On Packing, and Repacking
Starting from our very first ride, Dmitry and I were excited to think about what we would do differently and better. We are traveling fairly minimalist (at least compared to bike tourists who have full size bikes, camping gear, etc), but we were both excited to lighten the load even more. After the first few weeks in Thailand, our main topic of conversation while we rode turned to re-packing – what we could leave behind, what we would acquire, how we would reconfigure our bags. We weighed ourselves and bikes outside a 7/11 in Thailand: Dmitry+bike+luggage was 97 kg (214 lbs), Mila+bike+luggage was 102 kg (225 lbs). Meaning that, since Dmitry is a little heavier than me, I was carrying way too much stuff. (My bike is also about one pound heavier than Dmitry’s bike – 28 pounds as opposed to 27 – because my handle-bars are a little higher.) Luckily, our two weeks in the US for the holidays allowed us to completely change up our rigs – paring out some things (mostly clothes), adding a few others (mostly bike repair items).
My current packing list is below – annotated to note what was changed up and/or left behind since Thailand. We haven’t had a chance to weigh ourselves yet, but I will update once we do. In any event, it FEELS lighter and more compact now.
- 3 pairs pants: Outlier Women’s Daily Riding Pant, lightweight pants, exercise capris
- 2 pairs shorts: merino shorts and exercise shorts (I wear these under my dress)
- 1 black dress (you have to have one LBD)
- 2 jackets: rain shell and light down jacket (we’re in warm places now, but we plan to travel to cooler climates soon!)
- 2 long sleeve shirts: blue chambray button down and merino base layer
- 3 t-shirts: merino polo, merino tee, and exercise tee (a beloved freebie from my old job)
- 2 tank tops: merino tank and long cotton tank/ swim cover
- Underthings: 3 bras, 5 pairs merino socks, 6 pairs merino undies, Craft baselayer (a much-appreciated gift from Redbeard Bikes, it helps keep me cool or warm)
- 1 bikini
- 1 zip up swim shirt (helps save on sunscreen)
- 1 merino ear warmer (my ears are really sensitive to cold/ wind)
- 1 buff (handy to keep the sun off my neck)
- 1 Baseball cap (also a freebie from my old job – no I am NOT a Yankees fan, but it is a great cap)
- 1 pair Converse
- 1 pair Sandals
This might look like a lot of clothes (it seems like a lot as I type it), but I eliminated a number of things post-Thailand (and so far, everything I brought has been worn). With this number of clothes, we need to do laundry frequently – but that is what hotel sinks (or showers) are for. Fortunately, merino dries quickly.
I also eliminated one pair of shoes after Thailand – by switching from flip flops to athletic sandals. “Athletic sandals” may be the two least sexy words in the English language, but these shoes do allow me to hike comfortably and take up much less room than my Merrells did.
- Shared Macbook laptop (I carried this in Thailand, but Dmitry uses it more frequently),
- Camera gear
- Bluetooth keyboard (so we can both type at the same time).
- Unlocked Xperia Z1 compact smartphone – we get local SIMs as we travel, and this phone works for my tiny fingers (it’s even water resistant – just don’t take it into the ocean)
- 500 GB External hard drive
We each carry:
- Anker external charger – super handy and can charge a phone for several days before needing to be recharged itself
- First aid kit – we modified the kit linked here a little, stocking up on items we know we will use frequently (like Pepto and Neosporin), and ditching some of the stuff that we think it is unlikely we’d use (like a syringe)
- Sunscreen – I carry a lot, probably too much
- Mosquito repellent wipes
- 2 camping wine glasses – they are a luxury, but it is nice to be able to self-cater without having to drink from the bottle
- ORS Recovery Salts – easy to come by, but important to have on hand when “Delhi belly” or “Thai tummy” strikes
- Laundry detergent and drain cover – for sink washing
- Toiletries – shampoo/lotion/soap/etc
- Scarf/towel – this is a long piece of cotton fabric that I got in Thailand – it replaces the travel towel and scarf that I used to carry
- Sleep sack – I cannot say how essential this has been. Even guest houses with non-dodgy beds often don’t provide any top sheet, and I don’t sleep well without covers
- Sleep mask – a freebie from our fancy flight to Thailand
- Rain Poncho
- Bandana – handy for wiping sweat or cleaning sunglasses
- Small bike chain – we rarely leave our bikes out of sight, but just in case
- Small Padlock – never used yet, but it’s so light that I keep it anyways
- Safety whistle – never used yet, but always kept handy around monkeys
- Tissues – many bathrooms don’t provide them
- Dimpa bag – to pack the bikes, eg when they are on top of a minibus or if they need to be gatechecked
- Knog Blinder lights – USB Rechargeable
- NYT Crossword book – the current one is almost done!
- Fork/spoon: Acquired in Sri Lanka for the times that we don’t want to eat with our hands
- Tom Bihn Packing Cube Shoulder Bag – this is a super lightweight bag, but it is big enough to fit the MacBook if necessary. It generally just holds my wallet, sunglasses, a cloth shopping bag, and a small journal. I brought a much larger purse to Thailand. Switching to the new bag and getting rid of one pair of shoes were probably my biggest changes for weight/bulk.
All of this is packed into 2 bags:
- On the front of my bike is a Brompton Touring Bag (or T-Bag) with 31 liter capacity.
- Strapped to the back rack is an Outlier Minimal Backpack with 26 liter capacity. I carried a much larger Kelty backpack (45 liter) for Thailand that required some special rigging to keep it attached and balanced on the bike. Part of my downsizing plan was to carry a smaller back bag – it is easier to get on and off my bike rack and also limits what I can carry.
Inside those bags are 2 packing cubes, and 4 stuff sacks to keep everything organized. Other travelers have said they think of these like dresser drawers – a way to know where things are quickly. It also helps me pack up fast and keep the load balanced.
* We’ll be updating soon with a full list for Dmitry. He packs even lighter on clothing, but carries a lot more electronics!