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Totobobo mask VS 3M N95 VS Respro: test and comparison

When visiting Totobobo Headquarters, we had the possible to experience directly some tests on 3 different brand of face masks: Totobobo, 3M N95 and Respro City Mask.
The commercial version of each model was modified and equipped with a nozzle to be connect to a machine through a small tube.
The machine would compare the number of particles inside the mask and outside, providing a value and a graph showing how many times the particles were reduced. In example a result of 100, would mean that while outside there are 300 particles, inside the mask there would be 100 times less, that means only 3, or said in other terms a reduction of (300-3)/100=99%.

Testing the masks: Totobobo Mask

Oti testing Totobobo MaskOti testing Totobobo Mask

We first tried to test the Totobobo mask leaving on purpose some gaps for the pollutant to enter, to understand the worst case scenario. The resulting value was around 5, that means about 80% reduction. Still not too bad considering that it was a purposely faulty setting.

Faulty setup of Totobobo maskFaulty setup of Totobobo mask

Later we performed again the test with a perfect fit, no gaps allowed, while using the N94 filters. The machine reached its higher limit showing 200+, basically it was reducing more than 200 times the number of particles, or said in other words at least 99.5% of the particles were blocked!

Perfect fit setup of Totobobo MaskPerfect fit setup of Totobobo Mask

Testing the masks: 3M N95 Mask (1860s)

Oti testing 3M N95 maskOti testing 3M N95 mask

Then it was the turn to test the 3M N95 disposable mask. While it's not specifically marketed by the company to be used as a city mask, it's a commonly used and easy to find solution.

Oti tried to fit it as good as she could and the result was around the value of 30, that means about 7 times less effective than the Totobobo mask, but still a good 97% reduction.

3M N95 test result3M N95 test result
Even trying to artificially improve the fit of the 3M N95 Mask by pushing all the gaps with our fingers, we couldn't get higher than 52, that means even in the most fortunate condition it couldn't reach the performance of the Totobobo. But still a quite good result for a cheap disposable mask.

Value obtained artificially improving the fitValue obtained artificially improving the fit

Testing the masks: Respro Mask

Davide testing Respro City MaskDavide testing Respro City Mask

But the real surprise came when testing the overrated Respro Mask.
In this mask model there is no possibility to obtain a perfect fit in any case, and the maximum number of reduction we could get was a mere 3.1! That's still better than nothing, but probably not much better than a scarf or an handkerchief could do.

Respro can't compete with the rivalsRespro can't compete with the rivals

Price Comparison

A new Totobobo Mask costs 33 USD, a new Respro City Mask 41 USD and the 3M N95 around 1$ each for a package of 20.

As for the replacements an N94 Totobobo filter set with 10 pairs costs 25 $ (each pair lasts up to 2 weeks, so running cost would be 5$ per month), but are available also 10 F96 pairs for 35$ and 15 F92 pairs for 15$ (2$ per month);

A twin filter set for Respro City Mask, costs 20$ and each one should last around 1 month, so running costs around 10$ per month. 

The 3M N95 disposable mask to compete with the Totobobo N94 filters running cost, should be reused for at least 6 days, and 15 days compared to the N92 filter set.

Our conclusion

Given the test results and the running price, Totobobo mask has no rivals. The 3M N95 disposable mask can be a good temporary replacement while waiting for your new order of Totobobo filters, if you run out, while the Respro mask is not competitive in any case.

If you want to know more about Totobobo Mask you can read our detailed article: Pollution? The perfect anti-pollution mask for cities and travelling: Totobobo mask

Disclaimer: While the tests were performed at Totobobo Headquarter and we received some free sample masks, we didn't alter in any way the results of the tests.

Totobobo mask review, best mask for cycling and travelling

Davide, Oti and Mr Francis at Totobobo's HeadquartersDavide, Oti and Mr Francis at Totobobo's Headquarters

While in Singapore we were lucky enough to be accepted by Mr Francis Chu to visit Totobobo mask's headquarters in Singapore and get to test live some samples of his invention. We were able to understand a little bit better the working mechanism of their product, how to properly wear the masks and how they perform compared to some of their direct competitors: Respro mask and 3M N95 disposable mask (1860s).

Arriving at Totobobo mask's headquarters and getting to know Mr Francis Chu

After wandering around Totobobo's neighborhood lost in between big commercial blocks, we eventually manage to decipher the coded Singaporean address we were provided, and to access the clean and professional looking headquarter of Totobobo.
We introduced ourself to the creator of Totobobo Mask, Mr Francis Chu (I forgot to ask him where Totobobo's name is coming from) and we soon felt a good connection with him: a humble, positive and friendly person.

What is Totobobo mask?

Totobobo mask is a reusable mask made of a non allergic elastomer, that uses replaceable filters and unique technologies. It is sold at the moment for 33 USD.

The frost surface turn transparent when wetThe frost surface turn transparent when wet
The peculiar characteristics of this mask are that it can be modeled using heat to fit perfectly everybody's face, and the "Watermark Seal Check", a technology that helps understanding when there are no gaps between mask and skin, by turning the frost internal surface of the material into transparent.

Oti wetting her face to check the fitOti wetting her face to check the fit
When there is a continuous transparent line in the contact interface face-mask, then a perfect fit is obtained.

A gap is visible on the top left next to the nose: tha mask needs to be reshapedA gap is visible on the top left next to the nose: tha mask needs to be reshaped

A continuos line on Oti's maskA continuos line on Oti's mask
The filters available come in 3 different grades: N96, N94, N92. The number basically indicate the percentage of particles over pm 2.5 that are blocked by the filter.
The most effective filter of the line, the N96, would block at least 96% of the contaminants. While it is more performant, it can make more difficult the breathing operation and it's more expensive than the others, so that while some customers might prefer the most effective option, others might find more convenient the N92 filters.
Totobobo mask comes in different sizes, and can even be trimmed to fit smaller faces.

Using Totobobo mask

Mr. Francis started our educational visit by showing us how to use his product.
The main operations that can be performed are:
- modifying the shape to perfectly fit the contour of the face;
- correctly wearing and adjusting the mask;
- replacing the filters.
There are plenty of tutorial and videos on their website on how to do that. That's where I suggest you to go for a more detailed explanation.
Heat is needed to reshape the mask, and it can be provided by an hair dryer or hot water. The suggested mixture to obtain the perfect temperature is 3/4 of boiling water and 1/4 of room temperature water.
After warming up the masks for a few seconds by immersing them, the elastomer becomes softer and it can be reshaped until it gets cold (a matter of a few seconds) and "freeze" in the new shape.

Immersing Totobobo mask in warm waterImmersing Totobobo mask in warm water
It is actually easier said than done, and the whole process needs to be repeated several times after verifying the watermark until a perfect fit is found.
The first time it can get frustrating, and it might take as long as one hour of trial and error until a satisfying solution is found, but don't give up! A perfect fit is ESSENTIAL for the efficiency of the mask!

TIP: You better exaggerate the deformation you want to impress, since after releasing the mask, it will partially go back to the previous shape.
You can also help yourself with tools, like a pen to wrap the mask around for the top tight curve of the nose, or a flat desk to flatten an angle.

