Here’s a post that some will love but others with loathe… I’ve been gathering together my kit for Le Grand Tour for a few days now and there will, inevitably, be a rather clichéd picture of it all laid out on the floor (see previous big trip kit posts ad nausea…). Look out for that perhaps the day before I set off on July 2nd. It will be the usual standard stuff; tent, sleeping bag, packet of spaghetti (“You do know they have dried spaghetti in France don’t you…” some wag will quip)… But what usually gets lost in those photos is the electronic kit that, increasingly, seems to be standard. Although many will disagree…
With that last sentence in mind, at this point various people will be screaming at their computer or phone shouting ‘Rubbish! I’ve been around the world three times on a pogo stick and never needed any of that nonsense…‘. Well, yes, I’m sure you didn’t. But, for good or bad (I hope the former), I have built a reputation for sharing my travels via this website, videos on YouTube and in the last few years The Cycling Europe Podcast (which, for the duration of the trip around France, Switzerland and Germany, will be subtitled ‘Le Grand Tour Podcast‘). So what does it take to create content for a website, YouTube channel and podcast when you don’t have access to your home computer? Well, in my humble opinion, this:
And for anyone who hasn’t headed off on a three-month trek around the Andes with only a credit card and a toothbrush with the handle sawn off, tutting loudly as they pedal, I’ll tell you what each items is (even if it is bleeding obvious) and why I think it’s so indispensable. The numbers will help so keep sliding that slider and I’ll link to external websites where appropriate to do so. I am not, alas, affiliated to any of these companies so you purchase at your peril. (But if Tim Cook is reading, I’m always open to offers…) Here goes!
- Apple iPad Mini 256GB Wi-Fi. Compared to the mini iPad I took with me when I cycled from Tarifa to Nordkapp in 2015, this is stunningly light – just 293 grams. The main reason for the purchase was to be able to edit podcasts and I have been training myself to use the excellent Ferrite app that, in its ‘pro’ form, seems difficult to beat. I opted for the larger storage as I think it may come in handy for storing the drone / GoPro videos when the relatively low capacity micro SD cards that I’m using are filling up.
- Apple Pencil (2nd Generation). I did think this might be a gimmicky indulgence but I was quickly proven wrong. From the perspective of someone who has never used an electronic pencil before, it’s astonishing. Using the Ferrite software with the pencil is so easy (it would be a pain not to use it I think) and I’m also going to channel my inner David Hockney and perhaps attempt some sketching using the pencil.
- Apple iPhone 13 Pro Max. The key tool of communication. It could, in theory, do most of what all the other things in this list do but I’m a perfectionist so… Thanks to that gift that just keeps on giving, the joys of Brexit mean that roaming charges and caps are back in place for data but I have purposefully held off signing a new contract with Vodafone so as to not, at least, incur data roaming charges. (Those of is who didn’t vote for Brexit are exempt anyway, no? That’s what I keep telling the Brexit voters…) The phone is SIM-only so I could use a local SIM if needs be. Both the iPad and the GoPro can be tethered for Internet access. The case is a QuadLock case for securely fitting to the bike and also to number 28 in this list.
- Apple AirTag. Secreted someone on Wanda (the bike, not a woman; that would be stalking and illegal…). Here’s hoping it proves to be an irrelevant purchase.
- CatEye Bike Computer. They’ve been selling these for years and they are great. WARNING: don’t be tempted by their more complicated versions as they don’t function for long on one charge. This is battery operated and the battery lasts for months, if not years. Alas every time I set off I need to spend hours working out how to put the odometer back to zero. A job for the ferry to Rotterdam I think.
- Energizer Power Bank 20,000 mah. A brilliant piece of kit. Charges the phone 2-3 times. Lots of ports including USB-C.
- GoPro Hero 10. GoPro have seriously upped their game since I bought a GoPro Hero 3 (I think, it might have been a 5…) many years ago. Far easier to use, longer battery, waterproof, robust…
- GoPro Media Mod. I’ve yet to be convinced by this. I purchased what GoPro call their ‘Hero 10 Black Creator Edition’ and this came as part of the pack. It’s the least interesting bit. The microphone doesn’t get good reviews.
- GoPro Handlebar Mount. This is the old one; I’ve had it for years and it’s not that stable. Might have to look into upgrading to the new version of this. If you follow the link, that’s to the new one, not this one.
