Touring - the fundamentals for a beginner

Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by Odyssey, 22 Mar 2008.

  1. Odyssey

    Odyssey New Member

    I've rode bikes casually, on and off for years, but I'd really like to emphasise the word 'casually'. Taking anything seriously is not something I know how to do, and well prepared in my mind is a pump and a puncture repair kit.

    However, I'd like to do some touring and I'll be heading off on my own, and on a strict budget, which means camping is a must. Having never done more than 40 miles in my life I'll be starting off small just to test the water but the problem is, I currently have no kit for touring. Neither do I have any idea of how to survive out in the wild.

    I'm on a tight budget, so only the bare minimum is required for now. But what do I need? Obviously panniers, tent, sleeping bag...I guess a stove, pots/pans, some grub of course. Water bottle, puncture repair kit, tools, etc.

    Thing is, because I'm on a tight budget, I don't want to go out and spend 200 quid on stuff only to realise that I've forgotten something fundamental, that I can no longer afford, leaving me with a pile of gear that I can't use. So I want to get straight in my head everything that I need.

    Also though, if you're camping, where do you keep your bike? Do you get an oversized tent with a big porch type facility, or do you just leave it outside?

    What advice would you give to a novice? What are the fundamentals that you need to know before you set off to your potential death having forgot to pack something?
  2. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    I am no expert having done jus tth eone tour so far, but this time last year I posted almost word for word what you have I suppose I have recently been through what you are about to go to speak.

    My list looked like this:

    A decent touring bike - Daws Galaxy 2007
    A good saddle - Brookes B 17 champion
    SPD pedals - Shimano double sided
    Panniers and racks (front and rear)- Carradice overlanders
    Puncture kit & spare tubes
    Multi tool with chain breaker
    Chain links
    Chain lube
    Bar bag with map holder - carradic eoverlander
    Proper cycling clothing including water proofs , over shoes etc - Various brands
    Good cycle lights
    Decent maps- Goldeneye worked for my trip
    A good pair of walkable roadshoes (spd)- Nike
    High vis vest - Council
    Water bottles and holders x2
    Small leightweight tent (2 skinned pitch as one)- Quecha T2 pro from decathlon
    Sleeping bag- XXXL from Blacks
    Cookset- Trangia 27 non stick
    Bike locks
    Sports towel
    Crock shoes
    Pump - Mini morph topeak

    ...that's just off the top of my head...I have othe rstuff with me as plastic bags, eating utensil, etc

    I think much depends on where you ar egoing and may not need all this for a weekend jaunt, but longe rtrips you may need a sat nav or solar phone charger etc....but my advic eis to ask as many stupid questions in this forum as you like 'cos it's full of helpful peeps with more experience than I have.
  3. xilios

    xilios Über Member

    Maastricht, NL
    Hi, for a list of what we take along and some tips on touring visit our page in the link below.
  4. In my opinion, the things to spend your money on, i.e. buy new and get the best are
    1) Racks (Tubus)
    2) Panniers (Ortlieb - OK to but 2nd hand cos their bombproof)
    3) Tent (Terra-nove Hilleberg...)
    Things you can save money on are:
    1) Bike - buy 2nd hand, convert a mountain bike.
    2) Stove - get a cheap gas one.
    3) Sleeping mat - get a Karrimat not a Thermarest.
    4) Sleeping bag - doesn't need to be posh when you are starting out.
    5) Pots, pans, cups etc, - get cheap aluminium and plastic.
    6) Clothing - cycling tights are worth having, otherwise don't worry too much about cycling specific gear.

    Camping - you don't need a big porch, just leave your bike outside locked to the tent or a tree.
    The main thing is to buy the basics and just go. You'll soon figure out what you need.
  5. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    The only things I think I bought specifically for my first tour were:
    - panniers (buy Halfords but line with bin liners)
    - waterproofs (with investing in)

    In retrospect padded shorts make you a lot happier (although not essential) and padded gloves to stop your hands aching are lovely to have as well.
  6. Tim Bennet.

