I bought the YAK trailer before leaving Melbourne and heading west and across more isolated areas. The reason why I bought it was that I wanted to be able to carry more food and water. Even if I already had four big Ortlieb backroller classic I didn't have enough space to carry water enough for three days. I was lucky to get the last available trailer in Australia as the manufacturer were out of stock. The price I paid was 449 AUD and I think that was a good price. I decided to get the YAK trailer because I wanted a trailer with a single wheel to get better traction and a more narrow aerodynamic design. A single wheel is also better for off-road touring. The design and quality is also very robust.
Impressions The big difference compared to cycling without the trailer was that when I attached the trailer the bike became much more stable. Before I had been carrying a big heavy dry sack across the rear rack and because I carried the weight so high the bicycle was unstable. With the trailer I had low center of gravity and there were no problem keeping the balance when cycling or standing. Having the trailer also meant that my luggage was much more accessible. Because the dry sack across the rear rack had efficiently blocked the access to the rear panniers. Of course I could remove it but it would take some time and usually I tried to avoid it.
Cycling with the trailer didn't feel much heavier and usually the trailer was hardly noticed. Going uphill you could feel it dragging you back a bit but not too bad and it was possible to cycle as slow as 4.6 km/h. Downhill I felt that the trailer pushed on and put a lot more pressure on the brakes. But it was not unstable. Recommended speed is not over 40 km/h and I never traveled faster then about 45 km/h. The biggest problem was that the rear mudguard and the rear light and the trailer fork hooked into each other at sharp turns so I had to avoid any sharp turns. Also going over big curbstones made the trailer fork hit the rear light and mudguard.
Pros More stable bicycle Easy access to your gear More capacity to carry heavy loads
Cons More rolling resistance with an extra wheel and heavier Need to carry extra spare tube Trouble to travel with it on buses and flights
Summery I'm very glad that I bought it and think it's perfect for touring when you want to be able to carry a lot of gear or instead of panniers. I would definitely recommend it! And it's also very useful after you finished your tour, for example when you go shopping.
My top three list of things to bring on your bicycle trip
The most important gear on a bicycle tour is of course a bicycle. And a tent and panniers are also necessary things if you want to do a more independent and longer tour. But my list is about three items that you can do without but I found them so useful and fun that I think it's on my top three to bring on a bicycle tour.
I have the Samsung Xcover 2, a phone designed for adventure. It's water- and dust proof, and made for a tough environment. I used it without buying any extra cover and then it weights 148 grams. I could recharge it with my PedalPower + when cycling so never run out of battery on the road. But on rest days when I camped I had to be more restrictive with the use of it to avoid running out of battery. And that is the weak point because normally you use it most when you have a day off. But on normal use on evenings when I would continue to cycle the next day it was no problem as iI could recharged it then.
The key features why I found it so useful are:
Communication, text messages and calls. Normally I didn't use it much for calling or SMSs but very handy when needed.
Internet, WiFi. To search for info, get in touch with warm shower hosts, update my blog, stay in touch with family and friends, (a morale boost). Very glad to have it when we cycled and camped near areas affected by bush fires, as we could have access to fire warnings etc. Made the stealth camping in forests and national parks more relaxed.
FM - radio. Sometimes nice to have a news update.
Maps and apps. With the old Google maps you could have up to six offline maps saved (enough to cover an area from Sydney to Melbourne). I liked this feature a lot, but then Google and Samsung updated the firmware and it's not available any more. Too bad. WikiCamps Australia. A free app. WikiCamps is a dynamic user generated camping app for Australia. It works offline and you could downnload quality offline maps. Has 14,000 listings and is constantly growing. You can search for camp areas by applying filters. Usually i searched for tent areas, free of charge. I liked to read the reviews of camping areas, see photos etc, made it easier to decide it a place could be interesting. Normally we did stealth camping but this was a great app to see which camping alternative you had in the near area. Highly recommended! Another app I downloaded was "Soviet military maps". A free app and a complement to the other maps I had.
GPS. The phone has a GPS with A-GPS and GLONASS. I used the GPS to get my exact location, this was very helpful when cycling into/through bigger cities. I only used the GPS for route planning when I through Melbourne. It was useful then because as a stranger the street names and suburbs didn't say me anything about which direction to go The biggest advantage I see with the GPS is when you need to get to an address and want to see where your current location is. For route planning and cycling outside of the cities I prefer maps.
Camera, 5 MP. Having the phone on the handlebar mount it was easy and quick to take photos. A good complement to the big DSLR camera.
A good quality camera
We used two cameras, Nikon D7000 a DSLR and Canon powershot G15 a compact camera. Nice to have your own camera and with two cameras you have a backup if something happening to one of them. I think it well worth the extra weight of carrying one big camera. It's much more fun to take photos when you have a good camera and they are more robust. Both have optical viewfinders, help you to save battery power and also useful when the sunshine is very strong. By using the viewfinder you can also hold the camera more steadily. I also prefer to have a camera which allows you to do all the manual settings and shoot in raw-format. But the most important thing with a camera is the photos you take. Great to have the memories of where you have been and what you seen.So fun to look on all the photos when back home after the tour is finished.
For the D7000 I had two different lenses, Nikon 17-55/2.8 and Tamron 90/2.8 SP DI Macro VC USD.
A digital voice recorder
I used Olympus VN-711PC. I like to document my travel and I want it to be easy and quick. This is something that I do at the end of the day after pitched the tent, had dinner etc Normally I would be tired or very tired then and I don't want to sit with a pen and paper. If so I would write very short or not write anything at all.
But with a voice recorder it's just to press the record button and then talk. Could not be easier. And one great thing is that it also captures your mood, you can hear on the recording if you are happy, tired, etc And it also records all the sounds and noises around, so it give an extra dimension compared to the traditional way of taking notes.
With the years passing, I think it's also something I will appreciate more and more. Will be fun to take it out and listen to the recordings in twenty or thirty years time and remember back
Weight is only 71 gram and it's really small and packs down to nothing.