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Bikepacking- Who's doing it and how?
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Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Bikepacking- Who's doing it and how? on 07/29/2012 14:52:57 MDT Print View

I've caught a few members here post up their bikepacking trips- the most recent article from our great Dave Chenault was an excellent primer on the subject and much appreciated.

So, who here is bikepacking and how? Touring trips? Mountain bike setups? Overnights? Multidays?

I've talked with BPL member Don Meredith and have been exchanging emails as I put together a list of the necessary stuff to hold a small amount of kit, but would like to hear from others here who have experience packing on a bike. Yes, I have checked out, there is some great info there as well.

I recently built up a Surly Karate Monkey for riding locally, a regular trail ripper for group rides and general fun out on singletrack. Naturally, I'm thinking up methods to get out and cover some distance on bike with gear. Never thought I would go this route.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Re: Bikepacking- Who's doing it and how? on 07/29/2012 20:42:27 MDT Print View

I'm excited to see the outcome of this thread.

I'm just getting into this as well, so getting new ideas will be great. My main goal with bikepacking is to get out more now that driving my car isn't necessary. I'm mostly excited about the possibility of logistics free trips.

Generally, the toil of planning shuttles, planning trips around parking areas, either taking my dog or finding someone to look after her, and most importantly my hatred of drives over one hour, make the first day of a trip difficult for me.

I've found a wilderness management area only 25 miles from me that makes it worth taking overnighters there. So I don't have to worry about my pup and never have to get into a car. With this initial plan large portions of this trip will be on road, but I will get to fool around on some single track and service roads in the middle.

I'm currently using a stock Fargo 3, and am throwing together a MYOG kit for my first trip. It is easy for this one though because it is so hot here in Georgia almost no insulation or spare clothing is really necessary, so the volume is low. I'm looking at using two Anything Cages, handlebar bag, two feedbags, and a pocket strapped to the outside of the handlebar bag. Basically a MYOG copy of some great Revelate Designs gear. I'll be sure to share my thoughts on how it goes next week.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Bikepacking- Who's doing it and how? on 07/29/2012 21:42:15 MDT Print View

Right on Chris! I'm looking forward to seeing what you land on.

The Fargo is one sweet bike, really a franken bike that can do it all it seems- from the sound of things it is the ideal bike for what you're looking to ride. I had that one on my radar when I was researching "the" bike for me.

What are your thoughts on a front loaded bike? Does it affect handling, particularly on singletrack?

A simple handlebar harness and drybag up front, rear seatbag (or rack....still undecided), and a medium sized frame bag, are what I have in mind for storing gear on my Surly. I currently have my ride setup single speed 32t18t and plan to keep it that way for simplicity sake. That setup isn't the fastest once you really get up to speed, but it rides really well on the flats and rolling sections.

I'm thinking that I could get away with just a rear rack and panniers until late fall around here, weather is usually mild and dry.

Lots to consider.....

Pete Staehling
(staehpj1) - F
Bike Packing and Bike Touring on 07/30/2012 06:54:13 MDT Print View

I have done a bunch of long distance self supported bike touring and am about to do a 3 week MTB tour of the Colorado Rockies. I am not sure if anything I have done this far qualifies as bike packing though, since it was on road touring with only very brief forays onto dirt. I have adopted the bike packing philosophy of minimal packing in recent tours though. I guess that my upcoming tour may qualify as bike packing. I expect it to be 70-80% dirt and expect to do some hiking and peak bagging as well.

On my most recent road tour (San Diego to Sarasota) I still used a rack, but limited gear weight to 14 pounds or so including bags. I had full camping and cooking capability, but did eat some restaurant meals and got a room now and then.

Here is a link trip's to that journal:
and a companion article:

On my upcoming tour (starting Saturday) I will be off road a lot more and on a mountain bike so it is probably more in line with the idea of bike packing. I have a journal started for that trip at:
There aren't any pictures of the mountain bike setup there yet, but there will be some later, probably sometime after the trip gets underway unless I get around to it before then.

The plan is to use a handlebar roll with my bivy and micro tarp (5'x5'), a tiny rear rack with a eVac dry sack, and an REI Flash 18 backpack. Exactly what will be carried where is not completely ironed out, but in the back pack will be 4 or 5 pounds and the eVac dry bag about the same. Oh and a little camera bag (Mountainsmith Zoom small) with phone, ID, money, and camera will be on the bars as well.

Edited by staehpj1 on 07/30/2012 06:56:03 MDT.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Bike Packing and Bike Touring on 07/30/2012 07:07:26 MDT Print View

Thanks for sharing Pete.

I had read your companion article recently. I noticed your rolled through Las Cruces, my hometown, on your way east into TX. Hopefully you were able to get yourself a proper Mexican dish. A plate of green chile enchiladas would easily fuel you all the way to Marfa.

Looking forward to hearing how your CO trip goes. Please post up a link to your trip report here when you finish.

