What Gear We Take With Us On Our Adventures

 What Gear Do We Take With Us On Our Adventures?

There must be a million different answers to the question posed in the title of this post. And that’s simply because we all have differing needs while we are out there adventuring. The duration of the adventure will also play a role in determining what sort of kit we need and of course the level of accommodation we stay in comes into play as well. Could get all very complicated I guess…

But it needn’t be. Our take on things is pretty simple: We will be living in a self-sufficient manner off our small “Adventurised” bikes… Packing space will be at a premium!

Accommodation items including the tent, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner and cotton inner.
Accommodation items including the tent, sleeping bag, cotton sleeping bag liner and micro-towel.

Let’s start at the beginning:

We’ve decided to go on a week-long adventure in the Cedeberg and Karoo areas. The plan is to cover relatively short distances each day and each night we’ll be staying over in a different location. Most nights will be spent in our little two man tents and we’ll be preparing our meals outdoors. From the getgo this means that there is a basic minimum of kit that must be carried… And this includes some basic motorbike spares and tools as well as some electronic gadgets.

My camping gear for a week long adventure includes the following:

A decent two man tent – decent because we need sturdy shelter and two man because we need lightness and some storage space for all our gear as well as a place to sleep. I have achieved this by using a First Ascent Lunar tent. This little guy provides great space, good size (2100mm x 1400mm x 1100mm high), a good 3000mm water column and is light weight at 2.6kg. It also packs down to a handy size of around 450mm x 150mm. The only thing I changed was the bag of tent pegs – I bought smooth round aluminium pegs which are easier to knock into the ground than the standard items as supplied.

A comfy sleeping bag – I use a First Ascent Amplify 900 bag. This sleeping bag weighs in at only 975g and has served me well thus far. It packs up into a small unit and when the compression straps that come with the stuff bag are used it becomes really compact. I have not felt that I have needed a  warmer sleeping bag so far… This bag is rated down to about 2°C.

I also make use of a cotton sleeping bag inner – this provides another layer for comfort and helps to keep the sleeping bag clean. A bonus here is that should it be required, the cotton inner can be washed en-route and will dry fairly quickly.

Sleeping mat – I make use of a self-inflating sleeping mat. Apart from making things just that little bit more comfortable when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep, these mats create an additional insulation layer which is helpful on those odd chilly nights!

Although perhaps not strictly speaking part of the accommodation, a towel is a necessity on any journey. I use a Sea to Summit Micro Towel. Yup, it’s a bit like drying oneself with a chamois… But, hey, if a chamois is okay for your bike then I guess it’s okay for your bod too! No, seriously, these little guys work pretty well and a bonus is that they themselves dry quite quickly so packing them under the cargo net is not necessary. That spot is reserved for drying of the rinsed undies!

Pillow? Sometimes, when I remember, I pack a small inflatable job, but most often I forget and simply roll up a spare fleece top… So, that’s the accommodation taken care of.

The Camping-Gaz cooker with stainless steel cutlery, plastic crockery and the all important enamel mug.
The Camping-Gaz cooker with stainless steel cutlery, plastic crockery and the all important enamel mug.

Let’s discuss the kitchen… Outdoor food preparation is all part of the deal on a motorcycle adventure and it’s amazing what can be done with very little in the way of kitchen utensils!

I carry a CampingGaz cooker which uses Butane canisters which can be removed from the cooker head for separate packing. The cooker head is conveniently stored in the two aluminium “pots” which are used for boiling of water and heating up of food. A handy bit of kitchen kit is the fold up wind shield which is placed around the cooker to improve efficiency in the event of breezy conditions.

Eating Utensils – well this is easy. I use a plastic setup which comes with a lid and two smaller bowls/cups that live inside it. The set came with plastic “cutlery” – I soon ditched this in favour of a proper stainless steel knife, fork and spoon set – better, stronger and easier to clean… You know, the quintessential Army style “pikstel”. I do however still take along an enamel mug, it somehow feels right! And the late night “loopdop” sits better in enamel than plastic!

And while we’re in the Kitchen… On just about all of our adventures we take along simple “survival food”. On our “roughing it” trips we pack 2 tins of tuna (in oil) , 2 x baked beans, 2 x tins  sardines and the ever tasty jar of peanut butter. Coffee sachets and “Jungle Oats-so-Easy” for the morning. These morning “get us going” meals are quick and easy and require only hot water to prepare. We like to plan for 2 days of self-sufficiency as the bare minimum especially when heading far off the beaten track!

