Kit Review – Stuff I took, stuff I used, stuff I didn’t use


1, 55 litre soft duffel bag – the bag that everything else went into when I had to get on a plane; worked well, could fold up into almost nothing and store in my locker without taking up too much space.

6, 10 litre dry bags – one each for 1) bike clothes, 2) casual clothes, 3) cold weather stuff, 4) spares and tools, 5) medicine, 6) washing and hygiene stuff – this worked very well; stuff was easy to find quickly; it made packing the locker quick and easy and made setting up and tearing down camp efficient.

1 small backpack – I took a small North Face Borealis bag. I used this for my computer, electronic stuff and valuables. It worked well.

1 post bag – I took a Topeak 5 kg seat post bag. The fitting broke on the second off road day. Waste of space. I borrowed a small, camelback sized backpack that I used for the rest of the trip that I carried spares and stuff in. I don’t like carrying things on my back when I cycle but ended up doing it for lack of any alternative.

1 top bar bag – I took a small Topeak top bar bag that velcroes to the headset and the top bar.  I put sanitizer, a Swiss army knife, ORS sachets and lip balm in it. Worked well.


1 cable lock – served its purpose. Locked the bike every night.

Multi tool – I only took 1, it had allen keys and screw drivers on it. It was useful. I left behind the one with torque wrenches on it. I could have used this when I had to replace a disk brake rotor. But it was easy to borrow one.

Assorted small tools – small screw drivers (slot and Philips), 4 tire levers, small pair of needle nose pliers, spoke wrench, chain tool -mostly stuff I carried with me on the bike. The Tour is well equipped with tools for major and minor work.

Chain lube – I took one bottle of wet lube. I didn’t use much. The Tour people give everyone a bottle of dry lube. Given the conditions this worked better and I used a lot of it.

4 one-litre bottles – broke 1 the first day out but never again. The other 3 lasted me well for the rest of the tour.

Mini pump – good quality pump; no flats on the road so didn’t need it myself but did lend it to others who did.

Spare bottle cage – I did not take a spare bottle cage but should have. I broke one.

Cable ties – a few dozen of varying sizes. I used several and gave many more away. Very useful for quick fixes.


4 sets of BB7 Disc Brake Pads  – used two sets.

Disk brake rotor – needed one but didn’t take any so had to get one off a sectional rider who had an unused spare.

2 Schwalbe marathon plus 700 X 40mm tires – used these off road. They were great. Only 1 puncture and that was in camp not on the road.

2 Schwalbe marathon plus 700 X 28mm tires – used these on road. They were also great. No punctures.

2 Bontrager cyclcross tires – 7700 X 35mm – didn’t use these at all since the Schwalbes worked so well.

15 spokes – had my wheels trued twice and didn’t brake a single spoke, so didn’t need them. But have broken many spokes before so would always take them.

3 Patch Kits and 2 dozen extra patches – didn’t use any myself but gave almost all of them away.

Bar tape – took and used one extra but could have used two.

1 Seat Clamp and 1 seat post – didn’t use either.

1 Saddle – I broke a saddle in Kenya and was glad I had a spare.

1 Shimano10-Speed Cassette 12 – 32 (original was 11 – 26)– I used this and was glad I did. I only had two chain rings on the front (52 and 34) so didn’t really have a granny gear. The larger rear cassette helped. But I still had to work harder than most on the hills. I would rethink gearing if I did it again.

4 sets of derailleur cable – I used three and gave one away. Very useful.

4 sets of brake cable – replaced brake cables once.

2 metres of derailleur cable housing – used half and gave some away.

2 metres of brake Cable housing – used half.

2, 10 Speed chains – used both and bought another en route to have a spare.

8 Tubes 700×28/32  – didn’t’ use any but gave a couple away.

12 Tubes 700×35/42 – used one, gave a couple away.

1 Shimano 105, 10 speed front derailleur – used it and was glad I had it. Could have used two since the spare got bent and had to be hammered back into shape.

1 Shimano 105, mid-cage rear derailleur – I didn’t take this but needed it and had to order one to be delivered en route.

