Durable goods


I’d rather not buy anything.  I will spend hard-earned money on durable goods to reduce cost over time and to ensure proper operation in use.  Unearthing equipment from the closet has exposed tired, torn and broken gear.  Some is repaired, some is replaced.  Some is ready to go, despite wear.  Getting ready for summer.

Carradice Camper saddlebag, repaired several times.


Brunton cookpot, previously repaired (note handle from M5 bolt and housing ferrule), soon to be replaced.  Product discontinued.  Suggestions for an inexpensive .8L-1.2L cookpot, not too deep not too shallow, not too heavy?


Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent, previously repaired, several parts replaced.  In use for almost 5 years.  Ready to go.

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Klean Kanteen 40 oz and 64 oz bottles.  One large bottle dented, one smaller bottle broken from severe freeze.  Water always tastes good and can be warmed over stove.  Dented bottle, ready to go.

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Tires.  Since tires are consumable by design, it is common to consider the price of a tire in relation to durability and other features.  I prefer Schwalbe touring tires for puncture resistance and durability, wearing several tires well past 10,000 miles.  Maxxis makes some tough mountain bike tires that we like.  CST, Geax, and Kenda sell some great tires at a great price.  Reflective sidewalls are a useful feature, with no downside.  I am always looking at tires.


Nylon quick-drying shorts, without liner.  Cheap and durable, good for riding, swimming, sleeping, walking, everything.  Cotton t-shirts– everyone is giving them away.  Need new shorts, probably Patagonia 5″ baggies.


Wool long underwear is comfortable, wicks moisture and resist odors.  Wool is not particularly durable compared to synthetic fibers.  I generally trust Ibex for quality.  I generally avoid Smartwool clothing, but recent experiences are changing my opinion.


EMS down jacket, in use for two years.  Down is always said to last a lifetime.  That may be the case in the closet, but in the real world a garment will have a finite lifespan.  I recently replaced the zipper slider and  have patched several holes with duct tape.  I am searching for a purpose-specific ripstop fabric tape.  Light and warm, ready to go.


EMS Deluge jacket, made of Gore-Tex Paclite fabric, which boasts waterpoofness and breathability in a lightweight package.  The zipper is fatally scrambled and the fabric has worn in several places in two years of use.  Replaced.  The exact same jacket is on order.  Otherwise, I would have gotten the Marmot Minimalist, but this jacket fit me better.


Salomon mid-height Gore-Tex hiking shoes.  These are the best all-weather biking shoes I’ve ever used.  Expired, due to extended hard use.  Need replacement.


Patagonia Capilene 2 long-sleeve top.  My current clothing system relies upon this layer, over top of a lightweight wool shirt, and a cotton t-shirt.  Walz cycling cap has outlasted nearly a dozen chains.


Revelate Gas Tank, top tube bag.  Fits more than you’d think and built light and tough.  Ready to go.


Sea-to-Summit eVent compression drybag.  Durable, ready to go.


Enameled steel camping mug.  Tough as nails, beat to shit, ready to go.


Thermasrest Prolite sleeping pad.  Either it is durable or I am lucky, but this has been with me for over a year without any punctures.  I have punctured mats from REI and Big Agnes.  I have repaired several holes in the past with bicycle patches and duct tape.

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Mont-Bell UL3 Down Hugger sleeping bag.  This is one of the best in class, and after several years of testing bags, I have landed on this model.  Lael loves her Western Mountaineering Summerlite bag, except when it is 12deg at night.


Brooks saddle.  Comfortable.  More notably, this saddle has been extremely durable.  People often mistake it for a new saddle.  I smile and respond that is has seen over 30,000 miles since October 2009.  Lael loves the stock saddle from her Cannondale Hooligan.  If I was to buy a new saddle, I’d pick one up for $35.


Steel bikes.  I’ve broken one steel frame, but I’ve also ridden dozens.  I would not hesitate to ride aluminum, yet I still ride steel.  Titanium would be nice, but it’s out of my price range.  Steel wins again.  The Pugsley is coming to Europe.  Shown here with 26×3.8″” tires on 65mm fatbike rims last summer, I am currently building 29″ wheels for our upcoming journey.  Thinking about Rabbit Hole rims.


For further details, revisit my Kit List posts from last fall.

31 thoughts on “Durable goods

  1. The two cookpots I’ve stuck with after about ten years of buying/selling/buying/selling are the black anodized Open Country 2 Quart Pot with Lid and the Snow Peak Trek 900 Titanium (which I removed the handles from and built a pie-plate material lid for). That’s my $0.02.

