Update: March 21, Costa Rica. Almost 2 years of riding, the wheels are doing great. The wheels had 2 tune-ups. Few broken spokes (falls only) and few hub rebuilds.
While planing my Alaska to Argentina trip I was faced with a big question, what kind of wheels to get. Through bikeforums.net I got in touch with Chris Murray who suggested and built the following set for me:
Hubs: Shimano XT (rear), Supernova Infinity S (front)
Spokes: Alpine DT III
Rims: Sun Rhyno Lite
Distance: 9000km / 5600mi + (about 40% is off pavement and often on steep grades)
I used those wheels fully loaded in a wide variety of environments. The Ice Roads of Canada's Arctic, rugged logging roads in British Columbia, All over Alaska (including the infamous "Haul Road") and to top it off a winter ride on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. All in all - I've put them through 8 months of punishment and varying temperatures from +40C to -30C.
(here are some examples below - click on any of them to see full size)
Few incidents that the wheels survived: On the Dempster Highway (Yukon Territory, Canada), while riding in the mud the derailleur and chain were spun into the rear wheel, breaking both. The wheel was still perfectly fine. In Alaska, while riding through a creek (large stones, big bumps) the bearing bolts for the rear rack snapped but the wheels were fine. The biggest test was the GDMBR where often I had to ride over rough roads in the dark and at -25C.
Issues: After 8 months the rear wheel is slightly out of true, pending its first and long past-due maintenance.
These wheels are virtually indestructible.
More about Chris Murray Wheelworks: In addition to helping me choose the right wheel set for my trip, Chris helped a lot with the trip preparation & planning. He is the head wheel builder at Borealis Fat Bikes and builds wheels because he loves it. It really makes all the difference when you work with somebody who is passionate about what they do.
I can't help but recommend him for any custom wheel build. Be it for a daily commute to work, an ultra marathon or an across the world expedition.