As is obligatory before one sets off on a human-powered adventure, here is my gear post. There will be lots of photos and text, but hopefully it’ll be well categorized for easy skimming!
How I have packed things kinda falls into 3 main categories: sleeping kit, clothes, and food. Sleeping kit by itself so it’s easy to pull off the bike and take into my tent in one go during the rain and so I can pack it up in dry conditions before loading it onto the bike. Food and cooking to keep messes contained and also to avoid things like cooking oil from getting into my sleeping gear. Nobody wants to sleep on a greasy mattress and that’s gotta be hard to get thoroughly cleaned. And clothing because it takes up a lot of space but all else fails I can wear what I wore into my tent.
For the back I’m using a pair of Arkel Dolphin 32 panniers. They’re waterproof and combined 32 liter capacity. They have what I feel like is a fairly useless outer pocket and 2 very handy water bottle shaped pouches with cinch cords. They are super easy to get on and off the bike, and have so far been very solid for me on previous rides.
Up front I have a Rockbros handlebar bag that can hold up to 14 liters. It has a very odd combination of straps and Velcro and I need to do some trimming and probably just removal of some of the straps. I don’t like destructive mods but honestly I’m not really sure how some of these are meant to work. The reviews on Amazon were good and it was a third of the cost of the Apidura bag I had previously been looking at.
Then I have a Rockbros “feed bag” top tube bag. Honestly this is way narrower than I thought it would be so I’m probably going to replace it. It holds stuff I want easy access to during the day that isn’t super water sensitive.
And finally on top of the rack is my tent. It doesn’t need to stay dry of course so it’s just in its stuff sack and strapped on.
This is where I am putting my clothing. The handlebar bag is kind of a pain to get on and off with all of its straps and also the 4 different brake and shifter lines coming out of the handlebars at all angles so it’s pretty much going to just be permanently attached to the bike.
From upper left across the rows we have:
- Columbia Sportswear hiking shorts, 2 pairs. These will be my primary riding shorts. They’re what I took to and wore on my Pieterpad hike.
- Prana cargo shorts. These look a bit less #hikertrash than the Columbias and will be my off-the-bike shorts.
- Lightweight chamois towel. No idea the brand, I’ve had it for ages, works great, dries fast, and I won’t shed a tear if it gets lost.
- Frogg Toggs rain jacket. I don’t remember where I read it but someone was raving about this jacket. It’s not the most comfortable thing in the world and I wish like hell it had some sort of pockets so I at least have somewhere to put my hands but it does the job and weighs basically nothing. It’s not really meant for biking but I subscribe to the “dolphin” technique with regard to rain: I’m going to get absolutely soaked either way, I just need to make sure I’m warm. Also if rain is light enough this should keep me pretty dry anyways.
- Injinji toe socks. Padded. These are the best socks known to man. I have tons of these.
- Ex Officio boxer briefs. Another internet recommendation, I’ve worn them on Te Araroa and the Pieterpad and they’ve never let me down. We’ll see how well they hold up to riding.
- Osprey stuffable day pack. This thing packs down pretty small and while it’s not the most comfortable thing it’s not meant to be a long haul pack, just a grocery getter.
- Stuff sack I affectionately call “red bag”. It’s where my dirty laundry goes, and is also what I do my hand washing of clothing in when away from proper facilities (like at a hut in the back country). It’s the stuff sack from my old thermarest foam sleeping mat.
- “Existing” cat shirt. This is 50% polyester, 25% cotton and 25% rayon and is probably the most comfortable shirt I own. It’s also a cat shirt. This is more off the bike clothes. It also depicts my general mood at all times. I adore this shirt.
- Kathmandu leggings. New Zealand has lots of 2 things: UV radiation. And #!%^ing sandflies. So I wear long pants and long sleeves as much as I can when outside to try to protect me from both. These will go on under my shorts. I’m not sure yet whether they’ll go on top of or under my normal underwear or if they’ll completely replace them. I just bought these. It’s an experiment.
- Kathmandu tops. Same thing. Bug and sun protection. Except these are not underwear they are top layer grade, so I won’t feel too weird wearing them and only them.
- Not pictured because I forgot: I have an underarmor lightweight hoodie that I’ll be using as a thermal layer if necessary. It’s comfy.