    • I’ve handled the Snow Peak 900 and considered that the lid (which doubles as a fry pan) does not pack as efficiently as a standard pot and lid. I generally do not need a second cooking surface. However, the last time Lael and i toured in france we did have two small pots and created some fantastic meals. One of our favorites was caramelized shallots and garlic with avocado over oreillette pasta. Of course, grey sea salt and and local butter make all the difference too. Maybe I should bring two pots!

    • The 2 Quart Pot would be much too big for my preferences. I think 1L would be perfect, especially with access to fresh fruits, cheese, and bread, which reduces the load of cooked items.

  2. Primus Litech kettle or Alutech 1L pot are very similar to the Brunton pot you were using and a reasonable price.

    If you want a super cheap option you could go with an Imusa aluminum cup from Walmart or an even larger Imusa “grease pot” which has a lid.

    Good luck!

    • The Primus Litech looks nice, although same as the Snow Peak discussed above, I prefer a nesting set to save space. I realize that a cookpot can be packed full of food, thus not wasting any space.

      The Alutech looks like a good solution.

  3. I hope you’ll get a larger cook pot now. 🙂 We use a 1.3 liter Evernew Ti pot for the two of us. My solo pot is an REI branded Evernew .9 liter. I’d buy them both again.

    Wool is fragile. For what it costs it isn’t worth it to me. I love Patagonia plastic tops and buy them when a big sale comes along, they’re good for may years of use as opposed to months for light wool.. Patti did just order me a mid weight Smartwool hoodie that she found really cheap.

    • Gary, the Evernew .9L looks like a good candidate for us. Do you prefer cooking on Ti, Al or steel, or do you not really notice a difference in heat distribution. I’m not particular, just wondering if you have any preferences.

      For now, I can’t get away from wool baselayers. I do not prefer wool for anything other than long underwear and a simple long sleeve shirt.

      Have you checked these maps yet?: http://www.chamina.com/collection/vtt-8/

      The Grande Traversee are the long distance routes.

      • As you know, I’m no chef, but Patti likes the Ti pots. She’s also concerned about using an aluminum pot long term for health reasons. I don’t notice any difference in heat distribution. We always use a cozy as opposed to simmering though. I used one of the Wal-Mart pots for years before I broke down and bought a Ti pot. My Wally pot has an annoying folded rim at the lip that is really hard to keep clean. Otherwise they’re a great deal.

        Thanks for the map link! Google translate is going to get used plenty now. Too bad the maps are so expensive. Would you suggest the Michelin maps for a general map of each country?

  4. I’ve been thinking about the same things, as I’m getting ready for camping/touring season. I’ve purged a bunch of stuff and got some new stuff that I’ll be testing out in the coming months.

    As for a light, small pot, I’d recommend the GSI one:http://www.rei.com/product/830766/gsi-outdoors-pinnacle-soloist-cookset
    I had one like it, and if I knew that you needed it, I wouldn’t have already sold it. (Sorry. Besides, the lid was a’cracking.)

    I’m also with you on wool: I love it, but it’s not as durable as synthetics. I picked up some undies and a shirt that are 50% wool/50% rayon, so they should hold up longer. We’ll see how long…

    • Wool blends seem like a great solution. I know that synthetic fibers are the reason my Walz cap and cheap Mexican underwear last so long.

      I’ve handled the GSI pot at REI. I like the ano AL finish, but would prefer a wider shallower pot to prevent burning the bottom and for simpler sautee. Very, very picky.

      • Man, soooo picky! 😉
        For wider/shallower, I like the pot/lid that doubles as frypan that comes with the Trangia 28 backpacker set. The capacity of the pot is 0.8L, and its designed to be a nesting set for a Trangia stove, so if you’re using a homebrew alcohol stove it should fit in there just nicely. The pan is non-stick and the pot bare aluminum, but I haven’t had issues burning stuff (yet).

      • Also, I have to say that I think this post has the most photos of you that I’ve seen in one place! I approve.
        (But somehow you left out the photo of you with wheel on back that they use every time you post something over at the ACA blog. I disapprove.)

      • Shawn, The Trangia pot still fails from a raised lid (yes, also a pan) rather than a nesting piece. I want a single pot, no larger than its actual capacity.

        I’ll be sure to create a photographic log of my clothing in the future, to avoid so many photos of myself.

      • Nick, I’m not sure I understand how the mini-Trangia is “non nesting”. Do you mean that you want the lid to go inside the pot? Because other than that, the mini-Trangia set is a complete package. The pan/lid “snaps on” to the pot when not in use.

