Equipment

On 13 September 2014 I left on a two year bicycle trip from Eindhoven (where I had been living) to Adelaide, Australia (where I grew up). I arrived in Adelaide on 27 September 2016, after cycling 41483km. Before leaving I made a list of equipment that I took. Below, I have included this list, with comments – what I found useful from the original list, what I didn’t, and what extra things I acquired later.

A lot of stuff

A lot of stuff

It all fits on the bike

It all fits on the bike

Bike and accessories

  • Bike: Koga Signature – Very good.
  • Bike Panniers: Ortlieb. (2 front and 2 back, one 89 litre bag for on top of the panniers) – Very good.
    • Over the years I have used Jack Wolfskin and Agu panniers. All have not been entirely waterproof. I have not yet ridden in the rain with the Ortlieb panniers, but, from what I have heard, they truly are waterproof.
  • Two water bottles (bidons) – Very good.
  • 1 bike pump – I had quite a few over my two year trip, most of which were crap. My current one is good – Road Morph G.
  • 1 heavy duty bike lock – Very good.

Electrical accessories

  • Smart phone: Samsung Galaxy S4. – Very good.
    • I tracked my route using GPSLogger, and then importing the created .kml files to Google Maps.
    • I used this as my camera and video tool as well.
  • Smart phone charger and battery packs: 3 spare batteries, and one external battery. – Very good.
    • Being away from civilization for several days at a time means I need extra power for the smart phone to be able to keep on using it.. Another advantage of the Samsung over the iPhone is that the batteries can be swapped.
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 extra battery charger – Very good.
  • Zzing charger (that collects power from the dynamo)I replaced this with a SineWave charger. The Zzing was too big, bulky and switched itself on and off while being jiggled in my handlebar bag. 
  • SineWave charger – Good. Only charges when cycling faster than 12 km/h which can be non-trivial on rough, steep roads or with strong headwinds. It cannot recharge my batteries as fast as I use them, but it helps.
  • Mini tripod for cameraI ended up not using my camera, but rather just the smart phone.
  • Cable for camera-pc connection – Also used to charge the GoPro.
  • SD card reader – Important. Ones you buy in China only last a day at most. 
  • Extra micro SD cards – Good.
  • Smart phone waterproof holder for bike (Tigra) – Good. The plastic cover got so scratched I couldn’t see the screen any more. Still, this was after cycling over 40000km. 🙂
  • Ear phones for smart phone – Like the SD card readers, they break regularly, and ones available in central Asia or China don’t last long.
  • Webcam: Ion Air Pro: Due to a software fault, the camera regularly rebooted itself, and could not be used until the battery had decharged. After replacing it several times, I gave up and bought a GoPro.
  • Webcam: GoPro Hero 3. Very good.
  •  Camera
    • In the past I have taken an SLR camera. On the 40000km trip I took a smaller camera with the functionality of an SLR camera – a Canon S100. I found that I never learnt how to use it properly, and just used my smart phone.
  • Camera chargerNot needed as I didn’t use the camera.
  • Macbook Air 13 inch – Excellent.
  • Macbook charger –  Very good.
  • Macbook protective case – Very good.
  • Macbook LAN plugAlmost never used it.

Camping Equipment

  • Tent + footprint – Good. After much use, the outer tent sagged and touched the inner tent, making the insides wet with condensation. Otherwise good. I have now replaced it with a Mont Moondance 2.
    • Super light and compact tent. Nordisk Telemark 2
  • Sleeping bag – Good.
  • Exped mat – Good.
  • Exped air pillowNot worth it. Can use the sleeping bag casing filled with a jumper.
  • Silk inner sheet – Good.
  • Thermolite ‘Reactor’ inner sheet – Good.
  • Tent repair kit – Good. I never needed it though.
  • Aluminium mat for sitting on – Good.
  • Water bag – Unfortunately, mine leaked.

