This was the setup in the summer of 2002 in Mongolia
and China. Steel road
bike with big 630 wheels, front and rear racks, two front panniers, two bottle
cages with 0,75 l cycling bottles, 2 kg tent bungeed atop the front rack, 40 l
backpack and 5 mm foam sleeping pad on the rear rack and big handlebar bag
(which is not on the photo). I wasn't weighing my
stuff yet at that time, but the setup was already light in comparison with
most of the cyclists.
In the winter 2002/3 I rode in Mexico. I had lighter road bike, this time with
the usual 622 wheels. I got rid of the front panniers, but still kept the front
rack to bungee the (same) tent on it. The setup at the rear is unchanged. The
handlebar bag is still the same.
In the winter 2003/4 I rode from Phnom Penh to Kuala
I bought a new lighter steel road bike for this occasion.
I wasn't camping on this tour, so I had no tent and sleeping bag. I removed
the front rack. The setup at the rear and the handlebar bag are unchanged. I
still wasn't weighing my stuff.
Summer 2004: 1 month in Kyrgyzstan & China. The bike is the same as the trip
before. The setup is also the same with the exception that I had a tent and
sleeping bag (in the backpack on the rear rack). I also included an underseat
bag (yellow one) for carrying tools. This trip marks the beginning of light
weight awareness (and maybe folly?). I started weighing everything, trying to
find better (=lighter) solutions. At the end I managed to get the weight of
all my stuff down to 9.8 kg, or 21.8 kg including the bike.
At that time cycling community considered this as extremely light.
I cut the waist belt of the backpack and removed several straps, leaving only
shoulder straps so that I can use the backpack for hiking. It lightend the
backpack for about 300 g.
The plastic cycling water bottles (0,5 and 0,7 l) were replaced by ordinary 1
litre PVC bottles. You save 40 grams per bottle.
I bought new 1-person single walled tent weighing 1365 grams. That was 500
grams less then the old tent.
I stopped taking tourist guides on tours. At least 300 g saved.
I cut the map and took only the part where I planned on cycling. Big saving in
volume and about 50 grams in weight.
I bought smaller and lighter SLR film camera with 28-300 mm lens. 80 grams
less, or 600 grams less if I count also the old telephoto lens, which I
I started using dish washing cloth instead of towel. About 50 g saved - and
huge amount of space.
I bought very light foam sleeping pad. It was as big as old one, but weighed
155 g which was 150 g less than the old one.
I bought a small, 25 g flashlight. That's about 80 grams less than the old
I used sandals instead of shoes - about 150 g saved.
I had a pen water filter - the first time (30 g with the container).
Tour in China (Xinjiang, Tibet) in summer 2005. I made several changes. This
was very demanding tour because of altitute, low temperatures and rough
terrain, but I still managed to cut down the stuff by 130 g (to 9.7 kg) -
mostly because I used a waterproof bag instead of the backpack. Overall weight
including the bike was bigger: 22.5 kg, because of heavier bike.
Replacement of the backpack with a waterproof bag. The bag was 445 grams,
which was almost 400 grams less than the backpack.
New down sleeping bag. At 1190 g it was heavier then the old one by 210
g, but was rated at -5 C (old one at +5 C). It packed a little smaller.
No silk sleeping liner: 210 g less. It was not necessary with the warmer
I used only one bungee cord instead of two: 80 g less.
Only one underwear - 30 g less.
Smaller mulitool: 50 grams less.
I had no maps - not even cut-outs, just a paper with riding directions.
I gave up on "monocular" - a part of small binoculars for birdwatching. 80 g
I left the container for pen water filter: 10 g less (+volume).
I had about 50 grams more of warm clothes and 300 g heavier shoes.
I lost the bike and practically all the stuff in Tibet, so I could start
building up my gear from the scratch.
There were some radical changes for a winter tour 2005/2006 in South America.
The overall stuff weight was cut down by 950 grams, counting the bike even by
3350 g from the previous trip to China and 2685 grams less from the lightest
setup so far (in 2004). Stuff weight 8.7 kg, with the bike 19.1 kg.
I bought new, 2 kg lighter bike.
