Gear

Featured image (top) credit: LDN Bike Kitchen’s Instagram

Gear lists sorted by category: pedalling, tools, electronics, sleeping, eating, clothing, toiletries, and health. Moral of the packing story at the end.

Pedalling

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A touring setup by super illustrator Ben Spurrier (as featured in Pannier magazine)
  • MTB Cycletech Papalagi bike in “Gentle Green” with butterfly handlebars (added extra padding to the handlebar)
  • Tubus front and back racks
  • Busch + Muller dynamo front light “eyc”
  • Schwalbe Marathon tyres (26″)
  • Adjustable bottle cage
  • 2 normal bottle cages (one for stove fuel bottle)
  • Shimano Deore derailleur
  • Ortlieb front panniers (City ones – were on sale, I am disappointed that they don’t come with a strap and that they don’t roll at the top, restricting the amount and configuration you can carry in them)
  • Ortlieb back panniers (Back City Roller – standard, very good)
  • Ortlieb front pannier
  • Brooks B17 women’s saddle (with cutout for less pressure on perineal area)
  • Igaro d1 dynamo charger
  • Sea to Summit 35L dry bag
  • Bell helmet
  • Pedal toecaps
  • Bike lock
  • Sigg water bottle
  • Bike bell (not as useful as shouting…)
  • Bike stand: get one that holds to the two parts of the frame rear triangle, rather than just on one (as mine had) as this doesn’t to hold the weight of the bike. Or get a Click-stand!
  • Busch + Muller Cyclestar 901 rearmirror
  • Luggage strap – really discourage it. Get a couple of bungee cords, and velcro straps, for the trip. Much better.
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Ella pre-cycle in Tbilisi

Tools

SPONSORED BY PEDRO’S

  • Pedro’s Carbon multi-tool
  • Pedro’s pink tyre levers
  • Pedro’s Madame double-chamber pump
  • Pedro’s chain tool
  • Quicklinks
  • Pedro’s Chainj lube
  • Swiss Army Knife
  • Leatherman
  • 1 Allen key (specific size for removing my pedals)
  • Pedro’s seat toolbag
  • Mini cassette lockring tool
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Thin rope
  • Vinyl tape (I recommend getting duct tape too)
  • 2 Schwalbe spare 26″ inner tubes (overkill, I think 1 is enough…)
  • Spare break cables
  • Spare spokes
  • Peter Drinkell’s The Bike-Owner’s Handbook for when I panic when faced with a broken Ella
A selection of tools from Pedro’s, not all taken on the trip. Note the superbly engineered bottle opener.
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Digger’s suggestion during his intermediate bike repair class at Look Mum No Hands!

Electronics

  • Olympus OM-D Mark 5 interchangeable lens camera
  • iPod shuffle
  • iPod classic 80GB
  • iPhone 6S
  • Universal adaptor
  • SD card reader
  • iPhone 6S charger
  • 2 pairs headphones (one is going to break soon, hence why two were taken)
  • Spare batteries for Garmin eTrex and for bike computer
  • Garmin eTrex 30x (I think OSM maps and Maps.me apps on phone are all that is needed – regret buying the Garmin)
  • Sigma BC 9.16 ATS bike computer
  • Olympus camera charger, spare battery, spare SD card
  • USB memory stick
  • iPod classic charger
  • iPod shuffle charger
  • External battery pack
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I bought two second-hand lenses, this Lumix 14-42mm lens (not the best zoom though) and an Olympus 12-50mm lens (much better but bigger). I took the Lumix one with me only due to size.

Sleeping

  • MSR Elixir 2 person tent
  • Exped Downmat (a Synmat is enough but I got this one from my dad and it’s supposed to be extra insulating)
  • Exped Schnozzel pumpbag (I was very haughty around those, sure that my lungs were enough. However, for proper mat care, a Schnozzel is much better as it prevents condensation from forming in the mat… and my lungs are quite thankful).
  • My dad’s super duper high-altitude mountaineering sleeping bag. It’s so comfy, so warm, …so BIG. Not necessary, but I gave in, in anticipation of the Pamirs, and have actually really enjoyed it in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Other option is to have two sleeping bags, which can double up if cold, and the other can act as a pillow when hot.
  • Decathlon sleeping bag silk liner – the best for keeping sleeping bag clean and add a couple of degrees if too cold, or to just sleep in if too hot for a sleeping bag.
  • Exped mat repair kit
MSR’s Elixir 2 tent, in the Azeri sunset

Eating

  • MSR WhisperLite Stove (yummy, yummy)
  • Decathlon aluminium pan
  • Camping fork and spoon
  • Opinel knife
  • Lighter
  • Matches (given to me in an Azerbaijan supermarket)
  • Flint stones (Primus – much too small, get big enough ones for big enough sparks!)
  • Mug (from my last job, recycled plastic)
  • Sponge (not necessary but makes life easier – can also just use grass)
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…or you can just go to a roadside restaurant

