Over the years, I've done a fair share of online research on the best camping and bicycle touring equipment available. Most of the gear I own has also travelled with me on hundreds of days of heavy usage on all kinds of weather and conditions. So I have a decent idea of what works and what doesn't. Of course everyone has their own needs and preferences, but here's a non-comprehensive list of what I carry with me on tour.
- Tent: MSR Hubba - a single person, freestanding, ultra light tent. Quick to set up, durable, has kept me dry even in extreme rain - a perfect tent. I also have the footprint, which I sometimes use as a rain cover for the bicycle instead.
- Sleeping bag: Marmot Never Summer - a nice warm down sleeping bag. Keeps me comfortable in North Finland and Norway, where the night temperatures can drop to 0°C (32°F) even in the summer.
- Sleeping pad: A thin uncomfortable foam mattress that I've never gotten around to replacing with something reasonable. Its only redeeming quality is that it weighs next to nothing.
- Pillow: Exped inflatable travel pillow. Sleep is very important on tour, so even a little added comfort is worth some extra weight.
- Hammock: A basic Ticket To The Moon hammock. I won this from a photo competition after my last tour, so I've only tried it a few times. I want to see how it compares to tent touring, so I'll bring it with me for the first couple months at least.
HYGIENE, water and Food
- Cooking: A Trangia gas stove - somewhat big and heavy, but nice to have when I want a proper meal. Trangia because it's very reliable, and gas because it's easier and I'm all fussy about soot.
- Carrying water: Sea To Summit folding bucket - a 10L bucket that weighs very little and folds down to almost nothing. It's even freestanding on an even surface. Pretty useful for washing up, or when the water source isn't close to the campsite.
- Laundry: The Ortlieb folding bowl - basically a portable kitchen sink. Excellent for washing clothes.
- Shower: Sea To Summit Pocket Shower - a 10L bag you can hang from a branch. Has an adjustable shower head. Hardly ever used (I visit camping grounds to pay for showers, or just go for a swim), but heavenly when needed. Doubles as a tap for washing hands at the campsite.
- Towel: A regular fluffy normal-sized towel. I used to have one of those travel towels that dry easily and take very little space, but I switched back because a proper towel makes me happy.
BICYCLE TOURING SPEcIfIC
- Bike bags: Ortlieb panniers - easily the best ones out there. Back Rollers on the rear and front, a 31L rack pack in the back, plus a handlebar bag.
- Repairs: A couple spare tubes, chain lube, gloves, a multi-tool... and of course duct tape. The bare essentials, basically.
- Insect repellent: A Thermacell device - surprisingly effective and certainly the best one I've found. Uses butane to burn mosquito-repelling incense into the air.
- Clothes: Two sets of loose comfortable quick-drying clothes, and one "normal" set of clothes for occasional off days when I want to look less like a cyclist. Wool socks, a beanie, gloves, a jacket, and a layer of fleece against the cold. The warm clothes take a lot of space in the panniers, but can be a life-saver. Literally.
- Shoes: Regular clipless shoes. I frequently go off bike in search of photographs, and walking with clips is annoying - as is changing shoes all the time. So for now, as with many of the above choices, I choose comfort over efficiency. I also have a pair of flip-flops for swimming, or when the other shoes need drying.
- First Aid Kit: Never used yet, but.. you know.