NORTHSTORM BAGS

 

There’s a lot to be said about the quality of gear on the market these days and I reckon I’ve found some of the best quality adventurer bags around. 

 

North Storm owners Marc and Lisa saw a demand on the market for decent waterproof bags and began the process to design several configurations for the market. They now offer three different waterproof bags to suit most outdoor adventures. Each bag has its own features, are versatile so they can store your gear when you're not in the great outdoors and you can also separate the wet and dry stuff while on the go.

 

North Storm offer a 60 Litre Duffel Bag, 30 Litre Backpack right down to a 20 Litre Dry Bag where they all have an IP66 water proof rating, lightweight, made from 100% waterproof flexible and durable 500D PVC tarpaulin material, all have various lash points and much more.

 

The waterproof rating makes it totally dust tight while being protected from high pressure jets and can handle a quick dunking. Now I won’t lie, I’ve been giving a couple of these bags a canning the past few months and I’m suitably impressed.

 

The 30 Litre Backpack is absolutely huge with heaps of usable storage, it's got an extra layer on the base, EVA back pads (thick foam that breathes) on the adjustable back straps, easy to use chest strap, side mesh pockets and the list goes on. I’ve been using it as a fishing backpack when I need to find remote fishing spots where I need to hike in and even wade across the odd creek or two.

 

At the end of the day the bag has been designed to be hosed off inside and out and dry’s quick due to the PVC material it is made from. Inside you say? Yep - simply stand the bag on the ground and fill it up with water then empty. You’ll achieve two things here, washing out any muck inside that has spilled plus you’ll see just how waterproof these bags are, nothing leaks out. 

The other bag I’ve been using is the 60 Litre Duffel Bag made from the same material and has all the same features, but it also comes with added removable straps to be used as a backpack. This bag has its own and serious tie down points (read 8 in total) so it can be strapped to the top of a 4wd, on a bike or jet ski, even inside a boat. With two large internal pockets, an external mesh pocket (great for wet or smelly clothes), end grab handles, a large waterproof roll closure system, plus a host of other features including hard wearing oversize buckles and zips making life easier when fumbling in the dark. 

 

This bag has been riding on top of my 4wd for some time now and been through dust, dirt and rain plus the local car wash and there has been no trace of any moisture inside the bag. Even being out on the tracks all day it’s been great to throw the dirty recovery gear inside the bag knowing that it won’t dump mud and grit inside the car, then to clean just give it a quick hose out with water, give it a wipe down and set aside to dry - it’s that simple.

So what makes these bags stand out for me?

 

Well its good knowing that they have been designed for our conditions and come from people that have actually put some serious thought and effort into a product. Marc and Lisa breath the outdoors and saw a gap in the market when they couldn’t find a suitable product for their own needs. 

 

Being made from thick and tough PVC material they are so easy to clean and store but being non rigid the bags can be folded away if you can’t hang your bag up. Across the range all the seams have had high frequency welding, it’s where a radio frequency has been used to fuse two pieces together to make a join (bit more complicated than that but it works). 

 

With North Storm’s quality standard this has resulted in making the joins as strong as the material itself, making the bags totally floatable if dropped in pools of water. The range of bags all have heavy duty strapping, reflective strips and the Duffel and Backpack have a light covered inside base to make it easier to find those lost items. 

 

The launching of these bags has been a success to Marc and Lisa where they have a host of different professional users that demand their bags. From divers, commercial photographers through to sportsman and offshore fisherman through to hikers, travellers and 4wders - North Storm is starting to gain a reputation where quality is their number one aim. Their range of quality bags are only available online with free postage within Australia.

 

For further info or contact jump across to their website at https://northstorm.com.au

TRIP PREP

Why bother ? 

Well you can do none and maybe, just maybe you’ll have a great un-eventful trip BUT if shit does go wrong you’ll have no one else to blame. 

 

We’ve all heard it before check this and check that, so here’s my version on what I do before and during our trips away because I love trouble free trips especially when being away for so long AND when towing as it places so much more stress on my 4wd, the trailer and of course the driver me. I find that if I put in the hours before going, its not until I get home after everything works that I really appreciate the effort that went in.

