I've been promising to send out an equipment list for some time. Well, here it is at long last. I've included a some comments on how well things are holding up, how we made certain selections, what we like and don't like, etc. We still travel with a bit more luxury than people on shorter tours. But, we seem to be getting to the point where we're satisfied with our current load.
Caryl & Brian's round the world bike tour equipment list (as of May, 1996).
1. Bikes & mounted equipment
Two 1993 Trek 950 MTBs with: Blackburn front and rear mountain racks Salsa bar ends Two regular H2O bottle cages on each One 1.5 liter size H2O bottle cage on Brian's bike Trek Radar cycle computers Zfal MTB fenders on front, APEX fenders on back Regular pedals with toe clips Spring bell mounted on bar ends Specializec Crossroads II tires on rear Tioga City Slicker or Performance reverse tread tire front Orange warning flags 2 1/2 watt Vista headlights powered by AA batteries Vista red strobe taillightpowered by one AA battery
We chose Trek 950s because they are sturdy bikes having standard chromoly frames. These frames can be welded, sandblasted, and repainted should anything go wrong. We wanted MTBs so we could ride on all sorts of road conditions. Having identical bikes ensures common components and maintenance tools. Currently they have the Shimano STS rapidfire shifters. However, we may change to friction shifters when we decide to head for more remote regions of the world. So far the bikes are holding up well. But we did have to buy two new rear wheels after only 5000 miles. At that time we switched from 32 spokes to 36. Trek makes extremely good bikes and, with about 11,000 miles on each, we've been more than happy with their performance.
The two Blackburn racks provide places to mount our panniers on the sides as well as a spot to carry additional bags across the top. The racks have held up fine, but the brackets holding the rack onto the front fork has broken on both bikes.
The Salsa bar ends provide multiple hand positions, hopefully preventing wrist problems. One of the H2O bottle cages is mounted under the down tube behind the front wheel using hose clamps. We carry fuel bottles in these. In the other cage we carry the new Nalgene bottles that have the cover for the spout. We're expecting a lot of mud in Alaska and are hoping this keeps them clean. We don't yet know how long the cover will last. We discovered a water bottle cover made by Croakies that can be soaked in water to provide evaporative cooling. In 100 degrees these covers bring the temps down to about 80. Still hot, but certainy better. The 1.5 L bottle cage on Brian's bike was useful in the desert. But for Alaska, we've discarded the bottle and don't expect to need a replacement for some time.
After trying several cycle computers we finally found the Trek Radar. We like these because they provide time, temperature, as well as the usual bike functions; speed, average speed, distance, and odometer. Speed and distance show at the same time. We've had these on the bikes for over a year and have not needed a battery yet.
We started using the Specialized Crossroads II tire in Washington D.C. last fall. It's a knobby tire with smooth center bead. So far we have over 5000 miles on my back tire, Brian's is at about 2000. I particularly like these tires because they're not so hard to put on as compared to others. I can even get these on without tire levers.
We now use a smooth tire in front, Tioga on mine and Performance on Brian's. Again the life of these are incredible with my Tioga having close to 5500 miles. The smooth tread gives a nice ride on the wrists. With the semi knobby rear wheel and smooth front we find we have a nice smooth ride on paved roads. Yet we can still ride mmost rough dirt and gravel roads. The only difficulty we've had is on real deep sand. Then the bike tends to fishtail. So far we've encountered deep sand on only a few occasions. So this combination has been more than satisfactory.
We haven't been in enough rain to tell how well the fenders work. But we got them to stop the mud splatter up the back. We may remove them on real muddy roads if too much mud sticks to them.
And yes we do have those bright orange flags. It may look a bit nerdy, but we've had comments fron drivers that the flapping, orange color really stands out.
With all this equipment and one full bottle of water each bike weighs 32 lbs. Surprisingly my little 15 inch bike weighs essentially the same as Brian's 18 inch bike.