And that’s the kitchen! Don’t forget the matches…

On the motorbike spares side, we take care of the basics.

A line up of some of the basic tools we carry.
A line up of some of the basic tools we carry.

We have fitted heavy duty tubes to the wheels of the bikes and so far this has proven to be the right thing to do. Just in case of a puncture we carry a spare front and rear tube. A simple puncture kit is also packed along with a hand pump. A good compact mountain bike pump works perfectly. Don’t forget to take along a tyre pressure gauge! This item is a necessity when adjusting tyre pressures to suit road or track conditions! We generally take along two sets of tyre levers – both short and long.

Two spare tubes packed safely in some bubble wrap with the pressure gauge, tow strap and duct tape.
Two spare tubes packed safely in some bubble wrap with the pressure gauge, tow strap and duct tape.

The standard set of tools that come supplied with the bike is carried. We do however take along additional tools such as a small set of sockets with a “T” bar and Phillips head and flat screwdrivers. That most handy of tools, the Leatherman Multi Tool is an essential part of the tool kit!

We also take along Pratley’s Steel putty to deal with any engine case damage and a roll of Silicone Tape to seal up any damage to radiator hoses and the like. Of course, a roll of Duct Tape and a handful of cable ties are standard in the spares pack! At least one towing strap is packed. We leave no one behind!

The other really important spare we carry is fuel! On most of our adventures we use the Desert Fox fuel bladder. This bladder can take about 5 or 6 litres of fuel. Strange as it may seem, we have on many journeys carried even more fuel in two litre plastic cool drink bottles. These are found everywhere and do not leak! This is where a couple of cargo nets come in really handy – all external bits of kit are safely held in place and easily accessible when required!

And lest we forget – A hydration pack is a pretty important bit of kit. I use a Dakine Nomad hydration back pack which has many zippered compartments both inside and out. This is really handy for keeping stuff apart and easy to access. There’s also an outer pouch which is useful for carrying the odd supplies from that rural Trading Store!

An essential bit of kit is a headlight torch. I use a re-chargeable LED Lenser. This is a great light with three brightness settings and in the event of the re-chargeable battery going flat it takes standard AAA torch cells! Versatile indeed…

And so to the Electronic Gadgets. There are a few items that we find indispensable.

GPS – we use multiple units which may seem like overkill. This simply gives us peace of mind. We also navigate to closer spots on the map rather than our final destination – kind of a “step by step” system of getting to where we want to be. The GPS units we use are the Garmin 401 LM (bar mounted in a water and dust proof GPS case) and the Garmin Etrex 20. Both of these units have proven to be ideal and so far, have performed very well. But here’s the thing – Despite the fact that we tend to rely on the electronic wizardry of GPS we still carry maps! Our preference is the Sunbird Touring Atlas of South Africa.

The GPS units - Garmin Etrex 20 and Garmin LM 42, both handlebar mounted and powered from the USB ports.
The GPS units – Garmin Etrex 20 and Garmin LM 42, both handlebar mounted and powered from the USB ports.

A good idea is to carry a spare “old school” cell phone, fully charged and left on “airplane mode” to  conserve the battery. These “old school” Nokias last for weeks like this and can be put online for SMS or quick calls when coverage permits! On extended adventures or cross border missions one needs chargers for all devices. We have fitted USB power outlets to our bikes but beware that when connected directly to the battery these units drain power continuously even when nothing is plugged in. One may want to look at a switch or running it through the ignition switch. Halleluiah for USB charging!

There are also a few additional items that we pack that don’t really fall into the categories above. A rain suit will be useful in the event of adverse weather as is a cheap throw away poncho. We also make sure that we pack a “space blanket” – one never knows when something like this will come in handy… And then there’s the First Aid Kit – at least one member of the group should pack this item. It goes without saying that someone in the group should know a bit about first aid too!

This all works really well for us and it sure is quite a heap of kit. But it’s quite amazing what is packed onto the bike in addition to clothing, the simple food and snack items and other gizmos!

Hopefully you can glean some useful tips from this post. Please let us know what works for you!

Bruce Houghting and Angus Welch

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