The idea of finishing work and heading for the hills with a temporary home strapped to the back of your bike – now that’s living the dream, right?
Well not if you’re me. Just look at all the stuff I rode around with for 18 months, hardly the bare essentials. In the decade since returning from my big trip I kept promising myself I’d buy a single hooped bivvy bag, like the ones armies issue, for the time when I want a faff-free night under the stars. Probably what’s stopped a rash eBay purchase is the fact that I’m no longer the Nick Sanders type, I’ve become soft and now insist on at least a little bit of comfort. By the time a sleeping bag and roll mat is added to a space saving bivvy all of a sudden you need an adventure bike just to transport it all.
Here’s where the Goose comes in. It’s an all-in-one camping solution from a pair of young guns behind new brand, Wingman Of The Road. The tent, mat and sleeping bag all roll up together for an easy to use home on two wheels. And in case you’re too young for the Goose reference….you’ll need to watch Top Gun.
Where the Goose differs from most camping gear on the market is that it’s not manufactured from super light, and therefore flimsy, nylon. Or whatever fancy tech fabric modern tents are made from. No Sir, the Goose’s is built to take some abuse and still weather a storm. It’s constructed from heavy duty, waterproof ripstop canvas, double stitched to a thick PVC base. A separate groundsheet doubles as the outer wrapper during transport and provides the floor for the chill-out zone.
The open cell foam mat sort of self inflates as it’s unrolled, not like a Thermarest which needs a valve to lock-in the air. And on top of that is a 3-season sleeping bag, which is removable and washable.
And one side of the tent is oversized, which when attached to your bike acts as a shelter, or somewhere to dump your riding gear. I’ve seen similar setups but most seem to offer the bike rain protection rather than an additional storage, cooking, chilling area. And yes, a tarpaulin would do a similar job but the whole point here is that you’re able to just grab the Goose and go.
So what’s it like?
Well, the materials were chosen for reliability and longevity, rather than weight saving. If you’re a weight weenie turn away now, the Goose tips the scales at 10kgs. But, I’ve no beef with that as the sturdy canvas feels like it would withstand gunfire, and actual fire. It’s tough and will last a lifetime. And if it doesn’t simply repair it with good old fashioned needle and thread. Try doing that with Gore-Tex, or whatever regular ones are made from.
The extendable central pole, hoops and pegs are stored in a pocket at the end of the groundsheet. Pitching the thing couldn’t be simpler. Pick your spot, unclip the outer straps and throw the Goose on the ground where it’ll more or less unroll itself like a aeroplane’s emergency chute.
Being a male I ignored the instructions sent by Wingman’s co-founder Kendal, and instead tested my construction skills. Even after a four pack of ale, pitching the Goose was intuitive and incredibly simple. Extend the two hoop poles and pass them through the sleeves, stick the larger pole along the centre to joint them up and that’s pretty much it. I reckon if it was pissing down shelter is less than two minutes away.
It doesn’t need pegging-out unless there’s a stiff breeze and you don’t have to lash the canopy to your bike if you don’t want to. Now, that bit I said about not needing an adventure bike…. well, the Goose wouldn’t fit on the XSR700 I was using so I had to wait until a more suitable steed was available. As you can see it fits perfectly on a Triumph Scrambler 1200, leaving plenty of room for a rider. But I happened to be in Wales with a BMW GS and wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to kip al fresco in such a beautiful spot. A bike and photos more in line with the promo video would have been preferable for posting on Instagram etc but one of the whole points of the Goose is being impulsive. So here are crap phone pics of my inebriated erection.
On reflection I should have tied the canopy to the luggage rack rather than top box, but figured getting up for multiple nighttime pisses would be easier with a bit more headroom. Both sides can be rolled up and stowed for the full-on, under the stars experience and there are mesh screens both sides and ends to keep the bugs out. Not a big deal in Mid Wales but if I was camping in Australia I’d welcome a barrier between me and the stingy stuff. Actually, Scotland…. that is a nightmare of a place during summer with all those midges. Not in a Goose!
It was 17 degrees during the night I camped so I left the vents open at either end for a through breeze, another considered feature. That canvas doesn’t half hold the heat in which is a bonus for all-year use in the UK. The sleeping bag says 3-season but from September to April I’d pack an extra blanket, it’s not super thick.
Admittedly the grass beneath my chosen pitch was springy but the foam mattress was plenty comfy enough for a very decent slumber, and a far cry from the rock hard roll mats hiking folk use. I didn’t even bother with a pillow and just stuffed my bike jacket inside a t-shirt. The second four pack of ale made that feel like the finest memory foam decadence.
As well as keeping the heat in, the canvas does a cracking job of keeping the sunlight out. I didn’t wake up until 8-something-am, which is unheard of for me. Even after rinsing my insides with beer. So as far as a field test goes I’d say the Goose passed with flying colours.
Yes it’s quite big and at £310 some people will suck their teeth at the cost but as a nice Italian lady told me when I was buying gloves for a January crossing of the Alps, “spendere poco soldi, spendere due volti”. She wasn’t wrong and I’ve not scrimped since.
Stick a rolled-up Goose by front door and then work on the other excuses as to why you’re not as adventurous as the Instagram says you should be.
A new batch of Geese are being manufactured right now, ready for shipping in a couple of weeks.