Reshaping Totobobo maskReshaping Totobobo mask

It's possible to adjust the length of the elastic straps, by wrapping them around the plastic holders.
Reposition of the mask should be better done by pulling it in front and placing it back on the face, rather than pushing it to fill the gaps. If repositioning doesn't work, it means that it needs more reshaping.

Changing the filters is extremely easy, it's just about releasing two elastic bands, removing the used filter and placing the new one into place.

Changing the filters of Totobobo maskChanging the filters of Totobobo mask

Testing Totobobo mask and its competitors

While at the Headquarter we had the chance to do a lab test analyzing the efficiency of Totobobo's mask and 2 of its competitors.

Oti testing N95 maskOti testing N95 mask

Davide testing Respro maskDavide testing Respro mask
Totobobo was the winner with a reduction of 200+ times, 3M N95 reduced the pollutants around 30 times, and surprisingly Respro mask only 3 times!
We have written a separate article with the detail of the test and photos of the result: Comparison of 3 anti-pollution mask models.

This test was so educational for us. We understood how important is to find a perfect fit of the mask (Not only Totobobo, but any mask!) and that we were basically wasting time in Indonesia when wearing our simple Surgical masks.

Totobobo's packaging and enviormental approach

The packaging of Totobobo mask is really minimalistic and completely recyclable.
Fancier, more sellable packaging have been discarded to reduce at minimum the waste created by the product: Mr Francis preferred to stick to his environmental beliefs, rather than selling a few more masks.
The plastic bag of the case is actually a zip-lock bag, that can be easily reused.
Also the filters packaging uses a similar zip-lock bag, and contains a single simple paper presentation with an image to be used as a reference to understand at what moment to replace the filters, e.g. when they reach a 50% gray color (but no later than after 2 weeks).

Totobobo mask packagingTotobobo mask packaging

Totobobo and cyclists

Totobobo mask is s cyclist friendly product, not only because cyclists are one of the major supporters, but also because Mr Francis is a cyclist himself and the only extra bit of paper in the packaging is a nice heart shaped recyclable note addressed to car drivers, asking them to respect cyclists since they are making the air less polluted also for them.
By the way drivers! Some studies shows how pollution inside the car can get even higher than the one outside, since somehow it gets stuck in the cabin: so car drivers shouldn't thing that masks are something only for cyclist or pedestrian and that they are immune to the pollution that they are creating!

Cons and possible improvements of Totobobo mask

While the mask works amazingly when perfectly set up, the learning curve to understand how to reshape the mask is quite steep, and we are scared that some people might get frustrated and misuse the mask or just give up.

While wearing the mask in warm and humid tropical climate, there is condensation inside the mask, that can feel annoying at the beginning.

That's a common problem to several masks, and to solve it Totobobo propose the possibility to trim the mask to the "SuperCool" design covering only the mouth, so that exhalation can be done through the nose with no condensation. This design is particularly suggested for cyclists that wants to inhale more air using the mouth instead of the nose.

As a secondary cons, we realized that the look of the mask is so unique, that many people were staring at us. Some people might feel uncomfortable and stop wearing the mask. A suggestion is to propose a customization pack with a thin personalized cover to put on top of Totobobo mask, or if you feel uncomfortable just wear a cheap standard mask on top of Totobobo's.
In any case we of course prioritize our health over our look.

As a suggestion for the future we would also like to see a "family pack" with maybe 50 filters at a discounted price, to decrease the operational cost (already quite low compared to other brands at around 2-5$ per month) for people permanently living in polluted places and to also reduce transportation costs-emissions and packaging.

Davide and Oti with Totobobo masks in front of the Petronas towersDavide and Oti with Totobobo masks in front of the Petronas towers

Our final conclusion

We have started using our Totobobo masks, and changed the filters for the first time after 7 days of usage in Malaysia, plagued by the haze coming from Indonesia. So far we are satisfied, it works well and the filters are getting gray as expected!

One week usage in Malaysia: on top Oti's filters, used less constantly, on the bottom Davide's filters ready to be replacedOne week usage in Malaysia: on top Oti's filters, used less constantly, on the bottom Davide's filters ready to be replaced

We are so grateful to have met Mr. Francis Chu and directly experience the lab tests on the masks! Now we understand much better what are the important parameters to choose an effective pollution mask, and how to correctly wear it.
At the end of our visit to Totobobo's headquarters, we were happy to support their products not only because they are effective, but also because we believe in Mr Francis mission and we liked a lot his approach of doing business, not putting money and success as the main priority if it's colliding with higher purposes.

Quoting Totobobo website:

"However, face mask is not a sustainable solution, reduce consumption is."

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and we received free sample masks to write this article, but what we wrote represent our honest opinion, including not only pros but also cons.

Clearly Filtered Athlete edition Filtered bottle review, alias Seychelle

The Clearly Filtered Athlete edition filtered bottle, the plastic version, has been our first filtered bottle ever, and while we can't travel now without a filtered bottle, we can't say that we were totally satisfied with this specific model as we will see in detail in the review.

We also saw that the Seychelle Water Filtration Flip Top Bottle "looks" exactly the same model as the Clearly Filtered Athlete edition Filtered bottle, in every part except the brand, so this review might refer also to the Seychelle Water bottle.

We verified the similarity not only on line, but also through a friend having  exactly that specific model. I can't say if it's 100% the same, cause I don't know what's the mixture used inside the filter, but our review is not about the filtration technology, since we didn't do any lab test, but about the structure and design of the bottle itself, so I guess it's safe to assume that it can be referred also to the Seychelle Water Filtration Flip Top Bottle.

As I anticipated, after using the Clearly Filtered Athlete edition Filtered bottle, we understood the importance of having a purification system while travelling. And in fact while 5 years ago I was so many times sick while traveling in India and drinking local water not to waste plastic, on the last 9 months passed in Indonesia I had no health issues. Of course it's not only because of an occasional usage of the filtering system, but for sure it helped.
We used the two identical bottles we received from Clearly filtered, mainly to filter non drinkable tap water from our house, when we forgot to buy gallons of water. We haven't experimented with dirty polluted Indonesian rivers or other water sources.
Below the list of problems we have experienced during these months:

- In order to drink more easily, you have to squeeze the bottle. But by doing so, the neck of the bottle is also deformed, and it's spilling water all over you;

While squeezing the Clearly filtered Athlete bottle, water is leakingWhile squeezing the Clearly filtered Athlete bottle, water is leaking

- When the straw is closed in "resting position" the end of the straw is exposed to the outside world, collecting every kind of dirt, that is then sucked through the straw itself while drinking;

Detail od the straw in resting positionDetail od the straw in resting position

- After some time, the plastic gets moldy inside, in particular if you leave it forgotten for some weeks. It looks like this is a problem common to several brands, and easily fixable: we cleaned our drinking bottles using hot water, rice and baking soda;

Mold inside the water bottleMold inside the water bottle

- The filter lasted much less than advertised for us, and after 2-3 months of non regular use, it was almost clogged, with one of the two dying earlier than the other. We still keep the bottles but just for emergency situations, since it's really difficult and frustrating to use the Clearly Filtered bottles now (I'm not sure if it might be also unhealthy);

- Replacement filters are quite expensive, after discount they cost 60% of the price of a new Clearly Filtered Athlete edition filtered bottle and they can be  bought only in the USA, as far as I can say. So if you are planning to travel for some months, you should pack more than one filter, that adds up to the weight of the luggage. If you are living in the Usa and planning to use it for trips within the country, or travel of a maximum length of around 3 months abroad, then it might be a good product for you.

