Pack List, Americas bike tour.

List made 14 months into the tour, a catalog of gear at the time of ditching the panniers. September 2014. These are partly personal notes for future pedals so tendency towards engineering detail indulged. All gear decisions a balance of cost, weight, usefulness, and storage volume.

imageClothes all laid out at start of tour. Circled items worn out and replaced, X’ed items culled from the pack.

Sleeping gear (minus clothes):

12°F/-11°C Sierra Designs sleeping bag, 700 fill down; the Sierra Designs my winter bag, in warmer climates I’ve switched between this and a 6 year old 40°F REI down bag.  Generally I sleep fairly warm, so the 12°F bag might be a little bit overkill, but it was very close in price to a similar 20°F bag at time of purchase, and the extra warmth will be welcome in Peruvian heights and Bolivian altiplano camping.

3/4 length thermarest mattress pad; inflatable, specs unknown, maybe from the 80s? Unearthed at home some time ago. Doesn’t pack as small as modern thermarest models but still works fine.

MSR Hubba tent; standard double-skin single person tent. Heavier and less packable than single-wall tents but cheaper and very reliable.

Sea2Summit silk sleeping bag liner; multiple uses: replaces sleeping bag when ambient temperature warm enough (all of Central America); when used inside of sleeping bag, liner helps keep bag less dirty and is significantly easier to clean than down; adds some extra warmth when used inside of bag (this has not yet been necessary, even camping among snow on the GDMTBR in Colorado). Might pass this on to someone new soon.

4mil thick plastic painter’s tarp; groundsheet for tent. If not used as groundsheet, functions as a rain cover for bike.

-Toothbrush + toothpaste; haven’t cut toothbrush in half yet.


For riding:

1 bike jersey; thanks Hyang for the Space City rocket jersey! Boom!

1 pair bike shorts; started with a cheap new pair of Cannondale shorts, wore those out by southern Mexico. Replaced with a pair of Stanford Cycling bib shorts, which got modified to make bib straps disconnectable, then just got rid of the straps entirely.

1 pair regular shorts; worn over the cycling shorts for pockets. Quick dying, lightweight fabric. Started with a pair from GoLite, these lasted from Alaska to Colombia (~1year) being worn almost daily. By Colombia, the fabric seemed to be suffering from excessive sun exposure. Replaced with a similar pair from Columbia.

1.5 pair socks; SmartWool, may be wool but they still stink after a few days. Getting about 8-9 months of life out of each pair before wearing major holes. Once a sock has too many holes it becomes patching material for the other socks. I try to patch clothes with the same material if possible.

1 pair leg warmers; Pearl Izumi, easier to take and off during the day than an equivalent pair of tights.

For sleeping/around camp:

1 long sleeve merino top (Ibex); my only long sleeve shirt, constantly lovingly being patched up as holes wear in.

1 pair Patagonia running shorts; lightweight, can double as another pair of boxers.

1 pair Patagonia rain pants; my only long pants. Black for formal occasions. Lightweight.

1 pair thermal leggings; merino wool from Ibex.

1 pair alpaca wool socks; thanks Roos! Unbelievably warm and comfy.

1 pair heavier weight wool socks; sleeping socks before acquiring the alpaca ones. Now spares.

Off the bike/spares/jackets:

-1 T-shirt, merino; Icebreaker, prefer wool for comfort/backup cycling shirt.

-1 T-shirt, synthetic button up; quick-drying, button up for formal occasions.

-2 pairs wool boxers; Icebreaker.

-Towel; REI camp towel, large

-1 raincoat, Patagonia; effective wind jacket either alone or paired with long sleeve wool top.

-1 down jacket, Patagonia; great jacket, no complaints, but if starting over would go for the hoodless version.


1 pair short finger cycling mitts; gloves essential for working a worn Rohloff shifter in wet weather.

-1 pair wind/rain gloves; Pearl Izumi, what I had before the tour. Good for chilly but not too cold weather.

-1 pair warm winter gloves; off-brand, picked up in Wyoming for the GDMBR.

-1 beanie; Smartwool.

-1 buff; wool, great beanie/scarf/face dust protector/other.

-1 cycling cap



-Salomon XA Pro 3D Mid GTX

-Crocs; favorite off-the-bike around town travel shoes.

Cooking gear:

-Trangia clikstand/alcohol stove combo; alcohol stove for Zen cooking, way less powerful than a pressurized gas stove but way quieter. I like the alcohol stove a lot cooking for one person, two people requires patience, more than two is… unlikely.

-.9L aluminum pot; Primus model, 4.5″ diameter, big enough for one person, can be used to cook enough for two with caution. Next time would look for a pot similar volume but wider diameter to fit better on the clikstand.

