So while no means as philosophical as the previous couple of posts, I think it is probably fairly important to document some of the decisions being made in terms of equipment for this trip. I find other peoples blogs on this kind of information really useful and always mean to contribute to the wealth of online information for others to use. I will separate the equipment into sections as I found this really useful when researching on other travel blogs.
Tent - We spent a while researching this one; there are a lot of amazing tents out there with great features. Size and weight seems to be the main selling point for a lot of people. This is usually top of our list of priorities too. We saw the Nordisk Oppland 2 tent and were immediately impressed by the quality, construction and huge vestibule size. There are other tents that pack smaller and lighter but the idea of being able to put all our gear inside the tent, including our surfboards is a huge appeal.
Stove - Again, another hugely important one here. There are loads of great looking stoves that are fairly cheap and lightweight we could have gone for but having had a few compatibility issues with gas for stoves in vans before it seemed like a great idea to go for either the MSR Whisperlite or the Primus Omnifuel. The MSR is a lot cheaper than the Primus but lacks on vital feature - controlling the gas flow. We ended up going for the Primus. We have tested this in wind and its performance isn’t great; neither is the wind guard they supply so we have a Concertina wind guard from Alpkit.
Pots and Pans - Alpkit titanium non-stick pans. Amazing! Got the titanium knives and forks too. Northcore enamel mugs.
Sleeping Mats - Having done a bit of research into this one, we opted for the Alpkit Numo. It’s tiny and £35 quid, compare that to most other sleeping mats and its an amazing product; provided we are careful and carry a puncture repair kit.
Sleeping Bags - I am not 100% convinced that these are the right sleeping bags or even the bags we are going to take but we went for a couple of Rab Ignition 2’s. They’re not the smallest but I don't think we will end up using them for long as its going to be pretty hot. I think they’ll get traded for a double sheet as soon as were in warmer climates.
Main bags - We have gone for a couple of different bags for different jobs. We have gone for the Ortlieb 49L Rack Pack and the Northcore 40L Dry Bag; thats 90L of dry luggage each. These fit one behind the other on the pannier rack and pillion seat. This is going to do a couple of things; firstly put most of our luggage into two easy to carry bags and off our backs; secondly alleviate the need for custom pannier racks to prevent exhaust burn etc. The centre of gravity will be a bit higher than pannier bags but plenty of people use top-boxes with no issues. I have been testing the bag placement and strapping here in the UK and haven’t had any issues so far.
Board bags - A couple of nicely padded Northcore bags will provide the space and a bit of protection for the boards as they are going to get a bit of chucking around. Board bags are a great place for stashing luggage on flights too.
Bikes and Gear.
Bikes - Having read and priced up so many different bikes we have settled on brand new Honda XR125’s. They're small and slow but when we have a surfboard on a rack to the side, we aren’t going to be doing more than about 50MPH regardless. The XR’s are light, big wheels, enough space behind for bags, great off road and not bad at all on tarmac. In terms of maintenance, they are single cylinder with a carburettor; simple and reliable. I guess we are seeing it as doing the trip in the equivalent to a little 4x4 VW Polo rather than a Hummer (BMW GS1200).
Riding Gear - Extremely tough one here; most motorbike gear is bulky and hot (and lets be honest pretty ugly). We want riding gear that can also be living gear; less to carry, less to worry about. We are lucky enough to have helmets, goggles and gloves supplied by Biltwell which is amazing so that was one decision easily made.
Tom - I found a cotton jacket in a local bike shop with EU approved arm, shoulder and back protection for about £85; its pretty lightweight and looks fine off the bike too, its made by Viper Riders. As for trousers, I love the idea of the Kevlar riding jeans. I also like the idea of one pair of jeans lasting the whole trip, I nearly splashed out on selvage denim from one of the expensive denim brands. Then I went to TK Max and found some Japanese selvage denim jeans in a 32" waist and super long legs. I went on Ebay and found Kevlar cloth and took them both to the tailor. Hopefully in a week's time I will have Selvage jeans that fit perfectly and have kevlar cloth lining the hips and thighs all for less that £70, compared to the Maple jeans I nearly bought, they'll do! I think Ill sew some knee pads in too. If it rains, Normal waterproofs will go over the top. Footwear is a work in progress.
Sally - Still not quite sorted yet, we will update this when she knows. She's thinking of going down the motocross armour route an a jersey over the top, sensible idea I wish I had gone for!
Tools - We will take a minimal tool kit with tyre levers, sockets, spanners, grips, fuses, a couple of plugs and I think a couple of brake and clutch levers as they snap pretty easy. Most of the time a local garage will do a better job of fixing the bike than us so as long as we have enough to get it somewhere, that should be enough.
GPS - We have bought a Garmin Etrex 30, althought we have three big maps that cover from Santiago to San Diego that we can cut down as we only need the west coast of SA really.
Media Charging - Gotta sort out how to charge camera batteries from a bike yet..
Boards - It's been so hard to choose a board for every range of conditions we might face along the way. We are usually pretty spoilt for boards - Logs, fish, step-up's; something for every type of condition, we can only take one board each this time round.
One thing was pretty clear, the wood veneer boards that Matt Ayre from Polymath Surfcraft started to make (he is focussing more on these equally awesome cork surfboards currently). The Polymath boards are amazing, recycled EPS core with ash veneer vacuumed over with Epoxy and cloth. Two solid wood rail bands are part of the construction and will add extra strength to those vulnerable areas on the rails, nose and tail.
In terms of shape, I have gone for a 5'11 (my go-to 'OK' wave board is a 5'6 fish and my 'good' wave board is a 6'4 Thruster). Its about 19" wide, and 2 and something thick, a fairly full shape with a round tail. It's going to have 5 boxes to suit a wide range of conditions.
Sally's is 5'10 and will have a quad set-up similar to a Neal Purchase Junior Quartet kinda vibe. Photo's to follow when they're done.
Wetsuits etc - Not sure yet, a decent 4mm from Wetsuit outlet probably, when it gets hot, we will ditch the suits or try to post them to California (anyone?!) and then surf in shorts and a T-shirt (Yew!). Definitely taking booties for the reefs and urchins.
Small and light! Nikon D7100 for the real stuff, 35mm 1.8, 50mm 1.4. Gopro Hero 4+ for the fun stuff, Fuji X20 for the sly stuff. Northcore are hooking us up with a mouth mount that could be cool for surf edits, a handle, no helmet or board mounts (ZZZzzzzz). Laptop, Hard-drives, memory cards. Maybe a monopod.
I think thats about it, 2 Tshirts, boardies, vans, flip flops, a shirt or two, hat, couple of boxers, socks.
First aid kit, water bottles, ding repair, maybe a tarp, good swiss army knife, zippo.
If you haven't heard of them, check out Alpkit.