Gear suggestions?

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by bmore rex, Aug 2, 2011.

  1. Hey everyone,

    I'm looking for some suggestions on what type of gear you guys have found absolutely necessary while riding through SEA and the rest of the world? What is cheaper or more accessible in the US that I should bring from home and how accessible are other things?

    I will be traveling for at least 2 years across 6 continents and buying a motorcycle in various countries, so I'm trying to think ahead. What would be most useful everywhere? Thailand is my first stop, I plan on flying into Han Oi from BKK in October, buying my bike and starting the trip from there. Hoping ending in Singapore and selling the bike there or in Malaysia. From there it's onto NZ, OZ, etc.

    I usually travel light, my main pack is 38L with a small day pack. I don't want to lug a lot of heavy gear all over the world. I've traveled across the US, a portion of Mexico and several Caribbean Islands like this on Suzuki GN250s and 125s. My basic gear list was:

    Small toiletries
    First Aid
    Head Lamp
    Electronics (Iphone, GSM cell, Camera, chargers)
    Pad locks
    Maps/ Paperwork

    In saddle bags or additional bag on rack:

    Patch kit
    Small foot pump
    Spare tubes
    A few spare parts
    Basic hand tools

    For protective gear, I've always just worn a helmet, gloves and padded sunglasses. For a trip like this, what do guys suggest? What am I missing or bringing that is necessary? What should I buy here? Thank you for any advise, this forum is great source of information.
  2. 62 views and still no suggestions? Come on guys, just looking for some opinions.

    My main questions are the use and necessity of a GPS?

    Malaria medication? I plan on bring a 12 pack of Marlarone for emergency treatment.

    Parts availability for the Suzuki GN125?
    What spares should I pick up? I usual carry a spark plug or 2, brake pads, clutch/brake lever and cable.

    Do most of you carry a hammock or tent?
    Availability of quality helmets? I'll be buying my bike in Han Oi but flying into BKK.
    Should I pick one up in BKK or can I wait until Han Oi?

    What have you guys found most useful or even invaluable on your bike trips?


  3. Hello John,

    Think that no one has replied as your list is very complete and from being too busy looking out the window wishing the rain would stop.

    A hammock appears to be a popular choice, I brought a nice Hennessy knock off but don't carry it as accommodation is never far away in Thailand.

    You will find a full spectrum of helmets in BKK, from cheapies for next to nothing, to the brand name lids. You can also find a full range of protective gear, not extensive as the west, but everything from the low priced Chinese made textile gear to brand name products easily in BKK. Maybe consider boots, a mesh armored top and good knee pads for the mayhem that is SE Asia roads - on top of what you have used. I've set up visiting friends with all that, including gloves for about 3000b on the cheap - good piece of mind.

    Warm countries are great, you can get away with carrying less clothing but if you travel in remote areas you might want to consider a water treatment system. On the main roads food, water and fuel are never to far away.

    And all the GPS maps you want can be obtained easily, search around as you have several choices. Personally believe there not a necessity, but sure doesn't hurt to have it as back up in your bag.

    Can't help on the spare parts issue, don't know if that model was sold in SE Asia but the type is certainly common and handy mechanics should be easy to find.

    Have a great trip and please share your trip report, it will be appreciated!

  4. I guess it's up to you but I'd plan on packing more safety gear. A helmet in my opinion is just a starter.

    I'm riding for a few months (flying to Hanoi on the 27th of August for a solo adventure) and I'm packing (in terms of safety gear) knee/shin gaurds, pressure suit/jacket, gloves, goggles and a pair of kevlar lined pants. I guess some might consider that overkill.... but then really you probably can't have enough when you consider it's there to save your skin.

    I do have a helmet I was going to bring but I'll probably end up buying something local (good quality) in Hanoi so I have more space in my bag... and I can't guarantee my helmet in my bag won't sustain some heavy knocks in transit.

    Best of luck with your trip!
  5. Thanks to both of you for the suggestions. I'll be leaving the hammock at home since I probably won't use it much in Asia and I can buy one cheap in NZ. Good to know about the helmet and gear situation, no need to lug one from the US. The only safety gear I have ever worn besides a helmet and glasses is a Codura jacket. I'm considering bringing it along but it's so damn heavy and bulky I doubt I would wear it. Though it might be nice to have as a trade.

