January 10, 2006

Travel Report: the art of luggage

Five days to go until my Western Cape expedition and nothing is packed! Or rather, I've had everything that I could concievably take packed several times in several configurations of luggage.

The challenge is to pilot one of these…

…from Cape Town, up to Lambert's Bay, and then on the dirt through to Port Nolloth, across to the Richtersveld, the Kalahari, and finally down through Namaqualand and the Cedarberg, without developing too close and permanent a relationship with the sand…

…although I'm not planning to do any of this…

The secret of my success will be pack light and minimal - a lesson that I and every other motorcycle overlander has learnt through trial and error: Robert E. Fulton Jr. was wrong, a motorcycle is not a caravan. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, riding a heavy bike off road is very hard work. That's not so bad in England, but in a hot dry country, definitely no fun. And secondly, the less I carry, the less there is to leave on the bike when it is an unattended magnet for thieves.

So here's my inventory, and I intend to stick to it:

  1. a lightweight one man tent;
  2. tent mallet (can this be replaced with something smaller?);
  3. combined torch and tent-light;
  4. mini maglight;
  5. one pack of mozzie coils;
  6. lightweight Campingaz stove burner (without fuel, which I should be able to buy there);
  7. plate, fork, knife, spoon, cup;
  8. 2×1 litre water bottles;
  9. 2.2 litre Camelback water carrier;
  10. 2 x dehydrated camping meals;
  11. 2 x packets of noodles;
  12. 4 x dehydrated soup;
  13. box of matches;
  14. one small towel;
  15. five pairs of boxer shorts;
  16. one pair of socks;
  17. three t-shirts;
  18. one short sleeved shirt;
  19. swimming shorts;
  20. one pair of BMW summer motorcycle trousers;
  21. once pair of Hein Gericke Air desert motorcycle trousers;
  22. one Hein Gericke Taureg armoured jacket, without Gore-Tex liner;
  23. one pair of Diadora motocross boots;
  24. lightweight walking shoes;
  25. one pair of Hein Gericke brown leather gloves;
  26. BMW Sports Integral helmet;
  27. Hein Gericke Taureg waist bag;
  28. toothbrush;
  29. small toothpaste;
  30. soap;
  31. small medicine kit;
  32. mozzie repellant stick;
  33. factor 30 sun block;
  34. floppy bush hat;
  35. four sets of foam earplugs (too purchase);
  36. lightweight electric tyre pump;
  37. can of emergency tyre repair foam (too purchase);
  38. spare inner tubes (need to order these!);
  39. disc lock;
  40. long chain with built in lock;
  41. watch (to purchase);
  42. small digital camera;
  43. small binoculars (to purchase);
  44. Palm M515;
  45. Palm keyboard;
  46. mobile phone (check coverage);
  47. phone car charger;
  48. camera battery charger;
  49. BMW power socket converter;
  50. Magellan Palm GPS;
  51. map measurer;
  52. compass;
  53. SA road map;
  54. Lonely Planet SA;
  55. paper notebook;
  56. business cards x 5;
  57. driving licence;
  58. passport;
  59. credit cards;
  60. tickets;
  61. directions to Karoo Biking;
  62. contact details.
  63. my latest philosophy research concept maps.

That's over 60 items, but far less than I would normally take when riding my R100GS Dakar, or driving in the Hilux bakkie.

And finally, I have to choose one book to take. This is the most difficult decision, but at the moment, the likely choice is A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. However, I might get Emma to take a copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom for me to read when I get to Gaborone.

- 5 comments by 3 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Sounds like the life to me :p Lucky you escaping to the sunshine and getting freedom on the road on two wheels… I am envious! I hope you have a really great time and don't have to use those unfortunate accessories like puncture repair and medical kits.

    I take it you're going to pick up a bike over there… will it have a little tool kit of it's own?
    Also, here's some things you're probably aware of and just missed them off the list by chance:
    Shaving kit?
    Might need insurance/MOT/V5? (leave copies at home)

    Anyway, I think you know what you're doing and certainly don't need me to let you know!!!

    Instead of you buying some earplugs I definetly have four, and probably a dozen, you can have. I'm living on campus so if you let me know when/where you want to meet up I'll pop along and give you the foam earplugs, save you buying some for a while =)

    10 Jan 2006, 23:16

  2. Robert O'Toole

    Thanks. I have considered these items:

    • toolkit: the bike has the standard BMW kit in a tool roll under the seat, however, the F650 is quite bullet-proof, and if anything does go wrong it is likely to be too serious a problem for me to fix in the field;
    • shaving kit: i intend to grow a significant "expedition beard", somwhere between that displayed by Ewan Macgregor (TV celeb beard) and Bernd Tesch (serious GS rider beard);
    • the bike is hired from Karoo Biking in Cape Town, who provide insurance;
    • E111: of no use in South Africa, instead I have Carole Nash global travel insurance, which covers motorcycling (unlike many other policies).

    10 Jan 2006, 23:32

  3. Robert O'Toole

    An example "expedition beard" from GS rider Bernd Tesch…

    11 Jan 2006, 01:55

  4. Chris May

    here's a few deas:

    1) leave the mallet at home. Get some sharpened alloy tent-pegs, and use the sole of your boot, or a rock, to whack them in. As a last-ditch tactic, get a carrier bag, fill it with sand/rock, and use in place of a peg. A bit of spare guy-rope string is worth packing.

    2) I didn't see 'sleeping bag' – is it warm enough to do without? I'd at least pack a liner-type thingy.

    3) I didn't see 'pan' on the list anywhere – without which your stove won't be much use. I'd go for one that can double up as a plate or a mug (I have a fantasitc 0.7L titanium billy / mug which you can borrow if you like :-)) You can get much smaller stoves for coleman-style screw-on gas canisters than the pierceable camping-gaz ones (Again, I've got a super-lightweight one you 're welcome too borrow)

    4) Lighters are better than matches IMO

    5)Depending on the likelihood of spiky undergrowth, is it worth packing Tevas instead of walking shoes?

    6) Duck Tape and WD40. (If it moves and it shouldn't, use duck tape. If it should move and it doesn't, use WD40) .Also on the repair front, camelbak patches, if you're relying on it to keep you hydrated across the desert.

    11 Jan 2006, 19:57

  5. Robert O'Toole

    Thanks Chris. That adds even more to the list.

    I will take the mallet, as I will be camping at a site in Namaqualand at which I found so called unbreakable sharpened alloy pegs to be completely useless. It was also very windy, being in a valley, so the tent had to be pegged in properly. The solution then was to tie it to the 4×4. However, i can't park the bike too close to the tent in strong winds.

    No sleeping bag. In fact, it may be so hot that I have to sleep outside of the tent.

    Small can of WD40 is required (they do special tiny cans for bikes). There's a chance I might need to cross running water.

    Tape also required.

    12 Jan 2006, 08:55

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