- Also not pictured also because I forgot: a Buff neck gaitor. They’re comfy and versatile.
Aside from my tent this is all of my sleeping stuff.
Pictured here in no particular order:
- Nemo Fillow. It’s an inflatable pillow but it has a layer of foam on top to make it a bit softer. It is pretty comfortable but I’m not sure I like it more than my much lighter and much smaller packing sea to summit pillow. I think the biggest thing I’m missing with camp pillow is overall size. Needs to be taller, needs to be longer. I will say, however, that a pillow is probably gram for gram the best quality of life non-essential in a sleeping kit. I’ve tried the stuff sack full of clothing. I’ve tried just using my arms. I’ve tried using my pack. Nothing comes close to a pillow. And my sea to summit pillow weighs in at 29g and barely takes up any space. This is heavier, but if it’s more comfortable, I’m happy to have it.
- Nemo Tensor mattress in normal/wide size. It’s 25”x72”. I’ve slept on 20” mattresses (poorly). I slept on a 23” in NL. That extra 2 inches makes a big difference. This thing is well recommended. VERY small, and VERY lightweight. After I got rid of my bed last week I slept on this for 4 nights and it was great. It’s a bit noisy but that’s the norm with lightweight mattresses.
- Sea to Summit sleeping bag liner/sheet. This used to be a sack but now it’s a tube. I had the foot end of it cut open and hemmed. Honestly I don’t love the mod. Now it’s just never in the right place. But before, the problem was that my feet would roast in this. My feet are weird: if they’re hot I am not comfortable. I would like to figure out a fitted sheet for the mattress and top sheet situation at some point, but for now this works.
- Icebreaker merino t-shirt. this is my shirt I sleep in. I discovered that I like having a shirt to keep my shoulders and arms off of the mattress. Especially prior to making the sheet into a tube because it wasn’t long enough to pull over my shoulders. Makes me less sensitive to draftiness around the top of my quilt (which has basically zero stuffing around the neck anymore) and my skin isn’t in direct contact with my mattress material. Plus it’s a warmth layer, I guess? 10/10 comfy.
- Another pair of boxer briefs. I have these here because if I’m in a big hurry out my tent up and get inside I’ll probably be wearing wet boxers and these will at least be dry. And if you’re wondering where the towel is, well most of the time it’ll probably be hanging off the bike somewhere to dry and if it starts raining I’ll probably move it into the sleeping kit bag.
- A 3L collapsible water bottle. I don’t love having to go to the water spigot every time I want a few splashes of water to rinse my hands or whatever when I’m in camp. This lets me bring 3L with me and saves me a few trips. It’s also a secondary bottle in the event I have a long stretch without a fresh water source, which is rare in NZ but I’d rather have it and not need it etc. This isn’t really sleeping kit of course but it lives in the outer pouches of that pannier.
- An umbrella. It’s a decently sized umbrella that folds into a compact space. A friend of mine who has hiked both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails once told me the thing she really wished she’d had was an umbrella. Not for rain but for portable shade. I tried it out on the Pieterpad and I’m not gonna lie, it wasn’t my favorite thing. The umbrella itself is fine, sturdy and all that. But walking with it, even without trekking poles, was annoying. The slightest breeze would jerk it all over. My arm would get tired. It wasn’t the best. I brought it here because I had the space and I thought I’d see if there was any time I felt I wanted it. It’s likely one of the first things I’ll get rid of. This is also an outer pouch resident.
- And last but not least, underneath it all is my Jacks-R-Better down quilt. It’s getting a bit long in the tooth at this point, I’ve probably spent 100+ nights under it (and sometimes on top of it when it was super hot in huts). It’s been stuffed into a tiny compression sack countless times. It’s been to 4 different countries with me. I love it. Super lightweight, packs small if I need it to (though it has a relatively LUXURIOUS 16L pannier this time around) and makes for an excellent primary insulation layer. I have only been cold with this thing a few times, and it had more to do with the mattress than anything.
Oddly enough, there’s no food in this bag. But it’s where food will go. And so much other stuff. This bag is kind of a bag-of-bags mess. I’ve been told before to get rid of stuff sacks for everything but I feel like just dumping all of this stuff into a bag would make for an unmanageable nightmare. So for now it’s a bunch of smaller bags. I’ll go over the high level and then dig into each bag.
