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  1. #1
    Friend of Jimmy K naisme's Avatar
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    Don't leave home without it...

    Okay, you have 5 and a half weeks you have a bunch of stuff, and don't want to take too much but you also don't want to forget anything.
    Other than yourself your bike, what in the vast experience of touring did you find was the most essential item you haul with you? I'm paring down my pile of stuff for the panniers. It may be over kill but I have already packed one pannier with 3 bike shorts, socks, t-shirts, 2 long sleave shirts. I have a wool sweater, tights, and a pair of shorts for modesty and a pair of wind pants. That's about it for clothing. I have the tent, sleeping bag, cook stove, fuel bottles, cookset, cup, sleeping mat, poncho, wind shirt. Then I"m looking at stuff like camera/cameras, maps and some tools. What am I missing?
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

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    credit card

  3. #3
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by naisme
    Okay, you have 5 and a half weeks you have a bunch of stuff, and don't want to take too much but you also don't want to forget anything.
    Other than yourself your bike, what in the vast experience of touring did you find was the most essential item you haul with you? I'm paring down my pile of stuff for the panniers. It may be over kill but I have already packed one pannier with 3 bike shorts, socks, t-shirts, 2 long sleave shirts. I have a wool sweater, tights, and a pair of shorts for modesty and a pair of wind pants. That's about it for clothing. I have the tent, sleeping bag, cook stove, fuel bottles, cookset, cup, sleeping mat, poncho, wind shirt. Then I"m looking at stuff like camera/cameras, maps and some tools. What am I missing?
    Leave the sweater and one of your long sleeve shirts. A good wind jacket over a long sleeve shirt and your poncho over that will do double duty. I'm not a fan of ponchos since I'd rather have a rain coat and pants. If you are doing mountain riding, ditch the t-shirts or anything else that is cotton. It's not that important for plains riding but riding in wet cold weather in the Rockies in cotton clothing is a recipe for disaster.

    Other than that, everything else looks good. Make sure you have enough room left over for 1 to 3 days of food. I like to carry a couple of freeze-dry meals for emergencies. I'd rather eat my left leg first but I still carry them. (Don't get any of them with zuchinni. It's really bad!) One trick that I use is to send maps and film (if you use film) home by mail on a regular basis. No sense carrying stuff you don't need.
    Stuart Black
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  4. #4
    Baz
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    One of my biggest luxuries is a bum pad: a bum-sized piece of closed cell foam that I use for sitting on anytime it's wet or cold or uncomfortable. Plus it does double duty for about 400 other things (fanning the fire, extra padding for sleeping, kneeling pad for stuffing my sleeping bag, stability for the stove (careful not to melt it), frisbee (mine is round), abrasion protection for putting the bike places, etc.)
    - Baz

  5. #5
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    cook stove, fuel bottles
    how much fuel do you need at one time? I have a coleman duel fuel stove with a built in tank.its heavy but I got it cheap.it holds enough for at least 5 nights real meals and alot more of just outmeal and hot choclate. I also have a 20 oz bottle but have yet to be gone long enough to need it.
    if its still cold at night,I would keep the wool sweater and ditch all but one t-shirt,but I get cold easy and the wool would be warmer then the cotton. I agree on the poncho as well.I have a lightweight set of nylon(?) windbreaker/pants that I use for rain,wind and cold weather,and modesty
    I seem to always find or think of stuff I should have brought along or left behind. dont worry about the small stuff and have fun. dont forget stuff like toothbrush,paste,extra contacts.solution(if you need them)deoderant,comb,bar soap,etc. nail clipers are something I didnt think I would need ,but wished I had.
    "When a man lies, he murders some part of the world"

    God Bless Chris LeDoux. R.I.P. 1948-2005

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    Pocket knife with can opener; spoon; tyre pump and tube/patches/glue. I think I could tour lightweight in good weather for days with those items plus a card for getting cash out of ATMs.

    As to clothes, take as many as you feel comfortable with taking at this point. You're going for quite a while. Changing into a new set of clean gear is a luxury you will soon start to appreciate, particularly knicks. If you start minimal, you also can top up with Goodwill (Salvos/Red Cross in Australia) recycled clothing shops.

    I usually take three pairs of knicks, plus a pair of unpadded bike shorts for later-on, three pairs of socks*, and three jerseys, plus a pair or two of overshorts. Might seem a lot, but it does compact down in a light dry bag or two. Clothing when it's cold is something you don't compromise on in Tasmania.

    * There is a theory you can get by with just three socks -- two on, one on standby; next day, move the order across -- left for washing, right to left, standby to right. Repeat every day. I've never tried it. I like *both* my feet clean and comfortable, too.

