Scottish Adventurer Jamie Ramsay Shares His Best Packing Tips for Running and Cycling Around the World

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

My name is Jamie Ramsay and I was born and bred in Scotland. My life is spent pursuing whatever endurance challenge is available. Most tend to be running related but trekking with camels, cycling across continents or wild swimming are all welcomed.

Right now, I am in London preparing for a 200+km run from London to Birmingham where I am talking at the National Running show.

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

How and why did you get into adventuring and traveling?

I spent 12 years working in the city for a financial public relations consultancy. When I reached partner I realised that I was unhappy and unfulfilled. It was time to make a change. I looked at all those doing what I wanted to do and realised that the only real difference was that they had actually taken the risk and set out in the direction of their passion. I made a snap decision to quit my job and undertake an adventure of epic proportions. I started running 10km every day without fail until I knew I had it in me to make my way to the start line. Over the next 15 months I would run, solo and unsupported from Canada to Argentina.

The list of my adventures are:

  • 17,000km solo/unsupported run from Vancouver to Buenos Aires (367 running days)
  • 3700km solo cycle from Sao Paulo to La Paz
  • 700km entire UK three peaks solo run
  • 430km solo/unsupported Scottish Island run
  • 370km Mongolian trek with 10 camels
  • 265km Transalpine Run

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

How do you prepare for your adventures?

Once I had come up with the parameters of my adventure, I focused most of my time on acquiring the right equipment and making sure I was in good physical shape. The day to day logistics of the adventure itself were not something I spent too much time on. For me and adventure should be pure and that requires a little of the unexpected.

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

How do you finance your adventures?

Financing an expedition can be one of the biggest hurdles. But you can’t let it be the hurdle that stops you starting. I had a small amount of savings, a tax rebate but nothing like the capital I needed to complete my expedition. But I had enough to start and I knew that if I set out on the adventure and did it in the right way then the finances would find their way to me – and they did. Getting sponsors in today’s social media environment is very difficult. But If you are doing something original and approach it in the right way then interest and support gravitates towards you.

It’s very hard to put an amount on my adventuring. The more kit I accumulate, the less expensive the next adventure is. If you don’t have enough money to fly to the other side of the world, then start from your front door and it costs you nothing. A lot of people like to use money as an excuse but don’t think about how much it will cost you but more how much will you get back from doing something you are passionate about.

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

How do you eat and sleep on the road?

As mentioned above, I don’t plan my accommodation or nutrition but react to what is available. I always have a tent, sleeping bag, cooker and a couple of days supplies. My adventures are very much endurance driven and there for eating and sleeping are more important to me that trying to live rough. If there is a cheap hotel or hostel then I will take that opportunity but there is no escaping that sleeping in a tent in the middle of nowhere just can’t be beaten. I have been known to eat some crazy things including scorpions, sheep’s heads (and eyes), iguanas and insects. I eat whatever is available. If you can get some good streetfood then that is the best option as you get to experience the local culture at the same time.

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

How do you bring your things with you?

This is never the same. If I am running over 1000km, I would probably push my kit and provisions in a baby stroller like I did on Running the Americas. For shorter run, I would wear a backpack. While trekking in Mongolia, I had the luxury of 10 camels to do the heavy lifting for me. Last year, I cycled across south America and used panniers. I am currently planning a swimming expedition and on that trip, I will drag a day bag (Overboard bags) and have my campervan as support.

I have used Overboard bags on nearly every expedition I have been on. They are all waterproof and that means mud and sand proof too. I am obsessed about keeping my kit clean and dry. It is easy to do if you buy the right equipment and makes a huge difference when you are in the middle of nowhere. My biggest tip is divide everything up and packed them in individual bags inside your main bag. This means any accidents are contained. I once had a pesto jar smash that could have been a disaster! (Used Thule panniers when cycling & Raidlight backpack when running shorter distances.)

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

How do you organize things in your bags?

As mentioned above, I spend hours planning my packing. When I have rest days while on expeditions then a large part of that day is spent reorganizing everything. Getting the balance of heavy things at the bottom and the more frequent things near the top is an art. Lots of pockets are always welcome.

If it isn’t waterproof then I probably don’t have it. The Overboard bags I have are so well designed I can use them for different disciplines. The bags I used trekking in Mongolia are also going to be used while on my swimming adventure.

How do your bags and gear hold up?

If you go on an adventure and the quality of your kit is not good enough then you’ve made the mistake. There are so many brands available but I have stuck with Overboard ever since I started adventuring in 2014. They don’t overthink their bags and that is why they don’t fail.

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

Any gear you wish you had brought with you from the beginning?

The best kit I can take on an adventure is windproof and waterproof clothing. I use GORE-TEX. It doesn’t matter what the brand is, if it has GORE-TEX technology then you are going to be set. Being cold and wet is the worst experience when in the middle of an adventure. That said, my biggest problem is packing too many clothes and never wearing them. I never learn. Taking a sewing kit and gorilla tape is a must. On my last expedition, I burnt my clothes and sleeping bag and without the right equipment to make repairs I could have been in trouble (it was -20 centigrade outside!)

What has been your best adventuring purchase below $100?

Anything that plays music and podcasts. At the moment, I used a CAT S60 phone. It is durable, unbreakable, waterproof and provides the entertainment I need when in the middle of nowhere. I recently cycled across the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It was the wet season and there was six inches of water cover the surface creating a mirror effect as far as the eye could see in every direction. I listened to James Bond on my phone!

All the kit I use can be found here.

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

What is your best advice for other adventurers?

Don’t let excuses be the reason that you don’t go on the adventure but make then the challenges you seek to overcome, and only adventure if you passionately want to, don’t just do it to break a record or complete a first!

Adventurer Jamie Ramsay

What will the future bring?

My adventures going forward will follow a couple of themes. Firstly, looking to do things I haven’t done before. I want to swim a long way, kayak a long way and maybe one day cross country ski a long way. I also want to address the lack of diversity in adventure. The people going out and enjoying big adventures seem to come from a similar background. Let’s change that!

Visit Jamie Ramsay on his website, the CALM charity he supports, and follow him on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

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