Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Packing List - Ireland 2016

OK. I am on an airplane, so I finally have some downtime to complete my long awaited packing list for my two month tour in Ireland. If you followed me this past summer on Instagram or the blog, you likely noticed that I was traveling quite light. You might have assumed that I was doing day trips, given the lack of panniers. But I am proud to say that I travelled around with all my gear neatly stored in my Revelate Terrapin Seatbag and my Dill Pickle Gear handlebar bag

John and I started in Dublin together. We rode down to Carlow for his brother's wedding, then continued south to the coast. We headed west for a week before taking the train from Killarney back to Dublin for a concert. We returned the next day and continued to Galway, where John again hopped on a train back to Dublin to fly home. I pressed on alone and made my way up to Donegal before turning back south and more inland to wind my way back to Carlow and then Dublin. 

Here's a map of the area I covered. 


And here is the bike loaded with all my gear.


How was I able to travel so light, you may ask. One reason is that I was not camping. I am not at all ashamed to admit that. Ireland is green for a reason, and I had no desire pull on wet clothing and  pack up a wet tent each day. By staying in B&Bs and hotels, I both eliminated the weight of camping gear and enabled myself to wash my bike shorts each evening and have them dry overnight - even in a damp environment like Ireland. I also have to say that I find riding with a light load much more enjoyable. I could cover reasonable distances and never found myself intimidated by big climbs. If loaded touring is your thing, I'm certainly not criticizing that. However for anyone who has considered doing an overnight or multi day bike tour, but was afraid of all that weight, I can confirm it is possible to tour comfortably with a light load. I will add  that I carry the same amount of gear for 2 months that I do for two DAYS! Well, almost. I don't take the small bottle of laundry soap on the overnight trips. I am also in the "better looking at it than for it" camp, so I always have jacket and warmers. I'm not a true minimalist. With the exception of an emergency battery for charging devices, and the various tools and spare tubes, which I never am without, I used everything I had and never found I needed something I didn't have.

Now without further ado, here is what I used and carried...

First the bike:

I rode my Honey Allroads with 650bx42 mm tires and fenders. I was in Ireland afterall and both the cushy tires and fenders came in very handy. This bike also sports disk brakes and a nice wide range of gears (12-36 cassette, paired with 34/50 chain rings). I use Crank Brothers eggbeater pedals and had very comfortable shoes with a recessed cleat which made walking around castle ruins quite reasonable. The Dill Pickle handlebar bag was great for all my valuables and at-hand gear. I kept my off bike clothes and such in the Terrapin dry bag, that was easily removed from the Revelate Terrapin harness at the end of the day. The Revelate bag also has a small mesh bag mounted on top and easily accessible where I kept my bike tools.  In addition to 2 spare tubes which were stored in a coffee bag in the front of the harness, my tool kit contained...

Blackburn Wayside Multi tool with individual hex wrenches, or wrenches, plus chain tool, valve stem tool, screw driver, knife and other miscellaneous tools
An 8/10 box wrench
SwissTech foldable pliers
Tire boots 
Patch kit
Tire levers
Chain links
Spare nuts and bolts
Topeak Morph pump with gauge
2 water bottles


I also carried a small bike lock
And a small musette bag to easily pack up all the loose things in the bar bag when I stopped for lunch or at night

I usually use a hub generator, but since I planned to leave this bike in Ireland and really wouldn't need lights due to long hours of daylight in the summer, I just had small battery lights for emergencies or a late night ride home from a pub or train.

For bike clothes, I wore or had these things easily accessible in the bar bag or my pockets...

Velocio bib shorts I call them ez-pz bib shorts. They have a zipper in the back, making it easy to pee, without taking off jersey and jacket. IMNSHO, they are the best shorts ever.
Short sleeve wool jersey*
Wool bra/crop top
Knee warmers
Leg warmers 
Arm warmers
Wind Vest
Rain Jacket
Wool Hat
Gloves and Full finger gloves
Wool Socks
Walkable recessed cleat cycling shoes 
Prescription cycling glasses

The temperature in Ireland was typically between mid 40s and mid 60s Fahrenheit, with a few outliers, both cooler and warmer. Showers were common and one had to be prepared for proper all day rain. This clothing worked very well for all the conditions I encountered.

If I was traveling in the alps or another area with a more varied or extreme climate, I would likely also have 
Down Vest or Jacket
Heavier gloves 
Heavier rain jacket
Wool leg warmers
Long sleeve jersey or undershirt

In addition to what I wore on the bike,  I also carried

1 pair of spare shorts
1 pair of spare socks

For off the bike...

Lightweight wrinkle resistant pants
Silk long sleeve top
ExOfficio bra/crop top plus 2 pairs of Ex Officio underwear
Light wool sweater
Light shoes

I think I looked respectable off the bike


iPad mini 4 for mapping/planning and blogging
iPhone for photos and communication
Wahoo GPS
Anker 4 port fast USB charger
3 lightning cables + 3 micro usb cables (3 in case 1 failed)
Plug adapter for Ireland
USB Battery in case I needed emergency charge on the road. For this trip I was not using a generator, which would otherwise be a source of charging for devices.

