Bad news! We’ve had two pieces of gear fail in Europe already. Only seven months into the trip and we are falling apart! Good thing we are not in Tibet.

The first thing to fail was our REI Trekker sleeping mats. They would no longer stay inflated; 30 minutes after we filled them up they’d be flat again. We tried searching for punctures, but that didn’t work and then we realized that both mats were leaking air where the valve connected to the fabric.

The second thing to fail was one of the poles of our Mountain Hardware Haven 3 tent. One night while setting it up, I heard a soft cracking sound. At first I thought I must have stepped on a twig, but then I realized the top of the tent was askew and further investigation revealed that a section of one of the poles had split at the end.


We were able to construct a splint using a stake and we can still attach our rain-fly (even thought it is a little lopsided).


The good news is that the customer service from REI and Mountain Hardwear has been great. Immediately after we told them about our problems they asked where they could send the replacement parts. We had everything sent Poste Restante to Wroclaw, Poland so hopefully our gear will be waiting there for us when we arrive.

Speaking of camping, we haven’t free-camped once in the Czech Republic. The fact that a campsite costs around $7.50 and that every single one has a bar serving 0.5L mugs of great Czech beer for less than $1 sapped any motivation we had to free camp here.

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