• My Year of Shaving on the Road

    Another travel set up for your straight

    This is a post I've been wanting to put together in one form or another for awhile, and well, here it is.
    I left my home in Bahrain last summer, and have been on a yearlong journey through the USA going to various training locations before I report to my next duty station in Japan in June... I put some thought into what I wanted to bring with me for shaving equipment, knowing that I'd have some "down time" and COVID quarantines along the way. I wanted to keep a small variety of equipment, as I'm sure I'm not alone in enjoying a rotation of items to mix things up, while keeping things relatively light given the numerous locations I'd be at. Practicality was also a concern... given that I'd be staying at a mixture of garage apartments, dodgy quarters on base, guest bathrooms, etc. Finally, it had to be self sufficient for the most part, given that if in a COVID quarantine I'd be unable to grab any needed essentials.

    Here's what I finally whittled down on, followed with some words on how the lot has served me:

    Starting at the top, left to right. Given a full year, I knew I would need some razor touch-up along the way. The shobudani with full nagura set is a bit overkill... I could have gotten away with just the koma, possibly the mejiro, and the tomo. But I didn't really see a reason to split the set up. This stone isn't my goto stone of choice when I've got all my tools, not because of performance but simply because it's not a full bench zone size. Still... it's a known performer and I didn't want to be lugging around a full bench when I had this available. It has definitely served well, providing needed touch-ups every few months. Electrical tape and stone holder complete the set.

    The Omega Alum was a late add, but I have to say I really like it. I've always just used Alum in a block, but having it with a base I can hold on to is a nice practicality. Otherwise... alum is alum. Top right is a bottle of argan oil. This stuff is the bees knees... If Ponce de Leon had known about it, he wouldn't have been searching for the fountain of youth. Two pumps after my shave leaves my skin feeling great. On returning to the States after two years away and seeing old friends, I've had a few comment on how my wrinkles and crow's feet have receded despite my time in the desert... I give full credit to the Argan.

    Razors are where I went with for the variety. The le Coultre frameback is something that I just really like and is fun to play with. However, it hasn't gotten much use. I took extra blades with me, thinking I might get them sharpened up, but in reality it just hasn't happened. One major reason, I never found a good way to store them after sharpening (I had envisioned some sort of soap sized box with captive clips but never got around to making it). Still, it's a nice soft steel that takes an edge well, and with a good blade in it gives a really comfortable shave. Next is a vintage le Grolet half hollow... another soft steel, and plenty of firmness to the razor. Anytime my skin is feeling sensitive, this is my go to. To the right of that is a modern Rasoir Sabre. This is a small maker, unless you shop at TSS you might not be familiar with it, although the owner posts occasionally here as "Jaws." This razor is a full hollow, very thin grind, and provides extremely close two pass shaves... out of all my razors this is my favorite. The point is quite handy as well for grooming nose & ears... Lastly is a Dovo Reni... this one is stainless and was packed as the "utility" razor. When I'm somewhere a bit dodgy, and I'm concerned about corrosion, this is the one that comes out. Finally, I can't say enough about the silicone razor sock on the end (one of three). I'm firmly on the "razors are tools to be maintained" side of the maintenance world... meaning I don't want my razors rusting but I'm also not concerned if they get spotting or other purely cosmetic defects. Having traveled to many different areas and a variety of bathrooms with a wide range of humidity conditions, the silicone socks do a great job of keeping the razors rust and defect free after a good drying off with a towel.

    For soaps, I packed Zartgefuehl "Ziegenbart" and a Theophile Berthon. Two very different soaps, but both are strong performers. The Ziegenbart has no palm oil or stearic acid, is shea butter based, and leaves my skin feeling top notch and moist. However, the lather has no stability and little cushion. Needs a bit more futzing when shaving, but the result is always worth it. The Theophile on the other hand is your classic "great beginner's soap." Very easy to lather up, plenty of cushion, great smell, and overall just works. If I'm in a rush at all, it's what I'm using. Rounding out the lathering kit is a SOC boar bristle brush. While it was kind of a bummer to only pack one brush, to be honest boar is what I learned on and what has always worked well for me. Works great, pretty cheap, and holds up well to abuse on the road.

    Finally the strop. I'm not a strop hound. I only have three, but this Tony Miller horsehide is my favorite by far. I spent my first seven years or so shaving with a red latigo 3". This was my next one... 2 1/2" with a linen back. Tony puts a lot of craftsmanship into his product, doesn't charge a ton, and it's no surprise to me that he always seems sold out. To maintain the leather, once a week or so after rubbing my face down with the argan oil, I run my oily hands through my hair a few times, then rub down the strop with the residual. Yes, neatsfoot is the right oil to have, but given my situation packing extra oil just for the strop when argan seems to work just fine seemed silly. After a nearly year, the strop doesn't seem to be complaining.

    That's about it... Just sharing my experiences. I did pack a few extra items, that didn't make it through the complete journey. Namely a few extra stones, that I thought I would play with, but just always seemed on the back burner so finally I just shipped them to my final destination (although they did come in handy for sharpening my mother-in-law's kitchen knives, which earned me a rare bit of gratitude). Feel free to comment, or share your thoughts about what your "long term road kit" would be.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: My Year of Shaving on the Road started by HungeJ0e View original post