from backpacker to bikepacker: gear list (1 Viewer)

ali

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My traveling background is mostly backpacking. That is, bumming around with a pack, usually staying at pensions (Europe), motels (North America) or cheap hotels (Asia). Worst case i overnight in a bus terminal, train station or airport. There's still a lot of walking involved, but it's not really the same as sleeping rough.

I thought it might be interesting to detail what i had in my pack for the last 8 years or so, and what i have switched out to prepare for my bike tour.

First up: bags.

backpacking-bags.jpg


I had a ~55L internal frame pack with detachable ~10L daypack, which i left the shitty daypack somewhere years ago and replaced it with a sturdier ~20L that i wore as a frontpack. None of these were waterproof so i used a ton of ziplock bags and shopping bags to try keep everything dry. My passport still got soaked one day and customs guys have given me grief about it ever since. Hot tip: if you're hauling your gear through a tropical storm, double-ziplock your passport.

bike-touring-bags.jpg


I replaced my ~55L pack with a set of waterproof panniers (35L), and my ~20L daypack with a 30L waterproof pack. Keeping a fanny pack. Eagle-eyed readers might notice that 55+20 is more than 35+30. Yeah. I'm getting rid of some stuff too.

Here's the list. Note that it's dry, i will also have food, soap, toothpaste etc.

Clothes kept:
  • jeans
  • shorts
  • underwear (6)
  • socks (6)
  • bra (2)
  • tank top (6)
  • bandana (2)
  • shoes
  • belt
  • longjohns
Clothes dropped:
  • backup pair of shoes
  • flip-flops
Clothes replaced:
  • light hoodie → merino longsleeve
  • fleece hoodie → puffy jacket
Clothes added:
  • gloves
  • beanie
  • scarf
Tools kept:
  • water bottles (2)
  • carabiners (4)
  • head lamp
  • musician earplugs
  • phone
  • tablet
  • harmonica
  • sunglasses
  • prescription glasses
  • contact lenses
  • toothbrush
  • nail clippers
  • tweezers
  • hair ties
  • lighter
  • chopsticks
Tools dropped:
  • e-reader
  • second phone (for China)
  • computer mouse (for gaming)
  • French press (for making coffee where there is none)
  • washing line/paracord
  • foreign currency
  • paperwork from 40+ years of being a law-abiding citizen 🙄
  • book of poetry
  • measuring tape
  • hair brush
  • needle and thread
  • pens
  • paper
Tools replaced:
  • Leatherman multitool → fixed blade knife
  • 10000mAh battery pack → 20000mAh battery pack
Tools added:
  • knife/fork/spoon
  • stand-to-pee device
  • water filter
  • 2L water bag
Shelter added:
  • 1 person tent and undersheet
  • 30F synthetic sleeping bag
  • foam sleeping pad (chopped in half)
Plus, obviously, i added a bike and a bunch of shit that goes with the bike, but i'll talk about that in a different thread.

The main learning i have is that paperwork is really fucking heavy and takes up a ton of room in your pack. I can fit a tent (less poles) in the space my paperwork took up. Still not sure what i am going to do with the originals, but i scanned most of them (see where to store your paperwork while traveling). Also very heavy and totally useless after you leave a country: foreign coins. I will be sending those to charity.

My question for all y'all who've been living the outdoor life for a while is... Did i get everything? Will i die out there? Do i need rain gear? Do i need bear spray? Do i need some first aid stuff? What one item do you think would be worth adding? What one item do you think would be worth taking away? Is it dumb to drop the flip-flops? Is drinking cold instant coffee going to suck? My main problem at the moment is less the space and more the weight.

I will be leaving in August so if there's anything critical i am missing that i need to order online, now is the time. I don't plan to rough it all the way, i will be using motels when i need, but i want to be prepared in case that doesn't pan out for whatever reason.
 
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IanIam

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I'll try to answer your questions in order but please forgive me if I stray from the topic.

I don't think it's possible to bring everything but I think you have a goodly amount of stuff to facilitate your travels.

You seem pretty experienced so no I don't think you'll die out there lol

Rain gear is very qol, I personally wax all of my canvas and travel with a 4 yard great plaid made of wool which I also wax, it's quite heavy but you get used to it after a few weeks. That being said if you have the option of waxing your gear, do it.

You don't need bear spray but I recommend taking it anyway, get the gel variant if you can.

I value first aide materials more than most cause I'm always getting fucked up in some way. I always have: Aspirin, charcoal, potash, sunscreen, baby powder, sutures, and some clean strips of cloth.

As far as an item to add goes I'd take a flint and steele, or just the Steele since I'm sure you could find some flint or quartz to facilitate fire making if necessary. You could even make your own steele out of an old metal file.

