With the goal of traveling lighter, I approached this bike ride a little nontraditional when it came to carrying my gear. I have been reading up on the ultralight bikepacking websites to achieve a lighter bike. Whereas, I am by no means a purist ultralight kook, you can’t deny the progress that the ultralight gang has brought to bike touring, especially mountain bike touring. My bike and gear carrying setup is a little hodge podge Frankenstein but it worked quite well, and surprisingly everything fit. My bike and gear weighed in at just over 70 pounds or just under 75 pounds depending on where I was with food and water. Definitely not ultralight, but much lighter than my previous trips.
Size, weight, comfort, durability are all important factors when packing.
Bike – I rode a Jamis Dragon 29er. Steel frame, hardtail locking front shocks with disc brakes, 29 inch wheels. This is the same bike that I rode on the Great Divide Route a few years ago.
I replaced the stock Avid Juicy disc brakes with Shimano XT brakes. I really noticed the upgrade.
The steel frame and 29″ wheels worked very well on this ride which had a lot of rough gravel roads. Dual suspension would have been unnecessary since we didn’t ride the single track options.
How I Carried My Gear
I used an Old Man Mountain front rack with Ortlieb panniers on the front along with a dry bag for my sleeping bag. The weight on the front felt a little squirrelly when I started but on the road it felt fine as long as I avoided very sharp, hard turns. Very sharp, hard turns are generally frowned upon anyhow. The weight on the front helped distribute the load.
On the back I used a rigid seat post rack with a 20 liter dry bag. I found an elastic cargo net with hooks at REI that was great for adding tent poles, fly fishing rod and Crocs (and whatever) on the back. In the bikepacking crowd, seat post bags are where it’s at but I felt the seat post rack provided me with more carrying options without too much weight penalty.
Also, had a Blackburn Outpost frame bag that worked out very well and was reasonably priced.
I also used a little Blackburn top tube bag for odds and ends.
On my back, I carried a light weight REI Flash 22 day pack for water bladder, lunch, snacks and discarded clothing layers.
The photo to the left shows how Scott packed his bike.
Note the handle bar bag, the seat post bag and the fork cage/5L bag.
This would be a more typical bikepacking set up, I’d say.
The Kiwi Mean Machine.
I left my B.O.B. trailer at home.
Tires – I had a 2.3 Vittoria Saguaro on the back and 2.2 WTB Exiwolf on the front. These were gravel grinder tires that were not too aggressive. They worked fine.
Only one flat tire on this trip – on the first day while still riding pavement.
Head light/tail light – Niterider Mako LED head light and Nashbar tail light. Worked fine. Didn’t ride much in the dark though.
Odometer – My old reliable Cateye Enduro. It’s gone Transcontinental, Great Divide and Sierra Cascade without issue. Maybe next trip I’ll upgrade to GPS?
Seatpost suspension – I was pleasantly surprised with my Thudbuster LT. It handle the washboard better than my front shox. It’s not rear suspension but on this trip, it worked well.
Terry Fly saddle – Don’t forget the chamois crème!
Shimano SPD pedals and touring shoes – Old reliables. No problems. Had dorky Crocs for after biking (and fishing). They were a luxury but I liked them.
Lightweight bike cable/lock – Basically a deterrent. Only used in town.
Topeak Morph Frame Pump – Old reliable. No issues.
Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1 Tent – 2 lb, small, low profile, very light weight but not free standing. You definitely give up some things with this small tent but you can’t beat the weight and packability. I think that the stakes weighed as much as the tent.
REI Kilo 20degree sleeping bag – down fill, small pack weighing about … a kilo (2.2#). Since it’s down, I had to be real careful to keep my bag dry. I used a silk sleeping bag liner to keep my bag relatively clean inside. When I got into town, I just threw it in the washer.
MSR MicroRocket – Uses IsoPro fuel canisters. Very compact and surprisingly efficient. I only boiled water with this stove. Gourmet meals might be challenging with limited flame control. Restock at outdoor stores in Boise, McCall and Ketchum if necessary.
H2O Filter – The Sawyer Mini water filter did not work well at all out of the package. When I got home, I aggressively backwashed it and the capacity improved dramatically. My bad, should have tested this before I left home. There are plenty of creeks and rivers on this route. Be prepared to filter or sterilize your water.
Cookware – GSI Outdoors Minimalist set, plastic oatmeal bowl, Swiss Army knife, spork, lighter/matches, soap/clean up
2 Shorts ( 2 mtn bike shorts w/pockets)
3 Jerseys (2 short sleeve, 1 long sleeve) Again, pockets! One of the jerseys was wool which I liked a lot. Doesn’t stink.
2 Pair of wool socks, darker colors preferred for the obvious
1 Pair of cycling gloves, 1 pair of full fingered weather gloves
Rain gear – Pants, jacket, socks.
Arm warmers, leg warmers
Easy decision as to what I was going to wear in the morning.
Apres Cycling Clothing
1 Pair nylon shorts
1 Cotton T-shirt
Baseball hat – lots of sun in Idaho
Wool winter hat for night
Odds & Ends
Chain Lube and rag
Fiber Fix kevlar spoke
Bike tools – bare bones
Spare tubes, patchkit
Spare nuts and bolts
Small first aid kit
ACA Idaho Hot Springs Maps
Notebook & pen
Ziplocks and garbage bags
Toiletry bag – include sunscreen, earplugs
Compass, signal mirror, whistle
Food – Lots of snacks
When camping, I ate freeze dried dinners, like Mountain House, that I purchased at outdoors stores. When I got into town, I ate at a restaurants.
Lunch typically was peanut butter & jelly on a bagel. Pretzels were good with lunch.
Breakfast was two packs of instant oatmeal with dried fruit and, of course, coffee.
Lots of granola bars, energy bars and Snickers kept me going along the way. One per hour.
Fresh fruit is always a challenge since it’s heavy and doesn’t travel well.