Deciding what to pack when you will travel by bike is already very challenging, due to the limited amount of space and you have to carry everything you bring. All day, every day. On top of that the first destination will be Tanzania, where it will be very hot. But also, we plan to climb the Kilimanjaro where it can get down to -20 degrees.. so we need to be prepared for all types of weather.

This will be our first bike packing trip and honestly we did not have the chance to make a test ride yet. We have worked full-time until 1 week prior to our flight to Tanzania and Josien was too busy training for triathlons that never happened this year. But we are super excited to try it out. Minor detail and risk is that if we miss out on brining something important, we probably cannot buy it in Tanzania.

Therefore we spent quite some time researching gear, watching YouTube videos, scrolling through instagram and blogs, getting advise in outdoor stores to decide what we would bring on this part of the trip. All the experiences shared by others were a massive help to us and this also inspired us to share our experience with others.

On top of all this inexperience, Josien does not like to plan until it all gets very last minute. Which leads to quite some fun and stress. With a couple of days to go till departure we are still waiting for some important packages to be delivered. Fingers crossed all comes on time.

Clothing and gear for the Kilimanjaro

Our favorite clothing for any sport is from Skinfit, which is an Austrian brand. Josien searched so long for the perfect cycling and triathlon pants & after trying their triathlon shorts, she never wore anything else again on the bike.

When climbing the Kilimanjaro you will start with 32 degrees in the forest and slowly temperatures will drop till about -15. Therefore we need to be prepared for this huge change and bring all the right items.

We will leave with the items below:

  • Base layer with long sleeves
  • Winter jacket
  • Hard shell rain jacket
  • Long hiking pants
  • Rain shorts 
  • Running shorts
  • Gloves
  • Socks
  • Cap
  • Trail running shoes
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking sticks
  • Backpack

Gravel Bikes and Gear

Selecting the right gravel bikes was not an easy task. As these type of bikes are quite new to the market it was not easy to find one that met all our expectations. We had great advise from our local bike shop in Switzerland – Radsport FREI. In the end we both bought the same bike, because “Twinning is Winning”.

For the cyclists under us, we decided to go with mechanic shifting as we do not want to take the risk that the Di2 breaks down in the middle of Africa. Another important feature is the Shimano GRX gearing, as this is the most durable version for riding on gravel paths. We will also bring the most important spare parts in case we crash or something breaks, so fingers crossed this will be sufficient. Also a bit risky is that we have not had the chance to do a long-distance trial bike packing ride, so we have to hope that the saddles are a good fit! Time will tell…

Cycling & Sports clothing

The biggest part of the 11-month trip we will travel by bike, but we will definitely do some trail running, hiking and hopefully swimming.

Breathtaking views when cycling in Liechtenstein

The clothing we bring on this trip is lightweight, packs small and we can use the same shorts for cycling and running.

  • Cycling shorts
  • Triathlon shorts
  • Cycling underwear
  • Base layer summer
  • Cycling jersey (2x)
  • Leg sleeves
  • Arm sleeves
  • Wind jacket
  • Scarf
  • Socks (2x)
  • Mountain Bike shoes
  • Cycling helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Havaianas
  • Dress
  • Goggles
  • Swim cap
  • Towels

Camping & Cooking

We have never slept in a tent together, yet. We cannot even remember the last time one of us has slept in a tent. So with no experience or the right knowledge, it was difficult to find the right balance between weight, price, quality and durability of the camping gear. It was almost impossible to find something perfect. The lightest sleeping mattress made a crunching noise as if you were laying on a newspaper. Not fun when you are trying to sleep. And no sleeping bag goes well for the warmth in Africa and the cold nights in Kyrgyzstan. Luckily we have some great friends who are experienced campers & we got great advise at Bever in The Netherlands. They really took the time there to advise us well. So we learned that we can add a sleeping liner to a thinner sleeping bag, so we will still survive the cold nights.

Also, Josien LOVES cooking. But again, no experience cooking on a small camping stove. The cooking itself will not be a problem, but what to bring?! We found out that the most flexible solution is not the most light-weight but it ensures that we are not dependent on gas refills. This flexible solutions makes it possible to use any source that is available: gasoline, diesel, gas etc. Food blog will follow shortly..

  • Lightweight 2-person Tent
  • Ground cover for under the tent
  • Sleeping mattress
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping Liners for extra warmth
  • Earplugs as Josien cannot sleep without
  • Multi-gas / Benzin cooker
  • Bottle
  • Pan
  • Water filter
  • Victorinox Knife
  • Spoon

Bikepacking Bags

We really have 0 experience with bike packing the modern way, so also for the bags we did a lot of research online. There are two main brands: Apidura and Ortlieb. We decided both to go for another brand and test them during our trip.

Fully packed bike

Below an overview of the Apidura bags from Josien and the Ortlieb bags from me. Very important to us was again the weight and of course they need to be waterproof!

  • Saddle pack
  • Handlebar pack
  • Top tube pack
  • Frame pack
  • Fork pack
  • Downtube pack
  • Snack pack


Actually it would be fantastic going fully offline for one year. But we are equally excited to share our adventures with our friends and family. And of course to track our cycling route so we can see exactly where we have been. Electronics are quite heavy, so also here we needed to make careful selections. Also, we do not know if we will have access to electricity everywhere we go, so we also bring a solar charger.

Hygiene and First Aid

The part you do not want to plan for, but maybe the most important. What medication to bring, which vaccines are needed, and do we actually know what to do if we do have an accident or get sick? No compromise on weight here & we believe that the list below will help us in most situations.

  • Travel antibiotics
  • Plasters
  • Bandage
  • Wound creme
  • Ibuprofen
  • Paracetamol

And of course nobody wants to be smelly, but how on earth can we keep our clothes clean and fresh when we have to wear the same stuff day-in, day-out. And how do we wash ourselves, will we always have enough water? Deo bottles are big and take much space, which ones do we bring? So many questions and so little experience. From YouTube videos we have learned to always first wash your cycling clothes when you arrive at the place you will be sleeping, so they can dry overnight & are ready for the next round of sun, sweat and hopefully not too many tears.

We will bring the items below and will let you know if we can still bear sleeping next to each other in a tent after riding for a few days..

  • Mosquito spray
  • Tiger balm
  • Shampoo
  • Wet towels
  • Clothing washing liquid
  • Deo
  • Soap
  • Toothpaste & brush

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