J. P. Sartre says that words are loaded pistols, but his were usually fully loaded. The great visionary Bucky Fuller, who mesmerized students at Black Mountain in North Carolina, complained that the educational process tended to overload people until they lost their innate capabilities. Retaining what innate capabilities I still posses, I load up and go to a rally for Alex Moulton bicycles in southwest Angleterre every year or two. Lots of rides in the country-side and along the lovely English canal paths. Many people ride some distance self-supported to the long weekend rally and camp at Dr. Moulton's lovely home (we Americans often describe it as a castle).
The English as a whole, whether by accident or design, seem to travel with much less weight and bulk than the riders from most other countries. We were cycling in a popular tourist area and loaded vacationing cyclists were common. You could always pick out the Americans—with enough gear to make any outfitter proud. I think 80-100 lbs would be a common American load—without the bike—on overseas trips. The British that I observed often camped with 20-30 lbs of gear for a week, plus food and any carry-along liquids.
Now the heaviest loaded tourists that I have seen are from Japan. Though small in stature they often transport their own body-weight in luggage and gear. The Japanese often carried extensive electronic gear and scores of music collections. This can certainly be reduced from the old cassette tapes to CD, then DVD and now MP3 players but I assume these cyclists would now drag along full satellite communications and televisions, laptops, video cameras so their loads may have gone up! In Japan I feel getting back to nature may often include headphones.
While I consider myself one that carries few extras when camping, I carry plenty to be self-contained and comfortable. While some people would consider my camping load ultra-light, my summer travel companions often travel great distances camping with only one small partially-filled pannier, and one plans two weeks in Europe without even that. These fellows are very quick to pack-up in the morning.
Yours in Cycling,
North Road Bicycle Imports
P.O. Box 840
166 Courthouse Square
Yanceyville, NC 27379
toll free: 800-321-5511