The gear

Long distance riders usually write blogs and nearly all have a menu tab labelled GEAR. Riders have a strange and intense fascination with what others riders are carrying. It’s like girlfriends rifling through the back of your sock drawer hoping to bump into something that will inform their paranoia.

But mainly it’s guys who read gear lists. Different riders have different reasons to be interested. Some carry tons of equipment and hope they haven’t missed anything, so go through yours. Others are interested in what a well-sorted tools list looks like. Others, like myself, are interested in how light they can go and still be comfortable. Light has a certain righteousness to it that’s beyond trying to be tough or cool. It makes everything simpler. The bike handles better and is easier to lift after a fall. You can find stuff. It feels good to be less complicated. But it’s also a challenge and requires a little bit of practice.

So here we go. Let’s start with technology. I believe in the benefits of good technology and how a pound or two can make a huge difference. It’s maybe the only area (except another very small one) where I have gone the distance and have as much as the better equipped riders. I can’t see any good reason to not do this – there are too many benefits. The total weight of all my tech is around 5 pounds and it provides me with huge information, safety and convenience. The downside is that you have to power it up. Some you can charge off the bike. And if you can’t find power for an extended period you have maps and do without…

But first, here’s what everything goes into:

2 X 31 liter aluminum panniers

1 X 40 liter duffle

1 X 20 liter duffle

1X 9 liter tank bag

1X 4 liter emerg bag

So a total of 134 litres. My set up is maybe among the lightest and smallest I’ve seen yet on the road for the time and distance I have in mind so we’ll see at what point this economy fails. For instance I’m relying on the scattered service shops for filters, etc. After Guatemala my next big shop is in Panama City for instance.

In a picture it looks like this

So first the tech.

Macbook Pro, maxed out. Recent upgrade

iPad mini. Goes in the tank bag.

I terabyte drive

Contour video cam

Garmin 600. Base Camp on Macbook

Iridium Extreme sat phone


Disposable locally (Central America) loaded cell phone

Cables, chargers, cards, etc. Normally more organized and will be when packed.

Maps of countries through Central and South America. As good as 1/100,000 and as bad as 1/470,000.

Documention. Nothing – nothing – is as important. Or as creative. In the best case you have multiple drivers licenses, all good enough to pass inspection. I have 5. Permits and Carnet. Passport and copies. Multiple original registrations. Two complete wallet sets, one high limit, one low, different banks. Vaccination documents. Various levels of medical coverage and assistance, including Medivac. All of this is nice and neat below but takes awhile to get organized.


I love this helmet. Soooo light, nothing comes close I’ve found. A narrow but comfortable fit. BMW, thankfully not logo’d, carbon enduro helmet, made by Shuberth.

Sidi boots. Obviously. They’ll be finished in another 6 months or sooner.

Held gloves, thermal and not.

Smith goggles


Riding gear. Man, I really don’t want to get into what’s good and what’s not right now. I don’t have the best jacket and pants, but for various reasons the best is/are unacceptable.

Rev’it gear and insulation, nearly worn out. Gore-tex (forgotten how to spell that) Score out of 10, about a 6. The good news is that it’s a really old suit with 50K in it going back to my 1200GS, so it’s been OK value.

Soon I have to replace it. The only two choices as I see it are Klim or Rukka.

Second to documents are tools. Gord and I stripped down, modified and generally came up with a set that works for the HP2, barely. Tools are heavy, so nothing extra. From the top left, clockwise

Two 8 litre soft fuel cells, 20 litre OR outer, chopped bleach bottle funnel.

1 liter hard cell and siphon. For fuel theft.

Aerostitch compressor. I’ve owned three compressors and this is the most robust with the greatest delivery.

Zip ties. Bailing wire. Gorilla grip. Whipping twine, etc

Tools. All very specific to the HP2, a few custom made by Gord. Two big drivers, one for the Ohlins.

JB Weld, fast and slow

Plugs, reamer, etc

This is a very very small tool set with no spares. I like it. It can deal with most things. But there’s no end to what you could carry to cover a broader set of issues. So if something comes up it can’t handle, then we’ll deal with it however.

Camping. I don’t want to camp unless it puts me in a better situation than the alternatives. So far this has been only 3 times in 5 months, haha. It’s been easy so far finding crap places or nicer places that are just too convenient, because you’re nearly always tired. And in Central America not even the most frugal rider camps. There are too many places in the smallest of pueblos, 50 or 100 miles apart, at so little cost, that virtually no one does it. And in Central America there are security issues. But that will change in a few months, in South America, so I carry it along.

Mostly light alpine stuff.

Since we’re on gear seldom used, here’s my second great extravagance, after the tech stuff. My water gear, including my fave mask and dive licence. Plus super light Patagonia coral slippers which I won’t regret. Carried the whole way from Vancouver. It’s funny but I have a hard time typing the word Vancouver without stalling a bit in thought.

Rain gear. OK a plug for ARC’TERYX. I’ve no idea why I see that word out there in print in mixed upper/lower case but I guess they’ve lost that script. Anyway, Sara, my girl at ARC sent me the following Gore jacket and pants for downpours when and if my suit got overloaded. I’ve no idea what the model names are. But here are a jacket and pants in their sacks, compared to a razor. Brilliant.

Actual clothes. For warmer weather, a pair of lightweight pants, three T’s. Three boxers and three socks.
P1040638Other clothes. For cool weather, jeans, a cotton hoody, warm riding socks, 2 fleece-type tops. A crisp white shirt for emergencies.

And bike security. a large cable lock and Packsafe

Plus bike cover, notebook, pens, headlight, lighters, webbing

Two pairs of shoes

And toiletries, as they say

That should do for a couple of years, excluding turnover.

Not shown is the armour I’ll be wearing for a short while. It’s still a couple of days away. And my Guatemalan scarf which I can’t find.


6 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Interesting post. Lean and mean.

  2. Anonymous,

    Excellent post. Easily adaptable for all kinds of travel. You cover everything.
    Well done!

  3. kevin,

    I like the way you roll, light no 3 tons of gear, pray bike dosnt fall over which it never does.. & you have to unpack to upright it.. did you increase fuel capacity?, i ve ridden luc, & its a rocket.. happy trails

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