I'm not aware of any competitor products that might be available more easily around the world, if you know, drop me a line in the comments.

While the Clearly Filtered Athlete edition filtered bottle didn't meet our expectations, this review is not about the company itself, but this specific item, so other models from the same company might work better than ours, considering that the filtration system did its job well.

Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat Review - Lightweight 2 person tent

Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tent, inner mesh only set upLuxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tent, inner mesh only set up

The new Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat is a 2 person lightweight tent offering space and comfort in a limited weight, at a reasonable price.
We have recently received the Sil Habitat Tent, evolution of the Luxe Outdoor Habitat tent reviewed some months ago. We are really satisfied with the previous version of the Habitat, and in fact it's the tent that we carry around in our travel rucksacks during our backpacking trips, so we were eager to test also this new development.

The new Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat, managed to raise even more the level reached by the Habitat, creating an even more spacious tent with a slightly lighter weight. The new Sil Habitat won't replace our beloved Habitat mainly because of the colour (while it is available also in a more natural Green army colour, we have received the Purple one as a testing sample), but we are sure it will make happy many new customers: taller users in particular will be eager to know that it was redesigned in particular to offer them more room and comfort while camping.

There is no suggested price in the Luxe Outdoor official website, but searching for retailers online we could find it from 170€ in Indonesia, to 210€ in France, 160£ in UK and up to 450$ from Chinese retailers.

Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat Specifications and content 

Specifications as published in the official page of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat:

  • Colors available: Purple and Army
  • 2 Persons
  • 3 Seasons
  • Freestanding
  • Size: 210cm x 135cm (82.7 x 53.1 in)
  • Internal Height: 112cm (44.1 in)
  • Weight: 2.08 kg (4lb 9oz)

 

Size tableSize table

  • 2 Hood vents
  • 2 Entrances
  • 2 Vestibules (up to 70cm - 27.5 in)
  • Rainfly: 40D/230T nylon ristop fabric with siliconized treatment of both sides. Water Column 2500mm
  • Inner tent: Mesh
  • Floor: 68D Polyester Taffeta PU 5000mm
  • Yunan Alloy Main pole with two 3 way connectors and separated Ridge pole
  • 8 x Alloy Y stake
  • 2 x Reflective guy ropes
  • Internal mesh pockets
  • Extra footprint
  • Quick-up clips
  • Silicon tube for seam sealing
  • Price range: 200-250$

Company suggest to seam seal the seams, and corners where needed, from the interior of the rainfly.

Content of the packageContent of the package

Geometrical considerations

We first verified the pure geometrical and objective characteristics: the tent dimension specified by the company are 210cm x 135cm (82.7 x 53.1 in) and 2.08 kg (4lb 9oz).

Our instruments measured a surface of about 210cm x 131cm (82.7 x 51.6 in), but considering that the tent was not staked, the real measure would probably be some percent higher.

 Dimensions and weight of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tentDimensions and weight of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tent

The weight on our scale, still including labels and all cases and bags, was about 2.02 kg (4lb 7 oz) for the tent only and 2.31kg (5lb 1oz) including extra foot print and silicon tube: this means a slighly lower weight than the official one of 2.08kg (4lb 9oz). That's about 1 kilo each to carry while hiking.

While the data might not say much to non tent freak, that's quite a lot of space and comfort for a lightweight tent.

What we liked

According to our opinion the core asset of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat is to be able to provide space and comfort in a reduce weight, at a more affordable price than its competitors. We couldn't renounce to its feature of being free standing, and the two entrances are so handy for our needs. The height of the tent is a "Real Height", in the sense that not only in the center the tent is tall enough to sit, but even on the sides since the lateral walls are almost vertical, so that 2 people can comfortably move and dress up at the same time. The vestibules are big enough to store huge rucksacks (mine is 90L), and the abundant floor surface not only fits two people, but there is some extra space for valuable belogings.

Interior space available: quite comfy for a lightweight 2 person tentInterior space available: quite comfy for a lightweight 2 person tent

The extra footprint gives a bigger flexibility to the tent, that can be also used as a selfstanding sun shelter with the outer fly only. The footprint can be added in the normal setup to give extra protection to the floor, or it can be left at home to minimize the weight. And the good news is that it's included in the standard price and package, it doesn't have to be bought separately like for some competing companies.

Extra Footprint and Rainfly set up onlyExtra Footprint and Rainfly set up only

Side view of extra Footprint and Rainfly set up onlySide view of extra Footprint and Rainfly set up only

The first time we have tested the tent was in Indonesia during rainy season, for a 3 days festival in the nature with over 200 people camping. The second night a massive storm hit the camp field, with strong wind, heavy rain and plenty of lightnings. Many tents were damaged, some completely broken, other were flooded and their owners had to seek shelter somewhere else or to even leave the event. We were a little bit worried being the first time we were using the Sil Habitat, but it endured without any consequences the bad weather and kept us dry at night. To be sincere we had a couple of drops entering from the seams, but that's our responsability, since we didn't seam seal the seams with the provided silicon before using the tent (So if you are expecting extended rain, you better seam seal the seams, it's an operation that needs to be done only once). Also we didn't find any condenstaion dripping in the tent.

What we didn't like

We are not sure if we can say that we like or not the Silicon treated rainfly: for sure it's light and effective, but it's quite complicated to fold and handle. But that's totally subjective, and the feeling might improve with time. We personally suggest to put the rainfly inside the inner tent when packing and after to roll or fold them togheter, since the inner tent offer a better grip than the silicon.

At night our Purple tent was quite visible if lighted by a flashlight, not for the colour itself, but for the reflective paint applied on some ropes and spots: while this feature is positively advertised by the company and might be welcome by some customers, we do personally prefer to stay invisible, since sometimes we do free camping also in hidden or semi-urban areas while we hitchhike, and prefer to stay not visible.

This is the third tent we own from Luxe Outdoor, and we have always been positevely impressed by the ratio quality-price. This time we were a little bit surprised and suspicious at first. In fact looking at the rainfly through the sun, the nylon ristop fabric was so thin that in some points it looked like it was pierced. But later we tested the biggest of this apparent holes, and no water at all came through, so we were reassured the silicon, while transparent, was doing its job of keeping the water out.

Close up of the tent Silicon treated fabricClose up of the tent Silicon treated fabric

Testing the waterproofness of the rainlyTesting the waterproofness of the rainly

The only real flaw we have found on our item were 2 of the fabric loops used to keep the entrance door open, that were broken: it's a 1 minute fix if you have a sewing kit, but we would still not expect even the smallest problem on a product from a quality company as Luxe Outdoor. To their defense we have to say that the tent we received to test was most probably already used for exhibition in the showroom.

Small defect: a broken loopSmall defect: a broken loop

Setting up the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat

The set up takes only a few minutes, and it's quite easy also for non experienced users. The main poles is extending automatically with its elasting connections and has to be inserted in the 4 grommets of the inner tent.

