Last Minute Prep

Ok, perhaps not last minute because I’ve been planning this trip for a while, but it’s two weeks away now so everything is beginning to come together.

We are camping the route every night apart from the first day, so I have more equipment to pack than if we’d chosen to use hotels.  My bike has hard pannier cases but no top box, and the top box options are of limited capacity and pricey so I’ve gone with a waterproof duffel bag which will be strapped to the pillion seat.  I’ve done a weekend away with this system and it works well.

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This bag contains the following equipment.

  • tent
  • sleeping bag
  • sleeping mat
  • camp chair
  • pillow
  • first aid kit
  • gas and stove
  • titanium pot and titanium cup
  • led lantern and head torch
  • travel towel
  • clothing
  • waterproof jacket and over-trousers
  • midge net
  • collapsible water carrier
  • camera tripod

Everything I need to set up camp is in this bag, which works well and I don’t have to mess about opening panniers to get at stuff.   I’ll walk the bag to where i’m going to put up the tent and will have everything needed with me – including the waterproofs if (when) it rains.  The tent erects outer first, which is advantageous in bad weather, and the midge net is absolutely essential in Scotland! Here are the contents laid out.

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Most of this equipment is ‘borrowed’ from my hiking/backpacking inventory, so it’s light weight and compact.  It’s amazing that all this fits into the duffel bag, but it does.

The panniers will be used to carry food, toiletries, some additional clothing items, electronics and camera gear.

I have made provision to eat at camp but the accommodation does have options for bar meals and the like so there is flexibility.  A few of the campsites further north are isolated though, so camp food will be the only option there.

Electricity is a factor since we’ll have no long term access to it during the trip and need to keep things like mobile phones and cameras charged.  Power will be provided by power banks, which will be kept charged by the 12v supply on my bike.  camera batteries will also be kept charged via this supply from USB chargers.

I’ll be using a mixture of GoPro action cameras and a mirrorless Fuji camera to document the trip.  The Fuji has an 18-55 lens which is mostly ideal for general photography, though I may also take one additional lens, probably a wider angle.  Batteries for both of these cameras can be charged via USB, either from the power banks or from the 12v supply during riding.  I won’t use the 12v for charging when the bike isn’t running for obvious reasons.

Media storage is via SD cards.  I sourced this handy waterproof tough case for my SD cards which you can see below.

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I intend to use one side for empties and move the full cards to the other side as I go.

I’ll be using a similar system for batteries.  They are all numbered so working through them sequentially makes it easy to know which ones are spent and need to be charged.

As far as route planning goes, I have planned 7 days, with two contingency days.  We are making the journey to Scotland on a Saturday, and returning home the following Saturday.  We are riding part of the North Coast 500 route, taking the coastal roads of the West to Durness and Tongue in Sutherland.  We’ll head South from there, keeping in mountainous country and avoiding the East Coast.  One of the days is a circular tour starting and finishing in roughly the same place, so this could be skipped if necessary, and there is also the option to return on Sunday.  Hopefully these contingency days will not need to be used but it’s important to include them.

That’s pretty much it for now.  There’ll be some further refinements to the equipment list I’m sure, but the basics are more than covered.

 

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