- camping gear
- bike clothing
- what we got/got rid off on the way
Equipment is a crutial part of a trip of any kind, but when it comes to a long-distance cycling you need to think even more thoroughly as you will need to carry it all yourself. So first you have to decide what you need and then which brand to thrust. We had done plenty of research before we decided on every single item. With camping equipment was easier as we have some experience camping, but, being virtually new to touring, we had gone through thousands of reviews, blogs and websites, before making a choice. The most useful opinions were obviously the one given by other cyclists or travellers. However, it was not always easy to come across reliable, helpful and up-to-date one. So, since we had spent so many hours in front of the computer, we thought we could share our choices and opinions and experience with the gear, and hopefully make something useful for anyone who looks for advice.
Our project is about sustainable travelling, so in choosing equipment our principal rule was to reuse, recycle and use environmentally friendly items as much as possible. So many of the stuff we carry are our old stuff still in good shape; these are actually better, because we have already tried them out and so we know what to expect; and when theirs time is up, we will buy new one. If we had to buy new things, we tried, as much as it was possible, go for “green” stuff; so, for example, our lantern is a wind-up one and the front light on Marta’s bike has a solar charger. And last, but not the least, our bikes obviously! Proudly built by Raul from scratch, mostly from recycled parts; if you want to know more about them go to ‘our bikes’.
Our second rule was not to cut corners; if we had to invest in something we preferred to pay more, but to have it top quality. Good example of not following the rule was our water carrier; we thought ‘anything will do’, so we bought something plastic of no-brand that cost 8 quit; it lasted 2 weeks... we have just got the second one- made of heavy duty Cordura, MSR water camel bag. We believe that if you invest at the beginning in good stuff, it will pay back over your trip. So that is why we normally went for well recognized brands. It is not going to be any kind of advertisement, if we name brand such as Brooks, Ortlieb, Continental or Shimano, so you will find full list of our gear and later, when we try them on properly, we will share our most honest opinions.
Biking you need to be self-sufficient; you never know where you happen to spend a night and being able to provide food and accommodation for yourself is also the cheapest way to travel. So we carry with us everything we need, and a bit more, since, unless we are hosted, we will camp and this a long-term project, so this tent is our home and this stove is our kitchen and we want to feel comfortable at homeJ
- Tent; Big Agnes Emerald Mountain SL2. That was a difficult choice – it’ll be our home for the next two years; the market is huge and yet we couldn’t find what we were looking for. For this kind of adventure what we needed was: something light (we will carry it), but spacious (so two of us can feel comfortable there, important in rainy days!), free standing (you never know where you will spend the night and if you will be able to pinch the pegs there), preferably with extended vestibule (so you can store easily your gear and even bikes), something suitable for temperatures from 0C to 40C and top quality! We found ‘the tent’ overseas; seems to be perfect so far – made out of very good quality fabrics, free standing, ultra light and what’s best about it – has detachable vestibule, where we can easily fit all our gears and still have place for cooking (or no place for cooking, but our bikes inside).
- Tarp; just regular one bought in BQ. We use it as an extra tent floor on rough surfaces or as ‘a blanket’ to sit on; doesn’t weight much and so far very useful.
- Sleeping bags; Cumulus Mysterious Traveller 700, goose down. Down is the best option to give you the maximum warmth with minimum weight; even though our sleeping bags are quite warm (comfort -11C), they are still light (1.08kg) and together wit our mesh tent they make good set to make us feel comfortable in pretty much any weather conditions.
- Sleeping mats, self- inflatable; rectangular Thermarest (when broken replaced for some second-hand canadian brand and then for REI) and mummy Trango (replaced for Thermarest)
- Inner sheet for sleeping bags, Vango, cotton;
- Little pillow (for Marta), sneaked from a plane to Fairbanks J
- Camping stove; MSR Dragon Fly, plus two fuel bottles. This is a multi fuel camping stove so we can refill it in any petrol station; using unleaded fuel works perfect for us – it is widely accessible, cheap and nearly as calorific as white gas.
- Cooking set; just regular stainless steel set of two pots and a lid/frying pan. Titanium is super expensive, aluminium-apparently not healthy, so the choice for us was stainless steel.
- Survival lighter, plus some sap and birch bark – the best to start fire.
- Penknife, Victorinox; a classic anyone should have.