Setting up the tentSetting up the tent

The mesh can be fixed with the quick-up clips to the main poles and the the top grommet connected to the crossing pole put on top of the main structure (Note on the photo below the almost vertical lateral walls providing space to seat also on the sides).

Inner tent viewInner tent view

Then the rainfly has to be connected to the outer fly grommets, 6 in total: 2 at the top center for the ridge pole and 4 at the base for the main poles.

Detailed view of the pole connection into the inner and outer tent grommetDetailed view of the pole connection into the inner and outer tent grommet

At this point the tent is ready and selfstanding, but it can be pitched to the ground to give extra stability. If no strong wind is expected, the two pegs at the entrances would be enough to maximize the usable space of the vestibule and to limit the movement of the tent.

Rainfly set up of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tentRainfly set up of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tent

We have shooted a short video with all the details needed to set up the tent, plus our personal opinion on the field. Please don't mind my accent and sweat :)

 

Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat Vs Competitor lightweight 2 people tent

Comparing the physical characteristics only of the Sil Habitat with some competitors, the MRS Hubba Hubba NX is given at 1.72kg (3 lb 13 oz) packed, so about 14% lighter, but it's also 12cm (4.7 in) shorter at the peak, has a floor surface of 2.7 m2 instead of the 2.83 m2 and costs almost double the money (399.95$).
Compared to the Tarptent Scarp 2, the most similar we could find from this company, they have a comparable floor surface 218 cm x 132 m (86 x 52 in) Vs 210 cm x 135 cm (82.7 x 53.1 in) and height 114 cm (44.9 in) Vs 112 cm (44.1), but the Tarptent has a high peak with lower walls, while the Luxe Outdoor keeps a quite constant height also at the walls. The Tarpent Scarp 2, including the optional pole set to make it freestanding, weights 2.2kg (60 oz), so slightly heavier than the Sil Habitat, and once again the competitor comes at an higher price, 369$ for the tent plus the pole set has to be bought separately.

Interior view of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tentInterior view of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tent

Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat Vs Habitat

Since we own and have used quite a lot the Luxe Outdoor Habitat, we have seen several differences between the two systers of the series.

Summarizing we can say that The Sil Habitat houses a bigger volume in a smaller weight, but has a less effective ventilation: let's see the details.

The Sil Habitat has a siliconed outer fly versus the PU coating of the Habitat. It was our first tent treated with silicon, and we were a little bit disoriented at the beginning, since it is a very slippery material to handle, but with better performances. With the Silicon version, you will have to invest 20 minutes of your time to seam seal the interior seams of the outer fly.
The Sil habitat weightet on our scale 2.02 kg (4lb 7oz), while the Habitat 2.13 kg (4.11). Not only the Sil habitat is 10% lighter than it precessor, but it's also 2cm taller (0.8 in), 5cm longer (2 in) and 10cm (4 in) wider.

The structure of the poles is really similar, with the only difference being the Ridge pole, separated on the Sil Habitat, while it was connected to the main structure in the Habitat. While setting up the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat Tent, the ridge pole has to be put on top of the main pole and then connected to the grommets of the inner tent.

Entrances and interior space of the 2 person tentEntrances and interior space of the 2 person tent

After testing the Sil Habitat, we understood that we wrongly labeled a feature as a flaw in our previous review of the Habitat, and namely the grommet connecting the inner tent and the ridge pole, is passing on purpose through only one layer of material instead of two, for ease of removal probably, so sorry for that inaccuracy.

The only real disadvantage we have found on the Silicon version compared to the standard one is the ventilation. While the older version is featuring 2 operable vents, the new version has 2 hood vents that is not possible to close or open wider, limiting the control and effectiveness of the air flow. We have to specify that we have tested the Habitat in Europe and the Sil Habitat in Indonesia, at the tropics during rainy season, with a quite different and more extreme climate to deal with.

Conclusion

Our comment might be biased, since we own ourself a Luxe Outdoor tent as our backpacking tent, but we sincerely think the ratio space-comfort-weight price offered by the Sil Habitat is one of the best in the market for its category. The price is definetely affordable for people used to invest in quality camping equipement, while it might look unaccessible to travellers on a very low budget.

This is thought a quality product intended to last for many years to come, making it a great choice for extended trips in the natural environment or short excursions alike: an economical investement that will be quicly rewarded.

 

Disclaimer: While we have received a sample of the Luxe Outdoor Sil Habitat tent to write this review, what we expressed is our honest opinion describing not only advantages but also imperfetions.

Win a free Filtered water bottle worth 49.95$!

Win a free stainless steel Clearly Filtered Water BottleWin a free stainless steel Clearly Filtered Water Bottle

 Enter today our contest, it takes just a few seconds, and you might be the lucky winner of a stainless steel filtered bottle gently offered by Clearly Filtered™. Essential while hiking or travelling, and a big ecological help for our environement!

If you want to skip the info and enter directly to the contest go at the bottom of the page.

Info about Clearly Filtered™ stainless steel water bottle

Table: Reduction percentageTable: Reduction percentageThe structure of the water bottle is made from resistent 18/8 Stainless Steel and 100% BPA free plastics. Thanks to its filter with a patented anti-microbial technology, it can remove up to 99.99% of Bacteria and Chlorine and over 97% of Heavy Metals. Check the table for detailed percentages.

The Clearly Filtered™ water bottle can be used to drink water from any water source like lakes, streams and rivers, while hiking. This way you won't have to carry in your backpack the whole water supply for your hike!

And it can be used to purify from contaminants also tap water: this way you'll be able to use it not only at your home, but also while travelling in countries with poor water quality. No need anymore to buy bottled water!

The filter will last about 6 months of regular use, this means a great ecological benefit, and a lot on energy and plastic bottles saved.

Regular price of the filtered water bottle is 49.95$, but you can try to get it for free, by entering our giweaway contest; it takes just a few seconds and it is as easy as liking one of our Social Media.

Who can participate to the giveaway

Since we care of our environement and we want to limit as much as possible emissions, (that's why we accepted the partnership with Clearly Filtered™), we decided to leave the contest open to anybody, but the prize we'll be delivered only within USA. This means that if you are from another country and you still want to participate, it's no problem, and if you'll be selected as the winner, you will have the opportunity to make a nice present to a friend of yours in the United States.

How to enter the giveaway

The entry process is veThe water bottle and the filterThe water bottle and the filterry easy and requires just a few seconds. The first step is to enter with an email address or a Facebook account: make sure to use a valid one, since it's what we are going to use to contact you if you'll be selected as the winner! Don't worry about your privacy, we will use your data only for communications relative to the contest, like contacting the winner.

After logging in you will see seven different social tasks: you need to complete at least one to enter the contest. The more you complete, the more chances you'll have. It's like buying more tickets for the lottery to increase your chances!

Tasks like following us on one of our Social Media will give you 5 entries (tickets) each, and can be completed only once in the promotion period. Tasks like sharing our contest page our submitting it to a Social Bookmarking site, can be done daily instead, and will give you 1 entry each time. This means that if you share our contest everyday, you can have up to 30 extra partecipation tickets!

If you still have any doubts, make sure to read the Terms and Conditions or to contact us.

For running this promotion we will also receive a sample product and we can't wait to drink clean water!

