luckily we didn’t all blink at the same time and spotted the overgrown pathway dropping steeply through the trees to what was indeed the Perfect Cabin. This one had it all: a porch to dry out on, gas to cook on, 5 bunks to choose from and more condiments than Safeways. We hung up our soaking gear, loaded up the wood-stove and went out fishing in the row boat before the sun set over the lake.

The following day the difficulties started almost straight way. Within a kilometre a vertical sided ditch lay where a culvert had got ripped out in the spring thaw. Where the Argo had gone a KLR can usually follow: along a side ditch, over the stream and up a steep bank. These challenges continued with variations; in places we had to dig away at steep banks, flip half-ton slabs out of the way and fill ditches with boulders just to get through. Clearly, only Argos had been up here for years. The trail narrowed through thick willow brush and we bashed ever onward, wincing at the continuous thrashing not seen since Basil Fawlty turned on his Austin 1100. Boggy holes and slimy patches taxed us further; at one point I was convinced the 650’s triple clamps had snapped. Surely the front wheel doesn’t normally flop around like that? ‘Fraid so: this was a pepperoni-forked KLR in dire need of a brace.

As it was, I’d been aware that I’d been riding like a lemon the whole trip, while the others, notably Tom, rode their KLRs with skillfull precision. I could blame the trail-tyred KLR, my anxiety about old injuries, or protecting the camcorder from the rain. But the truth was, I wasn’t really into this relentless, sodden tree-bound battling up dead ends in the rain, even it might make a great video. Give me the Sahara’s far horizons.

After about four hours and 25kms of this we got to a wide river spanned by a collapsed bridge. This must surely be it, back to the cabin we go! But closer inspection proved the broad stream was actually not that deep, and Tom proved it by wading over then riding through.

“Come on guys, it’s easy”

We dithered about but in the end rode in on steady throttles, the engines momentarily muffled by the deep water, but not missing a beat. In fact none of the KLRs so much as coughed during their entire 6000-km drenching.

On the far side the greasy riverbank initially spat Bill back down but led to a grassy slope where some of us needed a push. Then it was back to more willow-thrashings, sawing at fallen logs we couldn’t ride round, tiptoeing over slimy bridges and powering out of ditches with gritted teeth … until we came to a bridge that was ten feet shorter than it ought to be. Though narrow, the river below was full of fridge-sized boulders. We might have manhandled the bikes across or spent the rest of the day sawing down trees to bridge the gap, but by now it was half-two, still pissing down and so, about 35 clicks from the cabin, we called it a day.

Used to bringing up the rear, I now led the way back, delighted that the film was in the can and the Sony had survived. Miraculously, the triple clamps welded themselves up, the tyres grew some knobs and I finally found myself in the groove, leaving the others behind. Flat Lake Cabin was locked into my internal GPS and despite one shin-twanging face plant, nothing could stop me, even if some washouts demanded a double take. ‘Did we really ride out of there? I guess so’, so down I went, paddling over the creek and blasting out any which way to get through.

“That was a prime ohr-deal” observed Norm as we drained our boots off the cabin’s porch, two hours later.

By now my mission was accomplished and I was in going-home mode, even if two scenes still remained on my filming list: catching and frying a fish and the Northern Lights. I needn’t have worried. The following night, fuelled up from our cache, we camped about 120kms out of Watson Lake on the Frances River. Previously failed fishing attempts were all forgotten as each of us reeled in an arctic grayling within a minute of casting.

And later, popping out about 2am to check the chain tension, I watched a sallow moon setting over the river through a thick blanket of mist. Turning to grab the Sony I was transfixed as before me neon green veils of ionized oxygen appeared to sway in the boreal breeze. Crouched by the frost-coated tent, it was a fitting finale to our call of the wild.

Wet Weather Gear 2001
The fear of that icy-trickle-down-the-crotch feeling had obviously seeped from my despatching memories when I undertook this trip. Still, in the intervening years biking gear has got a whole lot better – and about time too – so I was finally going to put my Aerostich Darien suit through its paces in one of North America’s rainiest places. On the torrential ride inland from Prince Rupert it didn’t live up to its reputation; but at least what the zips let in the Goretex steamed off over a day. And yet on that soaking last day north of Flat Lake, I was amazed to end up dry. My feet were wet, but only after that big river crossing towards the end. Up till then they merely got damp as long as I made a nightly application of Nik Wax Aqueous Wax which actually works better on wet leather.

