Packlist: Every Last Thing

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The rig. A Surly Ogre, clad in Porcelain Rocket framebag and seatpack, Ortlieb panniers, Carradice Super C saddlebag and a Revelate Gas Tank.

On the assumption that it’s always interesting to riffle through other cyclists’ panniers, here’s my packlist for Peru. Overall, it’s working out nicely. The gear I’m carrying is keeping me comfortable at altitudes of up to 5000m, come rain or shine. My possessions aren’t without their little luxury items – a portable speaker, for instance – as well as my work necessities – like my laptop.

I travel lighter than most long distance bike tourers, but certainly not as light as some. Without doubt, jettisoning extra ballast has proved a real benefit crossing Peru’s unforgiving Andean cordillera. It’s also opened up possibilities of riding more challenging and technical trails that would have been either impossible, or extremely unappealing, with a classic 4 pannier setup. (Which is not to say I don’t obsess about alternative setups and different gear as I ride. But for now at least, I’m happy.)

Clothing

Ground Effect Robin Hood; thin, merino blend long sleeve top, with a hood that fits under a helmet. It’s time tattered, but I love it. Smartool merino striped jumper; my attempt at looking vaguely stylish off the saddle. Patagonia synthetic puff jersey; ideal for round camp. Prana sleeveless cotton T-shirt; comfy for warm weather riding. Cotton T shirt; an old favourite. Wool leggings; from the Peruvian market, keep my ankles warm (-: Merino socks; for riding, hole-ridden. Alpaca socks; for sleeping, bought locally for $2. 2 x Rapha merino underwear; super comfy. Synthetic thermal underwear; cheap but sufficient. Patagonia shell; keeps the elements out. Endura 3/4 length Venturi waterproof shorts; one of my favourite bits of gear. Neoprene gloves. Giro padded cycling mitts; v comfy. 5:10 Freeride shoes; tough as nail shoes, but slippy in mud. Uvex helmet; not always worn when touring, but a necessity for mountain biking. Counterfeit Crocks; ideal for round camp.

Sleeping

Tarptent Moment; singleskin, freestanding, uber quick to pitch, but integrated poles limit packing possibilities. Tyvek groundsheet; cheap/free and light. 3/4 length Thermarest Prolite 3; refuses to die. Thin foam mat; for yoga and stretching. North Face -1c ultralight sleeping bag; 900 fill power of compact snugness, a key component in saving space. Vapour Barrier Liner; a cold weather booster to my sleeping bag if needed.

Cooking 

Trangia/Cliksand denatured alcohol stove and support; fantastic combo. 0.9L Evernew titianium pot; lightweight. 1 x ti Snowpeak spork. Fold-flat camping bowl; doubles as cutting board. Lighter. Matches. Penknife. Hydrapak 2.5l water bladder; useful when the 2.8L of water capacity on my bike isn’t enough. Large zip lock bags; for food storage. SteriPEN Freedom; USB-rechargeable water filter.

Washkit

Toothbrush and toothpaste. Suncream. Tea tree oil. Dr Bronner’s peppermint soap; 59ml bottle. Ibuprofen; just in case. Nail clippers. Scissors; for beard trimming.

Paperwork

Photocopy of passport (additional copy scanned and save online). IMTB Maps of Peru and Bolivia. Moleskin; for note tacking and map scribbling. Pen.

Electronics

Petzl USB-charged headtorch; 220 lumens of sheer awesomenessBoombotix; I love my music – portables speakers don’t get any better than this. iPhone 5; serves as GPS, music, guidebook etc… Cable and wall plug. iPod Shuffle; perfect for riding. Sony In-ear headphones. 11in Macbook Air (stored in padded sleeve); expensive but incredibly powerful for its weight. 1TB WD My Passport Hard Drive (stored in padded sleeve); for RAW backups (JPGs are uploaded to DropBox when possible). 16GB Memory stick. Short USB cables.

