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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 10-14-10, 06:28 PM   #1
nish2575
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almost car lite, reducing daily gear

i keep trying to get down my stash of stuff i carry with me everyday to school, work and just around town to as small volume, low weight, and simple as possible. trying to buy sustainable products when possible. can anybody here suggest how i can reduce these items further. this list is a result of 3+ years, with about 1 year of car free in there. through cold winters, rainy weeks, staying overnight for weekend trips. stuff is carried in a backpack pannier and regular pannier

my main goal is to not feel like i have to lug around lots of stuff when i'm in pedestrian mode, while supporting a minimal amount of comfort in varying weather conditions, and saving money by not having to eat out too much

i ride a 20 inch folder

laptop, charger, cable lock
memory sticks, small headphones
water bottle
wallet of transit, id cards
bus, train schedules
bike cable lock
bus change
regional map
undershirt, regular shirt
lunch pack with sandwich, fruit, side, nuts
warmer backup layer - fall
packable rain pants, somewhat packable rain coat, waterproof mid top sneakers, detachable rear fender - rain potential days
extra layer for gloves, warmer balaclava - winter
shell for extra warmth if stranded - winter

right now the bulkiest thing is the waterproof sneakers on rain days. i'm about to change over to sandals with waterproof socks for rainy days. and since i can use sandals for regular use too (waterproof sneakers way too hot off bike), i won't have 2 pairs of shoes on rain days

the backup shell for getting stranded in extreme cold is a little bit bulky, considering buying a nicer, packable shell. also considering buying a more packable fleece for the days i pack it as a backup layer

i don't know how to reduce my lunch pack much besides going to the extreme of carrying dried camping food

i usually have a baselayer and a shirt on the bike, and a seperate tshirt and shirt off the bike. i've been thinking that the outer layer shirt on bike doesn't pick up much sweat, so i might be able to get away with wearing my work/school shirt over my baselayer

i've thought of ditching any schedules and maps, and buying a data plan and a good smartphone, but i think it will get more annoying constantly charging the power hungry device. and be less reliable

i'm probably going to get a lighter bike cable lock, since i only lock it outside for short periods of time and not very often

i used to use a netbook to save weight, space on laptop, but i had to upgrade to a little larger size, i couldn't use the netbook to get anything done. i could potentially give up a laptop, but it usually is useful for a few moments each day
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Old 10-14-10, 08:10 PM   #2
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Holly cow! Thats a lot of stuff for daily luggage! What ever did people do fifty years ago before all that stuff was invented?

laptop, charger, cable lock- Get rid of it. You already have a memory stick which means you can take important data with you and just use a computer at school or work. There are public computers everywhere these days. This is the single biggest thing you could ditch.


memory sticks, small headphones- These are light and nice to have.

water bottle-Buy a really cheap ugly one and just leave it on the bike. No one will steal it.

wallet of transit, id cards- Don't leave home without it!

bus, train schedules- These are just papers and are not a big deal. Can you cut them down to a smaller size with scissors?

bike cable lock- Gotta have it but consider leaving a u lock on a post at your regular destinations so you don't have to carry it everywhere.

bus change- No biggie, gotta have it.

regional map- Is this different than the schedules and bus maps? You don't know the area well?

undershirt, regular shirt- I am assuming you are wearing these right? Do you really bring two EXTRA shirts with you everyday?

lunch pack with sandwich, fruit, side, nuts- Sounds yummy but if you want to go lights try just making the sandwich a little bigger. Put all the veggies you can fit in there and then you dont need separate containers for the nuts and fruit. Just one big sandwich!

warmer backup layer - fall- Sure, this is good to have for biking or walking.

packable rain pants, somewhat packable rain coat, waterproof mid top sneakers, detachable rear fender - rain potential days- Are we talking about cold rain or warm rain here? Get rid of the sneakers and just buy gaitors for your feet. They are small. Just leave the fender on the bike all the time. Glue it or bolt it on so that it can't be stolen without a tool.

