This is the gear for the 2012 China Trip; I have not included all the gear just some of the main items.
NOTE – THIS ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN IN 2012
Pro Deal thanks to Icebreaker, Arc’teryx, SmartWool
I have developed this gear list after 5 years of doing distance skating trips. For me the concept is simple. The lighter I can travel, the more enjoyable it will be for my mind and body. Although traveling with no gear would be the lightest, that sounds a bit too hard, haha.
When traveling light, you do sacrifice a bit of comfort. You might be a little colder at night and your tent might not be as comfortable, but you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to be more comfortable pushing on my board or resting during my down time?” I choose pushing.
The downside for going light is that it is NOT LIGHT on the wallet. You pay more for ultra light gear. I have bought these items over many years and have slowly begun getting equipment sponsorship with some of these companies. My advice to you is…. if you have a bunch of money saved up and you are really into camping…. GO FOR IT. A lot of this gear will last you many years to come, but make sure you are going to use it year round. If cash is an issue, just buy some key gear and each year keep introducing new gear. I think the most important things to help save weight are backpack, tent, and sleeping bag.
You can do these trips with anything….cheap equipment or heavy equipment. Most of the trip is mental, but having light gear does ease the mind a bit, especially when pushing up a 79 mile long hill like we did in Peru. BUT DON’T LET NOT HAVING THE MOST HIGH TECH GEAR HOLD YOU BACK. Again, if money is an issue, make it work with what you’ve got.
GEAR LIST (some of my key gear, I did not take the time to list toiletry items and other small pieces of gear)
TOTAL WEIGHT of all my gear including backpack weight (minus food and water) is 12.5 lbs.
Rayne LongTreks Board
Aera 172mm Trucks
Orangatang 80a Durians
Teva Reforge eVent Shoes
Osprey 34L Exos Bag
NEMO Gogo Elite
Western Mountaineering HighLite sleeping bag
Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight Crew
Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight T – shirt
Montbell EX Light Down
Arc’teryx Palisade Pants
Arc’teryx Alpha FL Rain Jacket
2 pairs Smartwool Microweight boxers
2 pairs Icebreaker Run Cushion Mini
Smart Wool Balaclava
Rayne LongTreks Board
I want to give this board a go. I’ve been using LBL up to this point, but decided to vary it up. Paul Kent who I have done 2 distance trips with developed this board. Not sure if it is even for sale any more, it was limited addition at one point….
Aera 172mm Trucks
These are expensive buggers, but I have heard amazing things. I like how lightweight they are. I got the 172mm width because they are narrower and keep the wheels in a bit more…. less chance of me kicking my wheels.
Orangatang Durians 75mm 80a
These are slightly more narrow than an Inheat. They have rounded edges for going over imperfections easier and are pre broken-in. I’m using 80a because you need a soft wheel to battle harsh pavement. I hear China has good pavement….we shall see. Some peeps like really big wheels 85mm +… they work. I like 75mm because they have good acceleration for pushing up hills….they’re lighter and keep the board a bit lower. Perhaps 80mm is the magic?
Teva Reforge eVent Shoes
First time trying out Teva Reforge eVent shoes on a distance skate trip. These Teva Reforge shoes could be amazing, they have an eVent membrane making them waterproof yet breathable, they are fairly light, they offer some support and have a rugged durable looking sole. We shall see how they hold up, 1,000 + miles will tell. I have Teva sandals and the rubber on the soles has been holding up well to foot braking. Hopefully the spider rubber on the Reforge will do the same.
NOTE: Typical skate shoes for distance skating trips are not ideal, I have tried. Usually with a skateboarding shoe you want a shoe with nice board feel, this helps with tricks and slides. With distance skating you are not going to be focusing on tricks and board feel is not as important, you want more of a rugged yet light weight performance shoe that supports your foot and holds up in weather. Skate shoes are heavy, they do not breathe well, take long to dry when wet, start to smell quickly and offer no arch support. I had to throw my skate shoes away in Morocco because they smelled so bad, hahah. From what I have seen Nike’s SB seem to hold up the best for distance skating but again I do not think they are ideal.
