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Step 7: Preparation: Equipment

Equipment:

You've got the plan.

You've got the money. 

You've got the clothes.

Now you need the goods...


A lot of the equipment I bought was from eBay or thrift stores.  A good portion of my equipment was donated to me, either by giving me money to purchase it or given to me directly.  Here's a break-down list of what I'm currently using; you'll probably have your own inventory of materials, but this should give you a baseline for what you may need.

- Cart

The cart that I'm currently is a retrofitted Runabout triplet baby stroller that my friends souped up for me by attaching a basket tray to the body with zip ties.  I bought the Runabout used from eBay; I was lucky, it was quite a steal and the owners happened to be in the same area as me.  The set-up is rather sturdy, and I'm appreciating the Runabout strollers more and more because they add a sexy hand-brake (MANY DISASTERS WERE AVERTED BECAUSE OF THIS).  The basket tray easily let's me hold my stuff down with bungee cord and compartmentalize each section.

The steel chassis has definitely taken a good beating from the road as well, and its still going strong.  I was originally worried that the wheels had rusted enough to fall apart, but I haven't had any problems so far.

A few advantages of having a cart rather than carrying a backpack are that you can reduce the stress to your back and shoulders, and you can carry far more weight (which will be critical for carrying water across 50 - 100 mile stretches of deserts).  The bad news is that unlike a backpack, you have to figure out where to park the damn thing without getting it stolen, and you need much more width along road shoulders to walk along highways.

 - Water Storage

When you're in a city or town, water storage will not be as much of a challenge because there will always be water available, whether from a restaurant, a grocery store, or a resident.  However, once you get out in the middle of nowhere, water storage becomes highly essential.

I brought along two 5 gallon collapsible water jug from REI, which were given to me by my walking friend, David, when he decided to return home.  These things are awesome because you can reduce their size while your water level creeps lower over time.  Also, they're square rather than cylindrical like the 5 gallon hard plastic jugs you get for drinking fountains, so they fit better on the cart.

The problem is that they're easily punctured, and on more than one occasion, I've had to repair them with duct tape and super glue.  I tossed one of the jugs after it had leaked after a repair, so now I only carry one water jug.  I supplement my water jug with 2.5 gallon containers from the grocery store if I need them.  Eventually, I'll have to go over to the hard plastic jugs because my current collapsible is starting to break down.

 - Backpack

Now, I don't know very much about taking only a backpack on a walking journey.  I believe that there have been many other cross-country walkers who've done as such, and you should be able to find blogs about them.

But even with the cart, I brought along a backpack just in case of an emergency or the cart breaks down.  I like backpacks because they have a lot of compartments, so it makes my life easier when I'm organizing my stuff.  It's also nice to park the cart and keep all the expensive electronics in the backpack, which I take in with me if I'm shopping or talking to someone.  I have nothing fancy, just a regular 'Trans' backpack that I've used since high school.

 - Hygiene

For mouth hygiene, I just brought along a toothbrush and floss.  I had some tooth damage in college, so I brush with toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth, but its nothing fancy, just whatever I can pick up at a Target or Safeway.  I have facial gel cleanser that I use to wash my face every night using a sponge and some water.  A bar of soap and a sponge does the job for my body.  I don't bother much with washing my hair because I shaved off a good lump of it before I headed on the road.

I wash my feet and nether regions with a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol to disinfect the areas.  It's overkill, but I'd rather keep jock itch and athlete's foot at bay for as long as I can.

 - Health

Get a check-up with a physician before you start.  It may be a good idea to have a feel for what kinds of allergies, injuries, and physiological imbalances you have so that you can manage them along the way.  You can be prepared with whatever medication or therapies you'll need as you walk; there's no reason to stress parts of your body more than necessary.

Pack the basic medications, like pain-killers, antibiotics, cold medicine, and indigestion medicine.  I'm not a big fan of poppin' pills to treat a symptom rather than a disease, but my dad was a doctor, so I took it for granted that the road can be fiercer than expected.

On the other hand, I've never felt in better health in my entire life.  When I get sick, it just seems to go away the next day.  And I'm more conscientious about what I eat, so I have fewer stomach aches than at home.  Each body will be different, each journey its own difficulties.

