Someone recently asked me what they’d need to bring on a trip like the one I’m on now, and the cost. The only real requirement of a motorcycle trip is a motorcycle! That said, here’s a list of the things I’ve taken along on this current journey across Australia. Continue reading Pacific Ocean to Indian Ocean Motorcycle Journey: Gear and Cost
When I decided to do this trip, I wanted to have a minimalistic approach to my packing. I didn’t do much planning, but I knew I’d be happier with less stuff than the average traveler. The Aussies brought one set of soft panniers, a Giant Loop, one tank bag, and two Wolfman duffle bags, plus bungie cords and Rok Straps. I’m using a Motonaut Adventure set up (specially designed straps and two 45lt Ortlieb dry bags) that was gifted to me a couple of months ago. I was skeptical at first, struggling to figure out how the straps worked, but after some fiddling and Youtube how-to videos, I successfully fit both bags on a borrowed DR650 just for practice.
I initially thought bungie cords would be more efficient and simple, or cheap soft panniers. Then I remembered the fat blue and black lip a friend gave herself when a rogue bungie cord snapped off our bike and grabbed her lower lip in Europe, and all the time spent making sure the half dozen cords were on properly. And then there was the time one snapped off while I was riding in Australia and nearly got caught in my chain… The Motonaut system seems to keep the bags snugly on the bike no matter how much bumping around I do, and it only takes minutes to pack up, meaning I can sleep in and still be the first ready to roll! In the evening, I loosen the two main straps, pull the bags off, but leave everything else as-is for easy repacking the next morning. If I ride the bike without the bags, I either pull the straps off (which literally takes less than 30 seconds), or tie the excess webbing up. Best of all, I can ride all day and not worry about gear falling off or getting wet, even when I do a rushed pack job and ride hours of dirt.
I also prefer the Motonaut system because it has various adjustment points, meaning I can bring the bags much closer to my body and use them as a backrest, or move them to the back of the bike so I can wear a backpack. One dry bag has all my camping gear and tools, separated by smaller stuff sacks for easy repacking. The other has my clothes stuff sack, laptop, toiletries/small items bag, armored/cold weather pants and snacks. Originally I thought it would be hard to access things since it’s a deep bag, but it’s been great. I just keep the things I need while riding at the top of the bag, and can easily unroll the top to access anything, without taking the bags off the bike.
Security might be an issue, but I have all my valuables in a backpack anyway (wallet, passport, etc), which I strap on top of the Ortlieb bags. It takes seconds to unstrap my backpack and take my valuables with me. I could use a tank bag, but I prefer a backpack for comfort. I have a chain and lock for my helmet and jacket, if I want to leave them on the bike. If I want to leave the bike and take my bags in with me, it’s quick and easy.
I find it a lot better than panniers, which are a combination of a) extremely expensive b) not waterproof c) hard to take on and off d) heavy and/or e) difficult to fly with. The Motonaut system folds up and fits anywhere. As someone who doesn’t spend the money to ship bikes around the world, a system that will fit most bikes I plan on riding, and a system I can easily pack on my person in-between bikes, is very important.
Overall, this is a highly efficient and simple setup that I’d recommend to any adventure rider. A big thanks to Motonaut!
**July 2014 UPDATE: I’ve now traveled 24,000km through 11 countries with my Motonaut system, and still loving it!
I recently finished the Overland Track in Tasmania, a 65-110km hike through a World Heritage Wilderness Area. I was shocked at the weight most people I met were carrying. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to keep your pack to ¼ of your body weight, not to exceed 35lbs for a short hike- more if it’s a long hike, or if you’re an experienced hiker. Many people had packs weighing 25 kilos (a whopping 55lbs!) for just 5 days on the trail. And these weren’t only big men carrying this weight- I saw numerous fairly unfit women struggling under their enormous loads, too exhausted to do any of the beautiful side trails. In one group, the two men and two women each had 25 kilo packs, even though the men themselves were far larger than their ladies. They had way too much food, gear and luxury items (multiple bras, swimsuits, plates and bowls, two pairs of shoes each, enough food to sink a battleship…). They looked at my 16.5 kilo pack enviously (and I thought mine was heavy!), and tried pawning snacks off on me.
Because the Overland was a relatively easy hike (for those not hiking the side trails to mountain summits, and even those weren’t too hard), you could probably do this hike with just a daypack if you were happy living very simply. Although I was satisfied with the amount of food I packed, Tom struggled with the lack of lunchtime snacks, but it should be noted he eats a lot more than most people and has a very high metabolism. Above is a picture I took of the food I packed for the South Coast Track, which should take 7 days. I packed enough for 8-9 days in case we hang out on a beach or get stuck due to high water crossings.
Here’s a list of food ideas and what I think are the necessities for hiking in non technical/snow/freezing conditions, as well as a list of ‘to consider’ items and luxuries. It’s important to take into account terrain, duration of hike, your specific needs, weather, and how remote you’ll be.
