A number of people have asked me about the gear we have for undertaking this trip. Here’s a little summary of what we have with us and how it is working for us…
All the bike mounted bags are from Alpkit – a UK company the makes good quality, functional and good value kit.
There are several options available. Both Kate and I went for 6cm wide bags, two horizontal zips, a horizontal divider, a map pocket zip on the right-hand side, the webbing ladder for attaching to the frame and bright yellow lining.
The bags are excellent – they swallow up lots of gear, keep the weight low dow and keep everything fairly dry (if it’s really wet dry bag anything that really needs it). Mine has dealt with rain, snow, mud, oil, mineral oil, grease and a few tumbles with ease.
The 6cm width (the widest AK offer for non fatbike frame bags) is good – I wasn’t sure if this would bulge out and interfere with the pedal stroke, but it’s fine – I can hear my trousers rub a bit (no Lycra here), but not a problem at all and I’m happy to have the volume.
When it is heavily loaded on the top section or over stuffed in the bottom it can make the divider Velcro detach, but that’s not really a problem – it’s main purpose is to stop the top stuff falling to the bottom and it does just that as long as you don’t overdo it.
The webbing ladder works really well, I can understand why this is now the default option over stitched-in Velcro loops.
If I were ordering the frame bags again, I might be tempted with the surgeon zips.
The Alpkit Koala seat bags are 13 liter roll-top dry-bag seat packs that attach pretty firmly to your seat post and saddle. The roll top allows you to carry very little securely or go for the full volume.
I carry my clothes in a dry bag stuffed into the seat bag, tucked under the saddle as much as possible, and then the Alpkit MyTiStax cooking kit (with stove, gas, tea and whatever else inside) at the back. This works well. I wouldn’t really want to put anything heavier at the rear of the bag.
Also in the pic you can see the AK Tau lights – tiny, bright, light, USB rechargeable – perfect. If not doing any proper riding at night, I could probably leave my head-torch at home and just use the front light for camp use (but might blind anyone nearby).
Bar bags and harness:
I have a 20 litre handlebar bag mounted on the Alpkit Kanga harness, which keeps everything pretty stable and offers some more attachment options on top of the bars by the stem. I carry two mountain equipment Xero 550 sleeping bags in the bar bag and the tent poles/pegs strapped in with it.
Kate has a smaller 13 litre bar bag and the smaller Joey harness, mainly to spread the load a little and protect cables/hoses. She carries the rest of the tent (MSR hubba hubba, inner and fly sheet) and our washing machine (really).
The bar systems work well. Mine can jump about a lot on the rough stuff – there is definitely scope to secure the bag enclosure handles down to the fork crown, but I haven’t got around to that yet (a testament to how much of a problem it isn’t).
Top-tube/stem Fuel pods
We each have a fuel pod bag (mine’s medium, Kate’s small). Very useful. Before our next trip I think we’d both like to add an additional one on the seat post end of the top tube too (mainly to get as much off our backs as possible).
These are great. I have used a set of MSR pans for about 15 years which have lasted very well and are a proper size for cooking, but can’t justify the size or weight anymore. The Alpkit pots are not as robust, but it’s the weight and size that make them the perfect setup for what we’re doing.
Kraku gas stove:
I have always used MSR petrol stoves, and while having such trouble finding gas I wished I’d brought the tired old XKG, but a 22g stove, what’s not to love?
Aside from the trouble we had finding screw top gas canisters in Spain, and (I think) a slight design problem, it’s amazing.
The design problem seems to compatibility with the gas cartridge we have – it looks like part of the stove body prevents the stove screwing down fully on the canister (UK made go-system) far enough to depress the canister release valve. It worked for about 4 brews, but faltered on the last one as the pressure on the canister had dropped.
I have managed to get a little more out of it using a tiny bit of gravel to bridge the gap between the pin and valve, but I’d really rather not do that as it’s too easy for it to get jammed and release all the good stuff in a pretty dangerous way.
I might file a bit off the bottom of the stove, but will speak to AK first. Maybe I’m missing something….
As we’re camping mainly in campsites and stopping in towns, we brought locks..
We have a heavy chain lock (hiplock), two tiny cable combination locks (that a leatherman would get through easily) and outlook skewers on the wheels.
Tools and spares:
Usual stuff. Spare chain, spare magic links, self-adhesive patches, standard patches, vulcanizer, a spare tube (we’re running tubeless), tyre sealant, a set of spare xt brake pads and some oil. Cable ties and a spare gear cable are stuffed into our handlebars, spare mavic crossmax spokes stashed in seat-posts, gorilla gaffa tape around the lighter, and we have a canondale mini track pump, lezyne multi-tool, Swiss-army knife, small Gerber knife and mini cassette removal tool (which has had plenty of use as Kate’s rear crossmax suffers the noisy nylon bushing problem).
What do I wish I’d brought?
Mineral oil and bleed kit for sorting out the XT brakes, which I have had some trouble with – I did two days of the pyrenees with just a front brake before finding the Pyrenean fixer. Oddly, I think it was safer having just one brake.
That’s basically it.. Clothes, camera, chargers, Brunton USB battery box, first aid kit and lots of snacks make up everything else.