The Spend What it Takes Bikepacker

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#1
Should you find yourself longing for an extended bikepacking jaunt, and be so lucky as to have deep pockets, an understanding spouse, and a desire to have the ultimate kit, this list may interest you. Below is a list a group of us compiled outlining some of the best bikepacking products we've ever used. It is important to note - we have used everything on this list within the last year on multiple trips. These are proven products that offer the ultimate in low weight, performance, convenience, durability and comfort.

STORAGE:

Custom frame bags: Carousel Design Works and Relevate Designs $500-700
CarouselLuggage.jpg 6_revelate-127.jpg
Custom bags are tough to beat. There's no better way to maximize storage space without the threat of excess bulk. It's also impossible to improve on the overall balance custom bags provide. There's little wonder why anyone who races big multi-day events like the Divide Race, Colorado Trail Race or other such epics use custom bags. It's just the way to go. Carousel and Revelate are also the most reputable makers of such bags. If you want this type of system, order it now! These hand made bags are in high demand.

Pack: Osprey Hornet 24 $120
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This 24 liter pack weighs a shade over 600 grams. What's more impressive is how comfortable it is. As long as you maintain appropriate bikepacking loads in it (under 7 pounds) it's pretty awesome. It's a bit delicate, but it's also full featured, well made and beautifully designed.

SHELTER:

Tent - Nemo Equipment GoGo Elite $399
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Tipping the scales and a touch over 2 pounds, this is a super shelter for bikepacking. The airbeam structure eliminates the troublesome challenge storing tent poles, and the inside space is far more generous than a standard bivy. I mount mine to my bars and it all but vanishes. It pitches in about 2 minutes and provides incredible storm protection and sleeping comfort.

Bag - Western Mountaineering Summerlite $350
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This 35 degree down bag tips the scales at an etherial one pound, three ounces. Needless to say, it packs down to near nothing. Slip it in that Hornet 24 pack and you'll never know it's there.

Pad - Thermarest NeoAir Xlite Reg $159
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Never has this level of comfort weighed so little. At nearly 3" thick, full length, 20" wide, this super warm pad is only 12 ounces. This is in our opinion critical kit. If you can't sleep well, you can't recover. If you can't recover, your trip is doomed. *PACKING TIP: Since this pad is not foam-filled, it doesn't need to be contained in a stuff sack. We fold our NeoAir pads and slip them into the hydration sleeve in our packs under our water reservoirs. The pad vanishes in there. It's also very protected. A folded NeoAir Xlite takes up about the same space as an issue of Overland Journal...slightly lighter.

FOOD / HYDRATION:

Stove - Optimus Crux $65
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It's tiny. Fits in the closed palm of your hand yet boils half a liter of water in under 90 seconds. Not even all that expensive. 95 grams.

Pot - MSR Titan Tea Kettle $75 (Titanium)
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I've had my kettle since 1998. It's been through hell and might be my favorite piece of kit. At 3 ounces its obviously light. It also easily holds one fuel can and the tiny Optimus Crux stove. Tight and compact.

Water treatment - Steripen Adventurer Opti $100
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People love to doubt the effectiveness of this product. My group of friends have consumed countless liters of water processed with this system. It works. However, it does have to be used in the right environment, and used properly.

Water Treatment - Katadyn Mini $120
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This is a better option if your trip might take you to places were water sources might be silty or foul tasting. Still, a teeny system. It's slow, but everyone could use a break from the bike now and then.


These are just a few of our favorites. More to come.
 
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#2
These are just a few of our favorites. More to come.
Awesome. I get super excited when I read posts like this. Maybe all I can do is dream, but hey, that's good for something! I'm very interested to hear about reviews/tests on clothing.

Thanks again!
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#3
CLOTHING:

Clothing for a multi-day bikepack is pretty strait forward. Most take one pair of shorts. One riding jersey. One base layer top (long sleeve). One base layer bottom. Possbibly some arm and leg warmers. Warm hat for sleeping. Ultra-light rain shell and insulation layers for cold nights.

Obviously, seasonal temps dictate the amount of storm and warm layers anyone brings along, but it's always safe to be a tad over prepared with apparel. Hypothermia is serious business. Also, a fatigued body struggles to stay warm, so should a long day push you into a cold night having warm duds is not just a comfort thing, but it can be a life saver. I also consider these layers as part of my emergency plan. Should something go afoul, and I have to wait for help, It would be nice to be able to do it in a warm and dry jacket and not have to crawl into my bag...assuming I could. These layers also serve as my secondary shelter should something happen to my bag or bivy. In short - I splurge on these items.

Jacket - Rab Momentum Jacket $249
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At 13 ounces, this is not just waterproof, it is full featured and highly breathable. The eVent, three layer construction creates a breathable jacket that's comfortable and dry, even when used riding hard and working up a good sweat. This is a very compact piece. Again, it's one of those items that vanishes in my pack. I pull it out to fend off a cool wind, to bolster my warmth when stopped and certainly when weather gets really gnarly. I've tested this jacket in some extreme weather events with excellent results.

Insulation layer - First Ascent MicroTherm Down Shirt $189
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This is my favorite piece. On one of my recent trips, three out of three of us had this piece and swore by it. It is - a shirt. By that, I mean it fits slim enough to wear to under almost any layer, and even in a snug sleeping bag. It packs down to nothing. Just a fantastic piece.
 
