Sunday, May 21, 2006

Americas Trip Equipment List (Annotated Following the Trip)


Loaded, really loaded

This list was first developed in preparation for my ride to Alaska, Central and South America. I relied on the recommendations of many other adventurers, collecting ideas from their published equipment lists. In the end, it was of course impossible to carry everything. Priorities had to be established. In the following list, I note many items that were considered and then left behind, or perhaps shipped home from somewhere out on the road.


SUGGESTED READING

• Investment Biker, by Jim Rogers (sections on Darien Gap, So. America)(never read)
• Adventure Motorcycling Handbook (reviewed appropriate sections)
• Long Way Round (finished)
• Odyssey to Ushuaia (finished - good read!)
• 8 Around the Americas on Motorcycle (finished)
• Breaking the Limit (finished)
• Adventure Riders website (on-going resource)
• Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (Read after the trip. Great story.)
• Jupiter’s Travels (reviewed some chapters prior to trip, then read it entirely in 2009 - wish I had done so before traveling!)
• Ten Years on Two Wheels (didn't read)


PERSONAL BUSINESS


• Register bike
• Renew insurance (let domestic insurance lapse. I should have bought international insurance!)
• Check with consulates (Brazilian Consulate - can’t issue visa far in advance)
• Center for Disease Control: check traveler's recommendations for each country
• Computer – back up drives
• Credit cards: Advise credit cards companies of travel plans
• Credit Cards: photocopy
• Currencies
• Debit and credit cards - confirm they're valid for duration of travel
• Bank: advise of travel plans
• Service bike
• Savings - assure access internationally
• Health check-up
• Tetanus Vaccination
• Arrange handling of mail
• Mailing lists & subscriptions – discontinue
• Register trip with State Department
• Check with State Department for travel warnings
• Panniers: Loctite mounting bolts (to prevent loosening)
• Investigate shipping motorcycle from Panama to Colombia and reverse
• Telephones – discontinue service (leave local # active for period?)
• Telephone (cell), “do not call” registry: 888-382-1222
• Translator programs (such as Google's) - become familiar with
• Create website/blog
• Will - have one

PACKING LIST



BIKE SPARES, TOOLS AND SUPPLIES

(Also see Horizons Unlimited site for suggested packing lists.)

