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Friday, March 6, 2015

What to Take on Your Bikepacking Trip

Posted By on Fri, Mar 6, 2015 at 3:08 PM

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I’m taking off for the weekend, jumping on my bike and riding across the bridge to the headlands and up to Point Reyes where I plan to spend a couple days on the cold, windy beach, eating oysters and drinking whiskey.

Of course, the payoff of lounging on the beach wouldn't be nearly as satisfying if I didn't make it a huge pain in the ass to get there, and that's why I'm making this a bikepacking trip. Plus, this is a bike blog, not a lounging on the beach lifestyle blog, so it's got to involve some bike related content. 

Bikepacking is the lightweight, rebranded version of bike touring or bike camping, and I've never really done it before. In case you,too, are considering an adventure like this, here's what you should bring and here is how you should pack it on your bike.

Food, Shelter, Water, Duh:

Those are the essentials.
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On the shelter front, a lot of bike packers, like backpackers, go ultralight, since you've got to carry everything you're taking with. I don't have the budget to invest in the latest dyneema or cuben fiber tents, so I'll get by with old single shelter than I bought somewhere in Europe about a decade ago. 

A Kelty Cosmic Down 40 sleeping bag is relatively light, fairly cheap, and down; it packs down small, and keeps warm when wet. I may also throw an old North Face bivvy in my packs to see if I can do away with the dent body, and just use the fly and bivvy.
For water, I’ve got three cages on my bike, and I use a big 40 oz. stainless steel Kleen Kanteen thing that fits nicely in this trick Arundel Looney Bin expandable water bottle cage. Otherwise regular water bottles do the trick for on the bike hydration. This isn’t exactly wilderness camping, and from here to Point Reyes there are plenty of stops to refill, so I’m not worried about a filter or a bigger hydration pack.

Food will most likely consist of peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, bread, and other non-perishable, high-calorie foods. I also packed CLIF Bars – Clif is in Emeryville, and I haven’t found many prepackaged foods that pack more calories per gram per dollar. CLIF Bars also don't taste like garbage, which is a bonus. I use an Esbit stove with solid fuel tablets for heating water, and any cooking I’ll do – it fires up and boils water in 5-10 minutes using 1 tablet. In all likelihood the only thing I’ll do is boil water to make coffee.
Speaking of which, my portable coffee setup includes an Aeropress, a stainless disc from Able brewing, a hand grinder from Hario, and this time around some coffee from Four Barrel. A simple aluminum pot will handle water heating duties.

Other sustenance and tools include my handy flask, which will most likely be filled with an inexpensive overproof bourbon, a small pocket knife made by Suncraft and procured at Hida Tool in Berkeley, BIC lighters, and anything else i manage to fit in the bag.

Clothes and and Tools
Gearing up for a relatively short ride out and back to camp isn’t too hard – what’s more difficult is having room for off-the-bike clothes to keep you warm and comfortable while at camp or hiking about. Here’s my plan:

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I’ll be wearing a set of bibs from DeMarchi, a Rapha brevet jersey and hi-viz vest, a pair of Giro DND gloves, my trusty and crusty Intelligentsia / Golden Saddle Cyclery hat, some wool socks, some Smartwool arm warmers, and a pair of Specialized mountain bike shoes.

In the packs will be a set of hi-viz Nike Free 3.0 shoes for camp lounging and hiking around. They’re light and will do for short hiking. A merino crew from Welcome Stranger – one of my favorite pieces of clothing. A pair of Outlier climber pants and possibly 3-season shorts – good for knocking about, good for riding, somewhat water repellent, flexible, stretchy, somewhere between athletic wear and real clothes. More wool socks. Cadence jacket. Pendelton flannel. A merino cap. That should do it.

Of course I'd never go on a ride out of town without tools. A multi tool with chain tool, spare tubes, a patch kit, tire levers, a pump, some gorilla tape are all essential. Gorilla tape is good for everything from patching a gashed tire to, um, taping things together. I’m also carrying a single spare set of brake pads, just in case. Zip ties are also handy to have a long, in case you need to fix something to the bike.

Finally, a small first aid kit, with antibiotic ointment, bandaids, ibuprofen. 

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About The Author

Leif Haven

Leif Haven

Leif Haven is a writer and cyclist living in the Bay Area. He can be spotted dragging himself up a hill — literally and metaphorically.


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