2. Clothing (per person unless noted) -
Cyclng gloves with padded palms Knit gloves Polar fleece mittens Gortex mitten covers
2 short sleeve under shirts for riding 2 long sleeve cotton shirts for riding 1 short sleeve shirt not for riding 1 long sleeve shirt not for riding (Caryl) sweatshirt (Caryl) polar fleece jacket gortex rain jacket polar fleece vest nylon wind breaker (Brian)
2 pr lycra riding shorts 1 pr long cotton pants for riding (for sun protection) 1 pr long pants not for riding (converts to shorts) 1 pr shorts not for riding (Brian) 1 pr lycra tights 1 pr gortex pants 1 pr sweat pants
Helmet w/visor Wide brim hat Bandana Baseball cap (Brian) Polar fleece hat Sweatband (Brian) Mosquito suit (jacket, pants, and head cover)
Riding/hiking shoes Flip flops or sandals Several pr socks Gortex sock covers
3 pr riding underwear Non riding underwear (Brian 1) (Caryl 3) 3 bras (Caryl)
Orange safety vest with reflector strips
We carry two complete sets of riding clothes. This includes long sleeve shirts and long pants we wear over our shorts. We don't ride in just shorts because of potential sun damage to our skin. We have essentially one set of clothes we wear while not riding that we can also wear into restaurants. We carry sufficient layers to have 2 to 3 on our legs and 4 to 5 on top. This layering has been sufficient to get through temperatures in the teens, although just barely.
The pants that convert to shorts are great, available at REI. It eliminates the need to carry extra shorts. We don't use them too often, as we don't want the legs exposed to the sun.
No matter what you wear, in a downpour you will get wet. But the rain gear is good for light drizzles and wearing around town on rainy days.
We started wearing low ankle hiking boots rather than riding shoes. They are comfortable, have more insulation than riding shoes, and can be made reasonably waterproof. Their biggest advantage is we can wear them both riding and hiking. We can take off on a 6 mile hike without having to change shoes. Also, we don't have to carry a second pair of shoes. If they get wet, though, our only option is socks with the flip flops. So the Gortex sock covers may prove to be real handy.
3. Bags and such
Front and rear panniers Handle bar bag
Quest convertible fanny pack Sports Chalet convertible fanny pakc Blue fanny pack (Brian) 2 Outdoors Research canoing bags size 3, for down bags 3 Outdoors Research canoing bag size 4 for clothes 1 Outdoors Research canoing bags size 3, clothes 2 Outdoors Research canoing bags size 1 for food 1 REI canoeing bag for electronics Plastic One-Zip bags, quart and gallon sizes Misc nylon bags for toiletries, tools, etc Nylon carrier for kitchen supplies Various bungee cords including extras
For panniers we selected the largest we could find. The theory being that if we can fit absolutely everything inside we'd have less chance of getting things stolen. It's much easier to simply grab something hanging on the back than digging through a pannier. These turned out to be made by JANDD. the large mountain pannier for the front, 2300 cu in, the Mountain Expedition, 7100 cu in, and the Touring bag II. They have tons of space, lots of pockets, pockets for extra wahter bottles, a fanny pack pocket, and a large plastic map pocket.
So far they are holding up extremely well. But, we have noticed that my front bags seem to be fading much faster than Brian's which indicates they were made from a different fabric lot. How this effects long term life, we don't know yet. Generally we're quite pleased. But we've noticed a few items we'd like changed. The top pockets need to be attached differently since when unsnapped they tend to slide down the side. They tend to collect water in the bottom whenever it rains. Hence the need for the canoing bags. We suspect a change in the way the top hood is attached would fix this.
We selected the Outdoors Research (OR) canoing bags because they are made of some sort of rubber coated fabric that is lighter than the all rubber or plastic canoing bags made by other companies. These are not the kind of bags you can throw into a lake and expect to keep things dry. But for our purposes they work well. The only completely plastic waterproof bag we have, the REI bag, we use for the electronic equipment which could be ruined if it got wet.
For plastic bags we recently found the Hefty One-Zipps. These have a neat zipper closure device that should make them last longer than other bags. We'd love to see a similar device on a more durable vinyl bag.