    Tim Bennet. Entirely Average Member

    S of Kendal
    Casual touring is merely an extension of the casual cycling you have already done. The only difference is instead of going in a loop, you wander where you like and end up at a different place at the end of the day. This is then repeated until you run out of holiday, money, or in the case of a friend of mine, till you return to home having circumnavigated the planet.

    All you 'have to have' is the urge to go. Equipment can make things more comfortable, more convenient or just more elaborate, but if you have a limited budget, you will do more touring spending it going touring than you will spending it all on equipment.

    The minimum camp gear is one of those 'blue tarps' and a piece of thick plastic for a groundsheet from a DIY store. This together with some skewers and thin twine will give your shelter. A cheap sleeping pad and most compact sleeping bag you can afford from Argos / Millets (for example) will keep you warm (ish). And then a small camping gas stove and single pot will enable you to heat food and drink. Add a torch, waterproof jacket, jumper, knife, spoon, mug, pump, set of allen keys, tyre levers, inner tubes, bottle of chain oil, long cable and padlock, and you are good to go.

    Maps are optional and only really necessary if you want to go somewhere 'specific'. Otherwise, your nose and the odd glimpse of the sun is enough to cross places like France, etc.

    As for carrying all this stuff, there's lots of options, but it's best to avoid using a rucksack. There are plenty of good cheap racks around and some bike shops (eg, Ghyllside in Ambleside) often have a selection of entirely usable ones laying around left behind by owners 'upgrading'. These can be fitted to any bike using 'P Clips' if necessary. Halfords panniers are good enough for twenty years or so, but as suggested, do pack your important dry stuff (sleeping bag and spare clothes) in bin liners to ensure they stay dry.

    The above set up got us starting out, including my first holiday together with Mrs TB many moons ago in the continuous pissing rain in the Picos Europa. And don't be too quick to upgrade from using a 'tarp'. They are extremely versatile and I have used one everywhere from Africa to the high mountains in snowy Canada. They can be rigged to give shade, or shelter when cooking or ventilation as required, and the 'top of the line', purpose made models from Aiguille Alpine Equipment are still cheap.

    Some people say they feel more secure in a tent, but this is purely illusionary. Not many robbers are deterred by 0.1mm of flimsy nylon. Security when touring is based more on using your common sense and taking reasonable precautions against opportunistic scally wags. If you keep your money and passport round your neck, the rest can be easily replaced.
  7. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Where and when are you going to go? The equipment may vary if you're intending to go in July to the S of France for instance.
    The thing about camping is that you need to lug a tent, a sleeping bag and a bed rest so weight becomes a bit of an issue and as is the wa of things lightweight kit is the most expensive!
  8. vernon

    vernon Harder than Ronnie Pickering

    Meanwood, Leeds
    Bike - does yours have rack mounting points already? Mudguard eye's? Then P clips and mudguard eyes will allow the fitting of a rear rack. My first tours were done with rear panniers only.

    SPD pedals and shoes are more efficient for touring but are not essentail for first forays.

    Panniers - whatever you can afford from the Halford's, Altura range, Carradice or Ortleib ranges. All do a decent job. I have a Halfords/Altura mix - still working well five years on.

    Puncture outfit, pump and two spare tubes. If you have Schraeder type valves I'd recommend fitting grommets to the rims and use presta valved tubes - they are less hassle for inflating than car type valves.

    Keep your eyes peeled for Aldi's bike clothing sale - any time now I think. Not high fashion but extremely good value (20% of the price of stuff in local bike shops) and function well.

    Decent waterproof/hi vis jacket. I have an Altura Nevis and it does the job well. Google for it and you'll get a bargain at under £40

    Lights - only if you plan to ride in the dark otherwise a head torch will do.

    Water bottles and cages or a Camelback (or similar) hydration system.

    Self inflating mattress - not much heavier than a closed cell mat but a lot more comfortable.

    Sleeping bag - cheapish one from blacks/decathlon/millets has served me well.

    Double skinned tent - do not allow yourself to be talked into buying a single skin tent - condensation problems can make for a very uncomfortable experience. I have a couple of Vango 2 man tents. I recommend a two man tent for the extra space. I'd not bother looking for one big enough to store a bike in the vestibule just lock the bike to a tree at the camp sites.

