South America Gear List


(Photo: Tom Walwyn)

It is a staple of our genre to post packing lists at the beginning of a tour. This is the gear that I had at the end of traveling in South America. It thus represents the outcome of vicious culling of anything that I wasn’t using, and will be the starting point for future big pedals. (Also see Scott Felton’s video and list and Fixie Dave’s video.)


Merino Buff
Gore-Tex hooded rain jacket
Panasonic GF1 camera w/ 14-45 lens
Wet wipes
Current map

Gore-Tex waterproof mitten shells clipped on to front pocket
Snacks stashed in mittens


15 degree Sierra Designs sleeping bag
Thermarest 3/4 mat
Pot and lid
Pot scrubby
Tarptent Moment tent


Mini cable lock
Princeton tec LED Headlamp
Space pen
Gerber Portlander pocket knife


Defeet merino gloves
Gore-Tex rain pants
Gore-Tex booties
1pr. Smartwool underwear
1pr. cycling shorts
Ibex LS merino shirt
Prana pants
Patagonia Puff pullover
Ibex merino polo shirt
Smartwool socks
Glasses in rigid case
Maps not in current use
Airline ticket
Medical insurance paperwork
Passport photocopy
Credit cards
Immunization record
Flip flops
Meds in mesh bag

  • ibuprofen, azithromycin, malarone, zolamide, benadryl allergy, immodium, dayquil sinus, caffeine tabs, pepto bismol tabs, steri strips, transparent dressing, antiseptic wipes, bandaids, latex gloves

Toiletries in mesh bag

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, deodorant flakes, tweezers, nail clippers, q-tips, earplugs, travel soap, small bottle conditioner, contact lens case, spare contact contact lenses, tiny bottle saline solution, hair tie

Titanium cup secured outside seat bag



  • loose 5,6 Allen keys, torx wrench, tire irons, chain tool, chainring bolt tool, spoke wrench, stein hypercracker cassette tool, bottom bracket tool, zip-ties, Park MT-1 (backup)


  • 1 tube, 4 spokes, shifter cable, brake cable, 4 brake pads, quick link, serious Patch kit (5 big patches 10small patches, shop size tube of glue)

MSR multifuel stove + screen + pump (fuel bottle on bike)
MSR coffee filter
Water purification tabs
Camera battery charger
3 spare memory cards
Memory card USB reader
Blackburn Flea USB light charger
Spare Steripen batteries
iPhone charger/usb cable
Shop rag
Cash stash


Futbol jersey
Nzo Dobies shorts
Ball cap
Smartwool socks
Lowa hiking shoes

iPhone in pocket
Money for immediate use in pocket

18 thoughts on “South America Gear List

  1. You’re welcome, Eric, and thanks for dropping in. The funny thing is, I bet I’ll look over this list next time I’m packing for a big tour and I’ll think to myself, “hang on, I’m sure I’ll need this other thing and this and that, too.” I put up this post in part to serve as a reality check to myself in the form of a reminder that I got by for months in a far away place with only this gear, and easily.


  2. Big thanks for the list! This will be my reality check list when I start packing for my next tour. As of late, EVERYTHING has made it into my panniers; and I was trying to go light! The next trips, I will experiment with a lighter and lighter set up and see how it all plays out.
    Thanks again,

  3. great information joe. really inspired by your rides, and will be pouring over the information on the winter alaska trip, something i want to do, along with many many other adventures…

  4. Muy handy, thank you.
    The USB-powered Steripen seems to work really nicely, easily charged up while checking email in an internet cafe. I’ve been getting by with boiling my water at camp, or drinking the local brew, using puritabs when in doubt.
    I use tufts of grass instead of a pot scrub (-:
    Did you find you really needed the second cross pole on the Tarptent Moment? I’ve used mine just a couple of times – good for windy conditions, I suppose.
    Took your advice for a mini cable lock, to the horror of other cyclists (-;

    • Hey Cass,

      I’m intrigued by the USB recharge version of the Steripen. I’ve been using the battery powered one, and in addition to always feeling a bit sheepish at disposing of the depleted lithium batteries, I was always nervous about finding the odd size in far off places.

      Grass, huh? I was so jealous of the quick cleaning work done by Sarah and Tom’s green scrubby, I picked one up somewhere in Peru. And cut it in half, of course!

      As far as the second cross pole for the Moment, I’ve noticed from your photos that you’ve been achieving a nice taut setup without. Since I bothered to have it with me, I ended up using it almost reflexively. I just like self-standing tents, but could easily see doing just fine without. What’s your system? Do you use stakes (I ditched my stakes) or loop around rocks and such? Yeah, doing without the second pole seems like a decent idea, now that you mention it. I’ve been meaning to write a review of that tent, by the way. I remain enthusiastic.

      Finally, here’s the hilarious thing about the $9 cable lock I’ve been using for fifteen years. US quarter shown for scale:

  5. Joe,

    Didn’t have a chance to see how many charges you get from the USB Steripen – wasn’t mine – but certainly didn’t seem too wimpy. I’d like to get one, with a couple of packs of puritabs (or maybe a little bottle of iodine – for wound purposes too) as a backup.

    I’ve hung onto two pegs for the Moment – not the originals. I have a couple of thin (2mm?) guy ropes off to the side, which I tie to my bike (that’s my security system, if I feel in need of it) or rocks. I really like the freestanding idea – the reason I got the tent – it’s just in practise I’ve been fine without. Mind you, I can see the appeal of shedding pegs if you keep the cross pole.

    The amount of people I see lugging enormous locks around.

    Tempted by those pedals of yours… Maybe I need to try SPD’less again.

    Only carrying one spare tube seems like a scary idea – but I guess those fat tyre tubes are 1/ thick/robust and 2/heavy…

    • Funny story about that one spare tube, did I not tell you? Pretty late in the tour — I was in Coyhaique, Chile, I think — I dug deep into my saddle pack to empty the whole thing thinking I’d rearrange things. I pulled out that ridiculous heavy spare Surly fat tube to find that movement of the bag had somehow rubbed a 2 cm hole in the thing. Totally useless, and it had been for who knows how long.

      I can’t decide whether the lesson is that I needed to carry another spare or that I never needed a spare in the first place!

  6. I’m amazed you can carry that much stuff using a non-pannier or trailer system. I will be “fully loaded” in South America (Long Haul Trucker) carrying a similar amount! Though with more food and water and some comfort items.

    Thanks for the information.

    Some food ideas:
    Add TVP (In Spanish: Proteina de Soya Texturisada) to your cous-cous/mashed potato with a Maggi cube.
    Try Garden of Life Raw Meal. It tastes like the stuff we gave horses and cattle as a kid, but with sugar added. A small Syntha-6 Protein Shake every few days acts as a meal replacement.

      • Joe,

        I guess you take public transport to the populated areas, drop your backpack, then cycle around them for a few days?
        Nice idea but I’ll be lugging all the gear needed for a multi-month trip covering varying latitudes and climates!

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