 

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How to choose a travel backpack

travel backpackI've recently bought a new rucksack,so I thought to write this useful guide about how to choose a travel backpack, sharing the criteria that I used to select my own and helping other fellow travellers to save some time on choosing the best backpacks for their needs. (If you are in a hurry skip the text and go directly to my backpack checklist at the bottom)

What's the perfect travel backpack size?

The size should be the very first parameter to choose and your choice will clearly be influenced by your travel style. If you usually travel for a short time or you are an ultralight backpacker going in a tropical country, then a 40 liters backpack might be enough. If you are an hitchhiker travelling for 6 months and ranging from winter temperature to summer hot beaches, then look at a 65-80 liters rucksacks. If you are hostel-hopping and moving by train you might even consider a different type of luggage, like a trolley or a backpack with wheels (still too heavy at around 4kg-9 pounds to be considered for backpacking). If you love nature and spend most of your time camping or trekking, then look for an hiking backpack.
At the same time, your travel style and the length of your stay are not enough to define the final capacity of your rucksack, more subjective criteria need to be considered. I rather prefer to have a bigger backpack and keep some space unused, to be filled maybe along the way, rather than having a smaller one and hanging all of my belongings unprotected on the exterior. This is still a personal choice.

What about the weight of my travel backpack?

The next important parameter to consider when buying a new backpack is the weight. It is essential to keep the weight as low as possible to be able to travel as light as possible. But also the weight clearly depends on the backpack size: the more the volume the heavier it is going to be. I might consider a light 65 liters backpack to weight 1.6 kg - 56 oz and a light 90 liters rucksack 2 kg -70 oz. But I would be suspicious of a 90 liters backpack weighting 1.6 kg - 56 oz: it's probably going to be low quality and with a really basic back system. If an heavier backpack is providing a better support and weight distribution, then it might feel lighter in the long run than a lighter backpack with a  back system with poor performances.

Famous backpack brands or unknown Chinese copies?

There are many famous and good quality backpack brands like Karrimor, Deuter, Lowe Alpine, Salewa, Ferrino, Vaude, Osprey, Berghaus, Vango, Kelty etc. Usually they are quite expensive but they are also selling quality products. A rucksack it's a long time investment: my previous travel rucksack lasted longer than 10 years.
But in my last experience it worked out much better to do more researches in internet to find a less known but still good brand that was fitting all of my needs and was even cheaper. For others it might be the best option to take one of the known quality backpack brands, or other might find their perfect solution in an Army surplus backpack. Everybody has a different need.

Buying locally or online?

After selecting your favourite travel rucksack, the best would be to try it in a shop with some weight on it, to see if it's fitting your body and your torso length and if it's up to your expectations. Just ask the seller, they are used to have this kind of requests. But sometimes, as in my case, it's not easy to find locally what you are looking for because of the limited options, so your final resort is buying it online. In this case it's important to look very carefully at return policies, if it's possible to send it back in case you are not satisfied, and how much it would cost you for the shipment. If you want to save every possible cent, and you can find locally your perfect travel backpack, then an extra possibility, maybe the best, is to try the rucksack locally in the shop, and if you are satisfied with it, then buy it online for a cheaper price.

What else should I consider when buying a new backpack?

By having an idea of the capacity needed and combining this value with the available budget, it's possible to restrict the list of available backpacks: then considering all the extra details in the checklist, it's eventually possible to understand what's the best choice for each one of us. Often the perfect backpack doesn't exist, it's a matter of compromise and to understand what characteristic is more important to you. 

Below you will find my complete list with all the criteria I considered to guide me in the choice of a new travel backpack. Most of the parameters in the checklist are easily understandable, so I'll explain only the most unusual.
In example the circumference of the main compartment is a parameter that you won't probably find in any specification list. But I'm writing this because I had to return one rucksack because the opening on top was too narrow, and I couldn't manage to pack comfortably. I realized that a circumference between 100 and 110 cm (39"-43") is good enough for my needs. At the same time since I'm really skinny and I tend to lose even more weight while travelling, another important criterion for me was the minimum circumference of the waist belt, to be sure that I could distribute most of the weight on my hips.
And the last "strange" parameter might be the width of the rigid back system. I tend to put my laptop on the top-back of the backpack: if the rigid part is too narrow, it can't protect my laptop from shocks.
The rest of the list should be quite easy to understand, if you have any question, just comment at the bottom.

Travel Backpack Checklist:

  • Size in liters
  • Price
  • Weight
  • Durability
  • Dimensions (length, height, width)
  • Shape (wide and short, tall and narrow, pyramidal)
  • Internal or External frame
  • Circumference of the main compartment
  • Separated bottom compartment
  • Accesses: top, front, bottom? Does it need to open all around with a zip like a suitcase?
  • Closing system of the bottom compartment, inside (draws cord?) and outside (zip going all the way to the back?)
  • Front pocket
  • Side pockets (voluminous or compact? tall or shorts?)
  • Internal pockets
  • Lockable Zippers
  • Shoulder straps shape
  • Padded waist belt
  • Minimum and maximum circumference of the waist belt
  • Adjustable back system
  • Width of the rigid back system
  • Weight distribution and support
  • Ventilation System
  • Chest strap
  • 45° degrees Load-lifter straps
  • Compression straps
  • Possibility to expand the backpack
  • Shock cord attachments
  • Waterproof material or rain cover
  • Design and look
  • Backpacks for men, for women (they might have specific adjustments), unisex
  • Colours (blending with nature or cool fancy colours?)
  • H2O Hydration pack integration
  • Does it have positive references on internet?

 

Salewa Ramble GTX WS review

Salewa Ramble GTX Women's modelSalewa Ramble GTX Women's model

It's been a long time since I first started to understand the importance of quality shoes while travelling long-term. It's not just about comfort and durability but also about finding footwear that can be adaptable to your needs, chameleonic in the way that you can count on a single pair of shoes for multiple purposes. Testing the Salewa Ramble GTX women's model, I became enthusiastic to write this review.

 

Trying the Salewa Ramble GTX WS on sloping landTrying the Salewa Ramble GTX WS on sloping landI was more than happy to receive the new prototype WS Ramble GTX travel shoes from Salewa, which have all the features I was asking for. They are also the first shoes to use Gore-Tex Surround Technology, the reason why Salewa was awarded recently Best New Gear at Outdoor Retailer by Gear Institute. I didn't have the opportunity to properly test them on long-travels yet, but so far they have the potential of becoming my ideal reliable shoes for long-day walks and occasional hikes. That's why I'm more than motivated to review them.

 Front view of The Salewa Ramble GTX WSFront view of The Salewa Ramble GTX WSThe Salewa's WS Ramble GTX characteristics:

 

Upper part: suede

Lining: Gore-Tex extended confort

Outsole: Gore-Tex® SurroundTM

Kevlar mesh

TPU Anti-slip (for durability)

Weight: 703 grams ( size 5)

Color: Blue (available also dark brown)

 

Pros and Cons of the new Salewa Ramble GTX Women's

 

View of the sole of Salewa Ramble GTX WSView of the sole of Salewa Ramble GTX WSTalking about comfort, these shoes are really compact on my feet, they feel flexible and can maintain a cozy temperature inside because the air ventilates through the Kevlar mesh while keeping the feet dry thanks to the Gore-Tex membrane. The sole seems durable with a design that offers enough grip against slipping. I tried them on an inclined land, on grass and earth as well as concrete, and I felt comfortable every time. I measured their weight and my scale shows 703 grams. More importantly they are 100% waterproof since the new Gore-Tex Surround Technology offers protection 360 degrees, having the Gore-Tex membrane covering completely the inside and the sole of the shoe.