Clothing

  • 1 pair Decathlon trekking trousers that turn into shorts (removable leg bottoms)
  • 1 pair cycling shorts (i.e. with padding)
  • 2 long sleeve tops (one cotton, one merino)
  • 2 sleeveless tops (one for sleeping, other for cycling or days off)
  • 1 cycling Ten Speed Hero top (short sleeve)
  • 1 collared shirt (I recommend just taking button-down shirts and no long sleeve tops. They look good and protect from sun – you can always roll the sleeves up. Buy them loose for airflow and with anti-mosquito lining – I’ve been bitten through my long sleeve cotton top).
  • 1 thin merino jumper (I wish I’d just taken a thicker jumper)
  • 1 Buff (insect and UV protecting)
  • 1 helmet
  • 1 pair loose trousers (for sleeping or days off)
  • 1 pair Rapha fleece-lined leggings with padding (for when in cold environment – overkill, can double up trousers and long johns)
  • 1 pair Odlo long johns (ditto)
  • 1 long sleeve Odlo top (ditto)
  • 1 pair ski socks (for cold nights / days)
  • 5 pairs of underwear (overkill but oh so comfy – a luxury when far from clean water sources to wash them)
  • 4 pairs of socks (ditto)
  • 1 pair trekking shoes (cycle with them)
  • 1 pair flip flops
  • 1 pair Teva sandals (overkill, could skip those or the flip flops)
  • 1 pair Decathlon rainproof trousers
  • 1 Mountain Warehouse rain- and windproof jacket
  • 1 pair warm ski gloves
  • 1 pair soft gloves (overkill – but might be handy if doubled with ski gloves in high altitude)
  • 1 pair cycling gloves
  • 1 pair category 4 UV protection sunglasses (Julbo, glacier sunglasses – took as had them for ski touring, super useful as cover all of the eye and protect from dust and strong sun)
  • 1 pair normal sunglasses (where the above are too dark – overkill but handy as they’re light to carry, fit in same case and are less intimidating)
  • 1 pair glasses (hoping I don’t lose those as my other option in that case is to just wear the sunglasses, both of which are prescription, as I’m not taking any contact lenses!)
  • High-visibility vest
  • High-visibility arm/leg band
Favourites – Ten Speed Hero cycle top and Japanese bike scarf

Toiletries

  • 1 toiletry bag
  • 1 toothbrush (medium strength bristles so that it lasts longer)
  • 1 toothpaste tube
  • 1 hard shampoo block (lighter and less cumbersome than carrying liquid shampoo)
  • 1 tube of face + body lotion (all in one – overkill as can just use the SPF or forego altogether)
  • 1 small tube 50+ SPF for face (fits in front bag – at Mum’s insistence)
  • 1 tube 50 SPF for body
  • Floss (because cyclists recommend it, useful if need to sew something – I have yet to master the art of flossing so it’s just sitting there spiting me at the moment)
  • 1 hairbrush (with numerous hair ties around the handle… in case you have not yet discovered the trick, use a hair tie to hold your front brake so the front wheel does not spin annoyingly – sadly not possible on my looped butterfly handlebars)
  • Sewing kit
  • Bug bite lotion (overkill – I don’t think it’s needed, just don’t scratch it too much)
  • Bug spray (not sure this ever really works… but just in case)
  • Biodegradable toilet paper (can buy on the road – I don’t like going native, much too messy & smelly)
  • Biodegradable Marseilles soap
  • Small wash towel (perfect for scrubbing clean when all you have is the soap and a bit of water in your bottle)
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Microfibre towel
  • A few pads / tampons in addition to Mooncup (below) – or Thinx (which I have not tried but looks useful)
    • The Mooncup (see below) can sometimes leak, it can sometimes fall in a squat toilet, you could lose it… endless reasons – it’s good to have backup.
    • You don’t have to buy backup before you leave but useful to buy before you reach remote areas! Pads seemed readily available in Georgia and Azerbaijan, I’m guessing it’s the same further into Central Asia – so long as there are shops around!
  • 1 Mooncup (Divacup / whatever your country calls it) – for people who menstruate, obviously.
    • Really advocate this – it takes time to get used to it and can get really messy but it’s only 1 thing to carry, it’s simple, lasts longer than tampons or pads, and does not create waste apart from the blood you discard.
    • Tip: here’s my step-by-step, ignore if you prefer – am writing it here in case it’s helpful (I was a total novice!) 1) Go to bathroom or in nature armed with enough mineral water (I wouldn’t use tap unless you trust it) to clean Mooncup out. (I actually prefer nature… had an awful experience where the cup fell in a squat toilet and had to use a pad and wait to boil the Mooncup later on in the day); 2) Wash hands with hand sanitiser or soap, 3) remove Mooncup, clean it with water, armed with enough mineral water (I wouldn’t use tap unless you trust it) to clean it out, 4) re-insert it.
    • Please test it out for a few months at home, if possible. It takes time to get used to it and isn’t always comfortable (especially at removal).
    • Another tip: go into a pharmacy and tell them you have your period and ask if they know of / have a bathroom you can use to change in. I did this in Sheki in a desperate bid to find a clean bathroom and the kind pharmacist directed me to their bathroom (the city ones smelled like someone had been murdered in them and the corpse was still lurking somewhere). As I say, ultimately a bottle of water and some biodegradable toilet paper in nature is the best… cleaner than a public toilet.
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Microfibre towels and tent tarp drying

Health

  • Paracetamol
  • Imodium (for diarrhoea)
  • Fucidin 2% cream (antibiotic cream)
  • Muscle cream (for my sore knee)
  • Magnesium tablets (I get muscle cramps)
  • Zinc tablets
  • Berocca tablets
  • First aid kit
  • Steristrips
  • Micropur water purifying tablets
  • Lifestraw water bottle with filter
  • A host of vaccines (Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, rabies, hepatitis B, and re-doses of hepatitis A, MMR, DTP)
  • Azithromycine (antibiotic)
  • Riamet
  • Totobo facemask (≠ pollution)
  • Easytape muscle tape (for painful knee – never had to use as the pain mostly goes away with cycling)
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This had everything under the sun in it… a bit overkill, quite heavy!

 

Bottom line: I packed too much, around 30kg of gear. I would reduce the number of clothes, toiletries and electronics.

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I censored Hergé’s racism by removing the last pane but ended up reluctantly re-inserting it as the whole strip illustrates my packing well.