Taking care of your feet is crucial because distance skating is rough on your body. Insoles that come with shoes are cheap. Superfeet are the best over the counter insoles you can get. They offer amazing support and really cup your heel, allowing your body to be more inline and help reduce knee pain. These insoles are hard and stiff so they might make your feet sore at first, so make sure to wear them around a bit to get use to them.
NOTE: These are easy to install. Pick the correct Superfeet insole for your shoe size. Trace the original insole onto the super feet and then cut the super feet to match the original insole and bam. Sure they are a bit pricey but $50 for taking care of your body so it will love you in the long run, not bad. I put these superfeet in my normal day to day shoes especially my skating shoes.
This SPOT tracker is pretty much a must for any adventure, keeps your mom worrying less, hahahaha. It is a GPS satellite device that you can use to upload your position to google maps for friends and family to follow along. It is super easy to use as well, all you do is turn it on, press a button, wait for 3 – 5 minutes for it to send out your coordinate and then turn it off. MOST IMPORTANT there is a button you can press if you are in a life threatening situation and you will be helicopter rescued. You suspect you will get rescued but who knows never had to press it.
NOTE: I am a big fan of this item. Life is fun so why not live as long as you can. It would be a bummer to be stuck somewhere dieing without getting proper help. It is also not that expensive either.
Osprey Exos 34L – Lightweight backpack
I have been a fan of Osprey since I was a Boy Scout way back in the day. I used the 46L Exos pack in Morocco. It was a great bag, but I wanted to go with something smaller and lighter for this trip…. so I went with the 34L Exos. Osprey makes a lighter bag, the ‘hornet’, and I was tempted to try it. But I really like the Exos because it can handle a 3L reservoir and it has a nice solid back support system. There are other backpack companies out there making super light minimalist packs, like Gossamer gear. But for me, I will suck up a bit more weight to have a very comfortable pack with a nice back support. On the other hand, you can go overboard and get a comfy pack that weighs 6 lbs. Some peeps don’t realize that when you use, say a 2 lb comfy pack compared to a 6 lb one, you are saving 4 lbs right there. Some peeps forget the weight of the backpack is part of the total weight you will be carrying on your trip.
NOTE: If you get a small pack, like a 34L, you really need the right lightweight gear that can compact small to fit in it. 46L – 50L might be a better idea size if you have bulkier gear.
NEMO GoGo Elite – Super light Bivy Tent
I used the NEMO Gogo for the LongTreks S. America & Morocco trips and my recent Paddle Board trip in Australia. It is my go to adventure tent. I really like how small it packs down due to its collapsible airbeam. You basically stuff it in a sack like you would do your sleeping bag, and it can easily fit inside your pack. NEMO has a new, even lighter, version out now. I had the pleasure of testing out a proto in Patagonia. The Gogo Elite is 6oz lighter than the GoGo Le. It is made out of a new lighter material and is a bit more bare bones…. stoked to save some weight here.
NOTE: This tent might not be comfortable for everyone. It is not the “hang out in the tent” kind of deal. It does have enough space to store most things. I usually keep my backpack outside though. It is a single wall tent so when it rains hard or you camp by moist spots, such as a lake or river, it will get a bit wet on the inside. But, to me, the weight saved is worth it. If I am just looking for a tent to throw in a car and go camping, NEMO makes some great double wall tents that I use.
Western Mountaineering HighLite -sleeping bag.
This Western Mountaineering bag will not die! I have had it on all my skating trips and a bunch of backpacking trips. When I first got the bag I thought it was so light and fragile that it was going to get easily torn up. Four years later, it’s still going strong and coming on another trip with me. The lightest 3-season bag, that I believe there is on the market, is a 35F bag. So in S. America, when it got down to 15F, it was a bit cold. However, I just put on all my clothes and slept in the bag, making it bearable. I’d rather wear clothes to bed to keep warm than pack a heavier sleeping bag. This is not for everyone though.
NOTE: This bag is a half zip, meaning the zipper only goes down halfway. If you are a really cold sleeper, then you might not want to push the rating of this bag too much. It’s best to store your sleeping bag out of its stuff sack when at home. It is also natural for down feathers to poke out from time to time; you just have to lightly pull them back into the bag.
