Monday, September 26, 2016

Dispatch 154

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wilderness Collective Motorcycle Trip Packing List

Note: This packing list applies to the Sequoia to Yosemite Dual Sport Motorcycle Trip.

I recently got back from a Wilderness Collective motorcycle trip (WC-024) and wanted to share some info on it. While I previously gave an abbreviated breakdown of the entire event, the even shorter version is that if you get the chance to go and don’t usually find yourself riding dual sport bikes, jump on this trip.

Here's the packing list that Wilderness Collective provided me:
  • Backpacking size sleeping bag rated at 0°F - 30°F.
  • Ground Pad (foam or inflatable)
  • Compression bag for packing clothes
  • 1 pair of pants (any type of durable pant will do)
  • 2 or 3 moisture wicking t-shirts
  • Lightweight easy-to-pack footwear for camp.
  • 2 or 3 pairs of riding socks
  • Warmer top or lightweight insulated jacket
  • Sunglasses
  • Waterproof shell jacket
  • Swim shorts
  • First layer style thermal underwear top and bottom
  • Minimal personal toiletries
  • Headlamp
  • Motorcycle license
Other than your sleeping bag and ground pad, you'll be carrying everything you've brought on your back. This makes it essential to pack as light and compactly as possible.

While your mileage will definitely vary, here’s what I brought:

EMS Fencemender Pants
If I can only bring one pair of pants, these are them. They’re not breathable nor made to be super quick drying but they’re incredibly durable and quite comfortable. I bought a pair on sale and after breaking them in, I went back and bought another for future use.

Under Armour Compression Shirt
I’ve found that using a compression shirt as my true base layer greatly increases my comfort level when wearing a backpack for an extended period of time. It keeps any friction from the straps in check and is wicking so I don’t overheat.

ExOfficio Boxer Briefs
The trip is 3-4 days but you only need one pair of underwear if you have the right pair. These things are comfortable, dry quickly, and don’t end up smelling like you’ve been wearing them for days. Though you’ll most likely have the opportunity to wash them in a creek if you truly wanted to.

REI Lightweight Long Underwear
When I saw this item on the list, I thought about not bringing them because I almost never need thermal underwear for anything. But for events like this, I tend to put trust in the organizer. That said, I only used mine once (for sleeping) but I’m a cold blooded New Englander and tend to run pretty hot. Oh but I did see some of my fellow riders put them on in the middle of rides. Then again, they were wearing lightweight hiking pants too.

Outdoor Research Sequence Long Sleeve 1/4 Zip
This is one amazing piece of clothing. It can handle both hot and cold temps really well and makes an excellent base layer. I wore this over the compression shirt and under my hard shell and was never uncomfortable.

SmartWool PhD Ski Socks
With all the mud, snow, and water crossings (at least on my trip), I recommend bringing two pairs so you can alternate every other day. I swear by the PhD line of SmartWool and these ski sock length versions were the perfect height for riding boots. My feet never felt better.

*EMS Men's Power Stretch 1/4 Zip
I saw many puffy jackets on this trip but I preferred my fleece pullover as a solid insulation layer top. Just something that I’ve had forever and it works really well. I also don’t have to worry about it ripping like a puffy jacket. One guy’s puffy was more duct tape at the end than anything else. The only downside of a fleece is that it’s fairly bulky.
*They don't make mine anymore so I linked to the latest version which is nearly identical but includes a built in hood.

Outdoor Research Mentor Jacket
I brought a jacket that’s really served me well over the years but you could probably get away with any kind of good water/windproof shell you have hanging around. While I got this jacket for free many years ago, if I had to buy something today, I’d be comfortable with any of the options from REI. I believe Wilderness Collective used to issue the Sierra Designs 60/40 Short Parka and while it seems like a pretty awesome jacket, nowadays you have to supply your own.

SureFire Minimus
After the trip I bought a new headlamp, the Black Diamond Spot and think I’ll switch to it for future trips because of it’s integrated red light and use of AAA batteries instead of CR123s. I do still love the simplicity of the Minimus...

These next two items are required but will stay in the support truck. Since you won't be carrying them, making them ultralight ins't necessary but it certainly helps if you're flying with just carry on (like I did).

Sleeping Bag - Marmot Plasma 15
If you can only afford one of something, my recommendation is to buy the best you can. When it was new, this sleeping bag was the lightest 15 degree bag on the market and it packs down insanely small. The temperature rating also covers the majority of climates for the trips I do so I knew it wouldn't have any problem handling this particular trip.

