How to live on the road out of a hack… WY

Friday, August 20th, 2010

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving”  ~ Lao Tzu

"Old Faithful" and Spirit  

From Ennis we have arrived in Lander, Wyoming, riding through beautiful Yellowstone Park, and yet I called that day a “beautiful nightmare”. Have these people in the Park gone delirious? Tailgaters, vehicles stopped in the middle of the lane to unload the wife and kids because they saw a branch move, others parked half way on the road in the middle of a curve… The list goes on and on. We end up sliding right through it, not a single photo, this was not the time to be overcomed by the madness of the swarming gazillion visitors. As my Friend KC said, September will be the better time. The Park is indeed a landscape that leaves me speechless. While here now and getting ready for my solo Journey to Germany, I took the opportunity to regroup everything we carry and as I have had quite a few requests curious about my packing, this is my chance to show it all off. The simplicity of living out of the hack amazes me often, many bags, but everything always in the same space, less than an hour to set up and the same to take it all down, packed and ready to go.

bag #1  
inside bag #1  

Bag #1. All my bags are waterproof. They all have different threshold of pain as everything, unlike the traveler, is exposed to the elements 24/7, meaning getting beat by the constant UV rays. This bag has my hair/beard clippers, itself in a bag, and Spirit’s food in one gallon freezer Ziplocs bags. A little pricey on his food situation as I can only buy 10lb bags. The two bags themselves are from They have hold up very well for years, however their closure being drawstring, they are not my favorite. They are more meant as a waterproof bag in a non waterproof bag.

bag #2  
inside bag #2  

Bag #2. This is my most durable bag so far from Ortlieb. It has to be about 15 years old. Faded yes, but has maintained it’s waterproofing and the ease of the closure makes it a quick access. It contains my REI Bivi Bag when I am not setting up a tent, a couple books in a Ziploc bag, my toiletry bag, micro fiber towel, a reversible sack with a soft liner (the orange one) which when stuffed with clothing makes it a great pillow eliminating the “pillow problem”, and my 0 degree Big Agnes Sleeping bag. The pad which slips into it has a -5 degree rating and is stored in another bag.

bag #3  
inside bag #3  

Bag #3. This bag remains on the hack 24/7/365. It is a Sea-to-Summit bag, rubber, seems to be holding very well. Will see in about a year if the UV rays will destroy it or not as it is fairly new, only a few months old. This is for all the riding gear, at all time. Spirit’s coat, a Gerbing micro wire heated jacket, it’s two pairs of also heated gloves, a spare pair of regular gloves, fleece turtle neck, a regular balaclava and a heavy duty one with a chest protector, a Vanson vest, heavy duty waterproof pants, another waterproof pair of pants, (the best, Coleman for $15), a Sierra Design fist size when folded windproof, waterproof, breathable hooded jacket, riding jacket liner and a spare wool hat.

bags # 4 and # 5  

inside bag # 4

Kermit chair

Hilleberg Tent  

Bags # 4 and # 5. These are see through heavy duty pliable PVC Ricksack NRS  bag with fiber thread reinforcements. A bit stiff when cold, fairly new to me also, time will tell how long they will hold. # 4 bag contains my Kermit chair for hours of comfort reading and cooking, a couple bottles of propane for the catalytic heater and the -5 degree Big Agnes Hinman pad, the most comfortable bed I have ever slept on. Bag # 5 is my Hilleberg tent. This is one unique item that has totally changed the course of living on the road with comfort, ease of putting it up and taking it down quickly in any weather condition as the ground clothe, tent and fly always remain attached.

bag # 6  
inside bag # 6  

Bag # 6. This one sits on top of the Pelican camera box. It is a Sea-to-Summit also bag, a softer material which has held up well these past few months, reminding me of the Ortlieb bag but not quite as thick. It hold my catalytic heater minus the propane bottles, air compressor with separate gauge, my night bottle and a spare lightweight rain pants which I use to wrap the heater with while packed.

Coolers, bag # 7 and # 8  

Bag # 7 and # 8 are two coolers. They get situated in the nose of the sidecar along with 2 x 1 gallon water jugs, a bow saw with an extra blade and a hatchet. We rarely use refrigeration. They have ample room for local ingredients from fruit and vegetable vendors often specially this time of the year lined along the road. The nose of the sidecar is one of those spaces that has a lot of room to throw in an extra T shirt, Spirit’s food and water bowls, map book, his helmet when he is not wearing it, moccasins and any extra items found on the road before they get packed away in bag #6 which still has room for more items. It is a mad logic!

folding bucket  

Under the bags on the front nose of the sidecar, a spare blanket for Mr Spirit besides his newly foamed pad he rides on, a folding bucket and a few rags readily available when needed.

Wolfman Tank Bag Wolfman Tank Bag

Bag # 9, the Wolfman Tank Bag. The best tank bag I have ever used, waterproof without a cover. I have it mounted in the reverse position, it suits me better specially leaning forward on it sometimes and also the cover flapping open on the seat instead of the instrumentation panel. Mosquito spray, mosquito head net, tire pressure gauge, keys, cards, change, 12V cords for I Pod, phone, heated gear, all the miscellaneous personal items which need to be readily available.