Patagonia Merino 1 Silkweight Crew
This Patagonia long sleeve shirt is the lightest I have ever worn. It’s so light and thin that it is basically “see through”. It is a merino wool, polyester blend which is supposed to make it more durable. I wear LS shirts because they are my sun protection and keep me a bit cleaner. The shirt resists odor well and is quick to dry when washed. Merino wool is the way to go.
NOTE: There are many amazing merino wool shirts. Smartwool and Icebreaker make amazing ones as well. All the shirts I have used on the trips have ripped a bit. The constant rubbing of the backpack on the shirt makes it get small tears. All of my shirts I own in LA, for regular day life, are Merino wool. I swear by this material. All of my friends that have bought Merino Wool shirts fall in love as well. Downside…. they are a bit pricey.
MontBell – Mid layer, Warmth Layer
This has been a staple in all my adventures. Montbell kills it with their down jackets. This is my light weight, mid layer (warmth layer) that is lighter than most t-shirts. I have had my green Montbell UL down jacket on all my adventures and it is still going strong, except for the zipper that I need to get fixed. I went with a lighter one for this trip…. 900 fill down and no pockets. It is very minimalist.
NOTE: A bit weird on the sizing. It seems to be designed for people with long arms and small torsos.
Arc’teryx Alpha FL Jacket– Rain Jacket / Wind protection
I’m trying out a new rain jacket. I used an eVent West comb for 3 years, but it has died. This Arc’tyerx is a breathable Gortex. It is very lightweight. The hood section does not fit my head well, but oh well. My rain jacket also acts as another layer of warmth and blocks out the wind. On a really cold night, I wear my base layer Patagonia shirt, Montbell jacket, and my rain jacket. I will go to bed wearing this as well, depending on the temperature.
NOTE: Rain jackets in general are expensive. Arc’teryx makes some very nice products, but they are very expensive. REI, Patagonia, and Marmot make some more affordable rain jackets.
Arc’teryx Palisade Pants
I have been a diehard Arc’teryx Gamma LT pant fan. These are what I wear on my trips, and these are what I wear at home. I recently got some palisade shorts that are amazing. So I got some Palisade pants they will make their debut this trip…. excited. They are a bit more stretchy and lighter than the Gamma LTs.
NOTE – Arc’teryx pants are expensive, but I think people pay 100+ for jeans that, I guess, look cool. These pants look cool, breathe like shorts, dry fast, resist odor, stretch and are super durable. However, given the price, they are not the kind of pants I would bomb a sketchy hill with on a regular basis because ripping these hurts your wallet a bit.
Smartwool Microweight boxers– Underwear
I like a boxer style of underwear. They give you a bit more breathing room and resist odor a bit more since they are not hugging your jewels so much, like briefs do. These boxers can take some abuse…. I’m talking 6 days strong in a single pair sweating your butt off all day, hahah. Again, Merino Wool is the way to go.
NOTE: I wear merino wool boxers all the time. I swear by them. The only thing is they are super expensive. I only own a few pairs and keep washing them. Perhaps you can get one pair to see how you like them. If it’s worth it, you can get another.
Icebreaker Run Cushion Mini
It’s crucial to have nice breathable socks. If you did a long treks trip with cotton socks, you are asking to get soggy blistery feet. These Icebreaker socks are comfortable, conforming, and are made out of merino wool. They naturally breathe, keep your feet cool, and resist moisture. These puppies will smell sour after a couple days, but you at least get a couple days out of them. I bring only 2 pairs. Most people are afraid to bring 2 pairs, but it makes sense. I wear one pair until they get smelly. I wash them, hang them to dry on my pack as I skate, and put on the clean pair…..just keep the cycle going.
NOTE: Synthetic socks work, but they get smelly way quicker. If you get Merino wool socks, make sure to get a nice thin, lightweight athletic kind. Do not buy the merino wool “winter socks” for a distance skating trip.
Smart Wool Balaclava
I love Balaclavas; this style of mask/beanie does it all. You can wear it as a beanie to keep your head warm, neck warmer or neck sun-shield, gas mask for gar exhaust and ski mask for ultimate warmth. If you are going to a colder region having a nice warmth layer for your head is nice.
NOTE: This will be your most versatile item.
Again, this is just my opinion and experience. Everyone’s got their own preferences and ideas. The most important thing is to go out there, have fun and explore!! Start big or start small, just make your idea a reality.