BIKE & BAGS

This page is mainly for the other bikepackers, hikers and gear junkies out there, but if you're just curious as to what someone might carry on a five year expedition around the world then you might find it interesting. My priorities are simplicity and durability, as I can't afford to have my kit fail me in the middle of nowhere. Beyond that it's about keeping the weight down and doing away with everything but the essentials. 

Note that as of July 2020 I have just made some major changes to my setup, but due to the restrictions of Coronavirus I have not yet been able to get many photos of the new rig. Some of the photos below are of older setups but  the gear list shown is fully up to date. For Europe (summer 2020) I am using regular mountain bike (29x2.2") wheels instead of the 29x3.0" 'plus' tyres I've been using for the previous two years, but I will switch to fatter tyres when I return to the Americas).

For a detailed analysis of my setup, including gear reviews, see HERE.

For my guide to bikepacking navigation, see HERE.

THE NOBLE STEED ('LARA')

Frame & Fork: Surly ECR, Medium, 29+ (I am 180cm)

Saddle: Brooks Imperial

Handlebars: Ritchey Kyote Comp (27.5 sweep), cut down to around 710mm. Ergon GC1 grips. Profile Designs Sonic Ergo 35a aerobars.

Wheels: Kinlin TL29 rims (i29), Bitex 106 hubs - hand built by Harry Rowland

Tyres: Continental Race King Protection 29x2.2", tubeless

Chainrings: Shimano XT 24-34t double (Shimano XT cranks)

Cassette: Sunrace MX8 11 speed 11-46

Shifters/derailleurs: Shimano XT

Brakes: TRP Spyre Mechanical Disc

Pedals: Race Face Chester Flat

BAGS

Frame Bag: Halawa custom rolltop frame bag

Handlebar Bag: Roadrunner Bags Jumbo Jammer

Rear Rack: Tubus Vega Classic 29" (slightly modified to fit 29+))

Backpack (on rack): Osprey Talon 33

Accessories: Halawa Jhatun XL (top tube bag) and two Halawa XL feeder bags, Alpkit Enduro Pod (rear top tube bag)

EXPEDITION KIT LIST (EVERY LAST THING)

BASE OUTFIT

  • RAB Forge merino wool tshirt

  • Decathlon hiking shorts

  • Merino wool Buff

  • Under Armour original boxer jocks

  • Merino wool short socks

  • Merrell light hiking boots

  • SunGod Velans - Silver Blue and Iris HV Blue (photochromic) interchangeable lenses. SunGod Sierras for off the bike.

  • Specialized Align helmet

  • Gripgrab fingerless cycling mitts

  • Compact camera in protective case (also containing SD card reader): Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ100 (clipped to my belt with a carabiner)

  • Wallet, Swiss Army Knife, headphones, cigarette lighter (in pockets)

BACKPACK (ON REAR RACK) - SLEEP SYSTEM

(SECURED TO RACK USING ROK MOTORCYCLE STRAPS)

  • Tarptent Rainbow tent

  • Enlightened Equipment Revelation down quilt, rated to -6°c (stored with other sleeping kit and clothes in a 13L Sea to Summit drybag)

  • Jagbags silk sleeping bag liner

  • Sea to Summit Aeros pillow premium

  • Toiletries: toothbrush, toothpaste, nail clippers, mini comb, roll-on deodorant

  • Lightweight beard trimmer

  • Merino socks 

  • Mountain Warehouse long sleeved merino t-shirt

  • Salomon lightweight trousers

  • 1x spare pare Under Armour original boxer jocks

  • 3x small clothespegs, small ziplock bag of laundry detergent, universal sink plug

  • Pouch with first aid supplies: ibuprofen, paracetemol, water purification tablets

  • Repair kit in pouch: sewing kit, tenacious tape, cable ties, string

  • Spare alcohol fuel in soda bottle

  • Flip flops

  • Sea to Summit microfiber towel

  • Arc'teryx Men Atom LT Hoody (synthetic down jacket) in 8L Alpkit drybag (in front stretch pouch for quick access)

  • IN ZIPPERED `BRAIN´COMPARTMENT FOR EASY ACCESS

  • Marmot Artemis rain jacket

FRAME BAG - HEAVY BITS + QUICK ACCESS

  • Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HV Mini Pump, wrapped in duct tape

  • 1x lightweight 29er inner tube

  • Ortlieb 10L water bag

  • Food

HIP PACK CONTAINING VALUABLES

  • Passports, documents, Kindle Paperwhite, 2x Anker PowerCore Essential 20000 PD Power Bank with USB charging cable, headtorch, small journal, small notebook, pens, Snow Peak titanium spork

JUMBO JAMMER (HANDLEBAR BAG) - KITCHEN

  • Evernew Titanium 1.3L Ultralight pot containing Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-TriKojin alcohol stove, dish sponge, cigarette lighter, dish towel - all stored in a home made pot cosy

  • Microsoft Surface Go mini-laptop/tablet with charging cable (stored wrapped inside sleeping bags for padding)

  • Microsoft Surface Go mini-laptop/tablet with charging cable (stored inside a padded case for protection)

  • Tommox universal charging plug (60W, PD)

IN SMALL POCKETS AT FRONT OF THE BAG

  • Toilet paper, titanium trowel (TheTentLab Deuce #2), small bottle of tubeless sealant, syringe for filter, Gore-Tex waterproof socks, DeFeet e-touch dura merino gloves and mosquito headnet in ziplock bag for waterproofing.

