Building Your Kit is an Individual Journey
Developing your kit is really an individual process, a journey based on each person’s traveling style, personal resources, cycling goals and objectives, and the situation at hand. There is a lot of kit out there and most of it works really well. Gear selection really comes down to what works best for you. Have fun with the process and don’t be afraid to change when you find something better. Best of luck on your journey.
Seek Those that Know
The great thing about adventure cycling and cycle touring is that it’s chocked full of great people willing to share their knowledge and experiences with others wanting to get out on the road. There’s a wealth of information being put up by some great, well-seasoned long distance riders that have been to virtually any place you can think of going on a bike and then some. Check out my Links page for links to some pretty awesome adventure cycling and long-distance touring sites packed with a plethora of golden nuggets on the genre. These are some of the best sources I know for salient adventure cycling and touring beta.
Please feel free to comment. Questions, suggestions and snarky comments are welcome. Cheers, Johnny
My bike is my primary form of transportation. There is a plethora of bicycle types, options, riding techniques, and styles to choose from. Most bikes and gear will work. This is what I’m rolling on and works for me. Dependability, durability and value-added over time and miles are my watchwords. I try to get gear that is built to last and not break down and believe if you take good care of your kit, it will take good care of you.
- Bike: Co-Motion Divide Rohloff with Co-Pilot (S&S Couplings)
- Gears: Rohloff Speed Hub 500/14
- Drivetrain: Gates CDX Carbon Belt Drive (46T x 22T)
- Tires: Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 28×2.0
- Rims: Ryde Andra 35 (36 hole)
- Hub (front): Schdmit SON DISC Dynamo
- Saddle: Tioga Spider Twin Tail
- Seatpost: Thomson Elite
- Handlebar: Jones Loop H-Bar 710 mm with ESI 8.25” Extra Chunky Grips, with Jones Gnarwal mono bar
- Pedals: Specialized Boom Slang Pedals with shorter Race Face pins
- Crank: FSA 175mm
- Stem: Thomson Elite
- Headset: Chris King
- Bottom Bracket: Chris King Thread Fit
- Brakes: Klamper by Paul Component Engineering
- Shifter: Rohloff
- Rear Rack: Tubus Cargo Evo
- Headlight: SON Edelux II
- Taillight: SON
- Fenders/Mud Guards: Planet Bike Cascadia 29er Fenders
- Bell: Spurcycle Raw Bell
- Security: Small Cable Lock
- Kickstand: Pletscher Double Bipod
PANNIERS & BAGS
- Panniers: Ortlieb Roller Plus Bags, (rear only)
- Front Roll: Revelate Designs Sweet Roll Handlebar Bag (large)
- Frame Bag: Revelate Designs Ripio
- Accessory: Revelate Gas Tank and Jerry Can
- Dry Bags: Outdoor Research
- Tire Pump: Topeak Mountain Morph and Axiom Enforceair HV Mini Pump
- Multitool: Crankbrothers Multitool
- Multitool: Leatherman Wave
- Multitool: Leatherman Micra
- Pedro’s Hex Wrench Set (9 piece)
- Adjustable Spanner
- Spoke Wrench
- Rohloff Sprocket Tool
- Puncture Kit: Glue, patches
- Spare Tire x1
- Spare Inner Tubes x3
- Spokes: Spokes and Nipples x6
- Cables (brake & shifter)
- Disc Brake Pads x2
- Fasteners: Rack Bolts, Zip Ties, Lacing Wire, Duct Tape, Electrical Tape
- Sewing Kit: Needles, Thread, Etc.
- Super Glue
- Tent Repair, Stove Repair Kits
The ability to camp not only saves money but greatly increases your travel freedom by providing you with the capability to go and stop where you please without having to worry about making it to the next hostel, hotel or inn up the road.
- Tent: MSR Hubba NX (with footprint)
- Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering Apache 15º Sleeping Bag
- Sleeping Pad: Nemo ZOR Hyperlite Sleeping Pad
- Pillow: Exped Inflatable Pillow
- Water: MSR 10 Liter Dromedary Bag
- Purification: Sawyer Point Squeeze Water Filter and MSR Aquatabs Water Purification Tablets (backup)
- Headlamp: Black Diamond Icon Headlamp
Save money, eat healthily. Eating is a cultural experience and a great way to learn about different people, so I balance my meals between cooking my own and eating locally, which is often just as economical or even more so than preparing your own. When cooking my own meals, ingredients are procured locally. I tend to keep my meals pretty simple, focusing on energy replenishment for riding.