Stuff bag (160 g) instead of waterproof bag (445 g) - saved 285 g.
Bubble wrap as sleeping pad and waterproofing material for the stuff
bag. Not much saved in weight (30 g), but an enormous change in volume and the
whole lightweight philosophy.
Lighter gloves: I had only plastic kitchen gloves. 60 g less. This was not a
good idea - I suffered from ulnar nerve inflamation.
No woolen cap and neckechief.
No pen water filter.
Only one pair of spare socks, 30 g less.
Much lighter top clothes than in China - it was summer in S. America. Around
220 g less.
I also had some stuff which was heavier: camera (80 g), overshoes (70 g, new
addition), tent (530 g more! - I used the old tent from before 2004).
The trip to Indian Himalaya was the peak in the
evolution and it set a standard for my ultralight setup. I dropped the weight
of the stuff by 1770 g, down to 6970 g (or 17.5 kg with the bike).
Compact (ultrazoom) digital camera instead of SLR film camera. The camera
itself with charger and spare battery meant 390 g less.
No spare film rolls: 125 g less for 6 rolls.
Underseat bag used as a handlebar bag: 420 grams less. Since I had small
camera and no spare films, I didn't need the big handlebar bag.
Lighter, single skin tent, only 950 grams. Saving of about 900 g from the
previous tent and 450 g from the lightest tent I ever had.
I trimmed down the tent for additional 45 grams (removed inner pocket and
straps from its bag).
No soap. I relied on the soap in hotels.
I cut the handle of the plastic disponsible razor. Not a big weight, but
quite some space saving. Besides, you really need only a small handle for a
razor - unlike the tooth brush.
I cut down the medical/sewing kit by 30 g.
Also the amount of plastic wrapping bags was smaller for 40 g.
I bought new light shoes: shoes for in-door football (soccer). At 660 g they
were just 25 g heavier than sandals, but infinitely more comfortable and warm,
both for cycling as well as walking.
I had some heavier/bulkier stuff: warm gloves (+140 g), fleece top (+70 g),
tool kit (+55 - chain tool), cycling gloves (+45 g).
With all these savings I could indulge in a bit of luxury: I mounted a
kick-stand (200 g) for the bike.
The trip to Australia was done with similar setup. I dropped the weight of
to around 6200 g, mostly because I expected much warmer weather then in Indian
I used very ligh rain jacket (140 g) instead of my standard 500 g jacket.
Fleece top replaced with lighter one, saving 90 g.
I removed kick-stand. It does provide some luxury by not having to lay down
and lift up the bike, however it doesn't provide a stable support (a few times
the bike toppled down), so I will not use it again. 200 g less.
I cut the pedal spanner in two - 50 g saved. You don't need a big handle for
the pedal spanner: just find a stone and hit the short handle a few times to
unscrew the pedals.
I cut 8 cm of seat post, saved about 50 g.
Ligther lock: I bought a tiny combination lock which weighs only 48 grams. 130
g saved. The philosophy is that any lock could be broken by a dedicated thief,
so take the lock that just ensures your bike can't be ridden away by
No camera battery charger. I estimated that one spare battery will be enough
for 1 month trip - and I was right.
Only one spare tube. I relied on availability of those in Australia.
No tooth paste. I brushed the teeth just with water.
Instead of a knife I used razor blades. Quite a volume saving and about 40 g
Less pages in a notebook - minus 10 g.
Shorter and lighter wicking cycling socks: 30 g less.
I did use a helmet this time (280 g more).
The trip to Central Asia (Tadjikistan, Kyrgyzistan, China, Pakistan, India)
was done with practically the same setup as from 2006. There were little
changes, resulting in about 300-400 g less: stuff 6.7 kg, with the bike 17.1 kg.
I bought new down sleeping bag - smaller and almost 100 g lighter, with the
same rating (-1 C comfort) as the old one.
I cut off the inner mesh lining form my rain jacket. The weight dropped from
500 g to 370 g. I am still undecided whether this was a good idea or not.
