The choice of bike depends very much on where you are going and how you like to ride. If you want to storm downhill despite all the equipment you’ll be carrying, then a full suss bike may still be the choice for you. I took an all mountain bike but could really have got away with an XC bike. If you’re taking panniers however it’s very hard to stop it hitting the top of the back wheel in full compression. You’ll need a raised pannier rack (see below). Otherwise a hardtail will do. But make sure you have adequate front suspension – you don’t want to go over your handle-bars 20 miles from anywhere.

Carrying Kit

There are basically 2 choices for carrying your kit…a trailer or an assortment of bags and panniers. I took a trailer as I was out for a long time, had lots of IT kit and was camping occasionally, but it was a bit much to get up steep inclines. This was fine for me as I was in no hurry and had good low gears. For the choice of trailer I went for a seat-post mount. You can get them attached to the rear axel, but when I reviewed in videos these seem to pull the back wheel about. I bought an Aeavon Kit 80, from Cycloboost, which was subsequently voted best trailer in the world by Carnets d'Aventure, 16.4/20 – 2015. The suspension was fantastic – I hardly noticed it on the down-hills and it kept all my IT kit safe and dry. Just watch-out if cornering fast on gravel down-hill…any trailer will try to you over the edge (Newton’s first law). The other thing to watch is that on drop-offs, as your front wheel goes down your rear will rise and may hit the bar and lock. Tricky.
If you go for bags then try to distribute the load around your bike. You can get handle-bar mounts, frame mounts above and inside, and seat bags or panniers. As mentioned watch out for pannier on full suss bikes, but Topeak’s Beamracks have variants which lift up high to give room for travel. You’ll still need to put more air in your shock though to stop the wheel making contact. Make sure it’s all waterproof.
I tried using a back-pack for a while, but day after day of hard riding in the heat made it impractical. I hurt and was hot. If you can, keep everything in your panniers or trailer. Put a water bottle on your frame or handle bars for regular drinks.

Taking Water

If you’re out in the wilderness water can be hard to find and if it’s hot, then it’s crucial. Carrying a whole day’s supply of water will add a lot to your weight. I tried various options and landed on 2 water bottle and a Katadyn water filter. The filter weighs 400g, which is less than half a litre of water and will keep you hydrated all day. It has a ceramic filter so fine it will filter out bacteria. It is pump action so is much faster than a gravity filter. And you can take water from anywhere (and I did!). Just 2 things to watch:

  1. Some regions don’t have surface water...deserts and limestone mountains. So a filter won’t help.
  2. The Katadyn has the input tube attached to a plastic spout. This is fragile and eventually snapped off in my trailer rendering it useless. They should make this metal.