- Stove: Primus Omnifuel Stove with a 1-liter fuel bottle
- Pots: MSR Quick 2 System Cookset, MSR Flex Quick Skillet, MSR Titan Kettle
- Mug: Snow Peak 300 ml
- Eating Utensils: Titanium Fork, Spoon, Knife
- Misc: MSR Alpine Salt and Pepper Shaker
- MSR Mugmate Coffee/Tea Filter
- MSR Alpine Chef’s Knife
- MSR Alpine Cutting Board
- MSR Alpine Dish Brush
- Ortlieb 20 liter Foldable Bowl
- Fire Starter: Striking Steel, Lighter, etc.
LAUNDRY AND HYGIENE
Whether you like it or not, people tend to judge you by how you look. If you look like a dirtbag, you’ll be treated like one, especially by the authorities. I try to maintain a high state of personal hygiene on the road, changing socks and underwear daily and washing frequently. I work to keep the nether regions free of dried sweat and salt deposits — which acts like 800 grit sandpaper — to stave off the dreaded monkey butt. I usually do laundry and change clothes every 2-3 days or when opportunity permits either in my Scrubba or local facility.
- Toiletry Kit: Shampoo, Toothbrush/Paste, Shave Gear, Nail Clippers, Mirror, Etc
- Shower: MSR Shower Kit
- Clothesline: MSR Dry Line Kit
- Plug: Universal Sink Plug
- Washer: Scrubba Wash Bag
- Soap: Locally procured
- Toilet Paper
- Mesh Bag
On the road, you are your first response team for medical emergencies. Best to have a basic knowledge of first aid and the medicine to take care of the small stuff backed up with a plan to get additional assistance if needed. Keep your vaccinations current and carry enough kit to deal with minor injuries, gastrointestinal ailments, viral or bacterial infections. Wash your hands frequently and keep your digits out of my nose, mouth and other orifices. When eating, go by the old adage: If you can’t cook it, boil it, or peel it, forget it, which has served me pretty well.
- Thermometer: Digital
- Antibiotics: Skin, Gastrointestinal
- Roller Bandage
- Sterile Compresses (2″, 4″)
- Plasters: Band-aids
- Antibiotic Ointment
- Pain/Swelling: Ibuprofen, Aspirin
- Dental Filling Repair Kit
- Diarrhea Tablets
- Insect Repellent
- Cameras: Sony RX1R MK II, RX100 MK IV
- Video: GoPro 4 Black, GoPro 2 Hero
- Tripod: Compact cheapie.
ELECTRONICS & TECHNOLOGY
Electronics are a necessary evil with digital photography and video. Access to the internet and wifi is available in all but the most remote locations. I’m pretty much digitally connected or have the capability to be, but resist the urge to get online all the time. Somehow it just doesn’t seem like a real adventure if I’m calling home or jumping on Facebook all the time. I don’t have one, but am considering a digital GPS tracking device to belay some of the worries of those on the home front.
- eBook: Kindle App on the iPhone
- Communications: iPhone 6 Plus (128 GB)
- Navigation: InReach Explorer, Gaia GPS App on iPhone, Map, Compass
- Tunes: iPod Nano
- Power Strip: 120/240 volt with USB
- Storage Battery: Generic 14,000 ahm
CLOTHING (Season/Climate Dependent)
Carry less, wash more. My clothing forms a system and its components (base, mid, and outer layers) are situation dependent based on the terrain, geography and climatic conditions I expect to be traveling in. I don’t wear cycling shorts and usually try to wear muted colors, when possible, to blend in or at least not stand out as much. My clothing is either synthetic or wool. I prefer clothes that wear well and can be worn several days in a row between washes. No cotton.
