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Bike touring in Nepal?

Old 08-28-14, 07:44 PM
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Bike touring in Nepal?

I spent many winters in Nepal. I have been there like 20 times, usually for 5 months at a time.
Anyway, this time for a new adventure I am taking a Surly LHT deluxe with S&S couplers to make it easy to load on the airplane. I have ortlieb panniers, JANDD expedition racks, and an alcohol stove (TRANGA) I have never bike toured, but I did spend lots of time trekking in the mountains there. I also backpacked in India, Pakistan, China, Tibet, and other--Africa etc. Lots of traveling experience.
Any advise you might offer would be appreciated.
One guy last winter said he never used his tent--only stayed in Guest houses. I am trying to decide if I will take a tent. On the other hand, I could pick up a cheap, poorly made, heavy one when I get there. Any experience with this?
Any suggestions or just general comments will be appreciated and enjoyed. Or if YOU have questions, feel free to ask me about travel in Nepal.
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Old 08-28-14, 09:55 PM
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I don't have any relevant direct experience but I do read a lot and dream a lot!

The thing about biking is that mostly you are on the roads. So you don't get into the really remote country like you can on foot. From what I have read, in places like India and China, the places you can bike to tend to have lots of people and there aren't really good places to camp. Plus there are lots of places to stay inexpensively. So routine camping isn't so practical. A bivvy sack or something, just in case you get caught in an awkward spot - maybe just a tarp and a sleeping bag - not a bad idea.

I suppose Nepal is quite diverse so it does depend on specifics. But you might consider whether the places you'd ride are quite the same as the places you'd hike.
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Old 08-29-14, 06:49 AM
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AD, I would highly recommend going over to the CGOAB website, click on "journals" and then do a specific search in "locales" for Nepal so you can read some of the trip journals of people who have spent time biking in Nepal. This would be a great resource for you to get specifics and real world experience of folks travelling by bike, and knowing the country so well, you'll surely be very familiar with the areas discussed in the journals and would help you with getting ideas of a trip route.
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Old 08-29-14, 09:08 AM
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Old 08-29-14, 09:34 AM
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Since you are new to bike touring, do you know what to do when something breaks? I recall reading that someone in Nepal lost or broke their tire pump, they were stranded until a couple bikers came by and gave him one of theirs.
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Old 08-29-14, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim Kukula
I don't have any relevant direct experience but I do read a lot and dream a lot!

The thing about biking is that mostly you are on the roads. So you don't get into the really remote country like you can on foot. From what I have read, in places like India and China, the places you can bike to tend to have lots of people and there aren't really good places to camp. Plus there are lots of places to stay inexpensively. So routine camping isn't so practical. A bivvy sack or something, just in case you get caught in an awkward spot - maybe just a tarp and a sleeping bag - not a bad idea.

I suppose Nepal is quite diverse so it does depend on specifics. But you might consider whether the places you'd ride are quite the same as the places you'd hike.
Yes. Like I said, the people i tALKED TO LAST WINTER while I was traveling in Nepal said they never stayed in their tent. This saved weight. I have a small alcohol stove to cook, I will take a tarp, and of course I have to carry a good sleeping bag. I think there is merit in skipping the tent. I can always stay in a shed or barn. I have done that plenty of times. Im headed out Oct 5. Im looking foreward to truying bike touring.
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Old 08-29-14, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Since you are new to bike touring, do you know what to do when something breaks? I recall reading that someone in Nepal lost or broke their tire pump, they were stranded until a couple bikers came by and gave him one of theirs.
New to bike touring but I did build the bike. First I built a Surly Ogre, then the LHT. I have a huge assortment of tools, bought in batches from ebay. As I sort through the blogs I am deciding which to bring and which to leave. Also, if I bring too much, they are off ebay so I can donate them somewhere without too much of a dent in my wallet. Im spending all my time learning bike mechanics, Zinn book, youtube. Im learning as much as I can, spare parts. TWO tire pumps! Also this first year will be a 'shake-down' tour. Ill go to places I have been before. short overnighters. Maybe a few week longer journey as I gain experience and confidence. Next year I will go on a longer trip. This year is for practice.
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Old 08-29-14, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
AD, I would highly recommend going over to the CGOAB website, click on "journals" and then do a specific search in "locales" for Nepal so you can read some of the trip journals of people who have spent time biking in Nepal. This would be a great resource for you to get specifics and real world experience of folks travelling by bike, and knowing the country so well, you'll surely be very familiar with the areas discussed in the journals and would help you with getting ideas of a trip route.
Yes, I am familiar with this site-crazy guy on a bike.. I am also using his site to figure out what tools and spares I will take. and wether to take a tent or not. But other bike tourists I met last winter in Nepal did not take a tent. One Chinese bike tourist only had 10 kilos of gear! I dont think I will try to do that. I need a little more stuff. Also, I am quite big and so I can not buy clothes along the way--I have to bring everything with me. It is all second hand, like my ebay tools, and so if I need to I just give it away. I do that all the time. As I say in another post, I am using this first trip to familiarize myself with bike touring and if I like it I will know more next winter and plan a longer journey.
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Old 08-29-14, 08:05 PM
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Originally Posted by alaskadude
New to bike touring but I did build the bike. First I built a Surly Ogre, then the LHT. I have a huge assortment of tools, bought in batches from ebay. As I sort through the blogs I am deciding which to bring and which to leave. Also, if I bring too much, they are off ebay so I can donate them somewhere without too much of a dent in my wallet. Im spending all my time learning bike mechanics, Zinn book, youtube. Im learning as much as I can, spare parts. TWO tire pumps! Also this first year will be a 'shake-down' tour. Ill go to places I have been before. short overnighters. Maybe a few week longer journey as I gain experience and confidence. Next year I will go on a longer trip. This year is for practice.
Ok, if you built up a couple bikes, you likely would know what to do with any spares that you may bring. And, you know how to actually use the tools you decide to bring. It is not clear to me if you laced up the wheels or not, but I assume you can true up a wheel and replace a spoke which is really all you need to know. More important than that, I suspect you have sufficient mechanical aptitude that if you have to fix something that you have not worked with before, unless it is something that can't be fixed like a cartridge bottom bracket, you will figure it out.