If I had to remove one thing it would be the tent, but that's down to personal preference. If you want to keep the tent by all means do so.

Flip flops are qol, I always have em with me but again that's down to personal preference.

Cold instacafe isn't terrible imo, but you can always make cowboy coffee with one of your bandannas if it's not to your liking.

I would re-consider removing the needle, thread, and Paracord/rope being able to stich a wound could save your life and having some kind of cordage to tie down your tent in the event the weather turns particularly foul is invaluable.

I hope this helps you in some way, good luck on your next sojourn!
With gratitude, -Ian
 

ali

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I used to have some first aid stuff but i never used it, my worst injury out on the streets was raking my hand through a bunch of broken glass which i first rinsed and wrapped in toilet paper, then some random guy helped make a better bandage from paper towel and tape. Disinfected and dressed properly the next morning. I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do with charcoal or potash, and God help me if i have to stitch myself. However you have convinced me to get a little kit with some band aids and gauze and disinfectant, and i can go from there. I can probably use contact lens solution to clean wounds out, bandana and chopsticks for basic splints or a tank top to bandage a sprain.

My aversion to rain gear comes from several times trying to wear a poncho in tropical storms and it just made me sweaty and miserable and didn't keep my feet dry anyway so i just said fuck it and let myself get wet. I used to ride about 15km a day to work and just wrung out my clothes at the other end during rainy season. Although, i did ride in flip-flops since they withstand the wet a lot better than shoes. Maybe i should keep those too, just strap them on somewhere because they're light. I am thinking since all my bags are waterproof, maybe it's okay not to bother with a poncho, at least while it's still summer. Being wet is only supremely shit when it's also cold.

I don't think i will be setting any fires in the next couple months, the whole place is a tinderbox.

Thanks for your thoughts. I think some basic first aid and flip-flops will help me to be more secure and comfortable without adding too much weight. I'm sure once i'm a few days or weeks in, i'll have a better idea what i need and don't need.
 

IanIam

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I used to have some first aid stuff but i never used it, my worst injury out on the streets was raking my hand through a bunch of broken glass which i first rinsed and wrapped in toilet paper, then some random guy helped make a better bandage from paper towel and tape. Disinfected and dressed properly the next morning. I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to do with charcoal or potash, and God help me if i have to stitch myself. However you have convinced me to get a little kit with some band aids and gauze and disinfectant, and i can go from there. I can probably use contact lens solution to clean wounds out, bandana and chopsticks for basic splints or a tank top to bandage a sprain.

My aversion to rain gear comes from several times trying to wear a poncho in tropical storms and it just made me sweaty and miserable and didn't keep my feet dry anyway so i just said fuck it and let myself get wet. I used to ride about 15km a day to work and just wrung out my clothes at the other end during rainy season. Although, i did ride in flip-flops since they withstand the wet a lot better than shoes. Maybe i should keep those too, just strap them on somewhere because they're light. I am thinking since all my bags are waterproof, maybe it's okay not to bother with a poncho, at least while it's still summer. Being wet is only supremely shit when it's also cold.

I don't think i will be setting any fires in the next couple months, the whole place is a tinderbox.

Thanks for your thoughts. I think some basic first aid and flip-flops will help me to be more secure and comfortable without adding too much weight. I'm sure once i'm a few days or weeks in, i'll have a better idea what i need and don't need.
Awesome I'm glad I could be of assistance, I feel the need to add some clarification in regards to the potash and charcoal as I don't want anyone who reads this in the future to be mislead or confused.

The potash is used sparingly as a disinfectant and as soap, it contains lye so emphasis on sparingly as it will murder your skin if it's all you use to wash yourself, and when I spoke of the charcoal I should have stated that it's "activated charcoal" not just some briquettes. Activated charcoal can be consumed in the event you're suffering from some kind of poison as charcoal absorbs, nullifies and prevents the spread of some poisons, and it also works wonders if you have any kind of stomach flu. Sorry for any confusion my previous post may have caused. Be safe, have fun.
With gratitude, -Ian
 

ali

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This is useful info, thanks for the clarification. I remember when i was little my parents had these chalky black pills that made our teeth all black they used to give us when we had diarrhea, i'm guessing that was the same thing.
 

MetalBryan

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I think the best way to make a plan like this is to read a bunch of gear lists, so thank you for sharing this with us. Here's some items that popped out to me.

underwear (6) - most recommend 3-4 pairs. Do you find 6 is better?

socks (6) - Darn Tough makes $20 pairs of wool socks with a lifetime warranty. Wool socks don't need as much washing so you might be able to cut down on numbers. I can vouch for their no questions asked lifetime warranty.

contact lenses - I don't wear glasses so I'm curious if this is a necessity or a luxury?

chopsticks - have you found any interesting or lifesaving uses? This is a cool item I've never considered in a pack.

