Author Topic: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?  (Read 18397 times)

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Offline Stevenp

GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« on: February 26, 2011, 09:45:31 am »
So, I have purchased my Surly LHT, rear rack, pedals and shoes (clip-ins). About 1,300-1,400 total.

Now I have the rest of my list which I have taken a long time putting together based on journals, some list pdfs and lots of reading. I have never been into biking whatsoever, so I am starting from scratch. The goal being my trip across and around the U.S.A. for no less than 4 months and maybe longer.

Right now my equipment price for everything stands at just under $3000. The biggest parts of the list are the biking clothes, tent, panniers, camera, and some of the bad weather gear.

I would post my pricing list that I have put together, but it's a very long list.

My question is: does this price for equipment sound about right, or am I overdoing it?

Things I know I can't compromise on are:
Biking clothes (not sure)

Feedback on your experience?


Offline DaveB

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2011, 10:09:41 am »
Two other no-compromise items: Sleeping bag and foam sleeping pad.

However, "no compromise" doesn't have to mean very expensive.  For example you don't need a 4-season tent or 0°F down sleeping bag unless you are going to camp in the winter.  Also, look around for good prices on good quality gear and close-outs on good items in "last year's" colors, etc. .  Campmor in New Jersey and REI (nearly everywhere these days) have very attreactive prices and sell mail order and on the internet.

Offline staehpj1

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2011, 10:15:45 am »
Actually I would disagree on the list of things you can't compromise on if by compromise you mean that you need expensive stuff.

Tent - you can get by fine on this one for $50-100.  The Eureka Solitaire can be found for $50 and if you "need" a lot of space you can find the Eureka Spitfire two person model for about $100.

Panniers - The Nashbar waterproof panniers have worked well for me and are holding up fine .  I crossed the US on the TA and did a couple other longish tours and they are holding up fine.  The rear ones are on sale for $59.99 a pair and the front ones are on sale for $39.99 a pair as they often are.

Biking clothes - Two pairs of bike shorts and two short sleeved jerseys shouldn't be too much if you watch the nashbar and performance sales.  Add leg warmers, a windbreaker, and a warm poly sweater for on and off bike and you are set.

Racks - The Blackburn EX-1 rear rack is reasonable (~$60) and all the rack you need for the rear.  On front the Nashbar or Performance Black burn low rider clone is often on sale for way cheap and it is a great rack IMO.

I used a $70 sleeping bag (Slumberjack Superguide) on the TA and was fine.

Personally I prefer to spent a bit more on a sleeping pad (I love my Thermarest NeoAir $129), but those blue foam ones can be had dirt cheap ($18 at REI) and will get you by

Stove and cook set can be pretty much free.  I have used either a pocket rocket (~$30) or a home made pepsi can stove (essentially free)

Edit, I forgot to mention the bottom line...  I will guarantee that it is quite possible to buy serviceable but not fancy gear and spend about half the figure you mention.  That would be possible even if you don't own any bikes clothes or outdoor gear at all.  I think that is about what the stuff I took on the TA cost and it would be possible to go much cheaper.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2011, 05:31:14 pm by staehpj1 »

Offline mcparsons

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2011, 11:51:51 am »
I use an Alps Mountaineering sleeping pad (like this one) that I paid $50 for at a local sporting goods store.  About half the price of the comparable Thermarest and it comes with a bag.  I like it better than my own bed.

This is a topic dear to my heart since my cycling budget is limited.  Nashbar has been a good friend.  Craigslist and eBay, not so much.

Offline John Nelson

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2011, 01:08:05 pm »
The open-ended way you asked the question could lead to an endless discussion of all possible equipment on the market. I would agree with Pete that you don't need the most expensive or even close. There's a lot of reasonably priced equipment that will do just fine. Sometimes doubling the price of a piece of equipment doesn't make it any better, but might only make it a few ounces lighter. And sometimes making things lighter also makes them more fragile.

Since we don't know what you've already bought or what you have left to buy, it's hard to say if $3000 is reasonable.

