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Gearing up is getting expensive

Old 01-28-24, 03:32 PM
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Gearing up is getting expensive

Beginning to find out that gearing up for a long tour is expensive, and that is doing it on the cheap! Most everything I have related to camping is worn out and needs to be replaced. Wool clothing wore out long ago and have to get everything. It has to be done, fortunately I have another year and a half to go before the ride.
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Old 01-28-24, 05:27 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
Beginning to find out that gearing up for a long tour is expensive, and that is doing it on the cheap! Most everything I have related to camping is worn out and needs to be replaced. Wool clothing wore out long ago and have to get everything. It has to be done, fortunately I have another year and a half to go before the ride.
Holy #$*& how do you have the control to passively wait for 1.5 years prior to a ride.

i presume you’ve scoured Craigslist, marketplace and EBay? Great news is you have time to save! Seems like there are for the most part two types of sellers ones that unload at the beginning of a season and those who choose to unload at the end of their season. Good luck whichever route you choose.
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Old 01-28-24, 06:25 PM
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Yes, it is a ways away, however I'm a bit of a planner. I'm also spontaneous in situation, just depends upon what is needed. I plan to retire permanently in the September and hit the road at the end of May to head east. I have thus far designed and built a touring bike, front fork racks, and wheels. The frame is well tested and trusted. One more summer on commuting with the fork racks and I will be confident they will do the job.

When I head west I will use a different bike as I anticipate more gravel roads and paths.

I have tried to find stuff used at the thrift shops, but it is a royal PIA searching thru the clothing racks looking for such specific items. Picked up a tent and quilt for 200 bucks and have tested them. Next winter I will map in detail with turn by turn instructions the route. Might get paper maps, but that is another 100 bucks so I will just use google maps and print the urban area maps from it.
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Old 01-28-24, 07:18 PM
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The joke - gearing up isn't expensive. Just buy a smaller cassette. Your current derailleurs will work just fine. Now, gearing down? That can get expensive!

And seriously - the tent. Test it out in a hard rain. With you in it. And all your gear in it. (The gear can be whatever but have it inside.) Waterproof? Dry pad. Done in time you can send it out to one of the first class outfits to have it waterproofed and repaired. (I've got a name I can dig up if you need it.)
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Old 01-28-24, 11:21 PM
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My experience is that Craig's List is overpriced. Facebook is better if you want to purchase local (best if you want to see the bike or equipment you want to buy) and eBay if you don't mind paying shipping. Good specialty bikes that at a reasonable price are not frequently listed on either but they do come up. If you are mechanically inclined you might want to get a quality bike that needs some TLC, and it is a great way to better understand your new purchase. Also helps you identify the appropriate tools for the bike.
Works for me; hope it works for you.
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Old 01-29-24, 02:10 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
Beginning to find out that gearing up for a long tour is expensive, ...
...,
...fortunately I have another year and a half to go before the ride.
Originally Posted by TiHabanero
.... I plan to retire permanently in the September and hit the road at the end of May to head east. I have thus far designed and built a touring bike,
...
... When I head west I will use a different bike as I anticipate more gravel roads and paths.
... Picked up a tent and quilt for 200 bucks ...
.... Next winter I will map in detail with turn by turn instructions the route. Might get paper maps, but that is another 100 bucks so I will just use google maps and print the urban area maps from it.
First, congratulations (although premature) on retiring, I highly recommend retirement to everyone.

I am really confused here. I see two options:
  • Option A. Sounds like you live alone and plan a long solo bike tour. Maybe I have this wrong, but I think you are saying that your home will be on your bike, and all your accumulated possessions will go to charity or a yard sale, with leftovers into a dumpster. I have not done that, have no such plans, thus I have no advice on that account.
  • Option B. You will go on a tour for several months, then return home. After which you have no clue what to do next but you will figure that out later.

You did not ask how do you live with no permanent mailing address, thus sounds like Option B, you plan to do a several month long tour, then return home where you will live happily ever after.

It sounds like your quandary at this time is how to accumulate the equipment and supplies you will need for this with about a 15 month timeline. I am a little confused by the need for two bikes and associated logistics, so I will pretend I did not read that and that one bike is sufficient.