#4
Flounder,

I am enjoying this series, thanks for taking the time to post these recommendations. I haven't been a bicyclist for many years, but reading some of the accounts on here, and meeting a number of crazy people cycling across continents etc., I maintain a constant desire to get into it when time/work allows.

Humphrey
 

weezerbot

Glamping Society
#5
I'm just going to throw my .02 in for what I've found that works for me:

Tarptent Moment: For $215 you get a 'man-and-a-half' sized tent with a vestibule that weighs less than 2lbs. Stretch out, sit up, change clothes, cook a meal, and sets up in less than a min. Can be free standing if you want to drag an extra pole around with you. Only downside I can see is that it does not pack down into a small little bundle like the Nemo, but it does pack to the perfect size to attach to your frame. Fits just right in my Revelate Framebag. http://tarptent.com/moment.html

I really need to pick up one of those Ascent shirts!
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#6
I'm just going to throw my .02 in for what I've found that works for me:

Tarptent Moment: For $215 you get a 'man-and-a-half' sized tent with a vestibule that weighs less than 2lbs. . http://tarptent.com/moment.html

I really need to pick up one of those Ascent shirts!
What a great tent! At $215 I'm of the mind that belongs more in the Budget Minded Bikepacker thread!
mt-1.jpg

I also don't think it has to pack down to too small of a bundle to be ideal. My Nemo is small, but not teeny. Here it is on my bars. One thing I will say, I do like having no more than 2 pounds on my bars.
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weezerbot

Glamping Society
#7
I love the Moment, we are even thinking about taking it on our Havasupai hike next month and just cramming the both of us in it because the thought of carrying our 5.5 lb 2-person tent is almost too much to bare. The Moment really does have enough room for two if you know each other VERY well or its an emergency.

The only complaint on the size of the Moment comes from those who like to carry the tent on their handlebars or maybe somewhere else. Because of the way the struts are built into the ends you can't really take them out so at a minimum you are stuck with a length of 20 inches. A bit too long for the handlebars, but in my opinion perfect for a frame bag or even in an outside pocket on your pack. I have heard of one guy requesting a Moment be built with removable struts, but to me that defeats the purpose of the available quick set up.
 
#8
Does anybody out there carry a gun when they're cyclo-touring? I've never seen big cats or bears when out camping/touring, but I know they're there. I'd like to have a defense to my game if I'm going to be on the "dinner plate." I've got a few handguns, but nothing light enough to consider carrying on a ride. Thoughts?
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#9
Does anybody out there carry a gun when they're cyclo-touring? I've never seen big cats or bears when out camping/touring, but I know they're there. I'd like to have a defense to my game if I'm going to be on the "dinner plate." I've got a few handguns, but nothing light enough to consider carrying on a ride. Thoughts?
Never. Never have. Never will. Not when traveling and guiding bike tours in the thick of brown bear turf in Alaska. Not here in Arizona where lions are frequently tracked just cruising across golf courses mid day. Everyone can and will develop their own opinions on guns, and this conversation is one that can often destroy threads, but just to put my two cents on the table - I've spent hundreds and hundreds of nights in the backcountry. Never ever felt the need for a gun.

Back to more enjoyable chatter - :sombrero: I did see a cute black bear on my last Colorado Trail ride. Little bugger scooted off into the brush like a lightning bolt with fur. Super cool to see, even if just for a second.
 
#10
Those are some nice products indeed. I have been eyeing that Nemo GoGo lite tent to upgrade from my "syl-tarp"
What have you been able to get your dry weight down to?
 

Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#11
What have you been able to get your dry weight down to?
On average, my dry weight is around 14-15 pounds. That's including everything from the frame bags and backpack down to my spoon and chapstick. Water and food usually add about an additional 4-7 pounds. My target is always sub 24 pounds total. If possible, I try to split that with 3 pounds on my bars, 5 pounds under my seat, 5 pounds on my back and the rest in my frame bag. I think the lightest I've ever gone for a three day jaunt is maybe 17 pounds dry.

Sure makes setting up camp easy. :)



Here's another item that will most likely wander into my bags. The new Jetboil Sol Titanium system. It's 240 grams. So, that's a scant 40 grams more than the tiniest stove and the leanest titanium pot. On the plus side, it's far more convenient, super fast, and very user friendly. 40 grams extra? Might be worth it.

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#12
That's pretty good. I've been able to get to 28lbs. I defiantly have been thinking of cold food and trying to scale back. The thing is I always like extra clothes and "dry" ie no stove, no fuel
Food tends to weigh more than dehydrated food. I'd love to find a route that didn't require as much water and clothing.
 
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Christophe Noel

Expedition Leader
#14
I've tried leaving warm fluids and food behind. Kinda bums me out by the second or third night. No java REALLY bums me out. I do have a teeny tiny option for trips that may only require one or two burns for hot water. It's super light. It's also far more reliable that it would appear to be:

Esbit Ti stove (11 grams)
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MSR Ti Cup (53 grams)
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Each fuel cube weighs 14 grams and will boil that cup of water in about 5 minutes. If I go out for two nights, I usually take four fuel cubes. That's hot meals and hot coffee for two days. Total weight - 120 grams. Most importantly, that system is tiny, not just light.
 
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