Food Ideas for 2 People: Frugality tip- avoid expensive “backpacking” foods
- Heavy duty bag for all food (or drybag for $30, helps mask smell, keeps things dry)
- 1.5 cups Couscous per night feeds 2 – Dinner
- 1.5 cups fast cooking oatmeal+dried fruit mixed in per morning feeds 2 – Breakfast
- Tortillas/wraps – Dinner
- Falafel mix for vegetarians (beans)- Dinner
- Rice noodles (cooks quickly)
- Small plastic container of Olive Oil
- Baggies of salt, pepper, curry, herbs, milk powder
- Vegetable broth cubes, 1-2 per night for Couscous or rice noodles
- Block or two of harder variety white cheese (lasts longer)- Lunch
- Tub of Peanut Butter (this is my #1 feel-good food item, with banana chips, chocolate and crackers)-Lunch
- Banana chips- Lunch
- Crackers in Tupperware- Lunch
- Dried fruit/trailmix- Lunch (I pick out cashews to use in CousCous for dinner, plus vegetable broth and herbs or curry)
- Chocolate- Either bars or mixed in trailmix
- Dehydrated mashed potatoes or vegetables
- Dehydrated hummus mix
- Instant coffee or coffee baggies, tea
- Eggs cracked into bottle and frozen for short hikes
TravelBug’s Essential Items:
- Well-fitting backpack and waterproof cover (Osprey’s Aether 70 is my current pack- not that great for packs over 35lbs)
- Plastic garbage bags to line inside of pack or fancier bag liner
- Matches or lighter(s) in waterproof container
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Water purification tablets (iodine) or water pump
- First aid kit
- Sleeping bag (check warmth rating), plus stuff sack and garbage bag to keep it try, or fancier dry bag/waterproof compression bag (which don’t always work!)
- Sleeping pad
- Good, lightweight 3 season tent with ground cloth
- Hand sanitizer
- Lightweight stove and fuel in MSR container (+ extra fuel for hikes over one week)
- Cooking pot with lid
- Water bottle x2+ depending on water availability (or water bladder)
- Sufficient food and snacks
- Spoon or fork
- Map of area
- Duct tape
- Clothing + rain jacket/pants
- Evening footware (sandals)
- Extra plastic bags for garbage, things that can leak/spill
- Sunblock, SPF 30 or higher, waterproof
- Toilet paper (dig hole 15cm)
To Consider and Luxury Items:
- GPS Navigator
- SPOT Device/EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon)
- Toiletries: hairbrush (or just French braid hair) toothbrush and biodegradable toothpaste
- Hiking poles- good if you have knee issues (I always bring mine)
- Wash rag, body sponge or unscented baby wipes (pack them out though!)
- Pot/dish sponge
- Pack towel
- Trowel – (dig hole and poo into it- very important in some wilderness areas)
- Biodegradable soap (try using just hot water to preserve environment)
- Bug repellent, bite cream
- Gaiters (may be in the “necessary” category depending on hike)
- Watch (if you have somewhere to be or use it as an alarm)
- Warm hat, sun hat, or both (I always have at least one of these)
- Gloves, depending on climate
- Windscreen for stove
- Needle/thread for blisters
- Blister pads/moleskin/etc (very necessary for my feet in any climate, if more than 3 days of hiking, or 20km+/day)
- Small notepad, pen
- Chapstick (one of my “necessary” items if more than 3 days on trail)
- Deck of cards, light book or standard Kindle
- Cord (hanging clothes, tarp or if tenting on wood platforms)
- Phone, turned off and in ziplock baggie (for end of hike- sometimes a necessity)
- Sewing kit
- Feminine products plus ziplock baggies to pack things out while on long hikes
Necessary Clothing: No cotton!
- Longsleeve shirt (Merino is great. Expensive, but not stinky like synthetic materials)
- Pre-broken in boots or trail running shoes depending on terrain/needs
- 1-2 pairs hiking socks (again, Merino is best. Bamboo is nice but isn’t quick drying, which can be a real problem)
- One pair quick dry pants
- Lightweight shorts unless you have zip-off pants (I use yoga shorts for hiking/swimming/sleeping)
- 1-2 pairs undies
- Sports bra, if applicable
- Hiking shirt
- Warmer layer, weather dependent (I often bring my down jacket)
Some Examples of Totally Unnecessary Items:
- Excessive amounts of clothing. Even if wet, Merino or similar clothing should keep you warm and will dry while you hike
- Soap/detergent for hikes under 4 days- bad for environment, even the ‘earth friendly’ stuff- use hot water
- Deodorant- you’re in the woods for Pete’s sake
- Can opener (don’t bring cans!)
- Wallet – use plastic baggies
I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list, so if I’ve missed something important, please post below!