Amazon, that ever growing burden on our wallets! Below I outline what I think are the top 10 most useful things you can buy from amazon for your touring. Whilst most of these items aren’t top of the range, they will work and enable you to get out there!
If you think I should add something else to this list, please email me with a link to the item and I will consider it!
In no particular order;
A hammock is something that I have always wanted to bring with me on a tour. It means that you can sleep on just about any surface, as long as there are trees! This year, I plan on cycling through North – Eastern Europe, where boggy ground are forests are the norm, so I decided to make the plunge! I then found this on amazon and decided to try it as its so cheap (£13 at time of writing)! When I puled it out of the bag, I was pleasantly surprised! it didn’t take long at all for me to set it up the first time. The only thing I would recommend changing is the carabiners. The ones that come stock on it make the climber in me shiver in fear.
This hammock can be found here.
Light weight sleeping bag
It is very easy to get overwhelmed when researching sleeping bags, especially with some of the price tags associated with the light weight one! After a while of trawling through amazon, I found this sleeping bag. It is rated to 8 degrees, but with a thermal liner and a bivi bag, I reckon it would be able to reach about 0 degrees centigrade quite easily! As you can see in the image below, it packs super small and is the perfect sleeping bag to introduce you into the world of lightweight camping!
This sleeping bag can be found here
Just like the sleeping bags, finding a good quality sleeping mat can be exhausting, with everyone having a different point of view. After years of sleeping on an expensive self inflating Thermarest, I decided to give an inflatable mat a go. I found this mat (just re-branded), and decided to give it a go. And boy am I glad I did! It packs very small and light, but is perfect to sleep on in any condition. Many people will say that they are too cold for winter camping, and that may be so when there is snow on the ground (the only condition I haven’t tested), I have slept on this in temperatures below 0 degrees centigrade and not had any issues.
The sleeping mat can be found here.
Micro-fibre towels are a godsend for anyone who needs to pack small and light! You can get them in all different sizes, ranging from a face towel to a full beach towel. As you can see in the image below, they pack considerably smaller than a standard towel, and they also dry much faster! When I tour, I take 2 micro-fibre towels with me. One is a large towel for me to use after a shower or a swim, the other is a small hand towel which I use to dry my pots and cutlery after cooking. I decided to keep these separate as it got surprisingly dirty after cleaning my, clearly not as clean as I thought, pots!
The towels can be found here
Gas and Stove
A decent camping stove is essential to enjoy life outdoors. Small, very portable, and usually very powerful. I have cooked a full array of food on mine ranging from noodles to chilli con carne from scratch. Many people will tell you that you need to spend £50 or more to buy a good quality stove, but I have not found that to be true! I bought the older version of this from a hughstreet retailer, and have found it to be flawless. Mine doesn’t have the inbuilt lighter, so I can’t testify for the longevity of that, but if that fails all it takes is a flick of your lighter or a match and you’ve got it going. I recommend this stove and paired with this gas. Always check the laws of the country when traveling with gas canisters.
The only downside of gas stoves like this, is their dependance on gas canisters being available! In certain parts of the world, they are not easily found. In that situation you would be better off with a duel fuel stove like this. The benefit of this over a gas stove is that you can burn both white spirit, which is found in most DIY stores around the world, and for those really remote stretches you can even use unleaded petrol. Its for the same reason I Use a Zippo Lighter instead of a regular one.
To cook on a stove like the one above, you need to have a specialist camping stove – the ones that you can buy for home use are generally very thick, which means it takes a long time for the stove to heat the for or water up. I have something similar to the pot below. It allows me to cook a simple meal of pasta, noodles, rice… basically anything that you cook by boiling water! You can use it on a stove, or in a fire if you need to. I would also recommend bringing a pan, which will allow you to cook meat, eggs etc much easier.
Following on the cooking theme, sometimes in windy conditions a pile of panniers isn’t enough to keep the wind away from your stove. A wind break like this is perfect to be able to cook your food in just about any conditions. Simply wrap it around the stove, protecting it from the wind. Just be carful that the gas canister itself doesn’t get too hot.
The Cheapest Ground sheet going
I have always used a tarpaulin as a ground sheet for my bivis. In the UK, it means that my sleeping mat doesn’t get punctured or excessively muddy. Abroad, where animals are a real danger, a large tarpaulin like the one linked here when fully spread out will stop animals getting too close to you. When the animal steps on the tarp, it makes an unnatural noise so they go the other way.
A Large tarp like this is also useful if you are bike packing and don’t have access to a tent. You can set this up as a shelter with 2 bungees and a handful or tent pegs.
I am yet to tour with a stool, but at the end of my tour down the west coast of France, I bought one. It is so much better than sitting on the ground! You can cook from it, or sit back and relax after a long day on the bike. In areas where you may not want to sit on the floor directly because of the conditions (rain, mud, excessive tree sap.. . don’t ask about that last one!) or insects, a stool is the perfect way to camp.
I couldn’t decide whether to mention panniers in this list or not, as I will be dedicating an entire post to the panniers, but I decided to as they are such an important aspect and they are available from amazon! I use Ortleib Back and front roller classics. I won’t go too in depth about why I chose them, but they are amazing! I know that they are completely waterproof, whether I am caught out in the rain or I have to cross a stream. They are also incredibly tough, meaning that they won’t wear out quickly, even if you do have an off or two.
You can find the rear panniers here
and the front panniers here
A full range of colours are available for both front and rear.
Always be aware of local rules and regulations when camping and touring. It is also important to be aware of any wildlife you should avoid attracted and how to do so for the area you’re in.
For every item linked here I get a small amount of money, so if this list helped you make the decision to buy something, please use my link!