The pros and cons of many types of equipment played on our minds for quite some while in planning the trip. In the end, it became a balance between financial constraints, durability and pure necessity. Below you will find some details on the gear we chose. We did find along the course of research and subsequent testing that equipment need not break the bank and replacements are available in most places as you travel. If you have any questions about it or would like some advice for such a journey, email Ian at firstname.lastname@example.org
Both Ian and Lee chose the Surly ‘Long Haul Trucker’. We believe that this machine is a proper workhorse for carrying us all the way south to Argentina. The ‘Long Haul Trucker’ is great for two reasons 1) It’s relatively affordable as touring bicycles go and 2) It has stood the test of thousands of kilometers on other tours.
We decided to switch some comonentry out of the stock model before we left and added some more durable pieces. The fact is that if we can limit damage or wear in the long term it will inevitabley work out cheaper for us and writing this after 7 months on the road we can firmly say this is the case. Here are some of the essentials that we have on the bikes.
Brakes: Avid Cantilever
Seatpost: Thomson Elite
Saddle: Brooks Standard B-17
Crankset: Shimano XT (44-34-22 Front) (11-34 Rear)
Hubs: PhilWood Front and Rear Touring
Rims: Mavic A-719 (Ian’s Rear Rim failed after 5,000 miles)
Racks: Tubus Tara (Front) and Logo (Rear)
Panniers: Ortlieb Front and Rear Roller Plus
The rest of our gear includes everything from what we need to cook, wear and sleep in. Again, we chose hard wearing equipment and it has done well so far on the cycle. The most important thing is in making sure if it fits your needs. For example, Ian decided to go with a 2-man tent as he really wanted the extra space to sprawl in and also store gear. It meant more weight but in the long term it was the best choice as comfort for a year was always more important than an extra 400g. Questions such as these dominated our decision making before we left. Here are some thoughts on the equipment.
Clothing: Clothes are a major consideration. From Alaska to Argentina we’ll experience so many different climates, from those imposed by latitude to those imposed by altitude. We decided to go with Icebreaker Merino Wool baselayers as they are great insulaters – even when wet and don’t smell too much. Synthetics often smell and as much as this doesn’t seem an issue at the start, try going to dinner with a family who spontaneously invite you and reeking of 3 days riding!
To insulate even more, we took some extra jackets. Ian decided to go for the Mountain Equipment Fitzroy Jacket which is brilliant at keeping the heat in and cold out. Lee chose the Mont-Bell insulation and we’re both pleased with how they do their jobs. For raingear, we thought it important to carry light pieces that do well for downpours. Gore-Tex is also great as it is best at keeping rain and new PacLite raingear stores away easy and doesn’t weigh much.
Camping: We bot chose MSR tents. Ian picked the Hubba Hubba (2-man) and Lee the 1-man Hubba. These are easy to set up and pack away – factors that were very important in choosing them. For sleeping bags, Ian went with the Mountain Equipment Titan 450 and Lee the Mont-Bell Super Spiral Burrow Bag #5. In choosing bags, down vs synthetic fill is usually the tough decision. This will all depend on climate of course but we are both happy with the choices.
To cook, we took MSR Dragonfly and MSR Whisperlite stoves. The Dragonfly can sound like a jet engine and often hinder conversation over dinner but it does have a simmer function. The Whisperlite is probably the best if you want to do basic cooking and enjoy being in nature whilst cooking.
It really depends on how much you want to stay in contact. For us, we ended up carrying a Mac and a regular laptop, two heavy cameras, one video camera, a GoPro video, SPOT GPS device and a mobile phone. This may seem over the top to some but we were very keen on recording and documenting our journey. Technology is perhaps the singlemost important contributor to weight but it all depends on how much communication you want. We chose our normal laptops as we wanted ease on Skype, for viewing photos and video too. The cameras and video equipment were also necessary to make the documentary film.