Go ahead and post your "very long list" if you want. Without it, it's hard to comment effectively on your broad question.

Offline Stevenp

« Last Edit: February 27, 2011, 06:44:23 pm by Stevenp »

Offline John Nelson

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2011, 08:41:34 pm »
Well, you apparently have bought or will buy (can't tell which are which) top of the line in many areas (panniers, racks, saddle, saddle bag, cycling shorts, tent, etc.). That's okay if the budget is rich, but if the budget is tight, you can save a lot of money here.

There are some items that surprise me (air horn, compression socks, QR axle). Why?

Personally, I'd skip the $120 tights. Chances are they are pretty heavy and I don't think you need them unless you're planning to tour in the winter. Substitute much lighter/cheaper leg or knee warmers.

Did you notice that you had two headlamps on the list?

Skip the water filter. There's no place in the US you'll need it as long as you keep your bottles filled when water is available and you carry a platypus bladder (used infrequently, and only weighing 2 ounces when not used). I'd also skip the chair, but many people like them so you can keep it if you think it important.

A voice recorder is NOT a "must have", but I can see where it would come in handy for some people (not me). I know you're fixated on a GPS, but I really don't think you need one. Just ask people when you need something. Talking to people is one of the great joys of touring anyway.

Skip the small padlock for hostel lockers--dead weight and useless. Forget the vacuum bag system. Assuming you're not taking it along, it'll only be useful for the first few days, so what good is that? Skin cream? Really? I know it's nice at home, but a real extravagance on a tour. Skip the whistle--you'll never use it. Don't take a separate tire pressure gauge--get a pump that has one built in. Skip the degreaser.

$20 for a pair of cables? What are they, gold?

Don't carry extra batteries. You can buy them when you need them. Seal your seams at home and leave the seam sealer behind. In the very unlikely event you need some en route, buy it. This is true of almost everything--don't carry stuff you may not need and can buy en route and aren't necessary to keep you moving.

Offline Stevenp

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2011, 09:17:37 pm »

That's awesome! Thanks for your time in looking at it. I am going to review based on your comments and re-post the list.

In my mind I don't feel like I can compromise much on:

gps I'm still unsure about, but I hear what you're saying...
tent, I feel like I want to feel like I enjoy being in it, so I am not tempted to get a hotel all that often
buying the cycling clothes that are necessary.

I will review based on your comments and then study a bit more and put up the new list.

I really appreciate your time in looking it over!

Offline roadrunner

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2011, 12:30:11 am »
The comments by Staehph1 and John Nelson are right on the mark, especially that going with top-of-the-line pricey items is usually not necessary.  Also consider that you’ll be carrying everything on your list for the 5+ months you’re planning to ride.  You’ll probably find, like most bike tourists, that you’ll soon be shipping many items home after a few days or weeks of riding.  The thinking changes from “what if I need this” to “what do I have to have.”
A few thoughts:  Why 4-5 tent ground cloths?  I used one of plastic sheeting for many tours.  It’s easy to get another if necessary.  Maps and questioning locals can replace the GPS.  Other items I’d skip: rain pants, brake pads (they last a long time and can be bought if needed), rolls of tape (wrap a couple feet of duct and electrical tape around your seat post).  If the degreaser is for hand cleaning, sunscreen does an acceptable job.  A Bic lighter will serve to light your stove and “survival” fire starting; if you want a backup, dip matches in candle wax and place in a film canister with a few vaseline-soaked cotton balls.
At the expense of adding a few ounces, I’d replace the small pump with a full-size one, preferably the Topeak morph with a gauge. 
One category you do not list is off-bike clothing.  I wouldn’t want to spend several weeks, not to mention months, wearing nothing but riding clothes and the same pair of shoes.  Consider adding a long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirt, a pair of nylon zip-off pants, a cap and some footwear (Crocs, flip flops, sandals).  The pants also serve as shorts, cold weather riding pants (over riding shorts), and swimsuit.

