Friday, April 17, 2009

Taking the Essentials

As I recover from this infernal leg injury I figured I would take a quick inventory of what I am bringing on this biking trip. Whether it happens this year or next I can’t wait to take some of these simple living principles on the road. And it all starts with stripping everything down to the bare essentials.

As you review this please note that I am still finding ways to cut down on weight and save space. For example, I have found that putting stuff inside my hiking boots saves a ton of space. I’m also going to be servicing the bike every 3 weeks along the road, thus, no need for chain lube, degreaser, etc…On the clothing side, I just don’t think I can cut much more than what I have now. It would be different if I was heading out in June and I could guarantee that I would not need warm clothing until hitting Colorado. As it is, it looks like I will be dealing with some pretty fickle weather so I’ve decided to stick with the list as is. Any suggestions/comments very much appreciated.


[top left to right OR top right to bottom]
-Biking t-shirts (2)
-Biking shirts (1)
-Biking tights (1)
-Biking leg warmers (1)
-Biking shorts (2)
-Biking winter gloves (1)
-Biking winter socks (1)
-Biking socks (2)
-Rain pants (1)
-Biking gloves (1)
-Helmet cover (for rain) (1)
-Biking winter gloves (light) (1)
-Biking fleece (not pictured) (1)
-Goretex biking shell (not pictured) (1)
-Helmet (not pictured)


-Base layer (pants and top) (1)
-Second layer (1)
-Windstopper jacket (1)
-Jeans (1)
-Boxers (1)
-Goretex rain jacket (outer layer) (1)
-Shorts (1)
-t-shirts (2)


-Bike lock
-Sun screen (2)
-Tic tacs
-Camping flashlight
-Toilet paper
-Swiss Army Knife
-Tire pressure gauge
-hand-held tire pump (not pictured) (1)
-Glasses + case
-Sunglasses + case
-Emergency shower system
-Contacts and related
-Laundry cord


-Sleeping pad
-Eyeshades/ear plugs
-Sleeping bag (not included in photo)


-Collapsible Bowl
-MRS Whisperlite International cooking stove
-Steripen water purifier
-Fuel cartridge
-Camp soap (dishes, body, hair, etc…)
-Tire tubes (2)
-Bike maintenance (multitool, tire levers, tape, chain links, tire boot patch, tire patch kit)


-Laptop cord
-DVD drive
-Laptop USB connection
-Powermonkey external battery plus solar charger
-Camera charger
-Camera plus case
-Waterproof lightweight backpack


-Headband (1)
-Sandals (1)
-Hiking Boots (1)
-First Aid bag (band-aids, cortisone, Neosporin, etc…) (1)
-Insect repellant (1)
-AC Maps (3) (getting other maps via mail on the road)
-Yoga book (1) (super light cheesy yoga book with all the basic poses)


Meg said...

Might want to bring a phone ;)

GJO said...

That seems like a lot of gear to me, although I like to travel fairly light. I would try to get rid of some of the clothes or replace them with less bulky alternatives (e.g., jeans are heavy and take up a lot of space). I probably would only bring one cooking pan. If you have a smartphone, I would probably dump the laptop or at least replace it with a netbook.

Are you biking in clipless shoes or just using platform pedals?

You might want to post your gear list on the Touring subforum of There are people there with a ton of experience and more time than me to go through your list.

-jd said...

Have you considered anything for your netherbits? Long repeated bike rides can become quite painful on the boys. My personal favorite remedy is bag balm, some (Lance Armstrong) swear by shave gel.

I would also recommend, GU for when your muscles feel like they are jello, advil for the same and , tubes, foldable tires...just in case. I personally think the patches/plugs are shit and don't really work, but a new tube and tire work like a charm. I would also reconsider the lube, if you got caught in the rain, 3 weeks is a really long time to go with a squeaky chain.

And that bike lock, really can be broken into with an ink pen.

May sound strange, but a sewing kit from a hotel. I've ran into many an occasion where this was more useful than I could ever imagine. A first aid kit and most importantly duct tape and a knife (not sure if your multi tool includes one)

Good Luck

PleaseRecycle said...

Second the sewing kit and ditch the jeans advice. Also, shoes are heavy... could you get away with some trail joggers and cheap flip flops?

Before backpacking, we pack and repack our backpacks several times, whittling down to the essentials.

Have fun!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, seems like a bunch, but maybe bring it all and you will know after a while what to dump.

BTW, I meant to mention about your injury, eat more turmeric!

The Executioner said...

Hey, in your earlier comment, you published a photo of a bicycle (yours?) with attached carrying bags. Did you make those, or buy them? I'd like more details if you are willing to share. I've been interested in loading my own bicycle with lots of gear, and those bags look like handy ways to pack a bunch of things.

Jack said...


Shoot. Forgot to include it in the pic. But yes, bringing one for sure.


The jeans thing is a pretty good suggestion. I would say, though, that the laptop weighs only 2.3 pounds (about the same as a netbook) and I will definitely need one for blogging etc... Good suggestion re Will do. And brining clip biking shoes.


Dude, I totally forgot to list the balm thing I bought just for that purpose. It was in the toiletries bag.

Jack said...


