Okay, “big” is a big word; perhaps “considerable” would work better. Still: over the years on the road, I’ve accumulated a collection of tiny ADV hacks that can make a difference in comfort, gear durability, and trip morale. Here’s what requires minimal investment but works wonders for me:
Got soft luggage? Get some saddle soap. Even if your soft panniers are made from sturdy, durable fabric, they will eventually start fraying here and there, or if you always fold them the same way, the fabric might start to get thinner at the folds or places where you strap your luggage down. Spending a lot of time in dry, dusty areas can also dry your soft luggage out and make it more prone to tearing. Saddle soap, mostly used to soften and treat leather saddles and bridles, is great in keeping the soft luggage fabric soft, supple, and break and tear-resistant. Clean your soft luggage, then apply the saddle soap to keep it strong and sturdy.
Saddle soap can be found in tack shops or online.
Tea Tree Essential Oil
Imagine riding hard all day, and just when you’ve pitched your tent, it starts raining. You’ve got to get your boots inside, otherwise, they’ll get wet. Except, you’ve just spent ten hours in them riding off-road, and they now stink. Solution? A couple of drops of tea tree essential oil in each boot. It kills bacteria and microbes and gets rid of the funky odor.
Tea tree oil is also great as a disinfectant for small cuts, abrasions, and sores.
I hide KitKats all over my bike: tank bag, hydration pack, and even my panniers. That’s because sometimes, when the weather is horrible and there are no people, shops, or gas stations in a 300-mile radius around you, and you know you’re camping and dining on canned tuna and soup packets – unexpectedly finding a KitKat sandwiched between your first aid kit and a heated jacket is a blessing.
What are your favorite ADV hacks? Let me know in the comments below.