Dmitry’s Packing List for Brompton Bike Touring
This post is about what Dmitry is packing for Brompton bike touring. Mila’s packing post is here.
Conventional wisdom says to always bring less than you think you need when traveling abroad. Even following this advice, I still think I brought too much stuff on our trip to Thailand. When we returned to the States over the holidays, I was able to pare down my equipment – mostly by eliminating unnecessary clothes. You don’t need nearly as much as you think you do – especially if you have merino garments and don’t mind doing laundry on the go. I replaced the Chrome backpack I used on the Thailand trip with a new Lowepro photo backpack (details below). The new bag is a bit smaller but much more versatile than the Chrome bag. Whereas the Chrome bag was just a waterproof shell, the Lowepro has padded compartments for my photography equipment and our laptop, tablet and other electronics. It’s also lighter, which makes it easier to attach to the rear rack of the Brompton. The Brompton T-Bag is left free for clothes, bike equipment, and everything else. This is a simple and comfortable set-up that’s served me well so far.
One thing that will be instantly clear: No camping gear. The countries we’re touring (Thailand, Sri Lanka, India) have cheap and abundant lodging – almost no one camps here.
Without further ado, here’s all the stuff I’m carrying:
- 1 pair pants (Outlier Slim Dungarees). Outliers are the best. Since I got my first pair of Outliers a few years ago, I have never touched denim again.
- 2 pairs shorts: Columbia shorts (the shorts half of convertible pants) purchased in 2010. I wear these on the bike. Outlier 3 way longs – shorts that double as swim trunks.
- 2 jackets: NorthFace rain shell and Patagonia down “sweater”. Not using either at the moment, but both are super light and compact.
- 1 long-sleeved merino zip shirt (Icebreaker Men’s Sierra Long Sleeve Zip Jacket).
- 3 T-shirts (Icebreaker).
- 1 polo shirt (Icebreaker).
- 1 cotton tank top picked up at a store in Sri Lanka. For wearing on the bike. Got an incredible sunburn the first day I wore it.
- 1 button-down shirt: Outlier Merino/Co pivot.
- Underwear: 5 pair boxer-briefs. 3 merino (you guessed it, Icebreaker), 2 synthetic (UnderArmour). The synthetic ones are more prone to stink. 5 pair socks (all merino).
- 1 pair shoes (Camper Portal sneakers. Camper shoes are fantastic. Comfortable, elastic laces for easy slip on/off, and they refuse to stink).
- 1 pair flip-flops.
- 1 cycle cap from Redbeard Bikes.
A lot of merino wool in that list. It dries quickly, wicks moisture, and doesn’t retain odors. All of the clothes go into the two REI packing cubes.
Bike Stuff and Tools
- 3 spare tires (Schwalbe Marathon), shipped to us in India (!) by wonderful Redbeard Bikes after we had to unexpectedly use our only two spares in Sri Lanka. Mila carries these in her bag.
- ~10 spare tubes, split up between my and Mila’s bags.
- Brompton toolkit. As ingenious as the bike itself, this little cylinder stows INSIDE the bike’s frame, and contains socket wrench, hex tools, screwdrivers, tire levers, and smaller wrenches.
- Spare Brompton chain tensioner. Just in case! You can’t find Brompton parts where we’re traveling.
- Spare Brompton hinge clamp. Same as above – if we somehow damage a hinge clamp, we’re SOL.
- Spare Brompton spokes.
- Spoke wrench.
- Wrench that came with Brooks saddle (to stretch the leather).
- Proofide for giving TLC to our leather Brooks saddles.
- Dirty bandana and toothbrush for cleaning chain.
- Chain lube.
- Tire levers.
- Tube patches.
- Park tools latex gloves for bike maintenance. These are awesome. They don’t rip and can be used multiple times. I brought something like 10 pairs.
- Leatherman multi-tool.
- Laptop: MacBook Air (11-inch, Mid 2013).
- Tablet: Google Nexus 7. Between the laptop and our smartphones, we don’t really NEED this, but it can be nice to have an extra rectangle for movies, etc. Small and light, so not a pain to bring.
- Unlocked smartphone: Sony Xperia Z3. Water resistant, good camera. Unlocked phone means we can grab a SIM card wherever we are and have 3G internet.
- Anker USB charger. Crucial! This can charge my phone battery from empty 3-4 times. Great for places with frequent power cuts, guest houses with no plugs near the bed. Also, using our phone for navigation in a 8-9 hour riding day really drains the battery, so it’s great for that too.
- Bluetooth keyboard: Anker Ultra-slim aluminum keyboard. So we can type at the same time.
- Power strip: Belkin 3-Outlet Mini Travel Swivel Charger. Must have! Many places we stay only have a single outlet.
- Power adapters.
- USB cables.
- Camera: Fuji X-T1. (Not pictured, as it was used to take the picture.) In my opinion, the best mirrorless camera out there. Great sensor, all manual settings, good build, and a growing fleet of high quality lenses. I left all my pro Canon equipment back home. The quality of this camera means I will never travel with an SLR (unless I need to for work).
- Lenses: 14mm F2.8, 23mm F1.4, 27mm F2.8, 35mm F1.4 56mm F1.2.
- Spare X-T1 batteries.
- 2 battery chargers.
- GoPro Hero3.
- Spider camera holster – for securing my camera to my belt while riding.
A few readers have been asking for a longer post about my photo equipment. I’ll put one up soon and link to it here.
- Combination padlock
- Business cards for ourlifeunfolded.com from Moo Cards
- New York Times crossword book (been with us for many voyages, almost complete)
- The odd paperback picked up from a guest house
- Zip ties (always bring zip ties)
- Electrical tape
- Toiletry bag (green stuff sack)
- Bike lock: Small ABUS chain lock, just in case we ever need to lock our bikes, which we never do
- Carabiners; multi-use. I use the big one to secure my backpack to my saddle when it’s on the rear rack
- Travel towel (REI)
- Rain poncho (REI)
- Sleep sack – Like Mila said in her packing post, super essential. Especially for an item I didn’t knew existed before we started traveling! We sleep in some questionable beds, and even the nicer ones often don’t have a top sheet.
- Bottle o’brown. Pictured is a bottle of Bagpiper, a perfectly passable Indian whiskey. We drank it weeks ago, but the bottle is plastic and light, so we decant new stuff into this bottle. Classy.
- Combination wine/beer opener. Picked up at a 7-Eleven in Thailand.
All these things go into these 2 bags. The one on the left is the Brompton T-Bag (31 liter capacity); The backpack is a Lowepro Photo Hatchback 16L AW (16 liter capacity). It’s a clever little backpack. The bottom half houses a padded compartment for my lenses. The top half holds miscellaneous electronics, and the outside padded pocket fits the MacBook Air, the tablet, and the bluetooth keyboard. The T-Bag clips onto the frame in the front; the backpack stands up on the rear rack, tied with bungees at the bottom and secured to the saddle with a carabiner at the top.
As mentioned, we use packing cubes and stuff sacks to keep everything organized inside the bigger bags. Reading the list it seems like a lot of stuff, but as you can see it all packs down fairly lightly. When we find a scale we’ll update this post with weights. Everything has its place. After a few days riding, packing is on complete autopilot.