Tag Archives: Shimano MTB cycling shoes

What’s in our Panniers?

A reader recently asked what we carry in our panniers and I jokingly replied, “Too many electrical chargers!”

The blue bag holds all my cords and chargers. Eric has a smiler bag and just a full.
The blue bag holds all my cords and chargers. Eric has a smiler bag and just a full.

But seriously, it is interesting to see the things people carry. One cyclist we met (and love a bunch, we might add) carried a mallet, four pairs of jeans, and hair dryer the whole way from England to New Zealand. She never used the mallet and acquired the jeans other backpackers had left behind (probably due to weight). She couldn’t bear to see good jeans go to waste.

Another cyclist we recently met is carrying a surf board and film making equipment. He was pushing up Lavers Hill Australia when we last heard from him.

I may not be carrying a mallet or a surf board, but I’m sure more than a few people would have an opinion about what I carry. For example, I’m carrying a Turkish eye that a friend gave me two years ago in Turkey. Superstitious?….Maybe….Extra weight?…definitely but it reminds me of a good friend every time I see it.

A friend gave me this when I was teaching in Turkey and I've carried it for over 2 years.
A friend gave me this when I was teaching in Turkey and I’ve carried it for over 2 years.

The beauty of traveling as a couple is that we can “share” some of the weight for “essentials” leaving each of us room for our personal favorites (ah hem….French Press coffee maker)… Basically, I carry the food and Eric carries the tools.

This makes me happy every morning.
This Bodum French Press coffee maker brings joy every morning.

Here’s the basic setup.

I have two small Ortlieb Panniers in the front and two large Ortlieb Panniers in the back. I also have an Ortlieb front handle bar bag, my favorite, which I use like a purse. I have a purple see-through dry bag and a backpack bungeed to the back rack. I keep rain gear and extra layers in the dry bag so I can grab them easily during the day. The backpack is empty until we go hiking but I can’t bare to part with it because it’s been so many places and it’s a great color – purple.
All bags are waterproof.

Back Ortlieb #1

1 Big Agnes 3-man tent (which means it’s just about big enough for 2 people and gear)
1 Thermarest pad.
1 sleeping bag rated to 34 degree F which really means I start getting cold when the temperatures hover around 40 to 45 F.
1 11-inch Mac Book Air with heavy duty case (The case did it’s job when my bag flew off and landed on the rough pavement in Laos – no damage to my laptop)
1 Bodum 2 cup French Press coffee maker – (This is a “favorite” item)
1 pair possum/merino socks
1 pair Keen sandals
1 pair Croc flip-flops – for showers

Back Ortlieb #2

2 pairs of lightweight hiking pants
2 pairs of cycling shorts
3 pairs of wool socks
3 wool long-sleeve shirts
1 wool short-sleeve shirt
Cosmetic Case: Toiletries
1 bag with  too many Electrical cords – (see photo)

Front Ortlieb #1
first aid kit
Primus LiTech Super Set
2 sporks/2 knives
Food *
One spare bike tube

Front Ortlieb #2
Food and pre made lunch for the day*

*The amount of food changes but we usually have as a minimum:
dried fruit and nuts
peanut butter
tuna fish
powdered milk
It’s not uncommon for us to carry crazy things like 1 kg of apples (when they are in season), or a half-empty bottle of wine (saving money), or a frozen container of leftovers from the night before (easy to do when it’s so cold like now, but impossible in the heat of SE Asia), or butter. (can’t live without butter!)

Front Ortlieb Handlebar bag – (see photo)

My heavy travel "purse."
My heavy travel “purse.”

This bag has EVERYTHING important to me in it. Whenever we stop, I unsnap it, slip my Garmin inside, and go. If the bike is stolen, at least I can survive with my “purse.”

coin box
sun screen
cycling gloves
wool gloves
wool hat
battery charger (believe me, I’ve used this a lot!)
small bottle of hotel soap (great for cleanup after bike repairs)
tire patch tools
pocket knife (next to the piano, this was the best birthday present Eric ever got me)
sun sleeves
electrical tape
pen and paper
itch cream for those pesky NZ sand flies
food surprises for Eric – chocolate, gummy bears, dried fruit

He has two large Topek panniers for the back which are supposed to be waterproof but they leak, and two Axiom panniers for the front which he loves for their design and their mount on the frame. He also has a front Ortlieb handlebar bag, and a tool case that mounts under his seat.

Back Topek #1
Sleeping bag
Thermarest pad
small laptop computer
I-pad mini

Back Topek #1
Electronic chargers
shaving kit
Front Panniers – (See photos – The two photos are loaded into his two front bags.)

Notice how neatly Eric lines up his tools. I'm more the "stuff and go" personality myself.
Notice how neatly Eric lines up his tools. I’m more the “stuff and go” personality myself.


Too many chargers and too many bungee cords. At least our bags no longer fly off on bumpy roads.
Too many chargers and too many bungee cords. At least our bags no longer fly off on bumpy roads.

Tools – LOTS of tools
Spare Parts
Solvent and chain lubes for maintenance
MSR Microrocket  stove
fuel* (only when we’re in remote places)
Some extra food

Front Ortleib Handlebar bag
Similar to mine except:
Tube Patch Kit
Spare Batteries
small bag of medicine including eye drops, alcohol, lip balm. The alcohol is for cuts and scrapes, for cleaning tubes before patching, and for cleaning squeaky disk brakes.

Our current set up.
Our current set up.

* We are usually wearing our cycling shoes because they are too heavy to carry.

Our well-loved Shimano MTB cycling shoes.
Our well-loved Shimano MTB cycling shoes.
The shoes mount on these Shimano pedals.
The shoes mount on these Shimano Clipless/Clip pedals.