My method of packing for a bicycle tour has always been a kind of “bring everything and see what happens” approach. For my first ever tour in 2013 I brought too much stuff, and I’ve only added more items and pannier capacity every year henceforth. Looks like I’ve finally reached the limit of what I can carry, though. Now it’s time to get lighter.
With my backpack susceptible to water leakage, I had to stop and think of an alternative. The backpack itself is extremely useful, even necessary, when I go hiking or even just buying groceries. I can take all the important stuff with me safely and easily. Carrying everything in a pannier would be possible, but very uncomfortable, and as always, comfort is something I don’t make unnecessary compromises with on very long tours.
I don’t think a plain rain cover will ever be 100% waterproof either, so the only choice was to put the backpack in the big red Ortlieb rack pack. Which meant I had to make room in it first.
Digging through every pannier, I looked for things I didn't need. The main culprit was my hammock. I don’t sleep in a hammock. The idea with bringing it was to see how it compares to touring with a tent, but I hadn’t used it once in the first month, and probably wouldn’t be needing it in the future either. I mailed it home.
I also tossed a tarp, an old extra spare tube that had been in my repair kit for years with no punctures (I still have three more), and various other small items that I deemed unnecessary.
All of that took up to 2kg of weight off the bike, and now the backpack could fit inside the rear pannier. With the lower weight distribution the bicycle feels steadier in addition to being lighter. Needless to say, I’m very happy with these little tweaks!
This should probably be a recurring ritual. Next time at the two month mark I’ll go through all my items, consider how many times I’ve needed them, and leave out anything I can live without. Letting go of unnecessary baggage is quite liberating.
In the first month I’ve cycled 1000km, which is quite a pleasant pace. The speed may increase after Norway, when I’m stronger and the land is flatter and less photogenic. But even at a lazy 33km per day average, I’d still be well ahead of schedule for 5 years and 50000 kilometers.
Looks like I’ll be able to take plenty of detours - or rest days - in the months and years to come.