Camping Gear Review: Verzey Envelope Sleeping Bag

Camping Gear Review:  Verzey Envelope Sleeping Bag

Often times in life, we aspire to and want what we cannot have.  This has been my experience with camping.  I love the idea of hiking for the weekend in the mountains, setting up camp wherever I see fit, popping up a tent, and climbing into my sleeping bag.  Reality has been that I live in South Florida where we have dangerous heat, crippling humidity, and giant mosquitoes. Of the times that I did camp in South Florida, it has been at state parks that are just off of major interstate highways.  Not really a tranquil experience!

However, now that I am an avid traveler, I plan to make those camping dreams a reality.  Like much of my travel gear, I choose not to go for the most expensive, most flashy, etc.  I try to avoid those types of things.  I prefer to be more minimalist.  Also, in case something gets lost or damaged, you don't have to worry about it.  For example, people often ask me what I film my travel movies on, thinking I'm using some kind of big SLR camera.  I mainly just use a small point and shoot camera that I keep in my pocket.

I wanted to shop around and find a good, durable, inexpensive, high quality sleeping bag for my someday camping.  I looked around on Amazon for a while, read a bunch of reviews, looked at all the details/specs, watched YouTube videos, and ultimately decided to give this one a try.  I'm glad I did!



This is the one I bought:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JNTPN68/



It's small, easy to fit back into the bag, and I had a great idea to even put it inside a travel vacuum seal bag to make it even smaller to fit in a backpack.  I rolled it out, laid inside it and was already dozing off to sleep.  I'm a big fan of the material as it keeps you warm or cool as needed.  Also, it zips open on the sides to allow ventilation.  It's definitely going to be one that I use on my camping trips in the future.  Thought I'd share with everyone here.  If you're a newbie camper, give this one a shot!





This is the one I bought:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JNTPN68/

Traveling with an Electric Bike! Take the road on and take a load off!

Nakto Electric Bike – Full Review with my standards!



Haha, I know what you’re thinking, ‘Why take a bike trip if you just aren’t going to peddle yourself?’  Try taking a bike trip with your family or kids and then ask me that!  My family loves biking, we love travel and the outdoors, we are in good shape, but we’re not Lance Armstrong.   I’m 6’0, my wife is 5’2, and we have a baby girl as well who I will make sure that she grows up to love biking.  However, if we were to do an extended biking journey, there would be a couple factors that I would have to evaluate.  First, we like biking, but we’re not Lance Armstrong and the bikes would need to be carrying some gear, so endurance and stamina could be an issue.  Second, cost!  We’re not rich, so buying expensive road bikes for thousands of dollars is not an option for us unfortunately.


Then we discovered motorized bikes.  We saw gas bikes and electric bikes.  We were turned off quickly to gas bikes.  They are too loud, which is deafening to listen to for hours.  They smell like gas, which is nauseating and I don’t want to think about having anything flammable or explosive between my legs.  Plus, some areas have laws against these types of bikes.  It’s not like you could hide it either.  Pulling into a town or village with a couple gas bikes, you’d hear us coming from a mile away!  Electric bikes seemed like the best option for us.  They are silent, safer, and very smooth.  So I took to the internet to research and find the right one for us.

Merry Christmas!

I had a few criteria for an electric bike when shopping around, which I will outline here:

1.) Cost – If we are going to travel as a family, buying a couple bikes for a few thousand dollars each is just too expensive.  I set a budget of MAXIMUM $800 per bike.

2.) Build & Features – Needs to have the basics built in, prop stand, some storage, luggage paneer frame.  Obviously needs good build quality and something that isn’t going to break apart if it falls over.  I’ve had some epic crashes on my other bikes into mailboxes and most notably once while carrying a gallon of milk that smashed and soaked me!  In addition to build quality, it needs a good shifter and brakes that can handle the additional speed.  This is why I want a bike that is built from the ground up for this application, instead of converting a store bought bike for this purpose.

3.) Parts Supply & Customer Support – Sure, you could just buy one of those eBike kits on ebay for cheap, but what are you going to do when you need to replace a battery or a part.  The company needs to not just say they sell additional parts, but I want to see a storefront that lists them with the prices up front.  Once I bought a treadmill and I needed a simple wire that I had to replace.  The manufacturer of the treadmill said the wire would be almost $100.  I want a company that is transparent with their parts pricing.

4.) USA Based Distribution – This is important because if I am traveling and a part needs to be replaced, I don’t want to have to wait for it to come from China or somewhere around the world.  USA based distribution means I could have a new battery or whatever specialty part within a day or two.


5.) Weight & Maneuverability – An electric bike is going to weigh more than one that doesn’t have a battery and motor.  That being said, that doesn’t mean it should feel heavy or sluggish to maneuver.  My requirement is that I should be able to do full speed stops sideways (when you are biking full speed, turn the handlebars sharply and hit the break to make the back tire skid) in an emergency.  If it can do this trick, I’d say it is very agile!  As for the weight, we’ll use my wife as an indicator and see if she can lift it up high enough to put on a car’s bike rack.


