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  1. #1
    My custom user title. kdos's Avatar
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    Well, short story first, I guess.

    I got hit with the idea of touring many months ago, but didn't have the money for a bike. After several months I finally ended up getting a bike with rear and front rack mounts, 'cause I thought that's what I would need to carry "all that I needed."

    After getting the bike, I decided that I would rather not carry as much as other people do, and that using a backpack and the rear rack alone would suffice.

    This would be nice because I'd have a lighter bike, which would let me travel a bit faster and easier, and would be less of a hassle to control. Just seems a bit more convienient, for me, anyway.

    For my rear rack, I plan to carry...

    blanket/sleeping bag/tent - clothes - ???

    For my backpack, I'd carry...

    bike related items: lock - allen wrenches - pump - patchkit - spare tube

    food, etc (to be restocked every couple days): 4 bottles of water (all full when possible) - couple days worth of bananas/oranges at a time - packaged food items (bars, chips, etc). - premade cooked foods (any suggestions? vegan please).

    random: money - phone - id - sketchpad/pencil - ???



    Anyone here experienced with light load, non-credit card touring who could give me some idea of their loads/setup.

    Any suggestions on what I should add (necessities only) would be nice.

    Thanks !

  2. #2
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    I just came back from a two week tour with a light load. I based my camping strategy on the concepts behind ultralite back packing. There the idea is that you can get away with 8-10 pounds, including the pack. It worked out to a lot more for me, because I wear pretty heavy clothes, had to carry some stuff for cold, wet, and hot. But my core camping gear was no more than 10 pounds.

    - Lightweight polargard bag, and 3/4 1/2" mat rolled up on top of the rear rack. And a tent system weighing about 3 pounds strapped next to it. This was my biggest mistake, my weather was awful, and I was either getting bitten by bugs, or rained on. However, even a 4 pound 2 person tent would not have bust the weight bank.

    - I carried shorts I didn't wear, and two sets of cotton fleece track pants, into which were sewn synthetic chamie, these were very effective. One of my legs is really banged up and ugly from a plane crash, and I would have instead worn some cycling lowers if I wouldn't have scared the children. That would have saved some weight.

    - 3 cotton t-shirts 2 were fine,

    - 3 socks,

    - 3 underwear that I just carried for the end of the trip where I spent 2 weeks.

    - 1 pair of cotton pants, and a cotton shirt (lightweight quick dry, again only needed for visiting, pure cycling I wouldn't have taken them).

    - Goretex cycling jacket, good but maybe not as good as a poncho which is lighter,

    - Cyling rain pants, good but I will make ultralite chaps before next trip.

    - Hefty fleece jacket for the mountains I went through, this was useful.

    - I carried 2 sharp knives, a lexan spoon, a pot and plate, military can opener, no stove. I was perfectly happy eating cold food. I found I didn't care about coffee, or my normal carbo diet, my body wanted lots of water, and fruits, cheese bananas. I could augment the food every day, so I ate fresh. I am not a particularly healthy eater, but the output my body was called upon to provide didn't seem to want the usual crap. I didn't need the pot.

    - I carried normal toiletries in small portions, and i carried a tube of penetan to keep saddle sores from forming, and also polysporin.

    I had a third bag with about 1 -2 pounds of spares and wrenches for the bike. I didn't have all the stuff I wanted to take with me since the bike was new, and needed some new Park tools I didn't have. But I try to pack something to fit every part of the bike that could break, and that I could fix if it did break.

    - I carried a large lock, and heavy helmet (not used). I had a baseball cap, and a beanie.

    - I had a space blanket for a groundsheat. I carried an extra pair of slip on foam Rebound shoes. so I would have something to wear if my cycling shoes acted up.

    - 3 waterbottles

    - As you can see, I had quite a few things that were duplicates, and quite a few I didn't use. I had 4 paniers, and the sleeping gear. Those five pieces including the bags weighed 37 pounds. Water and food are extra, though that include a few bananas, pears, plums, and 2 cans of tuna.

