Here is a post for the gear heads. I am no expert bikepacker, but I have been out a few times and know what works for me. I have also been backpacking for around 40 years and over those years have been through a lot of gear. In the past 15 years or so I have worked to get my gear weights down and have enjoyed venturing into ultralight backpacking, whatever that means. In the old days our packs were stiff, heavy, and cumbersome. These days I can go out for a week with only about 25 total pounds on my back, including food and water. My base weight (everything not including food and water) is down to less than 15 pounds or so, depending on the trip. These ultralight gear forays have obviously carried over into bikepacking.
Below I will list each of the items I carried in each of the packs shown above.
Contents: 3 liter bladder, arm warmers, glasses case, Aloksak waterproof bag with spare camera batteries, SD cards, lens cleaning supplies, Petzl headlamp, Outdoor Research Helium rain jacket.
This is where I carried tools, including: spare brake pads, master chain link, small zip ties, paracord, fiber spoke, lip balm, multitool, rag, tire boots, Leatherman Squirt tool, patch kit, tire levers, hand degreaser wipes.
This is where I carried extra clothes, including: Lightweight hiking pants, wicking t-shirt, extra socks, lightweight long sleeved wicking shirt, Black Diamond lightweight fleece gloves, knee warmers.
This handy pack strapped to the front of the dry bag and around the handlebars; no fancy harness needed.
Contents: toilet paper in zip lock bag, Cygolight 700 lumen bike light, small cuben fiber bag with small notebook and pen inside, small pack towel, half of a Buff, DZ Nuts chamois creme individual packs, small Aloksak waterproof bag for phone, compass, whistle, maps, snacks, small silnylon pouch with the following: wet wipes, sunscreen, repair kit for sleeping pad, titanium folding spoon, toothbrush, toothpaste, tiny vials of Dr. Bronner’s soap, insect repellent, hand sanitizer.
Contents: Montbell 30 degree down sleeping bag, polycyro ground cloth, Montbell fleece beanie, Klymit inflatable pillow, Outdoor Research lightweight hooded puffy jacket, wool socks for sleeping (shown in photo above with other clothes).
Contents from l to r: spare tube wrapped in plastic film, 8 oz. bottle of alcohol fuel, aluminum wind screen, cuben fiber pouch with tent stakes, Platypus 1 liter bottles (x2), Lezyne HV pump, carbon fiber tent pole, Sawyer mini squeeze filter, energy gels (at the beginning of the trip I had about 8 of these in this pack).
I carried bags on each fork mounted to Salsa Everything Racks with Voile straps. It was the first time I used these straps and they worked great. They were super solid with no shifting or slipping and they are much easier to use than regular straps that have to be threaded through the tiny space between the rack and the fork. For these I just wrapped them around the fork and through the daisy chains on the dry bag.
Contents: Mountain Laurel Designs Duomid floorless tent (weighs 18 oz. with included mosquito netting around the bottom perimeter), food.
Contents: Big Agnes Q-Core SL sleeping pad, wrapped around a 700 ml Snow Peak mug with lid; inside the mug was a small pack towel wrapped around a cat can stove with Bic mini lighter, and some food. Also carried in this dry bag was more food.
Not shown: Revelate Designs Gas Tank, and two Revelate Designs Mountain Feed Bags. In each of these I carried trail food which consisted of bags of dried fruit, nuts, various energy bars, energy gels, Emergen-C electrolite powder, salami and mini wheels of cheese.
I don’t know how much everything weighed because I never did weigh it, but it seemed pretty heavy when I was pushing my bike up some steep, rocky trail. I carried too much food on this trip, especially the trail food. Dried fruit and nuts, and gels are pretty heavy and I would definitely cut back on those next time. I carried five liters of water plus one 20 oz water bottle, so about 5.5 liters. This was too much for this trip, but we had two days of fairly cool, pleasant riding and I didn’t drink as much as I thought I would. I could have been good with about three liters of water but if it was hotter, then what I carried would have been good. All the rest of the gear worked fine and I would probably carry the same. I am a huge fan of the homemade cat can stove. It is super light (.3 oz.) no moving parts, and fool proof. I have been using them for years. Great for solo trips, or maybe with two people. For trips with more people, up to about 4, I use a Brasslite alcohol stove and a bigger pot. I’m also a big fan of floorless pyramid tents and have been using them since the early 80’s when I had a Chouinard Megamid. About two years ago I had a custom carbon fiber pole made for my tents which has saved weight and is perfect for bike trips. When backpacking I usually just use my trekking poles for the pyramid tents. See a discussion of these kinds of tents here:
I never used the long-sleeved shirt, knee warmers, rain jacket, or fleece gloves, but you never know what the weather is going to do. I only used the arm warmers for about a half hour on the second day when we had a longish descent in the morning cool.
I have been using Jones H-Bar’s for awhile now and really like them. They are really comfortable and allow lots of different hand positions. I have the extra long GSI Extra Chunky grips on them. To finish up the gear I carried, I also had a small point and shoot camera in a small camera bag strapped onto my handlebars as well as a Gorillapod. As you can see, I also have a water bottle mounted to my stem at an angle. Because I have a fairly steeply angled stem, I have to offset the bottle so it fits. I really like having a bottle right there in front of me. This is where I where carry electrolite drinks because they are easier to mix and clean out of a bottle. My main camera is an Olympus OM-D E-M5 with a 12-50 lens that I had mounted to the shoulder strap of my Camelbak with a Peak Design Capture Pro camera clip, which worked really well (I may do a review of that later). This allowed me to easily and quickly access my camera while riding. I’m sure my gear will continue to evolve over the coming years, but for now things are working well.