So there we have it, my requirements are listed!  Let’s take a look at what I have found from shopping around.  I shopped around at local stores, Amazon, eBay and asked around on bike forums about what would be a good option.  I ultimately chose to shop and buy through Amazon.  The reason being was because Amazon’s Customer Service would also help me if needed, while eBay and a local bike shop leaves you with less recourse in case of an issue.


Finding a bike that fit the price range wasn’t too difficult, but that had all the features I wanted was a bit challenging.  Then I discovered a bike and company that would be a perfect fit for my needs!



This is what I ultimately chose and I’m glad I did.




This bike is what I chose:  https://amzn.to/2Flq9ra




Now that I have had the bike for a little while, let us take some time to see how well the bike has held up to my rigorous standards.  Let us reflect on the Nakto 26” Men’s Electric Bicycle (In black of course, because it looks so cool)!

1.) Cost – Let us reflect on the cost.  The bike cost $699 with FREE Shipping AND Amazon offered free third-party assembly with Velofix, so I was $100 and an afternoon of work ahead of budget!  The bike came mostly assembled, but it was nice to have Velofix build it for me.  I’m not a big fan of building and assembling things.  For the price, I’d say you get a great value of power, build quality, and features.



2.) Build Quality and Features – One thing people don’t think of is to have a prop stand instead of a kick stand on a bike like this.  This is another reason why I didn’t want to convert a bike, I’d rather have one that was built for this.  A kickstand is not going to be able to support the additional weight.  This one has a really strong prop stand, probably one of the strongest I’ve ever seen.  Almost too strong!  I suppose that is good, since I’ll never need to replace it.  I’ve bumped into the bike a few times while the stand was up and it didn’t fall over.  This thing is ridiculously strong!


The paneer frame on the back is built right in and could even support my weight sitting on it, so there’s no doubt it would carry a tent, food, water, and other gear without issue.  There is a basket on the front, which is a good and bad thing for me.  Yes, I love the basket and I love that it has a cover as well so stuff doesn’t go bouncing out of it, but why is it a wicker basket!  Haha, it looks like Little Red Riding Hood’s basket!  It just seems a bit out of place on such a strong and powerful bike.  I think I will either spray paint the basket black or just get a different basket.  It’s a strong basket and very sturdy, so I might just paint it black.




Some cool features are an LED headlight which is really powerful and cuts through the darkness.  I didn’t even think of that, but I’m glad it has it.  Also, it has a cool sounding horn.  It’s loud, but it points forward.  I thought I’d never use it, but I ended up using the horn a lot when there are people in front of me with headphones on and might not hear the bike because of how silent it runs.  This bike feels really solid.  The handlebars are steel I think and the frame is really strong as well.  The build quality is excellent.  Also, the 6-speed Shimano shifter shifts effortlessly and very smooth!  The brakes have really good stopping power as well, even from full speed.  The battery is removable, which is very important so you don’t have to bring the whole bike into the house or your hotel to charge it!




3.) Parts Supply & Customer Support – This is where a lot of the other bike companies would fall short, but Nakto was the clear leader in this area.  Their website has all the parts and accessories that you’d need listed in an online store with prices listed, no surprises or special orders.  You can see it here:  https://amzn.to/2RVEKe1


Plus the prices are reasonable, $12 for pedals, $14-19 for tubes, $10 for battery keys/lock.  Even obscure items like the Pedal Assistant Speed Sensor was only $19 or the LED Power Display was $19.  In my experience, when companies have something proprietary, they gouge you on prices, but Nakto has everything on their site and the parts are cheap.  Even if somebody kicks that silly looking basket off, you can buy another one for $29!

Nakto Parts Store

Their customer support is in California and you can email or call them, plus they’re all over Social Media if you prefer.  They’ve been super supportive and followed up with me to make sure everything was going smoothly.  When I opened the box, there was also a high quality bike lock in there, which was a nice gift from them!  Also, they have build and assembly videos on YouTube here if you need:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCovU_2kWnj7XWsSJvSqPCJQ/videos



4.) USA Based Distribution – So you are in the middle of a bike journey through Route 66 or camped out somewhere and you need a part.  They ship locally in the USA so you can order a part to be shipped to you wherever you are and have it in a day or so…..even the basket!  This is huge because nothing is worse than limping along in a bike with a proprietary part that you can’t get a replacement for.  I would know, my other bike is a Schwinn and has had a cracked shifter gauge for a couple years.  Nakto won’t leave you hanging like that.  Also, batteries don’t last forever, that’s just how they work.  Someday in the future, I’ll need another battery.  I don’t want to have to buy a whole new bike.  Imagine if you had to buy a new car every time your battery died!  Nakto has the batteries on their website.