-Toaks titanium mug; 450ml. Cowboy coffee anyone?

-Titanium spork Stainless steel spoon; lost the fancy titanium spork in Cajamarca, bought a generic spoon off the next restaurant we ate at. Only use a spoon when camp cooking anyway.


-Canon G15 camera; learning more about photography over course of trip but not at DSLR/M4/3 level yet. G15 has good image quality and reasonable size.

-Nexus 7 tablet; 2013 model. For basic (JPEG) photo editing, email, reading books, watching movies, the N7 performs stupendously. I would take this easily over a netbook, the tablet performs better and weighs less. The N7 performs RAW image processing satisfactorily, but not as well as a Lightroom/laptop combo would.

-HTC Vivid smartphone; thanks Corey! Unlimited uses for a smartphone, for me primarily: maps/GPS, music (thanks Kerolus!), book reading, notes, more pocketable camera. GAIA GPS is a great map app, haven’t used paper maps since Mexico. Prefer Android to iOS.

-Steripen; UV water purifier, Freedom model.

-Chargers: 2x 5W usb chargers, 1x 7W USB charger, 1x Canon camera charger. 3x micro-USB cables.

-Micro-USB to OTG cable + USB SD/microSD reader; to read memory cards into the Nexus 7.

Batteries; 2x phone batteries (constant usage), 2x camera batteries (have used the spare battery once in 14 months).

-Headphones; cheap ubiquitous pair found all over Latin America, they cost $5-6 and last 2-4 weeks. I miss quality headphones.

-Memory cards; 32gb card for camera, 32gb card for phone (stores music), 2x 8gb microSD cards for backups.

Random things from the front pocket and gas tank bags:

-Toilet paper

-Hand sanitizer

-Sunscreen; thanks Anne!

-Skin lotion

-Lip salve; thanks Willa!

-Small notebook(s), pens, Sharpie; Sharpie unnecessary but I like it.

-Random postcards/letters from friends; suffering from severe water damage but appreciated.

-String; 4-5m for clothesline/what-have-you.

-PrincetonTec headlamp; don’t know model/lumens but bright enough to replace a headlight on the bike.

-el cheapo camera tripod; thanks Paul!

-Swiss Army knife

-Sewing kit


-cable lock; heavier than necessary, for weight reasons any lock is going to be more of a deterrent than actual security. This cable lock not the lightest but it’s what I had before I left.

-various straps, various lengths; essential for securing bikepacking loads.


Tools: Allen key multi-tool, T25/T15 driver, 3-sided Park Tool spoke key, 2x Park Tool tire levers, 2x generic lighter tire levers, patches, glue, small piece of sandpaper, lightweight M8 wrench (for emergency Rohloff shifting), chain breaker, 5 links spare chain, 2-3 sets BB7 brake pads, 1 spare tube, 2 chain master links, way more spare M4 bolts than necessary, Park Tool PMP pump (thanks Sebastiaan!)

Medicine; Ibuprofen, band-aids, Cipro, Deoxcyclone + Malarone, antidiarrheal pills, PeptoBismol tablets, Neosporin, Hydrocortisone cream.

(Significant) Things That Have Been Abandoned:

-laptop; started the trip with a 5yr old netbook, featuring terrible battery life, poor performance, and heavy. It has been replaced with the Nexus 7 tablet. The only thing I really miss is typing on an actual keyboard.

-physical books, including a Spanish dictionary; as nice and accessible as it is to pull out a physical book, is that really worth the space when carrying a 1) kindle 2) book-sized tablet 3) smartphone, all of which can be used to read with?

-Amazon Kindle; 3G keyboard model, good battery life and free basic 3G meant I could check email easily and frequently. The free 3G was the selling point for me on the Kindle, but then the screen broke in Colombia.

-hammock; Grand Trunk Nano 7, bought for Central America when hot and humid enough to make sleeping in the tent’s inner half uncomfortable. Then didn’t use the hammock frequently because I didn’t have a bug net for it, and Central America has plenty of bugs. Very inclined to use the hammock instead of a tent on future riding through the USA or similar climates. Camping in the Andes is frequently above treeline, so not great hammock conditions.

-1 pair pants, 1 pair shorts, 1 spare t-shirt; nobody expects cyclists to wear fresh clean clothes anyway. Especially not the bikepackers.

Things I don’t have but want on future big pedals:

-my 6″ stainless steel ruler; extra weight but sometimes I just want to measure things. And have a quality straightedge.


Packed and rolling, with 6 days of food, 1 day of water. The backpack is generally required if carrying more than 2 days of food.


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