 - Sleeping Gear

Proper sleeping gear will be critical for a good night's rest.  If you're already used to sleeping on the ground, back support and cushioning may not important for you.  Otherwise, you'll need a portable pillow, a foam sleeping mat, and an inflatable sleeping pad.  The foam mat will also help to reduce heat loss into the ground during the night.

And then of course, there's the sleeping bag.  Depending on your route and season of departure, you'll need the proper temperature rating for your sleeping bag.  Expect to see colder weather than you'd expect, especially if you're going by the average temperature of a region in the country.  I use a military-grade sleeping bag that I picked off from eBay, rated at -10 F.  For what its worth, I walked through the California and Arizona deserts during the winter, and the sleeping bag has worked even better than I expected.

You may also want to bring along a small, cheap tent.  Snakes and poisonous bugs are prone to crawling into warm, comfortable areas, so a tent will be invaluable in keeping those critters out.  Also, you can keep your food inside, away from raccoons, rats, and other vermin.  Windy conditions can be pretty grueling without a tent as well.

 - Navigation

Maps and a compass are critical.  Even if you're sporting a GPS or smartphone, you'll still want to keep maps in the event you're out of signal or batteries.  Learn to read a compass and a map.  Unless you're a veteran at wandering, you'll probably want to know where you're going.

The Adventure Cycling Association carries excellent water-proof maps that each cover ~500 mile sections of various cross-country cycling routes.  They're highly portable and don't cost anymore than $16 a piece.  Plus, they describe details about lodging, elevation, amenities, stores, and water.  I was gifted one along the way to Arizona from a cyclist coming in the other direction, and its been a valuable tool in conjunction with my complete map book of the United States.

 - Electronics

You don't necessarily need any electronics to walk across the country.  Plenty of people had been doing it long before cell phones or laptops, so they're more optional than anything.

That being said, a cell phone is always nice to have to keep in touch with friends and family back home, not to mention the potential 911 call if you ever needed it.  A GPS is also handy to have so that you can keep track of where you're currently located in real time.  And of course, there's the laptop.  There's really not much you couldn't do with one; I'm sure you could even order pizza online to be delivered to you while you were walking down a highway.  A digital camera isn't a bad thing to take along either.  It's definitely great to be able to share a beautiful sunset in the Mojave Desert with friends.

You'll be able to recharge your electronics practically anywhere in a town or city.  All restaurants and residences have some form of electricity, and most people will be kind enough to let you recharge your equipment if you let them know what you're up to.  I was donated a Nomad 7 Solar Panel, which let's you plug in USB adapters to recharge your equipment.  I haven't had to use it particularly often, but its been helpful nonetheless.

 - Weapons

Given the dangerous nature of wandering through the country alone, you will want to bring some kind of weaponry, unless your purpose for walking prohibits it.  I'd say that the danger mostly comes from wild animals; I haven't yet met a single person who's been malicious towards me.  So unless you're a saint or a Disney princess, you're probably better off having some form of defense.

I started my walk without any sort of weapon, besides my blunt pocket knife.  A guy I met going into Parker, AZ gave me his bear spray, which is basically an upgraded version of pepper spray (think Siege Mode for Terran tanks in Starcraft).  He kept telling me about all the fights he'd be in at bars and how he'd meet with rather suspicious folk (think American Psycho-status).  So I've kept the spray around.  Just in case.

 - Illumination

Either a flashlight or a headlight will do.  I prefer headlights because I have to use both my hands to set up camp.  Plus, it makes it easier to write or read during the night.  Take your pick, there's a ton of different ways to illuminate your journey.  Just remember that bringing a brick of a flashlight won't do you much good.

You'll also need extra batteries to have around even before you start running low.  The Nomad 7 Solar Panel comes with an LED flashlight that contains four rechargeable batteries.  So every so often, I'll leave the panel out in the sun and know that at the very least, I'll have that for light and electrical power.

 - Emergencies

Bring a first aid kit and learn how to use it properly.  You'll also need some way to contact the police or fire department besides a cell phone.  The GPS I use comes with a way to call 911; since it's connected to multiple satellites, it's less likely to lose reception compared to my cell.