5.) Weight & Maneuverability – Ok this was the big test.  Can it do a sideways, full speed, emergency stop?  I was nervous trying this, but to my surprise it did it even smoother than my Schwinn.  The brakes have some really good stopping power!  It did the stop even with just one brake not even fully engaged.  I have no concern that if I needed to do an emergency stop, this bike would handle it.  In terms of maneuverability at slow speeds, it did great at a slalom test between car park dividers only a few feet apart.  I actually found it easier because I could more quickly regulate speed and braking with the motor than I could on a non-powered bicycle.  The weight is obviously going to be subjective to the individual, but my wife and I were able to load it onto our car’s bike rack without any problem.  I didn’t really notice much of a difference between this and my other bikes.  It weighs less than a beach cruiser.  It’s basically a mountain bike’s weight.



Here’s some specs that I found about the bike online:
36v 10Ah Lithium Battery – I wanted lithium because of how much more it can endure when compared to NiCAD or other battery technologies.
250w brushless motor – This is SILENT!  You will need to use your horn to alert other people you are behind them
Battery charging time 4-6 hours – And thank goodness it has overcharge protection, so leave it plugged in all you want!
Max Speed 16MPH – I don’t have my odometer on the bike yet, but when I used it with Pedal Assist, I was DEFINITELY over 20 MPH.  If I pushed it, I could probably do 30-35 mph with pedaling hard, gearing right, and using the motor to help.  Motor alone would get you 16 mph.
Range 20-25 Miles per charge – I’ve been riding this thing every day and haven’t charged it yet, so the range is great.
Gross Weight: 69 Lbs with battery.  You can take the battery off if you wanted.
H.packing size: 1425*250*775mm
Rear Gears: "SHIMANO" 6-Speed-Gears


Pedal Assist Mode: In all models/levels, the driving assisted system power emits progressively and
cuts off as the bike reaches a speed 25 km/h, (15.5mph), or sooner if you stop pedaling. The drive assist re-engages when speed drops below 25 km/h, (15.5mph) as the pedals are turning.  – So it took me a few minutes to figure this out.  You have normal mode where you press the throttle and it goes.  You also have Pedal Assist Mode, which I call Superman Mode, where it basically uses the power to amplify your movements.  You push the pedals and it goes faster than what you think it would, it makes you feel like Superman!



Verdict:

Overall, I’m super happy with the bike.  I can’t wait to take it on a bike trip.  If you want to do more off-road type of biking, go with the fat tire bike as that is what those types of tires are made for.  For me, 90% of my biking is in the city and on pavement, so this bike works for me.  My family loves the bike, I’m happy with the company and there isn’t anything I’d change about the bike (except the basket!)  I live in South Florida, which is very hot, and the bike can stand the heat no problem.  If you want to take your family on a long distance bike trip, this one is definitely the way to go.  The person that built the bike for me said it was a really well-made bike as well, so that’s always a plus!  The sizing is great and both my wife and I fit on this bike no problem.  I’m really happy with the company and their parts supply and pricing as well.  I think in the future, I’ll consider getting a fat tire bike as well and start doing some more off road stuff!

Great Purchase!

Here’s a link to the bikes:

Men's: https://amzn.to/2Flq9ra
Women: https://amzn.to/2zWKVHH
Fat Tire: https://amzn.to/2DGl3ns
Store: https://amzn.to/2RVEKe1

The Mexico Movie - Episode 2

This country holds a special place in my heart.  It is such a culturally rich treasure chest.  This video follows our journeys all through the Central American region.  We travel around Mexico, Belize, Grand Cayman, and Honduras.  This is a sequel to our first Mexico Movie!

The Mexico Movie - Episode 2 from Weltall900 on Vimeo.

Baltics & Russia: Travel to the Edge of Europe

Summer 2016 was home to our biggest travel adventure to date.  We did 6 weeks of travel through Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Russia.  Some of the highlights included visiting the nuclear disaster site of Chernobyl, the World War II history in Kiev & Warsaw, small villages in Lithuania & Latvia, visiting a friend in Latvia, going to a music festival in Estonia, setting a fitbit personal record in Helsinki, then exploring Russia all the way towards Kazakhstan and visiting friends in Ufa.  No trip video would be complete without a clip of Lucie going nuts upon our return to the USA.


Baltics & Russia - Travel to the Edge of Europe from Weltall900 on Vimeo.

The Alaska Movie

Our latest travel movie takes us to Arctic Alaska, Fairbanks, as well as a fun layover in Seattle.  Check out the Northern Lights, Dog Sledding, and winter sports.  We left the sun of South Florida for a Spring Break in Alaska.  The Reverse Spring Breakers!


The Alaska Movie from Weltall900 on Vimeo.

The India Movie

In Winter 2015, Stephi and I traveled to India.  We explored the sights of Delhi, the Taj Mahal in Agra, the Pink City of Jaipur, beautiful Udaipur, and visited my friend Jason at the Cat Cafe Studio of Mumbai.  The movie features Indian Weddings, Taj Mahal, and plenty of cute kittens!  Enjoy!


The India Movie from Weltall900 on Vimeo.

The Mexico Movie

In Spring 2015, a couple friends and I went down to Mexico to explore the region around Mexico City.  My parents had gone to Mexico in the 70's and loved it, but I've heard mixed things about going there today.  I had to go and see for myself what it was like.  I was very impressed with the country and I hope to go back someday soon!



The Mexico Movie from Weltall900 on Vimeo.