Andy Amick

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Bikepacking- Who's doing it and how? on 08/02/2012 12:05:06 MDT Print View

Chris, I had the same question about your setup. Is it too front heavy to affect climbing and handling? For a quick MYOG seat back, you could use a compression sack and strap it to the seat post and seat rails.

Eugene, I like the singlespeed setup you are working on. Keep it simple with less things to go wrong is a good approach. If you are just starting out and already have a rack, then I would use that. You can always upgrade to a seat bag later.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Front heavy on 08/02/2012 20:51:08 MDT Print View

I'll have to get back to you about how it rides.

It is a pretty light trip. Including the weight of the bags and cages, my gear weight is around 8lbs. I went for a ride about 20miles long the other day with the handlebar harness and one feed bag loaded up (only made one so far), which meant that the bike was a bit lopsided in weight. It still rolled well, and I didn't notice any issues. No chance to try it on single track yet though.

I have plans of making a framebag and the materials are on order, but I wanted to get out as soon as possible, so am working with what I've got. Once I have the frame bag made I will try to keep the majority of the weight in it and possibly ditch the Anything Cages.

I figure I will discover my riding style as I go on some trips and will put together a carry kit that fits it. Mostly trying to stay light and cheap for now, mostly making pieces out of scraps.

I'll post a trip report and my thoughts on carrying some time next week. Looks like rain, so the trails may end up being rough to ride. A nice challenge.

I like the idea of the SS too. I went with gears because I have pretty bad knees, and thought they may need some help. The SS Karate Monkey is a set up I really like. Solid and reliable.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
My Last Bikepacking Trip on 08/02/2012 22:12:29 MDT Print View

Less of a single-track, backwoods trip and more of a "ride to the hike" trip, I biked down to the 2nd Annual FL Hike and Hang (link goes to Hammock Forums, where I'm an active member under the same handle) back in March.

My word report (single post so you don't have to search through the whole thread) is here.

Some photos in posts there (note: large photos, dialup may have issues): here, here, here, here, and here.

Embedded video here.

My set up is pretty simple (and the bike is definitely not lightweight). I ride a Manhattan Flyer 6 with an aftermarket handlebar post to raise the bars up so's I can sit upright. This isn't meant for off-road travel, but it handles dirt roads just fine. I wouldn't want to ride it anywhere with serious hills, but this is Florida; may as well be a pool table.

For my cargo set-up, I've gone through several iterations. Currently, I use a combination of two straps (one to compress the load on my DIY Molly Mac Pack-inspired backpack together and one to link it to the seat post as securely as possible) and my seat post rack to carry my backpack there. Twisted mason's line is also used to lash it down for additional stability.

On my back is the front pack/day pack/bike bag that goes with the backpack, containing my 3L Camelbak, my ditty bag, my wallet and keys, and my poncho (just in case it starts to come on down).

With the exception of my tire pump (strapped to the seat post frame), everything is carried in one of those two spots. Easy-peasy.

She's really comfy right up until about mile sixty or so, then my butt starts to go numb and my quads start yelling at me. As long as I don't intend on going further than that, she's a dream to ride.

Stuart Wright
Might be of interest on 08/04/2012 12:52:41 MDT Print View

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Bikepacking- Who's doing it and how? on 08/04/2012 16:28:23 MDT Print View

Our friend Ryan has been doing a little bikepacking too.

"This photo was taken in 2011 at an alpine lake camp, about a 10 mile ride in. The bike has since been converted to single speed, and I'll be talking about the build-out and my experience with it in the UL Gear Letter ( in a few days. Also working on a more in-depth story and trip video for Backpacking Light, once this summer's ridin' is done. Bike weight is about 18.9 lb with a steel frame now."

Edited by jshann on 08/04/2012 16:34:45 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: bikepacking on 08/04/2012 23:13:10 MDT Print View

It's easy(er) to have a 19 pound bike if it ain't got real tires! ;)

I bikepack occasionally these days. Usually super short mid-week overnights. I have a more serious trip or two planned for later this summer.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Finished my first attemp on 08/05/2012 09:48:06 MDT Print View

I went out for a ride yesterday fully loaded. I ended up not using the single track I had hoped to use because of some confusion on what passes were needed (along with the fact the parking area seemed to have more horse manure than dirt) and turned back home.

So all of my riding was eventually done on roads and was about 50 miles long (twice as long as I had traveled previously).

Having all the weight on the front did make the bike ride differently than I was used to, but I don't think it would have been too much of an issue on single track. I do plan to make a frame pack to move more of the weight to the center of the bike though.

The place I wanted to go ride is pretty expensive for trails designed for horses it turns out. I am going to keep looking for some trip areas that I can reach fully by bike from my apartment. Until then, I may drive up and find a section of the Trans North Georgia that I can make a loop back to my car with though for next month. We'll have to see how it goes.

I can say that I am very excited by the ability to cover such a large distance using a bike. My knees are generally too bad (recently) for me to cover longer days by foot, so it was a lot of fun to see so much in a day.