Cooking Equipment

  • 1 plate, cup and foldable bowlI ate out of the pot.
  • 1 pot set (2 pots and lid/pan) – Good.
  • MSR Whisperlite international cooker – Good.
  • lighter/waterproof matches – The lighter is good. Matches are useless when wet – even waterproof ones.
  • 1 plastic cutlery set – Cutlery is important. I replaced pieces when they broke.
  • 1 swiss army knife – Good.
  • 1 small bottle olive oilIf you’re a good cook. I’m not.
  • salt and pepper shakerNot worth it.
  • 1 small bottle detergentJust use water.
  • 1 scrubber Use your finger or sand.

Clothes

  • Trekking pants: (light, fast dry, zipper to turn them into shorts if the weather is right) – Good.
  • Fleece – Good.
  • Rain coat (Gortex) – Good, although for me, as I sweat a lot, it has to be very very cold before this actually keeps me dry (I get wetter from the sweat).
  • Down jacket – Good.
  • 2 cycling shorts – Good.
  • Lycra long running pants (wear over the cycling shorts in cold weather) I didn’t use them. My legs never get cold.
  • Cycling gloves (for stopping blisters on the hands) – Good.
  • Warm waterproof gloves – Good.
  • Inner glovesNot so necessary.
  • Buff – Multiple uses – for sand and wind, as a tea-towel, and as a sweat-rag – needed all the time in the tropics.
  • Waterproof gaiters (to stop the shoes from getting wet)Didn’t bother. Shoes get wet anyway.
  • Waterproof pants. I get wetter from the sweat than the rain.
  • Cycling tricot (1x short sleeve, 1x long sleeve) – Good. I was given quite a few on the way.
  • Helmet – I wore occasionally. It is compulsory in Australia which I think is why few people cycle here.
  • 3 underpants – Good.
  • 2 t-shirts – Good.
  • Trekking undershirt – Good.
  • singlet – Good.
  • Teva Sandals – Good.
  • Warm, waterproof, hard soled, light weight hiking shoes (can cycle in them, can be evening shoes, and can do short several hour hikes with them on the cycle trip)- Good.
  • Nike light weight running shoes – Good.
  • Socks (2x warm wool, 1x cooler) – Good.
  • Towel (small flannel towel – super compact) – Good.
  • 1 cap – Good. Less use if you must wear a helmet (in Australia).
  • 1 pair of sunglasses – Good.
  • Small, compactable pack to be used as rucksack for short hikes are errands to the shop etc. – Good.
  • Long sleeve inner layer for upper body – Good.
  • Paper thin rain coat layer (for warm rain) – Good.
  • Bathers – Good.
  • Mosquito net for cap – Good.
  • Fluorescent rain vest – Good.

Food

The list below depends on which country you are and what you can find. When I left Europe, I took the items in the list below.

  • Muesli bars
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Dried apricots
  • Dried pasta/sauce mix
  • Müsli
  • Powdered milk

Repair Kit

  • Multitool – Good.
  • Oil – I don’t have any oilable parts (as I have no chain).
  • Puncture repair kit – Good.
  • 5 spare spokes – Good. Didn’t need them though.
  • 1 replacement inner tube – Good.
  • 2 replacement tyres (Schwalbe Marathon Mondial Double Defense (foldable)) – Good. 
  • 1 set of brake pads – Good.
  • 1 extra carbon drive (instead of the chain) – Good.
  • Rohloff oil kit – Good.
  • 1 spanner – to remove the pedals – Good. The pedals got so stuck, though, I still couldn’t remove them.
  • Super glue – Used it to fix my broken sandals. 
  • Duct tape – Useful for all sorts of things.
  • Cable ties – Useful.
  • Pliers – Useful
  • VelcroDidn’t use it.
  • Hose clampsDidn’t use them.