*USB devices are charged using a Sinewave Cycles Revolution (formerly Bright-Bike Revolution)

Camera

Canon 5dMk2; fantastic IQ but brick-like in size and weight. 2 spare batteries. Charger. 4x16GB CF cards. Card reader. Lens wipe. Lens dust blower. Lenses: 24mm f/2.8. 40mm f/2.8; pancake-style, stays on the camera most of the time. 70-200 f/4; non-IS, the cheapest and most compact of Canon’s 70-200 zooms.

Spares + repairs

WTB 29×2.5 Weirwolf tyre. 2 x 29” tubes w/removable cores, Topeak multitool w/chainbreaker, Leatherman Squirt (includes pliers and scissors), 2 x water cage bolts, seatpost bolt, chainring nut and bolt, tire boot material, patch kit, extra patches, tyre lever, brake cable, 2 sets of BB7 brake pads, 2 spare spokes of each length, 6 extra chain links and 2 extra Sram Powerlinks, a few zip ties, Gorilla tape wrapped around Topeak Master Blaster pump. Small bottle of lube. Rag. For the Rohloff: 2 spare Rohloff torx bolts, a TX20 key and a Rohloff sprocket removal tool. 2 pre-cut gear cables to the correct length.

Wishlist

Swap out my Tarptent Moment for a Contrail; a little lighter and more importantly, very compact to pack.

Knee/leg warmers; more practical than stopping to remove my thermal underwear by the roadside…

Perhaps – a lighter camera. A Fuji XE-2? An Olympus EM-1? Admittedly, it’s hard to give up my full frame DLSR.

What I don’t pack!

Padded bike shorts; normal underwear is fine by me. 

Trousers; I make do with shorts and leggings, or my 3/4 length waterproof shorts around camp.

Med kit; aside from Ibuprofen and duct tape. 

Lock; the bike is tied to my tent at night, if need be, or brought into a guesthouse room. 

44 thoughts on “Packlist: Every Last Thing

    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Paul,

      I probably wouldn’t even be considering changing over from the Canon, but for the fact that the electronics are failing, and I’m sometimes losing up to 50% of my pictures – unless I remember to remove the battery regularly, which seems to help. Hopefully it’s fixable. If it’s a sensor issue, I fear the repair cost will be more than a replacement camera…

      I always keep my eye on what’s new in the camera world – just for the sake of window shopping (-: The Sony and Fuji compacts (like the RX100s) definitely seem top of the game right now, but that new little Panasonic GM-1 Micro 4/3rds looks pretty neat too, if size and weight is a real issue – and you still want interchangeable lenses.

      I’ll be in the UK over Xmas, which will give me a chance to (hopefully) get my Canon repaired. Otherwise, I’ll be checking out some of the mirrorless cameras from Olympus and Fuji.

      Reply
  1. Gary and Patti

    Casss, great post. I wondered if you might prefer the Contrail after seeing Kurt’s. BTW, I’ve now broken 2 of the Leatherman Squirts. It’s been the pliers both times. Be careful with it. They do have a lifetime warranty but that does us no good in Peru. I just bought a Gerber Dime to replace my broken Squirt. The Dime has both pliers and scissors and appears tougher. It is a bit heavier though.

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Too bad about those little Squirts!

      There’s definitely pros and cons to the Contrail, from what I can see. But I like the look of it a lot. It’s super compact pack size is definitely a big advantage. The integrated poles limit this on the Moment, which has always bugged me (for instance, it won’t fit in a pannier). There’s more internal space in the Contrail too – and shaving some weight is no bad thing either. But… the Moment has more height to it, and it’s super quick to pitch. With both poles, it’s freestanding, which can be handy. I really like it, but for the internal poles.

      Reply
      1. Andi

        Contrail is indeed the most compact vs. usability you can get – at a good price. I bought it together with 2 of the original poles (to not have one pole blocking the entrance) which will fold down to 41cm and I store them at the bottom of my frame bag. The tent itself gets rolled up with the two small poles at the bottom fits the handlebar bag nice and easy. You can even remove those two poles and then be able to stuff the tent everywhere you want. Free standing is a matter of taste, though it can be handy at some point. Weight is 860g including 2 designated poles, the original 4 pegs, cords and a pole repair sleeve. Of course you can reduce weight with lighter poles.