• Adhesive, Superglue - used several times, but ineffective
• Adhesive, Loctite 242 - never used
• BMW battery charger - used once
• Battery jumper cables - never used
• Blades, straight edge razor - left home
• Brake caliper bolts - didn't use (but important)• Brake fluid - jettisoned
• Brake pads and retainers - essential (4 front pads, 2 sets of rear pads)(even this wasn't enough!)
• Bulbs, spare (headlight, taillight, indicator) - essential
• Bungees and straps - essential
• Cap, oil filler - didn't need an extra, fortunately
• Chain, security - decided not to carry one. Too heavy. The bike is heavy enough to thwart theft. If they want it that bad, a chain won't stop a thief.
• Chamois - left at home
• Cloths, shop (Sears?) - left at home
• Cover, motorcycle - shipped home
• Crash bars, BMW - didn't save my valve cover from being destroyed
• Cruise control (“Throttle Rocker”) - sent home
• Duffel bags, waterproof (Ortlieb Dry Duffel) - very useful. Doubled as a day pack.
• Ear plugs (30 pair) - used less than expected - mostly in hotels for sleeping!
• Feeler gauges, valve - never used (had bike serviced at dealers)
• Filters, coffee (for gasoline) - never used for this, but did use for coffee when I returned home!)
• Filter, oil (2) - essential
• Filter, air (2) - essential
• Fuel pump electronics module (I didn't carry one, but would be wise on any future trip)
• Funnel (with filter) - left at home
• Gauges, tire pressure (1 digital, 1 mechanical) - digital failed, old reliable mechanical one survived - essential
• Gerry can (Chilton 8L @ $11.99) - left somewhere (only needed on Dalton Highway)
• Glue, epoxy - left home, but ended up buying more in Panama
• Grease - left home
• Hammer (combo with Gerber Backpaxe) - marginal value. Used once to split kindling
• Keys, ignition (2) - never needed the spare
• Lever, brake - never needed
• Lever, clutch - never needed
• Lever, gear shift - never needed
• Light, head-mounted - essential. Petzl died, difficult to replace south of the border
• Lubricant, WD40 - always carried small can
• Manual, Shop R1200GS (CD) - CD was not a great help! (Until late in the trip I was suddenly able to open files that at first were hidden.)
• Mirror, spare, (can be used for either side)- never needed. The originals survived about 17 falls! (But I did break the base mounting hardware in a fall later on.)
• Multimeter - never used
• Nuts and bolts, assorted - never used
• Oil, engine - always carried a quart - once engine was broken in (after 25,000 miles), very little consumption
• Oil, gear - jettisoned
• Pad, kickstand - useful for soft ground!
• Padlock - shipped home
• Paper towels - ran out early, never replaced
• Pump, Cycle, Airman - useful, if not essential
• Pump, tire - high quality hand-type - never used. Not compatible with tire valves!
• Pliers w/wire cutters (with Leatherman) - first one I've owned, I grew to really appreciate this tool!
• Pliers, needle nose (with Leatherman) - essential
• Power socket, auxiliary - useful for charging computer on road, electric vest and operating the Airman tire pump.
• Ratchet, ¼” drive - essential
• Ratchet, 3/8” drive (with 3/8 x ½ adapter) - essential
• Rope (tow, laundry, bear bag, etc.) - useful
• Saddlebag mounting hardware (spare) - never needed
• Sandpaper, 400 grit - useful (esp. for cleaning electrical contacts)
• Screws, cowling fasteners + washers and nuts - never needed
• Sealant, instant gasket - shipped home
• Seals, rear drive - didn't carry, but would on any future trip
• Spark plugs (two sets – primary and secondary) - essential
• Spokes (front and rear) - never needed
• Spray bottle (glass cleaner)(squeegee-edged “Clearview”?) - shipped home
• Talc (for tire changing)(use foot powder) - I never had to change a tire outside a shop
• Tank bag, BMW - not as durable as I had hoped. Fasteners weakened quickly. Velcro worthless towards end of trip.
• Tape, duct (Gaffer’s best) - essential
• Tape, electrical - never used
• Tape measure, pocket, 10’ - questionable value, but kept it
• Tie-downs, bike (Cycoactive?) - essential. used for towing and tying down (later bought heavier-duty ratcheting tie-downs)
• Tie-downs, luggage - essential
• Ties, zip, assorted - never used
• Tire irons, Aerostich - never used. Well, yes I did - for scraping mud from under front fender!
• Tire patching kits, REMA “Tip Top” brand - failed to work on Metzelers
• Tires, Metzeler “Tourance” - excellent dual sport tire, though too expensive!
• Torx set with driver, Proxxon Torx set #23-102 - essential for the R1200GS
• Tubes, tire (front & rear) - never needed
• Tubing, "Super Sucker” clear siphon - questionable value. Used only for draining tank prior to air-freighting.
• Vee wipes (for face shield) - shipped home
• Wheels, spoked - essential. Cast wheels would have been destroyed.
• Wrench, adjustable - never needed
• Wrench, oil filter (BMW) - essential
• Wrench, open end/box, 8mm (Muffler) - never used
• Wrench, open end/box, 10mm (Saddle Bag mounts) - essential
• Wrench, open end/box, 12mm (Exhaust pipe retainer)
• Wrench, open end/box, 13mm (Pannier retaining nut)
• Wrench, open end/box, 17mm (Mirrors) - essential. Mirrors WILL get twisted.
• Wrench, open end/box, 19mm (Nut under forward drive shaft)
• Wrench, socket, 8mm (seat platform)
• Valves, tubeless tire and valve caps - essential
• Vise Grips - useful


