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Tour Aotearoa Gear List, and what I’d do differently

Tour Aotearoa Gear list is always a difficult subject. What works for me, may not work for you. So this is what I’d do differently. My post ‘Tour Aotearoa Gear List‘ is a detailed list of everything I thought I’d need for my bikepacking journey. It turned out to be far from reality.

I packed what I thought I needed. Within the first day, I knew that I’d be dropping some stuff off in Auckland. I was to drop off my jandals and would wear just my bike shoes on and off the bike. We’d planned to stay in accommodation as much as possible but took a sleeping kit for emergencies. I’d definitely only pack a small emergency bivvy bag, and not a sleeping bag, mat, and hooped tent or bivvy. We just didn’t need it. To replace the sleeping bag, and given that you’re riding in February and March, a Merino sleeping bag liner is sufficient. The Revelate Harness that secured all of my sleeping gear to the front of my Focus Mares AX was stable and reliable.

Other than the sleeping kit, I used all of the clothing that I packed. The last day I wore pretty much everything boron the bike. Including wearing all of my merino and jackets. It was a miserable day, but I was warm enough. Now what I packed isn’t for everyone. I packed light, or as light as I was comfortable with.

My Rapha frame pack was overpacked with lots of stuff I didn’t need. The bag itself performed perfectly, and would definitely recommend it. I eventually went tubeless, but I still carried 4 extra tubes and gas. I would now only carry 2 of both. Definitely take a Stan’s Dart and spares, and tubeless liquid. I also carried a small and lightweight Lezyne multitool and chain link. Both remained unused, but the security they offer was immeasurable.

Also in my frame bag, I carried my wash gear. A toothbrush and paste and deodorant. We didn’t have the need for soaps, shampoos and body wash, as we are sleeping in motels. My oil and rag were inside a small plastic zip-lock bag, along with a derailleur hanger, a couple of spokes, and scale ties. That was all I needed.

The focus Mares AX cockpit with Revelate designs harness, Rapha frame bag, and Apidura top tube bag.
The Focus cockpit

As for power banks etc, I didn’t need one. This is due to staying in cabins and motels and being able to charge from mains. All you need is a plug with 2 USB ports. One port for your Garmin, the other for your phone. Remembering to charge your lights when needed. Lezyne featured heavily in my gear list, as did Rapha. I used the Lezyne Macro Drive xxl for my front light and a Zecto Drive for my rear.

Apidura’s top tube bag was also a good choice. It’s waterproof and large enough for lots of food. My only gripe with this bag is the closure mechanism. Sure it’s totally waterproof but is a pain in the arse to close when nearly full, and trying to use one hand. I used it for my food, and when not raining, I had to leave it open in order to be able to get at it. I’d probably try the Revelate Designs gas tank design next.

My rear saddlebag was the truly amazing Revelate Designs Spinelock. I can’t speak highly enough of this bag. Not only is it rigid and stable, with zero bag swag, it has a one-way purge valve making it easy to expel all of the air in the bag. It’s supremely waterproof and was tested to the max whilst riding the West Coast Wilderness Trail. You’d be hard pushed to find a better saddlebag.

My clothes and cycle kit were mainly Rapha. The top-performing item was the Rapha Explore Gore-Tex jacket. If you carry only one jacket, make sure it’s this one. I also used the Rapha Brevet Flyweight Wind Jacket. Another top performer. These jackets coupled with Rapha’s merino Brevet jersey, base layers, warmers, socks, are enough for the whole trip. Given that we were using motels, we usually found a place to wash our gear. I carried with me, 1 Rapha silk jersey for the heat, 2 bibs, and merino everything else.

For my casual clothes, I carried 1 pair of shorts, which could also be used for riding. A tee-shirt that could also double as a jersey should the need arise. 2 pairs of boxers, 2 pairs of socks to be used for everything on and off the bike. It was a fairly lightweight set up. And I’d highly recommend this way, for this adventure. Everyone’s Tour Aotearoa gear list is going to be different, as we all have different needs to be catered for. But if you’re travelling between motels and cabins, then this really worked for me.

As for my bike, I was riding a Focus Mares AX size small. It’s a great day bike, but I really suffered from the lack of compliance. If only there was some suspension within the headset like the Specialized Diverge. Your wrists get pounded on the single track and trails, if riding a gravel bike. I strongly recommend getting a gravel bike with suspension. Any amount of travel is good enough. I’ve just started getting feeling back in my hands now, 7 weeks after finishing the Tour Aotearoa. Not a pleasant experience.

So what are your must haves? What do you pack? What bikes do you ride?

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  • Stu Smith

    May 10, 2021 at 9:22 am

    Good blog and a great bike for the job. You mentioned a need for more compliance – I’ve run 42mm to 45mm tubeless tyres on my gravel bike, softened to 20 – 25 psi for the rough stuff which give plenty of compliance. A pit stop of less than 5 minutes with a micro floor Lezyne pump has them back up to 40 psi for the tarmac

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