This month we’re cycling for over 2 weeks through the Netherlands, Belgium and France. It’s our first extended bike tour with our son Luke and we’ve tweaked our gear to suit bike touring with a baby.
We’ve also acquired some new things, as you do. We can’t blame all of this new stuff on Luke! Here’s the list of recent additions:
1. A Baby!
You probably figured out already that 5-month-old Luke is our most significant addition. We’re excited to take him on his first big bike tour. We’ve already done a few test runs and we’re confident that as long as we go slowly it won’t be any problem to combine cycle touring with parenthood.
2. Chariot Cougar 1 Trailer
“If the baby is happy, then everyone is happy.” That’s our motto on this trip and in order to keep the baby happy, he’ll be riding in the very plush Chariot Cougar 1. We’ve done many shorter day and weekend tours with this trailer and Luke loves it. We’re confident it’s up to the job.
3. Vaude Sioux 500 XL Sleeping Bag
We’ve used our PHD Minim sleeping bags for many years now but for this trip Friedel is swapping to Vaude’s Sioux 500 synthetic sleeping bag. There are a few reasons for the change.
First, the PHD bag doesn’t have a zipper. That’s great in winter (when you don’t want a draft to come in from the side of the bag) and also cuts some weight from the bag, but it makes it much harder to attend to a crying baby in the middle of the night.
Also, the square shape of the Sioux bag means it will be easy to open up the bag and spread it like a blanket over mum and Luke, if baby just wants to cuddle at night.
Finally, this is a good-value bag that will be fine for summer trips but doesn’t cost too much. By the time next summer comes, Luke will likely get his own sleeping bag.
4. Aeropress Coffee Maker
For us, a good day of bike touring starts with a good cup of coffee. This is especially true when your nights are broken up by baby! To that end, we’ve recently fallen in love with the Aeropress coffee maker.
It’s light, robust and makes an excellent, strong cup of coffee (the coffee is so good that we’re also using it at home).
Before we bought the Aeropress, we used the “cowboy coffee” method. That technique also makes a good cup of coffee but the process is a little messier and uses more water than the Aeropress.
5. Thermarest NeoAir Mattress
This is another baby-related purchase. Are you spotting a theme yet?
Initially Luke was sleeping on a foam Zlite mat but it’s bulky to carry around and not the same height as our Exped mattresses. The different heights makes nighttime breastfeeding difficult. That’s why we upgraded Luke’s mattress to the thicker Thermarest NeoAir. The NeoAir also weighs a minuscule 230g and is very compact when packed. We hope it will last at least until Luke is 4-5 years old.
6. Helinox Chair One
Finally, we leave the baby-related additions and find something for mum and dad: two comfy chairs. Until now, we’ve never carried a camping chair but we’re at that point in life when we want some extra luxury.
The Helinox Chair One is brand new on the market. It’s lightweight (850g), packs down to a compact size and is very comfortable – if a little on the expensive side at €80 a chair (about $100 U.S. dollars).
Here’s a review of the Helinox Chair One from two bike tourists.
7. Ortlieb Rack Pack
Things like mattresses, sleeping bags and the Helinox chairs are relatively lightweight but take up a lot of space in our panniers, so for this trip we’re going to put all of these items in a 31 liter Ortlieb Rack Pack. The bag will go on the back of Friedel’s bike.
8. Xtorm Power Bank
From A-Solar, we bought the Xtorm Power Bank 7000. Between that and our dynamo hub, we should now have plenty of extra power for our GPS, mobile phone and other gadgets.
9. The Behold Tool Case
This nifty little tool case arrived for us to review a few months ago but we’ve just now managed to get it on Friedel’s bike.
It slips into a cage which is mounted between your water bottle and the frame, and it’s just big enough for the essentials: a spare tube, a few patches, glue and some tire levers.
The idea is that it’s always there (you don’t need to think about packing a separate tool kit if you’re quickly jumping on your bike to run an errand) and easily accessible. See an Adventure Cycling review of the Behold.
10. iPad 3
Last but not least, we’ve finally caved in and joined the iPad crowd. We bought our iPad 3 more for use at home than on tour but we can definitely see that it could have a place on a bike tour so we’re trying it out. Lightweight cyclists will be horrified to learn that we’re also taking a laptop with us because we just can’t bear the thought of not being able to edit photos and do other work with our normal software. Will we use both? Probably. Do we need both? We’ll let you know…
Of course some of the old favourites like our MSR Whisperlite stove and Ortlieb panniers will still be on the bikes. As for the new gear, we’ll be giving you our full thoughts on it after we return.
What new equipment are you carrying on tour this summer?