The Kitchen Sink - Two Old Guys Take On A Continent - CycleBlaze

March 21, 2023

The Kitchen Sink

Whatcha Got in Those Bags?

Everyone likes to talk about either how light their kit is, or just how much stuff they can haul.  On our tour around southern Lake Michigan we encountered two couples headed in the opposite direction just finishing the ride we were just starting.  We compared notes. My 4 panniers and handlebar bag weighed some 45 pounds. One of the women bragged that her bags weighed only 12 pounds.  Not  surprising considering they had been neither camping nor cooking along the way.  Then I saw her husband's rig. His bike bulged in every direction with bags stuffed to bursting.  He was apparently his wife's pack mule.  He never said a word.

I've pretty much completed putting together my packing list. I don't know yet (our tour is still about 6 weeks out) how much my kit will weigh. I suspect it will be a bit heavier than around Lake Michigan, since I'll be incorporating some cold weather gear that I didn't carry then. I thought I'd share not only the list but the organization thereof and some rationale behind some decisions. Some items are peculiar to my situation.  Just file this under TMI.


  • Surly Long Haul Trucker with Tubus front and rear racks, Orange Velo hammered silver fenders, Brooks B67 saddle, double-wrapped handlebars, Shimano SPD pedals
  • Continental Ride Tour 37-622 tires. The original set went 4,000 miles before the first flat, at which time I moved the front tire to the rear (where it has so far accumulated another 700+ miles), and put a temporary new tire on the front.  Will mount a new set of Ride Tours a couple weeks before tour starts. Plan to replace these with a second new set in Fort Collins, CO for insurance.
  •  Ortlieb Ultimate Six Classic handlebar bag
  • Ortlieb Sport-Roller Classic front panniers
  • Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic rear panniers
  • 2 spare spokes attached to chain stay
  • Busch & Mueller CycleStar mirror
  • PedalCell dynamo
  • 3 water bottles
  • 12" of duct tape (wrapped around the top of the seat tube)
  • Wahoo Elemnt Roam GPS loaded with almost 4,000 miles of Ride With GPS routes to get us across the country
  • Cygolite Metro Plus headlight on Problem Solvers mount brazed to left front rack
  • Cygolite Hypershot 350 tail light
  • Problem Solvers Travel Agents installed on brakes to accommodate the Tiagra ST-4700 shift/brake levers I added for a more comfortable hood shape (long story)

Handlebar Bag


  • Bontrager 10-function multi-tool
  • Gerber Dime mini multi-tool (adds features not on Bontrager multi-tool like pliers, bottle opener, scissors, tweezers)
  • 2.5mm, 3mm, 5mm, 6mm hex wrenches (redundant, I know, but there are some places on the bike where a multi-tool just won't fit)
  • 4 mm PedalCell security hex wrench (makes it harder for sticky fingers to unmount the dynamo)
  • 4mm slim offset hex wrench for rear rack mounting bolts.  I discovered the rear rack interfered with the rear brake Travel Agent so badly that the wheel flexed sideways when the brakes were applied. My modification made it impossible to remove and replace the rack without this new tool. Had I not made the change, I was afraid the repeated contact of the Travel Agent with the rack would eventually fray the brake cable.
  • 10mm wrench
  • 5/16" wrench
  • spoke wrench
  • Brooks saddle tension adjustment wrench

Other Stuff

  • 2 tubes
  • patch kit
  • tire levers
  • Topeak Mini Morph pump
  • chain lube (Rock N Roll Gold)
  • rag for cleaning greasy hands
  • Click-Stand
  • PedalCell power hub with 2 USB-C to USB-A cables (female connector allows "normal" USB-A (male) cables to connect to the Pedal Cell).  There may be some long stretches without available wall charging. I find I can fully charge my iPhone in about 90 minutes with the PedalCell.  I can charge any two of my devices on the go at the same time (two connections to the hub).
  • emergency TP
  • lip balm
  • Coppertone Sport SPF50 sunblock
  • vaseline (in case of saddle sores, diaper get the picture)
  • tissues
  • handkerchief in baggie