    Camping stove of choice gas, multi fuel or meths. I use a Trangia and it meets my needs but so did a Camping Gaz stove.

    Duck tape - great mobile tool kit.

    What you need to do is start looking for cheap sources of kit: for sleeping mats, sleeping bags and head torches - cheap cycle clothing - cheap cycle clothing, camping stoves (£10 for a trangia clone)

    Don't forget to look in ASDA and TESCO. They often have bargains in their outdoor activities sections e.g. stainless steel mugs, camping cutlery, head torches etc.
  9. vernon

    vernon Harder than Ronnie Pickering

    Meanwood, Leeds
    Yeah, I forgot the tip to line the panniers with bin liners. I use builders rubble sacks - more durable.

    I only waterproof my upper half. I don't bother with leggings and the like as I wear shorts when touring - less to get wet and less to dry out.

    I recommend padded gloves or the use of something like bar phat gell pads under bar tape to cushion the handle bars. Last year I failed to replace a gel pad on my Dawes Galaxy and suffered from a compressed nerve in my left wrist that took around 6 months to heal.
  10. mrpattersonsir

    mrpattersonsir New Member

  11. OP

    Odyssey New Member

    Thanks for all the excellent advice thus far.

    I have to say, I am a little worried about clothing. Just got in from a 20 mile ride today, covered in mud, painfully cold feet, I could've been a lot wetter to be fair, but if I was camping I certainly wouldn't want to be getting back into those clothes in the morning. I dare say washing and drying isn't difficult at most campsites, but if there's an abolutely essential item of clothing then I'd like to know about it.

    Also, I'm currently riding in a pair of running shoes (they provide the best grip in the wet) but they're not water friendly. I've never done the clipless thing, and really don't want to spend the money on it to be honest, but has anyone ever tried riding in walking shoes/boots. Stupid idea?

    And I'd be starting off around the north of England, soon as I get equipped, so weather's definately a factor. I've been mesmerised by the glorious sun / blizzard / sun / blizzard / sun / blizzard scenario today.
  12. Cathryn

    Cathryn California Correspondant

    I cycled in trainers till last summer. I like my cycling shoes and think they work a bit harder, but don't stress about your shoes. Never cycled in walking shoes...aren't they a bit bulky? Try it though. Maybe some of the more 'trainer' like walking shoes instead of Meindl style boots might be perfect!

    I did a very cold, very wet weekend trip in the Dales last summer (!!) and forgot to take dry shorts. Take two of everything and you'll be fine. Nothing is essential in my opinion, although, as I said, padded shorts and waterproofs are pretty advisable.
  13. snorri

    snorri Legendary Member

    I think it's a matter of personal choice. If you want to be a high daily mileage tourer, then more cycle specific clothing will no doubt have its advantages. If your main aim whilst touring is to see the sights and get a taste for your surroundings, then a more casual approach to clothing is probably better. Just do some short tours first, and you will soon learn what is best for you.:blush:
  14. Andy in Sig

    Andy in Sig Vice President in Exile

    So youi've just found out how important waterproofs are. One thing you really need are waterproof overshoes as there is nothing more demoralising than cold wet feet. One small tip; you can take small items of clothing which are damp into your sleeping bag with you and they will be dry by morning. The first few seconds are horrible but they warm up to body temp pretty quickly.
  15. Bigtallfatbloke

    Bigtallfatbloke New Member

    THE single most important bit of clothing IMHO (in the UK anyway) is a HIGH vis vest, followed closley by a spandex G string and thigh high spd boots:biggrin:.

    Take a medium lenght of nylon string. It weighs nothing and is usful for:

    Replacing/strengthening guy ropes in a strong wind

    A washing line

    Tieing your bike to your tent/ big toe at night

    Tieing stuff onto your panniers

    Strange sex games in your thigh high spandex boots.:blush:

    ...I carry two small nightlight candles as well...not necessary but on a wet night under the flysheet they make it seem like home (i put them in the Trangia wind break for saftey reasons).
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