 

The clear, cool design came in as a very nice surprise due to the precise finishing but also blend of materials. The shoes are made in European Union (Romania) and one can see from a first glance the attention for details and the focus on high quality. They seem sporty but casual, mountain inspired but multi-purpose. The thing that didn't satisfy me completely is the intense color blue. Being a very specific color, it's not easy to adapt to all outfits. The small lump of leather on my shoes that loosen up after a while The small lump of leather on my shoes that loosen up after a while The shoes will be in stores starting with this Spring's collection and for women there will be available also in dark brown which I think can suit more widely the needs of a long-term travelers, since usually you try to limit as much as posibile the weight of your backpack and adapt 1 or maximum 2 pairs of shoes to meet your needs for all year long.  My pair had a small issue, a bit more leather on a side of one foot, that formed a small lump which was uncomfortable for a while. Now it got loose and I feel perfect.

 

The back view of the Salewa Ramble GTX WSThe back view of the Salewa Ramble GTX WS

My review In a nutshell: the Salewa WS Ramble GTX shoes are the reliable travel shoes that all people will be happy to have.

How to choose the best e-Reader for traveling?

As many e-books as you want in 240 grams (8.4 oz case included). Not bad for an e-readerAs many e-books as you want in 240 grams (8.4 oz case included). Not bad for an e-reader

If I think of the best buy I did in the last 10 years, it's no doubts my inseparable e-Reader! So if you are planning to take one and you don't know how to choose the best, then keep reading my article. We all know that travelers have a low budget, so once you decide to invest in one, you want it to be the best e-Reader available for you!
While this article is written from a traveler point of view, it's clearly a useful guide for anybody wishing to take an e-Book Reader.

Why should I buy an e-Book Reader for my travels?

If you think that you will miss the feeling and the smell of the paper pages, there are so many advantages in buying an e-book Reader, that you'll soon forget about them.
While traveling I had lost the pleasure of reading, because it wasn't possible to take my whole library with me. I was usually carrying a couple of books in my rucksack, to keep the weight low. But you never know when you feel like reading and when you'll have time to relax, since being a traveler means to have an active and busy life, and if you don't take the books in your daypack, then you'll not read them. Not to say that I use to change book frequently according to my mood, so having just 2 choices was never enough.
And let's talk also about travel guidebooks. Most of the times me and Oti travel spontaneously, having no guides with us. But when I was in India alone I decided to take a second hand guidebook, and it was huge! So I had to cut it in chapters, to take with me only what I needed, and at the end of the travel I glued it with tape to try to sell it back. Well, with the e-Reader you don't have to worry of all of this, it doesn't matter if you have 1 or 1000 books: it will still weight the same!
And what about money? For budget travellers like us, money really matters, and you don't want to waste even a single cent. If you can't afford to buy a new model, just take a second hand one as I did, and you'll save over 50% on the retail price. From this moment on, you won't need to pay anything anymore for your books, so you'll soon amortise the investment and discover again the pleasure of reading in every moment of your trips. In fact not only you'll find plenty of free e-books on the net (basically all of the classical books that have no copyrights anymore) but you can also borrow a recent book for free from a digital library like OpenLibrary.

Hardware characteristics that you want to consider before buying an e-Reader

Now that I almost convinced you of the necessity to buy an e-Book Reader, let's see what you have to consider if you want to buy the best e-Reader on the market for your needs. The options and brands available are many: Sony e-Reader, Kindle Paperwhite, Nook Glowlight, Kobo Glo, just to say a few. By following my guide you'll know how to orient yourself in this jungle and how to choose the best e-Reader.

  • Screen Size: This is a quite personal choice. There are mini versions, intended mostly for kids, normal, and maxi. My screen is 6", it's about the size of a novel book and I'm satisfied with it.
  • Screen type: Avoid colors and tablet like screen, look for e-ink technology. Your battery will last much longer and you eyes won't get tired and damaged. Check also what's the color of the background: some models have a nice tint of white, others are too much grayish.
  • Battery: This is an essential point for a traveler. While a person with a traditional lifestyle, could read ebooks even with a tablet or a smartphone, this is not an option for a traveler, since it would mean to have access to electricity constantly, and this is often not the case. The great thing is that if you choose well, the battery can last several weeks of intensive use!
  • Weight: This is quite intuitive: the lighter the better, and you'll be able to carry it always with you.
  • Charger: Do you need to carry a bulky charger in your backpack, or can you plug your e-Reader with a small USB cable to you laptop?
  • Keyboard: This is an essential feature if you like to take notes and highlights. What's the input method? Touch screen? Physical keyboard? Joy-pad? My suggestion is to look only for a touch screen model. While a physical keyboard might still be practical, it increases the weight. The Joy-pad instead is totally useless.
  • Backlighting: It's a really appealing characteristic to have the possibility to easily read at night. But  how much is it going to influence the battery consumption, and can it be switched off when not needed? If you are convinced to look for a backlit model, then check also if it's possible to adjust the brightness.
  • Audio: While some models integrate the possibility to use the e-Reader as an MP3 player, I preferred one without this function, since it's maximizing the length of the battery.
  • Internet: The most recent models have an integrated browser and wireless connection. I don't find it that essential, since the experience while browsing is quite frustrating (the e-ink technology has a slow screen refresh frequency), and most of the travelers already have a smartphone or a laptop to access internet.
  • Memory: Is there an internal memory and how big is it? Is there a slot for external memories, and what's the maximum capacity? Having a full memory with a lot of books is slowing down the software of the e-Book Reader?
  • Uploading books: How can you upload books to the e-Reader? Cable? Wireless? Bluetooth? Sd Card? I personally use only the cable to connect it to my laptop, and I don't have the need for other methods.
  • Reflections: Can you read even in the sunshine or is the screen prone to glare? The finishing of the frame is matte or glossy? For this details you better read reviews over the web, you won't find it in the product description.
  • Battery replacement: Most of the models available unfortunately don't have the possibility to change the battery by yourself. If you wish to do so, you'll have to take it at the customer service and pay almost as much as a new model. But given the life expectancy of the batteries, this is a relatively important feature.
  • Case: Whilst this is not essential, it is strongly suggested to see if it's possible to integrate the e-Reader in a case, and the cost of it,in particular if you just throw things in your backpack as I do.

Software characteristics that you want to consider before buying an e-Reader

While "in theory" the software is not permanent, this is what is going to influence the most your reading experience. Read review over the web about the software used on the model you are interested in. It would still technically be possible to change the software, doing a firmware update. But it's not suggested to try to inexperienced people, since the risk to "brick" the eReader is real.