    I think it is a real bad mistake to carry stuff on your back if you intend extensive cycling. You can get a small backpack that will carry the gear you need for multi night trips, and it weighs only a pound or so. Paniers are just great, and absorb a lot of road shock. If you pack light, cheap racks and bags will work great. Stuff can be double wrapped inside the paniers on days it rains. The cost of true waterproof paniers is too much for most practical applications. There are options like bag cover, liners, that are just as good. If I did all my touring in rain, like Ireland in the winter, or was on a world tour I might consider expensive paniers. In fact some of the nicer paniers I have seen are home made out of rubbermaid, pack cloth, or wood.

    My observation is that those Americans who are on a quest for expensive gear either buy the simple Otleib paniers that are waterproof, and cost about as much as a bike. or they buy really complicated paniers that would be hard to seal even if Otlied made them. The trick is to chose simple paniers made of packcloth or cordura if you have to, that have few leak points/pockets to start with. They will stay pretty dry.

    My overall observation is that being 6'1", a lot of my stuff is pretty bulky. I felt short on space, even when I wasn't carrying a lot of weight. Again raw foods take up space. For a few days I had a loaf of bread. Space is pretty much OK if your don't fill it with heavy stuff.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I divide the stuff I carry up into 7 categories to help me remember it all:


    1. Bicycle: this includes my bicycle itself (making sure it is in good repair and set up correctly), my waterbottles, racks, lights, computer, etc.

    2. Tools: tire changing stuff (pump, tubes, folding tire, levers, patches, and boots), a multitool, black electrical tape, zip ties, etc. --- these go in the right pocket of my Carradice, and also on the right side of the inner part of my Carradice

    3. Medical: pain killers, bandages, sunscreen, anti-bacterial soap, baby wipes, space blanket, cream, etc. --- these go in the left pocket of my Carradice, and also a few in my handlebar bag

    4. Clothing: rain gear, reflective gear, shorts, tights, long-sleeved wool top, etc. --- the cycling specific stuff goes in my Carradice, the rest goes into one of my panniers

    5. Personal: ID, camera, money, etc. --- in my handlebar bag

    6. Nutrition: energy bars, gels, gatorade powder etc. --- in my handlebar bag, and also sometimes in my Carradice or wherever I can fit it

    7. Camping: tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooking gear, etc. --- the sleeping bags and most of my camping stuff goes into my second pannier (the first has my clothing and toiletries). The sleeping pad gets tucked onto my rack behind my Carradice


    I've got quite an extensive packing list which goes into a lot more detail than that ... with everything you'd ever want to take on a 3+ month tour ... but those categories sum it up nicely and help me remember everything ... especially for shorter rides like brevets and centuries.

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    when I was a kid, I toured with a rack and a backpack but it was pretty miserable. My first set of rear panniers was a godsend. Over the long run you'll probably ride faster with the load on your bike rather than your back.

    You can start out cheaply buy buying 2nd hand, low end brands, or make/ rig your own.

  5. #5
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Backpacks are very uncomfortable on a bike. Tents and sleping bags are bulky and don't fit too well on a naked rack. You're much better with panniers. They take the load off your back and make a wider platfrom to stack stuff on top of the rack.

    Here's my bike with a light load. I used two small panniers (30L for both) and a handlebar bag. I carried tent (on rack), sleeping bag and pad and one or two change of bike clothes and one change of camp clothes. No stove and not much room for food. My camera takes the whole bar bag. I could've gone lighter with a tarp instead of a tent but I like bug protection in the summer.

    Here's my bike again with a bigger load (here for another point of view). The list of what I carried is here. This was for a 5 day trip but I could tour for weeks with that set-up. Actually, for a longer trip, I'd probably cut a few things. Again here, my camera takes the whole bar bag and I could've put the tent on the rack to free a lot of room in the panniers. The panniers are 42L for both. Putting everything on the back affects the handling and puts all the weight on the back wheel. For touring with a single set of panniers, some people prefer front panniers.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  6. #6
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdos
    For my rear rack, I plan to carry...

    blanket/sleeping bag/tent - clothes - ???

