Packing light and buying the right gear for the particular conditions we will be facing has been an important and really exciting part of our planning. We have spent MANY hours researching and buying our gear and we’ve enjoyed doing this together.
It seems not all cycle tourers invest in brand new, lightweight gear. In their blogs, many claim to have invested in a good set of panniers and not much else. You don’t need to spend a huge amount of money but packing light has been important and a huge advantage for us.
Deciding to travel by tandem means you are seriously limited for space especially if you decide that taking a trailer isn’t for you. We are really excited at the prospect of getting rid of all our possessions for a year but I’m sure there would be many ultra-light tourers who would look at our list and scoff! I guess it’s about finding what’s right for you. For example, having a good tent set up and being comfortable while camping is important to us. Some may say our travel Helinox chairs were a ridiculous luxury but we know that we will value relaxing in them after a long day of pedalling (read our review here).
We have planned our trip over a series of months and we couldn’t have done it without the range of blogs, reviews and online articles that have already been written by other cycle tourers online. The list below is another small contribution to this ever growing online resource – we hope it’s helpful to future tourers. We have also tried to talk in person to other cyclists who have done similar trips already – being members of warmshowers.org has been a great way to do this!
Front Left Pannier (Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic 40L)
Annie’s Toiletries: moisturiser, tweezers, razor, mascara, toothbrush, mooncup, nail file, monthly contact lenses and bottle of solution, 2 weeks of daily lenses, glasses, earrings
1 x quick dry towel, 1 x money pouch, 1 x roll up backpack (Quechua)
2 x cycle shorts (b-twin), 1 x padded underwear (VeloVixen) – don’t buy these!, shoe covers (Shimano), 2 x cycling gloves (long and fingerless), snood, warm hat, 1 x waterproof jacket (worth investing in a proper Gortex one), 1 x waterproof trousers
1 x leather sandals, 1 x North Face Goretex walking trainers, 1 x belt, 1 x down jacket (Quechua)
1 x convertible trousers (Craghopper Nosilife Stretch), 1 x shorts (Howies), 1 x cotton knee-length dress (Sea Salt), 1 x yellow cycle jersey (I threw this out early on), 3 vest tops (Howies), 1 x cotton shirt, 1 x long sleeve cotton top (Joules), 1 x merino leggings, 1 x merino long sleeve top (Howies), 1 x bra, 2 x mesh sports bra (Patagonia), 1 x bikini (threw after Thailand), 4 x underwear, 4 x merino socks
Would have made a 100% cotton Longhy to use as a towel instead which also would have doubled up as a long skirt for visiting temples. I need more warm base layers for China and the stans – Helly Hanson is the best.
Front Right Pannier (Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic 40L)
Paddy’s Toiletries: shampoo, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, nail clippers, wet wipes, ear plugs
1 x quick dry towel, 1 x money pouch, 1 x roll up backpack
1 x warm hat, 1 x snood, shoe covers, 2 x cycling gloves, 2 x cycling padded short inserts, 1 x Gortex jacket
1 x sandals, 1 x cycling shoes, 1 x down jacket (Quechua)
1 x cycle jersey, 1 x merino t-shirt (Alpkit), 1 x long sleeve merino top (Alpkit), 1 x cotton shirt, 1 cotton t-shirt, 1 x shorts, 1 x convertible trousers (Craghopper Nosilife), long johns and matching top (Helly Hanson), swimming trunks, 3 x pair of socks, 3 x boxers
Handlebar bag (Arkel: Large)
A great bag (solid, completely waterproof) and would recommend over ortlieb especially if you are on a tandem – we got the biggest size and hold a lot of stuff in it. What’s very useful is it has zips instead of clips which means you can padlock any unneeded valuables (e.g kindles) while you go off without the bike to do a two day hike etc.
1 x Canon 650D DSLR Camera + 3 batteries and 2 lenses
1 x ipad in waterproof case (armour-x)
1 x iphone in waterproof case (armour-x) – – normally mounted to handlebar while riding
1 x Samson Galaxy phone – normally mounted to handlebar while riding
2 x wallet, passports, notepad
2 X sunglasses
2 x kindles, 1 x ipod
Front pocket: snacks, pen, bike keys, small padlock (useful for locking bag when handed into ‘left luggage’ at a hotel/hostel.
Back Left Pannier (Altura Orkney 56L)
1 x large mosquito net (never used as our tent was the best net)
1 x rechargeable LED tent/camp light – also charges your phone (great buy!) – (Lampray from Alpkit)
Dice/cards/embroidery, sowing kit, clothes line and 9 pegs
1 x toilet roll and baby wipes in dry bag
2 x emergency dry meals (Expedition Foods 800cal)
1 x multi-fuel stove and wind shield (Optimus)
1 scrubber/scraper, 1 lighter, 1 matches, 1 tea towel, 1 pen knife, 1 kettle, 1 pots, 1 frying pan, 2 plates, 2 x cups (Summit), chopping boa, serrated knife, peeler, grater, scissors, tin opener, wooden spoon, spatula, knives, forks and spoons. Salt and pepper, spices, hand sanitizer, washing up liquid, plastic bags, tuppawear box, elastic bands, bag clips.
Back Right Pannier (Altura Orkney 56L)
Box of bike tools
Spare bike parts: spare tyre, spare spokes, chain link, spare brake pads etc
Two man lightweight tent and footprint (MSR NX Hubba Hubba)
Gaffa tape (lots)
Medical Kit in dry bag:
3 x needles and syringes, antibiotics, diazepan, Naproxen pain killers, malaria tablets, thrush tablet, dressings, bandages, burn treatment, antibac wipes, cling film roll, ear plugs, plastic gloves, paracetamol and ibuprofen, rennies, constipation tablets, thermometer, cystitis sachets, dyorolite, eye wash and ointment, e45, savlon, barocca, caneston cream, allergy tablets, bite cream, plasters, cyprofloxin antibiotics
Electronics in dry bag:
camera charge cable, ipod/ipad/iphone charge cable, kindle charge cable, 2 x universal adapter, battery pack (A5 Zendure), SD card reader and SD cards, headphone splitter, sat phone
Many passport photos (including head covered ones for Annie’s visas in Iran and Central Asia) papers, note book, pens, injection books, maps, insurance, passport copies, visa copies, spare bike/padlock keys
Back Rack Bag (Ortlieb 31L)
2 x bungey cords
3 X carrabena clips
1 x down double sleeping bag (Big Agnus: King Solomon)
2 x single air mattress (Quechua) (slip into Big Agnus sleeping bag to create bed)
1 x double duvet cover
2 x inflatable pillows (Quechua)
tent poles and pegs
Small Frame Bag (Alpkit)
2 x head torches (Petzel elight)
1x leather man/Swiss army knife, Biker’s Balm – For All Your Moving Parts, Vaseline, Whistle, Pencil, elastic bands, emergency pain killers, rennies
Medium Frame Bag (Alpkit)
Insect repellent and bands, head phones, tissues, Compass, hand sanitiser
Sun screen, 1 x Spare inner tube, puncture repair kit, set of Allen keys, bike lights, Annie’s gloves
2 x foldable lightweight chairs (Helinox)
3 x water cages
1 x fog horn
1 x tablet bike mount (Multifunction Armour X mount)