These days, I’ve been riding more and more without a rack and panniers, or trailer, and seeing if I can whittled everything down into soft bags fitted around the frame – ‘bikepacking’, as it’s become known.
Although the minutiae of packlists ultimately boils down to personal preferences, I’m always curious about what other people have chosen to carry on tour, particularly when there’s room for so little. Gary’s lightweight setup has been honed over time and is about as minimal as you get, within reason. (though of course the word itself is open to much interpretation…)
This is a rundown of the gear he brought on our ride around the San Mateas Mountains, and how his bike is set up. Bear in mind we were riding dirt roads and expected a variety of weather conditions, reflected in layers and sleeping bag choice.
Thanks Gary for sharing your packing wisdom!
Regular bike shorts with Endura Humvee ¾ length pants or baggie shorts over the bike shorts depending on temps.
One Smartwool and one poly top, if it’s cool I wear them both, I like zips on at least one of them.
A super light windshirt (less than 4 oz), mine is an old Go-Lite, it’s one of my most used pieces of clothing, it breathes really well and adds warmth for very little weight. It also dries very quickly.
Boure leg warmers w/zipper (can be rolled up to make knee warmers).
Bike gloves with over gloves for cold/rain.
Shoes - Shoes- dicontinued Lake model with rubber sole. I really prefer a rubber sole over a plastic one. Hiking and walking in general is better. I also like a fast drying shoe. I had some Pearl Izumi X-Alps which I loved but they took forever to dry.
Light wool cap and thin balaclava. In warm weather a bug net for my head.
Rain shell and pants are old and made by Red Ledge, fairly light and inexpensive.
Montbell UL down jacket- one of my favorite pieces of clothing, a lot of warmth for very little weight and packs down quite small.
I always sleep with long underwear to keep the bag clean and help with comfort. In cold weather I wear a light polypro or wool top and bottom and in warm weather I use very thin silk, the socks I wear depend on the expected temperature.
I keep the clothing I think I’ll need throughout the day in my backpack for easy access.
Feathered Friends Lark sleeping bag w/800 fill down and Epic shell (38 oz. 10 deg.) for cold weather and Western Mountaineering Summerlite (32 deg, 19 oz) for use all other times.
Equinox (Campmor) 6X8’ Silnylon Tarp or the 8X10 for two people, 5 stakes, Kelty Triptease line w/ bungees to keep tarp from sagging
Neo Air mattress 20X72”
silnylon gound cloth w/glue sprayed on one side to help with the slipping, it still slips some though, I think I’ll go back to Tyvek
Homemade beer can alcohol stove (see Zen Stoves), homemade pot support and windscreen, Evernew 900ml Ti pot, lexan spoon, lighter, matches, wool hat as cozy or mylar bubble insulation pot cozy, recycled pastic bottle w/insulation as cup.
Camera - SD1200 IS Power Shot. Carried in pouch on shoulder strap of pack.
Cell phone with spare battery
Garmin GPS - Garmin eTrex Vista CX
2-29” tubes w/removable cores, QBP brand, 2 oz. bottle of Stans sealant (I’d take 2 of these on a long trip), Topeak multitool w/chainbreaker, separate small hex wrenches, Leatherman Squirt (tiny tool w/pliers and scissors), extra water cage bolt, chainring nut and bolt, cleat bolt, tire boot material, needle and thread for tire repair, tire plug kit, shoe goo, super glue, patch kit, shift cable, 1 set of brake pads, Fiber Fix spoke, spare alloy nipples, around 6 extra chain links and 2 extra quick links, safety wire, lots of zip ties and assorted rubber bands, duct tape and electrical tape wrapped around pump, Topeak Master Blaster pump mounted on downtube or tiny Crank Bros pump for technical rides (it’s lighter).
Custom frame bag by Scott at Porcelain Rocket
Revelate Designs seat bag, harness and front bag.
