Bikepack 101

Posted by on Jun 21, 2010 in Bike | 7 Comments

It’s a start:

bikepacking mountain bike

A few notes:

The seatbag is an inexpensive drysack. It worked, but only just. It’s wide, and so my legs rubbed against it while riding. A small annoyance in a 3 hour ride. It could drive me batty over the course of a couple of days. It’s not exactly the most convenient option, as getting anything out of it requires the entire bag to be removed from the bike. Which in itself takes a vexing amount of fiddling. But, it does work. And will be my back-up plan if my primary seatbag option does not work out. Inside the seatbag is my sleep system: Lafuma 600 down bag, Therma-Rest 3/4 Pro-Lite pad, and Outdoor Research Aurora Bivy.

The handlebar bag is a Granite Gear stuff sack (size XS). Inside is a synthetic wind shirt, down vest, rain jacket and a few toiletry items. There was still had lots of room for any other clothing—arm warmers, stocking cap, extra socks—that I will most likely include in the kit. It stayed put on the bars even when descending some fast and bumpy dirt road.

The Mountain Feedbag is one of my favorite little accessories. I carried a water bottle for my test run, but it’s much too useful for that. I’ll fill it full of food, spare batteries, and possibly a small charger for the Garmin unit on race day.

The set-up rode quite well. Nice and balanced. I’m still futzing with my pack, and still trying to answer the million dollar question: how much water do I carry? There should be plenty of resupply options—either filter or spigot—on route. But how often, and what sort of terrain separates them is still a variable I am trying to solve. I carried 6L in my pack on my test ride and it was… absurdly heavy. Considering the amount of space it filled, and that I did not carry any food at all, I’m thinking that a smaller capacity, or at least, carrying less, will be a better option.

As much as I like the little 26er pocket rocket, it’s compact design eliminates any frame bag options. While that’s not a major factor going into the Dixie-Lite, for something more ambitious, like the Dixie 311, it could certainly become an issue. Even without the water bottle cage, my small frame pack simply will not fit. But that’s a riddle for another day.

The rest of the puzzle will be coming together this week. In the meantime… it’s back to the maps.


  1. Greg Longson
    June 21, 2010

    Adam, why not add a I-beam type seat post rack to move the bag out of the way of your legs and give you a little more room. Also you still have room for one more bottle cage under the down tube? sounds like a epic!

    • Grizzly Adam
      June 21, 2010

      Racks tend to break. But it is an option I’ve looked at.

  2. Jared
    June 21, 2010

    Critique from someone who has never bike-packed:

    Drybag is too heavy and bulky. Are you planning on getting wet? If Dixie, I would think not, unless riding through some streams. Silnylon would probably be lighter and sufficiently waterproof. More fragile though.

    Lafuma bag + bivy is overkill. I’d go with some puffy pants, a puffy jacket (I like Mont Bell’s stuf) — less bulk and weight and more versatile around camp, and maybe a super lightweight bivy bag, like Marmot Alpinist or MSR E-Bivy. No sleeping bag. I think this is what Ethan Passant — CO trail racer and skimo racer does.

    Maybe some compression straps on the rear pack to make it less bulky?

    No down vest or rainjacket since you’ll already have a puffy. Take an ultralight windshirt that is treated — wind and water pro.

  3. Grizzly Adam
    June 21, 2010

    The drysack I’m using weighs about 1 ounce. So weight is not an issue with that. I’m not using it for the water-proofness, as much as it’s a simple way of creating a cheap seat bag. But yes, I could scale everything back. It really depends on the intention of the ride. I am not really planning on “racing” this, but just riding it. And as always… comfort or weight savings? The Dixie Lite could be done w/o any sleep gear -rent a room along the way, or just hammer it out in one mammoth push. But I’m treating it more like a tour than a race.

  4. Jeff K
    June 21, 2010

    Hey, we have similar interests right now…we should hang out buddy! 😉

  5. Gavin Macfie
    June 21, 2010

    I like it – perhaps superior to my first choice for that amount of gear, a single Ortlieb pannier using bungies to prevent it from barn-dooring upwards on bumpy sections.

  6. Greg
    June 22, 2010

    I’ve always wanted to bikepack, but felt limited by only owning full suspension bikes. Always seemed like everyone who was seriously into self supported ultra-endurance stuff rides a hardtail. Nice to see someone going for it with a fully.

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