Right Front Pannier

Tools/parts not in handlebar bag

  • assortment of bolts, nuts and washers
  • Presta to Schrader valve adapter
  • spare PedalCell o-rings
  • 2 sets brake pads
  • old toothbrush for cleaning
  • spare brake and shift cables
  • spare handlebar bag mount cable (it disassembled itself on one of the Lake Michigan tour tours, and I had to carry the bag over my shoulder with a strap the rest of the day.  I managed to reassemble the mount, but I'm not taking any chances on a next time.)
  • spare cleat bolts
  • 2 master links and bent wire for creating slack in the chain
  • thick rubber band (for toeing in brake pads)
  • tire boots
  • blue Loctite (tiny tube)
  • silicone grease (maybe a tablespoon)
  • couple of those foam strips for inside my helmet (sometimes with age the fabric that clings to the velcro separates from the foam)

The Office

  • notebook and pen
  • paperback book (I can tear off the pages as I go and it will get lighter. Can't do that with a Kindle. Besides, I don't like reading books on screens.)
  • iPad Air 2 (there's no way I could type out a journal on a phone - fat fingers and tiny keyboard. I find I can type on the iPad almost as fast as I can on the keyboard at my desk.)
  • Petzl Tikka hybrid headlamp
  • Anker 4-port USB charger
  • charging cables
    • 1 USB-A to Lightning (for phone and iPad)
    • 3 micro-USB to USB-A (for most everything else)
  • X-Dragon USB detector. Allows me if necessary to test effectiveness of PedalCell charging.   I had problems at first, but the manufacturer was uber-responsive and helpful in sorting things out. I spent time one morning on the phone with the CEO while we diagnosed the electronics using software he had me download. It's worked fine since, but if it fails I will unmount the dynamo and mail the whole thing home.
  • 12" homemade extension cord. Some electric service posts at campsites make connecting a USB charger awkward, and connecting 2 chargers downright impossible (there's two of us doing this tour remember)
  • 25,000 mAh power bank
  • earphones
  • 2 spare AAA batteries

Other Stuff

  • roll of quarters (every so often you run into a campground with coin-operated showers. Last time that happened I was already naked when I discovered it, had no change and was too lazy to go find quarters, so....sponge bath at the sink )
  • cable lock
  • straps for lashing items to the rear rack
  • chlorine dioxide tablets for water purification, enough for 10 gallons (and a black trash bag to put the water container in, since the process requires darkness)
  • 30' of cord and an assortment of clothespins 
  • more tissues and TP
  • pee bottle (what's worse than crawling out of a tent on a cold, rainy night to find a restroom?) 

Left Front Pannier

Following the voluminous amounts of advice I've read about dealing with critters of all shapes and sizes, all food, food related items and toiletries will be carried in a single pannier, and will not be stored in the tent.

The Kitchen

  • 2 spoons (1 regular/ one large)
  • fork
  • Gerber folding knife
  • pot with lid, handle and plastic scraper
  • Sea to Summit collapsible mug
  • P-38 or P-51 GI can opener
  • disposable lighter
  • fuel (Ed will carry the stove)
  • Castile liquid soap
  • toothpicks

Food (the starting lineup; supplement with fresh fruit and veggies and canned goods along the way to minimize weight; plan main meal of the day at a cafe or restaurant)

  • instant decaf coffee, with whitener and sweetener
  • hot sauce
  • salt and black pepper
  • multivitamins
  • Idahoan instant mashed potatoes (4 packets)
  • Better Oats oatmeal (10 packets)
  • Nestle's Zero hot chocolate (several packets)
  • tortillas
  • peanut butter
  • small honey bear
  • dried blueberries and/or cranberries
  • oil and vinegar (need to find a small leakproof container)
  • 3 freeze dried meals (emergency rations)