2 bottom brackets – I needed one after only 4000km. I needed another about 3000km from the end when a mechanic tightened the existing one too much and mashed it. I had to order one en route.


1 MEC Tarn 3 person tent with groundsheet and fly – glad I had the extra space. Poles and pegs were good quality. The mosquito netting ripped early on. I sewed it together and it worked fine. The fly also ripped early on. The material was not the non-rip type so it ran on for a bit until I repaired it. The zips were nylon and did not work well. They were a total pain. I gave the tent away at the end of the Tour. I would choose something else next time.

6 extra strong spare tent pegs – somehow I didn’t lose or break any pegs so didn’t need them, but I did lend them out on several occasions.

Small rubber mallet – very useful; there is some tough ground out there.

2-season sleeping bag – I chose to go with a 2 season very lightweight (rated at 5C) sleeping bag. It worked quite well but I did have to wear almost everything I owned on some of the colder nights – but then so did most people.

MSR plastic dishes, 2 high sided plates (1 big, one average), 1 cup – these worked fine; it was good to have the bigger sized dishes with sides on them; you eat a lot and you balance things on your knees – no tables.

Plastic Ikea cutlery, fork, 2 spoons, knife – worked fine.

Swiss army knife – always good to have, especially the bottle opener; but after carrying it with me for four months I forgot to pack it away and had it taken away from me at the airport when I flew home. Sad, but my fault.

1 LED headlamp – had a powerful one, worked very well; used 15 AAA batteries in it over the four months (it takes 3).

1 stuff bag camping pillow – packed up very small and was a very welcome thing to have. Sleeping well is very important.

1 silk sleeping bag liner – I didn’t use this very much. Some people used theirs instead of a sleeping bag when it was warm. But since I live in Africa and am tropicalized I didn’t feel the heat as badly and used my sleeping bag every single night.

1 thermarest luxury-lite cot – a bit of a phaff to set up and take down every day bur very comfortable to sleep on, so a very welcome bit of kit. After 4 months though it is very much the worse for wear. Wont’ last much longer.

1 lightweight, mutli-fibre towel – not the fluffiest towels in the world but did the job and took up very little space.


1 rain jacket/windbreaker – I forgot to take this and wish I hadn’t.

1 warm wicking jacket – forgot to take this and bought one en route. Very much needed.

1 long sleeve cycling jersey – I used this a lot; very much needed.

1 long sleeve base layer – I used this a lot and could have taken two. They are lightweight and don’t take up much space.

1 pair of arm warmers – I used these a lot as well.

5 short sleeve jerseys – I used them all. You sweat a lot and they get smelly and filthy.

3 pairs cycling shorts – I should have taken at least 4 pairs. Some times you ride for 8 days straight. This meant I had to wear my shorts 3 days running. Two days is ok. Three days is less than ok.

1 pair long cycling tights – wore these often in the mornings and then would take them off when it warmed up.

8 pairs lightweight cycling socks – used them all.

1 pair MTB SDL shoes – all I needed. They got dirty and the laces wore out but they lasted well. I would take a spare set of laces (if your have shoes that use laces).

1 spare pair of cleats – I didn’t need them but several people did.

4 pairs short gloves – used them all. They get as sweaty and dirty as your jerseys. Get well padded palms.

1 pair long gloves – used them frequently, especially on cold mornings.

Sunglasses – bit the bullet and bought prescription Oakleys. Didn’t wear them every day but was glad I had them.

Neck scarf – wore it fairly frequently, good both against cold and the sun.


1 pair long hiking pants – wore them often.

1 pair short hiking pants – wore them often

1 pair short sports pants – wore them often.

1 bathing suit – used it more than I thought I would.

1 fleece – forgot to take so bought heavy sweater in Egypt before I left. Fleece would have been better.

1 long sleeve jersey – wore it often.

4 t shirts – and bought a couple more en route.

Shirt with collar – didn’t take one but it would have been useful at times.

4 pairs boxers – of course.

1 pair long underwear – forgot to take; would have been good to have.

2 pairs warm woollen socks – used these as well, mostly to sleep in.

2 baseball caps – forgot to take; picked one up en route; hats are very useful when the sun is out.