  7. #7
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    Missing:
    Lighting - red blinky for the back, LED headlamp for your helmet that can also be used in the tent/at camp.
    Towel.
    Spare tire.
    Entertainment - Music/book/cards.
    I use an accessory that turns my thermarest into a chair.
    Iodine Tablets for cleaning water.
    sunscreen, toiletries
    address book / info you need about your money (account #'s, passwords)
    warm hat/headband
    rain gear (unless that's the poncho)
    lock

    Extra:
    only one fuel bottle
    only 2 pairs of shorts
    only one tshirt

    If you are not sure, and you have room, take it. If you don't use it in a week or two, send it home or donate it to someone.

    Make sure your bike clothes are fast drying, wash them out every night in the sink/river and fly them off your rack the next day. do real laundry once a week or so.
    ...

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    We haven't toured with a cookset in decades. Leave the stove, pots and fuel behind. Breads, cereals, PB&J, fresh foods that don't need cooking. You can eat VERY well out of grocery stores without having to cook. If you don't cook, you can leave a LOT of stuff behind.
    Mike Sakarias
    Juneau Alaska

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I divide the stuff I carry up into 7 categories to help me remember it all"

    1. Bicycle: this includes my bicycle itself (making sure it is in good repair and set up correctly), my waterbottles, racks, lights, computer, etc.

    2. Tools: tire changing stuff (pump, tubes, folding tire, levers, patches, and boots), a multitool, black electrical tape, zip ties, etc.

    3. Medical: pain killers, bandages, sunscreen, anti-bacterial soap, baby wipes, space blanket, cream, etc.

    4. Clothing: rain gear, reflective gear, shorts, tights, long-sleeved wool top, etc.

    5. Personal: ID, camera, money, etc.

    6. Nutrition: energy bars, gels, gatorade powder etc.

    7. Camping: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking gear, etc.


    Incidentally, you only need 2 pair of cycling shorts, not 3. I'd also lose the long-sleeved shirts (but keep the wool) and the wind pants. On my recent tour, for clothing, I brought:

    2 pair of cycling shorts
    1 leg warmers
    1 arm warmers
    1 sleeveless jersey
    1 short sleeved jersey
    1 long sleeved wool top (not a jersey)
    1 short sleeved, quick-drying top (but not a jersey)
    1 sleeveless, quick-drying top (again, not a jersey)
    2 pair of zip-off casual pants
    1 pair of light surfer shorts (I bought those along the way)
    1 sarong
    undies (2 or 3 pair)
    socks (2 or 3 pair, I think)
    2 bras
    1 waterproof breathable jacket
    1 vest
    1 light cardigan
    1 pair of full finger gloves
    1 balaclava
    1 headband
    1 pair of nylon booties

    And I think that was it.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl
    If you are not sure, and you have room, take it. If you don't use it in a week or two, send it home or donate it to someone.
    That's one of the best bits of advice of the lot. We've all done it. It doesn't take long to look at a pile and think: "Why the hell did I bring that... it's useless weight". More so if you're doing some climbing. Postage is quite cheap and it doesn't matter when it arrives to wherever you send it. Sometimes it's a pleasant surprise when you get back home. "Oh, I'd forgotten I had taken that" shows more than you didn't need it in the first place.

    It takes a while, but we all pare down to our needs and comforts. For some that's not much. For others it may be a lot. The key word is comfort if you are touring for pleasure and sightseeing, not to break records.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Incidentally, you only need 2 pair of cycling shorts, not 3. I'd also lose the long-sleeved shirts (but keep the wool) and the wind pants. On my recent tour, for clothing, I brought:
    I'd almost agree with you, except when camping without services. Let's see -- one on the body, one in the dirty clothes drybag, one to put on clean and fresh tomorrow. And tomorrow may present (or not) an opportunity for laundry to start the cycle again!

  12. #12
    Senior Member biodiesel's Avatar
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    get a pair of synthetic travel pants (lightweight) with zip off legs. The can double as camp pants/ foul weather pants, and if theyr'e still clean enough, dinner wear.

    dump the tshirts, carry two or three jerseys and a long sleeve capaleine. The capaleine (or other synthetic) is good camp wear and okay for emergency bike wear.
    Dump the sweater and get a wind-fleece jacket. With the layers you have you can ride in the snow. (Definate overkill)
    Tent, sleeping pad and bag are fixed. (not much to reduce unless you buy new.)

    unless you're unsupported for days or riding in the winter you should only need two panniers. Okay to use 4 small ones with room for food and water.

