Adventure riding is different to trail riding. If you are heading across the world to take on your very first big adventure, then what you take is going to be significantly different to what you take on the local trails. As an adventure newbie, you might well be wondering what are the basic things you are going to need.
First off, adventure trips with Ride Expeditions take a massive amount of the inconvenience and unpredictability out of motorcycle expeditions. You don’t need to worry about packing up your stuff into a tiny bag on the back of your bike every day because our support truck transports all your luggage from each night’s destination. So whether we are staying in a yurt in a remote village or a hotel with a pool in a bustling town, your clean clothes and essentials will be there waiting for you.
Similarly, whereas on a normal trail ride back home you’d take all your tools and spares in your Trail riding toolkit, our guides and support riders will be carrying all those essentials with them, and what they can’t carry is in the support truck. This means that the things you need to take on the bike with you each day are entirely different to a solo trip into the unknown.
As a first outing into the relative unknown, this is the way to do it as it takes an enormous weight off your shoulders. OK so a few years down the line you might decide to make all the plans yourself as a bona fide adventurer and set off on your own, but take your time – there’s a lot of world out there and plenty of time to explore it …
OK so lets start with the basics, what are the rules for packing and what are the things you need to take with you for your first adventure.
Rule #1 Travel Light
OK, so many of us on the Ride Expeditions team – especially Julian – have a difficulty with the first rule. The tendency to pack for every eventuality is hard to resist, but believe us, if every member of your tour packs enough kit to go six months in every climate from desert to arctic and every occasion from dinner ball to surfing, the truck is going to struggle under the weight!
The watchword here is taking what you will need, not what you think you might want. If the weather can vary a certain amount – as in out Himalayan Heights tour, rely on multiple thin layers rather than take bulky thick jumpers and hoodies. Base layers that keep you cool in the heat and warm in the cold are a great investment – we use Knox and Alpinestars Take enough underwear as nothing will crimp your day as quick as dirty pants, but make sure what you take is relatively new and fits well – we don’t want bunching back there …
There will be opportunities to get laundry done during the trip so enough clothes for about 3 days will see you through.
Rule #2 Test your backpack
As we’ll be taking you luggage, which type of bag or suitcase you bring is fairly unimportant, but do try and make it strong enough to contain all your stuff and not burst open on Day 2 …
But when it comes to your riding backpack – be more selective. Don’t buy the cheapest from the Poundshop – it will not last. Also don’t buy an enormous pack as if you are hiking across the Andes. We use the Kreiga backpack as it’s strong, well made and big enough with the option to add on additional capacity. Whatever you chose, make sure it can take a bladder pack of up to 3 litres and make sure you have ridden with it a number of times to check it is comfortable and does not rub.
Rule #3 Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork
Make sure that you have all your paperwork in your hand luggage, with copies in your hold luggage. This will give you a physical back up and ensure if your luggage is delayed you can still function. As a third back up, we always scan essential documents and email them to ourselves so that we can access them anywhere in the world. Oh and don’t forget to tell you bank where you are going to stop them blocking your ATM card as soon as you use it on the other side of the world!
If you’ve ordered an e-visa, then bring a hard copy with you, but if you are getting one on arrival, then have two passport photos with you.
For your passport, it’s best if it has at least six months to run before it expires. If not – change it now!
Back / Hydration pack
Where we go riding, you can’t just stop for an iced Frappuccino or a skinny Latte. Our tours travel into the remote areas of the world, and at times the riding can be pretty physical so you are going to need isotonic drinks with you to prevent dehydration. We recommend a capacity of three litres to last you the day, and this needs to be accessible through a drink tube and bite valve. We will pass places that we can refill the backpacks, but on this one we recommend carrying enough at all times. You can carry powdered energy drink mix or tablets to add to bottled water to replace carbs and salts.