extra layer for gloves, warmer balaclava - winter- gotta have it.

shell for extra warmth if stranded - winter- skip it. You already have extra layers. Usually my "extra" layer is a rain jacket. They keep me really warm and block the wind at the same time.
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Old 10-14-10, 08:16 PM   #3
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Try packing some of the backup fabrics in a large ziploc type plastic bag. Maybe the gallon size will be large enough for some items. Sit on the bag to squash it flat, then close the seal. This expels the air and greatly reduces the size (if not the weight).
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Old 10-14-10, 08:37 PM   #4
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If you need a computer, you might want to look at a netbook, if it meets your needs. It would be around half the size of a laptop and lighter as well. Mine, which I use for travel and for certain appointments away from home, is an Acer Aspire One. Mine has a solid-state drive instead of a hard drive and it's running Linux. The solid-state drive means it can handle a bit rougher treatment, which is a huge advantage. If you have a decent battery on the computer, you might be able to get away without your charger.

Your lunch doesn't seem too unreasonable. When I'm taking lunch, I'm either carrying a sandwich and some fruit or a small container of food and some fruit. Make sure you're eating something nutritionally balanced and with enough calories to keep you going.

The clothing is where you can make the most changes. If you live in a wet area, you will need rain gear. That's not an option. And you will need warm clothing in winter. That's not an option either. As stated earlier, you may be able to get away without an extra pair of shoes. The question I'd ask is whether you need to take a change of clothes with you.
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Old 10-14-10, 09:10 PM   #5
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appreciate the suggestions! i'll give each a try.

you are probably right on switching exclusively to public computers. i alwasy try to use them whenever i can. and only really use my laptop rarely

you are teh second to mention rain coats in winter for wind, i'll have to try that

the rain coat, sneakers, pants are for cold rainy. usually just rain pants and sneakers for warm rain. but yeah, i'm about to ditch sneakers for sandals

what i found when i try using water resistant and quick drying fabrics was that even if i left those in my office for 8 hours, they weren't dry by the time i went home
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Old 10-14-10, 10:11 PM   #6
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Future Computing Today!

If you have access to other computers you might try carrying around a small portable drive that has a Linux OS on it. You can just reboot any computer and have it recognize your drive. That drive could have your OS and hundreds of gigabytes of data on it. You could do that with a Windows OS if you want to spend the money on it.

I believe this is the future of personal computing. We'll all carry around our personal computers on thumb drives or cards and just plug in to any available computer. The manufacturer won't matter much. This is what I intend to do once I learn more about operating Linux. There are many small hard drives out there that run from the power of the USB ports. They're getting less expensive all the time. Eventually we'll be able to carry around 500 GB on a USB 3 flash drive.
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Old 10-14-10, 10:15 PM   #7
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Take everything on your list and ride with it for 2-3 weeks. Then evaluate what you use... then ditch what you don't.

Although I can't say too much. I recently discovered a package of burrito shells at the bottom of one of my commuting panniers... Not sure how long they were there.
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Old 10-14-10, 10:22 PM   #8
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Just curious, what do you do about text books? the gym at my college is the only place w/ lockers, kind of out of the way, so I use my friend's car to store my books. Just wondering about your method as i have similar issues about cargo load.
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Old 10-14-10, 11:24 PM   #9
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what i found when i try using water resistant and quick drying fabrics was that even if i left those in my office for 8 hours, they weren't dry by the time i went home
They really don't dry in 8 hours? Are you in a really humid climate and are you hanging them for those 8 hours? If you are doing those things and they still are not drying out then just buy a second pair and leave them at the office. Ride in with one pair and hang them to dry. Then wear the other pair home and by the time you get back to the office the first pair will have had 24 hours to dry.

That or just do what I do and wear them a little wet!
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Old 10-15-10, 01:23 AM   #10
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Yeah -- zeppinger has good suggestions, including some I can learn from!

Bike commuting in a cold climate is not like taking a bus, but if you do have to take a bus and stand around waiting, thats the time you need those spare layers. I keep spare warm clothes at work next to my work costume, and I use the area above my computer and below the surface of my desk as a clothes dryer.