1 pair hiking shoes – took a lightweight pair and wore them out.

1 pair flip flops – forgot to take; they would have been useful.

Sewing kit – took a small one but could never find it when I needed it.


Passports – I have three, carried them all and used them all.

Yellow fever certificate – not asked for it once, but always good to have.

10 photos – used two.

Insurance certificate and policy – didn’t need fortunately, many people did.

Credit cards  – used mostly cash until we arrived in Nairobi, then mostly credit and debit cards.

Cash – took $2500 and spent about $1500. But also put about $2500 on credit cards.

Photocopies of all docs – took them all but they became quite ragged since I carried them in my backpack while riding. Never used them. Used originals when I needed ID.

Notebook and pens – didn’t need notebooks, used laptop; should have taken more pens; lost one, broke one etc.


Macbook and power supply – hard drive died in Khartoum; finally got it repaired during rest days in Arusha. Good to have when it was working.

Samsung galaxy smartphone and charger – excellent; bought SIM card in each country; used it only for phone calls and texts. Many people used the data feature on their smartphones so could update blogs and send emails wherever there was 3G. I had to wait until we found wifi, which was infrequent and often slow. I think next time I would use the data feature on a smartphone.

Kindle and charger – used a lot, was excellent; is not backlit so you need a headlamp.

Garmin Edge 500 and charger – worked well for two months then the battery seemed to die.

GoPro Hero HD 2 and charger – used it as we were leaving the pyramids and then once more. Just didn’t get into it. I’m not much of a photo taker anyway. Others who had them used them much more often and with good results.

Solar charger – very useful on the first half of the Tour, after that it was easier to find power outlets.


Sanitiser – took two bottles, didn’t use much. There is hand washing soap and water on all the support vehicles. Used this a lot.

3 Tooth brushes – used two (lost one).

Toothpaste – used two tubes.

2 packs baby wipes –  didn’t use any, gave them away; preferred bucket baths or water left over in a drinking bottle. On the second half of the trip showers were available most days.

Comb – didn’t need for a couple of months (had hair cut off in Cairo).

Nail clippers – took two pairs; take big ones.

Razor – tried to shave every few days at least.

Shaving cream – useful for shaving.

Lip balm – take stuff with sunscreen added, used a lot

After sun cream  – used once.

Chamois butter – took two tubes and didn’t use any. Had chafing during last month but use nappy cream instead, works better.

Nappy cream – used Sudocrem; works well.

Soap – used small soaps from hotels.

Shampoo  – used small bottles from hotels.


Antimalarial Tablets – took Larium.

Antibiotic for travellers diarrhea – Ciprofloxacin 500 mg, 10 tabs – didn’t use.

Antibiotic for wound infection – I have a Penicillin allergy so took azithromycin (250 mg, 60 caps); used one dose for leg infection.

Simple painkillers – took Brufen; used a couple of tablets for a headache once.

Anti inflammatory – took Brufen; didn’t need.

Throat lozenges – took Strepsils; didn’t use.

Anti-diarrheal – took Imodium 12 caps; didn’t use.

Anti-spasmodic – took Buscopan 10 tabs; didn’t use.

ORS  – took lots and used at least 1 packet a day; excellent for replacing salts and electrolytes from excessive sweating.

Antiemetic – took Metoclopramide 10 tbs; didn’t use.

Ear drops – took Garasone ear drops; didn’t use.

Eye drops – took Ciloxan eye drops; didn’t use.

Zinc cream – took big pot of Sudocrem; used for nose, lips and saddle sores; very good.

Moisturizing cream – took E45; used once.

Anti inflammation (saddle sores) – took Voltaren cream; didn’t use.

Antibiotic cream – took Bactroban; used once on leg infection, didn’t help much, ended up taking a dose of antibiotics.

Disinfectant spray – took alcohol swabs; used quite a few for scrapes and scratches.

Sunscreen – took one bottle of SPF30; didn’t use any; gave away.

Clinical thermometer – didn’t take one; didn’t need one.

Malaria test kit (2 per kit) – took one box; didn’t use.

Nasal spray – took Otrivin; didn’t use.

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