Gear

Nb. Page always in progress.

We each carry a lot of stuff. Using scales in the estacion de bomberos in Machachi, Ecuador, we are carrying a combined bag weight of 66kg. Whilst some of this is food and water, a fair slice of it is gear that we either love, hate or are indifferent to (i.e. all our cold gear whilst in Central America!). This page has been created to try and explain what we carry and explain what we would take again and what will change when we return to the UK. A bag-by-bag basis has been used so we can gradually build up this information and also to try and give a better feel for how we carry all this stuff!

Contents

Bikes
Geoff’s
Sarah’s
– Review: Thoughts about our bikes
– Review: Tubus Logo and Tara racks

Geoff
– Review: Montane Prism 2.0 jacket
– Review: Ortleib Roller Plus front pannier
– Review: Montane Velo windproof jacket
– Review: Topeak Multi-tool
– Review: Topeak Mountain Morph Pump

Sarah
– Review: Terra Nova Duolite Tourer
– Review: Ortleib Folding Bucket

Bikes
Geoff
Bike: Thorn Nomad Expedition
Shoes: Inov 8 waterproof shoes
Other: Speedometer, Bell, Tubus Logo rack, Tubus Tara rack
Sarah
Bike: Thorn Sherpa
Shoes: Salamon waterproof shoes
Other: Speedometer, Horn, 1.5l Bottle cage, Tubus Logo rack, Tubus Tara rack
Reviews:

Thoughts about our bikes
We bought both our bikes on ebay without knowing much at all. We knew Thorn made touring bikes, so we bought them! Naïve or what! This brought some issues which we’d like to share, but first let me just clarify that we are 100% happy with our purchases and have complete faith in them to get us to the end of the trip (especially now we are in Argentina and have access to bike parts again). Firstly, try not to get a touring bike with a Shimano Hollowtech bottom bracket! We’ve had to replace sarah’s twice, in Mexico and Ecuador, and we have no idea why. We were lucky to not get any failures in Peru or Bolivia where the tools and spare part do not exist. Secondly, if you are travelling as a couple it makes sense to buy bikes that have the same cassette speed (8 and 9) and brake systems (V and cantilever). We carry a lot of duplicate spares!


Tubus Rack (Tara and Logo)
We heard that Tubus racks were the only ones to get. They haven’t broken. They carry our gear, but our racks and all other ones we’ve seen are plastered in either shrunkwrap plastic pipe, hosepipe, duct tape or just left to rust. The paint comes off all too easy and every cycle tourer seems to go through phases of repair until usually they end up leaving it be or putting inner tube and hosepipe on it. In addition, our ortleib front panniers keep coming off the Tara front racks on dirt roads. The bags also ride so low they hit kerbs and rip easily. In Ortleib’s words ‘this is a common problem with these bags and racks’. The racks work though and haven’t broken, and we’ve fixed the bags, so we mustn’t grumble.

Geoff

Geoff’s Stuff in Photos

Geoff’s front left pannier

Geoff’s front right pannier

Geoff’s rear right pannier

Geoff’s back bag

Geoff’s handlebar bag

Front Left Pannier
Bag: Ortleib Roller Plus pannier
Clothes: warm jacket, fleece jumper, t-shirts x 2, underwear x 4, woolly socks x 3, trousers x 2 (one zip-off), swim shorts, thermal leggings, merino long-sleeve tops x 2, travel towel
Bike Spares: spare spokes, spare gear/brake cables

Front Right Pannier
Bag: Ortleib Roller Plus pannier
Clothes: waterproof jacket, waterproof trousers, warm-weather cycling tops x 2, cold-weather cycling tops x 1, windproof jacket, goretex socks, padded cycle short x 2, knee support, lycra leg covers, waterproof shoe covers.

Rear Left Pannier
Bag: Carradice Super C pannier
Cooking stuff: tea-towel, scrubbing pad, pans, 2 mugs, forkoon, metal cutlery, metal bowl, folding chopping-board/bowl, wooden spatula, peeler, leatherman, coffee filter, msr dragonfly stove and fuel bottle
Washing stuff: pegs ~ 6 (keeps changing as we often lose or accidentally take some), washing soap bar, wash-line.
Food: This obviously varies, but we always try and carry coffee, coca leaves, sugar, salt, oil and oregano.