I eschew lugging laptops mostly because temperature change, water exposure and collision are not worth the dent in my income. I keep the work lappie at home and bring it in only for regular system updates.

Consider a phone upgrade if you need to email/write while on the trail. This might get around the need for a netbook and mp3 player and usb drive.

For my commute, I typically pack a small hex tool set, tire iron and frame pump along with a spare shifter cable and tube. You'll stay warm from the adrenaline of changing your tire during the adversity. Getting back on the road should be your first goal...pedaling will keep you warm...and get you closer to a gas station or whatever if your bike is really sad.

You will probably find other tricks to keep your stuff dry, too, like packing everything you take either in ziplocks or tupperwares (protects panniers from spills, and a good way to keep your wallet from getting soggy, too). I also kept extra batteries for my handlebar light and blinkies because I often needed to commute in the dark and the rain.
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Old 10-15-10, 05:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Smallwheels View Post
If you have access to other computers you might try carrying around a small portable drive that has a Linux OS on it. You can just reboot any computer and have it recognize your drive. That drive could have your OS and hundreds of gigabytes of data on it. You could do that with a Windows OS if you want to spend the money on it.

I believe this is the future of personal computing. We'll all carry around our personal computers on thumb drives or cards and just plug in to any available computer. The manufacturer won't matter much. This is what I intend to do once I learn more about operating Linux. There are many small hard drives out there that run from the power of the USB ports. They're getting less expensive all the time. Eventually we'll be able to carry around 500 GB on a USB 3 flash drive.
Caveat here...make sure you have a backup of your files! I have been using a Seagate hard drive (120gig) with Free Agent (Windoze OS) installed on it. Drive went bad after a couple of years of daily use. I tore the drive apart to find out the controller has gone bad. I was able to recover my data. I need to check and see if it is still under warranty (probably not seeing how I cracked the case). The more I use portable storage the more I prefer flash drives. There are several portable OS that can be booted up from flash drives.

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Old 10-15-10, 09:52 AM   #12
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luckily i'm a teaching assistant, so they give me a desk with storage space. i leave all my books there overnight as well. also, a growing number of textbooks will let you rent them online for browser reading for about 1/2 the price. i do that for any textbooks that are available in that format.

the rare times i carry textbooks, i keep them my bigger regular pannier.

i used to use the gym at my college for storing clothes and taking showers, but i've switched over to action wipes and showers at home. and storing clothes was getting more annoying then helpful because i would forgot to make time to go to local laundromat with the second set of clothes to keep track of.
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Old 10-15-10, 09:54 AM   #13
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Caveat here...make sure you have a backup of your files! I have been using a Seagate hard drive (120gig) with Free Agent (Windoze OS) installed on it. Drive went bad after a couple of years of daily use. I tore the drive apart to find out the controller has gone bad. I was able to recover my data. I need to check and see if it is still under warranty (probably not seeing how I cracked the case). The more I use portable storage the more I prefer flash drives. There are several portable OS that can be booted up from flash drives.

Aaron

thanks a lot for flash drive suggestion. i used to do portable drive , but it did fail on me. i should go back to flash drives with an os on it. all of my files are stored on remote servers, all i need from my computer is terminal access. and sometimes nice to be able to study away from computer labs with laptop
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Old 10-15-10, 09:55 AM   #14
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They really don't dry in 8 hours? Are you in a really humid climate and are you hanging them for those 8 hours? If you are doing those things and they still are not drying out then just buy a second pair and leave them at the office. Ride in with one pair and hang them to dry. Then wear the other pair home and by the time you get back to the office the first pair will have had 24 hours to dry.

That or just do what I do and wear them a little wet!
not that humid, just seems like the office air didn't circulate enough. i'll think about doing this, if i start to give up on the hassle of re-waterproofing waterproofing gear on a regular basis.
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Old 10-15-10, 05:29 PM   #15
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I carry a lot of stuff too so I can relate. I like to be prepared in case the weather suddenly changes. Although, it doesn't really bother me. I have no intentions of making my daily cargo any lighter.

