Sunday, July 29, 2007

The gear report

Well, I was asked prior to he trip many times what gear I was taking and how I would tour on a Sporty. I didn't report much on my gear before or during the trip, but figured I would now post a follow-up on what worked, what didn't work, what I would take again and what would stay at home. This might be of interest to other riders looking to take longer trips or looking to buy new gear (how many people post reports after 11,000 miles of using gear?).





Clothing

4 Coolmax Short Sleeve T-Shirts - Highly recommended. They were extremely comfortable and dried quickly when washing them. I bought them at a discount place online, that I wouldn't particularly recommend, but you can get these at any camping/outdoor store.

4 pairs REI CoolMax Multisport II Crew Socks - Highly recommended. Pretty much the same as the Coolmax shirts, comfortable and quick drying. My feet sweat a lot inside my Gortex boots, and these did an excellent job at keeping my feet comfortable. If you'll be in really cold weather you may want a heavier pair.

4 pairs REI Midweight MTS Boxer Briefs - Recommended. If your butt gets hot and sweaty your not going to be comfortable sitting on it. These did an excellent job of keeping me cool and comfortable. They dry quicker then cotton undies, but not as quick as the CoolMax socks or shirts.

2 pairs of regular jeans - They worked. They were jeans, nothing fancy here just comfortable. If I was doing it again, I would probably just wear one pair and leave the other pair at home.

2 long sleeve Henley shirts - Wanted long sleeve shirt for another layer. Doing it again, I would just take one shirt.

1 REI Heavyweight MTS Long-Sleeve Crew - Recommended. This one shirt could have replaced the two henley shirts. Comfortable and dried quick.

1 North Face lightweight jacket (not sure of exact model) - Maybe would have left this at home. It was cool some evenings in camp and I did wear it a few times, but really my long sleeve shirts or electric jacket liner could have been used instead of this.

1 WarmGear Electric Jacket liner - Highly recommended. I only plugged it in a couple of evenings (for those that don't know, this is a 12 volt heated jacket that is powered off your bike while riding). It makes a nice enough "casual" jacket it can be worn along when off the bike. Besides the heated part, it blocks the wind like nothing else. So, I wear it fairly often as a liner to my regular jacket just to stop the wind. It also has a nice and cozy neck (heated) that makes this just the thing.



1 pair WarmGear Electric Leather Gloves - Take them if you have them. I didn't use them at all, it just never got cold enough (needs to get into the 30's for me to need them). But, I felt better having them along.

1 pair Regular unlined Leather Gloves - Recommended. I wear these all the time. I don't care for lined gloves unless it's really cold. I wore these through the rain MANY times without over-gloves. Yeah, I had wet hands, no biggie.

1 pair Lightweight Perforated Leather Gloves - Recommended. These are my favorite gloves. They feel like nothing on my hands. It was really nice on hot days to have lightweight gloves.

1 pair Lightweight HD Men's Air Flow Full-Finger Gloves - I bought these on the trip because at the time my other gloves were soaking wet (but it had stopped raining). They aren't bad gloves with mesh backs and leather palms and thumbs. Fairly comfortable (no liner) and cool. Easy on and off (most of the time I don't bother undoing the velcro strap). They aren't replacing my leather gloves, but I'm not disappointed in them.

1 Pair of River Road Taos Cold Weather Gloves - Recommended. I've been using these for a while. Good for 38 - 50 degree temperatures. Waterproof (kinda - hands usually sweat so much that they are wet anyway). I did use these a few times as rain gloves. There were a few evening when I road that it was cool enough to appreciate a gauntlet/insulated glove.



1 Tour Master Pivot 2 ballistic jacket - Highly recommended. I'm a leather guy. I struggled for a while before getting this jacket, but got it literally days before the trip. It remained fairly cool in hot weather and the did a good job of keeping me warm in cooler weather. Lots of air vents, most of which can be opened or closed while riding. Has a decent removable liner. The jacket is supposed to be rain resistant. It doesn't replace real rain gear, but did adequately well for brief showers. I was very happy wearing this instead of a leather jacket for the trip. Even if I didn't look as cool. Update 7/30/07 - The jacket was extremely dusty and dirty. I threw it in the washing machine with cold water (no detergent) and air dried it. I wore it today and noticed it had faded slightly. Not bad, and I'd probably be the only one to notice it, but I figured I would mention it.



1 HD Rain Jacket w/reflective skulls - You need good rain gear for touring. HD's probably isn't the best, but it isn't bad. It kept me completely dry the entire trip when it was worn. The model I have isn't available everywhere (I was told that this model with the skulls is only a trial). I didn't care for he skulls, but when I bought it, it's what they had. The HD Bar and Shield on the back is starting to peel. Whatever.