It is easy to decide to bring too much stuff. The hard part will be to decide what to leave out. I have never done an expedition like you are attempting, so anything I say could be wrong. That said, a few thoughts:
1. You commented 2 pumps. If you bring a second pump, make it a tiny emergency one like maybe the tiny little crank brothers one. Your primary pump could be the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive or the Toppeak Road Morph G pump. I carry the Lezyne or Toppeak (I own both, but only carry one at a time) in my pannier so that it does not get stolen.
2. Spare nuts and bolts. I recommend blue Loctite on all rack bolts, if you use a kickstand (Surly does not like kickstands) use blue Loctite on that too. Other bolts use grease. A dry bolt can easily vibrate out if it becomes loose, but even grease can help prevent the bolts from vibrating out. I have my spare bolts threaded into the back side of some of my frame braze ons.
3. If you use Presta tubes, bring the Shrader to Presta adapter so you can use any pump that can work on a Shrader valve. I carry two of them.
4. If you carry some oil, make sure it does not leak. On my last trip I think a third of my oil bottle leaked into the ziplock that was inside a second plastic bottle. I did not get any oil in my gear, but it sure was a mess when I had to take the oil bottle out to lube the chain.
5. I have had tube failures where the valve stem attaches to the rubber, that attachment point came loose. Once that happens, it can't be fixed. Bring at least a few spare tubes.
6. Some Shimano hubs (I assume that is what you have) could use more grease than the factory puts in. Consider loosening up the cone on one side and shooting some grease into each side before reassembly.
7. If you might be relying on any electronics that can be charged with a USB connector, consider a SON front hub that has an alternator in it. This might mean a new wheel, but if you really need your electronics, that might be the only option. But, if you do not need electronics, this becomes a non-issue.

With your outdoor experience, you should not have any real problems. You have what it takes, that is the attitude that when it starts snowing and you are cold and miserable and something breaks, you will grimace and say - another lesson learned and then you will get on with life.

