Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Gear

The most difficult task in packing for any journey is deciding what not to take. If you still have all your old school notebooks stashed on some shelf, keep the broken things because some day you plan to fix them, piles of magazines that you think you might actually read soon, always have clean clothes left over from a vacation're in trouble when it comes to getting your gear to fit in these small bike bags. Make a list of everything you might want to take. Spread it out. Look it over. That's a lot of stuff! Pull out those extra two pairs of shoes and the extra thick air mattress. And do you really think you will read all those books in the late evenings after a hard day's ride? I always take a book to the beach even though I have never read a book at the beach. Know thyself. But rules are meant to be broken. I am taking two by an old riding friend, Calvin Allen, " Westward Ha!: Bicycling Cross-Country with My Two Sons," the 1998 account of trying to do just that. It's a test of the rules.

I packed all this stuff into my panniers and rode around town, up and down hills, and on a weekend bike-camp trip with Jenny and noted "This is heavy." Got rid of more things and finally pared it down to this.


  • bike-Surly Long Haul Trucker
  • bike computer-Sigma BC2209MHR
  • handlebar bell
  • tennis ball container (bike carry-all) (NA)
  • bike bra (if driving) (NA)
  • bike protective foam (if shipping) (NA)
  • front panniers
  • rear panniers
  • helmet
  • pillow, stuffable
  • sleeping bag...Marmot Maverick 25°/40°, synthetic...2.6#
  • silk bag liner
  • waterproof compression sleeping bag stuff sack
  • thermarest...Thermorest...2.2#
  • tent...Northface Roadrunner-23...7.4#
  • ground cover
  • tarp or bike cover (NA)
  • chamois (2)
  • wash cloth
  • extra zip lock bags (2)
  • water bottles (3)
  • ipad mini
  • charger for ipad
  • ipad headphones
  • headlight-RavX w/charger
  • flashlight/batteries/charger (NA)
  • Petzl light (NA)
  • blinkie light w/ charge cable
  • charger for camera
  • camera cable to ipad
  • heart rate monitor (NA)
  • alarm clock (ipad)
  • multi-prong electrical plug
  • screw lamp receptacle
  • lock (cable)
  • saddle rain cover-shower cap
  • sunglasses-Rudy Project
  • glasses strap (NA)
  • rear view mirror; bar end mirror (NA)
  • gloves (1 pr short, 1 pr polypro liners)
  • camp chair...FlexLite...22oz
  • laundry bag
  • maps
  • note pad, pen, pencil
  • bungee cords (2)


For the mechanic in me...or not
  • spare tire (1)
  • tire boot pieces (2)
  • patch kit
  • screw tight solution
  • tire levers
  • cleaning towels
  • lubricant
  • saddle cream
  • saddle bag
  • spare tubes (1-2)
  • zip ties
  • clothes line
  • clothespins (6)
  • CO2 pump and cartridges (3)
  • spare spokes (on bike)
  • extra chain links
  • chain master link
  • multi-tool, or screwdriver
  • hex wrenches (saddle, handlebar, etc)
  • spare brake pads
  • spare rack, cage screws
  • chain breaker
  • spoke wrench
  • crescent wrench
  • frame pump
  • spare brake cable
  • spare derailleur cable
  • length of wire for repairs
  • duct tape
  • waterproof matches and case
  • swiss army knife
  • spork
  • bowl
  • hammer for tent stakes


Find the whistle
  • First Aid Kit, including:
  • band aids
  • safety pins
  • advil (for both daypack and night pack)
  • cortisone cream
  • bacitracin or something like it
  • desitin
  • hair clippies/doodie bands
  • toothbrush/paste
  • soap
  • shampoo
  • deodorant
  • hairbrush/comb
  • nail file
  • razor
  • bag balm in tube, or
  • creamy vaseline
  • sunscreen
  • gold bond medicated powder (small container)
  • toilet paper
  • cat hole scoop
  • water purification system or tablets
  • dental floss
  • ear plugs
  • small scissors
  • lip balm
  • whistle...for emergency
  • insect repellent
  • mirror
  • pee bottle [wide mouth ;)] (NA)


That's not much stuff
  • 1 fleece (wear on plane) or jacket or sweater
  • rain jacket
  • Jerseys (2)
  • sports bras (3), if you’re of that persuasion (NA)
  • regular bras (2) (NA)
  • t-shirts (2 )
  • button short sleeve shirts (1)
  • synthetic long sleeve riding shirts (1)
  • head warmer
  • arm warmers (in winter)
  • hat (in winter)
  • long sleeve wool button shirt (1) (in winter)
  • wool or fleece hat (in winter)


