I used to call it my equipment or my gear. Since I have had the pleasure of hanging around with Simon, Martin, Steve, Fay, David, Lionel, and Adrian in England, I shall evermore refer to it as my kit.
I may truly suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. I do obsess over stuff, and it is a mysterious compulsion to do so. Disorder? I don’t know. I enjoy the time spent, and my preparations serve me well. I will try to make this page informative and useful, as well as an outlet for my…enthusiasms.
My panniers are the same ones I used on the Romp family “Wind In the Face” expedition in 1999, 40-liter Ortleib Bike Packer Plus. Made of vinyl-coated Cordura with electronically welded seams, they are completely impervious to rain and road spray, and they have never let a single item get wet in any weather. They attach and remove easily with a lower hook and two upper spring-loaded clips. When adjusted to the rack (with simple Allen fittings) they are stable and secure. Drawstrings, a dome-shaped top flap, and Fastex buckles on long straps make for good load protection and compression. Separate straps compress the top flap for less-than-full loads, and incorporate a wide carry handle strap. On the front a flat, a waterproof, roll-top pocket, good for maps, magazines and similar items, is secured by two friction-buckled compression straps that go around the back and work well to stabilize the load.
On the rearward edge of each front pannier, secured by the horizontal compression straps, I have added a small roll-top waterproof bag, made by Ortleib specifically for this application. A little bigger than a quart milk carton, they have sturdy tabs for the straps, and an interior stiffener in the lower half. (after a couple of months I had lightened my load enough to move these bags into the panniers.)
I purchased a new Ortleib handlebar bag, their largest. Same vinyl-coated Cordura. It has a nice zippered pocket inside. The new handlebar mount is slick and solid on the bar, a bit loose between the mount and the bag. It has a keyed release. The plastic rim of the bag seems too flexible and causes a wobble at some speeds and cadences unless it is very lightly loaded. My old touring bike has an older version of this bag, set up so that it rests on my tool kit, which is on the front rack shelf. Couldn’t overload it. My new bike has no front rack shelf (most modern front racks do not). So, many items that I would carry in the handlebar bag must go elsewhere.
Within the panniers everything is contained in colored stuff sacks (a few items are in clear plastic Aloksak bags, NASA-quality ziplock bags) for easier organization. I categorize everything as Food, Clothing, Shelter, or Stuff.