South America Gear List

One for the gear geeks…

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Off-road mode

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Road mode (with the nobbly tyres lashed to the rear rack)

What follows is a list of every last thing (with the exception of food) that I’m taking along for the ride down the Andes. It’s what works for me (or at least I hope it will), but that’s not to say it’s for everyone. First off there are a couple of key differences from the generally adopted approach which are likely to raise eye brows, so let me clear the air before we begin:

No Panniers – A fairly bold move, but a significant weight saver. Ortlieb stuff is impressively rugged, although comes with an associated weight penalty and tends to rattle about off-road. Ditching the panniers, front rack and bar bag, saved 5kg and played a key part of my recent weight shedding initiative. Admittedly you can’t beat panniers for ease of accessibility and removal, but as long as you’re organised enough it’s perfectly feasible to have the things you need on the road close at hand.

Dual Tyre Strategy – Traditionally one would use a ‘do it all’ set of heavy-duty expedition tyres to cover all eventualities, along with one spare. This is a sound approach, but I’m not a huge fan of sacrificing speed on the long paved road sections (which let’s be honest, is the majority of the time for most riders) with unnecessary grip and rotational weight (the worst kind). As such, I’m using two sets of tyres; one pair of fast, lightweight slicks (Schwalbe Supremes in the skinny 1.6” version) for the long road drags and one pair of big, nobbly ones (Schwalbe Extremes 2.25”) for off road routes. Given that two of the Supremes (at a shade over 400g a pop) weigh in at around the same as one expedition tyre, and by avoiding the need for a dedicated spare, you’re not even looking at a weight penalty, just the faff of switching them over.  

And now for the unveiling:

 COOKING

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  • MSR Whisperlite International Stove
  • MSR Fuel Bottle (with petrol or gasoline for the Yanks)
  • Bottle of refined alcohol (for priming the stove so as to avoid a sooty mess)
  • MSR Alpine 2L Stainless Steel Pot w/ Clamp & Lid (which just about doubles up as a frying pan)
  • Cheap Plastic Cutlery
  • Lighter
  • Plastic Cup
  • Ortlieb 10L Waterbag
  • Swiss Army Knife

SLEEPING

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  • Big Agnes Copper Spur Ultralight 1 Tent – Well ventilated & very light
  • Vaude Groundsheet Protector
  • Marmot Helium Down Sleeping Bag -9oC
  • Thermarest Prolite Plus – Old and with countless patches, but still refuses to die
  • Sea To Summit Silk Liner

CLOTHING 

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  • 1 x Bib Shorts – Endura FS260
  • 1 x Short Sleeve Cycling Jersey – Castelli
  • 1 x Long Sleeve Base Layer – Campagnolo
  • 1 x Icebreaker Merino Long Sleeve Top
  • 1 x Endura Leg Warmers
  • 1 x Fingerless Gloves – Endura Mighty Mitts
  • 1 x Waterproof Gloves – Marmot
  • 1 x Full Finger ‘Smartwool’ Gloves
  • 1 x Mountain Equipment Goretex Active Jacket
  • 1 x Gore Paclite Waterproof Trousers
  • 1 x Lightweight Down Jacket – Montane Nitro
  • 1 x Sealskinz Waterproof Socks
  • 1 x Lightweight Trousers – Nepali Knockoff’s
  • 1 x Long Sleeve Cotton Shirt – Mountain Hardware
  • 1 x Swimming Shorts – Doubling up as casual and on the bike wear
  • 3 x Socks
  • 2 x Boxers
  • 2 x Normal Buffs
  • 1 x Polar Neckwarmer Buff
  • Giro Athlon Helmet
  • Shimano SPD Riding Shoes
  • Salomon Goretex Trainers – For Hiking etc
  • Flip Flops – Cheapies From Guatemala
  • Tiny Microfibre Towel

PHOTOGRAPHY & ELECTRONICS

My penchant for photography and gadgets is certainly my Achilles heel when it comes to lightweight packing and the following will likely have the purists up in arms.

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  • Macbook Air 11in – Powerful enough for photo editing, yet at 1kg relatively light. Complete with homemade ducktape & foam case.
  • Ipod classic 160Gb – Doubles up as a hard drive
  • Iphone 4 – Great for logging waypoints of the trip, and using mapping apps (like Gaia GPS)
  • Fast Find Personal Beacon Locator – Almost certainly an overkill but it gives family added peace of mind
  • Kindle Paperwhite – A must have for anyone who likes to read. Also good for travel guides
  • Petzl Tikka 2 Plus Head Torch – Doubles up as a front light for the bike
  • Olympus OMD EM5 Camera – Relatively compact Micro Four Thirds format, possibly the best serious travel camera in existence
  • Olympus 12-50mm, Panasonic 20mm, Panasonic 14mm Lenses
  • 2 x Spare Camera Batteries
  • Spare SD Card
  • USB SD Card Reader
  • Wireless Shutter Remote
  • Broken Gorillapod
  • Chargers etc
  • Cateye Adventure Speedo – Complete with ‘ballpark’ altimeter, which is actually quite useful in the mountains.