CAMPING GEAR


• Ax (Gerber Backpaxe) - marginal value
• Alarm clock - actually needed it occasionally
• Bags, ditty (3) small, medium and large - useful for easy identification
• Bags, garbage - unnecessary. Easy to find plastic anywhere!
• Bags, zip lock - essential
• Bags, dry Cascade Designs “SealLine Baja” (various sizes)(superior to "Hydro Venture" brand) - essential but must occasionally open up to air out!
• Batteries, flashlight (AA, AAA) - essential
• Bear bell (at REI) - shipped home. Never used.
• Chopsticks (2) - useful
• Clothesline, MSR (in tent) - useless
• Cocoon (SL30) - susceptible to mildew, but useful alternative to sleeping bag
• Compression sacks (3) small, medium and large - essential
• Corkscrew - absolutely essential!
• Flash light, Mini Maglite - useful
• Flatware - essential
• Fuel canister, MSR - essential
• Hammock (buy in Central America) - never did buy one. Once or twice it would have been nice.
• Knife, Swiss Army - useful, but Leatherman tool was much more useful.
• Light, CHALA - useless. Didn't function. Shipped home. (Returned for credit.)
• Light, Krill - useless. Shipped home
• Lighter, "Solo" weatherproof - failed due to moisture
• Mat, "Thermarest Prolite 4 - Regular" - essential. Proved a little too narrow. Allow to self-inflate, and leave open to air out often!
• Matches, weatherproof - essential
• Mosquito net, four point wedge, permethrin-treated - used once
• Mosquito net (hat net) - used in Alaska only!
• Mug, titanium - useful
• Pillow, Pocket - useless
• Rubber bands, heavy-duty - essential
• Scrubber, pot - useful
• Sleeping bag - obviously!
• Sleeping bag liner - useless? Shipped home. (But later regretted it - in the cold U.S.!)
• Soap, dish (small bottle) - jettisoned
• Sponge - essential
• Spoon, plastic, folding - marginal value
• Spoon, wooden - useful
• Stove, Primus multi-fuel w/isobutane canister and fuel bottle - essential
• Tent, MSR with rainfly and footprint (tent lost in Alaska. Replaced, but then used a plastic tarp in lieu of footprint - essential, of course
• Towels, dish - useful
• Trowel, folding - questionable value
• Umbrella, compact - very useful in cities
• Water bottle, 1L Lexan - not essential. Plastic water bottles are everywhere!
• Water container, collapsible, Platypus (2L & 4L) - marginal value
• Water container, collapsible, MSR with hydration tube - useless. Lost bite valve. Jettisoned.
• Water filtration system - used once in Latin America (but used often in subsequent U.S. travels)
• Water purification tablets - never used
• Wind protector for stove - useful


CLOTHING

• Balaclava, (& helmet liner) “Buff” - marginal value (didn't use until after Americas Trip. Then I found out I LIKE it!
• Belt - useful
• Boots, riding - essential (BMW boots replaced with Sidi boots after a few months)
• Boots, hiking - not essential, but I got some good use out of them. Gives riding boots a rest (and time to air out).
• Glasses, Rx (2) - essential
• Glasses, sun - questionable (I'm not normally a sun-glass wearer)(Never used. Finally were broken in my pack!)
• Gloves, Ropers - essential
• Gloves, liners - marginal value
• Gloves, waterproof (Bluettes) - useful. Must be large enough to pull over leather gloves.
• Gloves, winter - essential
• Hat, Smartwool knit - essential
• Hat, wide-brim - essential
• Helmet, Arai “Quantum II” - essential. Full face a must!
• Jacket, fleece - essential. Wore it much of the time.
• Lenses, helmet, clear and tinted - only clear. Went through several.
• Money belt - marginal value
• Pants, jeans (2) - wore them most of the time
• Pants, light weight - marginal. Jettisoned.
• Pants, light weight, Zip-off legs, REI - useful alternative to jeans
• Rain jacket,(lightweight) Mountain Hardwear - useful
• Rainsuit, Gore-Tex, jacket, Patagonia - essential
• Rainsuit, Gore-Tex, pants, BMW - essential
• Riding suit, Aerostich Roadcrafter one-piece - essential
• Sandals, Keen - very useful
• Sewing kit - shipped home
• Shirt, cotton long sleeve - essential
• Shirt, cotton short sleeve - useful
• Shirt, long-sleeve tee (2)(1 cotton, 1 Smart Wool long sleeve) - essential
• Shoes, tennis - nope
• Shorts/swimsuit? - nope (used zip-off pants.
• Socks 3 pairs - essential
• Thermals (fleece top and bottom) - essential
• Towel, bath (microfiber) - essential
• Towel, small? - useful
• Underwear 3 pairs - of course


COMMUNICATIONS/NAVIGATION

• Binoculars - fun occasionally
• Compass (Suunto MC-2G Global $70 @ REI) - useful in Southern Hemisphere where my sense of direction abandoned me.
• GPS, Garmin (Rino?) - left home
• Maps (North America – balance shipped to VT) - essential
• Radio, CB? (for monitoring CH19 on Dalton Highway) - nope
• Radio, Sangean AM/FM/Weather - questionable value. Eventually sent home.
• Weather station: Brunton ADC Summit - fun, but not essential. Batteries don't last.