New strip of bubble wrap. The new one was 60 g lighter. I don't know if this
comes from different construction or from the dust that collected on the old
A hat replaced with a cycling cap: 30 g instead of 90 g. The cap is also an
excellent tool for killing flies and mosquitos (a hat would be too heavy for
Lighter rain pants - 30 g less, but worse quality. I will go back to heavier
Heavier stuff: there was a spare tyre (300 g) this time.
In the January 2009 I was in the Middle East. This was a rather radical
experiment regarding the ultraligh cycle touring. I tested how it would be to
tour with just the bivy bag, carrying all the stuff on the bike, without the
racks or backpacks. With 3.9 kg of stuff and 13.7 kg including the bike,
it meant about 3.7 kg less from my usual "fully loaded" setup as in 2008.
Tent, the sleeping bag and bubble wrap were replaced with a bivy bag and a
silk liner. I saved 1.5 kg there. The bivy was carried in the bottle cage
I kept most of my stuff in the compression bag behind the seat. I saved 100 g
because of lighter bag and another 40 g by using nylon straps instead of bungee
There was no need for a rear rack. 570 g saved.
The rain jacket was replaced with two items: a windstopper and a light rain
shell, both of them together were almost 100 g lighter then the old jacket.
There were a lot of small things that I left out: water filter, sun screen,
neckerchief, lighter, battery charger, one spare tube, spare spokes, chain
tool, hypercracker, one water bottle. All of this meant about 500 g less.
In the summer of 2009 I rode from Vancouver to New York
City. It was a full-kit camping tour with the least weight so far;
I managed to cut down my touring weight by almost a kilo. I had
5.8 kg of stuff and 16.0 kg including the bike.
Smaller and lighter rear rack. It's 450 g or 120 g less then the old one.
Besides that it attaches to the brake bridge
screw and enables me to adjust the brakes without the need to remove the rack.
Lighter road tyres 25x622. Almost 300 g lighter then the 32x622 Schwalbe Marathons.
Only one tube - 100 g less. No spare spokes. No spare tyre.
I bought the lightest pump there is: 25 g, means almost 50 g less. It's also a
Only one bottle cage and one water bottle: 110 g saved.
I bought a new summer down sleeping bag. With 600 g for a bag with light
compressioin bag it was 350 g lighter than my 3-season sleeping bag.
I had new lighgter shoes, 60 g less.
A few things left out: beanie, battery charger, card reader, altimeter,
hypercracker. Smaller first-aid kit. In all about 150 g less.
The clothes were different from the last year's tour, but the overall weigth
was practicaly the same. Rain gear and cycling shorts were lighter, but the
merino cycling jersey and arm warmers were heavier.
I did have some new additions. Rear view mirror. I took a 170 g tyvec
protective suit (meant as rain gear). Cell phone (70 g) and "monocular" for
watching birds (80 g) didn't work at all and were never used. I threw
monocular away on the 3rd day.
I am planning a new tour in august/september of 2010. It would be
a mini "Africa's coast-to-coast", through
Namibia, Botswana and South Africa. To start with, I am taking stuff from the
2009 trip in Canada and then reducing it for about a kilo:
4.8 kg of stuff and 15.1 kg including the bike.
After having illusions for 20 years about me becoming the National
Geographic's featured photographer I finaly realized that it is not going to
happen. So I bought a very popular "travelling ultrazoom compact" and I am
quite happy with it. It weighs 220 g and saves me 150 g, counting in the
charger as well.
I am thinking of using "crocs" as my only footware. They are incredibly light
(320 grams a pair), comfortable, have excellent pedal grip, can be used for fording
rivers or as bathroom slippers, and they dry in a second. Complemented with
some kind of waterproof/windproof socks, they may be the ultimate
cycle-touring footware. Saving 340 grams!!!
The things left out: rain shell, rain pants, fleece gloves, overshoes, tyvec
suit, "monocular", mosquito net, spare socks.
I don't expect much rain this time, so my windbreaker jacket (160 g) will have
Will mean 660 g less.
Lighter synthetic jersey: 70 g less. Merino jeseys are excellent, they are warmer and
quicker drying then synthetics, but heavier. This time I really wanted to cut
the weight to minimum, so I decided against the comfort of merino jersey.
Additions: second bottle cage and water bottle, heavier front tyre,
beanie: 240 g more.