Miscellaneous

  • Waterproof bag for miscellaneous use – Good.
  • 2 heat pads (it can get cold at high altitude)Didn’t use them.
  • Maps (for when the smart phone doesn’t work) – Nice to get a bigger picture of the overall route.
  • Tissues – Can be useful
  • Toilet paper + alcohol hand washI did it the Indonesian way (only using water).
  • Ear plugs – Useful
  • Sun screen – Good.
  • Universal sink plugNever used it.
  • Portable kitchen sinkNever used it.
  • Pen – Useful
  • Torch – Got a head torch.
  • Medical kit – Good.
  • Needle and thread – Good.
  • DEET insect repellant – Good. I bought a lot of it in Indonesia. Lots of mosquitos, and it is very cheap.
  • Passport – Important.
  • Plane tickets – No flights.
  • Money – Useful.
  • Credit cards – Useful.

New things I bought on the way

  • In the tropics, it is impossible to sleep in a tent – it is too hot.
    • Hammock and mosquito net (for putting up between 2 trees, or other things. Quite comfortable.
    • Mosquito net (can be hung up almost anywhere). – Good.
Comments
  1. Eric Drent says:

    hello Matthew, got your website address from Hans driessen. Impressive trip, good luck! Best, Eric Drent

  2. Veiko says:

    Could you please give the brand and/or type for the smart phone waterproof bike holder and do you charge your smartphone while cycling or only in hotels and camping sites? Keep up the pedaling.
    Cheers.

  3. Guiles says:

    Hi!
    Impressive tour! I wish you a lot of fun up there 🙂
    Question: why din t you consider charging the phone over the bike’s dynamo?
    Cheers

    • Hey Guiles. Thanks!
      I have heard that it is possible to charge the phone with the dynamo, but that it takes a bit of handy work to implement. My bike shop couldn’t do it, and I’m not do handy. I think for a bigger tour, I will give it a go. Do you have info on how to do it?
      Greetings from Varangerbotn

  4. Guiles says:

    Hi!
    I guess you have a hub dynamo. So it is not so complicated 🙂 I am not handy as well, but my bike shop made it in 5 mins. I use it for smaller tours (i never drove more than one day…).

    For further information, the forums might help. (like here in German: http://www.radforum.de/threads/401427-stromversorgung-am-rad?highlight=smartphone)

    Note that generally it is or the lamp working, or the phone charging. Both works badly. So this can be an issue at night.

    You will have to decide what to charge: your phone or a battery, reserve for your phone.

    Cheers from Düsseldorf & great the arctic for me! 🙂
    Guiles

    • Hey. Danke für den Tipp! Ik bastele ein bisschen rum als ich wieder zu Hause bin. Ist immer lästig alles aufladen zu müssen.

      Ich habe 3 Jahre in Köln gewohnt. Also nicht so weit von dir ertfernt.

      Grüße aus dem Arktis.

  5. Paul says:

    Wow! This lot is going to take some schlepping. I hate to add anything to your list except for fun but some condoms perhaps? Or are you being coy? Not as I remember!

  6. Arjen says:

    I’m missing a toothbrush 😉 but I’m sure you packed it anyway. On my travel I found a universal sink plug useful. Basically a little round rubber mat.

  7. Karla says:

    Great list. Appears well thought out.

    I travel a lot in rainy country – suggest using sil nylon bags for managing smaller gear inside Ortleibs. Light, tough, waterproof fabric. Color code for contents. Cubes with handles for clothes and electronics, notebooks, etc slip in/out front Ortleib panniers nicely.

  8. 21mirra says:

    I have a hub dynamo and bought a simple kit which is just two wires you feed into the plug on the hub (the one you remove when taking the wheel off) and cable tie the unit on the fork. Its discreet enough an just regulates the current. The charge isn’t perfect but does enough.

    Good luck mate – journey sound amazing

    • Hi Mirra. Thanks for your message! I have a system that generates electricity from the dynamo and regulates the current. It’s called Zzing. Seems to work ok. 🙂

      • 21mirra says:

        Mine works ok but I notice the charge seems like it runs out quicker. So 15% charge through my bike doesn’t last as long as 15% done at the mains.

