Tour Aotearoa Gear List

6 min read

'Your' TA may be as fast as ten days, as luxurious as the thirty day maximum, or anything in between. Whatever your approach and fitness, you're likely to be pushing yourself to your physical limits. Wisdom dictates the self-discipline to take the least gear possible - without compromising your self-sufficiency (you should be able to sort yourself out if there's an unscheduled night out, the weather turns nasty, your bike suffers the inevitable mechanical or you take a (minor) crash).

Less weight on your bike equals easier pedalling and better bike handling. Taking a normative approach - constrain yourself to a finite volume of baggage, around 30 to 40 litres in your handlebar and under-seat bags. Our clothing and equipment list is a useful starting point - but in the end you'll opt for what work's best for you and your TA.

Drive your partner insane with stacks of gear scattered around the lounge. Invariably it won't fit, so trim your list to what you really really need and/or seek innovative solutions. Modern hi-tech is an important part of the formula - lightweight rainwear and micro sleeping bags are the 'killer apps' to keep a lid on the total volume.

Go crazy hitting the links to suggested products or for further reading. Remember to train with your bike fully laden - it's quite a different handling beast, builds up your strength, and those practice rides will help refine your gear requirements leading into the TA. 

Bike Baggage

Specialist bikepacking soft luggage is the default solution. The TA includes significant sections of dinkum mountain biking. A traditional touring set-up of panniers and racks will sort of work, but can be quite a serious handicap off-road. Backpacks are best avoided to minimise additional pressure on your bum.

    • Handlebar bag. Integrated or separate harness and dry bag.
    • Ortlieb or low volume Revelate underseat bag.
    • Top tube bag. For easy access mid ride - electronics, go-food etc.
    • A feedbag (or two). More go-food and/or extra fluids.
    • Some may opt for an in-frame bag or half-frame bag with a water bladder. These are typically custom made or custom configured for your bike's dimensions.
    • Lightweight 'overflow' Stuff Pack. To stash extra food when the last provisioning stop is still too early in the day to call it a wrap. 
    • A couple of utility straps for strapping gear down.
    • A minimalist bike lock to slow down opportunistic bike-burglars while you're refuelling or sleeping.
On-the-Bike Clothing

Anticipate long days riding in gorgeous, mild conditions, but be prepared to deal with evil-cold sou'westers and nor'west gales.

  • Stretch cycle shorts.
    • Worn in, not worn out!
    • Hotshot™ Merino manages moisture and odour better in the multi-day environment.
    • 1 pair (washed each night) for hard nuts, 2 for luxury.
    • Check out Tournedoes bibs, men's Limousines or women's Chicanes.
  • Half Pipes merino leg warmers - to extend your shorts and provide bug protection around the campsite.
  • Heatwave™ Merino riding top.
    • Merino-Polyester blended fabric efficiently manages sweat and comfort through a wide range of conditions, minimises multi-day smells and dries much faster than ordinary merino.
    • Full length front zip for maximum versatility.
    • Check out the men's Median Strip or women's Hula.
  • Armadillos merino arm warmers - to 'winterise' your short sleeve top - especially in the cool at either end of the day.
  • Fast-drying thermal base layer for snap-freeze weather surprises. Men's Singlespeed or women's Sparkler.
  • Quickdraws gloves with padded palms or High Fives with long fingers for a nudge more protection.
  • Vespa ultra lightweight and compact vest for instant respite from cooling winds or scotch eggs, err mist. Adds on-road visibility at twilight and dusk.
  • Bandanna headband under your helmet to keep hard earned sweat from steaming up your shades.
  • 1 pair Foot Soldiers merino socks.
Bad Weather Kit
Thermal and wet weather gear will both let you soldier on in the face of a West Coast biblical deluge and provide an extra margin of safety to rug up if things go wrong. 
  • Rainwear made from HydroFoil™ fabric is
    • Completely waterproof.
    • Totally windproof.
    • Extremely breathable (more than twice as breathable as most other quality waterproof-breathable fabrics).
    • And has a small amount of stretch allowing a closer fit so you can travel at speed without any flap.
  • The men's Storm Trooper or women's She Shell, both with an under-helmet hood, tick all the boxes.
  • If you anticipate being at the pointy end of the field then consider the Rivet. It is specifically designed for events like the TA, delivering maximum weather protection with minimum bulk. But it has no hood, so relies on you cracking-on at race pace to stay warm when the weather turns grumpy.
  • A pair of Helter Skelters
    • Rain shorts keep your lower half dry and warm, without suffering the overheating that is typically fuelled by full-length versions.
    • They keep road splatter from infiltrating your pad, and aggravating or even causing saddle sores.
    • Combined with your rain jacket, you can safely survive, even enjoy, some pretty nasty conditions.
  • Baked Beanie merino under-helmet skull cap.
  • Thermal liner gloves and thin/light windproof over gloves to keep your digits singing rather than stinging. A pair of rubber kitchen gloves work surprisingly well for short respite, but will rapidly get sweaty.
  • At the other end of the weather spectrum, Allsorts summer-weight arm warmers protect your forearms without having to continually lather up with SPF 50.
  • A merino Scruff neck warmer or the ubiquitous Buff for sun protection, keeping bugs out of your face, wrapping around your neck and a zillion other handy uses.
Around Camp (or Town)
  • Submerino long sleeve merino top.
  • Primaloft™ (synthetic down) or comparable down jacket - lightweight, compressible and resistant to damp.
  • Underwear for sleeping and partying.
  • Skimpy nylon running shorts - not flattering but lightweight, low bulk and more socially acceptable in public than lycra.
  • Shindigs merino compression socks.
  • Subway sandwich bags to keep your dry socks dry in wet cycling shoes. More sophisticated waterproof-breathable socks are also procurable.
  • Personal toiletries.
Shelter