1 pair HD Highland Rain Pant - Recommended. I had been wearing my pair for a while prior to this trip. The zipper on the thigh pocket busted and my crotch started to get wet in rain storms (previously had never gotten wet). I probably could have sealed the seems and figured out a way to fix the zipper, but they were really dirty and had taken a beating, so halfway through the trip I replaced them with the same exact model. Also realize, I wore my rain pants a VERY good portion of the trip even when it wasn't raining. It kept my jeans a lot cleaner, and up north it was cool enough it didn't matter.

1 pair of shorts/1 pair of swimming trunks - Recommended to take something else along to wear while you wash you jeans. I would have gotten by with just the swimming trunks and I did go swimming once at a hotel pool.



1 Fulmer AFM Modus Helmet - Recommended. I'm not in love with this helmet, but it's a reasonably priced modular style helmet. I do recommend a full face helmet for a trip like this, makes rain so much easier to ride in. Also bugs and stones won't be as much of a problem. The modular part is nice as you can flip it up to have a quick conversation or take a sip of a drink while still riding. The faceshield broke on me during the trip, which is not a big deal other then I couldn't find a replacement (not too many places carry Fulmer).

1 pair of Old Navy $9 Flip-Flops - Indispensable. Really. I wore these every day at camp or around the motel room. After a long day of riding it's so nice to get your boots off, but I often didn't want to walk around bare foot. These packed extremely small. If I had more room or was doing destination traveling I would have taken a pair of sneakers, but I road everyday and didn't have room. These also worked really well as shower shoes (you DON'T want to go bare foot in some of the camp showers, trust me). For ten bucks, these were probably the best investment of all my gear. Really.

1 pair Danner Black Duty Acadia Uninsulated Boots - Recommended. I like Gortex boots. They kept my feet dry as long as I got my rain pants on (your socks will wick right into your boots if your jeans get wet...ask me how I know!). The only issue with Gortex boots is they won't dry out if your feet do get wet. But these held up well. They provide good traction, ankle protection, and were comfortable. Good comfortable boots are a must.

Camping Gear

Tent, Sleeping Bag, and Therm-a-Rest packed up:




Kelty Trail Dome tent - Recommended. This is a fairly lightweight tent meant for backpacking. Kelty doesn't list them on their website, I got it from REI as a special purchase as I remember. It goes up and comes down easy enough. At times I would have liked a even smaller tent (when I was packing stuff) but when camp was setup I wanted a slightly larger tent. So I figured it was about the perfect size. Although they list it as a 2 man tent, those 2 men would have to be awfully intimate. I'm not sure I'd even want to share it with a small female companion...well yeah I would, just not for a month.



Kelty Shuksan Sleeping Bag +20F - Recommended. (I believe this was another special buy or discontinued item) This is a mummy style, the first one I've had. It took a little getting used to, but worked out. It's fairly lightweight, but plenty warm. I slept comfortably in mid 40's/50's degree temperatures. I might look for a down sleeping bag in the future to motorcycle camp with as I understand they pack smaller yet (this does pack fairly small) as size (small) does matter when packing. And your sleeping bag and tent will be two of the larger items, so choose wisely.

Jet Boil PCS Cooking Stove - Recommended. I didn't use it much, but it didn't take up much space. I'm not sure I would take a stove again. There was only one night were I actually used it because I needed to eat. There was one other time that I made hot chocolate in the morning. Most of my meals were at diners. But this is one slick setup if your taking a stove.

Titanium Camping Cup - Recommended. If your camping, you'll need a cup of some sort. I used this as a bowl to eat soup out of and a plate also as needed. It's lightweight. Even if your not planning on cooking a whole lot in camp, this was useful.

Therm-a-Rest Trail Lite Sleeping Pad - Regular - Recommended. You'll need a sleeping pad if you'll be camping for any length of time. The Therm-a-Rest worked well. It's not really self inflating, but you don't need to huff and puff too much to get it fairly firm. My only complaint would be is the regular size might be a little small. I could barely lay on my back and stay on the pad. A couple more inches may have been nice, but it does pack small enough. I slept great every night camping (better then most of the motel beds).

Walmart Fleece Blanket - Recommended. I had intended to use this as a blanket if I didn't want to crawl into my sleeping bag, and did that a few times. But, mostly I used it as a pillow stuffed into a pillow case. Having a blanket is handy sometimes. Having one that doubles as a comfy pillow is great. It also squeezed down rather small so it took virtually no room in my compression sack.

Luggage



Cabela's Waterproof Compression Stuff Sacks 16" X 30" - Recommended. This was my main bag (instead of a T-Bag or anything like that). It was 100% water and dust proof the entire trip. I kept all my clothes and camping gear in it. The only issue with keeping everything in the same bag was when I stayed at a motel I needed to unload everything every night. But it worked out. I thought the bag was leaking towards the end of the trip (the air was being let out of it after a day of riding). I discovered I was being lazy with how I was rolling the top of the compression bag down and not keeping it tight as I rolled it. Once I was more careful this kept it air tight. For $38 this is a bargain when it comes to luggage. I just used a couple of straps around the bag to hold it to my luggage rack, no problems. Several others in my groups used the same bag, and appeared to have good luck with it as well.