Tent, poles, and stakes Pup tent for cooking in bear country Small hammer Down sleeping bags rated to 20 deg F Sleeping bag sheets Small pillow case Thermarest pads, bags, and chair kits 1 6X8 tarp to cover bikes Heavy plastic sheet for tent floor and vestibule
Cook kit for 2 Fry pan and cover Coleman, Peak I, Apex II, model 44520 stove Stove maintenance/repair kits Plastic funnel 3 22 oz fuel bottles 2 plastic dishes, bowls, cups Plastic knives(3), forks(3), and spoons(4) Rubber spatula Plastic flat pasta strainer Plastic pancake turner Cork puller Sharp paring knife Can opener Pot scrubber/sponge Camp dish towel Sink stopper, Universal Plastic cup with measurements
Matches and lighter 1 Petzel micro head light 50 ft clothes line and 12 clothes pins Nylon mesh bag to hang food Plastic shovel Toilet paper Powder detergent in water bottle
Plastic water bag in nylon carry bag Spare water bag 6 large bike water bottles Water filter
4 oz Nalgene bottle for oil 8 Nalgene bottle for syrup 4 oz Nalgene bottle for dish washing liquid 16 oz Nalgene bottle for salad dressing Nalgene squeeze bottle for mustard 2 squeeze tubes for peanut butter 2 squeeze tubes for jelly Film canisters and tops for salt & pepper Rubbermaid plastic bread box and top
We just purchased a Sierra Designs Meteor Light tent. This is a large 2 person, three pole, nonsymmetric dome shaped tent. It has about 40 sq. ft space inside the tent and 14 sq ft inside the vestibule created by the rainfly. It weighs a grand total of 6 lbs (per manufacturer's spec and our own weigh-in). It has lots of tie down locations for strong winds. At this point we've spent one night in it s we can't yet say how well it will hold up to different environments. We'll review it again later.
We also bought the cheapest, lightest pup tent we could find. While in bear country we expect to have days when it's raining all day long. Or we may encounter hords of mosquitos. Yet a basic rule is to never cook in your tent. Our solution was to buy a cheap tent that we can cook in. If it gets burnt, melted, or ruined we won't be out a lot of money. When we get out of wet bear country we can get rid of the extra tent. We'll see how well this plan works out.
We had beeen carrrying 2 down bags rated to 35 deg. and two thinsulate bags rated to 40. In extremely cold weather we put the lighter bags over the down bags and were able to stay quite warm. But, we've recently learned that the majority of the weight in a sleeping bag is in the nylon shell and zippers. So we replaced the 2 bag system with a single 20 deg Blue Kazoo down bag from North Face. We think these will be warm enough for any situation we encounter. But we don't know yet if they will be too warm in some summer locations. We'll see.
We also started with two regular thickness Thermarest mattresses. They were great. However, they were long and heavy. So we recenty bought the Thermarest Ultra Light. Advantages are, it can be folded in half before rolling, and it's a lot lighter. Finally we can put them inside our panniers. Sleeping on them seems to be just as comfortable and warm. My only concern is how well they will work with the chair kit.
The chair kit turns a Thermarest mattress into a back support for sitting on the ground. In the US we find we need to use them mainly when we're free (or wild) camping or when it's raining and we're trapped in the tent. I can't stand to sit all day without some support. In Europe, the campsites never have picnic tables. So the chair kits will be absolutely necessary for our sanity.
We had received recommendations for the Coleman stoves from friends and decided to give it a try. We bought the Peak I Apex II in Washington D.C. and so far are quite impressed. It burns unleaded gas, stays clean and relatively unclogged, still fits inside our cooking pots, is easy to assemble and disassemble, and has absolutely great flame control. We can actually simmer foods now. After trying several other stoves, we're going to stick with the Coleman.
The pots we use are made by MSR. There are 2 stainless steel pots (2 and 3 qt I believe) with a lid and metal pot holder. The 3 qt size is just big enough to cook spaghetti for 2. We'd like to get something lighter but aluminum pots simply don't hold up and the available titanium pots are not large enough yet.
To fill temporary needs, we bought a Sweetwater filter rimarily because it's light and has an easy to use lever style pump handle. It's body is plastic and the ceramic filter is small. We expect it to last through much of Europe. But, we expect we will have to eventually buy the more expensive and heavy Katadyn.
We were carrying two Petzel miner type head lamps, but decided to give up one while in Alaska. Since it will be light out all night long we don't expect to have too much need for lights. When we return to Seattle in September we will a Coleman Dual Fuel Backpacker lantern. It runs on unleaded gas, like the stove, and produces light equivalent to a 75W bulb. Much better than the 2 1/2W of the Petzels. We'll give up the other Petzel at that time.
5. Food staples
Coffee, tea, sweetener Noodles, rice Instant oatmeal Peanut butter Jelly Multi vitamins and calcium pills
We also usually are carrying some complete pancake mix, enough noodle or rice mixes for two dinners, enough canned meat for two dinners, some apples, pears, bananas, or oranges, Carrots and other salad fixins. Basically enough food to make two full day's meals.
