It’s taken a while but I have finally got around to listing all our gear and reviewing most of it. So for anyone interested – take a look.
Our bikes are custom made Jota’s, built by Tim Stredwick of Velosmith in Tasmania. We chose to go with dedicated touring bikes because it was an excuse to get a new bike and because neither of us can claim to be any kind of bike mechanic. Plus we like the idea of getting locally made bikes from someone who has decades of experience touring all over the world. The bikes are steel frames with Rohloff hubs, Tubus racks (except Astrids rear rack which is welded on and part of the frame), Brookes flyer S saddles, mechanical disc brakes, Schwalbe Marathon Mondial tyres, Son dynamo & Busch and Muller lights. So far our mechanical problems on the trip have been nil, which we think is pretty good considering some of the corrugations we rode over in Australia. I had one flat in QLD and Astrid had 2 in Malaysia. Our chains stretch and we need to move the wheels back after a few weeks of cycling, or take a link out. Unfortunately when Astrid fell off on the Savannah way she somehow managed to break her front light, which is covered by a 5 year warrantee but we are still waiting to see what will happen with that. See www.velosmith.com.au for all the specifications if you are so inclined.
Panniers: While most of our gear was sourced locally in Melbourne, we bought our panniers from thetouringstore.com as the price difference was too large to ignore. Like most touring cyclists, we went with Ortlieb, specifically the front and back roller plus and the medium sized handle bar bag. Aside from the universal complaint about them not having pockets, they have been excellent so far. We also have a pannier carrier system that can click into the back of the small or large pannier and effectively turn it into a backpack. This has been very useful for when we go trekking or sight seeing.
Bike repair: Spare tubes (2) repair kit (2) pump (2) chain breaker, spare spokes, spoke key, spanner, Allen keys, chain oil, spare chain, Leatherman, Rolhoff oil, brake pads.
Most importantly World Nomads Travel Insurance which does cover you for cycle touring as your primary mode of transport. We upgraded to level 2 which includes skiing, diving to 30m and altitude. We also have unlimited repatriation back to Australia. It wasn’t the cheapest, but I believe it’s probably worth it if things go horribly wrong.
The other stuff:
IV supplies (incase it goes horrible wrong)
Basically a small pharmacy.
Tent: We bought our tent (and most of our new gear) from Bogong in Melbourne. We consciously decided to try and source our gear locally, even though some of it (like icebreaker) is now sadly made in China. Our tent of choice is the Mont Moondance III, including footprint. Almost every night in Australia was spent in the tent and aside from the odd patch it has held out well. It was definitely worth getting the footprint to protect the floor. This tent is particularly good in dry, hot climates as from about a third of the way up the wall it is all mesh. We had brilliant, cool nights in outback with the fly off in Australia, gazing up at the moon and stars. This tent is a 3 man and as it is our home most of the time, so it’s nice to have the extra room. The tent lives in a dry sack on our rear rack.
Mats: Exped down filled in inflatable mats that weigh 760 grams. I have the 163cm X 52cm and Astrid the 183cm X52cm. These mats have been amazing so far. Because we are travelling for so long we also invested in inflatable Mountain Design pillows. They don’t take up much room and are much nicer than stinky clothes pillows! We both have a sleeping bags, Astrid’s is a Mac Pac, which goes down to about – 18 and mine an on sale Kathmandu, which goes down to about -12. A silk liner acts as our sheet to keep the mats clean and we bought a sheet from an Op shop for warmer weather and to keep the sleeping bags clean, which we usually use like dooners.
Stove – MSR XGK EX – Aside from being irritatingly loud, the stove has been great. After 4 months of being used at least twice a day, everyday the pump cup needs to be replaced, but otherwise we just clean and service it like the manual advises. In Australia we used Shellite and Kerosine but have now switched to petrol as you can get it from the side of the road here for about 70 cents. We have a large and medium sized MSR pot, wooden spoon, spatula, a sharp knife & a blunt one (courtesy of the side of the road) 2 sporks & 2 bowls (side of the road) & 2 cups. We did start with sea 2 summit bowls that fold into plates/chopping board but we found that they did not last the distance when used everyday. The silicon broke. We still have one, which we use as a chopping board though. I think for everyday use its better to stick to basic items, rather then specific light weight camping ones. We also have a small collection of spices, which we carry in never used urine specimen jars (thanks NH). These are excellent, keeping everything sealed and not taking up too much room. And spray on olive oil. Much better than a leaky, heavy bottle.
