It’s important to pack light when setting out on a mountain bike tour in Nepal. Your packing list for mountain biking will depend on what kind of trip you’re going on, but let’s assume that you’re planning a multi-day bike trip on some jeep tracks and singletrack trails that will take you through villages every day. This is the easiest kind of bike tour to do, since you can stay in villages every night and don’t need to worry about carrying lots of heavy gear with you. I did a few multi-day tours like this in different parts of Nepal, and here’s what I brought with me:
I managed to fit everything inside an Osprey 22L daypack. You’ll want your pack to be pretty small and lightweight, and it should also have a good waist-belt so that the weight isn’t too heavy on your shoulders. You don’t want your pack to come up too high behind your head since that could knock against your helmet (avoid frame packs for this reason as well). Bring a rain cover for your pack to protect all of your gear.
I had just one pair of cycling clothes that I wore every day and then washed in the evening, once I reached my destination. You’ll probably want some padded bike shorts and cycling gloves as well. And of course, don’t forget your helmet!
By the time you reach your destination, you’ll probably be sweaty and dirty and want to change into some fresh clothes. Depending on where you go and what season it is, you’ll likely want some warmer clothes, as it can get cold at night in the mountains. On my trips, I brought a light pair of pants (that I could cycle in as well, in case it was cold during the day), a long-sleeved shirt, one spare set of underwear and socks, a light-weight synthetic puffy jacket, a warm hat, and a light-weight raincoat.
This is one of the most important parts of your luggage since you need to be able to fix your bike if something happens. These are the tools that I brought with me:
- Tube pump (make sure your pump and tube valves are compatible)
- Shock pump
- Bike multi-tool – mine has a range of hex wrenches, a torx wrench, flathead and Phillips head screwdrivers, a spoke wrench, and a chain tool
- Spare tube – I carried just one, but for longer trips you might want more
- Patch kit and tire levers
- Chain lubricant and rag – you need these to clean your chain at the end of every day
- Knife multi-tool – I brought a pocket-knife multi-tool that had pliers
- Open-end wrench – bring the size that fits your bike components – this wrench is useful for adjusting the shifter cables where they attach to the derailleur
- Duct tape – essential for every outdoors adventure!
- Depending on how long your bike trip is, you might also want some spare spokes and a spare derailleur hanger
Toothbrush/toothpaste, small bar of soap, toilet paper if you need it, hand sanitizer.
Health services in rural Nepal are very rudimentary, so your first priority on your trip should be to stay safe. Of course, the occasional cut or scrape is almost inevitable, so you should carry a first-aid kit to take care of minor injuries, and also to treat major injuries until you can get proper medical assistance. These are the items I usually keep in my first-aid kit:
- Sterile gauze
- Medical tape
- Band-aids of varying sizes
- Alcohol wipes
- Antibiotic ointment
- Nitrile gloves
- Ace bandage (or similar elastic bandage for sprains)
- Ibuprofen / naproxen
- Needle and thread (floss also works great)
- Iodine tablets (can be used for purifying water or a stronger solution can be made for cleaning larger wounds)
- Small container of Vaseline (helps prevent chafing when you’re riding all day)
- Any prescription medications
- Small scissors (not entirely necessary if you have a pocket knife already)
Depending on how comfortable you are with your first-aid skills, you may want to add a few items to this list. For example, if you don’t know how to improvise a splint from sticks or other things you can find around you, then you may want to add a SAM splint in your first-aid kit.
- Sunglasses, sunscreen, and sun hat (sometimes you’ll want to take off your helmet if you’re pushing your bike uphill for a while)
- Charger and/or external battery
Article by Jocelyn Powelson
Top image by M+M Photographers/Flickr