Sunday, January 08, 2012

Testing Bike Camping Gear

A nice sunny, but cold January day is a great time to test out gear.

I have been itching to bike camp for years. It came close three years ago during the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance sufferfest ride ( ) wheere I was going to ride with all my camping gear, camp, then ride to Boulder with my gear. The crappy weather changed my plans and I just put my camping suff in the BMA van and did the ride without it.

Since then I have been looking at plans to do overnight rides including the Colorado Trail and even the Continental divide trail.

There are several approaches to bike packing, and good advice can be found on

Seems there are the races where one suffers with four hours of sleep--in a minimal bivy--and lives on gas station food, all for doing at least a hundred miles a day.

Another philosophy is to get all sorts of custom bags to hold stuff on the bike and camp in a somewhat minimal sense, using a light tent or bivy, etc.

I'm trying an optimal comfort approach for my perceived comfort.

1. I like a tent that shelters me from bugs, and the rain--and is cheap. I don't like bivouac camping.
2. I like my coffee in the morning along with a hot breakfast and dinner.
3. I like light gear and don't want to add a half-pound frame bag to carry a pound of gear. Thus if I can mount gear to my bike without special bags, I'm for it.

Here is what I have so far (and it handles nicely):


My tent is a golite trig2 which I got on sale for $60. It's in a compression sack where I use the straps to loop through the saddle rails and around the seatpost. It's rock solid and out of my way unlike many of the bike packing saddle bags that stick out the rear about 6 inches. I think keeping the mass of gear near the center of mass of the bike is a great thing. Sure, the tent is about three pounds and I could spend a lot getting a tent that weighs half this but I'm going to work with what I have. It definitely compresses down nicely.

On the handle bar is my sleeping pad and my light sleeping bag held to the bar by a Compression bag. Total weight about three point five pounds. The nice thing about the compression sack that I used here is that is has a zippered pocket on the end that allows me to put items in the top that I might use while riding such as a GPS, Camera and snacks.

The rest of my gear is a small stove, food, water and other small items.

Weight of bike = 27 lbs
Weight of gear on bike = 6.5 lbs
(oddly, my large bike weighs 33 lbs which is like the weight above)
Weight of gear on back, including pack = 6 lbs + food and water.
I still have room for a water bottle on bike.

I definitely need to test this stuff on a real ride rather than up and down my block but I'm confident and excited about making this come together.