This is just one of many examples of a packing list that one might bring for a self-supported bike trip. In this case this was for a mid-August Chilcotin self-supported trip taking 5 days and 4 nights. This is an area of linked subalpine and alpine trails and singletrack just north of Whistler/Pemberton in British Columbia (introductory article here
). Unlike in the Alps there are no huts, roads or reasonably easy ways to self-extract. The entire trip was approximately 130kms crossing three alpine passes but we never measured so that is but a guesstimate.
Because we (three of us) were traversing mainly in the sub-alpine we planned for poor weather; some of us more so than others. We packed for rain and temperatures of approximately 5 degrees Celsius. In my experience, packing for freezing temperatures would substantially increase pack weight
Leaving Day 1 and 2's camp - picture Trevor H
Pack and bike weight
Merino wool jerseys dry quickly in the alpine sun. The handlebar bag becomes a fanny pack (fashion idea courtesy of Mike Levy - picture Trevor H)
All my gear fit into a 37l Alpine Threadworks Selkirk
pack. This is a ski-touring pack but I used it for this trip because it is minimalist; most bike packs have too much fancy useless crap that will break or snag when you are hike-a-biking or bushwhacking. It has a top compartment that doesn't interfere with your helmet when you're biking. It's fairly waterproof. It also carries weight well. It's also a pimp red colour. Finally, it's hand-made in Canada and in this day and age of robots making equipment, I find that to be a pretty cool thing.
My final weights were:
- Pack weight - 26.91lbs
- Bike weight - 30lbs (bike 25.9lbs + 4.1lbs (saddlebag + handlebar bag)
Gear before packing
Bike and tools
Gear after packing. Handlebar bag and saddlebag not shown
1. Santa Cruz Tallboy Carbon
2. Water bottle (2x) - I didn't want to use a camelback on this trip and drank out of streams
3. Handlebar bag (maps, sat phone, bear spray, bangers).
4. Seat saddle bag (multi tool, patch kit, spare tube)
5. Spare shifter cable
6. I set spare brake pads (Magura)
7. Odd spare allen head bolts
9. Multi tool
11. Shockpump (wind gorilla tape around it)
12. Long zapstraps
13. Enduro collar for Reverb
14. Wet lube
Lakeside stop on our wettest day - Day 4
Crossing an alpine pass on Day 3 and descending to sub-alpine at about 1800m. The lead rider (Bryce)'s pack weight is about 2 - 3 lbs less than mine but he ate less and carried less clothing - picture Trevor H
Approaching storms - picture Trevor H
I packed enough food for 5 days to take care of unforeseen circumstances but this is a list for 4 nights 4 days providing about 3800 calories a day. Generally the freeze dried "feeds 2" packages are expensive (get them on sale) and even one "feeds 2" package isn't enough for me for dinner. Supplement with butter and ramen at night. I ate a lot for breakfast choking down lots of oatmeal with melted butter.
Note that butter is the densest food calorie for weight you can get. 1 pound for 5 days is plenty. Ramen is the cheapest caloric-dense food you can buy (500 cal a packet).
1. Kung Pao Chicken (feeds 2)
2. Vegetable curry/rice (feeds 2)
3. Three Bean Chili (feeds 2)
4. Curry stir fry (feeds 2)
5. Big Superstore chocolate bar
6. Hot Chocolate (8 portions)
7. Peanut butter (4 breakfasts - 3 wraps each)
8. 12 wraps for peanut butter
9. Oatmeal (4 breakfasts)
10. Bars for 5 days
11. Trail mix for 5 days
12. Butter 1 pound
13. Ramen noodles 5 packets
Mmmm butter - picture Trevor H
Lots of pine beetle kill in the local area means you never lack for fire at night- picture Trevor H
Moody storms - picture Trevor H
2. Small and large pot (one fits in another)
3. Squishy bowl
4. Waterproof matches; lighter
5. Plastic bags
6. Garbage bag (big)
Can't say we had the greatest weather - picture Trevor H
Chance to dry out is always welcome after 5 wet thigh deep cold stream crossings - picture Trevor H
1. One short sleeve merino; merino dries quick
2. One long sleeve merino
3. One pair outer bike shorts
4. Two pairs merino underwear (one long, one short)
5. One pair warm pants
7. Billed sun hat
8. Hat with mesh thing for bugs
9. Ski socks for riding. Long so they can be pulled up to protect shins when bushwhacking
10. Socks for camp
11. Light waterproof jacket
13. Riding gloves (large fit so I can put inner gloves under them when it gets cold
14. Two pairs inner gloves
15. Camp flip flops
16. Light hiking boots
I slept in all my clothing and slept very warm
Alpine lake views
Overnight and misc
Shoes that dry out quickly are nice to have - picture Trevor H
1. Medium size pack 37l
4. MEC Overbag Sleeping bag w/ silk liner (rated to 12 degs)
5. Ridge Rest
6. Small camp towel
7. Toilet paper (half roll)
8. Folding saw
11. Contact lens solution
13. Soft glass cases
14. Sat phone (Iridium)
15. 3x 5m accessory cord
16. Inflatable pillow
17. OR Stuff sack
18. Carried by Bryce I shared a tent (MSR Hubba Hubba 2 person tent fly and tent poles only; no inner tent)
Day 4 - it really came down.