So, budget, my advice is to buy good stuff that will last, if it is not good enough to last for several months, you do not want it.
  • Clothing. Everything from socks to warm or waterproof outerwear. My advice, budget $1.5k for new stuff you buy on sale. You have 15 months, thus you have time to get what you need. Two thirds of this budget is clothing that is unique to biking or being outdoors in inclement weather, such as outerwear, bike shoes, etc. One third is clothing for campsite, or otherwise looking like a non-biker, underwear, etc.
  • Bike Stuff. You have the bike, that is a big expense, so that simplifies things. Spares, panniers, helmet, tools, etc. And of course the lock(s). Budget $1k.
  • Camping stuff. Tent, you have. Sleeping gear, you need a sleeping pad, something comfortable for every night for months. Solo cooking gear and eating utensils. (Do not forget the cork screw.) This is where the difference between the minimalists and the "be prepared" people becomes evident, do you bring a cord for a clothesline, clothespins, etc.? Budget $0.5k.
  • Navigation, electronics, etc. GPS, you can use a general recreation GPS if you have some basic internet skills to load some good base maps for cycling into it. Higher end one, $0.4k. Presumably, you already have a phone and phone plan. Load some good mapping apps onto that phone, I use Maps.Me and Komoot (free versions). You would have to decide if you want to rely on solar power, dynohub power, plugging into outlets where you find them, etc. Budget another $0.3k for charging stuff. Your comment on maps, I am not sure if you plan to forego a GPS or not. I will comment on that below.
  • Other. Everything I forgot to mention, stuff like towel or shower shoes. Budget $0.3k.

So, that adds up to $4k. And you have roughly 450 days to accumulate this stuff, that is less than $10 a day. Should not be too hard to do. If you are frugal or lucky, or both, you can cut this cost in half.

You will figure it out.

Here is the bad news. Unless you are exclusively stealth camping, campsites in North America can be a big expense. Same with motels. Thus, living expenses on a long bike tour can add up. Especially if you are eating food prepared by others.

On the topic of GPS vs paper maps vs photo copy maps vs exclusively phone mapping apps. It is possible to do this without a GPS. Before cell phones existed, people did this too with just paper and a compass. It becomes a question of the usefulness of different options. I am a retired geological engineer, I worked with maps every day during my entire professional career. I would be lost without a GPS and phone with a data plan and mapping apps, but that is my bias from my professional background. And I also have a bias for a GPS that will also work well for backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, etc., thus I do not use a cycling GPS. That said, I did two international trips where I did not have a phone sim card, my phone was only a wifi device. You have to decide what works best for you and prepare for that.

One more note. If you have Google Voice with a phone number, or some other voice over internet plan, you have the ability to make phone calls on you phone if you do not have cell service. I have used Google Voice to make phone calls when in foreign countries when I had wifi. And I have used Google Voice to make phone calls in USA where there was no cell service but the restaurant had free wifi. I have found this to be so useful that my day to day needs with a cell phone are met with a $10 a month data plan and Google Voice. That said, I rarely answer the phone and my phone is typically off or in airplane mode when traveling. (I also have a VOIP land line plan for use at home, and that plan has an app where I can make or receive land line calls on my cell too, I have only had this VOIP plan a bit over a year, so am not ready to rely on this - but this is far off topic.)

For your inspiration, I met the gal in the photo below at the campground I was at when I was on a bike tour a decade ago. She was in year seven of her long bike tour. Started in S Africa, rode north to Europe, east to Asia, toured Australia, back north and China, then flew to North America. I met here on her way south. Her bike frame was so covered with location stickers I had no clue what kind of bike it was. One of her pairs of Ortlieb panniers had made all seven years. But virtually every bike component had been replaced several times.





Have a great trip.
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Old 01-29-24, 06:41 AM
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It can be as cheap or expensive to gear up as you make it. Since I ride and am otherwise active outdoors at home I have never thought that touring really required different clothing than I wore at home unless I was pinching grams for super light windshirts and the like. I am not a fan of wool stuff at home or on tour myself and can generally find running/hiking/other outdoor clothing items that suit me on sale for reasonable prices. I wear bike shorts and shoes, but a lot of other items I use are not bike specific.

It is great to have nice gear items, but there are inexpensive ones that are serviceable especially if you aren't going into a harsh environment. I managed with a cheap tent and sleeping bag for my first tour (Trans America) and the gear choices didn't greatly impact the enjoyment of the trip. If money was real tight I'd go with cheap gear before I'd not go. That said I have since spent a bundle on a real nice sleeping bag and similarly have splurged on a few other nice items.

