The final detail…

Today has been a day of analysing the minutiae….of making six weeks of personal needs fit into one 23 litre saddlebag and a small handlebar bag, with a small tent pack strapped on the back. I love this kind of challenge.

Every item, and the size and weight of every item, has been studied. There is no room for carelessly packed ‘just-in-case’ things. Everything must have a purpose, be known to be useful and, if possible, be multi-purpose. Some may feel deprived going without some habitual luxuries, or they can’t imagine life on the road without an iPod, a laptop, a soft pillow or a fluffy towel.

8.5 kilos

8.5 kilos

For me, not having these things is a form of liberation. A ‘disconnect’ takes place where I find life on the road becomes much simpler: carrying less weight up the hills, packing the bike and luggage for flights, the daily organisation of packing and unpacking when you are camping, fitting my luggage into my one-person tent at night……..and the list goes on and on.

1.5 kilos

1.5 kilos

But I have to confess that this strategy can carry some risks. I always feel that I am prepared for most emergencies, but not all, of course. Our level of risk-aversion will frequently dictate how comfortable we feel about leaving things behind. But when asked (as I frequently am) how I can manage for so long with under 10 kilos of luggage (including camping equipment), I usually answer with a quip: “It’s easy really…..I just leave things at home!”

Transport, house and wardrobe.....

Transport, house and wardrobe…..

And it is as easy as that……..but only if you take time out to study your actual needs in some detail, and learn through experience. When I come back from a trip, I make two short lists: the first, of the things I wished I had taken, and the second (yes, you’ve got it!) of the things I wished I had left behind. And through a process of adjustment and elimination, my packing goes through evolutionary development.

It will never be perfect, but then we all need something to live for…..



About Frank Burns

Looking for the extraordinary in the commonplace………taking the road less travelled……..striving for the ‘faculty of making happy chance discoveries’ in unremarkable circumstances. Click on the Personal Link below to visit my webpages.

Posted on May 5, 2014, in Kimbolton to Istanbul 4000kms: a crusader's route and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. Anne MAson

    Unfortunately I won’t be able to make it in the morning – appointment in Cambridge. But I wish you all the best on your travels and look forward to hearing about your trip when you return. God speed. X

  2. I marvel at how lightly you travel. I am also curious why you choose not to use panniers. They provide a lower centre of gravity and help with handling. Are you worried you will pack too much?

    • Some good questions there…..the gravity thing is exacerbated by top-heavy weight. At the back end I am only carrying just over 8 kilos, so it’s not really an issue….but also I have grown accustomed to it, and the bike feels very stable to me.
      And yes, give yourself more space by using panniers and, guess what?…….you fill more space. It’s human nature…..

  3. Good luck Frank and I look forward to reading your adventures in the coming weeks. Good to see your minimalism is alive and well too!

  4. Alison Burns

    Hi Frank. Have an excellent trip. Looking forward to reading your blogs in the days to come. Sorry didn’t have chance to say Bon Voyage last night but do enjoy your adventure. Xx

  5. Gemma at Motivation

    Good luck Frank! Thank you so, so much for all your support and hard work. All the best for your challenge – we’ll be thinking of you over the next few weeks!

    everybody at Motivation.

  6. Reblogged this on Kitesurf Bike rambling and commented:
    I need to learn some packing from this man

  7. can you give us a list of what you take? I am guessing the flouro mankind stays at home even if it doesnt take much space …. but do you use merino etc?

  8. Bon Voyage. Safe travelling.

  9. What do you sleep in / on to keep the weight down this low? Agree 100% with the approach BTW, but am keep to see how you have advanced beyond the 20 kg for two that I have been used to.

    • Am constricted by only having a smartphone for blogging, but in brief I use a Vaude Hogan tent and a Thermarest mattress. With sleeping bag and footprint, my camping stuff weighs c.3kgs.

  10. For ‘keep’ read ‘keen’

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