Did I mention - never miss a chance to dry out.
Note that there are many ways to pack for bikepacking. Some heavier, many more lighter. I find that my own packing allows me to have some margin of safety yet cuts off enough weight that I can ride reasonably technical terrain with some comfort. For more ideas please look at the Bikepacking
website where you can find some incredible creativity and weight-weenieness
Finally, to bore you all, here is the epic radness of the trip. No footage of drifting into corners or soulful stares.
Taseko to Tyax Lakes Aug 15 - 19, 2013 from Lee Lau on Vimeo.
Packing for multi day trips is such an art and I always find it a bit stressful.
My personal preference is still the BOB trailer for anything other than just an overnight trip.
Built up a 29er hardtail for our Chilcotin trip this year and it worked really well with the trailer:
It allows you to pack more (food & beer!!!) and ride without a relatively heavy backpack, have a bit more comfort in camp and the riding is not much worse. There are even riding advantages depending on the terrain. I'm working on a new, home-made trailer design, that's lighter than a BOB and essentially a portage-barrel with a wheel attached.
The price 50 bucks. If it rains. Plastic drop sheet used for painting. weight: maybe 100 grams.
Holes? Small role of duct tape.
Use it at home too, it's great.
A bit heavy but really high quality.
By the way, many thanks for the post.
But overall, for the weight you just can't beat those little Starbucks Via packets and a regular cup. Not the most gourmet thing in the world, but it beats carrying an extra piece of equipment for coffee. Then again, I often just say screw it and bring my percolator
MEC makes a sweet compact lil espresso maker.
Great article. I second the sentiment that it's a nice change from the usual Pinkbike content.
-ditch the flips for lightweight "croc"s or cheap clones for warmth and camp/ shower shoes
- advise to get kmife/spork combo -more robust- from MEC NOT the cheap spork as i broke 3 too easily and pasta with a 2 inch utensil is frustrating
-agree meals for 2 are really for one when u r burning high calories in the mountains- the Chicken Marsala made me sweat and kept me methane warm beware!
-was the weight with water on board??? Water and food were weighty to ride when self supporting..Aquatab purifier was light and added security without the taste...giardia is not fun!
-squishy bowls - great concept but too flexi - i opted for hard tri cornered stacking cup bowl which my MSR POCKET Rocket guts fit into for packing....had too many top spill lap dances with the sqishies after a long day of pedaling just a personal experience...
Thx for a concise informative post!
Possible trip options:
-over nighter (super light).
-heavier extended stay.
-have wife/friends meet at various campsites along the way.
Great article- thanks for including details on pack list/other peeps suggestions too!! I love seeing holistic biking experinces.
definitely a smart way to pack in Kcals.
Silver hills squirrelly bread (hand compressed)
(skim) milk powder (hand pulverized to a smaller grain) with whey protein powder
Canned fish (sardines, tuna, salmon...) prefer cans that are self-openning pull-tabs, but not necessary.
power bars (most brands)
trail mix, although this would seem redundant (wild roots from costco is okay. I don't like the vanilla chocolate drops sweetened with sugar)
But no ramen, lived of mr noodles ages ago. Swear the refined white, wheat flower is an excitotoxin. Don't care about the value for calories. Reminds me of an endurance race biker back in the day who swore on doughnuts for doing the Iditabike and other races. Though he almost always won. Lol.
This list is also good for (summer) mountaineering (I use it for local trips in the Sea to Sky, Garibaldi, and other areas of SW BC.
Need to do this again soon. haha. Thanks PB for the tips.
2 x 13l drybags on a bike with only 1 gear. handles great jumps pretty well too!
But what about putting your goggles on?
What brand/model of merino wool clothing you used? I tried it once and was itchy.
I just went on a 20 day bike tour in NZ and I had more or less the same stuff as you. Trip looks awesome by the way. It seemed like I really didn't need a lot of the things after I was done. Striving to bring less is always good.