– Tent – Get a small and as light a tent as you are able to afford/find. I carry a two person tent compliments of Dirt Rag Mag as there are two of us, if there is one of you, you can have a smaller tent. Now, if you will be using hotels/motels, friends/family, a service like Warmshowers.org or Counchsurfing.com and you are set and confident tat you will have no troubles with sleeping arrangements, you might decide to skip the tent all together!
– Sleeping Bag – There are more styles of sleeping bag under the sun than chinchillas in a fur factory. Choose the one that is best for where you are going. A very important factor is down, versus man made fill. I am speaking from very personal experience right now as my down sleeping bag has been outside for the last 5 DAYS drying. So, imagine if it would have gotten wet while I was out doing my tour and not resting a friends house!?!?! What would I do, wet, it weighs a ton, and even in 100 degree, direct sun, it has taken 5 days to dry and on day 3 it smelled like mildew. Based on this and based on the temperature I will be facing for the next 3 months, I am leaving it here, I has done well, but, as with the Buddhist Koan [story that teaches a lesson] about the man who makes a boat to cross the river and then carries it once he is on the other side, know the use of things, and know when to let go in order to have a great ride. If it does not serve you, gift it to someone and move on. This is about the adventure, not the stuff.
So choose you sleeping bag wisely, it will make a huge difference when you sleep, when you are riding – you have to carry it after all! Further, you could choose to use a Bivvy Sac. This is basically a waterproof condom that surrounds your sleeping bag and negates the need for a tent – DEPENDING WHERE YOU ARE. If you are in critter country, a tent may well be a good idea. A bivvy sac basically makes you and your sleeping quarters into a most attractive warm cave. One would hate to wake up with rattlesnakes and scorpions sharing that space! Of course, if you do, REMEMBER, m o v e s l o w l y and keeeeeep caaaaaalllllmmmmmm. Right. Seems that poisonous animals hate sudden human movement. So, if you are in that situation, remind yourself you are already in it and be as zen as you can be.
– Sleeping Mat – You will need to separate yourself from the ground if you are in a cold climate, and you may not yet be ready to tackle the heavy duty lifestyle of the full living on the road experience and may want some padding. This is effectively done in a few different ways. I use a Thermarest mattress that effectively folds [Thanks for teaching me Jessica] into a package smaller than a regulation football [USA, not rest of world soccer]. Diana who is a bit more ninja than I uses a yoga mat, but then, she is a yogi, so, um, yeah…
– Tarp – A great item is a tarp, especially in brown. This will be, of course, a great thing to put under the tent, also known in this instance as a footprint. I use it as such and when I am in sketchy territory I use it to cover the bikes and hide the tent from potentially dangerous eyes.
– Compass – After all, you are a traveller now, know where you are headed.
– Light – Use you Bike lights, a flashlight, just bring a light. If you use your bike lights, using the rear red light will be best at night time as it does not take away your night vision and wild critters react to it differently, less aggressively than white light!
-Bungee Cords – You will probably already have these with you unless you are traveling ultra light ninja style. If you are traveling ultra ninja style, I still suggest at least one bungee.
– Cooking – Utensils, stoves etc. We do not carry anything like this and are slowly looking for a really good small pot and pan. Lightweight, preferably stainless steel, there are many non stick options, BUT, you must be very careful with non-stick as once it gets scratched, it begins to impart its chemical nature into all you eat from that pan or pot. You don’t want that stuff in your body, not even a little bit. I would urge to look for stainless or something made for what you are doing. Again, if you are on a strict budget, get what you can and leave the rest to god, all that matters is the adventure. The poorest man in the world can leave on a bike tour from Co-op items and stuff others throw away and come back a millionaire with stories to tell, and this my friends is a fact. But seriously. We do not carry and are getting ready to change that. Currently we have had the fantastic fortune of cooking at peoples homes and the meals we get from restaurants of rice, beans and salad are almost as cheap as buying the ingredients and cooking ourselves, so we figure we will get into it when we get to the poorer countries where even beans are expensive and going to a restaurant is out of the question expensive. Another true story, travel will open your mind to much.
These are the main items, in addition to this, you can carry personal items, whatever that means to you. A guitar, little computer, cell phone [I don’t carry one, Diana does], surfboard [watch the wind sheer effect, could know you over], lucky charms – not the cereal, the things that bring you luck, make up, extra food, lots of clothes, I carry Chinese medicine tools/instruments of healing, whatever makes you comfortable, just know that you will be the once carrying it!