Bikepacking

A bit late in the day but I thought I would put a post up on the bike and the gear, what I’ve packed and consider the essentials for life on the bike. Interesting for anyone interested. I’ve seen bikes packed with unbelievable amounts of stuff as well as the more minimalist approach, but after 6 weeks I have not found myself wanting for anything and I also can’t imagine being without most of the gear that I have.

Tent – MSR Hubba Hubba. When I picked my tent, I knew that the two-man was bigger than I needed but it wasn’t much extra weight and with the amount of time I was going to spend in there, I thought it was a worthwhile luxury. Absolutely no regrets! There is enough room to keep my stuff inside (important to keep the ants at bay I discovered!), and even stand up (if I’m bent double..). I now have tent erection and packing down to a fine art – important for those days where I’m struggling to get going in the morning!

Bedroom – This includes my bed, my wardrobe, and toiletries for the bathroom as well. My half-size (head to hips) Thermarest NeoAir has been super comfortable and half the reason I often sleep longer than planned in the morning! It deflates slightly overnight but I think this is probably normal (?). My Mountain Equipment sleeping bag is so cosy and is the other half of the reason I sleep in sometimes. My Sea to Summit inflatable pillow is one of my favourite things, doubling up as a seat when cooking in the evening. As much as some people may not believe it, I get such a good night’s sleep in my tent that if I spend a couple of nights out of the tent in a hostel, I am longing to get back to my temporary home!

Garage – Inner tubes, multitools, tyre patches, cables, spokes, an old toothbrush and a rag to clean everything up; in 2000 miles I have scarcely had to do more than cleaning and tinkering – a testament to the bike and SJS Cycles for their servicing before I left! This is 100% a case of all the gear, no idea. I’m prepared as much as I have the tools, if anything that isn’t very simple goes wrong then it will just be a case of figure it out as I go along.

Kitchen – When burning an extra 3000 calories a day, the kitchen is just as important as anything else! As well as the MSR Whisperlight stove which has been fantastic, I keep cooking pots and generally enough food for a couple of days, just in case. For the nights when I am wild camping, I also have a dromedary bag for extra water – when full it stays out of the bag however, as I discovered to my detriment that the way to undermine a waterproof pannier is to put a bag of water *inside* and put it under pressure… You are guaranteed to find a jar of Nutella and a bag of mixed fruit and nut, as well as many other high-calorie, mostly tasty treats!

In Case of Emergency – You’ve heard of unmentionables, well so far these have been my unnecessaries. In six weeks, almost unbelievably, the only rain I’ve had has been two days of light rain that didn’t really require a rain jacket but I wore one just to make use of it! Thankfully the first aid kit has remained completely unused, and of the spare clothes that I keep in there, I have only used my swimming shorts and the spare pair of warm socks for the couple of nights that the evening temperature dropped in to the ‘chilly’ range on my thermostat. Tempted as I was to send some of it home and shed the weight, I am still convinced that as I move further in to autumn, the waterproofs at least will get some more regular use.

Everyday – This is everything that I need close at hand. This bag stays close by with my phone, wallet, and passport so there is (almost) no chance of me losing them *touches wood*. My headtorch has been almost as vital, around the camp and it came in handy cycling through unlit tunnels in Serbia! My extra water bottle allows me to carry almost enough water for a day cycling, half a day if it’s warm. I save this water as a ‘treat’ as it stays cool when the other bottles heat up to bath temperature. My hat, glasses, and earphones move in and out of the bag during the day and it’s nice to know where the Kindle is for the hour of chill in the evening.

So there it is – it’s been a nice reminder about how little you really need, and how many luxuries we surround ourselves with in life. I wouldn’t be one to advocate throwing off the luxuries that make a life pleasurable, but I certainly hope and aspire to appreciate them more when I’m off the bike.

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