Durability. Quality. Practicality. Compatibility. The balancing act that is choosing the “right” gears. If only money is not an issue, choices are a lot easier. Even so maybe not. One of the overlooked part of traveling by bike is how easy weight can accumulate. You want to be self-sufficient hence you bring all the “necessary” gears. It then makes you a tad slower than normal. You figure you need to carry more food because it’ll take more days in between resupply. Next thing you know, you’re all packed to the gills with every bit of supplies.
I spend a lot of time surfing the internet, to my wife’s exasperation and bewilderment, researching which gears to haul for this unique trip . Why do you have to complicate it? She asks every time. Then imagine getting stuck in the middle of nowhere because of a broken gear or equipment. It already happened once before so I know the frustration of getting stranded and ultimately bailing-out because of gear failure. It is complicated and daunting.
The more time in the internet, the more questions I have about equipments. I can’t seem to decide which gears to buy. I need gears that performs well in mild winter, light enough to haul without hating my existence during summer, and durable enough to survive the majority of our trip. After many a sleepless night researching and thinking about equipments, I still know nothing. I’m still second-guessing if we made the right gear choices.
THE BIG THREE
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 3 – I’ve been a Big Agnes fan since they first roll out the discontinued Seedhouse SL tents. They are on the same breath as the MSRs but lighter. We thought of getting the Hilleberg Nallo but we are used to freestanding tents all our camping lives and we don’t feel like we should be experimenting on the merits of tunnel tents for this trip.
Therm-a-Rest Prolite – we normally use or 1/2 or 3/4 length pads for our week-long trips in the mountains because we know we are only going to sleep on it for a week or so and then go back to our cozy bed at home. It’ll be different for this trip because we’re sleeping on them virtually every night. We need to be comfortable.
Mont-Bell UL Downhugger #3 – balance of weight, warmth and affordability. There may be better bags out there but this fit the bill for us.
GSI Anodized 1.5L pot – Came from the old GSI Cookset that we have. We’re Asians so we can’t skip on the rice and we find that the thickness of this pot makes for an efficient burnt-free rice. We use the 2.5L pot that comes in the cookset for everyday cooking at home for more than a year now and we can say it is durable.
Toaks 1L Titanium pot – we plan to use this for quickly boil water and soups to conserve gas because of its thin material.
Snowpeak Titanium Spork – My affection to this piece of equipment is unfounded. It is useless for soups. I barely eat pasta with it. It scrapes off the coating on non-stick pans. I don’t really know why I keep taking this with me. But still…we’ve been together for more than 5 years and counting.
Primus Omnifuel Stove – I’ve only been using this for a couple of years and constantly having trouble with its jet valve especially with dirty gasoline when we’re in Peru. I’m not sure if my MSR Dragonfly can survive the low quality gas from Peru even if it has a shaker jet needle. What I do know though is it survived the dirty gasoline of the Philippines and Nepal. The big difference between the two is the fuel pump. The Primus pump has a more robust design compared to the plastic MSR pump. After going thru two broken pumps, I have no choice but to try the Primus although in all fairness to MSR, they replaced mine with no questions asked.
Platypus Gravity filter – Super easy to use and light too. I was debating whether to use this or the steriPEN UV filter but decided against it. I know the steriPEN works 100% but its hard to convince my mind from drinking visually dirty water.
Macbook Air – light and powerful. This will be for editing photos and updating our blog and watching movies to pass time.
IPAD MINI – same funtionality that we wanted from Ipad but smaller hence more discrete when using it in public. We need it for quick reference, or a quick email when WiFi is available and accessing the internet in sketchy places when you don’t really want to take out the shining laptop. It will serve as an ebook reader and handy for saving those internet article that you want to read for later.
Canon 7D and lenses – I’m already so used to this camera and decided to just haul it with all its weight penalty and bulk. I just don’t want to familiarize myself with a new one t this late in our preparation. I’m not willing to shell out more dough for a new unit and new lenses. I just need to remind myself that this camera is weatherproof and has a Magnesium body that in concept can withstand the demands of rough touring.
2 X iPod shuffle – We’ll use this for listening to our own music. I stopped listening to all my podcasts since early winter last year to save up on the episodes and really excited to catch up on all of it once we started the tour.
All of these gadgets come with some serious amount of chargers and peripherals. A bit of a load actually but what can we do? C’est la via mon’amie.
Things will break whether you like it or not if you use it long enough. Gears that don’t break are not invented yet. It’s nice to have a best gears money can buy. When you travel long enough though, there will be times that gears will fail. That’s when the real joys of travel begin. When things don’t go as planned.