Andrew's Favorite Gear
By Andrew O'Neill - Mar 10, 2018
After traveling with the same four bags and wearing the same clothes for the last nine months, I have formed some strong opinions about the gear I brought.
My Favorite Things
My top gear list.
Our bikes are important, but the stock tires that came with it were junk. After about two months, my back tire was worn to the threads. I had fixed countless punctures during those two months, and started carrying 4-5 extra tubes. I finally upgraded to some Schwalbe Marathon tires and I haven’t changed a single tube since. The 4 tubes now seem like dead weight in my bag. Good tires make a huge difference.
I never thought much about having a good rain jacket before we left. Vicki had done some research on the jacket she wanted. She was thinking of getting a pullover jacket that was light weight. We were lucky enough to be living in Seattle so we went to the Outdoor research store and checked out the jackets. Vicki saw the jacket she had researched but there was only a Women’s version. I was looking at some of the full-zip Gore-Tex jackets they had. After a lot of back and forth Vicki also decided to get a full-zip Gore-Tex jacket. This jacket has been perfect. We’ve ridden through downpour rain, heavy wind, and now went skiing and it has never failed us. On hot days you can open the vents under the arms. On cold days it zips all the way to your nose. If Douglas Adams had this jacket, he would recommend it right after bringing a towel.
Sleeping is 1⁄3 of your life. (Less when traveling.) Having no pillow or a shitty one will definitely annoy you if you’re traveling for an extended time. Having a pillow while camping is great. Sleeping on folded-up clothes or a backpack can work but not everyday for a year. Even in hotels and B&Bs the pillows can be uncomfortable. Having your own pillow removes all these problems and will get you the rest you need after biking the entire day. Inflatable pillows are tiny. Mine rolls up smaller than some wool socks.
A good hat is important. Since you’re going to be outside all day every day, you need something to keep the sun off your face and neck. You’ll still need sunscreen, but a hat will keep you cooler in the long run. Vicki and I both bought an awesome Tilley hat. I lost mine in Cambodia, which is one of the saddest moments of the trip for me. It has a long brim on the sides and a bit longer in the front and back. I’d wear it some days instead of my helmet to keep cool. Whenever we stopped for lunch or to set up our tent I’d put it on. Man I miss that hat.
Moments before losing my hat.
A year before we even thought of doing this trip we bought a 2 person tent at REI. It then sat in our closet for a year. Once we decided to go we realized Vicki had never been camping. So, we unpacked the tent for the first time and went camping in February. You can read about that here. About two months into our trip we realized our tent was a little too small. When we are inside the tent there is no room for any of our bags. We usually only keep our important (expensive) things inside the tent. Everything else is either outside or in the porch (space between the fly and the tent). Some nights I would have slept much better knowing everything was inside the tent.
My towel would disappoint Douglas Adams. When I was working I purchased a “quick dry” towel so I could shower after riding to work. I ended up only using it once or twice, but decided to bring it with us on this trip. I’m not sure how they define “quick dry”, but compared to Vicki’s towel mine was definitely not quick and often I would have to pack it wet or hang it off the back of my bike. Also the packed size of mine versus Vicki’s was significantly different. Mine was like a rolled magazine whereas Vicki’s was like a bi-fold wallet. I would definitely buy a new one for the next trip.
Vicki bought us some neck protection called a Buff which was nice. The problem for me was my arms were almost always exposed when it was sunny. I had one athletic shirt that was long-sleeved, but I didn’t like wearing it everyday because of the smell. Athletic shirts or anything polyester is going to stink more than cotton. Next trip I’d bring more cotton long-sleeve button up shirts (so I could open them when it’s hot). I wouldn’t bring pants to ride in though. Sunscreen on my legs doesn’t bother me as much as sunscreen on my arms and pants would be way too hot. That said, Vicki wore leggings most days in South East Asia to keep the sun off her legs.
So those are a few of my favorite things.
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