  • Dr. Bronner's unscented Castile bar soap with soap holder
  • Arm & Hammer Essentials unscented deodorant
  • toothbrush and toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • comb
  • disposable plastic razors
  • backpacking towel
  • backpacking face cloth

Medicine chest

  • cotton swabs
  • loperamide
  • nail clippers
  • tylenol
  • antacid tablets
  • sudafed tablets (decongestant)
  • chlortrimeton tablets (antihistamine)
  • triple antibiotic ointment
  • bandaids
  • hydrocortisone cream
  • at home Covid tests
  • eye drops
  • eye shades
  • ear plugs
  • several disposable masks
  • spare eyeglasses

sewing kit

insect repellent

18" x 14" RatSack

2 12" x 20" OpSak odorproof bags (one for food, one for toiletries)

Hilltop Packs Dyneema rock sack, 50' of Notch 2.2mm throw rope, 2 micro carabiners and dogbone bear bag toggle for doing a PCT method hang

Right Rear Pannier

Cold/Foul weather gear

  • Goretex C3 Paclite hooded jacket and rain pants
  • Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB shoe covers
  • Showers Pass Crosspoint waterproof knit wool gloves (great down to about 40 degrees F)
  • Pearl Izumi AmFIB gloves (Too heavy for any but the coldest days. If these aren't warm enough I'm staying in my sleeping bag!)
  • helmet/seat cover (dual purpose!)
  • neck gaiter
  • ear warmer
  • long sleeve lightweight merino wool base layer
  • long sleeve jersey
  • arm warmers
  • unpadded Aerotech tights
  • 2 Goretex Windstopper wind short briefs
  • 2 pair 3/4 crew Farm to Feet wool socks

Other Stuff

  • Collapsible bucket
  • nitrile gloves for working on bike
  • tent patch material
  • alcohol wipes
  • zip ties (11"... you can always make them shorter, but it's had to make them longer!)
  • rags for bike cleaning and maintenance
  • straw brushes for cleaning heavy grime off chain and cassette
  • 1 gallon plastic water bottle with carrying handle (It fits in there where the tent used to be. I see all sorts of gallon water bottles for sale online for $10, $20, $30, $40. I buy purified water by the case all winter long from Sam's Club to fill the humidifier in the room with my guitars, and recycle 7-10 of these per week. One is perfect and weighs almost nothing. It can stay empty until we reach a long waterless stretch.)

Left Rear Pannier

The Bedroom

  • Big Agnes Sidewinder Camp 20° sleeping bag in Sea to Summit eVent compression dry bag
  • Sea to Summit Aero Premium Pillow in stuff sack
  • Thermarest NeoAir inflatable sleeping pad with air pump

Fair Weather / Everyday Gear

  • helmet
  • Halo headband bandana
  • Specialized BG Dual Gel gloves
  • Shimano XC100 cycling shoes
  • 2 pair  1/4 crew cycling socks
  • 2 bike shorts
  • 2 short sleeve jerseys

In camp

  • long sleeve Columbia fishing shirt
  • Hot Chilly's thermal zip-neck top
  • REI convertible pants
  • Zoic Ether 9 shorts
  • 2 short sleeve T-shirts
  • short sleeve lightweight merino wool base layer
  • 2 pair Ex-Officio briefs
  • baseball cap
  • 3 handkerchiefs
  • Nike square-leg brief swimsuit

Strapped On the Bike Somewhere

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 2-person tent with footprint in Sea to Summit dry bag . On my tour around northern Lake Michigan one very rainy morning I figured out how to take down the tent and take up the footprint without taking down the fly.  If the fly is soaked and/or footprint is sandy/wet I have separate smaller dry bags to stuff them in that go into the larger bag with the tent but keep them separate and the tent dry.-  rear rack

foam sit pad - left rear pannier

Continental Top Contact II 37-622 folding tire -right rear pannier

small loofah - left front pannier

flip flops - right front pannier

And that's it.