  • Formats: Not all of the e-Readers use the same e-Book format. Some companies have proprietary formats, others use the open-source ePub format (probably the best option). In any case don't worry too much since you can convert them with free tools like Calibre. Apart from genuine e-Books, some e-Readers will allow you to read also PDF or Words documents.
  • PDF: You will find more PDF books than you can expect. And if you already have an archive of scanned books, it will be easier to upload them in PDF, since converting them with an OCR software is often messing up text, layout and images. You should check for the possibility to change orientation, contrast, zoom in, change layout (1,2,3 columns...), take notes, and to see how fast or slow the e-Book reader is browsing between pages. My advice is to look for reviews on the net, and videos on YouTube, to understand how the different models deal with PDF.
  • DRM: How the e-Reader is dealing with the Digital rights management? Is it using the Adobe ID?
  • Compatibility: What Operative system do you need to use the e-Reader? Windows? Apple? Linux?
  • Notes: Can you to take annotations, and if yes, how? Handwriting? Keyboard? Voice?
  • Highlight: Is it possible to highlight some text? How to access it later? Is it possible to export it to a text file on a computer? Is there a word limit? With my e-Reader unfortunately it's possible to export only up to 200 words per highlight. The solution would be either to make shorter highlights, or to change the firmware.
  • Bookmark: Is it possible to bookmark pages and how to browse and access bookmarks?
  • Search: Is it possible to search for content inside the books and inside the notes?
  • A drawing that Oti did with the e-book reader of our couchsurfing hostsA drawing that Oti did with the e-book reader of our couchsurfing hostsDrawing: Some touch screen models have the possibility to draw basic vectorial drawings and then export them in Jpeg. It's a useful function for a traveler, to sketch an idea, a landscape or take a note in example.
  • Dictionaries: Very useful to check words you don't know, or to translate them to another language. You should look for the possibility to upload new dictionaries apart from the default one, and how it is possible to access the dictionaries.
  • Brand-Library: This might be important if you prefer to buy new and recent books rather than downloading free e-Books from the web, since each brand has a partnership with one or more online libraries, and you might need to stick to them to buy new books compatible with your eReader. So check first if their books are overpriced or not: this will influence your future investment.
  • Journal: The possibility to take notes, outside of the books, is quite useful in example if you are a blogger and you want to write an article while moving by train, or if you want to keep track of your experiences in a travel journal. A calendar entry would be even more useful.
  • Customization: Is there the possibility to customize the home page? In my e-Reader it's shown the last read book and the last 4 uploaded books, plus links to applications and bookshelves. I would have rather preferred to have the 4 last read books in the home page, or the possibility to stick selected books to the home page, since I tend to change the book that I read quite frequently. I can't customize my home page and each time I have to browse through the bookshelves to open my books.
  • Warranty: How may years of Warranty? If second hand, is there any Warranty availability left?

Now you have the knowledge to start searching for your next present, you won't regret it! We definitely don't promote consumerism, but in this case the money are well worth spent. We can't suggest for a particular model, since the market is in continuous evolution, and it would be obsolete by the time you are reading this article. After you'll select one out of the many available options, don't forget to look for reviews on the net, to understand if there are any hidden flaws in your model that you can't see from the specifications.
I hope that this article was useful and you now know how to choose the best e-Reader for your needs. Enjoy your readings while traveling!

Travel Backpack: Highlander Discovery 85 liter review

Highlander Discovery 85L backpaking and travel backpackHighlander Discovery 85L backpaking and travel backpackIt's time for the review of my new Highlander Discovery 85 liter travel backpack, that I bought a couple of months ago. I was able to use it while backpacking only on short trips so far, so I'll need more testing on the long run for durability.
After over 10 years that I've been using my Ferrino Young 90 liter backpack,  it was time for him to take a rest and a well deserved pension period after so many adventures we had together.
I did search for a long time for my new travel backpack, I mean for months. I was looking for a good quality backpack, affordable and light, and it wasn't an easy combination. And  while I was looking for it I was in Italy and the options available in the shops weren't too many. So I eventually decided to buy it online, even if it was risky, since I couldn't try it to see if it was fitting my body.

And in fact a first time I bought a High Peak Cirrus 75 (I will review it shortly), but I had to send it back, since despite being a good one, was too small for my needs. And yes, the second try was the final one, and I'm totally satisfied so far with my Highlander Discovery 85 liter backpack!

Given the size I would consider it a very good choice for backpackers into long travels or trekking trips, while it might be too big as an hiking backpack or for short trips in general. Even if for many backpackers 85L might looks like a lot, I'm (unfortunately) not an ultralight backpacker. Highlander Discovery 85 liter backpack: extensible topHighlander Discovery 85 liter backpack: extensible topMy standard equipment (Laptop, Camera tripod, hiking boots, sleeping bag, etc.) weights about 12 kilos (26lb 7.3oz), and I usually end up carrying about 15 kilos in my main travel backpack, plus some more stuff in my daypack. That's why I prefer to have a big rucksack rather than fitting everything in a 65 liters bag, and then having to hang things on the exterior. I rather prefer to have a bigger backpack and to carry the extra 300 grams weight, and to keep my things protected.

And the Highlander Discovery 85 liter travel backpack, is actually even bigger than 85 liter: I would rather call it an 85+10 or 80+10 or even 90 liters, as other companies would do for marketing purposes. In fact it has a very nice extensible lid, that give the possibility to fill up also the extra space on top, in between the first and the second draw cords. Just to be perfectionist and to include all the pros and cons in my review, there is a small detail that might be improved: the extensible lid is fixed on the side by two strings, one on each side: this mean that when the backpack is not full, the frame on the back is passing in between the two strings and the lid is staying in front of the frame rather than on top. This could be solved just by adding an extra string in the center.

Highlander Discovery 85 L travel backpack: extensible capHighlander Discovery 85 L travel backpack: extensible capCompared to my previous Ferrino backpack, what I like the most is the waist belt. I'm very skinny, and when I'm travelling for long time I usually lose even more weight. This meant that my Ferrino belt was passing through my hips, and I couldn't really distribute the weight as I wanted. With the Highlander Discovery 85 L backpack instead, I have no problems at all, since I can make it really tight, and I still have some extra space.

The weight of the backpack is really competitive: in my kitchen scale it's showing 2.066 kilos (72.876oz) slightly lighter than what is advertised (2.1 kg). Compared to the 85L+ volume, it's a really light rucksack, but still very resistant and with good and thick materials.

Another feature that I really appreciated, was that the two side pockets are quite long so that I can fit my camera tripod inside one of them, rather than carrying it on the exterior.
The internal space is divided into 2 compartments with separate accesses. The lid of the bottom compartment is elastic, so that it's wrapping around the content leaving no gaps. I like this attention to details.Highlander Discovery 85 front view when fullHighlander Discovery 85 front view when full

There is no front pocket, that for some might be a disadvantage, but I got used quickly to it. There are instead 2 very solid straps, that I thought were going to be useless, but instead they revealed to be a really nice extra feature. It's perfect when the backpack is full, or for temporary storing your jacket or anything else.

The adjustable back system is an ABS model with ventilation and soft pads, that can be adjusted in a minute to several sizes. I feel it very comfortable on my body and there are many straps (front, top, waist) to adapt it perfectly to your body.