Anything Cage bags by Scott
Salsa Anything Cages or King stainless bottle cages on fork depending on trip
Osprey Talon 11 or 22 backpack depending on trip.
FRAME AND FORK
Custom AMPeirce 29er
Fox Fit F29 fork (80mm) or Salsa Fargo V2 rigid fork.
12.25” BB height
70.5 deg. HA, 73 deg. STA
465 axle to crown, I can run a rigid fork or an 80mm suspension fork
Black Cat swinging dropouts
Short chainstays; 16.75” with the dropouts all the way forward. The curved seat tube, 73mm BB shell and Andy’s artful building allow this.
Single speed specific, no shift cable braze-ons
This is my third 29er. I knew exactly what I wanted from this frame and had Andy build it accordingly. I am extremely happy with it. I’d build it the same way if I were to do it over with the exception of shift cable braze-ons and possibly S&S couplers.
Cane Creek S-6 headset, Ritchey 100mm stem, 11deg bar w/Cane Creek bar-ends, Moots Ti post, old Sella Italia Flite gel saddle, Shimano SPD pedals, Magura Marta SL brakes, 180/160 rotors, front wheel- King hub with Bontrager Duster rim 32* 14/15 w/alloy nips, rear wheel- Hope Pro 2 SS trials hub, Stans Flow rim, 32* 14/15 w/alloy nips run tubeless. Current tires – Michelin Wild Race’R front and Geax Saguaro rear (not the TNT version), I’m pretty happy with this combination for our area. Deore LX crank w/Enduro bearings in Shimano cups, modified Sram X-9 short cage derailleur and X-9 twist shifter, 1X6 gearing w/11-25 cassette (homemade) 11-13-15-17-21-25, BBG bashguard and N-GearJump Stop to retain chain on single ring up front, 32 tooth Salsa unramped ring, Sram PC971 chain.
Dinglespeed (2 rings, 2 cogs) since 06, recently converted to 1X6 specifically for bikepacking. It’s not the climbing that I had an issue with but the road sections with the limited gearing. I can see a 1X9 in my future because it’s just about as simple as the 1X6 and it will shift better.
Since I wrote this I’ve purchased a set of Stans stock wheels, they are built with Stans 3.30 hubs, 32 14/17 spokes with the brand new and redesigned Arch EX rims. My bike is 6 oz lighter even though I’ve added a 9 speed cassette.
Bike weight with no gear is 24 lbs. 15 oz. or 11.3 kg.
Loaded bike with gear and two days food, but no water, was just under 45 lbs or 20.4 kg. This does not include the backpack or clothing worn or for the day.
My gear list is continually evolving but over the years it changes less and less. In warmer weather I take fewer clothes than I did on this trip and often go without a stove too. When doing a trip that includes technical single track I feel having an even lighter kit makes a noticeable difference in the fun factor. I really don’t feel I make a compromise in comfort, contrary to some people’s belief. Carrying a lot of gear only complicates the experience for me.
Although tubeless tyres are more prone to sidewall failures than regular ones, knowing what to do in an emergency situation is useful if you’re going light and not carrying a spare. Here’s Gary’s advice:
I carry a heavy needle with some dental floss for thread and a couple of the Park TB2 glueless tyre boots for smaller cuts, which will cover most repairs. For longer, 2-3 ” long for gashes, I add I cut a section of sidewall cut out from an old tire, using Shoe Goo (REI has small containers) to glue the boot in after sewing the cut. Let the glue dry overnight with the tube in place; just a bit of air to hold pressure on it – I’ve not had a cut so bad that I couldn’t wait till night to do this. Usually you can just use a Park boot and maybe sew it up. I carry superglue (for tubeless) to hold the cut together – this isn’t an issue with tubes as it’s easy to get inside and boot it. The Saguaro I was using on our trip had 2 spots with minor cuts. I just covered the cut area with Shoe Goo and let it sit on it’s side overnight.
Check out Joe Cruz’ ‘every last thing’ packlist for his South America fat tour.