Pack List

Knowing this would be our life for at least 12 months and a variety of climates our pack list is definitely far more extensive than it would be for a shorter trip. We’ve spent the first few months on the road tweaking our kit - there are some things we thought we couldn’t live without that have sent home (e.g., our gilets, Matt’s AeroPress), and other things that were last minute additions before we left that have proven invaluable (our lightweight jackets). But at the moment we are pretty happy with our set-up and so thought now would be a good time to document our current gear list.

Clothing and Personal Items ~ Camping and Cooking ~ Spares Kit ~ Medical and First Aid ~ Bags ~ Things That We’ve Changed

Clothing and Personal Items

Back home we are road cyclists, and so normally wear Lycra and chamois. But for this trip we made the decision to ditch the chamois for a couple of reasons: 1) packability - you can fit several pairs of underwear in the same space as a chamois; 2) easier to clean - hand washing a chamois and getting it to dry while camping can be a nightmare, but is super easy for a pair of merino undies; 3) we look slightly more “normal” when walking around town (granted we still stared at a lot). And honestly, we haven’t regretted this decision at all.

We have a lot of merino clothing. For quick-drying, warm-when-wet, and odour-resistance merino is hard to beat. A lot of our gear is from Icebreaker and Rapha - both have relatively frequent sales, at which point their stuff is almost reasonably priced.

We also opted for USB rechargeable electronics rather than anything requiring replaceable batteries. This means our dynamos and cache batteries can charge all our electronics.

Gabe:

  • Giro Synthe MIPS Helmet - safety first.
  • Giro Terraduro MTB shoes
  • Rapha Randonee shorts - for cycling and daily wear. Gabe is wearing the men’s cut because Rapha stopped making the women’s cut for a while… They are expensive if not on sale (hint: wait for a sale!), but they are comfortable, quick drying, and have been holding up well to daily wear for ~5000km now.
  • Icebreaker Sprite singlet - with limited laundry services Gabe prefers cycling in a singlet (weather permitting); it can also double as a base layer if it’s cold. Being merino, it dries pretty well overnight, even in the tent.
  • Icebreaker t-shirt - normally this is kept clean as her “nice” shirt, but it sometimes makes an appearance if some extra sun protection is needed while riding.
  • Icebreaker Sprite sports bra
  • 4x Rapha men’s merino boxer shorts - these have been a revelation. Women’s underwear is either cut too high to cover the sit-bones or has a seam right on them, so men’s boxers it is.
  • 2x ankle socks - for cycling.
  • Icebreaker Merinoloft Ellipse jacket - a last-minute addition before we left that has become a favourite piece of kit. It gets worn a lot both on and off the bike.
  • Patagonia Women’s Down Sweater jacket
  • Outdoor Research Women’s Aspire rain jacket - love the full length pit-zips and that the pockets are mesh lined so they act as another vent.
  • Ground Effect Helter Skelter rain pants - 3/4 length rain pants were a game-changer - so much more wearable than full length.
  • Icebreaker Quantum gloves and Zpacks Vertice mittens - still on the fence about the mittens as they are a bit derpy to use and we suspect they won’t be particularly durable. We will probably revert to washing up gloves for waterproofing.
  • 2x Icebreaker long sleeve tops - one for sleeping when it’s cold (260gsm merino), and one to help manage moisture under rain jacket when cycling (150gsm merino).
  • Icebreaker 260 leggings - for sleeping.
  • Dress - this was a last minute “luxury” piece, but it’s been worn almost every day. Gabe has really enjoyed having something easy to slip on at the end of the day.
  • Kathmandu Flight pants - for when it’s too cold for the dress.
  • Sunglasses - one pair that gets worn on and off the bike.
  • Swimmers - top doubles as a second bra.
  • Bedrock Cairn sandals - for off the bike and hiking.
  • Injinji toe socks - for sleeping and/or wearing with sandals in cold weather. Yes, we sometimes wear socks with sandals. But if your cycling shoes are wet and it’s cold out then this is definitely the better option, looks be damned.
  • Icebreaker buff
  • Rapha merino beanie - Warm and packs down small.
  • Matador Nanodry shower towel (large)
  • Matador Nanodry trek towel (small) - used as a washcloth.
  • Toiletries: Matador FlataPack toiletry case, deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste (full-size tube because that extra 50g of toothpaste is not the thing making the difference), floss, baby-wipes (for those dry camps), sunscreen, nail clippers, tweezers, razor, chap-stick (lives on the bike), paw-paw ointment, Savlon antiseptic cream (chamois cream without the marketing BS), a couple of bandaids (just in case), mascara (just in case).
  • Lights: Petzl Actik headtorch w/ Core rechargeable battery, Sinewave Beacon Dynamo light, SON rear rack mounted dynamo light, USB-to-DC cable (to power the dynamo lights from our batteries if we aren’t moving fast enough in the dark).
  • Electronics: Wahoo Elemnt Bolt, iPhone, iPad, AirPods, Kindle, Anker PowerCore 13,000 mAh cache battery, microUSB cable, lightning cable, USB-C cable, micro-USB cable, Thule Gauntlet 13” laptop case.
  • Exped A5 Waterproof Document Wallet - for passport, ID, etc.
  • Ottolock Hexband - They have their haters online, but we like the compactness, and that they help protect against opportunistic theft. That said, we almost never leave the bikes unattended.