JHATUN XL (FRONT TOP TUBE BAG) - ACCESS

  • Topeak D2 digital tyre pressure gauge

  • Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Daypack (packable backpack)

  • Sawyer Mini water filter

  • GorillaPod 325 tripod, in stretch pouch

  • Mini cable lock

  • Ortlieb transparent waterproof documents case (modified to fit my phone when attached by Quadlock)

ENDURO POD (REAR TOP TUBE BAG) - TOOLBOX

  • Dry chain lube

  • Allen key multitool

  • Small red light blinkie

  • Tyre levers

  • Chain tool

ON THE BIKE

  • Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone (for navigation) mounted to handlebars using QuadLock

  • Naturehike closed cell foam sleeping pad (cheapo clone of the the Thermarest ZLite), cut down to torso length, strapped onto the front of the Jumbo Jammer

  • 2 x 1.25L wide mouth water bottles on bars in Halawa feeder bags

  • Sunscreen and sunglasses case, in feeder bag mesh pouches

  • 1 x 1L water bottle in bottle cage under downtube

  • Cateye Velo Wireless bike computer on handlebars

  • Spare spokes (taped to chainstay)

  • Click-Stand bicycle stand (also wedged in behind the Jumbo Jammer)

  • Spare parts in plastic bag and attached to bike under the downtube using Halawa Tamal: gear cable, brake cable, brake pads, patch kit, tubeless bacon strips, spare tubeless valves, spare nuts & bolts, chain power-link, valve tool, Brooks saddle tool, chain rag

  • Sir Gingivere (cat, knight, manager, bodyguard and adventure mascot extraordinaire) securely attached to bars with cables ties and duct tape

OVERVIEW

After three years of experimenting, I find this setup to be just about the perfect compromise between weight, convenience and comfort. The backpack on my rear rack contains everything that I don’t need during the day (tent, sleep system, extra clothes, toiletries etc.) while the front handlebar bag and my framebag are both almost completely free for food. Water capacity is 3.5 litres on the bike (in plastic water bottles) as well as an extra 10L in a water bladder which can be easily strapped onto my rack, making for 13.5L total capacity. This could of course be further extended by strapping on extra plastic water bottles. With this setup I can comfortably carry food for 2-3 weeks when necessary. Total capacity is over 70 litres, which is comparable to a standard 4-pannier touring setup but in a much more stable, balanced and lightweight package.

 

The bike itself has a weight of around 14kg, and the base weight of all the rest of my bags and gear (everything except food and water) is somewhere in the range of 13kg, making for a total bike + gear base weight of around 27kg. Not the lightest rig, but considering the versatility, convenience and carry-potential I’m very happy with this setup.

SPONSORS

These days I'm lucky to be supported by a some fantastic companies and individuals from around the world. Sponsorship is something that I have never particularly looked for - I would much rather pay for equipment that really works than use free stuff which is second rate. All of the sponsored equipment which I use is the best on the market and  even if I were not sponsored (and if I were paying full price) I would still be using exactly the same things. These are all companies and products which I massively recommend - I'm under no obligation to do so, but I genuinely love these items and am happy to vouch for them. I've turned down many requests for sponsorship from other brands whose products I don't completely trust or need, so I am by no means recommending these brands just 'because I'm sponsored'. 

The following brands have provided me with either free or heavily discounted products:

Halawa - custom bikepacking bags (roll-top frame bag, feeder bags and top tube bag) - fantastically well built, hand made bags that look great and will last for years. I really love these bags, and the roll-top frame bag in particular is a work of art.

Based in Argentina.

SunGod - the best sunglasses I've ever had, a great company with a focus on sustainability and a lifetime guarantee on all their sunglasses. The lenses are absolutely incredible, even better than the Oakley Prizm lenses I was using for two years before. Based in Europe.

Harry Rowland Wheel Builder - strong wheels are so important, and having had a bad experience with the Halo wheels I used in Africa I really wanted to get something that I could rely on. Harry built me some beautiful and bombproof i29 wheels which are perfect - I really really recommend Harry as his wheels are much better than those of the bigger online manufacturers, while also quite possibly actually coming out cheaper. He REALLY knows his stuff. Based in England.

Trail Designs - the Sidewinder Ti-Tri is comfortably the best alcohol stove in the world, with far better boil times and fuel efficiency than anything else out there. I've been using it for almost three years and wouldn't dream of using anything else. Based in the USA. Review here.

Roadrunner Bagsthe Jumbo Jammer was a complete game changer for my setup and it's a perfect piece of kit. I wish I'd had it years ago. I can't stress enough how good this bag is. Roadrunner Bags is also a very cool company and their products are bombproof.  Based in the USA.

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