French press (for making coffee where there is none) - you mentioned staying at hotels in the states. Most have those complimentary single serving coffee pouches that look like tea bags. They brew like tea in hot water.

washing line/paracord - ditto to putting this back. Plus a small first aid kit even if it's just waterproof gauze and scraps of silk fabric. Sewing kit is also something to reconsider, or just wrap some duct tape around a small length of pencil. Tiny preparedness items might never get used but if you have them in a pinch it can make a lot of difference.

paperwork from 40+ years of being a law-abiding citizen 🙄 - it's not the cheapest thing you can do, but if you rent a large post office box you can put all your paperwork in a large envelope and mail it to yourself. Leave it there until you need it but don't miss payments 😆

Leatherman multitool → fixed blade knife - what brought you to this decision?

knife/fork/spoon - I never miss a chance to plug the Ka-Bar tactical spork.

Good luck!
 

ali

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Great questions! I agree with you that reading other people's reasoning behind what they bring helps to plan for yourself, so i am happy to share.

The underwear, socks and tanks situation is an interesting one. I could definitely drop down to 4 pairs of each instead of 6 pairs if i really needed the space. The only reason to go more than 3 imo is if you are too lazy to wash every day. Normally when i'm traveling i'll wash at the end of the day, then hang it up to dry overnight, maybe it's still a bit damp in the morning, but then i still have one pair to wear and one clean/dry pair in case of emergency (forded a river, fell in a mudslide etc). But if i have 6 pairs then i can wash every few days instead of every day. Handwashing clothes sucks, so i prefer to have a bit of extra buffer.

Contact lenses are better than glasses for physical activity (biking, hiking) because they don't fall off your nose and you have more-or-less perfect vision, even peripheral. But they don't hold up great if you get them dusty or torn, so it's good to have glasses as a backup. It's definitely more of a nice-to-have than a requirement, but for me it's worth it.

Chopsticks are really useful for cooking (replacement for wooden spoon/spatula and even a pot handle, if you have a strong grip), but the other thing they're great for is picking dirty stuff up when you can't wash your hands after. Mostly that means food-related stuff but i suppose you could use them for anything you want to grab and move but don't want to touch right now. Definitely not a requirement, but i figure might as well have a pair along for any time i don't want to hunt around for a glove or a rigid/dry stick.

French press was a China problem. There are loads of Starbucks in China in the big cities, but in smaller towns not so much, and definitely no coffee in the hotel rooms. Meanwhile, you can get hot water almost everywhere, like train stations, public toilets, police stations (which as a foreigner in China you visit semi-regularly), all over. So buy a couple bags of ground coffee when you're in the big city, pack a French press, now you can make great coffee wherever you are. Total quality of life thing, but i love coffee, so it was worth it.

I just today went by the post office and the bank to get more info on the paperwork thing, i'll update the other thread with some pros and cons on that.

The reason for switching out the Leatherman is because the only tool i ever used on it was the knife, and it's not a comfortable knife to use for anything serious. To be honest i'm not sure a "real" knife is going to be any more useful. Certainly for conventional travel knives are way more trouble than they're worth (can't bring them as carry-on luggage on a plane). I almost wonder if scissors would be a more useful as tool for stuff like cutting paracord, chopping food, getting into packaging, ripping clothes into strips etc?
 

ali

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So final update... I scored some paracord and a P51 can opener from a fellow STPer, and i reconsidered my needle and thread thing after using it today to stitch back up a broken belt loop on my jeans. I've wrapped a good length of thread around a hairband - enough to darn a few items of clothing - and pinned a couple needles into it to stop it from spiking. Got a first aid kit with the basics too (gauze, disinfectant, bandage). I also picked up an enamel mug to avoid having to eat out of ziplock baggies. I'll bring a marker in case i need to make a sign, and got bear spray and DEET too. Oh, i also picked up a shemagh, might swap out the scarf for that, but they both fold up so small might as well keep them both for the time being.

Should be heading out by Friday 🚵
 

IanIam

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So final update... I scored some paracord and a P51 can opener from a fellow STPer, and i reconsidered my needle and thread thing after using it today to stitch back up a broken belt loop on my jeans. I've wrapped a good length of thread around a hairband - enough to darn a few items of clothing - and pinned a couple needles into it to stop it from spiking. Got a first aid kit with the basics too (gauze, disinfectant, bandage). I also picked up an enamel mug to avoid having to eat out of ziplock baggies. I'll bring a marker in case i need to make a sign, and got bear spray and DEET too. Oh, i also picked up a shemagh, might swap out the scarf for that, but they both fold up so small might as well keep them both for the time being.

Should be heading out by Friday 🚵
Good luck Ali!! Be safe and have fun!
 

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