I have shown you my fully packed bike in numerous photos, now it is the time to check what I carried with me and comment how the stuff worked:
Helmet: I used two helmets during the trip. The 1st one was Arai Tour-X3 and the 2nd one Arai Tour-X4. The 1st helmet got damaged during the accident in Indonesia, so I had to replace it. I love these helmets, good airflow and good “sun vizor” so that I managed without sunglasses.
Riding suit: Same Touratech Companiero suit through the whole trip. I was really surprised how well this suite has survived the trip (one big accident in Indonesia and a few falls and slides)! Light color worked perfectly in hot climate (excellent airflow due to “mesh” material), and the suit looked reasonably clean for long time because of the grey color. I got new gore-tex top layer pants because my original ones got lost in the post.
I used only hip and “tail bone” protectors in the pants, and I removed the protectors in jacket.
Ortema X-Pert knee protectors: Although they look quite big and bulky, they actually are slim and comfortable. I am really happy that I decided to start the trip with these protectors. They saved my knees and legs many times (especially in the accident in Indonesia). Now when I ride without these protectors I feel really unsafe.
Upper body protection: I started the trip with Alpinestars Bionic upper body armor and used it all the way to Indonesia. At this point zipper started to fail. Once again, I am really happy that I decided to use separate armor jacket, because this saved me from bruises during the accident.
After the accident I replaced the Alpinestars with Ortema jacket. Ortema has softer protectors which get hard from impact. Plastic chest protector took few hits from bigger stones (thrown by cars and trucks), so it was not there just for looks 🙂 .
Underwear: Through the whole trip I used long wool underwear. Did not matter if it was close to freezing point or around 50C, I always had them on.
Why? Because knee protectors and upper body armor feels more comfortable when I have long underwear underneath, upper body armor is easier to take of when you have long sleeves shirt under it. When temperature gets really high, long sleeve (preferably merino wool) underwear keeps you cool! You will sweat a bit -> underwear stays damp -> you stay cool and do not loose so much liquid. Without these you will sweat much more and can suffer from dehydration much faster.
If you feel hot, just pour some water to make underwear wet and once you get some speed you will get really cool (not too much water or you will freeze).
Gloves: I was really surprised how fast the summer gloves wore out! I used 5 pairs of them! I guess sweat and dust are real killers for the gloves. The biggest disappointments were BMW and Klim (also the most expensive ones), the most durable ones were Alpinestars (only downside: loosing a lot of black color).
Boots: Maybe the biggest surprise of all was how poor all my boots were! I used up 4 pairs of boots during the trip: Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex and 3x Alpinestars Toucan Gore-Tex. Seams were easily the weakest point of these boots, they failed really fast and after this you either need to replace the boots or try to get them fixed (which most probably will cause Gore-Tex to fail).
Of course they were used almost daily in cold, hot, wet, dry, dusty and muddy conditions, but still, I thought that I could manage the whole trip with one set of boots. I think in “normal” usage these boots will survive many riding seasons.
I wrote feedback to Alpinestars, but they were not interested at all -> extremely poor customer service. If I choose boots now, I think I would take something without gore-tex and just use Sealskinz socks in the rain. For example Alpinestars Tech-series boots are much more robust than these poor so called “adventure” boots.
Touratech panniers: Aluminum, anodized (not to loose color), lockable. I liked these panniers, good thing with hard panniers is that I could leave my electronics in the panniers without the fear of someone stealing my stuff. After several drops (dropped the bike many many times on each side 🙂 ) these panniers got deformed and are not water proof anymore. I carried rubber mallet with me so that I could straighten them whenever needed (not good idea to use metal hammer for aluminum…). I did some improvements for the panniers in the US when I welded thicker aluminum plate to the backside of them, which made them stronger and they did not deform anymore during small spills. To solve leakage problem I purchased some silicone from hardware store and redid seals on the lids.
Dry bags: I carried two dry bags, one from Polo and one from Touratech. Polo bag barely made it through the trip (several holes and some other problems), Touratech bag worked perfectly.
Tank bag: I used two Touratech tank bags. First one was quite old already when I started the trip, but it still survived all the way to the US. Problem at that point was failing zipper. I opened tank bag numerous times a day, so they are really robust and well made. 2nd one (used) I got free of charge from Touratech NA, thank you Kimmo!
Backpack: Two backpacks used during the trip (replaced 1st one in Australia). I used them mainly to carry small things (first aid kit, food etc). I strapped them on top of the dry bags, because I do not want to carry anything on my back while riding.
Tripod bag: Protection against sun and dust for my tripod.