- Kindle paperwhite. I don’t remember which generation this is, but I think it’s the latest at time of writing? “Most important thing in my pack”, I always say. Don’t leave home without it. I recently added a pop socket to the back and let me tell you: game changer. Behind it is the Belkin kindle sock I bought for my third gen kindle and have had it on nearly every kindle I’ve owned since.
- Notebook. This is a moleskine-alike notebook. I use it sort of in the Bullet Journal style, in conjunction with Obsidian on my phone and the Reminders app. It’s an experiment. It was incredibly INCREDIBLY useful to have during my whole “get rid of all my crap” phase, and I do feel like looking at a map (on my phone or otherwise) and writing by hand is a more comfortable way to help plan things. We’ll see how it goes.
- Water bottle. I stopped at a bike shop here in Auckland (Bennys Bike Shop) earlier to have them properly torque the various critical bolts on my bike that had been undone as part of the packing process. Sadly they didn’t have any branded bottles so I got this and one other rando brand bottle. This one, with the blue valve, will be my “flavored beverage” bottle.
- Tent poles. My tent is designed to be used with 2 trekking poles but since I’m not using trekking poles, but more importantly couldn’t figure out how I would even carry them on my bike, I bought these. They’re carbon fiber and one section is adjustable which is pretty nice as I can make the tent a bit higher or lower depending on rain and wind conditions. They’re still long enough to have to fit awkwardly in my pannier and I’d like to figure out a better place for them but food bag it is for now!
- Repair / first aid kit. This has some gear tape, rehydration tablets, an emergency blanket. Random stuff for repairing me or my gear. I need to get a few more things for it like some bandages.
- The bag with the pink zipper and all of the cats on it is what I affectionately call “greenbag”, which has all of my electronics and stuff in it and I’ll go over that and why it’s called greenbag a bit further on.
- Contacts. I wear daily disposable contacts. They come in a box. That box worked GREAT in my backpack, there was like a perfect place for it I called “the shelf” and it was perfect. Not so much in my pannier. I don’t love the ziploc bag approach but it’ll do for now.
- Medicine bag. This makes it look like I take a ton of medicine. I only take 3 medicines. This is just what a fresh 3 month supply from a NZ pharmacy combined with the leftovers from my US fills looks like. I may de-blister these at some point but the NZ versions of the pills are different and I don’t want to get confused so I’m going to leave them be for now.
- Scrubby. This is just a dish scrubber. I like this kind because you can get them clean and let them dry and they don’t get mildewy. It hangs from the back of the pannier with a little carabiner.
- 2 BeFree 1L collapsible water bottles with integrated filters. Last time I was here I used a sawyer squeeze and loved it but using it with gas station water bottles proved awful and the collapsible bottle I bought for it had different threads so it worked but half the water would spray out the side and it was annoying. This time around I’m doing it right from the beginning. The BeFree seems to be the new hotness. I have 2 because I bought one, lost if, bought a second one, and found the first one. In my food bag. When I was packing the second one into my food bag. I’ll probably drop one of them in a hiker box somewhere down the road.
- Upper right is my toiletry bag. It’s overkill. I’ll probably replace it at some point. I kinda wanted to ask the friend of mine who made greenbag for me to make another one for this bag but never got around to it. I’ll go over its contents shortly.
- And finally the big orange bag on the right is cooking bag. I’ll go over it soon!
Greenbag is not, you might say, green. But it used to be. The bag that used to have these things in it was green, I called it greenbag. When a friend of mine made this bag for me I immediately knew its purpose. It was the new greenbag. I tried to think of a new name for it but in my brain it has always been greenbag, and is now, canonically, greenbag.
It contains all of my chargers, batteries, cables, and various other bits. Greenbag goes with me everywhere even when not backpacking or bike touring so that’s why it is so ingrained into my brain.
Anywho, it contains:
- Passport. The actual most important thing in my pack. Don’t tell my kindle.
- COVID-19 vaccination card. I have this in electronic form on my phone, both as photos and as verifiable cards in Apple Wallet, but I also have the physical one with me just in case.
- Auckland Transit fare card. Amazingly it still works flawlessly after 5 years.