On Tourist in MSN's comment on cost of camping/motels in North America... I'll just say that it depends. I don't usually stealth camp, but have camped for free in plain sight a lot in NA. That may be difficult and or more expensive closer to either coast (and probably some other areas) where you are likely to have to pay to camp. That said, along the west coast and some other places there are some great hiker/biker sights that are very cheap.

Similarly motel prices are a mixed bag depending on where you are and what you expect and where you choose to stay. Some can be crazy expensive and some can be cheaper than some east coast campsites. I have typically stayed away from the east coast other than when going coast to coast and have managed to keep camping and motel costs for my tours very low, rarely if ever resorting to stealth.

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Old 01-29-24, 07:07 AM
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One more thing, assuming you sometimes stay in motels, make sure you bring an AARP membership card for the discounts.
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Old 01-29-24, 07:45 AM
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What you pay for gear depends greatly on the when and the where ! I rarely if ever pay for retail for any clothing or outdoor gear as I tend to find things I need offseason and on sale.
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Old 01-29-24, 08:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
One more thing, assuming you sometimes stay in motels, make sure you bring an AARP membership card for the discounts.
Yep, but if you don't have one ask for some kind of discount any way. I/we often led with "We are riding coast to coast ..." (when that was the case) and in a lot of situations and it opened doors and got us breaks or discounts. We were sometimes hosted or comped stuff. On the discounts for rooms, ask after the price is mentioned. I have found that they often lie and say they are giving you a discount when they are not. If you ask after you know the regular price you may still not get the discount, but at least you know when they say, " Oh, the discount is already rolled into that price.

I suspect that many places will give you 10% no matter what kind of discount you ask for, even if you make up an organization.

On the other hand... Depending on the type of place I have to wonder if booking online ahead of time might be cheaper in many cases. I know that when traveling by car I have often found that after comparing prices when I drive up they quote me a higher price at the desk. Sometimes a lot higher.So I don't have a way of knowing which will work better in a given situation. I have been treated royally at times when I was on a long tour and they decided to give me a break. You just never know. I have had the much cheaper off season price and an upgrade to a really nice fancy room in one case and beed quoted a higher price than the aggregators like hotels.com showed online in others.
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Old 01-29-24, 08:06 AM
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I had to look and see if steepandcheap.com was still around--they are. I got some great deal there on camping equipment. It takes time, which you have.

I geared up for seasons of hiking and biking over twenty years ago, so my costs are way out of date. I found quality affordable tents at Tarptent, around $200. I got a high quality down three-season bag (Marmot Helium) and summer quilt (EE) for $300 and $100 respectively, on sale. Stove and rain gear were homemade. I've always done well with an inexpensive closed-cell foam sleeping pad, $30 or so. Packs on sale. My entire kit cost about $800 back then, and I still have it (well, bag and tent have been replaced once after a couple hundred nights).

Don't go cheap on the sleeping insulation. If you use it frequently, costs will get down to well under $10/night and it's worth it. My down quilt is closer to $1 per night. The tent is under that.

The cheapest gear is the gear you don't buy. Most touring cyclists way overpack on clothing. One way to save money and weight is to come up with a clothing system that you can wear all at once as a coordinated layering system, no extras. Maybe an extra pair of socks. It's easy to wash as you go--stop on a sunny afternoon at a public sink or creek and rinse things out and dry them as you ride.

If you can get involved in Warmshowers.org, it's a great way to enhance your travel while saving money, and to help others out in return.
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Old 01-29-24, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus
I got a high quality down three-season bag (Marmot Helium) and summer quilt (EE) for $300 and $100 respectively, on sale. Stove and rain gear were homemade. I've always done well with an inexpensive closed-cell foam sleeping pad, $30 or so. Packs on sale. My entire kit cost about $800 back then, and I still have it (well, bag and tent have been replaced once after a couple hundred nights).

Don't go cheap on the sleeping insulation. If you use it frequently, costs will get down to well under $10/night and it's worth it. My down quilt is closer to $1 per night. The tent is under that.
I agree that the sleeping bag is a great place to splutge if you are going to splurge. Looking at a long career of outdoor activities a real nice 3 season bag is pretty easy to justify. BTW, what I use as a 3 season bag most probably call a summer bag, but supplemented with some clothing I have been fine down into the teens F.