Matt:

  • Giro Synthe MIPS Helmet - safety first.
  • Giro Terraduro MTB shoes
  • Bedrock Cairn sandals - for off the bike and hiking.
  • 2x Rapha Randonee shorts - for cycling and daily wear. They are expensive if not on sale, but they are comfortable, quick drying, and have been holding up well to daily wear.
  • 3x Rapha Explore Technical t-shirt - for on and off the bike. He’s worn one shirt for almost every day cycling so far (5000km at this point). A wash in the shower means it’s (nearly) dry the next day, and it doesn’t smell yet!
  • 4x Rapha merino boxer shorts
  • 1x Rapha Randonee socks - for cycling.
  • 2x Injinji toe socks - for cycling, sleeping and/or wearing with sandals in cold weather. Yes, we sometimes wear socks with sandals. But if your cycling shoes are wet and it’s cold out then this is definitely the better option.
  • Rapha Brevet gloves
  • Icebreaker Quantum jacket - this has become a favourite piece of kit and gets worn heaps on and off the bike. It takes the place of arm-warmers and a gilet when cycling, except it’s easier to put on and can be worn off the bike too.
  • Patagonia Down Sweater jacket
  • Arc’teryx Beta LT Hybrid rain jacket
  • Ground Effect Helter Skelter rain pants - love the 3/4 length, which is so much more wearable than full length.
  • Icebreaker Quantum gloves and Zpacks Vertice Mittens
  • 2x long sleeve thermals - one for sleeping (Icebreaker 200gsm), and one to help manage moisture under the rain jacket when cycling (Rapha merino baselayer).
  • Icebreaker 260 Tech Leggings - for sleeping.
  • Patagonia Guidewater pants - for off the bike. Quick-drying and pack down small.
  • Arc’teryx Elaho long-sleeve shirt - for off the bike.
  • Oakley Holbrook Sunglasses - worn on and off the bike.
  • Swimmers
  • Icebreaker buff
  • Rapha merino beanie
  • Matador Nanodry shower towel (large)
  • Matador Nanodry trek towel (small) - used as a washcloth.
  • Toiletries: Matador FlatPack toiletry case, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, Wahl Pocket Pro Trimmer (plus rechargeable AA battery), baby-wipes (for those dry camps), chapstick, nail clippers, Muc-Off chamois cream.
  • Lights: Petzyl Actik headtorch w/ Core rechargeable battery, Sinewave Beacon Dynamo light, SON rear rack mounted dynamo light, USB-to-DC cable (to power the dynamo lights from our batteries if we aren’t moving fast enough in the dark).
  • Electronics: Wahoo Elemnt Roam, iPhone, 13” MacBook Pro, AirPods, Kindle, Anker PowerCore 13,000 mAh cache battery, microUSB cable, lightning cable, USB-C cable, Thule 13” laptop case, Satechi 80W USB-C x2/USB-A x2 wall charger,
  • Camera: Sony RX100-VI camera (compact, but has full manual control), Gobe CPL lens filter, Manfrotto MP3 large pocket tripod (incredibly compact yet functional), spare camera battery, SD cards, Samsung T5 1TB SSD.
  • Matador Freerain24 packable backpack - smallest backpack that is actually useful that we could find, it packs down to the size of a fist. Bonus: it’s waterproof. Perfect for a day-hike or a massive load of shopping. Matt’s a rather massive fan of this brand, it’s expensive, but they’ve genuinely thought about light-weight travel gear, and their support is incredible.
  • Bellroy Passport Wallet - waterproof and has a tiny pen for filling out customs forms; this was a very early model and is still going strong, but unfortunately they have stopped making it and don’t have an equivalent replacement.
  • Ottolock Hexband - They have their haters online, but we like the compactness, and that they help protect against opportunistic theft. That said, we almost never leave the bikes unattended.

