What I'm bringing - Between the Ends of America - CycleBlaze

What I'm bringing

Most journals on this site come with a disclaimer when they talk about gear: don't spend too much time worrying about it; just pull some stuff together and start riding. They're mostly right. But what if you've never done this before? What if you've never camped without a car? What if the awesomeness of a well-built 36-spoke rim means absolutely nothing to you? How do you even know where to start?

I've found a setup that works really well for me, so I don't obsess much about gear now. But that's not how it was when I started. Back then I'd never used pedals with cleats, didn't know what the numbers on the sidewalls of my tires meant, and had no idea why bringing along a giant five-pound sleeping bag was not a great idea. Without Crazy Guy on a Bike it would have taken me a long time to figure it all out, and I'm sure I would have picked up a lot of crap gear along the way and wasted a lot of money. Instead I was able to buy quality stuff that makes traveling by bike enjoyable. I'm so grateful for all the amazing people on this site who provided detailed lists of all their gear, pointed me in the right direction, and helped me learn what's what. Now I'm returning the favor.

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Here's what I've got so far:

FOR CAMPING

  • Tent: MSR Hubba Hubba. A two-person tent because I like to keep my gear inside with me. With all the poles, stakes, and rain fly it's under four pounds. I've used it enough that it permanently smells like a biker who hasn't showered in three days.
  • Footprint: REI makes a tent with nearly the same dimensions as the Hubba Hubba. The footprint for the REI tent was cheaper so that's what I use.
  • Sleeping bag: Kelty Light Year XP +20, regular. Simple to pack, folds up pretty small, and really keeps the heat in. Smells much, much worse than the tent. I'll probably burn it after this trip is over.
  • Sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest ProLite. A pain in the ass to pack into its stuff sack, but it's really comfortable.
  • Flashlight: Has a clip at the end that attaches to loops inside the tent, making it easy to read and find things in the dark.
  • Bear-resistant container: Garcia brand. I know I'll only be in bear country for the last month or so of the trip, but there are hungry critters of all sizes along the way. This will keep them from chewing through my panniers or the sides of my tent, which is a wonderful thing.

FOR WEARING

  • Helmet: Giro Indicator (with mirror).
  • Shoes: Pearl Izumi X-Alp Seek. Comfortable on the bike, but enough like a normal shoe that I don't have to hobble around like an old man when I'm off it.
  • Bike shorts: Only two pairs, both Canari Velo. This seems borderline unhygienic.
  • Outer shorts: Two pairs. One is made for mountain bikers, is a little thicker, and has roughly 35 pockets. The other I bought four years ago for $7 at Wal-Mart. Both do a great job of covering up my junk.
  • Boxers: Two pairs.
  • Socks: Three pairs.
  • Short sleeve synthetic shirt: Zoic brand. Doesn't look totally ridiculous.
  • Long sleeve synthetic shirt: North Face brand. Keeps me warm and Desiree thinks it makes me look sexy. Sold.
  • Sleeveless t-shirts: Two, both Under Armour brand. Helping me win the battle against my farmer tan.
  • Rain jacket: Cheap but nice Novara jacket from a few years ago.
  • Rain pants: Somewhat expensive with a fancy-sounding French name. They're one or two sizes too big, so if I walk around without the ankle area unzipped they bunch up and look like M.C. Hammer's parachute pants. I'm ok with it.
  • Cotton t-shirts: Two, for off the bike.
  • Gloves: Cheap fleece from Gap. I've had them forever and only use them in the morning when it's cold. The rest of the time I ride without gloves.
  • Flip flops

FOR FIXING

  • Tire pump: Topeak Road Morph. Best pump ever. Great design, compact, works better than anything else I've used.
  • Tire levers: Four or five. Vittoria Randonneur tires are really stiff, especially when they're new. I've broken levers with them before and am happy to carry extras.
  • Patch kit: Park Glueless Patch Kit. Two of these.
  • Spare tubes: Three to start.
  • Multi-tool: Park Rescue.
  • Chain lube: Tri-Flow.
  • Spoke wrench
  • Extra spokes
  • FiberFix spoke
  • Zip ties
  • Duct tape

FOR DOCUMENTING

  • Laptop: No netbooks here. This one does everything.
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Laptop charger
  • Cameras: A digital SLR and a small point-and-shoot.
  • Camera charger
  • Polarizing filter: For keeping those blue skies blue.
  • Camera lens cleaning kit
  • Small notepad & pen

FOR EVERYTHING ELSE

  • Towel: Maybe the most versatile piece of equipment on the trip. It's my pillow, it cushions the laptop while I'm riding, and it's also, you know, a towel.
  • Cell phone & charger
  • External battery for phone
  • iPod & headphones
  • USB charging cable
  • Maps & directional notes
  • Water bottles: Four of these. They claim to be insulated and able to hold in the cold; so far I call bullshit. I'd rather take one-liter bottled water containers instead, because they can fit more water and never seem to break, but I can't find any new ones that fit in the bike's bottle cages. This bothers me an unreasonable amount.
  • Bungee cords
  • Cable lock

FOR KEEPING IT TOGETHER

  • Rear panniers: Ortlieb Back Roller Classic.
  • Front panniers: Ortlieb Front Roller Classic.
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The things on this list work really well for touring because they're lightweight, don't take up much space, and can be shoved into the bottom of a pannier without breaking. It's all practical except for one thing: the five-pound laptop. I curse it every time I ride up any kind of hill, but I can't bring myself to leave it at home. I'm obsessive about screwing around with my pictures, I don't want to rely on libraries to keep the journal current, and I'm self-employed and need to be ready to put out the occasional work fire from the road. So I'm going to lug the thing from one end of the country to the other. I'm partly making up for it by not carrying any cooking gear. It's all pancakes and pizza and chocolate cake for me.

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