Pan-Am Bike Tour Packlist

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Listed below is what I had on my 5-month tour of Mexico and Central America. This is hardly a minimalist kit, but it carried me through some cold nights in the high altitudes of Mexico and Guatemala as well as some ridiculously hot days in Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.

Edit: For my latest, and much lighter pack list, click here. Although I think this kit was close to perfect for a long haul trip, on shorter tours and bike packing trips in the near future I plan on culling this down to a lighter variation, which will mean less wear and tear on the bike (although my Surly Troll was built ‘apocalypse tough’). So, here is the list as well as some notes, highlights and things I’d change:

Bike Panniers and Gear

For the bulk of my luggage I chose Carradice after reading many reviews and weighing out the benefits of the popular and waterproof Ortliebs. All-in-all, I really liked the feel and classic nature of cotton duck. It’s breathable, reparable and sturdy. Although I had a couple of small issues (more to come), I will definitely use these again.

  • Carradice Super C front panniers
  • Carradice Super C rear panniers
  • Old Man Mountain Pioneer front rack
  • Tubus Locc rear rack
  • Ortlieb Ultimate 6 Compact handlebar bag
  • Ortlieb Rack Pack

Bike Touring - Lemolo Baggage

Tools and parts

  • 3 spare tubes (Schwalbe 13)
  • Topeak Mountain Morph pump
  • 6 spare spokes (stored in my seat post with foam)
  • Leatherman Juice C2
  • Lemolo Baggage Tool Roll containing the following:
  • Set of Park Tool alan wrenches
  • Chain tool extracted from a Crank Bros tool (doubles as a spoke wrench)
  • Portland Design Works 3wrencho (perfect for 15mm Rohloff axle bolts)
  • Extra tire lever
  • Torx T20 (for Rohloff) and T25 (for BB7 adj.) wrenches
  • Park Tool tire boot kit
  • Park Tool tube patch kit
  • Small double sided wrench for rack bolts and Rohloff bolt
  • Several zip ties (random sizes)
  • Various extra rack bolts, nuts, a few chain links, and a few other small parts
  • Tube of Phil Wood grease
  • Small bottle of chain lube

Bicycle Touring Costa Rica - Nicoya Peninsula

Sleeping and Camping

Big Agnes is my choice for the bedroom. I plan on reviewing this stuff in more detail, but for now I can say that I love my Air Core mattress.

  • Big Agnes Fly Creek UL3 tent
  • Big Agnes insulated Are Core sleeping pad
  • Big Agnes Pitchpine SL 45 degree sleeping bag
  • Thermarest Compressible Pillow

Clothing and Footwear

After a lot of research and experience with typical jerseys, I chose wool for my shirts and undies. Pretty awesome because it never stinks, even in 105 degrees of tropical funk. But, I am a sweater and they take a little longer to dry out than polyester. I may consider eliminating one pair of footware.

  • 2 Icebreaker merino wool short sleeve shirts
  • 2 random tshirts
  • 2 Icebreaker merino wool boxer briefs
  • Icebreaker long sleeve wool shirt
  • 1 pair Patagonia long johns
  • 1 Exofficio travel boxer
  • 1 pair Kuhl Revolver pants
  • 1 pair Prana shorts (for riding)
  • 1 swimsuit
  • 2 pairs Smartwool Phd wool socks
  • Mountain Hardware Typhoon rain jacket
  • Gore Path pants
  • Keen Commuter II clipless bike sandals
  • Merrell hiking shoes
  • Chaco sandals

Kitchen

I would consider replacing my Whisperlite stove with a Primus Multifuel… maybe. On lighter trips, I’d take a Trangia. It seems like alcohol was readily available in Central America.

  • MSR Whisperlite International stove with fuel bottle and small spare parts
  • GSI Pinnacle Backpacker cook set (sans the 4 bowl/cups)
  • Sea to Summit Alpha Light Utensils
  • GSI foldable spatula
  • Small sponge for cleaning
  • Salt and pepper shaker
  • Snow Peak titanium mug

Bike Touring Stove - Primus Multifuel

Eying Lee’s Primus

Photography and Electronics

After much debate, I sold my larger Nikon DSLR and chose to dedicate myself to the Fujifilm X100 APS-C camera with a fixed 35mm equivalent lens. I don’t regret choosing this camera as it was a joy to use, lightweight and very easy to carry in my Ortlieb Compact handlebar bag (which was great as a carry around camera bag). The X100 is fantastic for documentary-style photography and creates wonderful files, but is sub-par to a DSLR when shooting movement, wildlife and some landscapes.