DOCUMENTATION

• Birth Certificate - didn't need
• Carnet - didn't need
• Copies of title, passport, motorcycle registration and license - only 1st two are essential
• Credit cards (Visa & spare, MC or Am Ex + spare) Keep photocopies of the cards on file together with a lost credit card emergency phone number for cancellation in case they are stolen or lost. (or left in an ATM, as I did!)
• Driver’s license, domestic - essential
• Driver’s license, domestic (Duplicate)
• Driver’s license, domestic (Color Copies -5-10)(didn't need multiples)
• Driver’s license, Inter-American - useless? No one ever asked.
• Driver’s license, International - useless? No one ever asked.
• Embassy contacts - didn't use, but good to have
• Insurance coverage for year (cars and MC) - let it lapse. Next time: international!
• Glasses, copy of Rx - didn't need
• Registration - essential (plus a few copies)
• Passport - obviously (plus 10-20 copies)
• Photos, passport (10-20) - used a few at borders
• Prescriptions, (in original Rx bottles) - never a problem
• Title, motorcycle - essential!!! (with plenty of copies)
• Travel insurance (only purchased where required -Belize and Argentina) - next time, international
• Vaccination Yellow Card, Yellow Fever - I think I was asked once by officials
• Wallet, decoy (didn't use)


FOOD

• Bouillon cubes - jettisoned (prone to moisture)
• Chocolate - always!
• Coffee - stopped for coffee
• Creamer - nope (but regretted it on occasion)
• Energy bars - nice to have. South of the border, you won't find these "designer bars"
• Gatorade powder, enzyme powders - used once, in Panama
• Honey packs - I like! Easy to find
• Miso soup - useful (but carried most packs all the way back home with me)
• Oatmeal packs - nope
• Seasonings - maybe used once (salt and pepper useful)
• Sugar in the Raw packs - I like, but easy to find along the way


JOURNAL/PERSONAL

• Address book - essential
• Calculator, solar - useful
• Camera: Canon EOS 20D w/ EF-S 17 - 85 mm F4.5 - F5.6 IS USM - essential (but smaller camera would have been MUCH more practical!)
• Camera case, weather-proof/dust-proof - essential
• Checkbook with extra checks - for U.S. only (but check register needed to record ATM transactions)
• Computer, laptop - essential
• Three-prong to two prong, and two-prong (round prongs) plug adapters for computer - useful south of the border
• Ethernet cable for computer - useful
• AC/DC power adapter for computer (allows charging from motorcycle socket) - useful
• Computer case, soft-sided (10.125 x 12.25 x 1.25) - essential
• Envelopes (including large receipt envelopes) - nice to have
• Envelopes, mailing - unnecessary
• Headset (for computer and radio) - essential
• Highlighter - didn't use
• Journal, Gallery Leather #346 (3) - shipped them home (blog took their place)
• Memo pads/Log books (2 + 8 replacement pads) - essential (took lots of notes!)
• Newspaper, Kenwood Press - for "road photos"
• Pencils, drawing - shipped home
• Pencils, grease - shipped home
• Pen - essential (plan on losing)(lost it!)(retractable ball-points more useful)
• Pen refills (5) - useful, but lost pen!
• Photos, coins for sharing - marginal value - sent home
• Phrase books, Spanish and Portuguese (Port. shipped to VT)
• Postcards (local, for gifts) - nope
• Post-its - shipped home
• Sharpies (2 fine point, one regular) - jettisoned in Bolivia
• Sketchpad - shipped home
• Star chart, Southern Hemisphere - essential for me
• Tripod - useful
• Voice recorder, Sony ICD-B100 - useless. shipped home


OTHER

• BMWSF T-shirts - (to offer as gifts) never got them (too bulky anyway)
• Playing cards? - shipped home


