Brompton Touring Light Packing Wisdom

With a little experience one finds out things that work and things that don't. Often it is just about trial and error but we also learn and get inspired by what other people do. Hopefully you will find some tips useful and take some of them with you on your next tour!

  1. Merino Wool: It took me 40 years to figure out but I hope it will come faster for you! Basically this is the best gift you can give yourself if you are serious about touring. These are expensive but with some care they last long and their benefits make the purchase very worthy indeed. Merino wool garments keep your body temperature cool when hot and warm when the weather gets cold but mostly can be worn for weeks on end without the need to be washed and they dry extremely quickly too. Odours are also neutralised by the fabric allowing for them to be worn much longer than any other sport dedicated material. I use two long-sleeved shirts that i change every week or so. They are on my skin during the cycling day, are removed while I take a shower and then are back on on my skin for a night sleep! 
  2. Merino Continued: As you are there get yourself some Merino wool socks too...
  3. Use normal light trousers: The temptation to go for cycling gear is natural but I found in my experience that this is not a good idea. Cycling trousers have the benefit of a chamoix padding to make your ride more comfortable but they have many shortcomings too. They smell really bad after just a day riding ( yes I do take showers every day... ). This means that pretty much every day or two you will have to wash them and the padding makes the drying process a long one. Usually you would wash them in the evening at the campsite when temperatures are cool and end up drying them by putting them soaked wet, tied somewhere outside your bags during your next day ride. A better solution I found is using normal light knee trousers possibly with zipped extensions that can be attached in the evening or if you want to be smarter at the restaurant. Under those I wear light and quick drying underpants. When I end my day I take the spare ones with me to the shower, wash myself and the used pants under the shower and put on the clean ones for the night and the next day ride. Usually the pants are thin and will be pretty much completely dried in the morning if not they won't take long to dry once the first sun comes out!
  4. Use normal shirts: Again as above! Usual wisdom says that it should be good to wear lycra shirts with cycling pockets behind and so on... Don't! I just wear a short sleeved shirt over my Merino base layer. It looks amazing and was often complimented on my cycling style on the road too! If you wear Merino wool on your skin the shirt will be just an extra layer on top that won't make you too hot and will be so much more useful and will not make you look like a weirdo when it is time to go to a restaurant or cafe to recharge body and soul! I bring two shirts with me, one I wear and the other one is a spare to get changed after a week or when needed.
  5. Everything in twos: I just realised that it seems that everything comes in twos but the bike... Two base layers, two underpants, two socks, two shirts and even two tyres as you are not likely to find Brompton Spares outside main cities.
  6. Compression Bags: These can also be waterproof if needed but they mostly function very well to keep your gear tidy and in place. Cables, chargers for your gadgets, and clothes can all be organised in small packets and easily found when needed. Remember that your spare clothes compression bag can make for the most comfortable pillow at night too!
  7. Gadgets: That is where it gets hard and we all tend to bring too many of those... I still take a very heavy DSLR camera for my photos but more and more light gadgets that do it all come on the market and make it easy for us to carry less around. Smartphones are today capable of taking decent pictures, amazing HD videos, help you keep connected to friends, check maps on the internet and much much more. There is no reason why a smartphone is all you probably need. If you are like me you can't resist taking your iPad with you too and a small radio for weather, news and entertainment at the campsite!
  8. Cooking Gear: Come on, why did you tour on a Brompton anyway! This is a no brainer...just don't bring anything of this sort! You don't have the space for it, if you are touring with a Brompton chances are that you are not crossing the desert or Siberia and you will be just fine eating out here and there and getting stuff from groceries. Trying out local food is a great part of the enjoyment so make the most of it and stay light!


John said...

Hi... I was wondering if you could elaborate on what type of underwear you use? I would love to get away from the typical padded cycling shorts. I love the shirt idea. Is the fabric content important? Absolutely wonderful videos! You have a gift when it comes to those. I hope you make more. Thanks for your help.