- Headgear: Bern Helmet, Arc’teryx Merino Wool Beanie, Baseball Cap
- Base, Upper: T-Shirts, Zipper, Long Sleeve
- Shell, Upper: Patagonia Houdini
- Base, Lower: Exofficio Give-n-Go Boxer-Brief Underwear (x5)
- Shell, Lower: Twin 6 Shorts, Swim Trunks
- Neck Gaiter: Buff
- Socks: Smartwool Toe Socks (x5), Smartwool Socks (x5), Liner Socks, Polypro (x5)
- Shoes: Mavic Alpine (SPD), Vibram Five Fingers
- Eye Protection: Oakley Race Jacket Sunglasses (gray & persimmon lenses)
- Rain Gear: Rain Jacket with hood, Rain Pants, Gloves, Goretex Shoe Covers, Vapor Barrier Booties
- Hammock: Warbonnet Blackbird Hammock with Yeti Under Quilt
- Tarp: Warbonnet Superfly Tarp
- Mosquito Head Net
- Passport & Visas
- Financial Instruments: Cash, Credit Cards, Traveler’s Checks, as required.
- Business Cards
- Key Information & Emergency Contact List
- Insurance Information
- Medical Information & Vaccinations
- Passport Photos x10
- Decoy – Throw Down Wallet (Small amount of cash, expired credit cards, etc.)
- Cash Stash Items (empty lotion, lip balm containers, etc)
Note: All sensitive information stored on an encrypted, passworded USB.
- Notebook: Moleskine Reporter
- Pens: Gel pens
- Journaling Software: Day One 2 app on iPhone
MISCELLANEOUS & PERSONAL
- Lip Balm
- Hand Sanitizer
- Small Combination Lock
Building Touring Kit is an Ever-Evolving Process
My gear and adventure cycling techniques are continually evolving processes that grow and mature with each journey I complete and lesson I am taught by the road or other cyclists. The list you see below is the result of many years in the backcountry, a couple of decades traveling the world, that has been sprinkled with a few years of adventure cycling to which I still consider myself a bit of a newb, albeit a dedicated, adaptive and fairly quick learning newb nonetheless.
A Market Place of Ideas
By taking a learning, adaptive approach, I’ve adopted an eclectic method of developing my gear over time, keeping what works and maintaining an open mind to new techniques, gear, experiences. People are always coming up with better, more innovative ways to do things. So, keeping an open mind is key to building your own kit and skill set. I’m always willing to change when exposed to a better way. Below is where I’m at in the process so far. Again, please feel free to comment. Suggestions are welcome.
Striking a Balance, Adding Value
I’ve learned you usually get what you pay for and in the long run, cheap can be expensive, which is not to say that you should by the most expensive gear there is, but rather what meets your needs. It’s really about striking a balance between cost and quality to get the most value added. While the initial cost of something maybe more, the more and longer you use them, the more value they add and economical they become. For example, the initial investment on a Rohloff Speedhub and Gates Carbon Belt Drive is expensive, but adds value and economy as the miles ridden adds up due to their durability and dependability, and so, in the long run, becomes the real value.
The most expensive aren’t necessarily the best. I tend to look for kit that is effective at its designated purpose, well-built, dependable, durable and will be value-added over many miles. Since I’m in it for the long run, I look for gear that will last a long time, which tends to be simple and well-constructed. Most gear out there will work from one extent to another.
Not “The” Answer
Please accept this list for what it is: a list of gear that I like and use. It’s not absolute or written in stone, but hits the high points of what works for adventure cycling. I add or delete to my kit based on the riding situation, always keeping weight in mind and trying to travel as light as possible. On shorter rides, I take less; on longer rides, I take more. Most of the time my planning works out; other times it doesn’t. (Refer to the lessons learned part above)
Take what works for you and leave what doesn’t. It isn’t “the” style, just my style. Adventure cycling is my primary means of travel and an integral part of how I live my life, which is in line with my dreams of travel and priority for discovery and adventure.
Take Care of Your Kit
I’ve built my kit over several years and keep it well maintained. My father taught me a long time ago, if you take care of your gear, it takes care of you and generally lasts a long time. If you don’t maintain your stuff and abuse it, it will break or wear out before its time. Use it, don’t abuse it. It’s really as simple as that.