Offline knolltop

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Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2011, 07:56:33 am »
Agree w/ previous poster.  So glad I got input here re gear list BEFORE getting on the road.
You may want to compare your list to mine before laying out $$$$.
Good luck!
+-+ Michael +-+

Offline staehpj1

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2011, 08:45:02 am »
Here is a link with the list:

Bike -Surly LHT $1000
Rear Rack $130  I am quite happy with my $50 Blackburn EX-1.  If anything it is more rack than I need.
Rear Panniers (WATERPROOF)$180 $49.99 for Nashbar Waterproofs (sale price, but they seem to be on sale very often) seem fine to me and are holding up well after several longish tours including a TA
Front Rack (Surly or small version) $130 If you are talking about the Surly Nice Rack it must be one of the worst choices possible.  It is expensive and heavy.  I think I paid about $15-20 for my lowrider clones and they are light sturdy and functional.
Front Panniers (WATERPROOF)$120$39.99 for Nashbar Waterproofs (sale price, but they seem to be on sale very often) seem fine to me
Seat Bag (good for storing tire repair kit) $35 the little bags that just fit a couple tubes and a few tools are perfect and cheap.  I think I paid $10 for my Transit Speed wedge.  There are tons of choices for $15
Comfortable Saddle (personal choice---not racing seat!) $100 Personal preference, but I'd be happy with the one that comes with the LHT
Water Bottles $8 EACH Catch them on sale at performance or nashbar.  I usually pay about $5
LED Flashing Tail Light $15 I use something like the Viewpoint Flashback from performance.  I think I have usually waited til they were on sale for $5.99
Camping Headlamp $25 I actually pay a bit more for this one (Petzl Tikka 2 $29.99) but there are some that are cheaper and OK.
Mirror (mounted on handlebar) $15
Air Horn $25 Never wished for one even a single time when on tour
Fenders/Mub Flat $50 $39 Planet Bike Hardcore
Pedals $89 Yep
Bungie Cords / Webbing Straps (2-3) $5
Bike Lock (key/combo cable is sufficient; U-Locks=heavy/overkill) $25OK
Reflectors (or reflective safety vest or reflective clothes) $15
Total = $715 (1,252 -already spent)

Helmet (proper size & fit) + optional Visor $50
Shoes w/ steel shank in shoe (bike nashbar) $100 Personally I prefer Sidi Giau's for about $120
Cycling Jersey or Synthetic T-Shirt (2-3) $50 EACH (X2) $100 I've never payed more than half of that.  For bike specific items I buy house brands at Nashbar or Performance when on sale.  For non bike specific I buy name brand from someplace like Ross or from a Nike Outlet many of my Nike shirts were $6-8
Cycling Shorts (x2) $100 (X2) $200 Sounds like a lot.  I usually pay about $65 on sale for Pearl Izumi Attack Shorts.  Some of the house brand stuff at Performance is OK and often on sale even cheaper.
Compression Socks $45 why?  do you have a circulation problem?
Cycling Gloves (1 pr. / 2 pair if on long tour heavily padded) $30
Cycling Socks (Synthetic / Wool; 2-3 pr. i.e. Coolmax) $25 (6 PACK)
Total = $550 ($100)

Long-Sleeve Jersey / Light-Mid Synthetic/Wool Zip Shirt (1) $40
Cycling Long-Tights $120 $120!!!!!! Buy tights with no chamois (wear over your shorts) from performance or nashbar.  I wait for sales and spend between $20-30 That said I have not been taking tights on tour. I take a pair of $29.99 leg warmers.
Rain Jacket + Pants $80 total
Synthetic Helmet Liner / Skull Cap / Fleece or Wool Hat (1) $10
Total = $170

