Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baja Shakedown

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We’re just back from our 10 day Baja shakedown trip and have the trip report mostly updated (and more coming everyday). In addition to being a good time, the goal of the trip was to test out the various camping, cooking, and tech gear the UPS guy has been dropping off on a daily basis (He never knows if he’s gonna hafta deliver a featherlight envelope with a MagCharger wiring harness or a 200 lb Schrockworks bumper!).

So you’re part of the tech shakedown aspect. Have a look at the trip report and let us know what you like and don’t like about how the info is displayed. A couple cool tricks: 1) click on any image to load it bigger then use your keyboard “arrow” keys to flip to the next or previous pic 2) Use the “Next Post” and “Previous Post” links at the bottom of each entry to well, view the next and previous posts.

Check out the first post and go from there or read below for some takeaways…

We were generally really happy with our set up. See below for details...


  • The Coleman stoves and the griddle worked great.
  • The storage boxes, fold down table, and fridge were just as we’d hoped they’d be.
  • While we ended up driving at least into town everyday which charged the battery, the Brunton 26 watt folding solar panel hooked to the Optima Yellow Top battery through the Brunton charge controller seems like it’ll be a good solution when we stay more than one night. We also used the Duracell Powerpack 600 a couple times to keep the laptop charged while writing around camp.
  • We like the AutoHome Columbus Variant roof tent but need to do some thinking about how it’s going to perform in various conditions (read: wind) and whether I can live with scrunching up my pillow to get enough foot room to lie on my back.
  • Debbie G performed admirably coming to rescue with a spare bulb and tire changing tools.
  • The Garmin Zumo worked well. The Garmin World Maps and Wanderlust were about the same (not great) in Baja. One annoying problem we had was not being able to search for cities other than in the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. You could click on a city on the map and route to it but not search and route. Maybe we’re missing something.
  • We used a 55 watt worklight with a magnetic base that could mount on the rear hatch of the truck for camp and cooking light. Works well plugged into a splitter to the non-ignition controlled 12V DC outlet in the cargo area of the truck.
  • Our two Kelty 35 degree bags zipped together and stuffed in a comforter cover were great in all temps we encountered.
  • We never set up a shade or rain awning but my mishmash of three tarps proved versatile in keeping the wind out. The ball-end bungees were perfect for securing the tarps and solar panels wherever we needed them.
  • I brought my main Dell Inspiron e1405 laptop on this trip because I wanted to be able to work with some video. I came away feeling like I wanted a smaller, lighter, more discrete laptop 99% of the time and video was frustrating enough to work with and usually too big to upload that I needed to do some thinking about that. In the end, something bigger/more powerful than my netbook but smaller (and more powerful!) than my laptop might be the ticket.


  • We shopped at the grocery store and pretty much made all of our own meals. While we ate well, I still like to stop at a roadside stand now and then. Guess it’s a combination of finding places that are at least clean enough for the locals, building up a tolerance to some foreign slimers, and plain old luck.
  • We camped and moved every night for the first four or five nights. That’s too many nights in a row to camp without a layover day, especially with long drives in between. We’ve instituted a “no more than two camping and moving nights in a row” rule. After two nights, we stay over or find a room.