We can provide most riding kit for our guests if required. so bringing your own isn’t essential. However if you do have your own, this is always going to be more suitable as you know it fits and is comfortable for riding in all day. You’ll need the usual stuff, so a good quality helmet, goggles, riding jeans, riding jersey, jacket with removable arms / gilet, off-road boots, gloves – you know the drill. We do not provide riding trousers – that’s a touch too personal – so bring your own. Oh and don’t think riding in denim jeans is a good idea …
This is a personal one as some riders will fully protect themselves and others assume some type of God-given indestructibility and ride with nothing more than a shirt and race pants. For those riders we’d say ‘Would it hurt if you fell off a cycle in this kit?’ If the answer is yes, then it’s probably going to hurt more if you fall off a motorcycle at higher speeds. This is not rocket science.
As a general rule, it’s good to protect the points where you bones are close to the surface and that hit the ground first in an off – so that’s elbows, knees, shoulders and back. A ventilated armoured vest is a good option and can be used under jackets or race shirts. It’s your choice, but if a small fall could wreck your trip, we’d recommend playing it safe…
Change of clothes
Once you stop riding, you are going to want to change of that sweaty riding kit as soon as possible, so T shirts, shorts, light trousers are ideal, as are flip flops / thongs to get some air to your feet. You are unlikely to be dining with the Ambassador so you don’t need formal wear, just something comfortable and not bulky. Don’t forget underwear and socks – but never socks with sandals – OK?
We will not necessarily be staying at fancy hotels that provide a selection of complimentary toiletries every night. You will need shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, talc, and deodorant etc. – all the things to make you feel good after a day in the saddle.
We’re not doctors or pharmacists so we can’t prescribe what to take with you, but we travel with anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen tablets, paracetamol and something to fend of the unwanted effects of foreign foods like Imodium. You know what we are saying here …
Of course you will hopefully have had all the appropriate vaccinations / inoculations appropriate for the area you are riding in, so if there are any back up medication you have been given, then take those too.
As a pale skinned westerner, you represent an open buffet for the mozzies. While you might be on anti-malarial tablets, it’s still better to stop them biting you in the first place so invest in some repellent with a rating of at least 50% DEET for those balmy evenings. However, if your first trip is to Antartica, you can give this a miss …
Vaseline / Sudocreme
We don’t want to go into too much detail here, but a bad case of sweat rash, or as it is more commonly known – monkey butt – can turn a simple trail ride into agony. Some of our days involve 240 KM of riding, so take our advice and slather up before you hit the saddle. You will not regret it.
Things have come a long way since borrowing your dad’s scarf to keep your neck warm, and neck tubes are a brilliant invention. We like the Buff brand but in reality there’s little science in the item – you can use it to keep dust or road grime off your face, the sun off your neck, make it into a hat, use it as a helmet liner, balaclava – err – that’s about it.
First Aid Kit
It’s always a good idea to travel with a small First Aid kit in your pack to patch up scratches, cuts and that sort of thing. You don’t need the full field hospital kit, just a selection of plasters, anti-septic cream, bandages etc. Ride Expeditions travel with a qualified medic for anything more serious, but you don’t want to call in the doc for a scratch on the nose!
In really hot or really cold conditions, you lips will dry out very quickly so keeping them from cracking is a good idea. Vaseline of Lipsyl should do the job
OK so we’re unlikely to get a full tan on a dirt bike, but nose, cheeks, necks and wrists certainly pick up the rays and need protecting. Go for Factor 50 if you are out all day.
In fact we found a great hack from the boys at Global Cycling Network for carrying both lip salve and sun cream in a contact lens holder. Genius
If you are prone to getting a bit weak and watery if you run low on calories, it’s a good idea to put a few energy gel tubes into your pack and maybe a tube of glucose sweets or our fave – Kendall Mint Cake for an instant hit. We’ll be eating regularly during the tour, but sometimes a sugar rush is a good boost!
For an epic trip, you are going to want to record you adventures, so make sure you have all the tech you need. Go Pros, TomTom Bandits or Drift Stealth 2s are all recommended on-bike cameras that will do both still and video and are a better option than trying to capture things on a phone. Don’t forget the chargers / spare batteries although you’ll probably be able to source them in you destination if you forget, rather than paying through the nose at the airport. Bring additional storage cards if you intend to take a lot of images.
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So that’s the basics – get out there and make memories!