We’ve been on the road for over a month and are starting to get really familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of our gear. Here’s a post of some of the things that are working out really well.

Big Agnes Insulated Air Core
Not even a week into our trip, Laura and I swapped out our sleeping pads from 3/4 inch pads to something thicker and warmer. If you’re going to sleep on something for an indefinite amount of time, it’s a worthy investment. We had considered the much-hyped Thermarest NeoAir, but after an in-store side by side test preferred the Big Agnes, primarily because the NeoAir seemed to use too thin of a material! Anecdotally, Laura and I met a couple two days ago at a Greek restaurant and we were talking equipment failures. Apparently, they bought NeoAir pads and about four days into their tour they sprung a leak!

GSI Kettle

Bringing a kettle seems like a bit of extravagance while roughing it, but for us, it has been immensely useful. The GSI kettle is smallish and lightweight. It nests with our pans and I can slip in a Trangia stove and our fire starting materials inside of it. We use it ONLY to boil water. In the past we would use a cooking pot to boil water and if it wasn’t cleaned well enough our morning coffee would also have a hint of corned beef – ewww. Now our coffee tastes like coffee and our tea tastes like tea. We also use it to warm up water for cleaning our cooking gear and for quick hand towel baths. Highly recommend it!

REI Quarter Dome T3 Tent

This tent continues to amaze us. We recently camped on a treeless bluff on San Juan County Park and it weathered the wind and rain beautifully. We have the older version of the tent which uses tent sleeves rather than hooks for the poles. The newer version appears to be a little roomier (which we lust over on occasion). Although it is just the two of us, we got the 3 person version of the tent so there would be plenty of room for our gear. If you’re going to live in a tent for an indefinite amount of time it’s worth the extra weight for the extra room.

Marmot DriClime Wind Shirt

We bought some DriClime gear after talking with Kent Peterson about the gear he brings on his tours. The whole trick to bike touring clothing is layers and the DriClime shirt is meant to provide a lightweight, windproof and warm layer. It isn’t waterproof, but the nature of the material allows it to dry very quickly. When combined with wool base layers you can achieve a warm “comfortable dampness” as Kent put it. So far, it has performed well. I usually throw it on after we stop riding to keep the warmth or on the top of a downhill. We haven’t used it in real heavy rains yet so we’ll see how that works.

Ibex Arm Warms and Leg Warmers
I’ll be frank and say that I love these things. For the most part when I’m riding, my core stays plenty warm and I get chilled from my arms and legs. When I throw these on, it insulates me from the wind and keeps me pretty warm. The wool is a blend with some stretchy material so it stays pretty snug and has a nice compression affect on the muscles. The leg warmers are a good way to turn regular cycling shorts into almost wool cycling shorts (though I still lust for the wool ones on occasion…like now). I usually keep these tucked in a front pannier so I can put them on or take them off without getting off the bike. Remember it’s all about layers!

That’s it for now. If you have any specific gear questions send them in! As a side note and in the spirit of full disclosure, Laura and I started an AvantLink affiliate account so if you purchase any gear from the links on the site (like the ones above) we’ll get a small (very small) percentage – but you’ll be supporting the site and our trip. We can promise you though that we’ll talk about the gear candidly and won’t recommend things that we don’t really believe in.