Carrying Less to Go Faster

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This is last year’s gear shake-out. I can’t wait to take another one this year.

The secret to my success has always been to carry less… Here’s this summer’s Bikepacking and Adventuring Gear Shake-Out!

It’s been a fun season, but unfortunately, there’s been slightly less biking than I anticipated. I can ride in cold, but temperatures that hover around zero for weeks on end was unexpected and, frankly, inspired me to run instead of pedal. I stay warmer on runs, so I stayed in shape and kept building leg strength all of January without sitting on the bike for more than a few miles at a time. That being said, I still get on the bike every single day and have built up a lot of grime (it’s time for a wash).

This has given me plenty of time to think about getting ready for some tours this spring and summer, and in that vein, I’ve put together an updated gear list. My base weight is dropping rapidly; I think this year, I’ll slip underneath the remarkable weight of around 8lbs on the 2012 tour, my very first.

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This year, I want to get into bikepacking, locally and hopefully out in Colorado again in the sunny months. Trouble is, I need a mountain bike… but until then, Bikeasaurus Rex is impersonating!

Without further ado, the list:

Summer 2014 Bikepacking List

Bags:

For this list, I’m going with frame bags, bikepacking style. Revelate Designs has made themselves the standard among bikepackers for a reason; they produce high-quality, durable, and lightweight bags that withstand abuse and let us pack creatively to feel like we’re carrying nothing at all. I’m using the Revelate Designs Tangle from last year, and as an addition, the Revelate Designs Viscacha. This beautiful seat bag will hold all of my clothing and my shelter, and whatever else i’m too lazy to find a spot for.

On my back, I’ll be wearing a backpack. I’ve got one picked out already; the Ergon BA3 , which walks a beautiful line between hydration pack and full-on backpack without being heavy. Perfect. A lot of people loathe the idea of wearing a backpack and I do too, but I want to stay agile. I might opt for a pair of front panniers mounted to a back rack instead, but we’ll see how it shakes out.

Sleep System:

Here’s the Great Unknown section of the shake-out. I’ve got zero nights in this setup, since the Borah gear Snowyside bivy sack is still being built. This bivy sack is made from eVent, which has better breathability than Gore-Tex with a waterproof hydrostatic head rating. I opted to pay extra and get the bottom and the top made from full eVent to reduce condensation as much as possible for those sweaty summer nights. As long as I wake up before the sun rises, I should be set.

I loathe sleeping bag liners, but I don’t want to sweat into my eVent fabric and ruin it, so I’m using a Cocoon Silk liner. Silk is naturally anti-microbial like wool, so it’s good for this job. Finally, my old Mountain Hardwear summer bag is the bag of choice (default).

I traded in my NeoAir X-Therm for a Prolite and shed 3 ounces. I simply never needed a pad that warm. In winter, a prolite torso pad on top of a regular old Z-Lite is more than enough for me. I suspect Thermarest makes a lot of its sales on scaring people into believing they need a 2-inch thick pad, when in fact a single air layer and some foam does the trick. Anyways, that’s getting a little heretic, so I’ll just say it works for me.

Oh yeah, and pillows are for the weak.

Clothing:

I’m sticking with wool again. Wool on wool on wool. I’ll probably find a pair of mountain biking shorts to go on over my wool bike shorts so I don’t snag them on branches. In fact, a full snag-proof getup is probably in order.

I’ve switched from a 2-layer raincoat to a 3-layer. I lose some breathability, but I was only using this jacket in deep winter cold and summer camping, never while riding where I might sweat. It’s irrelevant how breathable it is, but that being said, NeoShell is proving to be quite comfortable so far.

Notable inclusion is a pair of gaiters this summer, to keep debris out of my socks. Nothing is more annoying…

Goodbye, Camera

I’m going to replace my DSLR with a smaller camera. I find myself opting for the iPhone more and more often because of convenience, so it’s time to see the writing on the wall and get something handheld.

Stay tuned for some preliminary reviews and some spring plans. Once the snow thaws, I’m back on the road.

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3 thoughts on “Carrying Less to Go Faster

    • Hah! I just roll up a fleece, or I ride so hard that I fall asleep before I notice. Big reason I switched from hammock to bivy was to sleep on my stomach, and I don’t use a pillow for that.

      • I’m a side sleeper, so pillows are a must for me. And I never could get comfortable enough using the “roll up some clothes” trick. I use an Exped inflatable pillow that packs down next to nothing (easily stowed in my stuff sack for sleeping bag) and weighs 3 1/2 ounces uninflated. However I note they now make an ultralight version that weighs under 2 oz uninflated.

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