As I think about it more, some things might come off the list. But then, some things might get added. I've test packed each pannier to make sure everything will fit volumetrically, but I forgot to weigh them.  Guess that's a next step.

We've already contacted a shop in Fort Collins and arranged to have our bikes given a good going over when we get there (it's roughly halfway from DC to Seaside). Part of the plan is to ship cold weather gear to the shop when the weather warms up some, and add it back to the kit there before we hit the mountains.   I'll have to see how much weight that might save across the Midwest and Great Plains. It may not be worth the effort. Stay tuned.

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Comment on this entry Comment 7
Steve Miller/GrampiesReally fun to see such a complete gear list. Can hardly wait to see what does't make the cut/gets sent home in the traditional first mailback. Dodie says try to balance weight side to side and do not overload the rear. We have found makeup remover wet wipes work a hot damn toclean hands after bike repair/maintenance. Available in the travel size section of every Walmart everwhere.
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6 months ago
Kelly IniguezThank you for including the comprehensive list. I always enjoy seeing what is necessary to someone else. I agree with you - people either go really heavy or really light when packing.

Jacinto and I somewhat resemble your remark about the husband carrying all of the weight. Years ago I read a journal (title long since lost to time) of two men touring together. Camping/cooking. They both claimed less than 10 pounds of gear. That has been my goal ever since. We hotel tour, and I still have trouble hitting ten pounds!

I totally get where you are coming from with the gallon container for water. I'd like to suggest two smaller containers, or even four containers. A gallon of water weighs eight pounds and sloshes. It can effect your bike poorly as your ride. Distributing smaller containers appropriately will help you with handling.
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6 months ago
Curtis WareHey John,
Enjoying the heck out of this journal. I work with your daughter at EP.
I am in planning stages of my Appalachian Thru Hike for 2024 and replaced my Garmin SPOT with the Mini Inreach 2. If you need a personal location device you are more than welcome to borrow (or i will sell cheap) the Garmin SPOT. Let Sarah know and we can Fed-Ex out to you.
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5 months ago
John ChimahuskyTo Curtis WareCurtis, thanks for watching! Yes, Sarah has told me about your AT plans. She's probably told you about her older sister's fiancé's AT plans for next year. I don't need a SPOT. The farthest I plan to go off the beaten path is the nearest breweries, from which I hope to find my way back to the road or trail. My Wahoo Elemnt Roam should do that nicely. And my wife has had me activate the Find My app on my iPhone so she can see where I am. No more sneaking to Home Depot, I guess. I look forward to hearing more from you once I get started on this tour.
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5 months ago
Ben F.Appreciate seeing the full gear list!!! Some of us "gear heads" really geek out on the selection. What stove is your brother carrying? Will you use white gas, isopropyl, etc??
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5 months ago
Ed ChimahuskyHi Ben, the brother Ed here. We are taking a MSR pocket rocket that we have used in past tours, and taking 2 Isobutane canisters. We will replace them as they empty.
I did buy a MSR Wisperlite last year but may have had a pump issue as I could never get it to work. Additionally I’ve got lousy vision having both bifocals and prisms in my lenses and it was hard the see the little amount of gas collecting to prime it.
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5 months ago
John ChimahuskyTo Ben F.At the start I'll be carrying close to 55 pounds of gear on my bike on this trip. Need to see your gear list when you take to the AT next year. I'd like to know what you plan to have on your back. A year or two ago I visited the Mountain Crossings store at Neel's Gap in northern Georgia near the southern terminus of the AT. It's where a lot of hikers send home the stuff they decided they didn't need after all. Everyone who works in the store has thru-hiked the AT, some multiple times. I asked one of them how much his pack would weigh if he started the trail tomorrow. 10 pounds he said. The gauntlet is down.
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4 months ago