Two pair of underwear for three months?
  • bike shoes (1pr)
  • sandals-Keene
  • cycling socks (4 pairs)
  • thorlo/reg sox (4 pair) (NA)
  • plastic bag booties
  • shoe cleat covers
  • warm socks (2) (NA)
  • rain shoe covers (NA)
  • 1 pr long riding pant
  • 1 pr walking shorts (zipped legs off pants)
  • 1 pr long pants (wear on plane) (NA)
  • rain pants
  • 3-4 riding shorts
  • silk or wool underwear (2)
  • leg warmers
  • pajama shorts
  • pajama shirt
  • swim suit (NA)


Find Blackie, the Bear
  • handlebar bag
  • ipad with waterproof case
  • waterproof map case
  • camera
  • Blackie
  • patch kit
  • handkerchief (2)
  • bandana (2)
  • whistle for emergencies
  • small baggy wallet (health card, credit card, DL, $)
  • credit card
  • health care card
  • old driver's license as ID
  • cash
  • zip ties (3-4)
  • dog repellent
  • pant leg strap
  • lip balm
  • bike hat
  • sun screen
  • passport
  • pen and note pad, journal
  • reading book
  • traffic triangle
  • cell phone (NA)
  • passport (if close to international border)
  • all devices chargers


what got sent home?

  • after only using it once in the first month, I sent the Camp Chair back with Jenny when the family gathered in St. Louis
  • Calvin's book I gave to a WarmShowers host in Kansas City, MO

what else was needed?

  • on week six I decided I needed toenail clippers...that is the only item purchased that was not on the gear list
  • knee warmers (I forgot to pack these)
  • switch to thorn-resistant tubes west of Mississippii/Missouri Rivers

what could be modified?

  • one t-shirt could be left behind
  • one less bike short
  • screw lamp receptacle (was never used)
  • a lighter tent would be nice...but the expenses had to stop somewhere

what was lost?

  • one handkerchief
how much did this weigh?

  • 92 pounds...including three skimpy days of food, three water bottles full, and the extra two liters of water and additional three meals packed after crossing the Missouri River


  1. I'm honored to have my book carried along! But don't read the ending until you finish your trip...

  2. I don't know if I can truly wait that long. I started reading on plane and had to check my laughter before I made too much a scene...those air stewards take everything way too serious these days.

    1. Glad you're finding it humorous, and hope your trip goes better than ours did...

  3. Testing, testing,to see if you get this.
    And happy Fathers day.

    1. This works are now comment savvy.

  4. I'll be interested to hear what gear you ship home, and what gear you add, after a week or two on the road. When I did the Seattle to DC ride thirteen years ago, I shipped a whole lot of stuff home when we got to Missoula, Montana. But that was a supported ride; when you're carrying everything you use on the bike, you learn quickly what you use and what you don't. But you've had plenty of touring experience, so I'm betting that your packing list is pretty well thought out.

    Happy trails!

  5. Hope Calvin had better luck than two brothers I met in Minnesota. They set off with their Dad from Anacortes WA and when they got to Washington Pass, about 120 miles, Dad refused to go any further! The brothers carried on without him

    1. Calvin and boys hit the heat and unrelenting Ozark hills and called it quits

  6. Thanks for what I see as a superset of bike touring gear. One question - when loaded up on your bike, how much did all of this weigh (sans food and water, or with the amount of such noted)?

    Thx, Eric

  7. All gear, bike, three water bottles, food, and extra two liters of water and additional food after crossing Missouei River and prepared for remote west totaled 92 pounds.

  8. Yikes! You carry too much stuff. Less is more ... more fun:)

  9. Congratulations Robbie on achieving a huge milestone in your life - what an awesome adventure. Were you pleased with the performance of your Surly bike and how about the comfort level of your saddle? Thanks for sharing your gear list. I'm in process of exploring solo cross country fundraising ride for 2015. Appreciate any words of wisdom. Mark McDaniel

    1. I found the Surly LHT to be very adequate. I would have liked to have purchased a sexier bike. The Surly is just a plain, good bike. I dressed it up with the Woody's fenders.

    2. The Brooks leather is wonderful. Not to say I didn't have a case of saddle sores where I had to ride off kilter for a few days. Another good reason to take a few days off and rest the derrière.

    3. You will find more discussions of touring on the weekly blogs. They are not a travel log, but a sharing of important tales of the journey.

  10. Robbie, you are an inspiration :) WOW!

    1. Thank you. But I must say, anyone who is comfortable riding on roads could do this. It really isn't difficult to enjoy riding a bike all day.

  11. Great list. Thx for sharing through Adventure Cycling. Have copied for future.
    And wonderful idea - have always carried a laminated photocopy of DL as ID, but will save my next expired one!
    Happy miles.


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