Some loose thoughts...

For portability it's hard to beat flash drives: small, no head to jam into a platter. They've gotten cheaper and faster too. But they're not perfect either. They're sensitive to EM and static electricity. I've seen flash drive lose the filesystem (appear suddenly blank) for no apparent reason. But I use them as "shuttle media" and get stuff off of them as soon as I can.

I'm not much of a Linux user but it's probably the best OS to run from a flash drive. Both Mac OSX and Windows are resource hungry behemoths while many Linux distributions are designed to run off of flash drives.

I have a netbook and I hardly ever use it: the main problem is screen resolution, many Windows programs will simply refuse to run at that resolution and, like I said, I'm not much of a Linux user. I basically use it as a glorified storage device to offload images from my camera. Since I got an iPhone I practically have no need for a laptop. iPhone 4 with the improved camera and battery life is an amazing sidekick for bike travel. With a very few exceptions, I can do almost anything on the iPhone I needed a laptop for, often even more considering the size, portability, zero boot time, built-in GPS, motion sensor and a camera. iPad is another option. I know people who mainly read PDF papers and write papers and they switched to iPads. They can write most of the paper and then edit it, add images, etc using a desktop later. Since I got an iPad I actually find myself using my desktop PC less. Majority of what I do in the evening is email and web: forums and reading articles and stories, and both work well on the iPad. Probably 25% of my recent posts here have been made from the iPad.

I carry a fleece top stuffed in a ziploc bag as someone described above. There are actually special bags for that. They allow for greater compression, have easy "air ejection" system, hold for much longer and are fiber reinforced. They're not cheap $5-10 per bag but durable. REI carries them, I forgot who makes them. I have one, but can't find it. They're great for storing backup and emergency clothing.

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Old 10-17-10, 01:31 PM   #16
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Just curious, what do you do about text books? the gym at my college is the only place w/ lockers, kind of out of the way, so I use my friend's car to store my books. Just wondering about your method as i have similar issues about cargo load.
From what I'm reading in the media, this is probably the last academic year when textbooks will be widely used. E-texts are already starting to take over.
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Old 10-17-10, 01:46 PM   #17
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laptop, charger, cable lock
memory sticks, small headphones
water bottle
wallet of transit, id cards
bus, train schedules
bike cable lock
bus change
regional map
undershirt, regular shirt
lunch pack with sandwich, fruit, side, nuts
warmer backup layer - fall
packable rain pants, somewhat packable rain coat, waterproof mid top sneakers, detachable rear fender - rain potential days
extra layer for gloves, warmer balaclava - winter
shell for extra warmth if stranded - winter
What kind of emergencies are you expecting? Your profile says you live in the suburbs, but maybe you have a long commute through rural areas or a couple mountain ranges?

I would give up all the extra clothing. In cold weather, a good shell will keep you warm and have a ventilation system for warmer periods of the day. Lightweight longjohns under normal slacks will keep the legs warm on all but the coldest days of the year, and I can continue wearing them comfortably all day at work.

I sometimes carry a very cheap non-breathing rain jacket--the type that folds up in its own pocket. I also bring extra gloves if they're likely to get wet. But I honestly don't see the point of other extra clothing.

I do carry a little more in the way of repair stuff, but it all fits in a small pouch. This includes a mullti-purpose bike tool, a couple chain links, inner tube, mini-pump, and spare batteries. For major roadside emergencies, a cell phone to call a cab and a $20 bill are the best tools.
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Old 10-18-10, 03:37 PM   #18
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new hampshire is sparse, most places i bike, 1/2 mile of density, then 3-4 miles of almost no houses, zero commercial development (seems like protected wet land). when it was single digits last year, i didn't want to get caught in one of those in between zones.

i hear you though, i'm going to use the rain coat as catch all backup layer. sandals as catch all shoes. and only carry a change for my innermost layer top.
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