That said I got by fine on my first long tour with a cheapie slumberjack bag. If I were doing it over I'd have splurged on a real nice bag, but for someone pinching pennies...

The cheapest gear is the gear you don't buy. Most touring cyclists way overpack on clothing. One way to save money and weight is to come up with a clothing system that you can wear all at once as a coordinated layering system, no extras. Maybe an extra pair of socks. It's easy to wash as you go--stop on a sunny afternoon at a public sink or creek and rinse things out and dry them as you ride.
I agree 100% except I always carry a thick pair of dry socks just for in camp and sleeping. Warm dry feet make it much easier to stay warm at night.
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Old 01-29-24, 11:36 AM
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Not in any way a disagreement or rebuttal to anything that's been said on this thread, and not an answer to TiHabanero but a smile and a wink to any young person reading this thread: Strap whatever gear you can scrounge to the bike you own and go.

15 y.o. Leopold Wenger, Austria and Germany, 1937. He and his mates pushed their single-speed bikes up the Alpine passes (sometimes for hours!)



74 y.o. Gustaf Håkansson, Sweden to Israel, 1959. A wooden box on his front rack, a suitcase on his rear rack and an unquenchable desire to pilgrimage to the Holy Land.



19 y.o. Norma Jean Belloff, San Diego to NYC, 1947. Snaps for basketpacking, Norma Jean!



Hmm. I have this fellow listed only as 'Mr. Lidbetter', cycletouring Sussex in 1943. Making do and making it happen during the darkest days of WWII.


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Old 01-29-24, 11:56 AM
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One more thing, assuming you sometimes stay in motels, make sure you bring an AARP membership card for the discounts.
The topic being 'cycletouring expense': many organizations (off the top of my head: AAA, Adventure Cycling, alumnus/fraternal, professional societies...) offer hotel/motel discounts to their members, and many hotels/motels/restaurants offer senior discounts just for the asking. One can often get a reduced price/rate by downloading and using a company's app.
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Old 01-29-24, 03:40 PM
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I'm on my 4th or 5th generation of camping gear, and they have been improvements over their predecessors. So re-gearing has been positive. If you find gearing up for a bike trip expensive, try a little sailboat trip.
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Old 01-29-24, 05:22 PM
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Pratt, I grew up around boats and understand the money pit that they are. Eventually I became a sailor on the Pacific in Uncle Sam's Canoe Club. Talk about a money pit, all 973 feet of it!

The biggest expense outside of the tent and quilt is the wool clothing. I only wear wool socks period, and have plenty of them, however I want two wool shirts and one long sleeve wool shirt. Right there that is about 140 bucks for the cheep stuff on Amazon. I have always used Smartwool for these garments, but don't want to foot that kind of bill. I will not need a stove as I can make an alcohol stove very easily, but since I don't cook I won't need it anyway. Should be able to survive on the same stuff I live on now without cooking.

Just to be clear, I have all the real big ticket items such as bikes, tires, racks, bags. Just need the wool clothing, lights, rain jacket, pump, and some other things that will pop up at some point. Anyway, my lamenting is simply that, lamenting and venting.

Oh yeah, I'm married with two adult children and one very understanding wife.
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Old 01-29-24, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
Just need the wool clothing, lights, rain jacket, pump, and some other things that will pop up at some point.
Don't you have or need that stuff for riding and or everyday life anyway tour or not? I don't use any of those items on tour that I don't use at home or for riding, running, hiking or whatever.
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Old 01-29-24, 10:05 PM
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REI’s spring sale is not that far off. It also has a credit card that earns points on everyday purchases. I’ve got over $180 to spend. That would buy a lot of socks.

REI is having a sale right now. And you get 10% off 3 pairs or more of socks, including Smartwool socks.