        It takes some time and practice (about 10x) to find out how to pitch it quick and stable each time. What I don’t like so far is the very slippery bottom (at least with my matress) that makes me waking up at the lowest area each morning. But that’s solveable somehow.

        Endura FS260 Pro Leg Warmers! Tough, warm, windresistant, partially water resistant, good price. The make for a very good long trousers substitute.

        Reply
        1. Gary and Patti

          Andi, you may already know this but you can run thin beads of silicone on the floor of the tent to help with the slickness. I use a Neo-Air and it’s not too much of a problem for me, fortunately.

          Reply
          1. Gary and Patti

            Andi, I just painted diagonal strips with diluted silicone sealer, 1/2 silicone 1/2 mineral spirits. I think it’s the same stuff as Silnet? Google came up with this-http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=3612

  2. Allen

    Hi Cass,
    If you wind up buying a new camera, you might also consider looking for a used EM-5; there’s probably going to be a lot of people selling as they move to the EM-1.

    Aside from the financial savings, the EM-5 also has the advantage of being modular; I love that I can strip it down to just the body with a pancake lens to be smaller and more incognito in crowds, or throw the grip(s) on to make it handle better with bigger lenses like the Panasonic 12-35 f2.8 or a large telephoto. But as you mention, there are a lot of great options out there.

    Safe travels!

    Allen

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Thanks for that Allen. Everyone I know who has the EM-5 loves it. Hopefully, it won’t come to buying a new camera. But if it does, I’ll definitely check it out.

      Reply
  3. Steve Jones

    Wouldn’t give up my EM5 for anything. Superb results from both camera and lenses.
    Even the budget Olympus lenses give impressive color and detail.
    Over the last couple of years I’ve lightened my bike load too. Yours is a very efficient gear combo Cass, honed from practical use. The one thing I don’t like to economize on is my tent, especially for the times I’m going to be sitting out bad weather. So for me, I’m willing to carry the extra weight for that one item of luxury. I use a Hilleberg. Once you’ve enjoyed using one of these, especially in cold or wet weather, it’s hard to go back to anything else. Sheer quality. Not super light, but worth it for me, and if you have a small rack, it’s really no problem at all to carry.

    Reply
  4. Gnat

    Thats quite an electrinics kit Cass. When I see your pictures it sure makes me want to travel. Thank you.

    Your bike aet up has me thinking about changing my set up a bit. I dont think i coud do panniers again but for longer trips like yours they’d be essential and work great. I like the front rack,bag set up though. That is the part that has me thinking.

    As an Olympus EM1 and EM5 owner all I can say is that they are wonderful travel cameras. Right now I take a 12-40 pro lens and the 75 mmf1.8. I have also substituted the 17.5 f1.8 for the 12-40 for an even smaller kit.

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Gnat, thanks for the comment! I’m a bit behind on my replies, meant to post something earlier.

      If I go the M4/3rds route, I’d definitely be looking at making the investment into the 12-40.

      A question – I know it’s a personal thing depending on shooting style, but are you glad to have the EM-1 over the XE-1 you had previously?

      Reply
      1. Gnat

        I do prefer the OMD over the Fuji in all areas except low light and black & white conversions.

        The OMD is smaller, faster, weather sealed and just more dense feeling in hand (i like that). I also like that I can travel with a two lens kit.

        Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving!

        Reply
  5. John Archibald

    Cass, I’ve been following your blog for some time now and particularly admire your photography. It did seem slightly strange to me for a guy that travels light to switch over from your 4/3 system to the 5D MKii. The size and weight that will add to your pared down kit are huge. I see that you’re looking at the xe2 as an option. I’ve got the x-pro and love it. I still use the 5D for work, but much prefer the x-pro and use it in preference to the canon whenever possible. Can’t recommend it highly enough and image quality at least matches the canon L lenses that you have (probably exceeds it). The 14mm and 35mm are particularly good. The 55-200 will give you a longer reach than the canon 70-200 and at a fraction of the size / weight. What about going for the xe1 rather than the xe2? There are some great deals out there at the moment for the xe1 and the upgrades in the xe2 are not particularly relevant to the types of images that I’ve seen you shoot (eg I don’t think you need the faster auto focus).