A few months ago I met a gal that started touring seven years ago in South Africa. She went thru Africa, toured Europe, then Southern Asia, up into China, down to Australia, South America, then back to Asia, then to Canada and west coast of USA where I met her. Her bike had over 100,000 km on it. Two of her Ortlieb panniers were with her the entire seven years. She had two years on her tent which had a couple bent poles that we helped her fix. It is amazing what someone with the right attitude and desire can accomplish. She was not very mechanical, she had been using the tent with bent poles for quite some time before we helped her fix them.
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Old 08-30-14, 12:04 PM
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Dear alaskadude, I've not been to Nepal myself, but have been to Alaska (Port Heiden, Alaska etc.) several times. I also went to boarding school in India, just at the south-western tip of Nepal (Nainital) . So I understand why you'd go to Nepal in the winter. I've also talked to a few cyclo-tourists who biked in Nepal. Since guest houses and road side eats abound, leave you kitchen sink back home, but take your lightest tent and sleeping bag with you. You may want to sleep out one night, despite better alternative. One of the touring pleasure is to sample local delights (native foods), and I certainly don't want to miss that. Also I hate cleaning up after a meal. You need not get into the bush itself to enjoy Nepal. The country side is simply beautiful.
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Old 08-30-14, 02:16 PM
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Slightly off topic but, I would like to see some pictures in and around Nepal if you happen to have some (Flickr, etc). Nepal is on my bucket list but whether I will ever get there is questionable.
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Old 08-30-14, 11:02 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH
Slightly off topic but, I would like to see some pictures in and around Nepal if you happen to have some (Flickr, etc). Nepal is on my bucket list but whether I will ever get there is questionable.
https://www.thaimtb.com/forum/viewtop...f=587&t=952005
It's in Thai, but plenty of pics. If you need translation, plese quote post#, and yours truly will try to translate.

The link did not come out well. Here is the link not automated. https://www.thaimtb.com/forum/viewtop...f=587&t=952005

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Old 08-31-14, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Ok, if you built up a couple bikes, you likely would know what to do with any spares that you may bring. And, you know how to actually use the tools you decide to bring. It is not clear to me if you laced up the wheels or not, but I assume you can true up a wheel and replace a spoke which is really all you need to know. More important than that, I suspect you have sufficient mechanical aptitude that if you have to fix something that you have not worked with before, unless it is something that can't be fixed like a cartridge bottom bracket, you will figure it out.

It is easy to decide to bring too much stuff. The hard part will be to decide what to leave out. I have never done an expedition like you are attempting, so anything I say could be wrong. That said, a few thoughts:
1. You commented 2 pumps. If you bring a second pump, make it a tiny emergency one like maybe the tiny little crank brothers one. Your primary pump could be the Lezyne Micro Floor Drive or the Toppeak Road Morph G pump. I carry the Lezyne or Toppeak (I own both, but only carry one at a time) in my pannier so that it does not get stolen.
2. Spare nuts and bolts. I recommend blue Loctite on all rack bolts, if you use a kickstand (Surly does not like kickstands) use blue Loctite on that too. Other bolts use grease. A dry bolt can easily vibrate out if it becomes loose, but even grease can help prevent the bolts from vibrating out. I have my spare bolts threaded into the back side of some of my frame braze ons.
3. If you use Presta tubes, bring the Shrader to Presta adapter so you can use any pump that can work on a Shrader valve. I carry two of them.
4. If you carry some oil, make sure it does not leak. On my last trip I think a third of my oil bottle leaked into the ziplock that was inside a second plastic bottle. I did not get any oil in my gear, but it sure was a mess when I had to take the oil bottle out to lube the chain.
5. I have had tube failures where the valve stem attaches to the rubber, that attachment point came loose. Once that happens, it can't be fixed. Bring at least a few spare tubes.
6. Some Shimano hubs (I assume that is what you have) could use more grease than the factory puts in. Consider loosening up the cone on one side and shooting some grease into each side before reassembly.
7. If you might be relying on any electronics that can be charged with a USB connector, consider a SON front hub that has an alternator in it. This might mean a new wheel, but if you really need your electronics, that might be the only option. But, if you do not need electronics, this becomes a non-issue.

With your outdoor experience, you should not have any real problems. You have what it takes, that is the attitude that when it starts snowing and you are cold and miserable and something breaks, you will grimace and say - another lesson learned and then you will get on with life.