For toiletries, I carried small travel size containers with
Chamois cream
Antibiotic ointment
Laundry detergent
Shampoo and conditioner (I refilled when I stayed I hotels that provided shampoo)
Puff (European hotels and B&Bs don't have wash clothes)
Medications (I am still taking anti inflammatory meds and pain meds)
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Dental floss
Nail clippers (my nails grow like crazy when I tour!)
Eye cover

Finally, I did carry wallet, passport and a small big picture map. A change purse is really handy when travelling in the EuroZone. Coins are used lots and are much higher in value than US coins. The passport has been a requirement in other places in Europe, where every hotel asks for a passport when checking in. I was never asked for my passport at hotels or B&Bs on this trip. 

*For the truly observant who may have noticed I wore 3 different jerseys on the trip, I did swap jerseys when we took the overnight train journey back to Dublin for a concert and again when my friend in Donegal gave me a new jersey and arm warmers - I mailed the old jersey and arm warmers back to Dublin. Because I was wearing wool, I rarely had to wash my jersey. Of the three I used on this trip, my favorite was a no longer made Giro full zip 89% merino wool jersey. I carried a small container of kookaburra wool laundry soap. I used this on my shorts, underwear and socks every night. I dried them with a bath towel and then hung them overnight. I had two different colors of underwear, so I could tell which pair to wash at night! I washed my crop top and jersey about once a week, also drying with a bath towel before hanging. 

The Ex Officio undies dry quickly and are really awesome for travel. The Ex Officio crop top worked well as a warm weather top, as well as sleepwear. On the bike, the Ibex wool crop top/bra provided an extra warm layer. On a couple of occasions I found myself in a place with a washing machine and took advantage and washed most of my other stuff, but only because it was convenient, not necessary..

I did have some extra clothes and spare tires back at my sister in law's house, which could be mailed out to me if needed, but I never had any need. With odd size tires, it's probably a good idea to carry a spare or have a contingency like this.

Finally I will say that T-mobile is great for international travel. I had unlimited LTE data at no extra charge. I had better coverage in Ireland than I have at home. Wifi is ubiquitous and free, but I often found my LTE signal was faster than wifi in a B&B. In the past for a tour like this I'd have to dedicate a pannier to maps, but thanks to modern technology I was able to map each day the night before using ridewithgps on my iPad's browser, the download the route to my Wahoo GPS using wifi (hotspot if none available otherwise) and then follow a complicated route on tiny roads without constantly stopping to check a map. The Wahoo is awesome because it does take routes from multiple online tools like ridewithgps and strava (where Garmin products only talk to Garmin wirelessly). Since I could cut the cord and didn't need USB connection to a computer for routing, I was able to downsize to an tiny iPad, rather than carrying a laptop. This also eliminated the need for a laptop charger.  I used my phone and Re camera, which also were able to wirelessly transmit photos. John and I joked about acoustic versus electric touring. Electric proved quite valuable for planning on the fly and traveling light.

This is my standard setup. I have refined it over the years to get to the point that I really just carry precisely what I need. YMMV.


  1. I was waiting for this list! Admirably clever, and yes, quite respectable!

  2. Looking at the relevate, I wonder if it'll work on a set-back seatpost like the thomsom I use. I've contemplated switching from the carradice to something like this, but the Carradice version required a straight seatpost, which I can't use.

    You carry way more electronics than I do. This time, I stuck with just a phone, the garmins, and a real camera. I prefer to carry a small charger and have to juggle charging routines rather than a big charger, but I do also have the penalty of having to carry a CPAP machine.

    1. Piaw,

      I/we have the Revelate bags on various bikes, with seat posts of both varieties, straight and with setback. It works on both, but I think the setup is better on a post with setback. Also one of the great features I forgot to mention on the dry bag is air bleed valve to make the bag as compact as possible.

      As far as electronics, I think that your real camera may weigh more than my iPad mini, but your pictures are way better than mine. One of these days when John finds some time, he's going to reload higher resolution versions of his photos. The blog software I use on the iPad seemed to down sample them.

      I got the anker charger on your recommendation and it's one of my favorite travel accessories, especially given the size of Irish plug converters. I think it's pretty compact, but I carried a small MacBook Air on previous tours, so it's all relative.

  3. My Sony rx100 was 8.5ounces. I do like the 4 port charger but went weight weenie on this trip. Next time I will try the revelate bag. The tough one is the cpap machine, mask, and hose. Can't compress those much.

    1. The iPad mini 4 is spec'd at 10.5 ounces. But it was worth its weight in gold. I did all my routing on the fly the night before, and sometimes even changed my mind at lunch. Given the massive network of tiny roads in Ireland, it really was great to navigate with a GPS and to decide to go somewhere else because of a local recommendation or weather or just because it looked interesting. The time and weight savings versus maps is amazing. If I'd started out with 8 weeks of preplanned routes, I would have missed so much!

    2. I don't preplan my routes either, preferring to route based on weather conditions and how I'm feeling that day. The penalty I pay is I occasionally have to stop and navigate at an intersection rather than having a preplanned route the night before. In the mountains, that's no big deal since there aren't that many intersections where you'd be making the choice, and a 1:250,000 map will work (though I discovered a number of unmarked passes :-) well enough for several days of riding. In a densely networked area I can see how carrying a tablet with decent coverage could be a better choice. Then again, I probably have less stomach for more devices to charge than you do. :-)