The IDBDR winds its way from Canada to Nevada, with a side-step into Montana. It’s 1,238 miles long, and most of it is on forest service roads, county roads, and there’s a bit of pavement thrown in here and there. This post isn’t to tell you about the route or our experiences on the trail, instead it’s to tell you about the gear we used on the journey. We won’t take the time to insert photos of every item, or list the hot link to a purchasing page. You can find most items on the BestRest website by using the search bar.
To find out more about the IDBDR and other BDR rides, click here: Back Country Discovery Routes
Gear That Worked:
1. Cyclops TPMS. This is a brilliant product that gives you real time tire pressure readings as you ride. If your tire pressure gets low you get an alarm. If your tire temp gets too high you get an alarm. It came in handy 3 times. Guys got a puncture, the system alerted them as the tire deflated and they were able to stop and make repairs before the tube was destroyed.
2. Nemo Chain Oiler. An on-demand chain lubing system. Instead of applying chain lube at the end of the day, I was sipping a tall cool one under the awning. The other guys were busy spraying lube. It’s simple to operate – give the reservoir a 1/4 turn and the chain lubes itself for 3 minutes. I went thru about 8 ounces of lube in 2500 miles.
3. Cyclops LED headlights and driving lights. I know it seems silly to run high beams and driving lights during the day, but it serves a purpose other than conspicuity for cagers. When my buddies had their Cyclops blazing away I could do a quick check in my mirror and confirm they were back there somewhere. One bike had stock halogen lights and he was basically invisible.
4. Moto-Grill. Attaches to the side of the pannier, serves as a cooking and work surface when you don’t have a picnic table. We used it several times as our camp kitchen. We never cooked over an open campfire but it can do that too.
5. CyclePump Tire Inflator and EZAir Gauge. ‘Nuff said. We used them throughout the journey. Filling tires after flats, airing-up when we hit the pavement. Lifetime Warranty, Top Choice Award from Motorcycle Consumer News.
6. CyclePump Tire Repair Kits. Vulcanizing strings for the 1 guy with tubeless tires, vulcanizing patches for the tubes. Don’t settle for cheap gummy worms or patches that use rubber cement. Vulcanizing repairs are the way to go.
7. SOG Camp Hatchet. We had to blaze a new trail at one point because the track led us into an impassible swamp and thru a mini-forest. The SOG hatchet and a Sven saw made short work of things. Unfortunately I had sharpened the hatchet to a razor’s edge, and one moment of carelessness caused a cut on my throttle hand.
8. Cycle Wipes. Lens and face shield cleaners. We went thru a bunch of them clearing our gear of bugs and trail dust. The resealable packs are nice.
9. Ortlieb Waterproof RackPacks. Been using them for years, will continue using them as long as I ride. They keep gear dry, they keep gear clean. The roll-top seal seals out the weather and other bits. I used two small RackPacks, one on the top of each pannier, and a larger one on the rear rack.
10. BestRest TireIron BeadBrakR. Breaks the beads on any tire. We used it when we had to make a tire repair. Once the bead was free the spoons were used to peel the tire off the rim. The BeadBrakR is the equivalent of a commercial tire shop in a pouch.
11. MSR Water Filter. The MSR AutoFlow Gravity model with a 2-liter bladder. We’d collect water from a stream or lake, hang the bag on a nearby tree, then fill our CamelBaks and water bladders for the day’s ride. Water filtration is important. You won’t find potable water where we were riding. Smaller pump-type filters would take too long to handle the amount of water we needed.
12. Gloves. Racer Gloves USA “Mickey” model. I just wrote a report on those gloves. Love ’em.
13. Sena communicators. Regardless of what model, or what brand you choose, having bike-to-bike comms is important. The lead rider could give us a heads-up on the things he encountered around the corner, and we could take evasive action. Being able to listen to music as we rode was an added bonus.
14. Tires. I had TKC-80’s on my BMW 800GS. They performed great but they wear quickly. After seeing how a set of Moto-Z Tractionators performed on exactly the same trails, and how much more tread they had at the end of the journey, they’re gonna be my next set.
15. Tire Changing Mat. When you’re working on a tire on the ground in the middle of the forest, you need a clean surface like the TCM. It also doubles as a doormat in front of your tent. The storage pouch can hold a BeadBrakR and other tools.
16. Moto-Zipp Ties – super heavy duty 250-lb rated zipties. We used them for tire changes and for securing gear that was coming loose. Scott’s Mosko Moto saddlebags didn’t really fit the tail piece of his Africa Twin and they kept slipping off to one side. We crafted a better mounting plate using a plastic tube and Moto-Zipps. We’ve also used them to strap on saddlebags that were torn off in a tumble.