Camping and Cooking

We each carry our own sleeping bag, pad, pillow, plate/bowl and spork, but Matt is a gentleman and carries the tent, stove, and pot.

Spares Kit

Our spares kit is rather extensive, but with parts for gravel bikes near-impossible to come by in South America we like knowing we have most of our bases covered. This kit is split between the two of us and easily fits into our seat bags (with the exception of the pumps, which we stash in our frame bags, and the spare tyre, which is strapped to Gabe’s rack).

Tools:

Things for keeping the wheels rolling:

Things for the drive-chain:

  • 3x Quick-links
  • Length of chain
  • Jockey wheel set - we had 2 friends have issues with jockey wheels before we left, so decided to pack some.
  • Derailleur hanger (2 for each bike)
  • Wolf Tooth Roadlink
  • 2x gear cables
  • Rock n’ Roll Holy Cow Lube - performs well in all conditions (wet, dry, dusty, muddy…) and helps keeps our chains “clean”. Back home we love Rock n’ Roll Gold (we think it lasts a little bit longer), but Holy Cow is not petroleum based and so we could bring it from Sydney (and get more shipped over).

Things for brakes:

  • Shimano L04C metal brake pads (4 pairs each)
  • Shimano mineral oil and Epic portable bleed kit - for if we need to bleed the brakes on the road.
  • Sandpaper - small piece for to rough up the rotors if they get glazed.
  • Epic bleed block - can also be used to re-set pistons when changing brake pads, also has a handy rotor truing slot on the other side.
  • Travel brake calliper spacers - we hope we won’t need them for a while, but we are hanging on to them just in case we end up needing to bus somewhere with the bikes.

Miscellaneous:

  • Grease (a small amount)
  • Cleats (and bolts; 2 each)
  • K-Edge Wahoo mount insert
  • Rear free-hub bearings (for each bike)
  • Assorted bolts
  • SON gold connectors - used for some of the cabling on our dynamos. Super simple method for joining cable. These are worth their weight… in gold.
  • SON spade connector
  • Hose clamps
  • Giro shoe ratchets (and screws)
  • Repair patches for sleeping pads, tent fly, tent mesh
  • McNett Gear Aid Seam Sealer WP+ and brush - super abrasion resistant and extremely strong flexible glue and seam sealer, which we use for patches.
  • McNett Gear Aid Repair Tape
  • Mini sewing kit
  • Spare buckles for frame bags, etc.
  • Cable ties, voile straps, a length of rope, electrical tape, gorilla tape.

Medical and First Aid

  • Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight Watertight Medical Kit #5 - contains bandages, dressings, gloves, etc.
  • Emergency blanket
  • Band Aids
  • Scissors
  • Whistle
  • Savlon antiseptic cream - Gabe carries this in her toiletries bag and uses it as chamois cream, but it can also be used as a general antiseptic cream (as per it’s original use).
  • Medicines: Advil, Diamox (for altitude), Ciprofloxacin (for traveller’s diarrhoea).

