Lightweight bikepacking: What to bring?
Posted on October 11 2015
If you're going on a tour for months through Europe, you're probably not that worried about counting every gram. However, if you're planning a 200km adventure ride through the Blue Mountains, minimising the weight and bulk of your gear will help make the ride achievable.
We've put together this gear list to help demonstrate how you can cut down the weight while staying safe.
Spares and tools
Prevention is better than a cure, so it's essential to make sure your bicycle is in excellent shape before you set off on a ride. You shouldn't aim to be able to repair everything on your bike - there are many things that can go wrong but not prevent you from finishing a ride (such as a gear cable snapping, or one brake being disabled). However if your chain snaps and you don't have a chain tool and a quicklink, you're stuffed. With that in mind, we recommend:
- one spare tube
- patch kit
- tyre levers
- pump (a good one)
- multi-tool (the Lezyne V-11 is a good lightweight one with a chain tool)
- chain tool (if your multi-tool doesn't include one)
- chain quick-link x 2
This is an area you don't want to skimp on, but these days lightweight equipment doesn't mean you have to sacrifice comfort. You'll want to bring:
- sleeping bag with liner
- inflatable sleeping mat (like the Exped Synmat or Thermarest NeoAir Xlite)
- tarp and groundsheet (or lightweight tent)
Cooking and eating
Here's an area you can save lots of weight. You don't need expensive equipment either - there are some simple DIY options that are lighter and smaller.
- DIY stove (the cat stove is a cinch to make, a soda-can stove is probably better but more time-consuming to make)
- DIY windshield (piece of aluminium flashing - if you don't want to buy a whole roll, ask us for some!)
- small bottle of methylated spirits (or other fuel depending on what stove you're using)
- cooking pot (a 2L can of Asahi beer with the top cut off makes a great DIY pot)
- plastic bowl
Leave the Trangia or MSR at home - that's a whole lot of space (and weight) you don't need.
Most people pack too many clothes. If it's an overnight trip, and there are no showers at the campsite, you don't need different clothes for the second day. You can get away with:
- Riding clothes: cycling shorts, long-sleeve shirt, shoes+socks, gloves, lightweight wind jacket
- Camp/sleeping clothes: thermal leggings, thermal skivvy, beanie
Weather permitting, don't bother bringing warm clothing beyond thermals - if you're riding put on your wind jacket (or ride faster!), and if you're at camp just wrap yourself in your sleeping bag.
- Toothbrush + toothpaste
- Toilet paper, trowel and hand sanitiser
- Head torch
- First aid kit (just the basics - compression bandage, painkillers, dressings)
- Phone - think about a battery pack or dynamo charging system
- Maps + notes
Snacks: Muesli bars, lollies, dried fruit, nuts.
Breakfast: Muesli with powdered coconut milk is our pick - find it next to the regular coconut milk.
Lunch: Flat wraps are easy to carry. Choose your own toppings - peanut butter is easy, and you can make them up before you leave.
Dinner: Most of the time you'll have water available at your campsite, so it makes sense to take advantage of dehydrated ingredients. Dried peas and packs of sundried tomatoes (not in oil) are available in the canned vegetable aisle. Couscous and angelhair pasta are great carbs that won't use too much fuel to cook. Instant rice is also available, but it's partly cooked so it's heavier. Asian grocery stores have excellent soy-based dried protein sources, like TVP (textured vegetable protein). Powdered parmesan is the perfect seasoning.
Carrying it all
Our first choice would be the range of Apidura bikepacking bags. They're definitely the lightest solution. If you'd like to use panniers, a pair on the back should fit everything on this list (you might also want to use a handlebar bag though).
Separate your items into lightweight dry sacks, to make it easier to find them, and keep them dry.