Eb and I started our travels with backpacks. We left Sydney with $40 backpacks we bought on eBay (don’t ask why) that lasted a week. Seriously, Eb’s strap on her backpack had broken before we arrived at the airport to leave Sydney. We then bought a pair of “legit” (fake) North Face backpacks in Bangkok. You would have thought we’d learned our lesson in buying cheap backpacks but to our surprise these bags were solid, they had taken a beating all over Asia. We liked them because the main zip opened the bag like a suit case opens, rather than a standard backpack where you have to take items out to find something at the bottom.
We had found out about cycle touring (travelling by bicycle) when backpacking in Asia and we were so interested and keen to take up this style of travel. It looked like it was a great way to experience countries at a slower pace, travel on a budget and the opportunity for us to be outside of our comfort zones.
It wasn’t until 4 months into our trip, when we landed in England that we knuckled down and started researching about cycle touring gear – The bikes, tent, panniers (bike bags), cookware etc.
Eb and I went into this pretty much blind. We only had a little bit of research and knowledge under our belts. It didn’t help that either of us have absolutely no idea about bicycles. We’ve pretty much learned everything we know now by the mistakes we’ve made along the way. If we had our time again we would have done things slightly different but this is what we’ve got (Y.O.L.O) –
The bikes (We sold the bikes after Kel injured his knee in Iceland)
- 2x Dawes Karakum (Eb opted for the female version)
We originally planned on buying Surly bicycles instead, as they are known as the touring bikes. We were recommended Dawes and after researching and reading positive reviews we took the plunge. We opted for the butterfly handle bars, because they offer more hand positions when riding. Even though they are probably the ugliest handle bars out, they’re actually very comfortable on long days.
- Schwalbe Marathon Plus. Front and back for each bike (After market)
These babies are bullet proof and are well known for that in the cycling world. Five months of cycling through England, France, Italy Germany, Netherlands and Denmark and we didn’t encounter one flat.
- 2 x Tubus Logo (rear)
- 1 x Tubus Tara Lowrider (front)
We bought the front rack at the beginning but later on had to purchase the rear racks because we’d learnt that Dawes stock racks are woeful! My rear rack had snapped along the bottom while riding Italy. Dawes said that I voided warranty because of excessive weight on the rack. Even though they don’t specify how many kg’s are excessive in the warranty. We’d later learn that most tourers will source an after market touring rack, majority choosing Tubus. Tubus racks are bomb proof, most tourers we’ve met on the road are sporting a Tubus rack.
- 1 x Shimano wheel (after market)
I don’t know what the actual name is but I bought it because my stock rear wheel had spokes breaking like there was no tomorrow (due to heavy weight). It has more spokes now (36) which can hold more weight whereas the stock wheels, which are Shimano also, only have 32 spokes.
Touring luggage (Mailed back home)
- 4 x Ortlieb Back Roller Classic panniers
- 2 x Front Roller Classic panniers
- 1 x Ultimate 6m Classic Ortlieb handle bar bag
- 1 x Rackpack (31L)
Ortlieb have a great reputation and they are known as the cycle tourers choice of bag. They’re waterproof and very durable. No complaints here.
Tent (Mailed back home)
- Vango Tempest 300
We chose this tunnel tent as our home for a couple of reasons. We liked that it weighed just under 4kgs, it was highly waterproof, stands well against wind and because we’re both tall, we liked it that we could lie down and have enough room head to toe. We chose the 3 man tent rather than the 2 man, so we could have that little bit of extra space. It’s great for windy and rainy situations, but in the heat it is horrible. We’re most likely going to upgrade to a 4 seasons free standing tent so we can just pitch the fly sheet on hot nights, also it can be easier to wild camp anywhere whereas tunnel tents need to be pitched on surfaces where you can only peg into soft surfaces.
Cooking equipment (Mailed back home)
- Whisperlite universal stove by MSR
- MSR quick solo pot
- 2 x bowls
- 2 x cups/mugs
- 2 x titanium spork
This is one of my favourite purchases we’ve made. This stove is great as it has the option of cooking by canister fuels or liquid fuels. Canister fuels are easier to access when touring in western countries but if we’re in countries where canisters are unavailable to us, we can switch the adapters and then use liquid fuels.
We have way too many clothes for travellers. We started with a lot of clothes in our first week of travels – summer, winter, casual, dress up, Kel even had 3 pairs of sneakers! We ended up giving away a lot of that or sending it home, but as we headed to the colder climate countries we ended up buying warmer clothes from second hand shops. We think everyone can decide on what they need to take with them depending on where they are going. Less is more 😉
- 2 x iphone 5
- Windows Surface RT tablet (worst ever)
Cannon EOS 1200D(Sold)
- Sony A6000 with kit lens and 35mm f1.8 lens
- GoPro Hero 4
- Universal adapters
tyre repair kit multi tool degreaser rags chain oil
bike pump bungee cords electrical tap cable ties rope
- Swiss army knife
- cutting knife
matches 2 x heavy duty tarpulin’s
- 2 x small Kathmandu pillows
- 1 x Kathmandu everyday backpack
- 2 x Thermarest pro lite mats
- 2 x Northface -5 degrees Celsius sleeping bags
Most of the bike equipment was purchased from Panniercc (a website dedicated to cycle touring)