    I'm currently looking for a GPS, right now I researching the capabilities of the cheaper ones so hopefully I won't have to buy a high end unit.

    As far as water treatment goes, I was thinking about buying a Steripen but realized that I would need something that actually filters for Africa so might as well wait and buy it on the road. I usually carry at least a Gallon of water on my bike and a few small bottles. Is more required for remote parts of Laos and Cambodia?

    I'll definitely be posting up trip reports as I go and will be blogging as well when I can.
    I just created it and this is my first blogf/website so it's still a working progress.

    Iwantablackrz- That would definitely be overkill for me, but that's because I've ridden without gear my whole life. There's no way I could wear a pressure in any weather above 50F, I'd sweat to death. I might pick up some knee and elbow guards once I get there. Do you have a route planned yet? What type of bike do you plan on buying? It seems like we are taking the same type of trip around the same time, maybe we can meet up for beer along the way.
  6. Iwantablackrz if you have a large head you will have a hard time finding a helmet to fit in Hanoi - I think. Three years ago in Hoi Chi Min tried to find a local helmet, and found the sizes even smaller then Thailand, well lacking in a size that fit my large noggin. Even in north america I fit mostly XL helmets, though an Arai L with a long oval shape fits.
  7. Hi bmore rex

    As your going to be doing a lot of riding, I would be bringing my own helmet, that way you’ll know it fits, and it is comfortable. As fishenough says, knee guards are a must, as well as a good pair of boots. I don’t bother with armor etc, I find it too hot.

    I’d leave the heavy jacket at home, they take up too much room. You just need a light rain jacket to use when it rains, and it will double as wind break for the early morning starts, and it doesn’t take up much space in your bag when the sun comes out.

    I don’t bother with a tent or hammock, there’s accommodation every were, forget the towel as well. As for carrying water, It can be difficult to get water in Laos between towns sometimes, I use a camel back. Forget the water filter.
    Unless you plan to go really remote, I’d just stick to paper maps.

    Take it easy.

  8. Very good to know. I'll have to check my helmets at home but pretty sure I'm a small. ...which I'm hoping will equate to no larger than a 'large' in SE asia sizings. I remember embarassingly buying a size 'S' Tshirt in Cambodia thinking it would fit me... I can only describe wearing it as... well, very, very tight fitting! I think I lost circulation to my arms. Needless to say I sent it home where it was even a tight fit on my very slim 20yr old sister!

    I 'should' be ok with the helmet but with a size 'S' head if you think I'll have problems I might have to make some other arrangements.

    Bmore_rex, I'm thinking about doing the northern Vietnam 'loop' from Hanoi. Probably head to Halong Bay/Cat Ba and from there will head east/north and eventually wind myself around to Sapa. Plan is to get a visa at Dien Bien Phu and enter Laos there. After that I'm a bit sketchy on my plans but will probably head to Luang Prabang, Vientiane (maybe a brief stop in VV if it suits) and either into Thailand (depending on the length I have on my laos visa by then) for a week or two OR continue down to Savanakhet where I'll head east into Vietnam and then I'll follow the HCM highway down to HCMC... with a few diversions to the coast. I'm pretty flexible. :) Feel free to contact me here. I'm pretty active as I get prepared for the trip (and no doubt when I'll be on it!). In terms of the bike I'll most likely be on a Honda Win OR a Lifan trail 125cc.
  9. Hi John. from November should be the dry weather up North, Northern Thailand, Laos etc. However, in Southern Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, it will very wet, especially the East Coast of Malaysia (where the annual Monsoons will be starting). Do get a heavy raincoat for Southern Thailand and below. Remember to wrap your clothings and valuables in plastic bags before putting them into your main luggage as the rains do seeps in at all available minute holes! Or, you could sit the rain out as the heavy electrical storms normally only last a couple of hours. Accommodations and drinking (bottled) water in Malaysia and Singapore in not a problem at all - you get them everywhere. As for your bike, you will find it very difficult to sell a foreign registered bike in Malaysia because the red tape in registering a foreign bike is endless. I would not know the situation with selling foreign bikes in Singapore. Hope this helps. Happy riding!
  10. I would reconsider the Kevlar pants. They are seriously uncomfortable in this Climate IMNSHO. Mesh Pants would be better
  11. So just some mesh with armour? I never knew such thing existed.
  12. Lets hope they never do.

