As I look forward to the Oregon Megaloop I am looking up my gear list and bike rig I used for the Offroad Aotearoa. What would I do differently? What wouldn’t make the cut this time? And what could I not live without? And since I have the information right here I thought I would share it with you to give a helping hand to anyone else who is planning a bikepacking trip. So here is my Rig and Gear-list for 3000km+ solo bikepacking across New Zealand.
Bare in mind this is not ultralight racing style. This is for a 6.5-week ride through the end of summer and into early autumn in New Zealand. Weather can be pretty fickle. I had highs of 35C and lows of 0C and even less at night time. Also, for full disclosure, I want to reiterate I was sponsored by Kathmandu for this ride (thanks again!) but I will be honest and objective as possible. A lot of this will be personal opinion what I would consider a luxury some might consider an essential and vice versa. I will leave that up to you.
Bike aka’ Rig’
Frame -2016 Merida Big Nine 500 XL (hardtail 29er)
Absolute champ of a bike, I thrashed this thing way more than it was designed for and it stood up perfectly. I even bought it second hand from a guy who had done some touring on it as well. I put it through 5000km of rough riding, river crossings and general abuse and it came out perfect!
Forks- Rockshox Pike 120-80mm Adjustable
Huge help to have a little cushioning on rougher roads and then adjust it to full 120mm on the more technical rough descents. I probably should have but didn’t service them once either! Still going strong.
Came standard on the bike, they could have had a bit more stopping power but for standard brakes certainly did the job. Stopping a fully loaded bike always takes a bit more time than you think!
Drivetrain-Shimano SLX Shadow Derailleur, Shimano Deore Triple, BSA Chainwheel 40,30,22, Cassette Shimano HG50-10 11-36tooth
Now admittedly I did ruin my entire drivetrain, but that was me, not changing the chain before the start of the ride and possibly forgetting to bring chain lube after cycling down 90mile beach. I’m no expert, but that could explain how I killed my chain, sprocket wheels and chain ring and parts of my cassette. Replaced with a SLX Chainwheel 40,32,24 and man I wished I had looked after the original, that lower ring would have been great on those steep hills!
Wheels-Jalco Big Nine
Buckled twice and repaired with a few tweaks on the spoke key, no problems.
Tyres-Front; Mavic Crossmax, Maxxis Ardent. Back; Maxxis Ardent, Maxxis Ardent
I replaced both tyres in Nelson for a bit more grip for the Old Ghost Road but these were ideal for the mixed riding of New Zealand.
Pedals-Kona Spank Spoon
Really good pedal, super grippy and wide I was wearing Merrel Approach shoes so needed a good wide base. I am definitely putting a pair on my new rig!
Handlebars-Jones H Bar
Really weird to ride at first but very comfortable once you get used to it. No more shoulder or wrist pain. Only issue is they aren’t really designed for aggressive riding, I found it very hard to hop and manual with them because of the angle of the wrist. Admittedly this isn’t what they are designed for but that is what I personally like from a handlebar.
Seat-Merida sport 5, Charge Spoon
The Merida seat was comfy as! However, I broke the front off of it. Then I snapped the rail just before the Old Ghost Road. Afterwards I switched to the Charge. Then, my god did my bum hurt! For weeks it was agony. Make sure you can break in your new saddle people!
Frame bag- Revelate Tangle Medium
Good size and still had clearance for two bottles in the frame (XL frame) I managed to break both zips and wear a hole in the bag. Wasn’t massively impressed, I would have thought it would be sturdier being such a well-known bikepacking brand. Next time I’m going full frame bag custom made!
Made from two chalk bags tied together with elastic. They held up perfectly and didn’t move around too much or sway or anything. Will definitely try to make my own this time around too. Stem bags were super useful.
A big dry bag some nylon webbing and some cut off hose to keep it all away from the cables. Held really well. Webbing only just starting to wear through the dry bag in the last few weeks. Tended to shift slightly in the rain but with a bit of tweaking could work fine.
Handlebag Front Pouch-Homemade
This was basically a bumbag converted into a pouch really useful but it did bounce around a lot on the rougher descents.
Had this thing for years since the Transcanada ride. Small compact but stable and fits my camera perfectly, I am changing camera this time so probably have to go for something a bit bigger but certainly did the trick.
Rear Panniers- Altura Ultralight Packable Panniers
They really were incredibly light and I found them very secure despite a few reviews saying they moved around a lot. I wore a hole in both by the end of the ride but only very small holes and still useable. Lightweight versus sturdiness is always going to be a compromise.
Rear Dry Bag- Unbranded dry bag
I strapped another drybag to the top of my pannier rack. I wore a hole in this too. This carried my tent and cook pot, sharp edges bouncing against edge of pannier rack. Made lots of noise and ruined the bag.
Mental Health T-shirt
This was to support my charity of choice, sweat wicking and cool but I got it so smelly and filthy I had to throw it away part way through the ride. It was gross! I blame being lost in the forest, things got really messy quickly.
Kathmandu Pagosa T-shirt/ Kathmandu Divide Merino T-shirt
The lightweight sweat wicking Pagosa was good for the hot weather of Northland but got smelly really quickly. Primarily I wore the Divide Merino, dried fast didn’t smell and was super comfy. I will be taking almost entirely Merino on the Oregon Megaloop.
Gore Bike Shorts x 2
Absolutely amazing shorts, I brought two pairs and basically only used one. Washed it out with some water as often as I could then let dry overnight. So comfy I didn’t use chamois cream or anything. I managed to put a hole in one pair but I’m going to stitch it up and take it to the U.S with me.