Right Pannier Wolfman Bag Left Wolfman Tank Pannier
Inside Left Pannier Bag  

Bags # 10 and # 11. Right and left tank panniers. Two more great waterproof Wolfman products, seriously, forget anything else. Sorry. No zipper fighting, no leaks, no non sense. The right bag has a cover for the bike. No sense getting all the electrical soaked when it rains for day. First aid kit, trickle charger and a 140W inverter. Much is recharged when riding. In the left bag with easier access, a 1TB external drive well protected, my medication bag, a book, some postcards of us and a satellite phone. An incredible deal from the county where “The Oasis” resides, $17 a month for 3 hours of talk. Besides my SPOT another peace of mind along with us.

Inside camera case  

Bag # 12. The rear case, a Pelican 1550 with foam insert, waterproof and dustproof  for three cameras. Two Canon 5 D’s full frame. One with a 16~35 2.8 “L” lens, the other with a 24~70 2.8 “L”. It is always better to not change lenses on the road for the fear of dust on the sensor. The third camera is a Canon G11 with also the capability of shooting manually on RAW.

the kitchen sink  
Inside #1 the kitchen sink  
Inside #2 the kitchen sink  

Bag # 13 and the rear Pelican camera case. This is the main ingredient. I call it the “kitchen sink”. It is another very old Ortlieb bag with a roll on closure, reinforced, for all the “other stuff”. Weight? Have no clue. Don’t want to know. The list is long. One bag for spices, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in small plastic bottles, spices are all salt free, fresh roasted coffee, another bag for garlic press, lime press, knife sharpener, cheese grater, 3 types of spatulas. Coffee grinder, (my great grand mother’s, 00 fine, brass and cracked and taped), French Press, frying pan, set of 2 pots, 2 knives and flexible cutting board. Coffee mug, stove, low folding table, lightweight utensils and chopsticks, camera sensor and lens cleaning kit, little broom and dust pan for tent, a twin-max to synchronize the bikes throttle bodies at times in it’s own little yellow Pelican case, towels, sewing kit, sponge, paper plates… and probably more.

Inside Left saddlebag  

Bag # 14. Left rear saddlebag. All for electronics. Laptop, camera chargers, cables for Smart Phone and I Pod, two more external memory drives, 250GB and 100GB, small Brunton solar panel which will recharge my Smart Phone in one hour since it is what I use to write with, AC and DC cables for all, spare memory cards.

Right saddlebag  

Bag # 15. Right rear saddlebag. All regular clothing. 3 of each, more tops however. 3 short sleeves, 2 long sleeves one being turtle neck, lower and upper thermo wear. The red bottles are 4 rear ones for cooking fuel and two larger front ones for engine oil. Red Line, the best synthetic oil, I also use for the final drive and gear box. Nearing 240,000 miles I am convinced. 


Storage # 16. The trunk. About 20 lbs, maybe more, of tools. Spares, everything from clutch and throttle cables, fuel filter, oil filter, belt, scissor jack, electric cord, 2.5 gallon sun shower, spare tubes, Gorilla glue and tape, wood blocks and short planks, work gloves, knee pads and probably more… We can carry a total of 5 gallons of water and 10 gallons of fuel. I am thinking about reducing the fuel to 7.5 gallons which would give us roughly a range of 225 miles (at 35mpg) and increasing the water to 7.5 gallons which only in cooler weather would give us roughly a week’s worth of water. Yes, it is a different Lifestyle, I realize maybe a bit odd, but truly we are not missing anything and as long as Mother Nature and our Friends and Family are kind to us, this is the path which provides my Wealth.

Till next time… be well.

Ara & Spirit

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12 Responses to “How to live on the road out of a hack… WY”

  1. mq01 Says:


  2. john Says:

    amazing how much gear you can actually carry with you… curious as to which french press you have as I am in the market for one…

  3. texascindy Says:

    Ara, That is amazing!!! I knew you packed well but goodness! I never realized what all you had on that thing! I am impressed…again!

  4. Mitch Says:

    interesting to see how you pack. i used to go camping by motorcycle or car a lot, but only a couple of times a year now. organization, and when on the bike carrying stuff that will do 2 jobs for 1 such a the pillow, help in saving space and on a bike, weight, which can be important.

    well done and i also own a G11. great camera

  5. Sandra Says:

    Great collection of equipment. Efficient and effective. Inspiring pictorial of packing art. Thanks.

  6. Chris Says:

    Where are your clothes and shoes?

  7. Doug Smith Says:

    Great Tour! We have traveled for only 10 days at a time…your packing gives me more insight for the days to come when we’ll be out for longer durations…Happy Trails my Friend…

  8. Michelanna☂ Says:

    Home is where the heart, and Spirit, is…are…is!!! Safe journey!! You are never alone! You are always in our hearts~

  9. Mark Milliron Says:

    Ara and Spirit,

    Spectacular pictures. I wish you a safe journey on the healing road. I live in Marietta GA am a motorcyclist and chef also. Keep posting.

  10. Zelda Says:

    Dear Ara,
    You have everything so very well thought out, and you learn from every experience. You are indeed meticulous, but perhaps one has to be meticulous to live “out of a hack” for three years!
    All the best to you and Spirit in your next travels!

  11. Joe Rush Says:

    Great information. Amazing packing job. I particularly like Bag #3. I don’t go anywhere without my Gerbings heated gear, and good rainwear. The heated jacket and gloves have saved me numerous times. And people don’t realize how effective good rainwear can be at blocking cold wind. Thanks again. I have learned much from following your travels.

  12. Chris Says:

    Thanks for showing me all of the equipment you carry. You ever weigh that rig loaded with all of your gear?

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