Making sure you’ve carefully chosen everything you’ll need for an extended cycle tour is an important aspect of the planning process. In this second of two articles on my choice of gear to take on my LEJOG cycle trip I’m focusing on camping and non-cycling equipment. I’ve listed the kit I’m planning to take below and I’ll update this article on my return to include comments on how I actually used the gear.
I’ve offered some comments on my thinking behind my kit selection which will hopefully be useful to others planning their own LEJOG/JOGLE trips.
On our unsupported LEJOG trip we’re staying at a mix of accommodation: mainly campsites but with several hostels, B&Bs and one hotel. This means that we’re taking everything we need to be self-sufficient. In fact, this is a key part of the appeal for the trip for both of us.
The big conundrum we’ve had is around the choice of tents. My Laser Competition is a fantastically light tent which I’ve used a lot for backpacking but unfortunately (in spite of supposedly being a two-person tent) is too small for two of us to sleep in comfort. We’ve therefore decided to take the larger Vango Banshee (a three-person tent, which is actually just OK for two). While it’s much heavier than I would like, we can share the weight between us.
When we’re cycling LEJOG in late May I’m anticipating that the weather will be warming up – I hope ! – and I’m therefore keen to take my lightweight, two season down sleeping bag. However, nights will still be chilly so I’ll be wearing merino baselayers at night, and other layers if need be ! I’ve recently bought a new Exped sleeping mat which should not only be more comfortable but also much warmer than my old Thermarest. I’ve so far camped only one night with it (when I woke up to frost on the tent) and it passed with flying colours. May is a funny time of year. It can be perfect summer weather one day and snowing the next, so it’s difficult to judge exactly what’s right for camping this time of year. Hopefully my lightweight layering approach will give me flexibility as well as warmth/comfort.
We’re not planning on doing too much cooking on campsites. This will be limited to breakfasts and the odd evening meal when we’re wild camping and/or don’t fancy a bar meal. This is why I’m using my backpacking stove, pan and plate, all of which weigh next to nothing and take up hardly any space.
Finally, I can’t survive a morning without real coffee. I have my mother-in-law to thank for the gift of a mug-cum-cafetiere which should give me my coffee fix to get me going each morning.
Tent: Vango Banshee 300 [2750g]
Sleeping bag: Cumulus Ultralight 200 (now re-named Criterion Ultralight 200) [650g]
Sleeping mat: Exped Synmat Winterlight Medium [410g]
Stove: MSR Pocket Rocket [110g] (excluding gas canister)
Pan: MSR Titanium Titan pan and homemade pot cosy [165g]
Mug: Mug with an internal cafetiere style coffee plunger [100g]
I’m travelling light and therefore have little need for anything other than one change of clothes for evenings . My choice of clothes may not be the most fashionable but they’re practical and light. (Evenings will also be spent washing clothes to keep us smelling fresh …).
Micro fleece: Berghaus [260g]
Long sleeved Berghaus shirt [120g]
Trousers: Rohan zip-off trousers [365g]
Thermals: Merino thermal base layers [315g]
Pants x3 & socks x1 (130g]
Shoes: Crocs [425g]
Sealskins waterproof socks (100g)
Hat: Fleece cap for wearing in bed on really cold nights [40g]
Much of the miscellaneous gear I’m planning to take should be relatively self-explanatory. I’m aiming to take small quantities of sun tan lotion and chamois cream and can buy en route if need be. I also have a small external charger for my iPhone which gives one full charge, and which should be really handy if we find ourselves on a campsite with no means of charging phones. I’ve decided to take a mini iPad so I can update my blog on a daily basis – an iPhone is just too fiddly. We’re not using a GPS to navigate but instead, we’re taking A5 laminated print-outs of our route as well as A5 cue cards (from Ridewithgps.com), with ViewRanger on my iPhone as a backup should we need it. This is a pretty low-tech approach but I like to see where I’m riding rather than be led by technology.
First aid kit: plasters, paracetamol, ibuprofen, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitiser, bandage, tape [75g]
Pack towel: [75g]
Wash kit: toothbrush/paste, soap, electric razor, lipsalve, scissors, chamois cream (Assos), ear plugs [550g]
Sun tan lotion: small bottle [60g]
Mobile phone: iPhone and charging cable [230g]
iPad, case and charger [300g]
Back-up charger: Anker Astro Mini USB charger [110g]
Dry bags (for clothes/kit): [100g]
Money and debit/credit card: [negligible]
Train tickets, railcard & accommodation info: [negligible]
Washing powder: [30g]
Cue sheets & maps (laminated) for navigation [250g]
Pen and small notebook: [30g]
Washing line / elastic bungee: [20g]
High 5 Zero electroyte tabs: [70g]
Finally, I should add that we’ll clearly be taking snacks, food and water with us. I haven’t listed any of this but we intend to buy food late afternoon for breakfast, while taking a small quantity of food basics (such as filter coffee, instant coffee sachets, sugar sachets, cereal bars … and jelly babies/haribos for an emergency sugar rush). We plan to have bar meals in the evenings and take full advantage of cafe stops during the day.
Having now returned from our end-to-end trip here’s my take on which gear we used most and found most valuable, and which didn’t get used much or at all.
Overall, the camping equipment worked out very well. We appreciated the extra space in the Vango Banshee and the fact that it had good storage and double doors. A bigger porch (maybe even a separate tarp) would have been more useful still for relaxing on site and getting panniers organised. The sleeping mat/bag combination worked very well as did the stove and plate.
Even though my non-cycling clothes were not particularly fashionable they were functional. I ended up wearing the fleece and long-sleeved shirt for cycling in as well since I needed warmer clothes in the cooler temperatures. In fact, if I was doing the trip again, I would take a windproof top to wear on top of a base layer which would be more breathable than a Goretex jacket to keep warm.
Of my other gear, only the washing line/bungee and washing powder didn’t get used. We ended up taking a washing gel rather than powder and hanging clothes on radiators/wardrobes or the tent. My tip for others would be to take a multiple charger plug so you can charge up more than one device at a time when in cafes and overnight stops. I only took one charger plug for my two devices and had to choose which to charge up. The portable charger was also really useful.
Overall, this packing list worked out very well.
This article forms part of my Online Guide to Cycling End-to-End:
- Why cycle LEJOG ?
- Planning a LEJOG cycle ride
- Top 10 tips for planning an end-to-end cycle tour
- Route planning and route options
- What to take – Cycling gear
- Accommodation options
- Getting into training
- Nutrition and hydration
- Getting to/from Land’s End and John O’Groats