    most people carry WAY too much. (I carry too little)

    don't forget...
    electrical tape. (wrap about 3 feet around a piece of gear (film cannister, mug etc)
    duct tape (just get a flat roll from the hardware store, tiny but enough)
    dental floss (crack open the box, just carry the roll. It's not much but i've tied tarps with it, done small repairs, tied cables in place, made tripwires in the jungle (oh, that's actually not when i was cycling, (or a civillian)
    Meds, (the blister pack variety are best, two of most anything is still tiny)
    TP. Like matches i carry two sources seperately. Camping stores sell tiny rolls.
    Band aids, steri-strips, a few betadine swabs. In case of a bad rash out in the middle of nowhere wash with high pressure water then drop a few betadines in water for 5-10 minutes and irrigate again. Steri strips will keep a laceration in place (just clean it first) until you get stitched. (total size a book of matches)
    a book of matches.
    a presta to schraeder adapter (ask at the bike shoppe, if your pump fails you can use a gas station or a motorists auto pump.)
    a tire boot (you can always use the duct tape but these are better)
    kevlar spoke (tough to use but tiny and can get you out of a tough bind.

    (By the way the whole list above fit in one squished sandwich bag on my last trip)

    hope i didn't miss anything.

    oh yeah, in the same bag, spare credit card, $100 cash and a photocopy of your drivers license. If you get ripped off your toiletries bag can save your butt.

  13. #13
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    Do a trial run, carrying all your stuff. You can come back home to camp-out in the garden.
    Everyone has their own clothing system depending on their situation. I run cold and tour in Sept so a warm fleece sweater is essential. I use 1 cycling shirt and 2 synthetic T shirts plus one long sleeved jersey. 2 cycling shorts and one padded cycling underwear. How much depends on how effective your drying is.

    What kind of cold do you expect. In the montains I take very lightweight rainpants, full-length gloves and a neck-warmer for cold, wet days. I use a windshirt + a gortex and can wear them both in extreme conditions.
    Footware is the big space-hog in your panniers: Cycling shoes, trainers, trail shoes, hiking boots, sandals, flip flops.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Footware is the big space-hog in your panniers: Cycling shoes, trainers, trail shoes, hiking boots, sandals, flip flops.
    Michael's new nickname: Imelda.

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    Light weight hammock (half the weight of a sweat shirt or less). It's soooooooo nice. Nothing like a hammock to make you feel like Cool King Idle on a hot afternoon or after a long ride, drinking beer, and swinging in the breeze. In hot climates, I leave the tent at home and stick with the hammock. Oh, but don't forget the mosquito head net.

  16. #16
    I'm made of earth! becnal's Avatar
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    Leave the tent, pad and pillow. Take a Hennessy Hammock instead.

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    Cable ties, good in emergencies, once my rack broke and with enough cable ties I managed to rig up something which carried me for miles. In the UK sure in the US also, its called solar shower, fill it up & strap on the back of the bike to heat it up, 3 hrs , nice Hot shower when you pull up for the night, Peak cap to wear under the helmet when it rains. Take your biggest cooking pot, buy another one, cheapest, mine is made from aluminium, and buy it just about big enough to sit all your other pot into it. Then drill holes in the bottom and sides all around. For 2.50 I bought a grill with a handel. When i have a little fire with BBq tongs I pick up the embers and load it into the pot. Raise the pot with 2 branches cut off. As far as cookers go its better than my trangia, I have total control for the heat, and it cooks the food quicker and reloading the embers is less than refilling the trangia. This also makes the best toast ever, essential for your breakfast with Bacon eggs and beans. Plus I never have to worry about running out of fuel. I will always carry trangia 1 ltr bottel and cooker as this way I have 2 rings and having the combination, you are sorted.

    good luck keep us posted

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by becnal
    Leave the tent, pad and pillow. Take a Hennessy Hammock instead.
    Only if you are touring where there are trees. A hammock looks pretty dumb in the middle of North Dakota I guess you could take a few miles of extra rope.
    Stuart Black
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  19. #19
    Quietly Desperate Kodama's Avatar
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    Personally I disagree with those who say not to bring long sleeve shirts. My tour in May last year I wore mostly the long sleeve shirts. I was also very grateful to have an even warmer thing to pull on in the campground in the evening. I had a fleecy thing, but wool would be better. I also think you are right on with the shirts over jersey's, if they are good for riding they'll also be good for off the bike. I don't own a single jersey any more. I went with convertible pants last year (the only synthetic in my kit) and they are good if you need extra warmth, regular looking pants or shorts and could work as a form of rain gear. Bandana's were a good multipurpose item that I brought, and I second the zip-ties recommendation.