 SPARES & TOOLS 

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  • 4 x Spare Brake Pads
  • 4 x Spare Spokes
  • 4 x Spare Freehub Pawl Springs
  • 1 x Inner Tube
  • 3 x Sram PowerLinks
  • 1 x Spare Granny Ring – Fearing the Andes may take their toll
  • MSR Whisperlite Expedition Service Kit
  • Chain Lube
  • Duck Tape – Wrapped around lube bottle
  • Tent Pole Splint & Various Fabric Patches
  • Topeak Mutlitool
  • Plastic Tyre Lever
  • Torx Key – For adjusting brake pad alignement
  • Rema Puncture Repair Kit with Loads of Patches
  • Topeak Turbo Morph G Pump – Effectively a mini track pump, with hose, foldout foot plate and pressure gauge. Weighty but worth it.
  • Brooks Proofide
  • Compass – Silva
  • Superglue

WASH KIT & FIRST AID

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  • Barebones Wash Kit – Hotel soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, shaving gel, shampoo sachet, contact lenses. No deodorant and certainly no cologne – the chicks love it (if only)
  • Minimal First Aid Kit – I’ve stripped most of this out as it can all be bought inexpensively almost everywhere
  • Doxycycline – For Malaria prone areas
  • Sunscreen
  • Chlorine/Chlorine Dioxide Tablets – For water purification

 MISC.

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  • Abus Combiflex Lock – Really nothing more than a mild deterrent, but I rarely leave my bike unattended in a public place for more than a minute or so whilst popping into a shop. A tough call, but the weight penalty of a secure lock is severe.
  • Battered Oakley Flakjacket Sunglasses
  • Wallet of Passport, Credit Cards Etc
  • Maps – When available
  • Spanish Vocab Book
  • Note Book for Spanish Grammar
  • Pen

BAGS

  •  1 x Ortlieb 30L Rackpack – Slung over rear rack and fastened by a rachet strap, as well being connected to the dry bags on either side
  • 2 x Sea To Summit Medium eVent Compression Sacks – Reinforced with ducktape in areas in contact with rack or bungees
  • 1 x Sea To Summit Small eVent Compression Sacks – Containing sleeping bag and bungeed to handlebars
  • 1 x Outdoor Research 5L Dry Bag – Attached to handlebars containing camera, wallet and other essentials requiring easy acess
  • 1 x Sea To Summit Superlight Rucksack – To clarify this weighs about 50g, packs down to nothing and is really just for day trips/wandering around town and can be bungeed onto the rackpack for additional storage space if required 

UPDATED BIKE SPEC

  • Kona Explosif 2007 Frame (steel)
  • Kona P2 forks
  • Wheels: Sun Rhyno Lite Welded Rims laced to Hope Pro 2 Evo hubs with DT competition spokes (36 on both)
  • Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 1.6” or Extreme 2.25” folding tyres
  • Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes (160mm rotors)
  • Tekro 501 brake levers
  • Raceface Cadence Drop Bars
  • Truvativ Short stem (60mm) to account for change in geometry brought about by the drop bars
  • Chris King headset
  • Shimano Dura Ace bar end shifters (basic friction system for the front and indexed rear, no rapid fire malarkey)
  • Shimano Saint rear mech (9spd)
  • Sram XGen front mech
  • Shimano XTR crankset (a bit bling but it was good deal off ebay!)
  • Chris King bottom bracket
  • Sram P960 cassette
  • Sram Pc971 chain
  • Shimano m540 spd pedals
  • Salsa shaft seat post
  • Brooks B17 saddle
  • Sram bar tape
  • Tubus Logo rear rack (with various attachments to get them to fit, a project in itself…)

 

8 responses to “South America Gear List

  1. Interesting unveiling. I have the same number of boxers and socks! Wow. Cheers, Max from Orbita (now in Ottawa)

  2. great post paul and awesome kit. I’m interested to hear about the waterproof socks, those go inside the shoe ( ?as opposed to over them) How are they in snow / freezing conditions?

    where are you now? I’m still on the north coast!

    • Thanks Nick. The socks are great, they are normal socks with a plastic liner, I use them a lot in the UK for winter mountain biking. They worked well during my recent endeavours in Los Nevados National Park which were properly freezing at points. I’m now taking a couple of days of in the small town of Libano to recover from what was possibly too much adventure. Hope all’s well on the Northen shores and the Mrs is getting into the swing of things! Keep in touch. Cheers

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