If you’re on a cycle tour keeping low weight is key. It is possible to do this in several ways:
1. Carry only bare essentials, anything else required can be bought en route. Commonly known as ‘credit card’ touring.
2. Invest in expensive but lightweight gear that will see you through any situation.
3. Consolidate current kit, getting rid of luxuries and losing every extra possible gram.
I believe the best is an amalgamation of all three. This is because in the real world the money required to carry out option one is a lot! Furthermore you cannot always guarantee finding supplies on your trip, especially if it is a Sunday. Investing in good quality gear is always appealing I particularly love going into outdoor shops and looking at gear which solve problems you never even knew existed. This is where you must be careful; ask yourself do you really need it? Can you live without it? I just try to weigh up the gain in having it –weight loss and ease of trip- versus the expenditure of getting it –could I in fact make do with an alternative? This question leads me on to option three where the key question is: Can I make do without this? And secondly how can I make this lighter? Sometimes the second question results in having to purchase an alternative part, maybe a carbon seat post, as the lighter the parts the easier the cycle. My friend, Charles, took weight shedding to the extreme cutting his toothbrush in half for the trip. However ironically he neglected to remove the large glass jar of protein shake, left in his pannier –its all swings and roundabouts.
Every now and again I’ve found I come across a piece of gear or a gadget which really makes life so much easier. I’ll try not to turn this into a kit review but here goes…
Whilst cycling through northern France on the final leg of our cycle round Europe the question came up, what piece of kit could you not do this trip without? i.e.best buys of the trip. I have decided to award three winners: cheap, modest and expensive. The expensive winner was the tent MSR’s Hubba Hubba rrp £420 -although it is possible to get it much cheaper. This tent is superb, having slept in it for a month I have no problems to report and it still looks brand new. It provided warmth in the Alps and was cool along the Med. Its simple design meant it fast to put up and very light.
The Moderate winner was the Garmin etrex vista HCx. Not the most hi-tech GPS however this reflects in its price, I’ve found it does everything I need and more. This combined with the fact it requires AA batteries means that on tour it is ideal as you need not bother with the hassle of finding electricity to recharge.
The cheap winners were our Military Poncho’s/Tarpaulin’s these are extremely versatile pieces of kit with many eyelets, para-cord and poppers you can do almost anything with them. They are also highly waterproof so for only £20 an absolute bargain!
For full reviews of the kit I’ve found useful click on the ‘review tab’. I find it personally useful to look up reviews on the internet before I invest in kit. Learn what it is like to live with from the people who already use it, most of whom will be impartial. However you can’t beat teaming that with going down to your local outdoors shop and just have a chat with them, explain what you want, what you are doing, most of them will have an opinion on the subject so just ask.