Here is a Smartwool long sleeve shirt 30% off.

https://www.rei.com/product/223317/smartwool-active-long-sleeve-tech-t-shirt-mens

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Old 01-29-24, 10:08 PM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
Should be able to survive on the same stuff I live on now without cooking.
Pray tell.
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Old 01-29-24, 11:10 PM
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Do military surplus stores no longer exist? When I was poor I found all my winter gear there for very cheap
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Old 01-30-24, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
...
The biggest expense outside of the tent and quilt is the wool clothing. I only wear wool socks period, and have plenty of them, however I want two wool shirts and one long sleeve wool shirt. Right there that is about 140 bucks for the cheep stuff on Amazon. I have always used Smartwool for these garments, but don't want to foot that kind of bill. I will not need a stove as I can make an alcohol stove very easily, but since I don't cook I won't need it anyway. Should be able to survive on the same stuff I live on now without cooking.

Just to be clear, I have all the real big ticket items such as bikes, tires, racks, bags. Just need the wool clothing, lights, rain jacket, pump, and some other things that will pop up at some point. Anyway, my lamenting is simply that, lamenting and venting.

Oh yeah, I'm married with two adult children and one very understanding wife.
You could have said that you already had all the racks and bags in your first post.

And you could have said that you insist on wool. I have nothing against wool, but for a lot of my camping uses, the synthetics have replaced the wool items for both weight and price reasons. I think last year that the only wool items I used on my bike tour, backpacking trip and canoe trip were socks. I still use wool for lots of things when I am not traveling because I have owned that stuff for decades and it still functions great, but it no longer ticks all the boxes for camping purposes.
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Old 01-30-24, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
You could have said that you already had all the racks and bags in your first post.

And you could have said that you insist on wool. I have nothing against wool, but for a lot of my camping uses, the synthetics have replaced the wool items for both weight and price reasons. I think last year that the only wool items I used on my bike tour, backpacking trip and canoe trip were socks. I still use wool for lots of things when I am not traveling because I have owned that stuff for decades and it still functions great, but it no longer ticks all the boxes for camping purposes.
Yeah, and when he said "Just to be clear, I have all the real big ticket items such as bikes, tires, racks, bags. Just need the wool clothing, lights, rain jacket, pump, and some other things that will pop up at some point." He made it pretty hard for me to relate since I don't find wool that suitable for touring, don't use my headlamp on tour and only use a little blinkie on tour, and ride in the rain as much at home as on tour. Heck I ride in the rain more at home since I ride every day in all seasons at home and try to pick good weather seasons on tour. I need a pump at home as well as on tour. I know that those are just my choices, but don't others who make different choices than me still need riding/outdoor clothing, lights, a pump, and so on for their daily riding/life? If they don't or it it wears out, isn't it stuff you just routinely replace as needed?

My suggestion would be to adopt the approach that those items are just stuff you need, tour or not, and replace them little by little as needed. That way you can probably buy when on sale and catch good deals. Otherwise just splurge and buy it all if you can afford it. It all sounds like stuff you want/need any way.

The one caveat is that if the reason the expense seems high is because you might be thinking you want to carry a bunch of changes of clothing, you may want to consider what you really need.

Last edited by staehpj1; 01-30-24 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 01-30-24, 11:01 AM
  #23  
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^^Yeah^^ In my panniers you won’t find any clothing (riding or otherwise) that you won’t find me wearing “at home” on a regular basis. When an item wears out, it gets replaced, but not because I use it exclusively for touring.

And how many $25 pairs of socks are planned?

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Old 01-30-24, 12:26 PM
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Several years ago I wrote up this post on pumps. There likely is a wider variety of pumps now that are as good as these, but these ones I looked at then are my favorite pumps to carry on a bike to this day.
Comparing Topeak Road Morph G and Lezyne Micro Floor Drive Pumps.

Now that I have several more years of experience with these pumps, I will point out that have disassembled them to clean dust out from the innards a few times due to too much gravel riding. If you are doing months of touring, keeping a pump in a pannier might not be a bad idea if you are in a dusty environment.

A friend of mine carries his Lezyne pump upside down on the frame, he says that too much water collected in his pump with it upright.
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Old 01-30-24, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
^^Yeah^^ In my panniers you won’t find any clothing (riding or otherwise) that you won’t find me wearing “at home” on a regular basis. When an item wears out, it gets replaced, but not because I use it exclusively for touring.
...
I save my good stuff for camping and bike touring. Around home, I wear stuff that is much more worn out than the stuff I take on a bike tour or canoe trip. The pants and rain jacket I was wearing last April for this photo, I have not worn them since then, they are waiting for the next trip.

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