Firstly, the reason I require a trailer is because I am not just undertaking a regular cycle tour. I am going for at least a couple of years, over several seasons and will be working on organic farms (wwoofing) as I do so. I need to carry more additional clothes for that reason than most who just go cycle touring would. Posting clothes ahead of me and collecting them is not really an option either because my winter clothing (waterproof jacket and trousers along with fleece jacket), for example, are also my wet weather clothing and night time attire on chilly nights respectively. Also, I have pretty much stripped down my packing list to just enough spare clothes that will be comfortable to carry. One pair of trousers for working, one pair for relaxing. A couple of t-shirts for working, a couple for cycling and a couple for relaxing. So as you can hopefully understand, I am not just taking piles and piles of stuff for the sake of it, I have really considered in-depth just what I need and the reasons why.
On day one I set out almost fully loaded, as will be the case when I reach France on May 1st (this April tour is a test tour to see how everything handles and how I cope). I realised almost immediately that I needed a trailer. Not only for the volume but also to reduce strain on the bike over time. I had researched trailers when I was at the planning this trip but decided against it as I thought panniers would be enough. But, as all the little bits got added to the packing list, the weight obviously kept on increasing. As I eventually wish to become more independent, self-sustaining and generate income from this tour, by selling cycling and wwoofing articles and photographs maybe, I need to take my SLR camera with me which is not currently in my load - more weight. I also need to carry my laptop to edit photos and write articles (along with my website) at leisure. Ok, maybe I can ditch the solar panel but I wish there was a universal charger for all electrical items - that would be useful!
I know that over time I will still lose items from my packing list, as I realise they are superfluous, but right now I want to be prepared as best I think I should be. Whilst I welcome all the advice I am getting here and on twitter regarding trailers and everything to do with touring for that matter, everyone has different reasons and justifications for how much load they carry when cycle touring, hiking or travelling, so every situation is different. The only real way to learn just what you require is to find out for yourself.
I do have a couple of opportunities to lighten my load during the first few months of my cycle tour - my father is meeting up with me in early July and my mother is meeting me in mid November. Anything that I don't require by then, can go home with them. They can also replenish my reading list.
At this point in time, I believe, that I have three choices of trailer to best serve me. Initially I had only considered single-wheeled trailers, either the BOB Yak or the ExtraWheel but one particular advocate of the Burley Nomad two-wheeled trailer, on twitter, has me almost convinced that this is what I require. Again, as much as I really do appreciate everyone's input and thoughts, I don't want to start the trailer vs panniers debate again. Everyone has strong opinions for either and the result is generally a 50/50 split in my experience, plus the one-wheeled vs two-wheeled trailer has also been thrown into the mix now.
For what they are worth, my justifications for having the Burley Nomad now at the top of the list, are as follows:
- It holds 45kg (100lbs) of stuff which is more than the total weight of all my kit.
- Everything is one one place rather than spread across a potential six panniers.
- Without pannier racks I am free to undertake evening and weekend cycles (whilst staying with wwoof hosts) a lot easier as I won't need remove and replace the racks them each time I do.
- Terrain is not a problem for me as I will only ever be cycling on tarmac roads. I am never going off-road.
- Speed is not a problem for me as this tour is as much about leisure time as it is everything else.
- Less strain on the bike carrying fully loaded front and rear panniers.
- Less strain on my body balancing the bike and keeping steering straight and true.
- Hauling up to 45kg up hills and mountains will be much the same experience whether carried in panniers or a trailer.
- Speed coming down a mountain is never going to be too fast as it gets far too cold when doing so anyway.
- As is the case after my first two days, I am already cycling further from the kerb in the hope I am seen by motorists and given a wider berth. The Nomad is only going to make me more visible.
- The panniers I have purchased will not go to waste as I can still use them inside the Nomad for better organised storage and total waterproofing.