17. Wine bladders converted into water carriers. Boxed wine bladders can be recycled and turned into potable water carriers. No need for a hard RotoPax. The bladder can be slipped into a duffel or an Ortlieb bag.
18. GPS Tracks. Planning your route and loading it into a GPS makes navigation quick and easy. Load GPX TRACKS, not routes. Routes are variable. We created a 3500 mile GPX track and followed it the entire way.
19. Battery Tender SAE-to-USB charging plug. Everyone had an SAE power supply on their bike. We used the SAE as a source of power for our electronics. First thing we did when we arrived in camp was to start charging our Sena comm units, cell phones, and other devices.
20. Baby Wipes. Soft packs of moist wipes were useful for camp cleanups, washing hands and faces, and of course they are useful for … well … essential cleaning. Don’t get the hard cased packs, get the soft resealable packages.
21. Silicone bowls. Instead of carrying a hard bowl, get a pair of soft silicone bowls. They squish nicely together and fit inside a plastic mug. They can hold boiling hot water and coffee.
22. Joey Camp Chair. Everybody had something to sit in/on because adventure camping means you won’t be staying in a campground with picnic tables. The Joey was small enough to carry on the bike, big enough for a tired rider at the end of the day.
23. Camp stoves. We had 2 types on the ride. Gasoline powered stoves and pressurized canister stoves. Each has merits. I prefer the simplicity of a canister stove. Gas stoves take some fiddling and I’ve been around when things went wrong and we had a pool of gas burning on the picnic table.
24. InReach satellite transmitter. We used it to send messages home and get updates on weather and other info. In an emergency we could call for help. See below for comments on what feature didn’t work.
Things That Didn’t Work:
1. Steri-Pen water purifier. Looks like a big thermometer, uses UV light to purify a quart of water. Although it performed as advertised, it couldn’t keep up with demand. We switched to the MSR system that delivered a constant stream.
2. Tents. Some worked, some didn’t. Lee Spurlock was using a tent designed around the turn of the century. I swear it was made from leftover man o’war sailcloth. He’s had it for about 30 years. Although it worked, it was pretty rudimentary and it was the source of a lot of jokes. Especially when a curious deer got his antlers tangled in the poles at about 3 am. His tent gets my “didn’t work” vote.
A good tent should include a separate rain fly, folding poles made from aluminum, it should be free-standing without the need for staking down, and it should be large enough for you AND your gear.
David Ehrich was using a super lightweight tent that was barely big enough for his body. It was more of a body bag than a tent. I’d get claustrophobic. It gets my “didn’t work” vote.
David Petersen used a Taurus Model 2AL Orion which has vestibules on both sides and is free-standing. I’ve used this for years. Cost is a modest $140. It’s big enough to hold a BestRest Executive Board Meeting, while hosting a square dance troupe, while playing cribbage in one corner. And small enough to fit in the tent spaces you’ll find on the BDR.
Scott Reichard had a backpacking tent that used poles integrated into the fabric (watching him put it together was always fun). This tent gets my “didn’t work” vote.
Steve Irby had an REI Half Dome II tent with titanium tent stakes. He could push the stakes into the ground with his boot (no hammer needed). His tent gets my seal of approval, but it is smaller than mine.
Finally, there was much discussion about the really large tents that have a ride-in vestibule. Intentionally not naming the brand. There were few places on the trail where you would find the room to pitch a tent like that. Use that tent for a rally site, but don’t take it on the BDR.
3. Screen protectors on GPS screens. Scott was constantly going off course because he couldn’t see his GPS tracks. The screen protector filtered things so much that the resolution was minimal. Once the protector was removed he could actually see where he was going. Yes, protectors are there for a purpose, but if they work against you then take them off.
4. InReach satellite transmitter. Yes, it can send and receive text messages anywhere in the world. But if you intend to use it to send real-time messages to another rider in your group then you’re in for disappointment. It took about 10-15 minutes for the message to go out, ping the satellite, and be received by the other rider. We were hoping for a more rapid method of communicating a change in the trail, or to report to our fellow riders that Joe was broken down. In spite of this delay we will continue to carry one because of the safety features it provides.
The list of things that didn’t work is pretty short, because everything we carried had already been tested and vetted for several years. All the bugs had been worked out. Any gear that was marginal had been discarded long ago.
I will check with my riding buddies to see if they have anything to add. Stay tuned.