        And hey, next time you could always crop your head out of the photos! 😉

      • If I am to carry two pots, I would prefer one to fit inside the other to reduce the overall packed volume. I carried both pots from the Brunton IB set for several years, but have used only the smaller pot for the past few years (0.8L). It requires a little more creativity, but is smaller, lighter, simpler.

        However, our travels in Europe will be a daily celebration of food, so I’d also like to have the right equipment. Any leads on a Ti wine glass? Does Snow Peak make a cheese knife? Trangia raclette system?

      • The Trangia 28 isn’t two pots but a pot and pan. If you want two pots the pots that come with the larger 27 series nest one inside the other. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like you can buy those separately, but you can buy them for the even larger 25 series. But that will probably be too large for your needs.

        I have no leads on those other items you ask. I know that GSI makes a plastic and stainless steel wine glass, though, but that might get you kicked out of the “ultralight bikepackers” club. And after the SOTS debacle, I know you don’t want to go there! 😉 In any case, you should be thinking big and seeing what artisanal bikepacking gear makers can make the custom cheese knifes and raclettes you desire. (Or at least convince VO to give it a try.)

  5. I really loved my Solomon’s too; too bad that after 1 summer in Alaska, the eyelets broke, rendering the still good uppers useless. Unfortunately, I have never had any luck with air mattresses. Brookes Saddles and steel framed bikes? You bet!! Thanks for sharing!

    • The shoelace reserve began to unstitch within a week on my Salomons. I repaired them by hand, and had no issues until the outer shell began to tear recently. I have thoroughly trashed them and consider it money well spent. I have a cheap pair of Merrel boots that I have been using for work around the farm and around town that may begin the trip with me.

      Brooks and steel, for sure. Seriously, Lael’s saddle from the Hooligan is really comfortable, and lightweight (and cheap). I’m glad to know of it.

  6. Nick – for a lightweight rips top repair tape good for down jackets I suggest Spinnaker Tape – is bought from sail makers and sailing supplies shops. The patch on Sarah’s jacket has lasted 2 years and several washes.

    • Cawlin, I’ve always lusted after Ti equipment, and Snow Peak products in particular. For more than boiling (including sauté, pan-frying, etc.), I prefer a shallower pot to a tall pot. I am leaning towards the Evernew 1.3L that Gary mentioned above. The Primus offerings look durable and well-made as well.

      I use $5 Profile Design Kages for oversized bottles, up to the 40 oz Kleen Kanteen. The plastic cage holds tightly, but may eventually break in one of several places. It is best to form the plastic with a boiling hot bottle of water when new. King Kage makes a metal cage specifically for a 40 oz KK, in their shop in Durango, CO (not always shown in stock: http://www.kingcage.com/products-waterbottle-cages.html). I use the Salsa Anything Cage for my 64 oz. KK, although it would not fit under the downtube on most bikes– my Pugsley has a 100mm wide BB.

  7. The Evernew 1300ml is pretty ideal as a solo+ pot for larger convenience store type boil meals and actual light cooking inside the pot. The extra room is insurance against boil overs. Only downside to that pot, or any Ti pot, is the thin walled Ti tends to burn food easily, especially if you’re doing any cooking over hobo fires (you probably already knew that!). You can nestle the .9L Evernew pot inside the 1300. I’ve owned both the 900ml and the 1300ml and found the extra room in the larger pot to be well worth the trivial weight increase. You can fit a ton of shit inside the 1300 (spoon, bandana, fuel, windscreen, etc.), but the size isn’t anything to shake a stick at. This is my favorite “multifuel” stove setup and compliments the 1300ml Evernew pot: http://www.traildesigns.com/stoves/caldera-sidewinder

  8. As I have mentioned many times before, the only proper kit for an epicurean euro-tour is wicker, wicker, wicker. An artisanally grown hand-crafted wicker basket for the hot air balloon support crew. Finest spider-spun silk ropes (Italian spiders) for lowering the wicker picnic basket to the weary cyclo-travellers. The wine (having been previously chilled with glacial ice chipped just that morning by the recently wed same-sex couple who divide their time between writing symphonies and piloting the GBT corporate jet to Antarctica for ice) is safely ensconced in a fine wicker wine basket. On ice.

    Fireflies imported from Malaysia will provide the ambient lighting while recently unemployed angels (hey, we’re still in an economic crunch) will sing Bach chorals and also, (for tips), dance interpretive dances representing the day’s adventures on the head of a pin.

    Titanium utensils will not be necessary, for Titan himself, hoping only for a kind word and a sip of wine, will daily forge flatware from local native lode and if asked, hand feed the cyclists.

    All while the moon, full and glowing and frozen on the horizon, smiles down and renders additional light and gentle ambiance for the remainder of the evening.

    I thought you guys already knew this stuff.


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