Welcome to our latest gear list, updated to April 2020.
After three years and nine months on the road since we left Deadhorse, Alaska in June 2016 we have continually fine tuned our equipment, ditching items that at first we thought we could not do without for a long tour, while other items have become relied-upon favourites.
There have been quite a few changes to our camping equipment since our last list, most notably a lighter tent and sleeping bags, but the biggest change has been to our bikes.
From Cusco to Patagonia (9 months cycling) we have been riding the Otso Voytek which is a carbon fibre plus-fat bike. Super versatile, these bikes can run 26, 27.5 or 29 inch wheels, with a variety of tyre widths (up to 4.6 on 26 inch). We’ve been running them with 27.5 x 3 inch, which has been perfect for the type of terrain we like to ride, as well as coping well with sandy routes such as the Ruta de los Seis Miles.
The extra stiffness, lighter weight, tyre clearance and sportier handling have all been very beneficial for us and improved our riding experience, especially on technical trails. They are truely go-anywhere adventure bikes, especially when combined with the Salsa Kingpin Deluxe fork, which has two sets of cargo cage mounts. Watch out for a more detailed overview of these, and other equipment, soon.
Our overall ethos as far as equipment is concerned is to carry as little as we think we can get away with to meet basic comforts. Neither of us like being cold – especially while waiting to photograph sunrise – so we don’t skimp on warm jackets, but we do eschew apres-riding wear, bike parts for ‘what if’ situations and excess tools.
Our ‘kitchen’ is very basic, because what’s more important to us is being light and agile enough to have broad choices about where we ride, and not to just do remote hike-a-bikes and steep mountain roads, but to be able to enjoy them too.
After so much time on the road, we’ve been able to fine tune our clothing layering system so that it is as versatile as possible, while as light as possible for the expected conditions.
The list that follows is what we find to be comfortable for riding in alpine and high altitude desert conditions (down to -15c) typical of the Andes. That includes conditions ranging from cold & wet and very cold & relatively dry (Peru and Bolivia during dry season, as well as the Puna regions). Note that in both these regions highs in the low 20’s (celcius) are common during the day, even at 4000m, and the canyons can reach into the 30’s. This is the gear we used for the Andes through southern Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina.
• We rode the mountains in Colombia, Ecuador and northern Peru (to Huaraz) with +5c Kathmandu Pathfinder sleeping bags, as we’d sent our winter bags down to Huaraz from Mexico, way back. Sometimes sleeping at elevations above 4000m we thought we’d freeze, but these bags were actually quite manageable as long as we slept in all our clothes (including down jackets at times), so if you want to save weight and bulk, consider this strategy through the ‘warmer’ countries. Only since Huaraz it has been consistently colder so we were happy to have warmer bags.
In June 2019 we then changed our winter bags (rated -10c) to a more broadly versatile Big Agnes Hitchens UL 20 (-7c) which has been perfect for Peru/Bolivia altiplano conditions and the puna, as long as you are prepared to wear socks, leggings and merinos in the bag during the coldest nights and sometimes even a down jacket if you are a cold sleeper. Doing this enabled us to get our pack weight even lower and save more space.
• Our switch from the MSR Hubba Hubba to the Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (bikepacking model) was well worthwhile. Things we prefer about the Copper Spur are: ShortStik poles which fold extra small, much greater stability in wind, better internal storage and weight & space savings. If you use this tent in dusty & windy conditions (such as the Chilean/Argentine Puna) you can expect lots of dust inside, and the zippers to have a shorter life (carrying spare sliders is essential).
• We strategically lighten up at times for extra difficult sections of riding (Baja Divide, parts of TEMBR/Tres Volcanes, Cordillera Huayhuash, Mama Coca) by sending stuff ahead with couriers. This is usually to a reliable location such as a pre-booked hostel or Warm Showers host.