SAFETY/HYGIENE


• Adapters, AC power - shipped home (too bulky)
• Anti-malarial - essential? (used doxycycline)(controversial)
• Aspirin - used extensively, especially for high altitude and dehydration headaches!
• Balm, lip & hand - lip essential, hand marginal
• Basin plug (flat rubber disk) - very useful for doing laundry in sink
• Clothes drying line - rope will do
• Dental floss - essential
• First aid kit and manual, Aerostich - didn't use, but essential, I guess
• Foot powder (also use as talc for tire changes) - essential in tropics
• Hair brush - no laughing
• Hand sanitizer - jettisoned
• H2O2 - sent home
• Ibuprofen - useful for strains, sprains, etc.
• Insect repellent - REI 100% DEET. Essential in Canada and Alaska
• Iodine - useful?
• Manicure kit - useful
• Mirror - useful
• Prescriptions - essential (extended volumes)
• Q-Tips - useful
• Razor (electric & hand) - jettisoned, but then bought a hand razor in Panama
• Shaving kit - shipped home
• Soap, all-purpose, Dr. Bonners - let it run out. Dry or bar soaps better, lighter
• Soap, laundry - essential (can buy small powder packets everywhere)
• Sun block, moisturizer - essential for Altiplano and mountains
• Toothbrush - essential
• Toothpaste - essential
• Vaccinations: tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B (2x), and yellow fever (good for 10 years) - essential?
• Vaseline - useful
• Towels - one synthetic
• TP, half roll - don't be caught without it



ITEMS ELIMINATED FROM PACKING LIST BEFORE DEPARTURE


Many of the following items appeared on other travelers' packing lists. I considered, then decided against them.

• Blanket, lightweight
• Lubricant, silicone
• Camp stool
• Wrench, torque, Proxxon (this is very useful, but in the end, too bulky)
• Traveler’s checks
• Bear spray
• Screwdrivers (with bits)
• Wire
• Special BMW tool kit (with clearly-labeled tools)
• Belt, kidney
• Rockets, flares (!)
• Helmet, spare, open-face style
• Laces, boot
• Seals, fork (Unnecessary per BMWSF)
• Battery, spare? (Unnecessary per BMWSF)
• Control cables (Unnecessary per BMSF)
• Cable, speedometer (Unnecessary per BMSF)
• Filters, fuel (Unnecessary per BMSF)
• Fuses (Unnecessary per BMSF)(Bike doesn’t use them)
• Sealant. radiator (Unnecessary per BMSF)
• Celestial navigation tools? (Did I think I'd be crossing oceans?)
• Taps (for broken bolts)
• Light, finger LED
• Covers, valve (should consider per BMSF)(needed one shipped to me in La Paz!)
• Ignition coil?
• Spoke key (uses Torx)
• Handle bar pack
• Wrench set, Allen (must include 22mm – front wheel)(In tool kit!)
• Camera remote control (too expensive)
• Knife, large (Leatherman would suffice)
• Clamps, hose (Jubilee clips)
• Fuel line
• Small g-clamp
• Electrical wire and connectors
• Toothbrush case – nylon, breathable
• Polish, boot - inexpensive shoe shines everywhere!
• Bear bag (just don't carry food and scented stuff around in bear country)
• Shoes, casual
• Shoes, tennis (takes too much space)
• Hacksaw, junior with spare blades
• Rabies vaccination (none available per Dr. Friedman)
• Passport (duplicate)
• Adhesive, JB Weld (returned)
• Survival kit (pack as unit)
• High energy foods
• Aluminum space blanket (returned)
• Micro Personal Locator Beacon (I wasn't going to be that far out)
• Telephone, satellite (Iridium or Insap?)
• Bank: notarized bank statement (unnecessary per Brazilian Consulate)
• Music? (downloaded on road)
• iPod? (Nope. Save the money.)
• Battery, watch (too hard to open)
• Panniers, tank? (too much stuff!)
• Eye drops/wash (returned)
• Weapons - forget it. (More likely to hurt myself than to save me.)



ADDED DURING TRIP


In Vermont:

• Larger toiletry bag
• Better towel (MSR Pack Towel)
• BMW oil filler cap tool
• Tank bag note pad (experiment, but it failed)
• Rubber booties (Used as covers for my hiking boots which didn't fit in the panniers)

In Austin:

• "Sidi" Riding Boots (BMW boots wore out)
• "First Gear" Mesh Riding jacket (essential for hot climates)

In Brownsville

• Ratcheting tie-downs (very useful!)(used on numerous ferries)

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