- Metrocard is the same thing but for Christchurch. No idea if they still use it or if it’s still valid. Ask me in a few months when I get into Christchurch.
- And the fish one is for Wellington. Again, no idea if it works or not but I brought it with. I collect farecards from places I visit 🙂
- 2 USB-C to USB-C cables.
- USB-C to Lightning cable. I should have gotten this in a different color. The other day I even thought maybe white. Then it hit me: white lightning. If I find a good one I’ll do it.
- USB-C Apple Watch charger. I hate the Apple Watch charging mechanism. It seems to be really picky about positioning to even get it to charge and good luck trying to charge it anywhere other than a flat surface. Also wireless charging is super inefficient, so me using battery as primary source on the road I cringe a bit. Honestly, Apple Watch is probably gonna get yeeted fairly early on. The charger is also really heavy because it has huge metal shielding for the wireless bits.
- Anker Nano Pro (521) dual port USB-C charger. This thing is not much bigger than an OG iPhone charger and puts out 2x20W or 1x40W of power. Great for getting some juice fast while sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant if I’m not gonna have power where I sleep that night.
- Rando type I (Aus/NZ) to type B (North American grounded) power adapter. I don’t need it to do voltage converting or anything because my charger takes basically whatever I can plug it into. I like this one because it has an outlet on the top which means less chance of the charger falling out of the plug which happens all the freaking time. Fun fact: I used a type F European adapter once to plug my charger into a plane (which also took type A) on a domestic US flight because my charger would just fall out but the adapter stayed in the plane and the charger stayed in the adapter.
- More contacts, because they just get everywhere.
- 2 USB-C to micro-B adapters. My Garmin InReach has a micro-b port, but I don’t want to bother with a dedicated cable. It only needs to be charged once every couple of weeks anyways.
- USB-C to lightning adapter. Originally I was going to use only these and only have USB-C cables, but one time I had one getting really hot on me, probably just a not great contact between the cable and the adapter and that wasted heat is wasted battery, and since my phone is the biggest power need I have, a dedicated, quality cable is worth having. I have this as a backup and also in case I want to charge my AirPods and phone at the same time or something.
- USB-A to USB-C adapters. Most source ports nowadays are still USB-A. The airplane I flew here had USB-A ports on the seatback monitors. The Auckland transit bus I took earlier had A ports. The public buses I took in NL had A ports. My friend’s brand new 2022 Subaru: A ports. So I have adapters, in case I want to use an A port. also my battery has a C port and an A port and can charge devices from both at the same time so that’s handy.
- M and L AirPods Pro tips. I had memory foam tips for a while but recently switched back to official. Not being entirely certain what size I needed I bought both M and L. I’ll probably toss the unused ones at some point.
- A USB-A and USB-C combo microSD card reader. I brought this thinking maybe it could come in handy. I then realized my phone has neither of those ports. My iPad does, but I didn’t bring it. Meh. It weighs nothing so I’ll keep it for now.
- A Lightning to HDMI adapter. One thing my trip to the Netherlands taught me is that very very very few hotel, hostel, airbnb, wherever TVs have Apple TV app built in or are AirPlay capable. Being an iPhone user, this makes me extremely sad. But this lets me hook my phone up to a tv with an hdmi cable.
- Anker PowerCore something or other 5000mah battery. It charges at 20W and I think can output 18W? It has USB-C and A that can both charge devices (at the same time, even!). Anker is my go to brand for power stuff if you hadn’t noticed.
- 2 sets of “musician” earplugs. The one set I’ve had for a long time and like but lost them at one point and they need to be cleaned. The others work fine but tend not to stay in place well? I fiddled with them a lot at the Rammstein concert I saw in September. I’ll probably clean up the ones I like better and toss the others at some point. These are not for sleeping or anything, for that I’ll use the foam cheapy disposables. These are for concerts and such.
- 2 quadlock compatible pop socket adapters. I have a quad lock case on my phone so I can mount it to my handlebars but how do I pop socket? Quadlock makes a thing but I don’t love it. These will take a “poptop” or something and fit into quadlock port. I will figure this out or toss them at some point.
This bag is mad overkill and I really would love a bag just like greenbag to use for this but it’s what I have for now. I mostly bought it because it has a mirror and a hook to hang it up with. The mirror is important because contact lenses are much easier to put in with a mirror. My phone might work ok, I need to experiment more. Doing totally blind didn’t work well when I tried it for a few days.