- GoPro Light Mod. A light that attaches to the Media Mod. Not yet used. Might be useful in the tent on dark evenings when I fancy recording a soliloquy to camera…
- GoPro Screw. Used to attached the GoPro camera to the…
- GoPro Volta Battery Grip. This is a dual purpose thing, as the name would suggest and so far, so good. It extends the battery life of the camera significantly (and charges the battery in the camera if needed). The grip makes holding the camera while cycling very easy. Please don’t quote this line back to me when I fall off the bike doing so…
- Analogue watch. No point taking a smart watch; it’s just another thing to charge.
- DJI Mini 2 Drone. I’ve had this for over a year now and hopefully you’ve been able to see the results in some of the films I’ve posted to the YouTube Channel. It’s impressive. A Mini 3 has, I think, just been released but I’m more than happy with this. It’s a steep, nerve-racking learning curve when you first start using it however. It comes in at 249 grams to avoid pesky regulation issues.
- DJI Mini 2 Drone control unit. Significantly heavier than the drone itself but a sturdy piece of kit and can also act as an emergency battery pack for other non-drone devices.
- DJI Mini 2 Drone batteries and charging unit. If you buy the ‘kit’ you get this as part of the deal. I didn’t. It is, however, essential. It stores three batteries and makes charging far easier. The batteries don’t last long so it is worth the investment and extra weight.
- DJI Mini 2 Drone tools. A few bits – screws and blades etc… if needs be.
- DJI Mini 2 Drone screwdriver. To attach the things in number 17. Good eyesight also recommended.
- Apple USB plug. Onto the functional stuff now. Although all the devices are USB-C compatible, it may be useful to have this. Or will it? I’m not so sure now…
- Apple USB-C plug. Two of these. Essential, used for all the devices when it comes to fast charging and USB-C is so much faster than standard USB. I’ve attached a continental adaptor.
- Apple USB-C plug. Again, as above.
- Rode VideoMicro microphone. I started using this to record the podcasts in the field(!) only recently for The Way of the Roses cycle and it is excellent. I bought it originally to mount on a camera but I’ve removed it from it’s stand and it allows me, via the small adaptor in 25, to plug it into the iPhone and record directly onto the phone via Voice Memos (or other recording apps). This is so much more practical that recording via a separate hand hell device (such as a Zoom H4n Pro that I have and use) because it is very light and because the audio recorded can be edited and uploaded via the iPhone and the iPad.
- Rode VideoMicro microphone ‘dead cat’. Wind shield. Essential. If you don’t use this you may as well just use the internal microphone of the iPhone which is great but very susceptible to wind interference.
- Rode VideoMicro extendable jack. This came supplied with the microphone.
- Three-ring jack to lightening adaptor. Essential for use with the iPhone. The jack on the end of number 24 won’t work directly in the iPhone unless you have this adaptor with three rings. Check carefully when buying.
- Apple iPhone earphones. I’m not taking my AirPods as they will get lost and need charging. I will need a lightening to USB-C adaptor to use with the iPad when editing. Do such things exist?
- Jessops tripod. Had this for years. Tiny and simple. Allow me to fit the iPhone QuadLock case to a tripod via…
- …this GoPro attachment if I need to take photos / video with the phone camera in a fixed position.
- SanDisk adaptor to read micro SD cards (from the drone and the GoPro) and transfer the files to the iPad. I hope… (Haven’t actually tried this yet.)
- USB / USB-C to lightening cables. Two cables here. See comments above about the USB plug (number 19).
- USB-C to USB-C cable. For charging the iPad, drone devices and GoPro devices.
- USB-C to USB cable. If I need to charge from a standard USB plug / device.
- USB adaptor to link to the front Son hub on the bike.
- USB to lightening cable which is extremely short to ‘charge’ (is it that effective?) the iPhone via the cable in 33.
- Petzel head torch. Very useful for those late-night trips to the wash blocks. Or nearby bushes… It’s currently being a little temperamental.
- SanDisk SD card reader. See comments in 29 above. (If you are wondering why this is here and not further up the list, have you every tried labelling a photograph with 36 items in it and not missing at least one thing when you are adding the numbered labels to the picture?)
I’m bound to have forgotten something… For those people wondering as to how much all this weighs, well, I don’t have an accurate pair of scales to know precisely but I think it’s around 4kg. I’ll go on a diet for a couple of weeks before setting off…
Visit the dedicated Grand Tour page of CyclingEurope.org to find out more about the 2022 cycle along some of western Europe’s most iconic cycle routes.
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