Tent (1/2 man)+(rainfly;poles;stakes;stuff sacks;ground sheet)( no steaks; dome tent) $300
Aluminum Gutter Nails (for tent;walmart) $5
Sleeping Bag (15-20F Down / Synthetic) $35
Nylon Stuff Sacks (various sizes; for clothes + gear) $20 each x2 $40
Backpacking Stove (in stuff bag or cook pot) $50
Head Lamp (walmart) $15
CAMPING GEAR (continued)
Painter Plastic rolls (for ground;various thickness;walmart;cut 4-5 sheets right size) $cheap
Fuel Bottle (liquid gas/denatured alcohol or 8oz butane canister) $20 If you go alcohol use the bottle it comes in.
Utensils: Spork / Spoon+Fork+Knife set (lexan / titanium) $5
Water Filter/UV Purifier/Aqua Mira(for backcountry or int’l travel) $15
Portable Camp Chair (i.e. CrazyCreek or ThermaRest chair-kit) $30 I'd skip this one.
Air Mattress/Pad+Stuff Sack (i.e.Therm-a-Rest; Insul-Mat; Z-rest) $75
Clothes Pins (6-8; for drying clothes / securing bike cover at night) $CHEAP
Mosquito Head Net (used in buggy areas like AK or MN) $10
Total = $600

Voice Recorder (MUST HAVE) $30 Really?
Digital Camera/Video (+ accessories) $260
Pen + Sharpie (WATERPROOF) + Highlighter (for marking maps) $15
Small Padlock (for hostel lockers---if using) $5I naver carried one and never missed it.  You could pick up along the way if you found you really needed it.
Total = $660

FOOD BAG (not included in budget, still ??)
50’ Nylon Cord (for hanging food; carabiner attached+’rock’ sack) $10
Meals + Snacks $10/day
Multi-Spice (i.e. Mrs. Dash) or Individual Spices (in canisters) $5
Sports / Energy Drink Mixes (i.e. Gatorade powder) $?? total
Meal Saver Vacuum-bag systems (Vacuum-Seal Storage Bags) $30I don't get this one.  How would you seal stuff on the road.
Total = $??

PERSONAL ITEMS A bunch of this stuff is consumable and not gear.  Over a long trip you will spend a lot more than this
Sunglasses (+ case; extra lenses; neck strap; cleaning cloth) $60
Sunscreen (SPF 30+ water/sweatproof; spray=more convenient) $10
Insect Repellent (20-25% DEET or alternative) $10
Lip Balm (i.e. Chapstick / Blistex) $3
Phone Calling Card $10
Total = $93

Travel Towel (i.e. MSR Pack/Towl or chamois) $15
Soap / Shampoo; (i.e. Mtn/Camp Suds / Dr. Bonner’s) $15
Toothbrush + Toothpaste + Floss or Floss-Sticks $5
Skin Cream (i.e. Noxema or Aloe Vera)---good for wind/sunburn $15 Buy if and when needed.
Disposible Razor (+ shaving cream)---or substitute $10 Shaving cream?  Use soap or even plain water.
Ear Plugs (for sound sleeping in woods, hostels, etc.) $5
Multi-Vitamins $5
Total = $70

Storm Matches $10 Never bothered with these but if I did, I'd make my own.
Mace (Halt! Dog repellent) $10 I wouldn't bother.  I carried some on the TA, but only because someone who was finishing their tour gave me what was left of theirs (maybe 1/4 of a can and I didn't use it up in the next 4000+ miles that I carried it).
Whistle $5 Carried one for a while, but didn't find it all that useful.
Total = $25