Anywho, the contents!
- 2 COVID tests. These are from the US. I deboxed to save space.
- More. Contacts.
- Gold bond lotion. It’s basically just thinned out vaseline but I get really dry skin on parts of my face and my hands get dry too so I have this. It may be less necessary with the right sunscreen since I’ll be wearing that mostly all the time.
- Shavette razor and a lifetime supply of blades. I usually use a double edge safety razor but they’re all super heavy (and kinda need to be) and the light ones or packable ones I tried just sucked. Shavette is like a straight razor but uses half of a standard double edge blade. It’s lighter and more compact than a proper double edge, but I don’t need to baby it like a proper straight razor. I toss the blade when I’m done with it. Those 2 boxes of blades will last me years and they’re about a dollar each. Each box. Cartridge razor users are suckers.
- Angle tweezers. I have a few wild hairs that creep in and drive me nuts if I don’t pluck them. These are for pluckin’.
- Face mask. In case I go somewhere that requires them or if I get Covid myself.
- Dr Bronners soap. This is the best soap for the trail in my experience. And it’s oddly hard to come by places. Since I use this soap for dishes it needs to be unscented or it leaves a nasty taste in my food. Camp soap works fine too but can also be hard to come by. This bottle has a pretty secure flip cap but the bag is there for leakage and whatnot.
- Deodorant. A friend told me before starting the TA to ditch the deodorant. She was right. But on this trip I expect to have more frequent access to showers, and since I won’t be carrying a huge backpack that gets sweated on all day and never washed I won’t be quite so smelly by default, and I certainly feel better when I wear deodorant, so it’s coming along for this trip.
- Not shown because I forgot: toothbrush and toothpaste. They’re by the sink in the bathroom.
And finally the cooking bag.
- A ziploc container with screw on lid. I brought this on the TA with me and it was invaluable. I’d put oatmeal and such in it in the morning then heat up some water and dump it in. Couple stirs and start munching while heating up more water for tea and packing up the rest of things. Screw on lid could be handy if I want to soak some lentils while riding or something too to make them cook faster later. Definitely going to be doing more lentils this trip.
- Snowpeak GigaPower stove. This thing is a champ. Got me across NZ once. I have faith it will do so again.
- Fuel canister for stove.
- Storage container for stove
- Bag of tea bags. In particular this is Twinings New Zealand Breakfast. I drink tea on the trail because it’s cheap cit’s available everywhere and I will drink whatever crap is available. Coffee I’m picky about and it needs gear. This just needs some hot water.
- Nuun tablets. Electrolyte tablets. I try to alternate a bottle of fresh water and a bottle of Nuun water when out on the road. I have 3 because I bought a 4 pack case and brought them all.
- MSR titanium pot. This also got me across NZ once and will again. I’m probably going to get a little aluminum non stick skillet at some point though because honestly this thing sucks at much other than boiling water.
- A cutting board. It’s tiny. It’s cute. It’s overkill. But it does actually provide some structure in the bag so that’s nice.
- And finally: a 5” chef’s knife. “A WHAT?!”. Hear me out. I plan to stay in a lot of hostels, backpackers, holiday parks with shared kitchen areas, etc. These almost universally have TERRIBLE knives. A full knife is a dangerous knife. So I brought my own. You’ll thank me later. It’s a Victorinox Fibrox and has a hard plastic sheath. Why not a full size? Because I bought this one for actually using in camp back before I’d done any real human-powered travel and realized I’d never use it in camp ever. And my full size was in need of a good sharpening or replacing and I’d need to get a sheath for it and and and … mostly, well, I had it already. It’ll do great.
All together now
And here it all is! Loaded up and packed and mounted to the bike!
Now I already know I forgot some things. Like I forgot to mention my shoes, my Garmin, and even what all the bike itself is! That’s fine. I’ve been writing this on my phone for like 3 hours now and I’m tired. I’ll write up the bike itself at some point and also oh yea I have a Garmin InReach Mini for gps tracking and emergency communication and my shoes are Altra Lone Peaks. Going to try flat shoes this time, we’ll see how it pans out.
Oh, what does it weigh? A lot.