December 31, 2018 2 Comments
When planning an around the World trip there are many things that come to light outside of just choosing which bike to ride that will need careful consideration. It is not as simple as one might expect and choosing between manufacturers equipment will have consequences like extra weight or complexity that you may want to avoid.
Such as with choosing which bike you will use, choosing your equipment should be based on the type and duration of the trip you wish to take and of course on your budget. With budget unfortunately the old adage of "You get what you pay for" rings true and some things unfortunately must cost a premium.
With our trip camping equipment was a must. We needed to cross large areas of land that had no towns or hotels and this also meant we must carry cooking equipment to make our meals.
With no access to gas bottles as used with most portable stoves we chose a liquid fuel burning stove. Although a trade off in setup time and complexity these stoves can use quite literally any available liquid fuel from cooking oil to petrol. We could just top the bottle up at any petrol station or even from our own fuel tank when the need arose. They are also quite expensive but worth every penny. Our Stove is an MSR Dragonfly which is mountaineering grade and has already served us well for a couple of years.
Camping from a motorcycle can be quite difficult sometimes. Motorcycle gear is bulky and takes up a lot of space. It is also very expensive and should someone pinch your helmet or boots in the middle of nowhere it could lead to the end of a trip. Due to this fact we chose to take a fairly large tent for motorcycle camping. Known as the LoneRider Moto tent it not only includes a large sleeping area but also a large porch which is designed to park your motorcycle in. We never use the porch for its intended use but instead this space allows us to lay out all our smelly, damp gear away from prying eyes but also away from where we sleep. The large space is also great for spending a few hours in should it be raining at the camp site!
Along with just a tent we also needed to ensure we would get the best nights rest possible so we chose our sleeping bags and camping mats carefully to ensure they weren't too large but were also the best we could get in terms of warmth and comfort. Thermarest sleeping pads are hailed as the best self inflating mats available and do well to keep us cosy and insulate us from the cold while packing down small for transportation.
At sometimes it felt that we had too much gear with us and we would struggle to close our bags on some occasions but I think in terms of comfort we could not have used thinner or lighter sleeping bags and sleeping mats so it was worth the compromise.
Motorcycles are unfortunately quite complex and require many tools sometimes to even just change a simple service item such as a filter. We carry at least half a 35 litre pannier worth of tools and spares. We carry enough tools to hopefully fix or if needed practically disassemble the whole bike. Some people prefer to take the minimum of spares and tools and rely on local garages and parts supply. For us this is not an option as we usually stick to quite a tight schedule and travel to remote places that are unlikely to have spare parts for any motorcycles. We carry at the minimum a spare clutch, generator, rectifier wheel bearings and seals and even a water pump. We would have been stranded on quite a few occasions had we not carried so many critical spares such as changing a failed fuel pump hundreds of miles from civilisation in Tajikistan and a failed water pump in Russia. On arriving to New Zealand we had to have our bikes tested for compliance and Jenny's bike failed on the front wheel bearings. 20 minutes later we had the spare bearings and seals in and where passed as safe for the road! We also ensure we have multiple spare inner tubes so that we can fix any punctures that happen.
Venturing into such remote places provisions must be made for the worst case scenario. We always have our Inreach Explorer SOS device charged and on, ready for action. Mobile phones rarely have signal and are very unreliable for accurate GPS positioning information. The Inreach device not only broadcasts our position via the satellite network it also allows us to communicate with a special service that can provide emergency response in any country in the World. These devices are expensive and also require a monthly subscription but are worth every penny for peace of mind.
All trips are heavily reliant on good navigation so we take it very seriously. In Central Asia and Eastern Russia normal road based navigation systems have limited use due to providing only route information for the most main roads. As we spend a lot of time off tarmac and also in places that vehicles rarely go we are responsible for creating our own track information for display on our mountaineering GPS type software. We start by examining an area carefully on google maps and then draw a route over the top following present dirt and sand tracks or in some cases directly across the desert or steppe. We then export this information as a GPX file which is view able on both our mobile phones which we use in UltimateAddons waterproof smartphone cases and handlebar mounts and our Garmin mountaineering GPS devices. This gives us a back up and also another device that we can use to consult if we are unsure about part of the route. Surprisingly enough we rely on our phones for the most part for all of our navigation be it on the road or in the middle of the desert. We tend to use an app called Sygic or offline maps and navigation for standard turn based road navigation and then apps such as GPX viewer for presenting maps and routes for when we travel offroad and off piste.
The equipment listed above is based on our expectations of what we wanted from our trip but for the most part so far it has all worked out for us. We always strive to improve our kit and add or subtract (mainly subtract!) equipment as your needs change. We looked at what other more established travellers were using but we also looked for lightness and small size of pack as very important ideal to strive for. We hope the rundown of our gear we will aid you in the preparation for your dream trip!
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