Air Pump (mini / mid size; pack in pannier/bag instead of frame) ($25)
Patch Kit + Tire Levers $20 / $15
Spare Tubes 1-3 (+1 spare tube for trailer, if using) $5 EACH X3
Presta / Schrader Valve Adapter (1-2) $10$1.50
Tire Pressure Gauge $15
Degreaser (Gunk or biodegradable type) $10 Skip and buy along the way only if you really miss it.
Chain Lube (Pedros, White Lightning, etc.) $10
Spokes (3-6; sizes specific to your wheel) (OWNED)
QR Axle $15 Very unlikely to be needed, not worth carrying.
Trailer QR Axle + Retaining Pins (if using trailer) $5
Brake Pads (specific to your bike) $10
Spare Tire (folding bead---for bike or trailer) $30-$50 EACH (35mm Schwalbe Marathon Supremes)Overkill, in 50+ years and hundreds of thousands of miles of riding I have never had a flat that couldn't be booted.
Brake/Shift Cable $20
Nuts + Bolts + Bailing Wire (specifically for racks, brakes, etc.) Keep the nuts and bolts to a minimum.  Bailing wire?  I/ve never needed it and been unable to find something by the side of the road.
Bicycle Multi-Tool (i.e. Topeak Alien II)---or indiv tools below: $30 I've been very happy with the Ascent Bare Bones tool and usually find it on sale for either $5.99 or $6.99
Screwdrivers; Wrenches: 2-10mm Allen; Spoke; Pedal; Cresent) $20
Chain Tool + Spare Link(s) $10
Cassette / Freewheel Removal Tool $10 Spend a bit more for a Unior Cassette cracker since it works with no other tools required.
Total = $255 ($25)

Multi-Tool / Pocket Knife (i.e. Leatherman/Swiss Army/Gerber) $30
Duct Tape & Electrical Tape (small roll; 1+ yd.) $5 Duct tape, take a few feet of it wrapped around some other item.  Electrical tape, bum or buy only if needed.
Plastic Zip Ties (various sizes) $5
Glue / Liquid Thread Lock (Crazy / Gorilla/ Loctite---small tube) $10 I have never bothered carrying this.  If something repeatedly comes loose (unlikely) you could buy it when/if needed.

Offline Stevenp

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2011, 10:46:31 am »
Thanks guys for your help. Very helpful and I have a new "budget" list that I can refer to.


Offline BrianW

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2011, 10:57:08 am »
I'd add a cheap blue plastic tarp sized to cover your bike. This serves a lot of purposes: keeps weather off your bike at the campsite or when otherwise kept outside, deters people from messing with or stealing your bike since they can't really see what's under there, can use as an ad hoc place to sit and eat a meal, pull it out and cover yourself with it when caught in a rainstorm, etc. They are cheap and don't weigh very much at all. In fact, I'd bring two: one for the above uses, and one as a ground cloth for the tent.

Also, you can often find good gear on Craigslist or Ebay, often barely used. Plenty of people buy high-end gear for one trip, then never use it again.

Offline staehpj1

Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2011, 02:39:57 pm »
They are cheap and don't weigh very much at all. In fact, I'd bring two: one for the above uses, and one as a ground cloth for the tent.
I think the smallest size you are likely to carry (6' x 8') is typically about a pound and a half.  That will fit in with some packing strategies, but not others.  I don't think they are a good idea for weight conscious packers.  My guess is that folks who strive to get below 40 pounds are probably not too likely to opt to carry a blue tarp and folks trying to get below 30 pounds almost certainly won't.

I consider myself to be moderately weight conscious, but not an ultralight camper or a weight weenie and I'd skip taking even one and wouldn't even consider taking two.  I used to use a substantially lighter ground cloth and pitched it into a trash barrel in Virginia during purging of gear to get rid of extra weight.  I have not replaced it and have not missed it on subsequent tours.

If you must carry a ground cloth (I typically opt not to these days), a piece of tyvek would weigh a bit less than half what a blue poly tarp weighs.  Depending on the thickness plastic sheeting can be a bit less yet.  You could save some weight by cutting the hemmed edges and grommets off of the tarp, but would lose functionality and still be heavier than tyvek.

Offline knolltop

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Re: GEAR - It's adding up! Where can I compromise?
« Reply #14 on: March 03, 2011, 09:58:28 pm »
Re the tights ..... often, on given day, you'll want to wear them for portion of the day.  Then temps go up & you'll want to take them off.  They are a pain to take off.  Leg warmers are so much more convenient/flexible.

Also, pair of arm warmers turn a short sleeve jersey into long sleeve.  That's good thing.
+-+ Michael +-+