        Have you noticed this?

      • I must say I haven’t used my charger much. I tested it out and it works but I haven’t been on any long trips with it. I guess I will find out. I have a lot of spare batteries. I should at least be able to keep the phone alive. 🙂

      • 21mirra says:

        Me too! I got a 6000mAh power bank which I can charge from the dynamo and when full it can charge my phone 3 times over. It works with most devices that have 2v 5amp connection – all mobiles, tablets, iphones, etc

        So far i’ve only charged the powerbank at home though!

      • I have powerpacks, but more importantly I have spare batteries for my Samsung Galaxy S4. That’s the huge advantage of the Galaxy over the iPhone. You can just swap the battery when one is empty. No need to plug it to a charger. I have 4 batteries and never ran out of power cycling 6315km to the North Cape. I didn’t have my dynamo charger then.

      • 21mirra says:

        i almost switched to an s4 but decided to keep my Lumia and maybe buy a tablet this weekend. The camera on the s4 is amazing. I’ve still got time to switch and save weight… hmmm…

        Anyway, good luck cycling home! Sounds like an epic journey 🙂

      • Hey, thanks. I was just looking at your blog. Your journey sounds pretty cool too! Where are you cycling to? All the best with your trip!

  9. Julian Hurdman says:

    Hi
    Good luck. I would try to loose a few things but ….. I use Shimano sandals and clip less pedals. Not great when temperatures fall but amazingly good in summer, but like all sandals your feet stink. Why is that? I always carry good cable ties.

  10. Tommy Bäck says:

    Impressive. I envy you. Personally I wouldn’t have taken a Macbook along, heavy and likely to be stolen somewhere. Myself, I use a Samsung Note2, which can do most things a PC can, and if I need a PC they are available everywhere along the road. Instead of a dznamo that delivers mostly 3W, I use the Anker 14W solar which does the job for any 5V equipment. I’m looking forward to hear how it goes. Tommy

    • Hi Tommy. Thanks for the comment. This is the first time I am taking a laptop. Before that, I just used my smartphone. There are definitely things you can’t do with the smart phone though.
      Really looking forward to the trip!

      See you!

  11. David Finnigan says:

    Hiya Matthew,

    First off, good luck with your trip. It will be amazing. Looking forward to tracking your progress.

    Had a quick look at the stuff your bringing. I would definitely recommend getting a Dynamo hub with a front light. There’s not much resistant from it either. You can also charge different devices from it i.e phone, gps and camera. But you need to get a e-werk as well for that. It’s very handy if your out camping one night and can’t charge anything.

    If you’ve any questions regarding the dyno, don’t hesitate to contact me.

    All the best.

    David

    • Hi David. Thanks for your comment and best wishes!
      I have a front (and back) light that is charged by a hub dynamo. I have a Zzing charger that uses the hub to charge a battery and can be used directly to charge devices. I haven’t used it much yet but it seems to work. 🙂
      All the best!!

      Matthew

  12. ade60 says:

    I look forward to reading your blog, great idea and hope you have a blast doing a great ride. Good for the children as well.
    Enjoy. That is the main thing.

  13. peter says:

    Hello Matthew,

    I just went through your packing list and since you asked for advice, here is mine:
    Carry less! I did roughly the same trip that you are planning in 2005-2006 and my stuff easily fitted in the four Ortlieb panniers. I noticed that i was one of the lightest long distance riders out there, but I also noticed that i was enjoying the mountains much more than other people. And there are a lot of mountains on your way! You carry for too much clothing. Discard the 3 shirts and 2 of your undies and one pair of socks to start with. Also 3 different rain coats is too much. Don’t take all the food that you mention. The first leg of your trip you will find supermarkets every day. Later you can buy much better and cheaper dried fruits etc. Leave one of the sleeping bag liners at home. If you carry less weight you also won’t need the spare tires. You will probably only need them after a year. Before that they will get too dry or otherwise damaged and will annoy you for sure many times. Trust me, you can travel very comfortably with under 20kg of luggage.

