My husband and I just took a 2,700 mile tour through Washington, Oregon and California. Me on my wee-strom, and he on his Moto Guzzi Quota 1100. Of all those miles, we did about 100 total on the "super slab". The other 2,600 miles were twisty backroads along the ocean, over the mountains, through fog, cold, blazing sun and heat, shadowy Redwoods, vast swarms of gnats and aphids, and more. We camped for 2 weeks.
There are a few things we had along for this trip that are relatively new in our lives, and we were so pleased with those items I felt them worthy of their own post of must-haves for touring. Your mileage may vary.
1. Armored mesh jackets.
What an amazing invention! Many of our days went from high 50s and very foggy in the mornings to mid 80s and dry in the afternoons. Before we bought the mesh, we'd been considering taking two jackets each to accommodate the changing weather situations. I found us both Joe Rocket mesh jackets on newenough.com for way below list price. They're armored, with zip-out wind and rain liners that do a bang-up job. In the heat, we were cool and air-conditioned as the wind passed through us. I also felt less torso buffeting with the air moving through the jackets.
2. Pinlock anti-fog visor inserts.
Both my husband and I have used Fog City visor liners for many years, as we're both year-round commuters in Seattle and defogging is absolutely vital when sitting in rush-hour traffic in a downpour.
I had read about the advantages of the Pinlocks over the Fog Citys, and the 3 that struck me most before AND after purchase are the durability of the Pinlock (easy to clean without scratching), the simple swap-ability of the Pinlock (we each took clear, yellow, and dark tinted inserts with us) and the incredible optical clarity of the Pinlock. Riding through the redwoods at sunset, headed West on Highway 1, visibility was greatly hindered by the alternating sun/shade/sun. Both my husband and I vastly enjoy a "spirited" ride in the twisties, to say the least, and after running the old Fog Citys for the last 6 years I am confident I would NOT have been able to see clearly through that product. The Pinlock's optical clarity is every bit as good as prescription glasses, for me. We had fog almost every morning on our trip, and rode through great fluffy suspended clouds along the coast. We didn't ride in any rain on our tour to test out the Pinlock in a downpour, but the cold fog was enough to have us bundled in all our layers, all vents closed, visors tightly in place. I could see the perfect edge of fog all around my Pinlock insert in the helmet, it was obvious I would have been blind on many incredible mountain roads without that product.
3. Highway cruiser pegs.
I have the SW Motech engine guards, and was able to pick up some cheap chrome *wince* :buttpirate: highway pegs to bolt on the horizontal bars on my guards. They didn't fit as optimally as promised on the package, so we tried using a bit of inner tube to get them mounted tight. When that failed, my husband fabricated a little metal tab that sticks out and rests on the vertical bars of the engine guards. This stopped them from rotating down. When your fuel range is well over 200 miles and you don't want to stop because the riding is so good, there is nothing quite like pushing against some different footpegs, stretching legs and wiggling butt, without having to stop.
4. A sheepskin butt pad.
I use an alaskaleather.com Deluxe on my seat. It kept my seat warm in the cold, and cool when parked in the sun. It's almost an inch thick and so does sit me up a bit higher, but that's fine for me as I have a short torso and I run a Givi Tall windscreen in the lowest setting on my 'strom. My butt never got sore, our whole trip!
5. Thermarest sleeping pads.
OK, that's not a bike/gear component, but DAMN it makes a huge difference for tenting. No morning soreness, and no cold air in an air mattress. We actually use the REI house brand knock-offs, 3.5 model self-inflating, with the lashing straps to hold two together so we don't slip apart in the night.
6. Tool Tubes.
Strangely enough, we don't keep tools in ours. We both carry full tools at all times (as well as first aid, tire repair, and a towel of course), so outfitting ourselves for our tour didn't require the addition of much of anything in the way of hardware. We have found a Sigg metal water bottle fits perfectly in the Tool Tube. When touring, it's annoying to have to dig to get to your water at a stop. Having water in the Tool Tube was almost too easy. We used them at every stop, and made other bikers grin at the ingenuity. The Tube would also hold a fuel canister perfectly, for those REALLY LONG backroad tours.
7. Last but not least... a journal. This was my first trip journaling the happenings every day, and I found it both relaxing and very fun to recap the day's events with my best friend and #1 riding partner. In areas where we rode with other bikers, I got their input on the happenings as well. I tend to write long, personal ride reports (sorry) and the journal has been vital to remembering where and when things happened.
What are your touring must-haves?