A number of people have asked for recommendations on gear. Have a look at my tips page as well for general observations.


  • Get one with a chrome-moly frame as opposed to aluminum. It will give a much smoother ride.
  • Get the toughest wheels you can buy. Mine are double walled Mavic 521D.
  • Sealed hubs are recommended (New Mexico is tough on them!)
  • Tyres are a personal choice. I prefer the Continental 'Travel Contact' tyre. This has a smooth centre and ribs around the edge so that on pavement or smooth pavements you have an easier ride but they can dig in when needed. Not as good as fully nobbed tyres on loose surfaces, but you spend more time on firm surfaces.
  • Especially for men, but also for women, use one of the new seat designs with a split seat. This focuses the pressures on your backside as opposed to the sensitive underside area. Makes an amazing difference, as Sean learned!
  • Fenders are essential. Lots of muck gets thrown up at you.
  • I prefer toe clips to cleats for this type of cycling. Personal choice will prevail.
  • Kool Stop brake pads. These are larger than the ones that come standard with bikes and last well.
Panniers I prefer using panniers as opposed to a BOB (for one thing there is not the 18lb deadweight to tow). The panniers should have a positive attachment to keep them on the pannier frames otherwise they will bounce off. From my experience the ones from Arkel Overdesign of Canada (eh!) are great. They have survived over 10,000 km of touring and still going strong, although I did replace their aluminum frame hook with steel ones.


Pannier Holder Be sure to use steel and not aluminum. You can almost guarantee that they will break on the trip and good luck getting aluminum welded. Adventure Cycling have a fantastic front pannier holder for mountain bikes which is bullet proof. Highly recommended (Unfortunately, I got mine after the trip).


Stove I carried a small stove with 1 x pan and lid, which also served as my plate/bowl. It was multi-fuel so it ran on petrol which was what I mainly used.


Water I had two water bottles on my bike and a 3 litre hydration pack (e.g. camelback). I also carried 1.5 litres in my rear pannier (the Arkel panniers are designed to carry a large water bottle).


Gloves Short and long gloves are essential, and I also suggest soft foam grips. It is unbelievable just how tired one's hands get after many hours on rough roads. I use gel gloves (Pearl Izod) to get extra cushioning.


Clothes You don't need much for cycling, as long as you don't have too sensitive a nose. I usually take the following on my trips:
  • 1 x cycling shorts
  • 1 x jogging shorts (double as swim suit and for wearing when doing laundry)
  • 1 x Columbia hiking trousers with zip (double as shorts and long trousers)
  • 1 x warm fleece cycling trousers
  • 1 x warm fleece top (e.g. vest or jacket)
  • 2 x wicking short sleeve t-shirts
  • 1 x wicking long sleeve shirt
  • underwear (number depends on hygiene)
  • 3 x pairs cycling socks
Rain Gear A good Goretex rain jacket and pants are recommended. Mine were purchased from Mountain Equipment Co-op in Canada (eh!). I like they way they provide long zippers under the jacket sleeves for extra cooling.


Shoes I use the Lake mountain biking shoe. It has laces and looks half decent. Unlike other cycling shoes, it can double as a regular street shoe since it doesn't have as rigid a sole.


Dry Bags I use kayaking dry bags to store my clothes. You can get different sizes and I found some which fit half the pannier perfectly. When packed you don't need to worry about rain (or dust) getting into your clothes.


Sleeping Bag I use a down sleeping bag which compresses quite small. It comes with a special bag which has buckles and allows me to really compress it. When packed I also put it into a dry bag.


Sleeping Pad and Pillow There is only one: Thermarest. Get the 3/4 length pad. You won't regret it. I also had a small hollowfill pillow. Didn't weigh anything and made for better sleep.


Tent In selecting a tent there are two considerations (a) that it is sturdy (won't blow over in the wind) and waterproof; and (b) that there is enough room to store your panniers and other gear, usually under the fly. Don't underestimate (b); it is a drag to be in a rain storm and need to unzip the tent fly to get at your bags when you find that you need something.

Take spare pegs, especially if you have aluminum ones. Something to hammer them into the ground is also good--such as a 6" adjustable wrench (see below).


Tools and Spares This is the hard one. From my experiences this is what I suggest:
  • 6" adjustable wrench. Can be used for removing peddles, the rear cassette, tightening the headset, and even hammering in tent pegs.
  • Multi-tool. These are small tools with allen keys, sockets, etc. Available from any bike shop
  • Spare allen keys. Try and fit your bike with only a single size allen bolts (holding on water bottle cage, pannier frames, etc.) and take 2 spare keys in addition to the multi-tool.
  • Cassette remover. These are heavy and a bother, unless you need to do major surgery to your bike (as we did in Wyoming) in which case they are worth their weight in gold.
  • Chain links and chain link tool. You don't need a full chain; just save a few links when you fit a new chain.
  • 4 x Spokes and spoke key. If you've never changed a spoke check out some of the mountain bike sites which give in field instructions.
  • Tyre patch. This is for the tyre, not the tube, and is usually made from 3" x 1" rigid material. For when the tube splits. I also carry heavy duty thread and a needle just to be safe.
  • Heavy duty tubes (at least 2)
  • Spare tyre (folding one which is relatively small)
  • Cable ties. Take a good number of small and large ones. You will need them.
  • Electrical tape.
  • Spare brake and derailleur cables
  • Locktite for when you replace a nut or bolt (be sure to locktite EVERYTHING before you start)
  • Selection of spare bolts and nuts for when things rattle off.
Camera I use an old HP digital camera but any will suffice. Sony has recently released a waterproof digital camera which would be a major improvement.

Whichever camera you use, be sure that you can use a memory card for download the data instead of a USB link. This saves on battery power.


Computer I bought and old Toshiba Libretto 50 on e-bay. This is very small and portable. I also got two spare batteries which meant that I had enough juice for 3-4 days between recharges. Ideal for writing a journal at the end of the day. The PCMCIA slot was used for downloading digital photos. I used Microsoft Frontpage for writing the journal, and uploaded it to the web using AT&T Global Network. The entire package fit into a small waterproof box.



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