Tennis and I both ride hardtail 29ers and tow a single wheel trailer which is an ideal setup for an off-road tour like the Munda Biddi. We also recently converted to tubeless tyres to reduce the likelihood of punctures on the ride.
Having done a similar ride a few years back we both already had most of the other gear. The more you carry, the harder your ride, so keep it to the bare essentials and try and make everything as lightweight as possible…if you’re planning a similar ride, here’s a summary of what we packed:
- Bike (let’s start with the obvious) – we find the hardtail 29ers perfect for these long off road tours. The terrain generally isn’t challenging enough to warrant dual suspension, although these would be fine too. The 29 inch wheels roll over bumps and holes nicely.
- Trailer – I can’t recommend trailers highly enough. Unlike panniers, trailers keep the weight of your luggage off your frame which can cause undue stress on your rack, chainstays and wheels. Tennis rode with panniers when we did the Mawson trail and we had to seek help from a mechanic after only three days due to a bent rack. He’s since bought a Topeak Journey trailer, which incidentally is what I use too.
- Handlebar Bag – although you could probably fit all your luggage in a trailer, it’s nice to have a few things at hand. These are good for maps too.
- Bike Tools & Spares – you really need to carry a few tools, particularly on unsupported tours in isolated areas. We get by with the bare minimum…pliers, Allen keys, tyre levers, spoke key, chain breaker, a few spare power links and some spare tubes. Don’t forget to pack a pedal wrench if you’re flying with your bike. We also pack some tape and cable ties in the event you need to Bear Grylls something back into place.
- Water – it’s important to carry plenty of water, but not too much as it gets pretty heavy. We both have 3L camelbacks and have two bidons on the bike. When isolated, it’s a good idea to carry a spare few litres in the trailer. Be sure to pack something to purify dodgy tank water, we use Aquatabs.
- Tent – we both have single man hiking tents which weigh just over 1kg. Unless you’re travelling with your partner, stick with single man tents. Things can get a little fragrant after two weeks of riding with no showers.
- Sleeping Gear – again, go for lightweight hiking mats and bags. We both have full length mats as comfort is still important after a long day in the saddle, and for the sake of an extra few hundred grams, I think it’s worth it. I carry a small hiking pillow but a rolled up hoody will do just fine too.
- Cooking – we pack a trangia which does the job well. I also pack a small grill plate which makes a great make-shift bbq when wedged between rocks over coals. We take a small pack of various spices to liven up dull campfire cooking. A small chopping board and knife comes in handy.
- Power – it’s pretty hard to escape the need to charge devices, even on a nature ride designed to escape technology for a while. I carry a phone, iPod, Garmin bike computer and Gopro. To charge these we’ve both got a small solar panel which we strap to the top of the trailer. For this trip, I also bought a battery pack which is pretty light, but still good for about 6 phone charges.
- Other – we pack a few other things to improve life around camp. A hunting knife for digging holes & stabbing stuff (Tennis is a good snorer), a stool, a pack of cards….that kind of stuff.
Packing down the bikes to fly was probably the trickiest part of packing. 29ers are big bikes with big wheels; we had to pack them into two boxes each. We then taped these together and the airline accepted them as one piece of luggage….sweet.
It’s important to let a little air out of the tyres when you fly, but not too much if you’re rocking tubeless tyres or you’ll lose the bead and Stans will go everywhere. We found this out the hard way.