Otterbox PC case - Highly recommended. As you all probably figured out by me posting on my trip I had my laptop with me. I looked at Pelican cases (the defacto standard rugged case), but they were significantly more money and the Otterbox was closer in size to my personal laptop. It kept my laptop safely dry and dust free the entire trip. Not much to attach the case to the luggage rack, but a couple straps around it did the trick. It was kinda a pain to carry a laptop (especially one as large as mine) on this trip and even more of a pain to post to the blog. I'm not sure I would carry a laptop again. Maybe I would look for a smaller one that would fit in my saddle bags. But, I have no doubts that the Otterbox would keep my laptop safe and dry, so it's highly recommended.

Leatherlyke Saddlebags - Highly Recommended. These aren't the cheapest solution, but I still highly recommend them. They worked flawlessly. I had 15 - 20 lbs of gear in each saddle bag at any time (20 lbs is what they are rated for). I dropped the bike a few times on the trip...the saddle bags got a few minor scratches, but help up very well otherwise. Remember these are Alaskan roads, there was lots of bumps and rough spots and I had the bags fully loaded with gear. No signs of wear or cracking. They are not 100% waterproof/dustproof. I never had anything wet (a couple drops of water was it) but the dust did get into them a little (there was TONS of dusty roads, though).



Cortech Super Mini Tank Bag - Recommended. Tank bags look dorky, there's no doubt. But there is no getting around there usefulness when touring. I got this bag used (in nearly new condition) and wasn't disappointed at all. It was a handy place to keep my wallet, mp3 player, directions, journal, etc. If you'll be doing lots of miles, do yourself a favor get a tank bag.

2 camera bags - Recommended. These were zip tied to my handlebars and proved indispensable. I did keep my camera in the one bag (in a ziploc bag when it rained), but there's always something that needs to be put somewhere handy. I used the one as a trash bag several times (National parks are pretty serious about no littering.)

Bike Gear

Memphis Shades El Paso 19" Sport Shield - Recommended. I personally like a windshield for touring. For no other reason on this trip to keep the bugs off of you. There were days it was literally just black with bug guts. The El Paso works for me and seems to fit the bike well. The mounting brackets got a little tweaked one of the times I dropped the bike, but I was easily able to adjust everything so it was straight again. The plastic is showing some wear, but nothing unexpected.

Iron City Cycles Adjustable Highway Pegs - If you have mid controls, I highly recommend these. They saved my bike several times (when dropped). They saved my knees several times (by being able to stretch). These look just like the Harley ones, but are much less $$ and come with foot pegs. Lifesavers for me.

Mustang Wide Vintage Seat - Highly Recommended. This is a real butt saver. Everyone wonders how I could do this trip on a Sporty...this is how. A couple days into the trip I was getting a pinched nerve or something in my left butt cheek. My toes were going numb. I changed my seating position slightly and everything was good. It's not sleek and sexy looking, but when your butt is on it you don't really care.



2 - MSR Camp Stove 32 oz Fuel Bottles - Recommended. If you don't have much of a gas tank as most Sportsters don't, seriously consider a way to carry extra fuel. I had this extra 1/2 gallon with me. It was good piece of mind. I could make it 130 miles (without out the bottles) which was about the furthest any of the gas stations were apart. But, you just never know. I strapped these out of the way on the bottom of my luggage rack and most of the time didn't even think about them...until I was running low.

Tools

Well, It would be pretty hard to list everything, so a picture is worth a thousand words:



The highlights:

Full ratchet set including typical standard sizes, torx drivers, and hex drives.
Torx folding wrench.
Hex Drive folding wrench.
Motopump Air pump (if you ride, you NEED one of these kits).
Zip ties and straps out the whazoo.
First aid kit (not really a tool, but essential).
Extra large slip joint pliers.
Extra large phillips screw driver.
Extra larrge standard screw driver.
Strap wrench
Loctite (I didn't get my name Screw Loose for any old reason)
Electrical tape


I'm sure I had more gear with me, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what I carried along. I didn't have much room for souvenirs, but everything fit on the bike.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Nice breakdown of items taken & not needed.

My first trip of three days I took as much gear as you did for the month! Now it's one pair of jeans, 2 boxers & socks, a short sleeve shirt, a mid weight hooded sweatshirt, gloves, leather jacket (I've an FXRG touring jacket & it's too bulky), some lightbulbs, cell phone & PDA (the combo gives me 'net, information and maps), and my camera. My wife has apnea and needs electricity for her breathing machine so we don't camp.

I had hwy pegs for my Y2K Sport but after I dumped it once and bent the motor mount, I took them off. Fyi, on the pre rubber mount bikes, the H-D hwy pegs bolt through the lower front motor mount

I really enjoyed the blog and especially the pictures. It's funny, my biological dad has lived an hour from Anchorage all my adult life, and I've seen more of Alaska through your camera than any other way.

How did you juggle taking pics (with your left hand) as you were riding?

Thanks