I'm also carrying along the following in the event of an emergency:

 ~ Two Emergency Blankets

 ~ Instant Foot and Hand Warmers

 ~ Waterproof Matches

 ~ Fresnel Lens (to start fires using sunlight)

 ~ Electrolyte Powder Mix

 ~ Protein Bars

 ~ Whistle

 ~ Water Purification Tablets

 ~ Sewing Needles
<p>21 here from Northeast TN, going to South Florida then planning a bigger trip from east coast to west, would enjoy company and tips!</p>
<p>When do you leave? Because i have had the same idea ever since i was in the 10th grade. Now im in college and I still plan on going. I wanted to go from The ever glades of florida to the HoH national rainforest in washington</p>
Hey there! I don't know if you're planning on going still but I'm 20 from Central NJ wanting to head to the west coast, maybe if the journeys coincide we could meet up
<p>Have you left yet? I'm in Michigan right now and wanting to head to California where I'm from soon from the East Coastline. My name is Joceline btw =)</p>
<p>Hi - I just sent you a message on fb. I am a 36 year old woman, also originally from MI, wanting to do a west coast to east coast ASAP!</p>
<p>Cool! I'm starting a walk from Indiana to NC to touch the coast and then I'll walk back to the West Coast =)</p>
<p>hey man, i'm also 20 from central-ish nj and am taking the american discovery trail this summer</p><p>http://www.discoverytrail.org/</p>
<p>Have you left yet? I'm in Michigan and ready to walk to California. I'm Joceline btw =)</p>
<p>Joceline - sent you a message on FB .... lets go!!!!! sooner the better!</p>
<p>hey man, 21 from north bergen. looking to walk to the west coast starting soon before august 1st. if you haven't left yet, would love to walk together. lmk!!</p>
<p>hi me and my friend are planning to leave for california from ny any where from august to october. if you havnt left yet we could meet up some where</p>
<p>Hey!! I'm in Florida and looking for company for a big trip- if you're not here yet/still here and would like some company please message @ripmainblog on tumblr. :)</p>
<p>I am looking for someone to join me on my epic adventure. I am wanting to walk west coast to east coast as soon as possible. I need to find myself, I am terrified to do this alone .... anyone up for the adventure of a lifetime?</p><p>lostgyrl@silentlyscreamining.com</p>
I live in the midwest and I need to figure out how I can get to East Coast and start somewhere so I can get to the west coast that's why I was scared to and how much money you need but otherwise that's it all planned out then
<p>are you set on your route? would you be willing to do west coast to east coast?</p>
We an do it together
I'm in when are you planning to leave? I have a trip planned for next year if you want to join I also live in the midwest
<p>I have just spent the last few hours reading this entire article, and i must say its amazing and inspires me! I am a fellow wanderer and nomad, all though i have been some what stationed/stuck in my current location south Mississippi for around 3 years now and im about ready to up and pack my bags, gear, and bike! Im gonna try and take a journey all across the US! Like you i have lost my father some years ago, he was a traveler of sorts been to more places then me, he was a trucker for over 35 years. He and other reasons are my inspirations plus im doing it for myself. Thank you for sharing your incredible adventure!</p>
<p>sent you a message on fb</p>
I'm 49, will turn 50 this year, and my life is utterly blah. I'm going to walk across the country to try to raise a few dollars for breast cancer research. My cousin, who is more like a little sister to me, was diagnosed when she was about 33, had all the chemo and radiation, and went into remission. A few years ago, the cancer returned. This time she did a double mastectomy - I think her comment was &quot;I'm not going to let my boobs kill me.&quot; I've got nothing going on in my life, so I thought I'd try to raise some money, even if it's just a few bucks, for breast cancer research. I figured that this stunt would be odd enough to get my acquaintances to donate something.
<p>did you go? are you still interested?</p>
I'm super scared I'm already but what should i do should I go for it
<p>lets go!</p>
I'm 3, live in Philadelphia and would love to walk across the country to San Francisco California. I lost my marriage and would do the walk in the memory of the love that I carry for this girl. Would any one join for this amazing journey?
I'm a 37 years old guy and looking for a walking companion.
<p>I am in the same situation, I am wanting to go west to east .... ASAP, any interest?</p>
I am 39 female and not in the best shape. I have depression and am becoming anti-social. I have always wanted to do this to see the world a different way/ slowly.my family all but my husband are for it. I'm a little scared but am buying small items, ie...stroller back pack, food for camping when it's on sale. I've been planning this for about 2 yrs. I plan to get closer to God by finishing the bible. And getting to know my limitations. I know I have rescue if needed. But I hope to make it when I start out. Signed scared but determined
