When you’re heading off on a cycle camping trip, you’ll need some kind of cup to drink from. Unless, of course, you prefer the rugged Bear Ghrylls drinking-from-waterfall-with-cupped-hands look or you take your inspiration from Ray Mears and prefer to fashion a sturdy and sustainable container for your beverage by weaving together a mess of dock leaves picked from the hedgerows.
But if you disregard the TV survivalists and get serious for a moment you’ll want to pay attention to this recommendation: if your intention is libation and you have an appreciation of insulation, there’s no better creation than… the Lifeventure thermal mug.
The merits of this mug were first demonstrated to me by Dixe Wills, a sturdy cyclist and author of the highly original and deliciously mirthful Places to Hide, as well as a very handy guide to Britain’s best tiny campsites. Dixe is a very moral man and a strict vegan. He won’t even drink a pint of beer unless he knows for certain it was brewed without the slightest harm to a sentient being. Before I met Dixe, I was ignorant of many things. I knew nothing of the Lifeventure insulated mug and I had know idea that some beer was vegan and some contained ground up sheep pancreas or some other unspeakable horror of industrialised food production. Spend a few days with Dixe and I’m certain you’ll learn many new things about the world. Alternatively, you can follow him on twitter.
Given his lefty leanings and vegan ways, I was somewhat surprised by the the eagerness with which Dixe told me the that very same Lifeventure mug as was cupped in his mitts is widely used by the British armed forces: a group not known for an anarcho-syndicalist Weltanschauung nor an aversion to violence (killing is part of the job description, after all). Anyway, Dixe told me that it’s common for soldiers to discard the crummy standard-issue Army drinking vessel and fork out for their own Lifeventure insulated mug.
If a piece of equipment meets with the approval of both a bicycling vegan who scrapes a living writing books about visiting tiny islands and towns and villages that begin with the letter Z and a bunch of tattooed hard nuts who scrape a living promoting peace and justice down the barrel of a gun in the Hindu Kush, then it must be worthy of consideration on any cycle tourist’s packing list.
So what does it do? Well, perhaps a better question is what it doesn’t do. It has a lid that doesn’t leak. It’s vacuum insulated so it doesn’t burn your hands. It’s made of stainless steel so it doesn’t break if dropped. Most importantly it will keep your tea / coffee / hot chocolate / soup / hot toddy / mulled wine (delete as appropriate) hot for nearly half a day.
So how do I use it? Well, it goes something like this. When I’m camping I’ll usually boil some water first thing in the morning, perhaps to make some porridge and a hot drink, to have a shave or do the washing up from the night before. Call me a effete sophisticate but I draw the line a using the same water for washing up and shaving, though I imagine residual grease in the water could provide some additional lubrication for the shave and an interesting eau de cologne for the rest of the day. I’ll leave such antics to the TV survivalists.
It’s a trifle to fill my mug with a hot drink for later in the morning. A couple of hours down the road I’ll stop, sit myself down in a flower meadow, inna Laurie Lee stylee, dig a flapjack out from the deepest recess of my pannier and partake of the fine British tradition of elevenses, or as our Italian cousins call it, la merenda.
The Lifeventure insulated mug costs less than £10 and is available in no fewer than eleven colourways including the eye-catching US Navy Seals “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Special Edition (pictured, right).
This post is part of an ongoing series in which I share what I’ve learned in half a lifetime’s cycle touring adventure and misadventure.