Tent: I already had Hilleberg Nammatj 2GT -tent before my trip, so I did not want spend money on a new one. This tent is big enough for one person on a long trip (plus all the gear). One of the best things is big vestibule, where I can store bags and wet riding gear. Under the tent I used Hilleberg footprint to keep tent dry and clean.
Only few times it would have been better to have self standing tend instead of tunnel tent, but only a bit of thinking then I was able to get my tent up even on top of a pavement 🙂
Tarp: I had the tarp for a few different purposes. The most important was to cover the bike in cities (out of sight = out of “others” mind). Other usages were: cover my tent in the rain, good to make a shade in desert areas and sometimes cover really nasty beds with it. I carried also two tarp poles (silver tubes).
Mattress and sleeping bag: I already had a down sleeping bag, so I decided to use that one during the trip (it was quite big and now thinking I could have managed with thinner bag). Usually I used a mummy liner inside my sleeping bag to keep it cleaner (mummy liner also increases temperature in your sleeping bag. Silk mummy liner is good in hostels and other places where beds look questionable, and bed bugs cannot bite you through silk!
I used to have a thin Thermarest air mattress, but decided get a new Exped Downmat. Mattress was really good, warm and comfortable. In the beginning it felt a bit noisy, but I got used to it quite fast. I got couple punctures, but with the repair kit included in the package I fixed them in no time. It usually took some time to pump (internal pump) the mattress (which can be a bit annoying when you are really tired), but overall I liked it.
I did not carry any pillow. I normally used some of my clothes as a pillow and it worked perfectly!
Towel: Big part of the trip I used really thin travel towel (do not remember the brand anymore) which was ok(ish) with short hair, but with longer hair it was real useless. Best part of this towel was that it dried really fast. Later I started using a really nice micro fleece towel, still packs small and dries quite fast. Bad thing with these nice towels is that backpackers in hostels seem to think the same way, so your towel might become theirs…
Water filter: I carried Katadyn water filter since day one but did not use it, not even once. Bottled water is available everywhere, so this kind of water filter is just for emergencies (or if you stay extended periods of time in remote places).
Axe: Three really nice Fiskars travel axes. 1st one was confiscated by Chinese border guards and 2nd one I lost in the accident in Indonesia. Light and really good for all sorts of things.
Stove: Before the trip I bought Primus Omnifuel stove. This stove can burn almost anything 🙂 During the trip I used Primus fuel, white alcohol, 95 octane fuel and gas. It is a bit loud, but worked flawlessly. Good combination with this stove is flint. No matter if it´s raining or you just dropped all your stuff to the river, flint works always! I carried the fuel in two Primus metal bottles which I fixed in the back of my panniers.
Other stuff: I had MSR teflon pots, steel plate, plastic cutting board, foldable cup, a few sets of chop sticks (best invention in the world :)), good knife, bottle opener, sharpener for knife and axe, spices and few other little things.
- Canon 5D Mark III
- Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM
- Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM
- Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM
- 3 Lowepro bags for lenses
- 1 Lowepro bag for flash
- 1 Camera bag (kept it in tank bag).
- Canon GP-E2 GPS Receiver
- Some extenders
- Canon Speedlite 580 EXII
- Canon Speedlite 430 EXII
- Some color gels for flashes
- 2x Pocket Wizard Flex TT5
- Pocket Wizard Mini TT1
- Pocket Wizard AC3
- Canon RC6 remote
- Canon TC-80N3 Timer Remote (bought this from US)
- Some filters (gradient, ND and Polirizer)
- Silver/Gold reflector
- Benro Tripod
- Extra battery and memory card
- Pentax WG-1 Waterproof pocket camera (ok photos in good light, poor in dim light, video unusable.
- Go-Pro Hero3 + extra battery, stick and mounts. Replaced my original helmet camera which I lost in the accident in Indonesia.
- Chargers for my cameras
- Cleaning stuff for cameras and lenses
- Wacom Intuos tablet
- Spyder Pro 4 display calibration tool
- Minimum 3 hard discs. 1x backup disc for computer, 1x for photos and videos, 1x backup for photos and videos. I lost many hard discs due to vibration, so it is absolutely crucial to have backups. I could not upload my photos and videos to the “cloud”, due to slow internet connection, big file sizes and huge number of photos and videos. Normal hard discs will fail due to vibration. I packed all my hard discs inside bubble wrap and then packed them inside plastic boxes (air and water tight).
- MP3 player so that I could listen music via my BT headset. Thanks Cardo for free ScalaRider headset!