    No, I have some Firstgear meshtex Pants. very comfy. could wear them 24 hours a day, wet or dry. I have some Kevlar Jeans also but I find them very uncomfortable in the heat .
  13. Based on what everyone has said, I'm bringing my own helmet since I have a large head. I've been looking for some mesh armored pants and found a few that I like. I'm leaning towards something like these.

    thirtyone- Thanks for tips on the weather. I'll probably be heading into southern Thailand and Malaysia around late December, early January. I plan on hopefully selling my bike to another backpacker while in Malaysia, not a citizen. No need to register the bike, since it's Vietnamese someone can just hop on and ride back the way I came. If I can't find anyone around KL, I'll just go to one of the backpacker hubs in southern Thailand to sell it.

    Iwantablackrz- Your plan is very similar to mine, I hope we get to meet up along the way. I also plan on doing the Northern and Northwestern loop from Han Oi, then getting my Laos visa in Dien Bien Phu. From there my rough plan is to spend alot of time exploring the small towns of Northern Laos and Northeastern Cambodia. I love getting off the beaten path and getting deep into a culture, these areas seem the best to do that. I'll loop around and do the HCM trail, eventually making my way into southern Thailand where I'll do some island hopping, then Malaysia and Singapore. I plan on flying out of KL to New Zealand sometime in February. Safe travels!
  14. My travel checklist..

    Hammocks camping and all that Jazz ?? I always find a room somewhere and try not to want to bed down in the jungle. Even if I was it would be bribing some villagers hut but if planning that a mossie net is small enough to pack. The great thing travelling in asia is cheap rooms are everywhere. Same goes for food. .Stuff like that I dont prep, I forage.

    Same goes for tools.. If your not doing jungle trails, its easier to get the bike to a mechanic than roadside fix it.. Locals generally help out (very friendly mostly) and I am happier to pay for the help than to do it there and then. Call me lazy, and I know its not 'adventure style' self sufficient, but it works for my touring so far. A leatherman is about all I carry tho I would like to add one of those 12v air pumps.

    I would always have my own gear.. Helmet, jacket (tex or mesh is fine at asian speeds for me but with CE armor), and gloves are the absolute minimum essential travel items. The chance of finding quality and fit in a strange asian city asia is too big a chance. Jeans works for me for low speed on route riding and strong footwear thats dual purpose for real life works enough. If I was trail riding anywhere boots would be included (and would be looking at maybe knee guards and armour over the CE jacket). Finding the right balance of gear to travel with depends on what your riding and what speeds you ride. The balance between heat and comfort, carrying too much, and the kind of riding is too personal to have a one size fits all. The guy riding a sportbike needs a very different kit than the guy on the XR250. But always jacket gloves and helmet, on even a 125 scooter really.

    I like to travel with a GPS.. Its just easier on my mind to know I am heading the right way. Garmin has the best mapping for asia and the 60csx (62csx newest) is still the one I like most for bike use thats goes on and off the bike easy. Maps for each country can be found, legal or otherwise. Lots of discussion on if a phone can do double duty (it sorta can) but I like my garmin, been worth every penny.

    One thing I notice.. The idea of buying a bike in vietnam to sell in sing or Malay.. When you take the bike over the borders your doing a temporary imprt, and your responsible for taking it out again. It may not be as easy as you imagine to resell in another country.
  15. Do let us know when you are in Malaysia. We can meet up and arrange for one of the loops.:thumbup:
  16. Definitely will do thirtyone!
  17. How are things travelling bmore rex? I'm in Hanoi now.... kind of like the place and the old quarter is far cheaper than I'd expected. Should be picking up my wheels today.
  18. Very cool to hear man! I'm not traveling any more than the usual 50-100 mile rides around my area. Counting down the days though, I'll be in Thailand Oct 13 and should be in Han Oi by the end of the month. Please keep us updated on the details about the bike you buy. If you don't use it already, check out It's the best resourse on SE Asia that I've found with a few people riding and posting on the message boards. I read this the other day and plan on staying there for a few nights after I pick up my bike, you should check it out. Safe travels!
  19. Hmmm... wrote out a reply and lost it. Oh well.