    I guess you need the laptop for writing about your project. Otherwise I would leave all those gadgets behind. They don’t fit very well in central asian landscapes:)

    Cooker is super! It will safe you a lot of money and diarrhea if you cook your own food.

    Sleeping bag shoot be down and at least -15C. Tent not only light weight but also wind proof.

    One mattress is enough, don’t take the one for outside sitting. Use a plastic bag instead.

    Traveling light will not only make cycling uphill more fun, and you will cycle uphill about 75% of the time you spend on the bike, but also less of a strain on body and bike. Knee problems have ended many cycling trips, also back problems for some people I know. You are much less likely to break spokes and racks, tires will go as far as 20,000km.

    Have the time of your life!

    Peter

    • Hi Peter.
      Indeed, what people take, and how much they take, varies from person to person. Many people say take more, and others less. It is always difficult to weigh up what is important, and is it worth the extra weight.. 🙂
      I will take a lot less food while in Europe, and only take more when I am a long way from civilisation. I think I will revise my electronic equipment list. It is certainly very extensive at the moment.
      I am a fan on travelling light, and on my trips in the past, I usually had less stuff than others. Almost everything fits in the 4 panniers. The bag on the back of the bike is mostly for food..

      Thanks for your best wishes!!

      Matthew

  14. Enrique says:

    Nice read and nice trip! Maybe you should also bring a slightly bigger knife than the Swiss one? Maybe if you need chop some bush or something?

  15. Yen says:

    Water purification tablets might be handy aswell.

    Goodluck and enjoy your trip.

  16. Gilles says:

    Hi Matthew! I simply wish you a very good trip 🙂
    Cheers
    Gilles

  17. Jacco says:

    Hi. Matthew. I have shown your planned route to my girls. They are impressed and wish you a beautiful trip and good luck ! Jacco / Eli / Corina / Georgia. ps. If you decide to stay longer in Greece, and go further South, i.e. Athens. Let me know we have a place you can stay.

    • Hi Jacco. Nice to hear from you! It was a great start to the trip.
      I may well go to southern Greece. I have a lot of time to get to Istanbul – more than I need, and Athens was on my list.. 🙂
      Greetings from Schimmert!

  18. tutleymutley says:

    I think you’ve completed your trip now? Or well into it – what did you get rid of or add to this list? What did you take in your medical kit? (I’m off to explore the rest of your site now – thanks).

    • Hi there. I’m still in the midst of my trip. There are indeed some things I didn’t use and have got rid of..
      Actually, and surprisingly, I have found that I have only been using my smart phone and GoPro to take photos and videos, and have not used my camera – so all the extra camera batteries and charging equipment was extra. Most people, however, do use their camera.
      The Zzing charger was useless and heavy. It kept on switching itself on in my bag and decharging. I now use a Sinewave revolution charger.
      My Ion Air Pro webcam kept on crashing, so I replaced it with a GoPro.
      My ExPed pillow deformed, and I discovered I could make a good pillow by putting my down jacket into my sleeping bag case.
      I did cook, but not that often. I sent my cooking equipment back home when I arrived in Laos.
      I never used my lycra long running pants.
      I didn’t use the mosquito net for the cap.
      I haven’t used the velco, many cable ties or hose clamps, but, I think they could come in handy some times.
      I replaced my big water filter with a small one – a Sawer mini water filter.
      I never used the heat pads, the sink plug or the portable foldable sink.

      I will go through the list and write a blog entry on it once I arrive in Australia, but, I hope this is already of some help..

      Good luck!

  19. Pedro Cordeiro says:

    Hey Matthew! I am an avid reader of your blog, simply great!! It is a pleasure to get your “almost daily” newsletter on my mail.