And even if not technically relevant for the review, the Highlander Discovery rucksack does look nice! It's not easy to find a good looking backpack, but I think I managed to choose very well.Highlander Discovery 85 liter backpack: back viewHighlander Discovery 85 liter backpack: back view

And last but not least, it can be bought at a fraction of the price than the popular brands: a very good news for moneyless backpackers like us!

To conclude my review I'm totally satisfied with my new travel backpack, and I hope it's not going to disappoint me and to last at least as much as my previous Ferrino lasted!

Note: This review is authentic, and we have no affiliation with the company. I paid from my pockets to buy the backpack!

Below the main characteristics:

  • Volume: 85 Liters (available also 65 liters)
  • ABS (Adjustable back system)
  • Chest straps
  • Two compartments separated with a draw cord divider
  • Extensible top lid for extra space
  • Lid external pocket and internal zip pocketWaist belt with integrated pocketWaist belt with integrated pocket
  • Extensible side pockets
  • Shock cord attachments
  • Padded waist belt
  • Rain cover
  • H20 Hydration port
  • Fabric: 210D Hex Ripstop Polyester.
    • 900D Polyester PU Coating
    • 600D Polyester PVC Coating
  • Dimensions: H85 x W35 x D31 cm
  • Weight: 2.1kg
  • Colours available: Red/Grey or Black/Grey

Light 2 person tent: Luxe Outdoor Habitat review

Luxe Outdoor Habitat 2 person tentLuxe Outdoor Habitat 2 person tent

Side view of the inner tent only set up and entrancesSide view of the inner tent only set up and entrancesWe just received our Luxe Outdoor Habitat tent from the German retailer that shipped it just seconds after our first contact. We really couldn't wait to try it out on the field: that's why yesterday we went in a close-by park and did the unboxing and a first set up of the tent.

The Luxe Outdoor Habitat is the best and lightest 2 person tent we owned so far, and has all of the characteristics we could wish for our backpacking trips: ultralight, roomy, double vestibule, high enough to comfortably sit inside, self-standing, Inner tent and frame structureInner tent and frame structuredouble entrance.
It comes in two different colors, green and orange, and two models, standard or NX version. We chose the standard version, slightly lighter because the inner tent is completely in mesh, and green colour because more natural. It has a very similar setup to the MRS Hubba Hubba, but compared to it, the Luxe Outdoor Habitat is slightly lighter, cheaper, has 2 vents in the rain-fly, and it comes with the extra footprint for fly-only setup included.


Specifications

  • 3 Seasons
  • 2 Person
  • 2 Entrances
  • 2 Vestibules
  • Dimensions: 205 cm L x 125 cm (6' 9" x 4' 1")
  • 70 cm (2' 4")vestibule on each side
  • 110 cm (3' 7") internal height
  • 1.98 kg (4lb 5.8oz) packed weight including the extra footprint
  • 1.68 kg (59oz) packed weight, tent only
  • Single piece of frame with two 3 way connectors
  • 2 vents in the outer fly
  • 2 internal mesh pockets
  • Yunan 7001-T6 aluminum pole
  • 8 Y shaped aluminum pegs
  • 68D polyester ristop outer fly with over 1500 mm water resistance
  • 68D polyester taffeta floor with over 4000 mm water resistance
  • Seam sealed
  • Extra footprint for rain-fly setup only: 0.3 kg (10.6oz)

Unboxing and first assembly

One of the two vestibulesOne of the two vestibulesSince we couldn't wait for our next trip, we just took the box as it was and we went to the closest park to test the Luxe Outdoor Habitat. Oti filmed me while I was opening the box and trying to set it up for the first time, without any knowledge of how to assemble it.
Even if the design is not that usual, it was quite intuitive to understand how to setup the tent. The single pole is unfolding itself, and it's easy to insert the 4 ends in the eyelets of the inner tentEyelets connected to the frameEyelets connected to the frame. The cross pole on top, perpendicular to the main frame, has to be connected to two other eyelets, to give stability and increase the interior space. After that it's possible to easily attach all the plastics clips to the pole. The inner tent only set up, might be enough for a clear summer night, having the maximum ventilation and the possibility to stargaze through the mesh. In this set up I tried to push the frame, as visible in the video at the minute 6:33, and It was much more stable than I could expect.
These first steps to set upNice looking aluminium stakeNice looking aluminium stake the tent were very easy, but I had some more problems to understand which way to lay the rain-fly on top, in relation to the entrances, since the rain-fly is basically symmetrical. Also for the rain-fly there are 4 eyelets in the corners plus 2 extra grommets on top to be connected to the cross pole. Now the tent is basically ready, and needs only to be staked down. I only used the pegs in the 4 midpoints, to see the rain-fly completely extended, but it's possible to stake it down also at the 4 corners. In particularly windy conditions, extra stability can be given by using the guy ropes provided.

Our first impression

The tent is incredibly roomy for less than 2 kg weightThe tent is incredibly roomy for less than 2 kg weightAfter assembling the Luxe Outdoor Habitat we were impressed to see how much space the tent was providing. Thanks to its particular design, the outer walls are almost vertical, leaving much more room inside than other similar tents. Also the two vestibules look big enough for sheltering luggage and shoes. The two separate entrances are perfect if you are not travelling with your partner, giving to both some kind of independence and comfort. In general it looks a quality product with an attentive design. The material used for the rain-fly The grommet to connect the cross pole (black) is not passing through like the grommet for the bottom part (white)The grommet to connect the cross pole (black) is not passing through like the grommet for the bottom part (white)looks "crispy" and extremely thin but this is quite obvious for an ultralight tent.
We cannot say anything in relation to water tightness, durability, and wind behaviour, since we just unpacked it.

Even if we love so far this tent, we did find also some smalls imperfections. The two grommets on the top part of the rain-fly, are passing only through one layer of the fabric instead of two as it should be (look at the photo), but this was possibly only a problem of our item. Also in our package it is written for the packed weight 2.05 kg (4lb 8.3oz) instead of 1.98 kg (4lb 5.8oz): this small difference might be due to the different versions releasedUnobstructed view with inner tent only set upUnobstructed view with inner tent only set up with improvements during time. In our precision scale it was showing 2.126 kg (without the extra fly) so slightly more than what declared in the package. The single aluminum pole can be folded easily, but because of the two 3 way hubs, it needs some trials and errors to pack it in a way that makes it use the minimum space possible. And as a last note, the tent bag is quite big: this makes it easy to pack the tent, but after it is inside, it is expanding and taking much more space than needed, if not compressed with the provided string.

Our Conclusion

Luxe Outdoor HabitatLuxe Outdoor HabitatThe Luxe Outdoor Habitat tent is a perfect match for a light backpacker, hiker or biker, that wants to invest in a  quality tent. The Luxe Outdoor Habitat is light, roomy and stable, and is performing very well compared to the other options available in the market. We already owned in the past a Luxe Outdoor tent, so we have no doubts we'll be enjoying also our new portable home!

 Oti e Davide Long Avatar We travel as cheap as possible, hitchhiking, and hosted by people. Our only expense is food: if you want you can help us with a free donation. Thank you, Davide & Oti  ♥ Contribute 

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 Where are we now: England

 Going to:  Wales, Scotland

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About Us

Davide Vadal? and Otilia Lefter

We are Davide and Otilia, an international couple with itchy feet, living a non conventional life traveling around the world and learning everyday something new....
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