Bert Harkins Racing kindly gave me a pair of Scott Turbo Flow Double Glazed goggles which claim to avoid misting. I took my old Scotts to compare and was glad to leave them behind. You can wear Turbo Flows full time and huff and puff all you like, they don’t mist up.
As for the baggage, Cascade Designs SealLine canoeing bags were a revelation to me and all of us had them. A heavy PVC kit bag in various sizes, just roll up the open end, click the buckle and head into the weather. Best protected inside an old holdall or in panniers (where good draining was more useful than ‘waterproofing’), I found the SealLines more effective than an Ortlieb duffle or rack pack version I was also testing, although the long opening makes Ortliebs easier to pack. SealLines also make handy pillows or even bouncy aids. Over ten years laterI still use the same two SealLines I bought in Seattle for biking and paddling trips.
Researching a new tent, I soon found prices and offerings confusing, so I just went for a spacious 30-quid cheapie from Macro. It was bulkier than the other guys’ one-man versions, but went up fast and didn’t let in a drop.

Review: Kriega Trail18 daypack

New daypacks join Kriega’s long-established five-strong R range from 15 to 35 litres. You got the snazzy colour-backed Trail in 9 and 18-litres and the bigger more urbanesque Max 28 which expands to take a helmet.

Supplied free for review and testing

What they say
The TRAIL18 Adventure Backpack utilises Kriega’s groundbreaking Quadloc-Lite™ harness, combined with high-tech construction materials to meet the needs of the adventure rider.
Composed of three sections:  A heavy-duty zip access 7-litre rear compartment which is a perfect storage area for a Tool-Roll and water bottle or the optional 3.75L Hydration Reservoir. This area also has a small internal waterproof pocket for a phone and wallet, combined with the main roll-top body providing a total of 12-litres 100% waterproof storage. The innovative Hypalon net also provides more external storage for wet gear.

What I think:


• Roll-top compartment
• Comfortable to wear; sits well on the back
• Removable waist straps (never used)
• No compression straps
• Durable 420D Cordura body
• White waterproof liners in two compartments
• Hydrator-ready
• External hypalon net
• Smooth-gliding main zipper
• Colour-backed Trails aid visibility
• 10-year guarantee


• Bulky roll-top small inner pouch
• Expensive
• Quadlock-Lite interferes with jacket pocket access
• Weighs in at over 1.7 kilos with the hydrator

For years I’ve been happy enough with my dinky R15, once I cut off the unneeded compression straps and removed the unnecessary waist strap. I’ve used it for weekends in Wales, backroads and tracks in the Colorado Rockies and Baja, and of course on my Morocco tours and rides. The main compartment was big enough for my laptop in a dry bag plus the hydrator, with bits and pieces in the PVC mesh inside pocket and the bigger outer pocket.

The longer Trail18 will be a nifty replacement. Straight away I like the coloured back panel. Often on my tours I try to ID riders up ahead, and anything non-black makes it a whole lot easier. I dare say it will be for them to spot me with an orange pack too.
You often get those thin bungy elastic laces across daypacks as a quick and easy place to stash stuff. Kriega have thought it through a bit further by using a distinctive hypalon net panel with the elastic strung along the edges and attached closely at the base. This way, whatever you stuff in there – mucky bottles, baguettes, wet cloths – won’t fall out the bottom. And if you want more colour or don’t like this arrangement, you can easily unlace the elastic and remove the hypalon panel.

I can see a use for this feature buying some food on the way to a night’s lodging, or securely stuffing a jacket or overpants in there on a hot day when you don’t want to dick about with the closures. It’s possible the excess elastic and cinch fittings above may flap about in the wind behind you, but tucking the end in is easy enough.

Behind this panel is a full-length 11-litre compartment with a removable white waterproof liner and a clip-down roll-top. The great thing with roll-tops is that even if you forget to do them up, stuff stays in. No more clattering laptops on leaving airport baggage scans with unzipped zips.

Behind that compartment against your back is a smaller 7-litre zipped compartment with no liner. Inside are a couple of tabs to hook up your hydrator (more below) and down below a couple of sleeves for drinks cans or 500ml water bottles. A smooth-running (non water-resistant) one-way zipper only comes right down on one side (below) so forgetting to do it up ought not see things fall out so readily. It includes a finger-hooking ring pull which can only be in one place when closed, but I always add a bit of bright tape to make this puller easier to locate.

My only mild gripe with the Trail is the bulkiness of the roll-top/clip-down waterproof liner’d 1-litre pouch with a phone-sized zip pocket attached in the inner compartment. I know it’s waterproof but the roll-up takes a lot of space and clipping it down would be a faff. I’d have preferred a bigger version of the plastic ripstop zip pocket from the R15. But then again, you can easily drop a big camera in here and be reasonably sure it will stay dry.
After a year I chopped off that pocket’s roll-up sleeve, taped it up and cut a hole behind the zip to access the pocket without losing any volume.