A few months ago I met a gal that started touring seven years ago in South Africa. She went thru Africa, toured Europe, then Southern Asia, up into China, down to Australia, South America, then back to Asia, then to Canada and west coast of USA where I met her. Her bike had over 100,000 km on it. Two of her Ortlieb panniers were with her the entire seven years. She had two years on her tent which had a couple bent poles that we helped her fix. It is amazing what someone with the right attitude and desire can accomplish. She was not very mechanical, she had been using the tent with bent poles for quite some time before we helped her fix them.
I said two pumps for emphasis. I havnt decided if I will do that yet--but probably I will. One is a small toppeak, the other is the Mountain Morph Toppeak. I had my wheels drilled out to schraeder. I go ahead and repack the hubs as a matter of course--I read one comment that Shimano sends them out slightly too tight. I actually have a front wheel with a generator, but I wont fiddle with it this year. I have a lot of stuff to learn and get ready, and Ill leave that for next trip. The next trip will probably be longer, if I find I like bike travel. For this year I will just charge stuff up in hotels the way I have been for years.
I met quite a few people on epic 5 year bike journies. I spent 23 winters traveling in Asia, Africa, Australia. I find after 6 months I am ready to come home to my little cabin. I have a job for 6 months out of the year, and then like to escape minus 50 in Alaska. Im thinking bike travel will be a new adventure for me, something I will do every winter.
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Old 08-31-14, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelinthai
Dear alaskadude, I've not been to Nepal myself, but have been to Alaska (Port Heiden, Alaska etc.) several times. I also went to boarding school in India, just at the south-western tip of Nepal (Nainital) . So I understand why you'd go to Nepal in the winter. I've also talked to a few cyclo-tourists who biked in Nepal. Since guest houses and road side eats abound, leave you kitchen sink back home, but take your lightest tent and sleeping bag with you. You may want to sleep out one night, despite better alternative. One of the touring pleasure is to sample local delights (native foods), and I certainly don't want to miss that. Also I hate cleaning up after a meal. You need not get into the bush itself to enjoy Nepal. The country side is simply beautiful.
Yes, I have spent lots and lots of time in the bush in Nepal. Ive been on like 50 treks for a month or more each. I am thinking of only taking a tarp for the occasional night out. I will see what the bike looks like after I get it all set up, and see if a small tent fits. I only eat local food, and in reality don't like cooking for myself along the way, and one of the delights of traveling in Asia is never washing dishes the whole winter!. I much prefer a small roadside Dahl Bhat place to cooking anything my meager culinary talents can do. I need a pretty good sleeping bag, even in lodges. Even in the low jungles in Nepal it is pretty dang cold!
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Old 08-31-14, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH
Slightly off topic but, I would like to see some pictures in and around Nepal if you happen to have some (Flickr, etc). Nepal is on my bucket list but whether I will ever get there is questionable.
lawrencemorganphotography.zenfolio.com
the above zenfolio account is some pictures.
Also you can google
Lawrence+Morgan+Nepal
or
Lawrence+Morgan+Alaska
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Old 09-01-14, 06:09 PM
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Great pictures from both of you (alaskadude and wheelinthai). The broad subjects captured in your photo albums "alaskadude" provide a very good glimpse into the essence of Nepal lifestyle, its culture and climate. Yours too "wheelintai" - just very good pic's.

"Alaskadude", you have other albums there with gorgeously captured subjects and terrain/landscape. Stunning pictures overall. Well done.
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Old 09-01-14, 07:36 PM
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Originally Posted by wheelinthai
Dear alaskadude, I've not been to Nepal myself, but have been to Alaska (Port Heiden, Alaska etc.) several times. I also went to boarding school in India, just at the south-western tip of Nepal (Nainital) . So I understand why you'd go to Nepal in the winter. I've also talked to a few cyclo-tourists who biked in Nepal. Since guest houses and road side eats abound, leave you kitchen sink back home, but take your lightest tent and sleeping bag with you. You may want to sleep out one night, despite better alternative. One of the touring pleasure is to sample local delights (native foods), and I certainly don't want to miss that. Also I hate cleaning up after a meal. You need not get into the bush itself to enjoy Nepal. The country side is simply beautiful.
Now I am leaning heavily towards taking a small tent. I carried a North Face tent to Africa and wore it out I stayed in it so much. Then Karakoram/Pakistan trip I wore out another. A tent just opens up so many possibilities. A small TRAIGA alcohol stove, a Sierra Designs Clip flashlight and a couple pounds of food and I can stop anywahere I want, explore any side road. A tent only is going to add the weight of a litre of water.Im pretty sure Im taking the tent.
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Old 09-02-14, 02:47 AM
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I'm trying to picture where you would tour in Nepal. You could stick to the Terai I suppose, but that would be a bit dull. You could probably make it up to Pokhara but I couldn't imagine going too far into the Himalaya, or sharing the mountain switchbacks with Nepali buses for that matter. My last ride on a Nepali bus was far more terrifying than any roller coaster I've been on.

But if the bike breaks you can hire a porter to carry it for you.
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Old 09-02-14, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Since you are new to bike touring, do you know what to do when something breaks? I recall reading that someone in Nepal lost or broke their tire pump, they were stranded until a couple bikers came by and gave him one of theirs.
Anyone would be stranded if they had a flat and the pump broke. I don't believe people carry repair parts for pumps and 2 of other tools.
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Old 09-02-14, 01:39 PM
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bike touring in Nepal

Originally Posted by ekibayno
I'm trying to picture where you would tour in Nepal. You could stick to the Terai I suppose, but that would be a bit dull. You could probably make it up to Pokhara but I couldn't imagine going too far into the Himalaya, or sharing the mountain switchbacks with Nepali buses for that matter. My last ride on a Nepali bus was far more terrifying than any roller coaster I've been on.

