Equipment

Equipment and Bike Build List.pdf

Mountain Hardwear Twin Arch 2 Tent: A friend of mine recommended using a 2-person tent even if I was going to primarily be traveling alone. They’re much roomier but not a whole lot bigger and heavier than a 1-person. While ultralight guys will count the number of stakes and zippers, I was more concerned with the size of the vestibule and the ability to blend in. The tent came as a light olive color so I bought some dark green Rit dye to darken the fly even more. This, along with waterproofing the fly kept all the rain out as long as I set it up properly. For interior storage there were a few pouches but I would have liked a few more or maybe some loops to string line for drying clothes. I also like that the rain fly does not require the use of stakes.
Mountain Hardwear Lamina Sleeping Bag: This sleeping bag will keep bears away. Okay, that’s probably not true but if you remember the hunter on the Oregon coast then you can’t argue it’s a possibility! Packing down nearly to the size of a 3L bottle, this 2.25lb was ideal for this adventure. It’s ability to unzip from either the top or bottom allowed me to regulate sleeping conditions. The waterproofing spray I applied to the stuff sack kept the bag from ever getting wet. While the bag did occasionally become damp for other reasons, it dried rather quickly if left to air. And though it was a mummy and too narrow to comfortably lift my knees to my chest, the bag conformed to my body so if I chose to sleep on my side, it would roll with me…as it did for 5 months without fail.
MSR Whisperlite Internationale Stove: I chose this stove for it’s versatility and reliability. Size was also a factor but most camping stoves are about the same unless you’re going ultralight, which I most definitely was not. The reusable fuel canister and pump can be filled with several types of fuel, making it ideal for those who are unsure of where their travels will take them. Across the US, I went through enough cities that the ideal Coleman or MSR camping fuel was readily available. Though the stove does not simmer perfectly, I only lost flame if I carelessly restricted the fuel valve. While it’s easy to keep the flame going, if it lapses then the unit must be given time to cool so that the fuel in the line can return to liquid. To “simmer” I would instead sit the pot atop the wind screen to keep it further from the full-power flame. The stove is strong enough to cook chili-mac ‘n’ cheese dinner for two hungry people, which by myself, provided me a cold but filling breakfast portion the following morning.
Adventure Medical First Aid Kit: Rarely used, always available. I had a safe ride with very few injuries. Most the time, I opened this waterproof pack for a band-aid or antiseptic wipe. If needed, it would’ve have wrapped an ankle or wrist, greatly covered a large gash, and many other ailments for up to 2-3 days. On a side note, I recommend always carrying a belt; you never know when you’ll need a tourniquet.
Outdoor Research Stuff Sacks: Without these stuff sacks, I would have had a whole lot of wet stuff. Since I wanted to let my panniers breath, I didn’t waterproof them. The stuff sacks kept things compact and safe from the rain. They also helped a great deal with organization, which is key when you have a lot of stuff in a small bag! It was helpful to have 3, 7 and 10L sizes as well as different colors.
Bellwether Rain Jacket: If you plan on a lot of rain and colder temperatures, this jacket is pretty good for the price. I could’ve done without the elastic around the wrists and I wouldn’t recommend washing it too much. If you’re going to have a lot of warm rain, I’d go with something that breathes more. If you’re not going to have much rain, then why are you reading this?
Specialized Sport MTB Clipless Shoes: I’m pretty big on efficiency (power, not weight) so while I could recommend other clipless shoes more comfortable for walking, I would highly recommend separate shoes for touring and exploring days. The hard soles of these shoes transfer leg power more efficiently to the pedal and distribute pressure to the foot more evenly. Their velcro straps meant I could keep them loose at first and then tighten them easily while riding. Having separate shoes also allowed me to keep the one really comfortable set from getting too smelly and keep my cleats from the abuse of the hiking I did on my non-touring days.
Native 3-in-1 Sunglasses: Sunglasses need to be rugged; not bombproof, just rugged. A hard shell case is also very helpful but mark my words, your shades will be dropped. I prefer plastic rims so they don’t get burning hot but the small screw and plastic hinges eventually broke. Finally, it was a tremendous help to have a variety of lenses from which to choose. Clear lenses were perfect for rainy days in the east and the brown lenses were helpful for the overcast days along the pacific coast. I used the dark lenses everywhere from Milwaukee to Seattle, where the sun shined like a star in the sky. Boy am I creative…
Brunton Restore Solar Charger/Battery Pack: If you’re like me and decide to carry a handful of electronics, you’re going to want this. You can charge this backup battery with the sun or from an electrical outlet. It charges through a mini-USB port and discharges through a Type A USB port (the standard kind you’ll find on computers). A little smaller than an old gameboy, this pack will give you hours more on the life of your mp3 player, cell phone or gps device. It helped me with all three of those devices, sometimes getting me all the way back to full power. Often times I would charge it in a coffee shop for faster charging but on sunny days it would sit atop my panniers and sip juice from the sun. The plastic cover over the PV cell got quite scratched, which may have led to diminished solar charging.
Dell Atom Netbook: I’m not a computer guru but I got this because it was compact and had a solid-state hard drive (32GB), which apparently are more robust than the traditional, spinning disk hard drives. It’s quite slow for computers of it’s time but it worked very well for me. It has a couple USB ports, a tiny keyboard that I never quite got used to, and a screen big enough to do my website updates and route planning. I kept it protected by wrapping it in my hoodie.
Garmin Edge 800: This bicycle-friendly GPS took the en-route navigating work out of my hands and put it right under my nose. After about a thousand miles, I finally figured out how to easily map my route on Google Maps and load it into my GPS. In simple navigation mode, the battery can last for about 10 hours, enough for almost two good days of riding. Though it’s quite water-resistant, I kept it covered in the rain and sometimes just put it away when a rain cloud came overhead. Multiple data pages kept me in the know with time of day, how long and how far I’d be riding, the temperature, and countless other data I still have yet to care about. The best feature however is the elevation profile that comes along with my route from www.bikeroutetoaster.com. Knowing how far until my next climb or how much longer I’d be climbing helped with the mental side of pushing onward.

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2 Responses

  1. Mike Gage

    Hey Lowell-
    My name’s Mike, I got your information through Kevin Meehan from M&M Bike shop in Bryn Mawr the other day – I hope you dont mind me contacting you out of the blue…

    I’m planning a bike trip across the states at the end of the month (starting in Seattle and finishing in Philly) and was looking for some gear at the shop and Kevin & I got to talking about your trek – - awesome man! So nice to know I;m not as crazy as my parents think for going cross country!

    The reason for my email is this- Kevin mentioned that you are taking with you a solar charger for your cell phone and I was looking for a way to charge my stuff along the way without having to sit around a coffee shop or in a field with a solar charger — how are you planning to charge your phone? Do you have a handlebar mount? What kind of solar charger are you using (i have no idea about these things)…

    Anyway, it was one of the last things on my list of to-do’s, and if i could have reliable charge on my phone I might be able to keep my mom from freaking out over the next months.

    Anyway, I hope your trip goes well! Good road karma to you-
    Hope to hear from you soon,
    Mike

    May 2, 2011 at 10:07 am

  2. Jeremy Maimon

    Hey Man,
    January 8th & I’m heading back to the San Fran Bay area for a stop before my next trek out. I’ve been re-gearing my pack for this next trip. I’m trying to go Bigger than last time, maybe not as many miles but i got a few key locations i’ll be focusing on hitting alittle better. If i make my way out to Denver i’ll be sure to hit ya up. Take it easy.
    J-

    December 30, 2012 at 8:07 am

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