First, determine your TA strategy. Skipping from town to town in pre-booked motels or backpackers reduces your gear requirements but also your options - often forcing you to stop earlier in the day than you otherwise would. Note you'll still need emergency gear to survive an unscheduled night out.

Sleeping rough with a bivy sac and ad-hoc use of public shelters (bridges, verandahs, bus shelters etc) is austere but fast. Lightweight camping allows more comfort (and recovery) - important on such a long event. Cold food around the campsite lets you leave behind the cooker and billy - relying on dairies, pubs, fast food joints and cafés for the hot stuff.

  • A bivy sac, fly, lightweight tent or other suitable shelter. Options abound - the Adventure Journal outlines the important considerations.
  • It's difficult to overstate just how vital a low bulk, high loft sleeping bag is to your keeping within your weight/volume limit. The Sea to Summit TR1 (200gm fill) and TR2 (350gm fill) hit the sweet spot for an adequate - albeit not always luxurious - night's kip.
  • A silk liner keeps grime from your expensive sleeping bag and traps pockets of air to add a small amount of overall warmth.
  • Your sleeping mat provides comfort and prevents conductive heat loss to the ground. Like modern sleeping bags, modern inflatable mats are significantly less bulky and weigh less than traditional offerings.
  • A camping pillow seems like an indulgence but the weight penalty is minimal for a vastly improved quality of sleep, and hence recovery for 'doing it all again' the next day.
  • If you're in full tour mode then add a cooker, cookware, plates and cutlery to cook up a storm at the end of the day. 
Bike Accessories & Navigation
  • A handlebar mounted front light so you are seen on-road and can see off-road.
    • Aim for 500+ lumens and a 6+ hours run time.
    • A nifty option is a hub dynamo, light and USB charger. If this is you, then enjoy the thrill of researching some beautifully engineered solutions on the web. Note they will require building up a new front wheel and there are compatibility nuances to seamlessly integrate with your electronics package.
  • A headlamp as backup and for around the campsite. The Iota from Black Diamond is light, compact with reasonable battery life.
  • 2 x rear lights - a primary (on your bike) and a spare typically on your helmet.
  • A smart phone and holder with suitable mapping app, or a dedicated GPS. GPX files of the route loaded (available from the TA website).
  • Cue sheets and elevation profiles downloaded from the TA website (as backup for a grumpy GPS unit). Worth laminating or printing on waterproof paper.
  • A hard-wired cycle computer - as an old skool backup for your GPS and insurance against flat batteries.
  • SPOT tracker - details provided with your entry confirmation.
  • Phone - for logging progress photos, booking accomodation, boat tickets, checking the weather forecast and to make like ET from time to time.
  • USB charger and cables. Will need 'pass through' charging to be most effective if you're opting for a hub dynamo.
  • A cache battery to stretch your electronics on longer sessions between charging.
  • Spare non-rechargeable batteries for headlamp, cycle computer, SPOT tracker, GPS etc.
Important Bits and Bobs
  • Cycling shoes.
  • Helmet
  • Sunnies.
  • 3 x water bottles, water bladder or combination thereof. Side-loading bottle cages work well when space is tight in your frame triangle.
  • Sun block.
  • The TA is a self-supported event so need to have the parts, tools and knowhow to perform basic repairs on your bike.
  • And likewise be able to perform basic repairs to yourself or fellow TA rider in distress with an adequate 1st Aid Kit.
  • Happy thoughts and a tough bum.

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