- So-called sporks (spoon, fork and knife in one); Light my Fire, plastic;
- Bowls; we actually use bowl-size lunch boxes with air-tide lids, so that if we have any food left, we can keep it for the next day or soak over day lentil or rice for dinner, so they will cook quicker.
- Mugs; stainless steel thermal mugs;
- Water camel bag; MSR, 10l, hardware cordura;
- Water filter; Katadyn, Vario;
- Little fancy reusable coffee filter for Marta;
- Small foldable saw;
- Lantern; Indigo wind-up and USB chargeable;
- Head torches; wind-up ones;
- Solar charger; Solio Classic; small, portable and very efficient; it will charge our mobiles and lantern; the great advantage of it is that it has a battery, so you can charge it in a sunny day and it will store the energy until you need it.
- First aid kit;
- Plus bits and bobs like repairing kit, duck tape, thread and needle, spices, elastic straps etc.
Good set of clothing is essential to feel comfortable on the bike regardless the weather conditions. On the other hand you don’t want to carry too much, as every single gram/ounce counts. In our journey we will cross climates from arctic to tropical, so it is virtually possible to have clothes suitable for all conditions, so logically we will start our trip with equipment necessary in northern climates. However, we think our set is fairly universal and we might have to exchange just couple of items.
We are both carrying very similar set of clothing for cycling. For most of the things two is the magic number - one piece we have on and the other one clean waiting for its turn in our bag.
Apart from that we carry off-bike clothes, but this is obviously one’s personal choice; we just tried to take something as universal and as light as possible.
That is the list of cycling clothes we carry:
o A pair of shorts above the knee (1 each, Endura)
o A pair of ¾ shorts (1 each, Endura)
o Padded liner that can be worn under any trousers (Marta only, Endura)
- Merino leggings (a pair each HH, Icebreaker
- Merino vest top (Marta only, Icebreaker)
- Cotton theamericasbycycle T-shirts (2 each
- Merino base layer long sleeve (2 each, Endura, Icebreake)
- Fleece top layer (Marta-1, Raul-2, Rab, Mountain Hardwear0
- Ultra light wind-stopper cycling jacket (one each, Montane)
- Wind-stopper and waterproof jacket (one each, Marmot)
- Waterproof Gore-Tex paclite over-trousers (a pair each, Marmot, Berghaus)
- Waterproof Gore-Tex over-shoes (a pair each, Gore)
- Waterproof Gore-Tex paclite jackets (one each, Montane, The North Face)
- Waterproof Gore-Tex paclite mittens (a pair each, Extremities)
- Neck buff (one each)
- Gloves (fingerless cycling gloves, Endura/inner layer glove/winter gloves-only Raul; pair each)
- Cycling MTB shoes (a pair each, Shimano)
- Sunglasses with changeable glass (a pair each, Endura)
things we got/got rid off on the way
- GSI ultralight reusable coffee filter for coffee drinker :)
- titanium MSR spoon (and stove tool in one) when Raul's spork got broken
- KEEN cycling sandals for Marta - great choice! I highly recommend it!
- Thermarest chair sleeve (to make comfy chair out of my mat)
- recyclable plastic thermal mug instead for the steel one for Marta
- Opinel foldable knife for Raul
- wooden spoon for cooking
- one more T-shirt each
- a pair of cycling shorts, designed for warm climates, each
- 20l dry sack to carry some stuff on the top of Marta's rear rack
- Bike Buddy adjustable bottle holders, to carry on the bike bottles even as big as 2l
- ultra bright one-led lights, a set (front and rear) each; for crazily narrow Mexican roads and short days
- KEEN cycling sandals for Raul
- Jetboil, a mini-stove to quickly fix some tea for lunch during cold days in Amdes
- New grips with support platform for for the palms of the hands (Ergon)
- 50l rucksack that we bought to have a comfortable bag for trecks in Andes and on daily basis it'll work as the 'fifth pannier' on the rear rack
- small foldable into pocket-size backpack, as well for trecks
- a pair of light trekking shoes each
- two 1.5l water bottles that fit our bottle holders
We got rid off:
- broken sporks, both:( they are very comfortable to eat with, but too fragile for cooking
- one of the steel mugs (replaced for a plastic one)
- our aluminium water bottles - not suitable for hot climates; after few hours we could brew tea in water carried in them
- Raul left his regular trainers and a an extra hoodie behind; now his only spare shoes are flip-flops
- any other shoes once we got the trekking ones