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      John,

      I know, it doesn’t make quite sense… I’d have stuck with Micro 4/3rds but at the time, the fast (and long) lenses I wanted were really lacking. I ended up with a 5dMk2 as I picked up a great second hand deal, and already had the lenses to hand – bar the 40mm, which is relatively cheap. Now though… I’ve come full circle and back on the lookout for a mirrorless system. As a 5D Canon user, great to hear you endorsing the Fuji. There’s certainly a ‘look’ about the pictures I’ve seen that I really like. Just need to try one out…

      Reply
      1. Stijn

        Hi Cass, sorry to hear the 5DMk3 is giving you trouble. I’ve been looking into the new Sony a7/a7r’s and seriously thinking about making the transition, much smaller form factor/full frame/mirrorless, build in EVF, lots of lenses that will will work on it including EOs mount (with the right adapter) and M-mount obtics. I used to have a Tessar T* Zeiss lens and loved the contrast/colour rendering. I thought it might be of intrest to you.

        Reply
        1. Cass Gilbert Post author

          Thanks Stijn,
          The A7 is on my list of cameras to check out, in the event that mine isn’t repairable…

          Reply
  6. Skarrecrow

    Was wondering following the recent posts of the last several weeks with the amount of rain.
    What do you use for rain gear?

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      I have a Patagonia shell, some neoprene-style gloves and 3-4 length Endura waterproof shorts. Forgot to put them in the list – they are now added!

      Reply
  7. Mark_BC

    I don’t think I’d be able to get away from rear panniers, at least on longer trips, they are just too handy. Nothing too huge though.

    3 months ago I did a trip up to the Chilcotins and loaded my front end fairly heavily — no panniers, but lots of stuff up there. It was way too cumbersome for off road and gravel. So on the next trip, a month later, I lightened the front end quite a bit. I still had gear up there though. I think I hit the sweet spot for weight; it actually seemed to help having a bit of weight up there. I was flying down the rough dirt road and the weight seemed to help with traction and stability, but I was still agile enough to turn fast and suck up the terrain. The difference in gear that came off the front went into a backpack on my back, which wasn’t nearly as uncomfortable as I feared it might be.

    I got a Moment too, and you say that the poles are integrated. I presume you mean the single one that goes through the yellow sleeve? I have been taking that one out every time so the poles are separate from the tent. It’s a little tricky to get it in and out every time but I got the hang of it and it isn’t too bad now. I am also thinking I could cut some slots in that yellow sleeve to make it easier to access the pole ; I don’t think it needs to be so continuous over the whole length of the pole.

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Mark,

      Maybe we’re talking about a different tent? Mine has four integrated poles (the Rainbow has one), two at either end. As far as I remember, they are sewn in and can’t be removed. Or at least, it would be very tricky to do so.

      Reply
      1. Mark_BC

        Oh yes, you’re right…

        I have another question. I am thinking I may actually do the descent of the palm canyon in Baja Mexico I’ve been thinking about, and due to work issues it may come up faster than I expected. I would bring the Pugsley I’m building up, and if my friend from LA comes he’ll bring the Mukluk I sold him. The issue is I need to pull a trailer to bring along 2 weeks’ worth of water (and to make water drops along the way in case I have to backtrack out). My Extrawheel isn’t going to work with the big offset wheel of the Pugsley, plus I would like to run an Alfine IGH and the one I have has a solid axle, so the Extrawheel skewer won’t fit.

        I remember a while ago you reviewed a trailer that clamps on to the seatpost, but I can’t seem to find it in the archives. Which one was that? Would you recommend it?