    I am about to start an extended bike trip in March (time’s ticking!!) and I am trying to get everything running. (how to store the pictures and organize them, learning to use Lightroom for photo editing, getting all the gear ready to go, etc etc).

    For now I have two main doubts that maybe you could help me out:
    1) I also bought a macbook air (11 inch, to me lighter) – how to transport it? It seems soooo fragile!!

    2) How do you edit your blog posts when you are offline?

    In the past I was writting on ipad mini, with an app called Bogsy that I loved. But now, I am trying to figure it out how will I make my posts on the mac. Can you share with me your opinion?

    All the best,
    Pedro Cordeiro

    PS – I hope to knock your door one day in future. It would mean that I would have reached Australia!! 🙂

    • Hi Pedro.
      Great to hear from you and good luck with your trip. Where are you going from and cycling to?

      To answer your questions, I keep my Macbook Air in a padded case. It is made of a spongy but hard foam that keeps the print of your finger for about a minute when you press on it. This way it deforms to the shape of things pressing against the computer, protecting it. I also put this bag in a plastic shopping bag as even the ortliebs are not 100% waterproof in downpours.

      I write each blog entry in a word file and store it, together with the photos in a folder for that day. I upload and schedule the post when I have Internet. As my posts have been delayed up to 3 months this year, you don’t notice how i often go for up to a week without uploading posts. In SE Asia my posts were again closer to real time, and you may have noticed that the timing was not quite as regular. 🙂

      What is your blog? I’d be interested in reading your travels.

      All the best!

  20. But are they leather? All I am saying is that leather generally does not smell after a day on the road 🙂

  21. Koen says:

    Hi Matthew,

    I’m love all your stories, what a adventure is your trip.
    I have a different question about the blog you make online and send by daily mail.
    Is this with a programme from wordpress and witch one?
    Want to incorparte also on my site because it look very good.
    If you have some tips thanks,
    Keep on cycling,

    greetings,

    Koen

    • Hi there Koen.
      I have just used the standard wordpress blog with a different ‘theme’ (which I paid for). I designed the logo and replaced the theme logo with mine (which you can do if you pay to use the theme).
      The functionality is just the standard wordpress stuff. I think lots of themes allow people to subscribe to the blog.

      Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

  22. […] What else? It depends on where you go. I went through hot and cold areas. In the mountains and desert I needed to cook for myself and be more independent. In south-east Asia, there’s cheap and good food to be had everywhere, so I sent my cooking things home for that leg. A tent there is not needed (as it is too hot), but a hammock and mosquito net is a plus. In general you will need a bike, panniers, a sleeping bag and mat, clothes and repair stuff. Most cycling blogs have a list of things they took. Here is my list: https://arctic-cycler.com/equipment/ […]

  23. Chris Dalton says:

    Hi Matthew
    It has been great following your journey. I live in Adelaide now but in another life did a fair amount of cycling. We rode on one trip 35,000+ km through 23 countries. It was interesting reading your equipment list to see many modern ‘toys’ we could only dream about. We shot slide film and had the return address for the slides back in Australia. We did not see one frame until we returned three years later. With no GPS we navigated our way through Europe using pages torn out of an atlas. It was primitive but it saw us following what you’d only call an ‘approximate’ route. Nonetheless, we survived and like you, were forever grateful for the incredible hospitality that people around the world afforded us. We slept in barns, in churches, in $1 a night hotel rooms, under a bridge, in fields and we even had people willing to give up their own beds to give some weary Aussie cyclists a place to rest their heads. In America we met a couple who were insistent on driving us across the US because “bicycles are not as good as a car pulling a caravan”.
    I’d love to catch up and talk about all things bikes and long distance adventures.
    Chris

    • Hi Chris. Thanks for writing! Sounds like an amazing adventure. I’d love to catch up. It would need to be soon, as I plan to cycle to Sydney leaving next Wednesday. Here is my number: 0467608086.
      Hope to hear from you soon!!

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