  • Fujifilm x100 camera
  • Apple Macbook Air 11″
  • Sigma 2209 bike computer with altimeter
  • My Passport backup drive
  • 8 8gb SD cards with waterproof case
  • iPod Classic
  • Chargers and accessories

Other

  • Black Diamond Spot headlamp (90 lumens)
  • Hunting knife
  • Sleeping pad repair kit
  • Clothesline with caribeners
  • Steripen Adventurer water purification
  • 3 water bottles
  • Alite Monarch chair
  • Portand Design Works DZ taillight
  • 1 Sea to Summit ultralight dry-bag
  • 6′ bike cable
  • Combination lock

Bicycle Touring Costa Rica - Surly Troll

Tags

  • Jenny Bell

    I have definitely packed too much stuff for our tour! Perhaps I’ll get rid of my second dress and a couple of tops when I have to climb a few mountains in Guatemala! Thanks for the insight!

  • Logan Watts

    Yeah, Guatemala can certainly inspire one to lighten one’s load. But at the same time, the stronger I got the less I worried about weight and strapping random goods (such as papayas, extra water, etc.) on the rack. Have a great tour!

  • Fernando

    Hello there, thanks for the info. Im planning to ride along the mexican pacific coast this september, anyone riding so i can tag along? Or anyone interested on joining me?

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Fernando. I wish I could, but I will be in the US in September and planning another trip in the Southern Hemisphere for the winter. Have fun and send me a link if you post your route or photos…

  • Andrew March

    Hey Logan, thanks for all the info! I was planning on going from Belize to somewhere in South America. I was wondering about safety and the type of roads. Did you really need those extra spokes? How accessible are bike amenities there? How much riding did you end up doing on unpaved roads? I’m guessing it’s not too, too crazy and wild since you don’t mention bringing chain, cassette, tire or derailleur replacements.
    Also, how would you rate the security there? You brought some nice electronics, did you have any problems with safety?
    Maybe some of these questions are kind of out there – I’ve only had great experiences bike touring in Eastern Europe and parts of Africa but want to know how much to prepare for this one.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Andrew. I was lucky and didn’t have to use an extra spoke. But I’d still recommend having a couple just in case. If you put them in pieces of cut styrofoam in your seatpost, you won’t even know they exist unless you need them. I have heard of people breaking them. In terms of derailleur, etc. I have a Rohloff so all that wasn’t necessary. There was plenty of offroad situations as well, especially in Guatemala and Costa Rica.
    Finding bike parts is hit or miss, depending. There were some decent shops in larger cities, but certain things (like dry lube) was impossible to find.
    I think security is a non-issue for the most part. Just as dangerous (or not dangerous) as anywhere in Eastern Europe or Africa. You have to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. I heard about one guy on a bike getting mugged in Mexico coming out of Mexico City. But we found the people of Mexico to be extremely nice. Also heard about one cyclist getting her photography equip robbed out of a hotel room in Nicaragua. But I think it was a very shady hotel. As long as you are careful and smart, you should be fine. The biggest threat are the busses in Nicaragua. Still not a huge issue though.
    Hope that helps… Cheers!

  • Tobias

    Hello Logan!
    Very nice blog and great pics!
    We are a couple from Germany (35 and 33 years old) and in a couple of weeks we are going to travel through Central America by bicycle as well. We will start at the beginning of March in Costa Rica and will bike to the South of Mexico. So it is roughly the same route you did.
    Right now we are not sure if we want to travel through Honduras on our own due to security reasons. And we wonder what you did. Cause you skipped Honduras and El Salvador as well…at least at the blog. Did you take a plane or did you take a bus? Would be happy to hear from you, guess you can give us some advices and may have the answer to one or another question ;-)
    my email: tobiasange at gmail.com
    Best wishes and a hyppy new year!
    Tobias and Manuela!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hello! Thanks for the compliments! We did skip El Salvador and Hobnduras, but I met several people who cycled through and enjoyed it. Check out TourInTune.com, they have some nice looking posts from Honduras. We took a bus, but it was a big headache due to overbooking and border crossings. Let me know what you decide to do… and send me a link to your blog if you are keeping one for the trip!