Cycling: Both of us cycle in non lycra, non padded shorts. While Astrid has nearly killed her second pair (arse of steel?) I am still on my first. Some hiking shorts I bought from Bogong made by Outdoor Research. Astrid wears an Op shop long sleeved shirt and I have switched from a light weight (150) icebreaker marino thermal because I found too tight and hot to a long sleeved shirt as well. If it’s cold we add thermal leggings or skins. Neither of us like cleats and we both now cycle in Tivo’s (Birkenstocks died after too many river crossings in Australia). This might seem strange to a lot of cyclists but heaps of people that tour for long periods don’t wear special cycling footwear. After cycling more than 6500km without cleats, power grips or toe clips we don’t feel like we are missing out. This trip is as much about travelling as it is about cycling and we feel keeping things simple suits us best. We carry a pair of hiking boots for cold weather or trekking.
Wet Weather: Ground Effect Sheshell, hiking overpants (for really wet & cold miserable weather).
Cold Weather: Icebreaker 260 Marino thermals, leggings and long sleeved top. Down jackets & polar fleece. Base layer gloves. Beanie & icebreaker neck thingy.
Off the bike: spare pair of hiking pants (and now also hippy pants), t shirt, singlet top and long sleeved hippy top. And a dress, just incase looking nice is required! And maybe a few accidental bonus singlet tops and t shirts from friends.
Sarong, useful for everything – beach towel, skirt, dress, scarf. Quick dry towel.
Sun hats & sun glasses.
2 packs of cards and scrabble pieces.
Barefoot running shoes
Technological stuff – it is the future and we have reluctantly embraced it.
A Mac book Air – no problems so far, great for google maps, blogging, storing photos, looking up travel info and watching films/tv shows. I think we are both pretty happy to have this along. It makes life a lot easier, especially in Asia where wifi is everywhere and often free.
A terabyte worth of hard drive which is full of films and TV shows (thanks Cand!) for those nights when we just want to stay in and chill out. Again, very happy to have this. The hard drive is also good for storing photos and travel documents (although it is not our only back up!)
I pods – for music, podcasts and books. Especially good for long periods of outback cycling or when in noisy Indonesian traffic or dull highways (which thankfully is not that often).
Kindles – so we don’t have to read crap. We are slowly working our way through the classics, as well as fascinating books about the countries we are visiting.
Camera – Nikkon digital SLR with a Tamron lens 18mm-260m.
I phone – one of the most useful items. We used it a lot for navigation in Australia as well as the couch surfing and warmshowers app, which is much easier to use then logging on to the internet every time. In Asia you can buy cheap mobile data packs, so we use it for all the same things. The GPS/google maps is especially useful. And it’s an easy way to stay in touch with email and Skype as well. We are both very happy to have this (thanks Tan!)
An e werk which is a device that attached to the dynamo and charges all our electric devices, bar the computer.
Vests – we both ride in very attractive fluro vests when the visibility is bad or the road is busy.
Take a look mirror – a mirror that attaches to our sunglasses that allows you to see the traffic behind you. Can be used for right and left hand cycling.
Helmets – thanks city of Melbourne.
Water filter – we use a Sawyer gravity fed filter. In Australia we used it a few times for river water, but in Asia we use it everyday. I think it will be a while till the tap water of the country we are in is drinkable again and we really didn’t want to be part of the epic plastic water bottle catastrophe that has taken hold in most of Asia.
Water bags – 2 4L MSR water bags and 2 6L MSR water bags for carrying extra water. They take up very little room when empty and we carry a bit if extra water most days in Asia and carried it to the full capacity in some parts of Australia.
Water Bottles (3) each.
The usual, nothing fancy. The only thing of note is that we use Lunette’s instead of tampons, which are amazing. We decided to make the switch because tampons aren’t as widely available in Asia (especially some of the places we are going to) and I wonder why I didn’t do it earlier. They are made of medical grade silicon and so easy and comfortable to use, after a little getting used to. Much more convenient than tampons, plus an added bonus of being kinder to the environment. For anyone interested, check out www.lunette.com/au