Rear Right Pannier
Bag: Carradice Super C pannier
Sleeping stuff: Down 3-season sleeping bag, Thermarest (Neo-air trekker – packs small, light, comfy, already had two punctures…would probably bring again though), Silk sleeping bag liner, head-torch
Bike spares: Spare tyre (Schwalbe Extreme), Brake pads x 2, Brake cables x 2, Gear cable x 1, Duct/insulation tape, zip-ties (lots), Bike lights, Spare inner tubes x 2, Puncture repair patches (lots), tenacious tape, needle and thread, random spares (nuts, bolts, materials etc), tub of grease, spare batteries for cycle computers, multi-tool, spoke key, chain-wear indicator
Health and hygiene:Mini first-aid kit, sudocreme.
Other: Bike lock

Back Bag
Bag: Karrimor (very thin) waterproof sack, Guatemalan rubble sack to protect the Karrimor sack.
Other: Bike pump, day-sack, tent poles and pegs, maps of the route, Spanish learning books, spare insoles

Handlebar Bag
Bag: Carradice Super C.
Random stuff: Camera, pen and paper, compass, small bike tools, harmonica (learning slowly!), Video camera, MP3 player, bike keys, plus other stuff (you can guess!)

Reviews:

Montane Prism 2.0 jacket
I don’t often impulse buy, but from time to time certain colours cause an unreasonable side of me to pop up and before you realise what is happening you’re walking out the shop with a bulging bag. This was the case with this jacket. I knew and respected the Montane brand, but the question was, would it any good for cycle-touring? Seven months in, but only having used it since Colombia, I feel ready to offer some opinions. It packs up as small as a down jacket, but it does lack the warmth of down, particularly the pockets. The hood though is perfect for warmth. The difference of this jacket to down is that it can be worn cycling as part of a layering system. The downside is that you have to layer properly when not cycling too, unlike the down which gives instant warmth. All in all, it does its job in combination with my other clothes and offers more flexibility than down. Given the choice, I think I would bring it again, but maybe pad the pockets first. And yes, the colours are fantastic. – Geoff 7/10

Geoff enjoying his jacket for the first time in Colombia


Ortleib Roller Plus front pannier
Well, where to begin. Probably reviewed a million other times on the Internet. I bought these panniers to ensure there was always a waterproof hidey-hole for stuff. Since then I have managed to get a rip in the side of it and heard countless stories of broken clips (update – Sarah’s broke in Bolivia). I can see how this would happen, as mud clogs up the mechanism and tired at the end of a day it would be easy to force them and break them in the process. For my liking the bags are too easy to remove (when not clogged with mud) and make me feel a little insecure leaving them out of sight for long periods of time. The Carradice super C rear panniers on the other hand have been bashed even more all over the place and have no rips, a solid clip mechanism that is non-intuitive (unless you know how) and appear to be just as waterproof (as I found out when a carton of milk leaked in them and resulted in a 2 inch puddle in the outside pocket!). These panniers do the job I bought them for, but the reputation is a bit over-inflated in my opinion. They are by no means perfect (unlike panniers made of buckets which seem to be faultless!). – Geoff 6/10
P.S. a tip from a German couple we met in San Ignacio, Peru: To fix a rip in an Ortleib bag (they had lots) go to a printing shop and get the material they use to make all the banners. It is the same stuff and can be glued using plastic-to-plastic glue found in most ferreterias/hardware shops and used for gluing plastic pipes when plumbing. We tried this fix, but got the wrong glue…we’ll try again now we’re here in Santiago.


Montane Velo windproof jacket
A long time ago when my Mother was teaching me the art of frugal spending she bought some material called pertex and made me a windproof top. This is a truly amazing lightweight, quick-drying, non-bulky material. Needless to say when planning this trip I wanted something like this to throw on the down-hills to stay warm. This jacket not only achieves this, but is also luminous yellow, perfect for misty days and ticking the high-vis jacket box on the kit list. I love it when something in our panniers can have more than one use, for example a souvenir that is also useful, e.g. the red sack from Guatemala. Brilliant jacket that packs to the size of tennis ball. Can’t fault it – Geoff 10/10