Well, I guess I could try, but I'm expecting some serious day hikes. The boots are super lightweight, so not so concerned about them.


Thanks for the tip. Will start today. Seriously.


What you are referring to are saddle bags/panniers by Ortlieb. They are water proof but you can get a variety of other types.

Moti and Amanda said...

This is a pretty good list... The cooking stuff can be condensed: when I'm backpacking I take just a pot -- you can use it as a skillet and a bowl. I also just take a spoon. Your pocket knife also cuts food, and you don't really need to spear food. So, the rest of the utensils can stay home. Also: do you really need an emergency shower kit? There are rivers and lakes everywhere, and when there aren't there are truck stops with showers...
Not sure what kind of sleeping bag you have, but you probably know that down is much lighter than synthetic bags -- but that you have to keep them dry. Oversize ziplock bags are your friend for that purpose. My 20 degree bag is smaller than a football when it's compressed.
Agreeing with everyone on the jeans, and on the shoes... If the boots are light-weight, fine. But a lot of ultra light weight backpackers hike in good trailrunners. Just your hiking shoes and something light (crocs!) for camp should be enough.
Isn't packing fun!?!? :)

Fonk said...

I'd bring a small bottle of chain lube. One or two days of crappy weather conditions can wreak havoc on your drivetrain, and 3 weeks will seem like a long time away if you find yourself in that situation. You can buy 'em pretty small, so no real weight/space added, and you'll be glad you have it if you need it.

And yeah, definitely ditch the jeans - those things are HEAVY. Buy some lightweight convertible pants, as they serve the purpose of both full-length pants and shorts. There's usually a pretty good selection at REI...


Family on Bikes said...

Another vote for ditching the jeans!! Not only are they heavy and bulky, but they take FOREVER to dry. It also seems like you have a bit of repetition in your warm gear - most of your rain gear can double as warm gear.

This is what I wore when we went th rough Wyoming (nad I doubt you'll get that cold!).
-thin long-sleeved Ibex wool shirt
-another thin long-sleeved Ibex wool shirt
-felted wool vest (I bought a merino wool sweater at a thrift store a couple sizes too large, then through it in the washer on HOT water to shrink it down. Then I cut off the sleeves and h ad a wonderful wool vest)
- fleece jacket
-rain jacket over it all

On my hands I wore regular cycling gloves with wool gloves over them. When it was REALLY cold, I put a liner pair of gloves between the cycling gloves and the wool ones.

On my legs I wore my cycling shorts and a pair of Ibex wool longwear. I had a pair of rain pants with me as an extra layer but never needed it.

So - if I could make it through the weather we went through in Wyoming with that, you should be able to do with less than you are planning!

And yes- take the chain lube. You'll need it. I promise...


Elizabeth Halt said...

I hike in trail runners or my Tevas. :) I bought hiking books for the Inca trail, so now I have them, but I still don't use them unless I'm doing a seriously steep/rocky hike. Otherwise, the trail runners (and my Tevas - I can trail run in them, they are fabulous) work well.

Third/Fourth all the jeans comments .. those things are heavy, and not so comfy when wet. Lots of hiking type pants are lighter and more versatile in general. :)

Å said...

Here is a packing list that I came across, that might offer a nice comparison...

Jack said...


Probably taking the skillet, but you've convinced me re utensils and the shower kit. Everyone else mentioning jeans has also convinced me there. Thanks!:)


Adding back the lube (plus some of the degreaser) and ditching the jeans for sure.


Ditto on the jeans. And you have ALSO convinced me re the warm weather stuff. I just figured it would be good to have separate stuff for biking and camping, but I absolutely see your point. This is just fantastic advice.

Jack said...


Again, those jeans are just GONE. And I guess I could get the Tevas but it is another expense and believe me, these boots are sooo light, I want to take them for sure.


Thanks for the list. This looks pretty complete.

Grandy said...

Just my 2 cents, Jack. I lube my bike chain DAILY. I wouldn't take anything cotton. Lightweight clothing is a far more effective sunscreen than that toxic, carcinogenic goo in your photo. Again, just my 2 cents....

61 Degrees North said...


Also the sewing kit is a really good idea. Maybe a small roll of wire.

With those three items and a multi-tool, you can fix almost anything from the bike to your clothing and gear.

For clothing I usually just have the shorts and T-shirt for warm weather. When it gets cooler, I add a fleece top and fleece pants. When it gets really cold, I just add my rain gear over that. Been toasty warm with that arrangement when hiking in temps well below freezing. It keeps things simple and light.

I also like a bug head net. It weighs nothing, but allows me to keep the bugs away while camping without using any toxic bug spray. Of course I live in Alaska and the mosquito is the State bird...

None said...

Notebook computers are much smaller than that these days. You may want to consider something smaller?

Jack said...


Thanks for the input. You and some others have already convinced me to take the lube. I will do lighweigh clothing depending on comfort when it does get hot.


Already implemented everything, save the net. Still addicted to the sprays when the bugs come out. Maybe a switch is in order as I get on the road...


I'll see what I can do. It's already pretty lightweight and anything smaller (netbooks) probably won't have the power I want in a good travel laptop.