The long mesh-padded back panel seems stiffer than my old R15 so the whole thing doesn’t rest quite so unobtrusively on your back, which may actually be a good thing. The waist strap can be removed and there’s also a door hook tab plus a chunky carry handle. On the front are loops to clip in mini karabiners for quickly attaching stuff like hats or Kriega accessory pouches. I zip tie a small camera case on there for quick access.
My Trail18 weighed in at 1550g and costs £179.

The Trail is hydrator-ready with a slot for the hose to come over either shoulder and a velcro tab inside the back from which to hang the bladder.
Kriega’s stubby new 3.75L (7.9 pint!) Hydrapak Shape-Shift reservoir is made to fit both Trail models by fully expanding to fill the space below that bulky top pocket.
Nearly 4 kilos of water is a lot to carry on your back, but maybe that’s what some riders need. The rubbery TPU bladder has an easy-to-use and reliable fold-and-clamp closure with a big aperture which makes it easy to fill and clean/dry the inside, as well as the clip-on, insulated and UV-proof hose with hopefully a less-brittle bite-valve on the end. I tucked my nozzle end under a tab on the front of the strap, but Kriega offer a velcro attachment tab which may well work better if the hose is on the short side for you. It costs £45.

Olympus TG5 – the ‘Top Gear Hilux’ of cameras

Dropped and bouncing the desert highway like a tumbleweed, submerged unnoticed in a Scottish burn, like the unkillable TG Hilux, my Olympus TG never stopped working.

You’ll have read it again and again: the best camera is one you can whip out and shoot off in a jiffy. On a bike, that won’t be a bulky 3/4 mirrorless or DSLR stuck in the tankbag. It’ll be a back-up P&S in a quick-access chest pocket or mounted on your belt or daypack strap. The exposure of bike riding means it wants to be weatherproofed if it’s going to last, chiefly against dust, but if you can use it in the pouring rain, so much the better.

For this waterproof ‘diving’ P&S cameras with an enclosed lens are ideal. Rain, shine or sandstorm, you never have to worry about missing a shot or ruining the camera, and the sealed lens – tiny though it is – is protected. Over the years, along with lots of blurred rubbish, I’ve grabbed many great, one-handed shots while riding with such cameras. With it tethered to you (as right) or attached via a neck strap, just pull it out, switch it on (thin or finger-chopped gloves help), Point & Shoot. Switch off and re-pocket.

I used Panasonic’s Lumix FT2 ‘wet’ cameras for 13 years or more, a simple, slim, one-handed, all-weather P&S which didn’t have to be mollycoddled. In 2011 we even used them to make a packrafting movie. Later models seemed to lose the functionality of the FT2 so as mine died or sank, I replaced them with used ebay cheapies until they got too hard to find.


Desert, pocket or sea, I’ve always liked the Lumix range’s preference for a wider 24mm-ish lens. Ridiculous zoom levels are far less important because with the tiny lens, picture quality dives. But after a really old FT1 burner unsurprisingly failed to survive a few minutes of snorkelling, I decided to try a used Olympus TG-5 (left) recommended by some paddleboarding bikers on one of my tours.
The Olympus TG-5 and Panasonic FT7 (right) got rated as the best waterproof cameras you can buy but they seem expensive for what they are. And when you consider the tiny zoom lens tucked inside the inch-thick body you’d think you’re never going to get great shots, especially in low light or at full zoom.


Even then, my old FTs always needed to be tricked into slightly lower (correct) exposures by half-clicking on the sky, pulling down and composing the shot before full-clicking. It was only when I got a Lumix LX100 a few years back that I realised a: how handy an EV Comp dial (right) can be; I use it on almost every shot (usually to under-expose a bit) and b: how relatively crappy some of my FT pics were. My photos improved greatly with the LX and I used the FT less and less.


With all the essential controls – actual buttons and levers on the body, not buried in a digital menu – the compact LX was very nice to handle, but wasn’t really suited to ride-by one-handers or paddling. Like all such cameras with extending lenses, each time you turn it on the lens sucks in dust which eventually gets on the sensor and appears as marks or smudges on most images. It drove some LX owner-reviewers nuts, though it’s far from unique to this model. You can’t easily reach the sensor as you can on a mirrorless camera, even if the marks can easily be erased in iPhoto. But here’s a great trick: zoom in and out as you hoover the lens via a bottle (left). It really works.