But if the bike breaks you can hire a porter to carry it for you.
Yea, well since Im new to bike touring, I thought Ide stick with a country I know well. Ill do pretty much that. Ill go to Phokara, although Ill probably go there on the bus(!) Then Ill branch out, maybe ride down to Bardia(?) Ill take it as it comes this year, and get the feel of bike travel. I thought of riding all the way west. Or maybe ride to Ilam. Not real sure. Its just that I spent 20 winters backpacking around there. I need a new adventure, and thought a bike could be it. In reality, you just posted to stroke your own ego a little and show the world that you, too, had been to Nepal. Thats OK too, I guess. The Australians always need their ego stroked by Americans.

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Old 09-02-14, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by NealH
Great pictures from both of you (alaskadude and wheelinthai). The broad subjects captured in your photo albums "alaskadude" provide a very good glimpse into the essence of Nepal lifestyle, its culture and climate. Yours too "wheelintai" - just very good pic's.

"Alaskadude", you have other albums there with gorgeously captured subjects and terrain/landscape. Stunning pictures overall. Well done.
Thanks. I took the pics with a film camera-Olympus-and scanned them into my mac. I spend 6 months a year backpacking around Asia and Africa. Its pretty cheap. Last year I spent US $14 a day total, not including airfare. I think bike touring might be even a little cheaper. I work as a rafting guide here in Alaska, and like to leave during the cold dark winters. I did it-backpacked around the world- 23 winters so far. I used to go for 7 or 8 months, now I go for 6. Im 56, and developing a little paunch, but Im going to give bike touring a try. Some people do it in their 70's. I met one dude last winter that was biking the world only on his social security check!
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Old 09-02-14, 04:32 PM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by alaskadude
Yea, well since Im new to bike touring, I thought Ide stick with a country I know well. Ill do pretty much that. Ill go to Phokara, although Ill probably go there on the bus(!) Then Ill branch out, maybe ride down to Bardia(?) Ill take it as it comes this year, and get the feel of bike travel. I thought of riding all the way west. Or maybe ride to Ilam. Not real sure. Its just that I spent 20 winters backpacking around there. I need a new adventure, and thought a bike could be it. In reality, you just posted to stroke your own ego a little and show the world that you, too, had been to Nepal. Thats OK too, I guess. The Australians always need their ego stroked by Americans.
When you post on a cycle touring forum asking for "advice, suggestions and general comments" (as you did), those who have some knowledge of the place are quite likely to speculate about potential touring routes (or the lack of them). so your jibe is unwarranted.

Americans as strokers? Haha - I don't believe that is generally true, but obviously there are some who are very practised.
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Old 09-09-14, 08:30 AM
  #23  
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Namaste

Take a 3 season bivy sack and a your normal sleeping bag. It's pretty uncommon to not find some shelter in a densely populated country like Nepal, but stuff happens and better to be a little on the safe side. Stove would be totally a luxury thing though, wouldn't bother to bring. If you feel you want a stove, make an alcohol stove on tour.

Personally, I question why I am carrying a full camping load here in Vietnam at the moment, but I've had to camp it out a few times when the weather went sour.
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Old 09-09-14, 08:35 AM
  #24  
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The trip sounds great. Surly now makes the Troll with S and S couplers; that would make a fine bike for trekking in Nepal as well: World Troller | Bikes | Surly Bikes
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Old 09-11-14, 07:44 PM
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Originally Posted by SparkyGA
Namaste

Take a 3 season bivy sack and a your normal sleeping bag. It's pretty uncommon to not find some shelter in a densely populated country like Nepal, but stuff happens and better to be a little on the safe side. Stove would be totally a luxury thing though, wouldn't bother to bring. If you feel you want a stove, make an alcohol stove on tour.

Personally, I question why I am carrying a full camping load here in Vietnam at the moment, but I've had to camp it out a few times when the weather went sour.
Yes, I am still planning on bringing my tent. Many of the bike tourers I met last winter in Nepal depended only on Guest Houses, and so the tent might be a waste(?) I also am bringing a TRANGIA alcohol stove. BUT: One guy had cycled through Alaska to Tip of south america, then Hong Kong in three and a half years without a stove.
Im still pretty uncertain what to bring. But I keep fidgeting with the gear for a couple more weeks then I start my trip.
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