    Oh and another thing, I use regular cargo shorts and wear Andiamos under them. Thus I get the advantage of padded shorts but don't have to bring both cycling shorts and normal.
    "The true traveller is without goal, it is the absence of goals which creates the ultimate traveller."
    - Gao Xingjian 'Soul Mountain'

  20. #20
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    Check out www.whiteblaze.net

    its a backpacker website but you can get some really good tips on what to bring.

    having a fleeze to put on at night saved me from freezing on the AT...its a must.
    2001 Trek 6700

  21. #21
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    If you read touring journals on crazyguyonabike.com, you will find that few, if any, people wish they had brought more stuff. Almost everyone seems to send home a box of extra stuff after about a week. The problem is that no matter how big or small your bags are, you will fill them up before you leave. The obvious solution is to get smaller bags, not larger!

    Here's what to do. Gather up all the things that you think you need to take on the tour. Weigh each and every item on a kitchen scale (or bathroom scale if really heavy). Add up the weight. Then start getting rid of stuff until you get the weight down at least 25%. Trust me, unless you are a seasoned hiker/tourer and have a tested gear list, you can do it. Be vicious. For each and every item, ask yourself how often you really will use it. What will happen to me if I don't bring it? What alternatives are available if I don't take it?

    A couple examples:

    If your trip is during the late spring through early fall, check the weather norms along your route. You probably don't need a 15 degF sleeping bag. Look into getting a 45 degF down bag that weighs much less and packs very small.

    If you are bringing cooking gear, ask yourself first how much you really plan to cook versus eat in restaurants. Unless you are planning a very low budget trip, chances are you will buy meals whenever possible. Ditch the stove, fuel, and pots. For those times when you will have to prepare your own meals, get food that does not require heating up. Stroll through the grocery store and you'll find lots of things you can chow down on without any preparation. If you really want to cook, look into light weight alcohol stove and a single pot. Much lighter weight than most hiking stoves.

    You can easily get by with two pair of shorts and two short sleeve jerseys (weather permitting), and two pair of socks. Take baggy bike shorts and simple solid color jerseys and you won't stand out too much in restaurants. Each evening, change clothes and wash the dirty set in a sink with a little Woolite. Hang up to dry.

    If you expect to need cold weather gear at some point in the trip (like going over the Rockies), package what you will need and arrange to have a spouse or friend mail them out ahead of you so you pick them up just before you ned them. When you are through with the gear, box it up and send it home.

    Don't try to take all the tools and parts needed to rebuild your bike. Take only what you need for common repairs. If you have a major problem, you can always have parts and tools sent to you overnight by your spouse/friend or direct from any of the major mail order houses or favorite LBS.

    I toured 11 days last summer self supported (no cooking) with 20 lbs total gear and bags. I had a Carradice Camper saddlebag and a Topeak handlebar bag. It was warm weather of course, but it shows how light you can go with a little planning. I may try to go even lighter this year.

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    Just thinking, if you are going to be at campgrounds with open fireplaces, it might be useful to take two film cannisters, one stuffed with cotton balls, the other with petroleum jelly. If you need a firelighter, use to PJ to impregnate a cotton ball or two. I've never tried it, but seems to work for others. Could be particularly useful in wet weather.

  23. #23
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MichaelW
    Footware is the big space-hog in your panniers: Cycling shoes, trainers, trail shoes, hiking boots, sandals, flip flops.
    You don't honestly carry ALL those items of footware on a tour do you?

    A pair of Lake mtn bike shoes can take you from cycling to hiking to going up to the grocery store for supplies, and a small pair of sandals will get you in and out of the shower and onto the beach. That's all you need.

  24. #24
    Caffeinated. Camel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by biodiesel
    ...TP. Like matches i carry two sources seperately...

    LOL! Excellent advice!

  25. #25
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    Fire lighter is what I carry, once i got to my camp , all the matches were soaked and my lighter filnt went. Had to cycle another 10 miles to buy new matches. Now a fire lighter and a 2 sticks of tampons. Very compressed cotton wool inside. Just tear off the amount of cotton needed, shave of wood with a knife. With a fire lighter the cotton goes up in now time. A good trick is also to take a lump of charcoal form the fire from the night before. This will staright away give you a glowing heat bed to light up your fire and oh I always put a strip of kitchen foil down then build a fire on top. Try this you will be amazed how easily the fire will light up. Learnt all this from some Army friends, in fact the gave me a knife which has all this in it, including the foil & the tampons. infact this knife has 25 or so different uses. I travell with this every where, when touring.

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