Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Frisco, CO
Bikes: '93 Bridgestone MB-3, '88 Marinoni road bike, '00 Marinoni Piuma, '01 Riv A/R
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If you pack wet clothes or other wet stuff into an Ortlieb then yes, mildew will grow, especially in a hot climate. I have not had this problem with my Ortleibs, just because I make sure everything is dry before I put it in. Ortliebs will keep rain out more effectively than just about any other pannier, with or without rain covers. They're also very well made, and very easy to put on and take off your bike.
My tent of choice for cycle touring (and lots of other stuff) is the Black Diamond Megamid, but not many people seem to agree with me.
I like ultra compact gas cartridge stoves (MSR Pocket Rocket, Snow Peak Giga Power) for European travel because white gas is expensive and hard to find over there, other liquid fuels are a nuisance in other ways, and a gas cartridge stove without the gas cartridge doesn't seem to excite the airline security people nearly as much as the liquid fuel stoves.
makes a tool that will remove Shimano cassettes without a chain whip, it's a good thing to have. Fiberfix kevlar replacement spokes are useful for emergency spoke replacements when a rear drive side spoke breaks and you don't want to remove the cassette. If your Lotus Odyssey has a freewheel instead of a cassette, consider replacing the rear wheel with one that will accept a cassette.
Go over your bikes, figure out exactly what wrenches, etc. you need to tighten or remove everything on each bike, and bring just those wrenches. Some people bring spare shifter/brake cables, I like to start a long tour with brand new high quality shifter and brake cables. If you pool your tools you save on weight, but you run the risk of getting separated and the person without the tools having a mechanical problem.