Socks- Kathmandu Merino Trail Running Socks x 5
Couldn’t be happier with these socks wore them a few days in a row or washed them in a lake when I got a chance. Still an absolute must on all my adventures.
Kathmandu Flinders Cotton Hoody
This was to keep the sun and bugs off me. Lightweight and ideal for staying cool and bite free. Got sweaty and clingy very quickly though.
Icebreaker Merino Long Sleeve
Great extra layer for when the weather started getting cooler. This was the lightest in their range and still wear it today has a few holes but just from catching on twigs and thorns.
Castelli Thermal Sleeves (arms and legs)
I thought these might be a little bit over kill but I wore them in the cold wet weather or Arthurs Pass and was super happy to have them. Very warm and water resistant plus don’t have to add or lose layers to wear them just slide on.
Trespass Down Jacket
This was just for stopping and camping, packs down small and is very warm. I used it as a pillow until it got so cold I was sleeping in it most nights towards the end.
Icebreaker Merino Wool Gloves
Worn every morning until my hands warmed up, warm even when wet but not windproof! I will be looking into a windproof shell of some kind.
Trespass Wool Beanie
Again, worn just in the evenings around camp.
Buff x 2
I used to think these were super overrated but now look at me carrying two! One for my neck and lower face to keep the wind out and the other for top of head and ears. Wouldn’t go anywhere without them!
Kathamandu Neolite Jacket
This thing is epic! So lightweight, packs down the size of a coke can, waterproof and windproof. After a year of heavy use though it’s now starting to break at the seams. I still use it though and for its weight to size ratio I think it’s awesome!
Weighing in at under 1kg and super-fast and easy to put together. I am still sold on small tents over tarps and bivvy bags. I want to get into my tent and not be bothered about sandflies or anyone seeing me getting changed. Small tents all the way and the Mono is perfect so long as you’re not claustrophobic. It is coffin shaped and pretty tight but to keep it lightweight this is the compromise and one I am happy to make.
Sleeping Mat- Kathmandu Self Inflating
This was very comfy but huge and heavy. Necessary to stay warm but I have now switched to a much lighter more packable sleeping pad (the Klymit Inertia X-Frame.)
Sleeping Bag- Snugpack Chrysalis 2 and Silk sleeping bag liner
Very light, very warm (actually accurate to what it says! Which is rare) comfort to 0C which I can certainly attest too and with a few extra layers I was happy down much lower than that probably closer -8C. It’ s a keeper and is coming to US. I keep the bag liner in there to keep it clean and less sweaty.
Icebreaker Merino Leggings
Again, Merino all the way. These have since died from too many holes in vital places. They will be replaced with more Merino.
Used a few times after a big days ride. I was having some pain in my calves but since trail running more my calves are fine. So there will be getting dropped for Oregon.
I used a Kathmandu cook pot with a spork, micro gas bottle and an unbranded mini cooker all of it fitted inside the cook pot along with the pan handle, lighter, wash rag.
Cateye Rear Light
Worked well, lost in transit though so will be looking for another.
Alpkit Moun Headtorch
This attached to my helmet as well to use as a front light, though I didn’t ride much at night. As well as being my headtorch around camp. Really lightweight and still going strong, I use it almost daily out in the National Parks.
Lezyne Mini GPS
only had a ten-hour battery life and couldn’t record at the same time as charging, very annoying probably going to invest in a Garmin for future.
44000 MH Battery Bank Mini USB Charger
Super useful, fully charged my phone twice. Also was compatible with my kindle and GPS.
Absolutely would not travel without it! I read for a few hours everynight, Kindle is the way forward!
Was cheap and cheerful but got a few good pics. Problems were it was battery powered and needed its own cable. Plus was kind of bulky too. Just got myself a GoPro Session 4 for the Megaloop.
Pretty good, small and ok battery life. Didn’t use it very much but nice to have an emergency backup. It has been replaced with a Huawei P8. Much bigger but really good camera.
Spare inner tubesx2
Rear Mech hanger, spare bolts of various sizes
Really good bit of kit, I mostly just used the knife but having pliers is crazy useful!
Little tub of grease
Small chain lube (this got forgotten unfortunately or lost in transit)
Hi Vis Jacket
Very useful riding in fog and rain, I felt much more comfortable and visible from any drivers.
Ginger as I am and as ferocious as the sun is here in NZ, Factor 50 and plenty of it.
Actually, barely used it, camp high, camp windy and it isn’t really a problem. Even living in Milford Sound I almost never use it.
Water bottles x3
2x 750ml 1x 1 litre and plenty of water purifying tabs (didn’t use them in the end)
Small Cable Lock
Just for some piece of mid whilst going in to shops for food. NZ is very safe though and I didn’t use it very often.
Very small very basic, if anything major happened I was going to find help not fashion myself a prosthetic out of a bike pump and inner tubes. Mostly painkillers and stuff for cleaning up cuts.
Cut in half (obviously) to make myself feel like a real adventurer
Very Small Towel
Sunglasses-Two pairs broke both almost immediately after buying, this is why I can’t have nice things.
So that’s my kit list. That was all my worldly possessions for 6.5 weeks and 3000+km. I never weighed it properly, but at the airport in the box (not including what I was wearing and a small backpack, it weighed 18kg. Not sure how that compares to most people but I can say I used almost everything on that list. I have refined it and will continue to refine it, but hey that’s all part of the fun!