Ground Pad - Sea to Summit Ultralight
I planned on bringing my Therm-a-Rest RidgeRest SOlite but was lucky enough to snag this new pad for almost $45. To give you and idea on its packed size, it shrinks down to the size of a soda can. Yeah. While the Therm-a-Rest is bulky, it’s super lightweight and fairly comfortable. And even if you’re taller like me, get the Small and you’ll save some money and bulkiness.


These items weren’t on the packing list but I highly recommend bringing them.

This is a must have for so many reasons. In the case of this trip, it'll keep you from breathing in dust if you pop your helmet visor open but it's also great for those cold morning rides when the wind starts to creep down your shirt. It also takes up practically zero space in your bag or pocket. Here's all the different ways you can wear one.

Bodyglide (repackaged)
I’ve never ridden over 300 miles off road so I wasn’t sure if I’d be chafing somewhere on my legs, or even my shoulders from the backpack so it’s nice to have some protection. Repackaging Bodyglide (or even deodorant) into a small flip-top container from REI saves a lot of space and weight but I have my eye on a new method. An empty chapstick tube sounds like a great idea and it would make application a lot easier than it currently is.

Source WLPS Low Profile 3L Hydration System
Truth be told, the hydration bladder Wilderness Collective provided was pretty junky. Some of the bite valves came off and the overall build just isn’t as good as other options on the market. I’ve used Source for years and won’t go back to even using Camelbak, let alone whatever brand Wilderness Collective used. Just make sure you get the Helix Bite Valve Kit. It comes with the Storm Push-Pull Valve Kit which just drives me crazy.

Wrapping Up

If I were to go again, I’d be tempted to ditch their backpack and bring my own. If you watch their videos, you can see different ones in use so it seems they haven’t settled on a good partner but I would’ve loved to get one of the collaboration bags they did with Boreas Gear. If I were bringing my own backpack, it would be the GORUCK GR1 (26L) with their new Stabilizer Belt (which appears to have been pulled from their online store recently).

Ditch the hydration bladder they provide and bring the Source bladder I recommended above. But keep their backpack even if it's low quality. You're part of a team, don't be the odd man out. There's also a shared misery among the riders as zipper pulls and webbing fail one by one.

At the end of the day, pack light, pack smart, and ditch the non-essentials. Enjoy the ride.

Photos by Steve Dubbeldam and Jay Gullion

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Items of Want 040

American Frontier Deck

When I build my cabin, these will be a permanent installation. Can't go wrong with a classic deck of cards, even if all you know how to do with them is play solitaire.

Hello Internet: The Vinyl Episode

A single podcast episode on actual vinyl? This is so weird. I love it. Now I just have to get my record player working.

La Colombe Draft Latte

A latte in a can for those times when you need some quality coffee but are short on time. Which (and not to add to the glorification of "busy") seems to be my normal situation these days.

National Parks Sunrise Patch

It's the National Park Service's 100th birthday this year. Find a park and get out there. While this ins't an official NPS patch, it's still pretty neat and is a good reminder to keep on discovering new things.

Honda XR650L

I saw first hand what these bikes were capable of and have been eyeing them pretty hard ever since getting back from a Wilderness Collective motorcycle trip. Spending 3-4 days in the saddle of this beast really drove home how invaluable a quality dual sport bike can be.

Photo of yours truly by Steve Dubbeldam.

— Check out past Items of Want

Monday, September 12, 2016

Dispatch 153

  • Chuck Jones’ Rules for Writing Road Runner Cartoons » Mental Floss
  • Forget the Man Cave. You Want a Gentleman's Study. » Valet.
  • The Importance of Leisure » CJ Chilvers
  • 12 Fun '80s Cars You Can Buy With Summer Job Cash » Roadkill
  • “Be gentle to all, and stern with yourself.” » Teresa of Ávila

Friday, August 26, 2016

Items of Want 039

Shinola Smokey The Bear Watch

This Shinola x Filson collaboration watch has a simple and understated look that makes it an instant classic in my opinion. It also ships with a ton of awesome extras. In honor of the National Park Service's 100th birthday, I feel like they should issue one of these to a Park Ranger at each National Park.

Note: If Smokey Bear isn't your style, let me recommend the Shinola Rambler 600. Completely different look but still awesome.