THE CRUISER

 

I normally keep the woolgoolgaoffroad Landcruiser washed and polished most of the time ( and saying this I polish mine with Mr Sheen - easy, cheap and looks great ) and the interior pretty clean too. Not only does it make it a pleasure to drive, little things are easily spotted like broken parts or leaking fluids. Keeping it services to is another way to keep on top of things, BUT if you’ve got a flash new rig where servicing might be a little harder, find a mechanic that you can trust and get them to do an outback checkover. You know - touch everything underneath, see if there are rattles and run spanners over everything. My list is always pretty comprehensive and includes all fluids ( diffs, gearbox, steering, brake and clutch etc ), bearings, grease the whole thing, all bushes, belts and so on. While Im under the car I normally check nearly every nut and bolt ( good thing about the cruiser is that Toyota use between 10 and 16 mm on everything ). This is really important when I head outback and tackle the harder stuff that shake the shit out of everything because when things come loose out there usually it's too late to hear it or see it. Suspension takes a pounding in the far west so don’t skimp on it. Everyday it doesn’t hurt to lay on the ground and look for oil weeps, broken bolts or even missing parts, all this to keep on going to great holiday destinations. blogger 

THE TRAILER

 

Again, I keep mine pretty clean, it may be a bit of OCD but as I clean its easy to see and feel any loose parts, fix em and move on. When getting ready for another big trip I strip everything out just to make sure I haven’t used any thing on the last trip and didn’t replace it, and it also gets my head around what I have in the trailer. On the outside I start at the front and check the hitch, not just look at it but run spanners over the mounting bolts and the grease it ( with a DO-35 there’s a couple of nipples ). I like to check the lights so I back the car up and plug it in. While talking electrical I look and feel the cabling to make sure there’s no exposed or potential broken wires.

 

Next its time to jack the trailer up and check for any wheel play and loose bearings. Once a year i'll change them wether they need it or not - OCD ?. With my trailer I have independent suspension so grease all points and inspect the bushes for wear. While I'm on suspension - check the tyres for any weird wear as it might need a wheel alignment ( I know when I bought my trailer it towed bloody shaking so I had a wheel alignment it one side was out 3 degrees, this trailer had no wheel balance either ). Run your hands over the tyres both inside and out and feel for cuts, bubbles or foreign objects that might cause a blowout. Oh - don’t forget the spares too, once a year i'll rotate my tyres too. Oh and check the wheel nuts and tyre pressures too. 

 

While I'm under ill also check my water lines ( I’ve protected mine with larger hose over the original to prevent rocks busting anything ), i'll check the water tanks for dents and rocks caught anywhere that might rub a hole in anything. I like to tinker with the trailer most weeks, so I'm always checking little things and airing it out. With solar the batteries stay full, I'll light the gas stove now and again to keep the flow rate right, turn on the water pump and let the water go through the sink. Speaking of water, ill have a drink of it and see if it tastes ok, normally does but doesn’t hurt to check. It's all about keeping it reliable. Turn the lights on inside too if you have them. 

MY LAST WORDS 

 

If I am happy with the car and camper prep for the journey - normally it goes off without a hitch, but preparation is the key. Some of my prep may seem overboard but it works for me. Id rather touch and feel everything that just run my eye over things.

 

Next time I’ll go over personal preparation.

 KENDA KLEVER Tyres

I’m a bit of a tyre snob these days, you know - tried the best and now looking at the rest. In the past Ive spent a bloody fortune on the big brands and to be honest they have been pretty darn good but on the other end of the scale I’ve tried the el-cheapo range and Im just as impressed. Having spent some 20 odd ( some very odd ) years in the bush, touring outback desert regions, clocking up stacks of highway miles and just recently spending time in Tassie - I reckon I can lay claim to be a seasoned traveller. 

The past 18 months we’ve been travelling Aust - you know the all Aussie dream - so when it came to prep with tyres I knew I wanted muddies again for where we planned to go. Now I know there’s pros and cons with noise, wear patterns, being dicey in the wet ( allegedly ) blah blah blah, but that’s what I wanted. 

 

Now on a side note - we bought a hybrid camper the year before to prepare and there were muddies on the trailer. Here again there’s been stacks of debate re muddies on trailers, so won’t go there. Anyway the tyres on the trailer were ones that I had never heard of before, namely Kenda Klever in a MT pattern. Now while they looked ‘tough’ on the camper ( only reason why manufacturers put them on in my books ), I just accepted they were on and thought they won’t last long. After having them balanced and a good wheel alignment they have been ‘performing well’ where we have spent getting ready for our tripping. 

