Packing for a Biking Adventure

All packed... And more...
All packed… And more…

Next adventure is in the horizon and I find my mind pondering the usual ”what to pack”. With experience, packing gets easier but it is amazing how much mind space it may take, particularly with more uncertainties about the conditions one is heading for. There really is no one solution, every trip is different and tarmac riding is different to river beds and mountain forests.

There are many good guides on various types of armour, etc., so I skip that part for now. Just being prepared for varying weather conditions may hugely increase the load on the bike. To get my mind organized before my next trip, here are some thoughts about…

Not much packing
Not much packed… but you always need something.

What Clothing to Pack

Packing for a trip on a motorbike can be a pain. Particularly for varying weather conditions both on and off the bike. The obvious problems arise if you take too much clothing with you. Or equally, if you miss something.

I do touring and adventure biking, so I ride long days making many stops for sights. I prefer clothing that gives me the protection I need when riding, while is light and easy to wear when off the bike. Low-maintenance clothing preferred. Also the bike is easier to handle with less items attached to it. This is particularly true with smaller bikes and difficult terrains.

Clothing – the basic shirts and trousers – is usually what makes most of the luggage and gives you the biggest head ache to try and fit everything in the small packs. Basic clothing should not be such an issue, as it is also usually the easiest thing to fix on the road – clothing is available virtually everywhere! A lot depends on where you are heading and I have really just one advice: Take less. If in two minds, if it can be easily found on the road, leave it home. You can buy clothes on the go and most likely you will be buying souvenir t-shirts etc anyways. It is also difficult – and often unnecessary – to prepare for absolutely everything.

Solo trip in Nepal takes a little more...
Solo trip in Nepal takes a little more… Here, an extra petrol canister is added due to the Indian fuel blockade.

Go Technical

You may not need your newest, best brand underwear or socks and in emergency you get new ones virtually anywhere. Some technical sports underwear is always good. Something that will be comfortable even when sweaty or wet. I have found HeatTech clothing from Uniqlo very good. Something that can also be worn without washing often. Anything made of thin Merino-wool is always good and can be found in specialist outdoor shops or from any serious boating shop. Skip cotton in any critical ware. Still, a small pack of washing detergent will take you a long way.

Specialist outdoor shops also carry technically advanced items that take very little space. Large microfiber towels fit in very small pouches and they dry fast. Forget the heavy and bulky cotton towel. Also silk sleeping bags with built in mosquito repellent can save your night. And several days to follow. They are just the size of your fist. Packable down ultralight jackets are very warm and come also in very small packs and weigh next to nothing!

Ultra light and Micro -everything take very little space
Ultra light and Micro -everything take very little space

Comfort for all situations

Regarding the proper riding gear, for varying hot/cold weather riding, my choice is a mesh jacket and light rain gear. Mesh jacket is cool when the weather is hot, letting the air pass through and it is warm when you put a rain coat on top, stopping the air flow. The air trapped in the mesh keeps you warm and waterproofs do not feel sticky with all the air in the mesh. Same goes with the trousers, often no need for hot waterproof trousers. The light rain gear is surprisingly handy even without the rain and takes little space. Handy in the occasional rain as well!

Adjusting for the temperature
Adjusting for temperature. Luggage for two on my bike in the front.

What really is important

Focus on what you really need. Medication and first aid for different situations. Starting from stomach issues to mosquito repellent and battling infections due to cuts in skin or even just a flu. Be prepared as these can really make your trip a misery and being prepared does not take much space!

Packing Tips

Pack your items in small laundry bags or gym bags, any small and light bag to keep then organized, making it easy to reach the items you need. On the bike, your stuff may not be as easy to reach as from a suitcase. Finding something simple from your bag may just mess your well organised packing completely.

When off the bike and exploring the surroundings, you may need a bag to carry some stuff around, cameras, spare clothing, etc. Take a very brightly coloured bag. I have a bright yellow travel back bag that folds into a small bag.  A bright bag is less likely to get stolen and can more easily be monitored and spotted.

Regarding tools, spares, etc, – Share the load if you are many.

Also you may want to keep an alarm with your valuables – the kind that will alarm you if you leave them behind. Not much bigger than a two-euro coin, a BiiSafe device fitted to your passport bag is all it takes and your mobile will sound an alarm.

BiiSafe from T-Secure attached to my most valuables - Passport, etc
BiiSafe from F-Secure attached to my valuables – Passport, etc

Do not forget cameras, memory cards, camera mountings, chargers, PC?, mobile for local sim, extra charging battery, … You may want to re-live your adventure again by the fire on a dark and stormy night…

OK. I think I have my head now organized. Off to packing it is…

A handy peg for shopping bags
A handy peg for shopping bags! A very common feature in Nepal. Low point of gravity for ease of riding.