  • Tobias

    Thanks a lot for your answer..About Honduras we still dont know exactly
    what to do. We ll decide during our trip. But bus or even privat shuttle
    might be an option for us if we dont feel safe going by bike.
    Another
    question: your blog about Peninsula de Nicoya sounds amazing. And I
    found a few others. Is a tent essential for this route or is it possible
    to find enough hostels/hosts/ etc.? cause we are not going to take our
    tent for this trip, probably.
    enjoy your trip!
    Greetings from cold and rainy Munich
    Tobias
    PS I do have a (very basic) blog but it s only in German
    http://www.zweiradeln.de

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yes, I do think you should be alright with hotels and hostels, but they will cost you in Costa Rica. And, you will need to have legs as there may be a couple areas on the penninsula where you’d need to do big days to find accomodation. Also, iIf you are looking for a little adventure and wish to travel on a budget, I would recommend a tent.

  • Tobias

    Thanks again, we´think about it!
    Have fun!

  • Jiri

    Hello Logan.
    Thank you for all the information in the article. We are going Guatemala to Costa Rica in January. Do you have a recommendation acording to tires? We do not plan any hard core off road, but we would like to go on some smaler roads. I am considering Schwalbe Mondial or Marathon in 50/622.
    Greeting from Vienna,
    Jiri

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Hi Jiri, It’s hard to beat Mondials for roads and gravel. If you are on a 26″ bike, the wider versions (2.15″) do a fairly nice job of absorbing the shock.

  • Jiri

    Thank you for the fast answer! We are on the 28inch (or 622) trekking bicycle so the 2inch is the widest possibility. But that should be OK as well.
    Jiri

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah 2″ should be great. Make sure to check your clearance before ordering. ..

  • Jesse A Covarrubias

    Hey Logan,
    How did your panniers hold up with all of the rain you encountered? I know Carradice is a fine brand, have you ever tried Ortlieb? If so, are they comparable? I’ve been watching videos and reading a whole lot of blogs about this type of adventure, i.e., Mark Beaumont. Regarding the Rohloff, I’m currently using a Shimano XTR drive train but all of the expeditions I read or see, riders are using Rohloff. Thoughts?

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, they did really well, and held up fine. My wife has a pair of Ortliebs (fronts that she uses on the rear rack) and they are good as well. I really liked the ease of use and classic canvas of the Carradices, but it’s hard to beat Ortlieb for waterproofing. Also, a Rohloff is one of the best investments you can make. With a stainless chainring, you’ll never have to worry about anything. They’re bombproof.

  • Jesse A Covarrubias

    Thanks for the quick response, Logan. Your bike looks like a Surly Ogre or Troll, how did it perform? Any frame problems, cracks and so on? I own a Surly Ogre and I’m trying to get as prepared as possible for some touring in the states so I read posts like yours to get the inside scoop on equipment.

  • Jesse A Covarrubias

    Disregard the last post with which bike you own, I just found it clicking the Bikes tab.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Ciol, yeah I have an ECR and a Krapus now… I really like the 29+ tires…

  • mickey

    do you ever wear your helmet?

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Now I do all of the time. On this trip I didn’t as much as I should have…

  • Patrick Red

    you have a fuck ton of stuff. But it is a 5 month trip. But that is a fuck ton of stuff LOL.
    I’m was wondering if I could take my cyclocross bicycle on this trip. Are there enough roads for me to travel on.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I am not carrying this packlist now… we’ve trimmed down substantially for a more dirt-centric style of bikepacking. A cross bike would be fine if you like tarmac and gravel. Plenty of paved roads (unfortunately).

  • Leo Cavallini

    Hey Logan, how are you?
    I’m planning a 4 or 5 month bike trip to Chile and believe it’s gonna happen to stay in the desert for up to three days a couple of times… so I’m making a heavy research about this experience of being food-and-water autonomous, my main concern. What do you have to say about it, the max volume of water you’ve got to carry etc?
    You’ve got a freaking nice blog, congrats… I’m up to be a collab as a pro photographer/blogger if you want ;)
    Cheers!

  • Robin Brodsky

    I’m curious to know more about the bike and it’s components. I’m thinking of cycling Mexico and central America this winter. If I feel sucessful with that I may continue into south America. I’m on a first generation Salsa Fargo.

  • José Peña

    I think with the Fargo, you´ll be okey, if something breaks down there are very good stores of spare parts all over Mexico. Shimano and Sram could be reached all over the country. Good mechanicals are too. I wish you a very nice trip

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