I’m setting out on a trip to ride more than 15,000 miles, and I have to carry everything I need on this bike.
One of the big challenges of long-distance bicycle adventures is what to do with all the gear that you think you will need to take with you.
On a bike space is at a premium and every ounce, no make that, every gram of extra weight is just dead weight.
I am not traveling with a support crew. I don’t have a truck somewhere just off camera carrying extra bikes or clothes or anything else.
If I need it. I’m carrying it.
Of course, I packed too much when I started, and then I unpacked some stuff.
But, I still had too much stuff…
How many pairs of shorts do I really need? How many T-shirts do I really need? Do I need a pair of boots? What about my tiny laptop? Do I need a camera, or can I just use my phone? Solar Panel? Tent? Sleeping Bag? Sunglasses? Gloves? Sunscreen? Insect Repellent? Water Purifier? Ground Cover? Firestarters? How many water bottles? What about first aid?
Ahhh hell, the list of gear can get long and really heavy before you know it.
My Free Advice:
Start with the absolute essentials.
Make sure you have the right gear to stay warm and as dry as possible.
Make sure you have a way to carry adequate amounts of water.
Make sure you have a way to communicate in case of emergency.
Make sure you have some basic first aid supplies.
Then look for ways to reduce the weight and space needed to carry those items.
Little changes can add up to big weight savings. It may sound crazy but you small things like reducing the size of the handle on your toothbrush can make a difference. And that’s just the beginning. On youtube, you can find hundreds of clever ideas on how to reduce your load. You might be amazed at some of the obsessively clever tricks that people have come up with.
Once you decided upon your essential equipment, then slowly add items that are almost essential.
Repeat the process of lightening and altering to save space and weight.
If you have any room left, don’t add anything else. hahaaha, seriously, do not add anything else.
I understand how hard it is to leave empty space in a travel bag… but trust me, when you get out on the road, every ounce of weight is going to be punishing you when climbing hills.
And if you realize you absolutely must have something you did not pack, you can likely find a store along the way and buy what you need. If that’s not an option you can also order from Amazon and have the package delivered to a drop off location somewhere along your path.
Another Equipment Strategy to Consider
Not only can you order stuff from Amazon and have it waiting for you at a drop-off location. You can also send packages to post offices on your route. Let’s say your trip will start in cold weather and lead you into an area of warm weather… what can you do with all of your unneeded cold weather gear?
Here’s a great solution. Send a box of hot weather gear to yourself at a post office somewhere along your route. When you arrive you can claim your package. Then you can swap your cold weather gear for the hot weather gear… and either send the cold weather gear back home or to another destination further ahead on your trip if you will be going back into cold weather.
This is also a great way to resupply yourself with heavy bike parts that you might want to replace. Put a new pair of bike shoes, a chain, a new set of tires and tubes and maybe even a fresh new saddle in a box and it will be waiting for you.
Here’s a link to a great article on reducing gear weight.
Source: Adventure Cycling Association