        For water, when I get down to the Sea of Cortez where the canyon empties, I can desalinate seawater. I’ll bring a driftwood-powered pot for distilling with a flexible copper tube connected to the lid that directs the steam into another pot where it will condense out. Also, there is this interesting hand powered desalinator that can produce 3/4 of a litre of water per hour. Not cheap though but a good backup in case you need it. Once I hit the ocean, I’d packraft back down the coast to civilization.

        http://www.mec.ca/product/5007-825/katadyn-survivor-06-water-desalinator/

        Reply
  8. Chris

    The Ground Effect mix of merino and polyester looks good – the best merino stuff I have is a mix to help durability and not overload the wool with sweat. I’d like to get a couple of bits from them but looks like they only send stuff direct from NZ (I’m in the UK). How do you find their sizing? I’m probably right between a M and an L, at least in waist size (probably a Large in body size as have extra long arms) but unsure which way to go…

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Hey Chris. I’m a big fan of GE, and love the Robin Hood and Body Bag for bike transportation. My clothing is pretty old, so probably best to contact them directly about sizing. They’re always been really helpful in the past.

      Reply
  9. Brian

    Cass,
    Thanks for sharing all the great info. Been a reader for a while.
    For leg warmers, I have Ibex wool warmers.
    Fantastic! Sometimes they are too warm! And, as you know, wool will keep you warm even if wet.
    Have to track them down though as they don’t always have them on the Ibex site.
    Happy travels.

    Brian

    Reply
  10. Richard crawford

    Camera – have a look at the Fujifilm X100s – it has replaced my 5D on all journeys or its lens changing brother the X-pro1 for more versatility. Sharpest pics I have ever taken – and a GoPro3 hard to believe they can do so much good in such a small package …..

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Richard,

      I’ve had my eye on the X100 or X100s for some time… Most likely, an interchangeable system would suit me better, though there’s obviously real appeal in keeping it simple. Hopefully, I’ll get a chance to try out a few options in the UK, as my Canon is coughing and wheezing – it now needs to be turned off and on between most shots )-: As least I managed to squeeze out a few shots of Machu Picchu (-:

      Reply
  11. Tom

    Cass (where’ the post on getting to Cusco???!!)

    Camera-wise: I’ve thought a fair bit about EM-5 alternatives recently and won’t be swapping for what’s on the market at the moment. I’ve had a play with the EM-1/Oly12-40 combo (only in a shop) and am getting the lens, but not the EM-1. The reason – despite better buttons and ergonomics, it’s a significantly ‘bigger’ camera over the EM-5. For me, the EM-5 gives me the option of most of the ergonomics of the EM-1 by using the grip, but allows me to pare things down to a smaller camera when I want to be minimalist. The EM-1 loses that option, and funnily the extra cm of width is where it feels bigger the most.

    The lens (Oly f/2.8 12-40) is beautiful – it is a ‘big’ lens (for m43), but it’s a joy to handle and has all the weather sealing you could want.

    I currently own the Pana 35-100 f/2.8, PanaLeica 25 f/1.4, Oly 12 f/2.0 and Rokinon 7.5 Fisheye. I will be selling the PanaLeica and Oly 12mm and getting the new Oly 12-40, and probably the PanaLeica 15mm f/1.7 when it comes out to have as a less bulky ‘on-the-camera’ prime for about town stuff. I reckon the combo of 12-40 and 35-100 would cover me for expedition use, perhaps with the fisheye for ‘spice’, and the 15mm PanaLeica if I’ve got space.

    Looking forward to seeing what you get up to south of Cusco – particularly into Bolivia and the Puna (some really interesting stuff to explore there….)

    Tom

    Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      Tom, I know it’s a little bulky – but the main draw to the EM-1 is the amazing weather sealing, and the 1/8000 shutter speed. I have a tendency to destroy cameras – would this one survive?!

      Ultimately, I really want to try out a few cameras before biting the bullet – the EM-1, the EM-5 (which is taking some price drops, as a new one is due out) and the new and ‘old’ Fujis. I’m hoping London will provide that opportunity. I’m less and less hopeful that my Canon is repairable – it just hung in there for Machu Picchu…

      That’s an enviable collection of glass you’re gathering (-:

      Reply
    1. Cass Gilbert Post author

      No particular preference, as I’ve really just used anything I can get my hands on. Sintered where possible.

      Reply
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