“What should I bring?”
I can’t answer that directly, but you can use my own list as a baseline. Ultimately, there is no perfect packing list. Variables can include weather, conditioning (riding & campcraft) and personal preferences.
This is what I’ve carried, and where I carry it. Some of these items end up moving to different areas of the bike. My goal is usually to have a 60% weight distribution favoring the rear of the bike, or the seat pack.
In the Seat Bag (packed in order):
– A ziplock bag with pre-portioned robot food powder (such as Hammer Perpetuem). I don’t always use this stuff though. Likewise, I might pack 2 extra pouches of Trail Butter. I do carry pre-portioned baggies of Muscle Milk powder for evening recovery. FOOD. These food items may last me 2 days so they don’t need to be readily accessible. I keep them forward inside the pack to keep the weight nearest the center of the bike. Striking the balance of “enough but not too much” comes with time & risk assessment.
For more info on packing food, read this interview with Bikepacking.com
I pack the sleep kit in reverse order of how I’d like to unpack it. If you’re bedding down in the wet, or in a dirty or thorny area, you’ll want to have your ground sheet down first. Likewise, you can stand on that ground sheet as you pull out of your riding gear to unwind.
– Very thin bivy sack. Either a Black Diamond Twilight, or a home-made Tyvek bivy. (I use the Tyvek in rocky areas, or the BD in wetter trips)
– 40 degree goose down sleeping bag, or lately a small goose down quilt.
– A small sheet of Tyvek, as a ground cloth, unless I’m using the Tyvek bivy. Tyvek starts getting “quiet” after maybe 6 times through the washing machine.
– SPOT tracker, exterior
– Some extra room in the seat pack to carry the day’s evening meal, when that time comes.
In the handlebar pack:
– I like packing “hot” items on the left, and “cold” items on the right. This way my mind gets wired to know where to find stuff, even in the dark.
– The left side might have a set of arm coolers, a runner’s cap with a bill (tested to fit under my helmet if need be) and a bandana.
– The right side might have a midweight wool top, with a zippered up tall neck. A pair of wool hiker socks (to be worn only in camp, or very early in the predawn morning) I also carry a pair of those cheap knit women’s gloves that you get at the 99 Cent store, and almost always carry a beanie.
– The middle of my bar bag, nearest the bike might have a spare tube, multitool, minipump (with 3′ of duct tape wrapped), and a ziplock bag with a few zip ties, quick link, patch kit, cleat bolt (will work as a bottle bolt, or rotor bolt in a pinch) and a small tube of super glue. I often carry a very small FAK as well, with items to treat minor cuts, plus some Benadryl (for stings), Pepto tablets, etc. These items in the middle/back of the handlebar bag are the things I access least frequently, therefore I put them in the hardest to get to spot, near the steering axis for better bike handling.
– The middle of my bar bag, in the front keeps my underwear (boxers not briefs) and when applicable, a pair of fuzzy synthetic long underwear, or midweight wool. Warmer trips get pajama bottoms instead. I carry an extra pair of riding socks too.
– Bedroll. Usually a windscreen reflector, or a piece of that mylar bubble wrap stuff. I like it forward, way out there because it is bulky but light, doesn’t slow the steering much.
– Depending on the ride, there might be a very light windbreaker, sometimes stuffed between the bar bag and the bar bag pocket.
In the handlebar pocket:
The handlebar pocket is easily accessed while riding, and usually removes from the bike easily if you need to leave your bike behind. I always keep a zipper-pull light on the handlebar pocket, so I can see inside without using the bike-mounted light.
– Cue sheets
– Sunglasses (I carry a dark pair, and a light pair, plus a little baggie)
– Spare battery for the light.
– Spare Rocktape
– Whatever bulky snack I’ve picked up along the ride. (probably Fritos)
– Toothbrush, toothpaste…
– Shit Kit (small ziplock with no-middle TP, small bottle of hand sanitizer)
– Spare velcro straps when applicable
– USB battery pack
– a pen
– a folded up collapsible flask. When filled, it’s in my jersey pocket.
– Generally I don’t use them. On a hardtail I have come to prefer the accessibility of water bottles.
Top tube bags, up by the handlebars:
– I’m not tall, so my inseam doesn’t play well with these.
In the top tube bag:
This is usually my pharmacy.
– Tums, and/or candied ginger
– Electrolyte capsules
– Vitamin B sub-lengual tablets
– Vitamins, Hammer Race Caps or Premium Insurance Caps
– Neosporin. I use this to mitigate saddle sores.
– Arnica Montana
– sugarfree chewing gum. Freshens the mouth mid day, aids digestion, helps me perk up.
In the Feed Bags:
– Exterior, SPF lip balm, Zinka, chamois lube (I sometimes empty & transfer into hotel lotion squeeze bottles)
– Snacks, glorious snacks. Lots of nuts.
– USB power charger, sometimes, while charging up the phone.
– Even more sunscreen, face stick
– Even more snacks
– Sometimes a pocketknife on the exterior
– A water bottle if the bike I’m riding doesn’t accommodate many bottles.
UP NEXT: Bike setup for the Stagecoach 400.