    I bought a Honda Win 100cc. Bought it off Vietnam-motorbikes here in Hanoi and although it was over my budget at $400USD it has had the engine recently rebuilt and a new clutch. The guys at VM where extremely helpful and have supplied me with a few 'hard to find' parts if I get stuck too. I've also got a pretty extensive list of english speaking contacts ranging from mechanics, hostel owners and friends of the business who can lend a helping hand if it's needed. I was impressed with that.

    I'll be headed to Sapa early next week and will probably be up north for just under 2 weeks. I'll then head into Laos but I'm unsure as to which border crossing just yet.
  20. Sounds good, glad the purchase went smooth. Good to know about Vietnam-motorbikes, I'll check them out when I get there. I'm about 250lbs so I want a little bigger bike than a 100 Win, hopefully I can find a 125. Safe riding, have fun!
  21. I didn't see anything there bigger than a 110cc (which I've discovered mine is) but I have seen a 'few' bigger bikes around the town so I'm sure you can get them somewhere. I saw a pretty new looking Honda XR250 a few nights back and the guys at the (original) Hanoi Backpackers Hostel (It has a really big party vibe so I left) seem to either own or ride atleast some bigger bikes. Also seen a Ducati monster about a week back. I'm sure you can find what you're after anyway.
  22. The only reason I had the Suzuki 125 in my mind is because I am familiar with working on them but I don't see the Win being much different. Plus from everything I've read, there's always some place nearby who can do repairs. I like that $400 price too if it does the job. Thanks for the tip about Han Oi backpackers, I try to stay away from the party places too. Please let us know the details when you cross into Laos. What paperwork came with your bike? Just the Blue Card or anything else? Hope you're having fun
  23. Just a blue card. I'm in Sapa at the moment where I'll be for a little while till I work out where I'm to go next. This really is a no plans tour! :p
    Bike is handling everything well. It's no speed demon but seems to be tackling the hills without too much problem. If I was to do something like this again I would probably go with a bigger budget and go with a 250 or 400 though. Yesterday I took a pillion 15k's out of Sapa and if I got stuck behind a slow bike it took forever to get back up to speed on some of those inclines. If I can keep the momentum though there are no problems. That said, it forces me to enjoy the scenery so it's no bad thing.

    I stayed at the Advisor Hotel in the old quarter (it's above the lake) 51 Nguyen Sieu, Hoan Kiem. It was well priced at $15 twin share (split it with another Aussie guy I met on the bus into Hanoi) and the owner and his wife I felt really looked after us. Do negotiate. The Hanoi Backpacker Hostel (both the old building and the new as I stayed at both) were not my scene and I would not recommend unless you enjoy the prospect of female english backpackers bringing back men to your shared dorm late at night to bump uglies in the bed below you. Two nights, two different english girls. I'll never look at an english girl the same way again.

    Try the Mimosa Hotel in Sapa (it's near the market). Again, twin share but at $7 it's a steal. Massive, massive room with a bathroom nearly the size of my bedroom at home. It also comes with a decent view. Food is suprisingly more expensive than Hanoi though.

    I'll probably head into Laos within the next two weeks although I am almost considering giving it a miss and instead heading down through Vietnam and going into Cambodia. I really have no idea and my indecisiveness is driving me mad.
  24. Sounds like you're having a blast man! Glad to hear that about English girls, we don't get many in the US. I personally can't stand them, their personalities and accents make me want to kick them in the teeth... We get alot of Eastern European and Irish girls that come to our East Coast beach towns to work for the summer, it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Besides Jamaicans, Irish chicks are definitely my favorite so far, we'll see what happens on the road. Thanks for tips on the hotels, they went in my Vietnam folder. Counting down the days, 31 days and I'll be in the air. I've been reading some reports lately about people having problems bringing VN registered bikes into Laos. I'm anxious to see what happens if you try since that is the beginning of my route.
  25. Which reports are these? I'd be interested to know as I haven't yet decided which border crossing I'm going to try to enter Laos yet and it might help make my decision.

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