Equipment and Packing

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created 11 August 2009/updated 17 July 2017.

packing panic

Janet packing for the off, Thamel, Kathmandu, November 1992

We left the UK with too many items (the snakebite kit?) but we have now refined our preparations and routines on our own and with the help of our sea kayaking coach, Howard Jeffs :-

Looking for the instruction manuals? They're here on the manuals page.

Some things can make a real difference but are hard to find.  Here's a suggested list of people who can help :-

If you are flying to your destination, you'll probably want to pack in your hand luggage a spanner thin enough to undo a pedal with, and an Allen key suitable for loosening the handlebars so that they can be turned through 90° for the trip out (and the trip back).  We prefer to take two fold-out Allen key tools because they are pretty much essential if anything falls off the bike or needs tightening up - make sure that the keys are long enough to reach into the brake hoods of your touring bars if you have drop handlebars, or you could be left in deep trouble if you need to change a broken gear cable or re-centre the brakehood after a spill.

A chain rivet extractor (for shortening broken chains by a link or two) is essential. Some chains (Shimano particularly) require a new rivet to be pressed in to replace the one pushed out; avoid if possible or at least ensure that you have the replacement pin in your toolkit.  Tools for removing the shell of the bottom bracket and headset may be worth taking but I'd expect to be able to find an alternative at a garage or repair shop if problems occurred with these en route.

If you have a small wheeled bike (like a Brompton), it's essential to carry a couple of spare inner tubes and its worth taking a tire along too - the tires are a really tight fit on Brompton rims, so use the nylon Park tire levers that are wide and flat, and make sure that you edge the last bit of tire back onto the rim over the valve (where the inner tube is at its smallest, which makes the whole job much easier).

Park-TL2 levers - the only sensible way to get a Brompton tire back on

Duct tape and a reasonably short length of thickish wire is good for fixing broken carrier frames if way out in the boonies.  A spare tire can be folded into a neat trefoil shape with a little care and carried inside the front wheel (between the spokes) or bungied onto the back rack - touring bike tires seem to fail suddenly and unexpectedly after years of sterling service, so probably worth taking a spare since 700x28C is unusual these days in most places outside cities.

We've stopped carrying Kryptonite-style U-Locks, preferring to take their heavy-duty cable with a strong, secure padlock instead. It is a little lighter and fits around more street furniture (you just don't find lamp posts, railings, or parking meters for a U-Lock to lock around in developing countries).

Here's a list of things we took on our 2005 tour to Norway.

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