• Some of the equipment featured on this list is from sponsors. But in every case, the items we use are specifically what we wanted, not what the sponsor wanted us to be carrying.
Read our Baja Divide gear list, and to see how Mark packs his bike, scroll right to the end of this post.
• Singlet: Kathmandu driMotion Active
• T-shirt: Otso
• Short sleeve merino: Wolftooth Crew neck t-shirt
• Long sleeve merino (x2): Kathmandu Core Spun Merino Blend
• Lightweight windproof jacket: Kathmandu Lite Ace Pro 175gm
• Gore-Tex jacket: Kathmandu Aysen 420gm
• Kathmandu Lightweight Custom Down jacket 375gm (Has a hood – makes a big difference in cold wind etc)
• Big Agnes Shovelhead Hooded Down Jacket 496gm
• Underwear x1
• Shorts: Kuhl Renegade 12” shorts
• Padded cycling short liners x 1
• Long johns: Macpac powerstretch
• Knitted leg warmers, from Peru
• Rain pants: Kathmandu Trailhead (modified to ¾ length)
• Short finger MTB gloves
• Long finger Wolftooth Flexor gloves
• Kathmandu Merino gloves
• Kathmandu Classic Insulated Snow Glove
• Handknitted Alpaca beanie, from Peru
• Wolftooth/Otso Socks x3 (2 for riding, 1 for sleeping)
• Merino headtube (so good for cold descents and breezy camps)
• Buff (for sun protection)
• Otso badge cap (for apres-bike wear and sun protection on climbs)
• Cycling cap (keeps the wind off the head on cold descents)
• Bike shoes: Shimano XM7 (best MTB adventure shoes I have ever had – now on my fourth pair)
• Ankle gaiters: Salomon Trail Gaiters (great for keeping sand/mud/dirt/snow out of shoes
• Macbook Air 11” + Thule Sleeve
• Western Digital Hard drive 4TB x 1
• Power bank: Xiaomi 20,000 mAh (for Seis Miles also a 10,000)
• Sony In-ear headphones
• Phone: Samsung J7 Pro (used for navigation with OsmAnd+ app)
• Single USB wall plug + cable
• Spare cable for charging other USB devices
• Bluetooth speaker (Altec Lansing H20 Mini)
• Helmet: Scott Vivo Plus (best helmet I have ever had)
• Sunglasses x2 Sungod – Pacebreaker and Classic
• Backpack: ultralight 15l Tatoo
• Homemade Gore-Tex saddle cover
• Revelate Designs wallet
• Headtorch: Kathmandu Raven 200
• Biomaxa Pro-ride Chamois Cream
• Various drybags
• Water bottles: 700ml x1, 1.0l x2, 1.2l Kleen Kanteen Stainless
• Water bladder: 2.0 litre Platypus x2
• Homemade light nylon food bag
• Small rear light
• Sleeping bag: Big Agnes Hitchins UL20, -7°c, 850 loft, 765gm (M)
• Kathmandu Polygiene/Silk sleeping bag liner
• Sleeping mat: Big Agnes AXL Air insulated, Mummy, 301g, 0°c
• 5mm silver insulated foam, 1m x 40cm (protecting tent floor/comfort sitting outside)
• Titanium spork
• Toiletries: cut down toothbrush, 25ml toothpaste, razor, soap scrap, sunscreen, lipbalm, medications
• Microtowel, small
• Revelate Harness
• Revelate Salty Roll
• Revelate Egress pocket front bag
• Revelate Mountain Feedbag x2 (updated 1 litre version)
• Revelate Voytek bolt-on frame bag
• Revelate Mag-Tank 2000
• Revelate Jerry Can
• Revelate Prototype waterproof rolltop Rear Panniers
• Revelate Pole Cat cargo bags x2 for fork (prototype version)
• Revelate Joey downtube bag
• Wolftooth B-Rad mini roll-top bag
• Plasmo Bikepacking Custom Lens Bag (Handlebar)
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