6. Tools & spare parts
Folding tire 4 tubes (Schrader) 2 tubes glue and 10 to 15 patches 2 sets tire levers 2 tire pressure gages 2 tire pumps
Hypercracker Spoke wrench Headset tool 2 Cone wrenches Pliers, regular & needle nose Cable cutter Wrenches, allen and other as needed Chair rivet extractor Screw drivers, philips & flat
3 spare spokes of each length White Lightning Chain lubricant Tube of greese Fishing rod oil for stove pump Spare brake cable and bridge cable 2 Deraillure cables Cable end caps Brake pads Section of spare chain Extra nuts, bolts, washers Duct tape 12 to 18" stiff wire Hose clamps, various sizes Rag 2 Spare front rack brackets Section of old tube
Spare parts to be considered for developing countries Spare deraillure rollers Front deraillure Bottom bracket bearings or cassette Headset bearings or cassette Rear cluster Bicycle computer
We chose Schrader valves because we like being able to fill the tires at gas stations. We each carry our own tools and parts to change a flat. Our generally accepted agreement is that each has to fix his own flats. Although I usually require help pumping.
A hypercracker is an interesting device for removing a freewheel. You put it on the freewheel, put the wheel back on the bike, and push on the pedal. This loosens the freewheel enough so you can get it off. The main advantage of this tool over a standard cylindrical shaped fereewheel remover is you use the leverage of the pedals against the gears. There's no need to carry a large crescent wrench which is required by the standard tool. It also inclused two slots that can be used as spoke wrenches. But we prefer a regular spoke wrench.
We carry cone and headset wrenches so we can do a complete overhaul of the bikes at any time. These are really only needed if you're doing multiyear touring. For shorter tours these are not needed.
White Lightning is an amazing chain lubricant that we discovered in San Diego. It's parafin wax suspended in some sort of solvent. To use it on a new chain we first remove all the lubricant that comes on the chain. Then generously apply White Lightning and let it dry. The biggest advantage of this lubricant over other anything else we've tried is it keeps our chains incredibly clean. Dirt and road grim simply flakes right off the was coating. We replace our chains about every 2500 miles (or when the length of 12 links reaches 12 1/8 inches) and use White Lightning. As a result our gear clusters are staying in great condition.
Duct tape and the spare piece of tube can be used as a tire boot. Although we've never had a split tire yet, there's always a first time. Duct tape can also be used for a variety of other things like taping broken bike parts, taping holes in panniers, taping Brian's mouth (oops can't say that). We've used the stiff wire to fix fenders and racks on previous trips. It could come in handy for a variety of other uses that we just haven't discovered yet.
As I mentioned before, we both have broken the bracket holding our front rack. So now we carry spares. Also, we always keep the leftover section of a chain when we put new ones on. If a chain breaks we can simply replace a link or two. We don't currently carry a complete chain since they're easy to get in the US. We've never needed the spare brake pads either, but you never know.
7. Hygiene/first aid
2 Tooth brushes in holders 1 tube tooth paste Dental floss Gum massager (Caryl) Retainer and spare (Caryl)
Spare glasses Glasses cases Sunglass clip-on
16 oz Nalgene bottle for shampoo Bar soap in plastic container Package disposable razors Small container shaving cream 2 camp towels 2 washcloths Insect repellant 1 bottle sunscreen 2 tubes lip balm w/sun screen Athletes foot creme Tampons Mirror Sizzors for cutting hair
First aid kit including lots of gause pads, tape, bandaids Advil, ibuprofen, or asprin Burn cream Tweezers Snake bite kit Hair brush Sewing Kit
hese items will vary from person to person. So this list can just provide a guideline.
8. Recreation Shortwave radio HP100, modem, acoustic coupler, connectivity kit Camera Film Books Daytimer organizer Needlework
We had also been carrying a flute and hand held TV. But both of these were given up in one of our weight saving downsizing.
9. Miscellaneous Notebook or other paper Pens 2 bike locks and cable w/ keys Maps and travel books Compass Credit card Driver's license Birth certificates Passports Money and traveler's checks Health insurance ID cards Spare batteries, AA and 9V Copies of birth certificate and picture page of passport
At our last weigh-in all this combined with the spare food and water resulted in 110 lbs for Brian's bike and 95 to 100 for mine. The weight of my bike varies daily probably between 90 and 105 lbs. I carry the food and we often buy extra when we're in an area with long distances between stores.
Copyright © 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.