The Velo jacket doing it’s job in Ecuador


Topeak Multi-tool
Expensive and heavy. Impossible to use in all spaces. Only used five tools from it. A set of allen keys, a chain tool and an adjustable spanner (up to size 17) would be better. Find the sizes of all your nuts and bolts before going. Carry a separate size 8 spanner for rack bolts (better in small spaces than this multi-tool or the adjustable). – Geoff 4/10


Topeak Mountain Morph pump
So many cyclists have been envious of this pump that it just has to be reviewed and praised. We’ve lost count of the number of tyres we’ve pumped to a known pressure using its gauge. One cyclist had lost his and mourned it even more when he saw ours. The only fault we’ve found thus far is difficulty getting a tube started from zero-air, but I think this can be put down to ineptitude from the user rather than the product. Would definitely buy the same again. (We also had to re-oil it recently after dusty Bolivia, but works fine again now) – Geoff 9/10

Sarah

Sarah’s stuff at the start of the trip

Front Left Pannier
Bag: Ortleib Classic Roller.
Random stuff: Laptop, camera cables, usb sticks, dictionary, sitmat, A4 notepad, buff, glasses, book(s), first aid kit

Front Right Pannier
Bag: Ortleib Classic Roller.
Clothes: Waterproof trousers, waterproof jacket, down jacket
Random stuff: Saddle cover, charging cables, plug adaptors

Rear Left Pannier
Bag: Altura Arran.
Clothes: Zip-off trousers x 2, Cotton T-shirt x 2, Cotton vests x 2, Cotton long-sleeve top, Smart top, Fleece, Merino long-sleeve top x 2, Leggings x 3, Socks x 5, Knickers x 5, Sports bra x 2, Normal bra x 1, Padded cycling shorts, Cycling t-shirts x 2, Windproof jacket x 2
Wash kit: Shampoo, soap, deoderant stone, toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, sun cream, moisturiser, wet wipes
Other: Coke stove stand, alcohol, funnel (made from the top of a plastic bottle)

Rear Right Pannier
Bag: Altura Arran.
Clothes: Woolly hat, waterproof cycling gloves,
Bike cleaning stuff: sponge, dirty rags, lollipop sticks, toothbrush
Other: front and back lights, Thin retractable cable locks for bags x 2, water filter, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, sleeping bag liner
Bike spares: straps (spare), 9-spd cassette (useless Cartagena bike shop!)

Back Bag
Bag: Ortleib black waterproof bag.
Other: Tent, Folding bucket, Tarpaulin, Spare bungee cord

Handlebar Bag
Binoculars, sunglasses, camera, wallet, lollipops, pepper spray, pencil, diary, lighter, buff, cycling gloves, MP3 player

Reviews:


Terra Nova Duolite Tourer
A tent designed for touring cyclists…perfect eh!? Reading other reviews on the internet, people rave about it, particularly the large porch that allows them to keep the bikes inside the tent. OK, so the reality is that we never even considered putting bikes in the porch so in our opinion that is over-sized. Our biggest gripe with the design though is that it is NOT free-standing (even though it claims to be), so you cannot sleep in it in abandoned buildings or on concrete. Worse still you cannot pitch just the inner, so that in Central America in particular YOU WILL ROAST! Add to this the fact that the inner and one of the outer zips keep breaking and then fixing themselves, over half the pegs bent (aluminium ‘L’ shape) and were replaced by steel ones in Huaraz, plus the first serious rainstorm it had to deal with it started leaking…and you can see why with regret we had to get a new tent in Santiago. Terra Nova is normally a great brand, and the big porch is lovely to cook in when it rains, but this tent is simply not suited to world bike tours. We now have a Big Agnes Jack Rabbit tent…fingers crossed! 5/10


Ortleib Folding Bucket
This came as a strong recommendation from all cycle tourers, and we wholly agree. Having the ability to wash your own clothes, pots and pans, bike chains, and body where there is no sink makes a big difference. It folds away to virtually nothing and we used it most days of the trip…that was until it fell of Geoff’s bike as we left the Salar. It was too dark to return, so hopefully some other cycle tourer or lucky local has it now. Since then, we’ve replaced it with a plastic washing-up bowl, and actually, we really like it. It is much easier to wash in and also protects bread from the sun when we mount it on the back of the bike. We are now not so sure we’d replace the folding bucket with a new one, but we couldn’t fault it while we had it, so 8/10.

The Ortleib folding bowl in practice

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