Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a lot of time to wear and use all of the stuff that we brought along with us. And think about what works and what doesn’t. Even with all the trips we’d done prior to this journey, and all the time we had to fine-tune our packing, you just don’t know how things will really work out until you go out and do it (and use them).

Some things have already been shipped back. I sent home a pair of rain pants that I decided I didn’t really want to lug around, because I really don’t enjoy actually riding in them. Plus a rain jacket that wasn’t really waterproof anymore, and replaced it with a tighter-fitting (thus, better for cycling) Marmot DriClime Catalyst windbreaker. Russ realized that the video quality on the iPhone is pretty darn good and shipped back the Flip camera. He also let go of his rain jacket (for the same reason as me, swapping it with a Marmot DriClime Windshirt) and a pair of jeans and an extra camera lens.

Other things are being actively replaced at this moment, while we have some downtime in the Bay Area. Yes, we have already been to two different REIs. Yes, they have taken a lot of our money. And, yes, we’re really excited about the new items and the packing changes. The Gear Page has been updated, but I thought I’d also highlight some changes here.

This is my exciting new REI duffel bag. It’s also my biggest gear change. I am the food carrier of the two of us. And, for the past many weeks, I’ve been utilizing my rear left pannier. It’s sort of always where I’ve carried food, so it seemed perfectly natural. But, each time we go to a market and re-stock, that pannier gets stuffed to the brim and becomes extremely heavy, throwing off the balance of my bike. One couple that we met on the road used an Ortlieb duffel to carry all their food and cooking equipment. And, we thought, how brilliant. It sits across the back rack, making it easier to keep things balanced. Plus, everything is in one place and there’s only one bag that smells and needs to be strung up into a tree. My new bag isn’t anything fancy, and it certainly isn’t waterproof, but this is what I could find at the Berkeley REI and I figured inexpensive was the way to go to see if it would work out for me (it will, after all, completely change the weight distribution on my bike).

I also picked up a fancy new Marmot Venus down jacket. 800 fill. On sale. Does it get any better? I’ve been thinking about picking up a down jacket at some point and I just couldn’t pass up this deal. There it was, sitting on the rack, exactly the color I’d want, in my size, nice and warm. I feel much better equipped for winter now.

I also swapped out my pants. I had purchased a nice, new pair of jeans to bring along on this trip. I figured that, after all the time being sweaty and dirty, it would be well worth it to have an article of clothing that felt “normal.” Except, there’s a reason that jeans aren’t recommended for travel pants (beside the obvious that they’re heavy and don’t dry quickly)… they just don’t hold up somehow. So, after ripping a big hole in my jeans, I swapped them out for a fancy new pair of Lole Traveler Pants. Simple and extremely comfortable… I highly recommend them already.

As for Russ… the biggest piece of new gear he’s acquired is the Kelty Noah’s Tarp. It took a really long time for us to first figure out to successfully stand it up… where to place the stakes, how to tie the ropes, how to keep the stakes from pulling out of the ground (Russ purchased new tent stakes that have more ability to grip the ground when pounded in), how to make sure that there’s actually enough space underneath it so we can stand up and not be hunched over… but now, we can put it up in a quick 10-15 minutes. We haven’t yet put it through the paces of rain and wind and storminess (thanks, in part to lack of storms and being indoors when it did rain recently)… but it promises to help us stay dry and give us a place to sit up at night (when it gets dark at 4:30pm and we don’t want to be constantly stuck in tent). (FYI… the tent poles are sold separately.)

Then there’s the radio. Kaito KA-1102 shortwave radio. It has a digital tuner and scanner, so it’s able to find frequencies automatically and lock onto them (unlike a dial that can slip). It came with an external antenna, which really helps improve the reception when you’re under a thick canopy of trees. We haven’t been successful in finding actual shortwave broadcasts, but the AM/FM capabilities have allowed us to keep up with world happenings via NPR (which is great for pulling us out of that totally disconnected bubble). Oh, yes, and it comes with it’s own fancy moccasin-looking leather case.

There have been plenty of small changes, as well. New pairs of cycling shorts for Russ. Leggings for me. A harmonica. Travel pillows. LED lantern. Lots of Sea-to-Summit dry bags. Several books that have come and gone.

One of the things that we laugh about is the way that we expected to become completely non-materialistic after getting rid of all of our stuff… and how it’s proving to be totally the opposite. Apparently, we’re not those people who are able to rise above “having things” and, actually, we look on with a bit of gear lust every time we see something that we like. Fortunately, we also actively want to limit how much we carry, so the two desires seem to temper each other, and we’re able to hold off our stuff wanting, for the most part. But, I have no doubt that we’ll continue to collect things and swap them out for other things and roll down the road with very heavy loads.

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