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200 Nights Under the Stars: Gear That Got Me Through

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[leadin]Contributing writer Mallory Paige and her dog, Baylor, are currently riding a motorcycle-sidecar across North America, camping and exploring their way around the continent, 200 days (and nights) counting so far.[/leadin]


Camp up, camp down. It’s become a daily routine, a series of steps that bookends every day on the road. Before committing to ride across North America I’d hardly ever camped, and I’d certainly never done it alone. But I was determined to figure it out.


Now, having spent more than 200 nights outside, camping is my lifestyle. One thing I’ve learned: Good gear will keep you safe, comfortable, and sane. Here are 10 of my favorite items after many months on the road.

Note: Since I travel on a motorcycle, weight is a factor, as is the size of my gear. For that reason, some of my equipment is high-end, ultralight backpacking gear (like my tent, as one example). Then again, I do travel with an axe, multiple sleeping bags, and some luxuries, all crammed on the moto, and with my dog in the car at my side.

Road Trip Camping Gear: 10 Favorites


Nemo Dagger 2P Ultralight Backpacking Tent, Paw Print ($400). This tent packs down small, but it doesn’t skimp on roominess. I love how quick it is to set up, with a single pole and easy snap clips. The Paw Print floor ($50) is sold separately, but it’s a worthy addition to prevent a furry sidekick from puncturing your sleeping pad or the floor. More Info


Brunton Glacier 200 Headlamp ($70). Whether setting up camp in the dark or in the tent reading, this rechargeable headlamp is used on the daily. With both 100 lumens of light power and a mellow green setting, you can see far into the forest and sit by a fire without blinding your campmates. More Info


Ruffwear Highlands Sleeping Bag ($100). Before getting Baylor his own sleeping bag, I spent most nights trying to wrap my sleeping bag around him and invariably ending up cold. Now I tuck him in at night and can rest easy knowing he’s cozy. It’s also a great bed for days spent hanging on a coffee shop patio while I work on a computer. Made of lightweight, washable polyester fabric, this bag will keep you and your sidekick happy no matter where you adventure and sleep. More Info


Poler Napsack ($135). This convertible sleeping bag falls under the category of “keeping you happy and cozy.” With zippers at the arms and a cinch bottom, you can use it as a sleeping bag and then move it up on the legs to wear around camp. Perfect for days when you don’t quite feel like getting out of bed. More Info


Farm to Feet Bend Crew Socks ($19). Wool socks keep toes toasty on cool nights and never gets itchy. Bottom line, these socks are comfortable, durable, and made from U.S.-grown merino wool. More Info

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Helle Algonquin Knife ($150). From whittling by the fire to prepping dinner, this knife is my go-to. Handmade in Norway, the handle fits perfectly in your palm and the triple laminated stainless steel blade offers strength and corrosion protection. Slide it into its leather sheath, hang it around your neck, and be ready for whatever adventure throws at you. More Info on Amazon


Ursa Major Face Balm ($36). Sure, you live the hobo life, but it doesn’t mean you want to look like one! Ursa Major keeps your skin looking good, without weird or harmful chemicals. This face balm is a lightweight lifesaver and the entire Travelers Skin Kit ($46) will take you from backwoods to a hip bar without a hitch. More Info


Sea to Summit 10 Liter Ultra-Sil Compression Sacks ($30). Space and dealing with the weather are the two biggest challenges of living off a motorcycle. These compression sacks tackle both problems — I use them for clothes and happily smash everything into a fraction of its full size. Constructed of lightweight Ultra-Sil 30D fabric, they are both durable and amazingly light. Perfect for backpacking, motorcycling, or travel. More Info on REI


SPOT Gen3 ($170). The standard in GPS tracking, the SPOT Gen3 takes you beyond cell service. Send updates to family and friends when you’re off the grid or sends your coordinates to emergency responders if everything goes wrong. It doesn’t replace common sense, but this rugged tracker will give your family some much-needed peace of mind. More Info


Yellowood Designs Custom Half Hatchet ($175). Whether chopping wood or whacking the sidecar into alignment, this hatchet does it all. Based in Ohio, Yellowood finds old axes then carefully revives them, stitching a leather sheath and applying a custom paint job. Combining beauty and function, this is a tool you’ll be proud to use and pass down the line. More Info


— Mallory Paige and Baylor the Dog are currently riding a motorcycle sidecar across North America, collecting stories, and proving that you don’t have to be fearless or perfect to live your dreams. Follow the adventure at OperationMotoDog.com.

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