Bags

Of course, all this stuff has to go somewhere… We started this trip with Ortlieb panniers and some Apidura bags, which, despite our testing in Australia, didn’t stand up to the abuse over here. We’ve since got replacements from Porcelain Rocket and Revelate Designs and so far have been very impressed.

This is the general breakdown of how we carry our gear:

  • Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers - clothes, toiletries, laptop/iPad/Kindle, cooking gear, food. These were the smallest panniers we could find that still fit a laptop (we had no interest in riding with backpacks for this distance!). These are very solid on the bike (no rattles when it’s rough) and it’s easy to take the bags on/off.
  • Revelate Designs Ripio frame bag - food and pump.
  • Revelate Designs Harness and Sweet Roll - sleeping gear. In our opinion the harness is so much better than a frontroll - it mounts securely (no bouncing around), it is quick and easy to put the dry bag on/off, and the mounting blocks means that there is space for your hands if you are on the flats of the bars.
  • Revelate Designs Egress Pocket - rain gear, sunscreen, and anything else we want easily accessible.
  • Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag - water bottles.
  • Revelate Designs Mag Tank - phone, sunglasses, AirPods, money, snacks. We have found that it can get a bit damp in the heavy rain, but we love how easy it is to use.
  • Revelate Designs Shrew seatbag - tools, spares. While we like the size of this bag we’ve found that it does wobble a bit. It’s the one piece listed here that we probably wouldn’t buy again.
  • Matt only: Revelate Designs Jerrycan - a few more tools and spares, and Matt’s lock.
  • Matt only: Revelate Designs Polecats - tent.
  • Dry bags (miscellaneous) - for organising, waterproofing, etc.
  • Backcountry Research Tülbags - for organising small parts, cables, etc. These can be made virtually waterproof by seam sealing.

Things That We Have Changed

It’s always interesting to see what holds up to the real world and what doesn’t. After over 5000km on the road we’ve certainly seen some changes to our kit. Here are some of the things that didn’t quite work out as we’d hoped:

  • Clothing - we have both reduced the amount of clothing that we pack. In short, we’ve discovered we need far less than we thought we did.
  • Water filter - we started the trip with a MSR TrailShot filter as our backup, but it’s pathetically slow and hard to use so we’ve swapped for the Sawyer Squeeze.
  • Sleeping bag - Matt started the trip with the Sea to Summit Micro 3 sleeping bag that he’s had for years. It’s an amazing bag that packs super small and is great for Australian conditions, but it just wasn’t warm enough for camping at altitude in the Andes. He now has a Sea to Summit Spark 3. As mentioned above, Gabe’s sleeping bag is keeping her warm but is far from ideal for bikepacking (but we knew this before starting the trip).
  • Bowl - Gabe started the trip using the MSR Deep Dish plate too but she found it was a pain to pack (Matt’s packs into the pot) so she has swapped to the Sea to Summit XL Bowl.
  • Bags - As mentioned above, we started the trip with Ortlieb panniers and Apidura bags, which promptly fell apart with the constant use and rough conditions here. We have been incredibly impressed by the construction quality and thoughtful design of the Revelate Designs gear, and the Porcelain Rocket Microwave Panniers have also been great. The only bag we’re currently using that we wouldn’t recommend/buy again is the Revelate Designs Shrew - it’s a great size for fitting an extensive spares kit, but it does not attach securely.
  • Tyres - We started the trip with WTB Nano 700c x 40mm tyres. While we still love these tyres (they are fast rolling on tarmac but have plenty of grip on gravel) we found that with fully-loaded bikes on the super rough roads we had to be careful not to bottom-out. We’ve recently swapped to Maxxis Rambler 700c x 45mm and have been happy with them so far (time will tell how they go for durability). We still have to be careful when the road conditions are rough, and will often pump our tyres up more for the descents to help look after our rims, but the extra 5mm seems to be helping a lot.
  • Brakes - We started the trip with 160mm rotors on the front and 140mm rotors on the rear, because that is what our bikes were configured for. To give us a bit more stopping power we’ve recently got an adaptor so we can run 160mm rotors on the rear too.