Rambler Notebook

“Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it. Slap into it every stray thought that flutters up into your brain. Cheap paper is less perishable than gray matter, and lead pencil markings endure longer than memory.” - Jack London

I carry Field Notes on my person at all times but in my everyday carry bag, I pack something a little larger. Currently I'm working through the Shinola Large Paper Journal (in orange) but I hope to replace it with this Public Supply notebook when it's time.

Roots Field Toque

This cap is for those times you when need to go full "Steve Zissou" or more recently, full "Chris Hadfield." To be honest, I think this red toque speaks for itself.

Taylor Stitch Map Handkerchief

I live by two rules. 1. You can never have too many hankies. 2. Never get lost.

Ok, that's not 100% true but now that I've seen this handkerchief, maybe I should make those my two rules...


If these buttons aren't cool, I don't know what is. I'm not even sure what I'd put them on but trust me, I'd find a place.

— Check out past Items of Want

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dispatch 152

  • Choose Your Own Adventure(mobile) » Huckberry
  • On 'Fear Disguised As Practicality' » Semi-Rad
  • Famous Writers’ Writing Shacks » Smith Journal
  • When you do work that matters, the crowd will call you a fool » Seth Godin
  • "The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” » Tom Waits

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Answers to Random Questions: 01

As an exercise in transparency, I thought I'd share some insight into how I think and operate. It may sound like a job interview at times and that's because of where I found some of these questions. Please enjoy.

What's your expertise? What's your weakness?

The term is undesirable for many but I can't keep from describing myself as an expert "Swiss Army Knife." I pride myself with having a multitude of abilities and skills while being teachable in the areas I'm unfamiliar with.

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein

My attitude towards anything can be summed up as this: "It won't fail because of me." I believe that saying originated with NASA though I found it recently through Tom Sachs. Just one example of my dedication is through my use of the 1 Second Everyday iPhone app. I try to do something interesting enough to make a quick one second video snapshot and then mash them all together at the end of the year. Here's 2015 (with links to 2013 and 2014).

My weakness? Being concise. And while I'm constantly working on that, I make up for it with passion. I also suffer from a touch of imposter syndrome. One way I combat the feeling is by looking back at what I've accomplished. Especially looking at tasks or roles I previously labeled as impossible because they were unlike anything I've done before (leading weekly group activities, training volunteers, etc.).

What makes you tick?

I like a challenge and constantly working on making things better, no matter what it is. I'll go the extra mile because I set my own bar high. I don’t do well with monotonous tasks just for the sake of them but I do enjoy getting into the rhythm of a task with a decently paired soundtrack.

My professional resume may not be as full and polished as others so I created more of a "life resume" I call my Walter Mitty Resume. I feel it's a much better representation of me as a person.

Where do you consume content?

There's always the usual "checking the pulse" of people I know by surfing Facebook and Twitter for a few minutes, just to get a feel for things. I’ll frequently check out Reddit to see any big news things I’ve missed though I end up just saving funny stuff to share later. As far as podcasts go, I have a variety that I keep up with: Hello Internet, Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project, The Talk Show with John Gruber, The Tim Ferriss Show, G.O. Get Outside Podcast, and a good many others actually. I use the Overcast iPhone app to listen to my podcasts and I’m quite proud of my “smart speed” savings which is a little over 30 hours.

For blogs, I often will go just to certain sites when I need something. Wirecutter/Sweethome for reviews, The Verge for tech news, stuff like that. In my Feedly list, I’ll skim through blogs such as A Continuous Lean, Adventure Journal, Huckberry’s Journal, Seth Godin, Semi-Rad… I like more of the “adventure” (in any loose variation) flavor of posts.

Oh and I’ve actually been really enjoying BuzzFeed’s News app. It’s surprisingly well done and helps keep me updated on true current events (because I don't watch TV news very much). Digg also has a great selection of both “real news” and fun stuff and their copywriting is well done. When I can, I’ll check in on Their copywriting is impressively hilariously and they do it on a daily basis.

I also look forward to getting my email newsletter from The Hustle. Great updates on news I’m interested in (tech/business) and like the other examples, great copy.

What’s your favorite ice cream?

If I have to pick one found everywhere, it's going to be cookie dough. If I can find it, a new favorite has been the Double Dunker from Turkey Hill. But I also have deep rooted childhood memories of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae from Friendly’s. The absolute best of the best I've had? The classic hot fudge sundae from Ted Drew's. If you're in St. Louis and don't swing by Ted's, you've wasted your time.

Have a question you want answered? Let me know and I'll add it to the list.