After a few years of mostly desert trips my LX dials got grittier and grittier, and the deployment of the lens and the zoom got slower and slower. Eventually, it needed a tug to extend fully and a push to retract. The 2018 LX100 II got some improvements, but sadly weather-sealing wasn’t one of them, so I flogged my crunchy LX before it seized completely and bought a slightly larger but weather-sealed Sony 6300 mirrorless (here’s a great list of similar cameras) which, with a 24-105 Zeiss lens I’ve started using more and more. But it’s not pocketable, is heavy at 800g with the tele, and that lens is not sealed so dust still gets to the sensor every few days in the desert. The great thing is, it’s easy to remove with the lens removed.


Back to the TG-5. Watching one of the vids below I learned an unmarked control dial in the same, top-right position can work as an EV Comp dial. That alone is worth the price of the camera. No more point to the sky to expose correctly.
Having even been inspired to RTFM, I now realise the TG-5 is actually much closer in quality to the LX than I realised, not least in terms of the staggering number of things it can do – most of which go way over my head.


For riding, you can easily screw on a clear filter over the lens window to stop it getting scratched. It may not show up on photos, but a filter is easily wiped by a cuff or replaced for a few quid. To mount it you need the Olympus CLA-T01 adapter (£20; or a £6 JJC knock-off; right) to which you then screw in a regular 40.5mm filter: UV, polarised, whatever (left). Add a piece of screen guard over the LCD and the Olympus Tough can now be treated Olympus Rough, with both screen guard and UV filter being inexpensively replaceable.

Note: towards the end of my TG’s life I dispensed with the 40-mm filter to make it slimmer in the pocket. Within a few months the stock built-in lens cover glass/plastic (left) had become scratched to the point of ruining pictures and finally finished off the still-working camera for me. Moral: fit a quality UV lens filter; the stock cover is not up to it.

I used the TG for a month in Morocco on my Himalayan and again in November loved the Mr-Whippy-like accessibility. It too has a wide 24mm so you know you’ll shoot something, and closing the EV Comp down to -0.7 means great exposures. On very bright days -1.

It also has an easy to use custom self-timer, a blessing for us adventure-riding singletons. Normally I’ve had to settle for 3-shots-at-10 seconds, or simply shoot video and extract a cruddy still or a more complicated 4k. On the TG you press the sequential shooting dial and set: delay time, # of frames and shooting interval. With this I was able to grab some of the key riding shots which magazines require. (Even my Sony hasn’t got as good timer options.) At 4000px width resolution, that’s enough for a magazine full pager. And when shooting others, the 20fps burst speed is staggering. And all this without having to fuss about knocking the lens, dropping the camera or crap getting in it.


The battery is a slim 1270Ah which still did masses of shots – a week or more – and can be charged in the camera which means one less thing to carry. But for 20 quid I bought 3 clone batteries plus a travel-friendly USB- (right) charger, which will work off a laptop, battery pack, USB wall plug or a solar panel. I’ve hardly used them.
I always use a tether while riding, but one time in Morocco the chunky red Olympus strap unknowingly came undone just as I chose to let it go… It should have dangled from my wrist but instead fell on the road and tumbled along. I swung back expecting the worst but, apart from a small hole bashed through in one corner, it still worked fine! Its snorkelling days may be over before they began, but that was amazing. A bit of duct tape kept the dust out of the hole. Focus remained sharp. Another time it quietly fell out of my pocket while sat on a slatted footbridge in Knoydart and dropped 10 feet into a stream while I watched my stove boil. I fished it out and removed the card and batt but slowly the functions died off as water seeped through and I thought that was it. Back home I bought another immediately but before that even arrived the dunked TG had dried out and recovered fully! Stick that in your tractor shed, Jeremy Clarkson!


Once I’d have said GPS position, elevation and a compass in a camera were gimmicks. Now I’d admit they add some redundancy when a proper GPS unit goes flat. The Olympus accesses this data with a simple press of the Info button with the camera off (left). Up it comes for 10 secs, north by northwest. The TG-5 also takes great pictures.

tikEasy to turn on and zoom one-handed
EV Comp dial in the usual position
Battery charges in the camera
Spare 3rd-party batteries from £4; USB charger from £8
Good hand grip
Rated at 15m of water so ought to survive some splashes
Slim and light (260g with chunky wrist strap)
GPS, elevation, compass, and even a tracking app, with the camera off
Easy to access and configure custom self-timer
Red; easy to find on the river bed or by the roadside
Now used from £150

cros A baffling new menu to master – sigh
LCD text is a bit small
Wrist strap undoes itself in the wind
Stock lens cover is scratch prone
Annoying ‘OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA’ meta data needs to be manually removed
Discontinued by Olympus – current TG6 at 400 quid.