After running the Kenda’s on the trailer for a year I thought id take a gamble and throw a set onto the Cruiser after doing a little googling. Now I was pleasantly surprised on the ratings overseas and the vast range of tyres that Kenda make, from truck, 4wd, bike, mower and a few random ones. Even the history behind the company is pretty impressive, established in 1962 in Taiwan producing bike tyres they soon moved to other fields.

 

These days Kenda is major player in the tyre game with several factories in China, USA, Germany, Indonesia with technical centres and also establishing a joint venture with Cooper Tyres and establishing a reputable name in the offroad, drifting and racing scene in the US. Supplying to over 150 countries, over 10,000 employees and have now just developed an Eco tyre which emits less CO2, they lay claim to it being a new generation green tyre with is better for the environment, will apparently give you better fuel economy with the silica infused tread to allow less rolling resistant. 

So I thought why not take a gamble with a set on the old 80 series to match up with the camper. Now trying to prep to go on the road full-time and not having a bucket load of cash to spend, but really didn’t want to skimp to much on tyres the Kenda came in pretty much under budget. For the 285/75/16 I paid just on $240 each ( fitted and balanced ) which was very affordable. 

 

First impressions ?. Well they are muddies and was expecting the typical howling noise and a bit blocky on the road which they were BUT, def not the nosiest I have had ( and mind you I’ve run comp style tyres that scared little kids walking down the road ). 

 

So basically the Kendra Klever MT have double steel-belted construction with 3 ply sidewall, utilised for long-lasting wear with tough square shoulder lugs that provide pretty decent self-cleaning capability. Like I said they are on the cheaper end of the market and we all know that down here they all look pretty much the same in design and looks. 

 

But you know what ? Im bloody impressed. We’ve done some big miles along gulf type roads, outback desert roads, a lot of tar, played in the sand ( not the best for a muddle ), used them in the mud ( around Tassie ) and given them a hiding around the back blocks of Coffs ( known as the 4wd capital of NSW ). 

My PROs and CONS. 

                           

PRO’s

 

The on and off road performance of these tyres has surprised me. On the road ( tar ) I run them at 45 psi, they wear well and keep above the blockiness that muddies have and they seem to clear mud and rocks pretty well. Off road they perform bloody well in all conditions. I find that my 80 seems secure on both the tar and offroad at full tyre pressures and they keep their balance well. Price was very attractive too, half the price of other brands on the market and I’m sure not half the tyre. Cost - for a 285 ( 33'' ) pay around $240 each.

 

CON’s

 

Honestly I cant think of many cons at the moment. Probably the biggest con is that you need to drop a stack of pressure out for them to perform extremely well off road. Other muds my go to pressure was around 22 psi, with the Kenda muds I soon learnt to go straight to 16 psi to bag them out. Very open block that are open to punctures.

MY FINAL OPINION. 

 

After having these tyres for nearly two years and being on the road for 18 months- I am very bloody impressed with their performance in most conditions ( haven’t had them in the snow yet ). But like any tyre they need to be looked after - I check pressures every morning when cold, do a visual every time we walk around but basically baby them by trying not to hit large sharp things on the road, hitting washouts and dropping pressures to suit.

 

They aren’t AT’s so I'm always extra careful in the outback where gibber rocks tend to bust side walls and with the open tread pattern there’s always a chance of a large sharp rock or a foreign object punching a hole directly between the blocks, but hey that’s the chance you take with nearly any tyre. Interesting to note tho, on the trailer the tyres are marked made in China and the Kenda’s on the old girl are marked made in Taiwan. 

 

So after 50,000km on mud tyres, heavy towing, exploring nearly all road types and giving them a caning in the bush what’s my verdict ?. 

 

Well I am really suitably impressed overall and would and probably will get them again, but like any tyre just remember to rotate and run the right pressures to suit what you're doing.

    I started Woolgoolga offroad back in the early nineties, after moving north of Coffs Harbour. Not only do I love bloody hard Offroad days, there's nothing better than getting out and exploring our wonderful north coast with it's array of rainforest, long stretching beaches and our awesome views.

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