- Few phones (“dumb phone” as a back-up)
- Garmin Montana GPS. Robust device which can be powered also with 3x AA batteries. I used mainly Open Street maps.
- SPOT Messenger tracking device. Spot is reasonably good device. Unfortunately it has some problems (cannot really trust the satellite coverage -> people who follow your track might go a bit crazy if your track has not moved for few hours and you are in the middle of nowhere according to the map). This version of SPOT uses expensive lithium batteries, so I converted it to take power from USB port.
- Delorme InReach SE. Advanced tracking device which uses Iridium satellites. I got it after arriving in South America. It has excellent coverage all around the world. Depending on which kind of contract you make, you can send SMS- and email-messages (also via your smart phone). Contracts are a bit more expensive than SPOT, but messaging is a big bonus when you are in a remote place with no wifi or phone connection. I am going to sell my almost new Delorme InReach device, so if you are interested, send me a message.
- Lot of different cables and chargers
Tools and spares:
If someone wants, I can make a list of my tools. For years before the trip I have prepared this tool set so that I do not carry anything extra with me. As stories from the trip show, I could do almost anything with them 🙂
I bought riveting tool because silencer on my bike lost rivets quite often and it always took a lot of time to find a garage with proper tools. I also carried small torque wrench for quite long time and used it often.
GS-911 diagnostic tool is important if you travel with BMW. With this tool you can see same things as BMW mechanic in the shop. When you travel further away, you cannot expect to find BMW service there, so it is important that you know your bike well. When something happens, you can fix it or at least know what parts are needed.
Multimeter. A mandatory tool. You will have electrical problems at some point. It is good to use dielectric grease on connectors, this way dust and humidity cannot cause so many problems.
Helicoils for fixing stripped threads. I would recommend to replace threads with helicoils already before the trip (at least in the areas which are opened in every service).
Tapes: Duct tape is the MOST important tool to bring with you 🙂 This can be used anywhere and for everything. Do not leave home without it. Pack also zip ties.
Hand pump. Get a good quality one, preferably one that pumps in both directions.
I had a selection of greases and other liquids: normal, ceramic, K&N air filter and dielectric grease, chemical metal, silicone, quick glue etc.
Wires, connectors etc
Spare parts (some are R1200GS specific):
- Clutch, brake and gear levers. Did not brake a single one (after the accident in Indonesia, I changed original levers to swivel ones)
- Throttle cables (R1200GS has 3). No need to change.
- Ring Antenna: After the accident I needed to change one. Keep spare just in case.
- Fuel pump electronic controller: No need to change. Keep spare just in case.
- Seals and o-rings
- Spark plugs
- Selection of nuts, bolts and spacers
- Tubeless tire patch kit
- 19″ inner tube. No need to use, but needed one 17″ inner tube in Montana, US.
- Brake pads back and front
- Oil filters
- Ignition coil. One ignition coil failed in Cambodia. Ignition coils are easy to check with multimeter you are carrying 😉
- Spare keys
You do not need a lot of clothes on the trip. The most amazing thing is that you can buy them from anywhere if needed (and usually cheaper) 😉
Basically I carried the following clothes (sometimes a bit more):
- 1x Long pants
- 3x T-shirts (can manage with 2)
- 3x Underware (can manage with 2)
- 3x Socks
- 1-2x Long sleeve shirts
- 1x Rain suit (jacket and pants)
- 1x Slippers (most important shoes for me, I used these always).
- 1x Running shoes (used only few times)
- Copies of all important papers (passport, bike paper, Carnet etc.)
- Try to get 2 passports if there is a chance because one is not enough.
- Make some color copies of your drivers license and then laminate them. If police asks your DL, then show only laminated version.
- Paper maps are extremely good for route planning. Usually better to buy them beforehand, because it is extremely difficult to find them in random towns once you have started the trip.
- Medikit. Pain killers, antibiotics, Malaria pills, pills for loose and hard belly, gel for burns, disinfecting liquid, eye drops, plasters etc. I started the trip with two medikits.
- Make sure that you have all needed vaccinations. Some countries require yellow fever vaccination.
- Cable lock. In Europe and US I was most worried that my bike or something from it gets stolen.
- Few wallets. Carry a daily wallet with you, inside only copies of your papers (passport and drivers license) and max one day budget.
I am sure that I forgot something from the list, but main things are here. Every traveler will have different kind of list. Some travel extremely light, some extremely heavy.
There is no “right” or “wrong” kind of list. Only thing is that if you are going to make extensive trip, do several shorter trips beforehand so that you can sort out what you need and what you don´t.
The most important thing is to get going and not to worry “do I have now everything” 😀