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Packing Lists Are Lies: Here’s What’s REALLY in our Panniers

Before our departure I spend hours and hours researching packing lists of other cyclists and composing my own. At one point there were six different drafts saved on my computer, including a “PackList v3.6finalFINAL” which of course wasn’t the final one at all.

From the ultralight to the ultraheavy, I compared them all. How many pairs of socks were they bringing? How many USB cables? Which spare parts? What brand was their sleeping bag? And what about a sweater? How many pairs of underwear? Should you bring underwear at all?

So much wasted time. Even though “PackList v3.7thefinalest” more or less resembled what actually went into our panniers at the time of departure, within a week it was severely outdated.

So here’s a tip for future cyclists: Stop looking at other people’s packing lists and don’t waste time making your own. 

Or at least don’t make more than one or two versions. Yes, they will help you give you an idea of where you can cut down on weight and volume (do I really need 6 shirts?) but once you start your trip, it will all be a lie.

Some of the crap we carry.

So, here’s an example of an incomplete but more realistic packing list OR an overview of the crap we have accumulated in the past three months.

  • A broken stove. Weighing in at about a kilo this is quite a heavy unnecessary load to carry, but we are still waiting from a response from Coleman to see if we can get it fixed. It has been more than 2 weeks now…come on guys!
  • Dreamies. Yes that’s right, we carry catnibbles with us so we can bribe stray cats to hang out with us. Like this one.

    Where are my Dreamies?!
    Where are my Dreamies?!
  • A picknick blanket. We bought this horribly ugly fleece blanket in Iran as an extra layer against the cold but now it serves as a picknick blanket. Except that it totally SUCKS as a picknick blanket because everything (grass, seeds, thorns, small stones, dead spiders) gets stuck in the fleece.
  • A litre and a half of olive oil. That cute little bottle you brought with you at the start of the trip will run out soon. Probably when you are on top of a mountain in Turkey in a very small village where the only other oil you can find comes in a one litre Coca Cola bottle. Too good to throw away. And then there’s the other bottle of Special Spanish Oil ™. Antonio’s parents will be proud.
  • Three lighters. I don’t know why smokers always run out of lighters. Maybe because for some mysterious reason they end up in our panniers?
  • Five USB cables. For like, three devices. OMG we are hoarders on wheels!
  • A kilo of peaches. Can’t say no to peaches.
  • Dead ants. What ARE you doing in my panniers?
  • An unidentified bike tool. I don’t know what it is, nor how to use it, but my dad said I should bring it so obviously I did. I am sure it will come in handy one day?
  • Three different kinds of loose-leaf tea. Teasnobs United.
  • Waterproofing spray for fabric. So we can spray our rain jackets again. Except that first we need to wash and iron them which seems somehow impossible.
  • A pair of sneakers that Antonio wore once for horseriding but that are still good so we don’t want to throw them away. Does anyone want a pair of sneakers? They’re pretty ugly but still good and a size 42.

Feel free to ridicule us, or to use this list as inspiration for your own trip. Does anyone else travel with catfood?

2 thoughts on “Packing Lists Are Lies: Here’s What’s REALLY in our Panniers”

  1. The tool your dad gave you is a chain breaker (in dutch a.k.a. kettingpons). With that tool you can remove the chain en also (but that’s not very easy) mount an new one.

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