Recently, I was contacted by the editor/webmaster of a "Cool Tools"
website, who had seen my GlobeRiders(TM) bio
. He asked if I could provide him with a "List of Cool Tools I'd Never Leave Without" - unusual products and services that I have with me when riding on pre-runs and commercial tours for GlobeRiders
. The intended audience for his work is not limited to the motorcycle touring community, so some of what I came up with is obvious to members of Horizons Unlimited
. And, of course, there is a wealth of great products specifically for motorcycles and two-wheeled adventuring that I did not include in this list - more on those in a future post! For instance, a Leatherman(R) is not simply a "cool tool", but an "essential item", something everyone already has, and as important as water, fuel, and air. But, humble and mundane, it may be essential, but not inherently "cool" <g>!
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"Top 15 List of Things I'd Never Leave Home Without When Touring Around the World on a Two-Wheeled MotherShip"
BMW R1150 GS and R1150GS Adventure motorcycles. They make it all possible, and nothing else is in their class when it comes to a reliable, comfortable and rugged bike capable of dealing with a wide variety of surface conditions, and hauling a ton of gear without beating up the rider. A vastly improved model, the R1200GS, will be announced in a few weeks. You can see details on the R1150GS here
. For info on the new R1200GS, click here
. BMW's corporate US site can be found here
MEDJET Assistance, LLC, many travelers have medical coverage, but many of those policies provide limited coverage for what is often the biggest expense - getting you back home from that accident in the middle of the Kalahari. This company's medical evacuation insurance will get you home to the hospital of YOUR CHOICE with a simple phone call. I know it works, they got me home from Dezhou, China, to Seattle, WA, at a cost of over $22,000.00 (to them), and no cost to me, other than my original $150.00 policy. They also dispatched an air medical nurse from Singapore, who met me in Beijing and accompanied me home! For motorcycle riders, they have a special program which also includes the costs for getting your bike home if a mishap occurs in North America, but their medical evacuation is for anywhere in the world! See more on MEDJET Assistance here
Roam International - how do you stay "connected" when most of the world is still "dark"? Roam international is a global ISP (Internet Service Provider), with thousands of POPs (Points Of Presence) all over the globe. They provide a simple dialer client for your notebook PC which shows the dial-up, broadband or WiFi connections available no matter where you are, along with the current hourly rate - amazing coverage, and no monthly fees unless you actually use the service! See more on Roam International here
Petzl Zipka LED Headlamp - LED lamps and flashlights have definitely come of age, this little jewel is tiny, has a retractable headband, and the batteries last forever. Perfect for troubleshooting the balky electrical system of a dead bike on a dark and windy night! For some reason, Petzl's corporate site
wouldn't load when I wrote this, so, here is a page from one of their retailers
Anything by Pelican Case - the most indestructible, water-proof (not just water-resistant) cases in the world, the only thing we use for delicate electronic gear and digital cameras. See more on Pelican cases here
Ortlieb Folding Basin - wash dishes, clothes, haul water, take a bath, toss your salad or pasta in it, this folding basin from Ortleib has some amazing uses, and rolls up into a tidy package when you're done with it! See more on the Folding Basin here
Ortlieb Rack-Pack - these are the only bags we've found that are, again, truly water-proof, and durable enough to withstand the punishment they get on the road. Even better than Tupperware, the best thing to store tents, sleeping bags, clothing, etc. if you want them dry even in the event of a "gee, I didn't see that big rock" failed river fording in Iceland. See more about the Rack-Pack here
Canon EOS 10D Digital SLR - the finest pro-sumer digital SLR on the planet, at 1/4th the price of their professional body, the EOS 1Ds. Yes, it may not have a full-size sensor, but do you want to fork over an additional $4K for a camera that does? It has a gorgeous cast magnesium body, and accepts the full line of Canon's EF Lenses. They've made Nikon into an "also ran". See more here
Fujitsu S-Series Notebook PC - an ultra-light notebook, under 4 lbs. with internal CD-ROM/DVD, cast magnesium case, and no silly docking station required. Has taken incredible abuse packed on my bike for over three years of travel through 30 countries, and most amazing, comes with a THREE YEAR INTERNATIONAL warranty. They just replaced my LCD display, hard drive, and keyboard, all for free, simply because I was losing some pixels, the drive "sounded noisy" (never failed), and the keyboard was flexing a bit. See more here
Garmin International GPS MAP 176 - the ultimate portable, self-contained GPS for geeks. Large hi-rez display, color display available, fast processor, stores 3,000 waypoints, 50 routes, has a 2,500 point tracklog, will save 15 tracks, has a full trip computer - it's a long feature list. I can carry a moving map data base for the ENTIRE WORLD in mine without having to connect to a PC. See more here
. A new model, the GPS MAP 276, is rumored to be available soon!
Exofficio Travel Clothing - just about all of our clothing comes from these guys. Fairly durable, but, most important, no cotton (which, after washing, never seems to dry out overnight when you need it to), or wool (cold when wet). Wonderful feel and hand to their synthetics, don't absorb odors, packs down super small. Their Performance Tee and underwear are the best! See more here
Snow Peak Carry-On Chopsticks - beautifully crafted collapsible chopsticks made from hardwood, ultra-thin stainless and brass, the webpage doesn't do them justice. See more here
Coleman Feather 442 Dual Fuel Stove - forget all the fancy transformer-like ultra light stoves. This guy is small, indestructible, and burns either white gas, or unleaded gas, the same thing our bikes use, which makes fuel availability a non-issue (I carry 41 liters of fuel on my R1150GS!). And, it only retails for $39 bucks! See more here
ROK Strap It Motorbike Adjustable Straps - bungee cords are a danger on a motorcycle, it's no urban myth! Rope is a PITA, and nylon straps don't stay tensioned. The incredible ROK Straps are the best thing to happen to cargo and gear since Gore-Tex. Hard to really appreciate until you've owned a pair, or a dozen - we've NEVER lost a single load using these. See more here
Keen Newport Sandals - since space is limited on a bike, you want to have everything multi-purpose (including the bike itself <g>). I wear protective riding boots when riding at all times, but, have started carrying only these for "shoes" when off the bike. They are made of waterproofed leather, and waterproof materials, so, you can go river walking in them. They are comfortable. They look enough like a shoe that the snooty maitre'd will think twice before denying you entry. They have a heavily protected toe so you don't rip your toenail off (as one of our clients did wearing his "former" Teva's on an Africa tour). An elastic cord strap and quicklocks make putting them on a snap, much better than messing with Velcro straps. They're lighter than most shoes, and they pack down small. See them at REI here
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Mike M. Paull
00 BMW R1150GS
03 BMW R1150GS Adventure
04 BMW R1200GS (on order!)
"The world is a book and those that do not travel, read only a page." - St. Augustine
[This message has been edited by mikepa (edited 03 February 2004).]