December 20, 2012
The following is a guest post by travel writer and Adventure Cycling member Jeanine Barone:
These companies both make merino wool clothing that's light, packs well, looks good and, most importantly, is warm. I always take along a black SmartWool crew neck long-sleeve top as well as a black Icebreaker hoodie. I wear these whether I'm bicycling in Iceland or Spain, winter or summer. (Thin Merino wool garments are comfortable even in the summer.) They both are good at wicking away sweat so I don't feel clammy during and after a ride. Plus, an added benefit: you can wear 'em for several days without them becoming stinky. These items work just as well as cycling clothes as they do when I'm done riding for the day and plan to go out to dinner or a bar at night.
Because I'm attracted to clothing that does double or triple duty, I always carry along a buff, such as one made by Buff USA. It can be used as a hat, bandana, headband, hair band, balaclava (great when cycling in a snow storm), neck gator; and even, when dipped in icy water, as a cooling neck band (great when cycling in the desert).
3. Bag Balm
Bag Balm, a Vermont-based company has been manufacturing this product in the exact same way since 1899. And, again, what I find particularly appealing is that it serves a multitude of functions. Instead of packing a moisturizer, antiseptic, lip balm and Vaseline, I pack this one tiny tin of Bag Balm. It keeps my lips from drying out; helps with thigh chafing and saddle sores; banishes the red, itchy blotches on my face resulting from seborrheic dermatitis; and moisturizes my hands without producing a greasy feeling.
When I'm bike touring, I like to pack not just performance-driven clothing but also something fashionable just in case there's any opportunity to go out at night. My adage is that I shouldn't always look like I'm on the Appalachian Trail. Nau's high-tech products are minimalist, light and fashionable. That's a lot to expect from a dress called the Chrysalis, aptly named considering it transforms from a light, water-repellent, mid-thigh-length dress with long sleeves, to a shell that I wore with, of course, my SmartWool sweater, to a sleeveless dress with a hoodie. (Yes, the sleeves snap off.) It's always great to have an item that easily goes from the bike path to the bar.
Whether I'm cycling in Alaska or Costa Rica, I want to be assured that the water I'm drinking is safe. Once you suffer from Giardia, as happened to me in Morocco, you don't want a repeat scenario. That's why I carry the SteriPEN. This easy-to-pack device uses UV light to purify water of all manner of disease-causing organisms, killing more than 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa, like the dreaded Giardia. If I'm taking water from a stream, I filter it for leaves and other large particles and then I just insert the pen-like device into the water and push the button. Some 90-seconds later, the water is potable. If I'm drinking tap water in a developing country, then I can skip the filtering step.
JEANINE BARONE is a New York City travel writer who bikes all over the world. She recently published The Travel Authority: Essential Tips for Hassle-Free Travel, an e-book with more than 200 tips to take the worry out of any trip.