<p>did you do this or are you still? I have the fun trifecta of ocd/anxiety and depression. i am ready to walk/jog/crawl .... whatever it takes from west to east coast asap ... I am a 36 year old woman.</p>
Hi, where are you at regarding your plan for this journey?
I'm 40 and planning to do the same. Maybe our paths will cross.
<p>So, did you leave yet? I am also planning a cross country trip and I am leaving Oct. 7th, two days from now. Please check my site......Hawk's Walk across the USA..........it's on Facebook. Which route will you be taking? Take Care, Jim</p>
<p>So, did you leave yet? I'm not planning a cross country trip, but I am curious to know how it went for you. I didn't find anything about Hawk's Walk...</p>
Ive made it no where in my life thus far. I want to find a walking mate. Im heading west i live in illinois. I need to do this to prove i can do something.
If anyone is interested email me at w1nged1@outlook.com<br>
<p>I just sent you an email.</p>
<p>I am 43 years old. Lost my mom a few yrs back and things haven't been so great at home. I need to get out in nature and breathe in some good clean fresh air. Get closer to God. It may sound crazy but I do think this walk will help. I'd like to go from Charleston, S.C. to Seattle, Wa in December. In mid Sept I'm thinking of a shorter walk from Charleston to Jacksonville, Fl. Anyone interested please contact me.</p>
<p>Hi</p><p>I am doing an west coast to east coast walk ...soon, if your interested.</p>
<p>Hello Everyone! I am a 26 year old male and plan on departing from Las Vegas to colorado and then hopefully to florida it will just be me and my 16 month old dobie.So anyone looking to link up and share paths for a while feel free to email me at Palacio@yahoo.com this is my first time ever doing this so I will be learning as i go :) One step at a time but I will get there! much peace and love to anyone in need !</p>
Im a 42 yr old guy wanting to walk from arkansas to washington state...anybody wanna go just me and my dog...
<p>I'm wanting to leave in Nov. When are you leaving?</p>
<p>When are you leaving?</p>
In 3 years i will be traviling from the beaches in virginia to sunny L.A . We must wait for military obligations to be done with, but none the less the time will give us more preparations. None the less i was wondering if any one has any advice before a first timmer goes.
<p>Hey guys! So cool to see so many people interested in adventures! I am 27, and planning to walk from Orlando FL, to New York. Though I am planning this for many personal reasons. This will also be a documentary blog about America. Specifically focused on homelessness, and different types of adversity within a wide span of communities. Diversity is key. Everyone has their own struggles, whether it be a regular 9-5 blue collar, or struggling homeless man/woman, I want to tell their story, and give people a different perspective on life they otherwise would not be able to experience. Throughout my (or our) journey, I (we) will be interviewing many people, asking about their lives, how they got where they are, and what they learned throughout their journeys as well. Sort-of a way to get their story out there, or in the least, vent. Most of the trip will be a mix between camping, and walking. Lots, and lots, and LOTS of walking, lol, and will take anywhere from 18, to 28 days. But that is part of the adventure. If you think you'd be interested in walking with me, you can contact me through my Email: jonimerks@gmail.com, or just send me a pm here through *Instructables. Happy adventuring! ;)</p>
<p>I am walking from Spring/Houston Texas to head up toward Colorado then over to Oregon</p>
<p>Hi im 17 and I'm planning to ride my horse across the Mojave desert next year, Im starting from Yarnel, AZ through the mojave preserve and death valley to Dyer,NV. I need lots of advice about desert travelling and maybe advice for maintaining 2 horses . I've lived in the kind of desert area my whole life, but haven't actually been &quot;on my own&quot; but i do walk a lot. Thank you!</p>
<p>my name is justin, im 26 and wanting to leave PA, anyone walking from or thru here email me if you want company.. Bowerz232@comcast.net</p>
Me and my friend are planning on walking from DC to San Fransisco if anyone wants to join us that is 18 and older we would love some company we are doing this for charity on March 26 2017 and the charity is autism speaks please pm me if you want to come along
Currently living in NJ amd i can't seem to find the most logical route to California been wanting to take this trip for a long time now I need help this article really put alot in perspective
I live in california and im planning to walk accross the us all the way to Charlotte north carolina would anyone like to join me? If you're in email me at vanessalupian798@gmail.com

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Bio: I recently graduated with a BS in Chemistry and am currently pursuing a masters in Chemistry at University of California, Irvine. After returning from an ... More »
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