    For my backpack, I'd carry...

    bike related items: lock - allen wrenches - pump - patchkit - spare tube

    food, etc (to be restocked every couple days): 4 bottles of water (all full when possible) - couple days worth of bananas/oranges at a time - packaged food items (bars, chips, etc). - premade cooked foods (any suggestions? vegan please).

    random: money - phone - id - sketchpad/pencil - ??? !
    I used mostly a rear rack and a backpack on my tour in March 2005 just like you are planning. I would highly suggest the following.

    a) front handlebar bag. 10 bucks at Walmart. I kept my radios, repair gear, and a few items I needed to get to quickly there. Also used it has a mount for my GPS by bungee cording it to the top.
    b) backpack - I used one but try to keep the weight to a minimum. Water weighs a ton don't keep them on your backpack. Either get some water bottle holders and attach them to your frame or bungee them on your rear rack on top of your stuff. One litre pepsi containers or those 24oz gatorade bottles with the twist cap work great for water storage. I kept light foods in the backpack, I put cans and heavier stuff on my back rack. I never solved the problem of getting my bread squished though. I like the backpack idea mainly because it's easy to carry into a store or restuarant. I kept my ID in it. It also allows you to walk around on a side trail, you'll be surprised at how good a walk feels at the end of a bicycling day.
    c) Unless you are way out in the boonies, you will usually pass by several opportunties to get food on a daily basis from a grocery store. You don't need to carry 4 days worth in most areas.
    d) For clothes, I feel you only need 2 sets of them. Try to keep one of them dry at all times. At laundromats, wear your rain gear while doing laundry.
    e) make sure stuff that needs to stay dry, stays dry. Use ziploc bags, double bags are even better. Especially your sleeping bag. Carry a large trash bag or two to use as a cheap rain cover.

    And stealth camping rocks.

    Also a two night shakedown tour if you never have done touring before will help you understand your gear, what you will need, and what you will not need.

    Good luck,

    my tour
    http://biketour.ne1.net

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by kdos
    This would be nice because I'd have a lighter bike, which would let me travel a bit faster and easier, and would be less of a hassle to control. Just seems a bit more convienient, for me, anyway.
    Just because you use panniers doesn't mean you can't travel lightly. You don't have to fill up the panniers. Using panniers would make the bike easier to control, because it would have a lower centre of gravity than if using the top of the rack and a backpack. And your back will thank you if you use panniers.

  8. #8
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    Dont carry stuff on your back. Use handlebar bag and front panniers so your bike isnt tail heavy. Buy small panniers so you dont overload. Pack things in different coloured plastic bags by category so it is easier to find in the panniers. If you must cook stick to hot drinks, instant soup, porridge, noodles. Use something like the Thermarest sleeping pad - shoulder to hips is enough.

  9. #9
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    I have done both fully self contained (cooking own food) and semi self contained (eat in cafes). If you are solo touring, and your budget and route permit it, you might want to consider eating out. It saves a lot of weight (stove, fuel, cooking pots, food, spices, etc.) and cleanup time (not my favorite part of touring). Yes it costs more but if you eat from a grocery store, i.e. deli meat/cheese, yogurt, fruit, etc. it is not much different. In a lot of towns, the grocery store sells ready to eat chicken, sandwiches, etc.

    Again, it is a personal decision but for me, if I am by myself, the freedom outweighs the cost.

    John

  10. #10
    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    I did a 700 mile tour this summer and used just back racks, weighing in at less than 25 lbs.
    I went way bare bones and was fine.
    I had:
    sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, 1 pot, stove, bowl, cup, spoon, 2 pairs bike shorts, 2 jerseys, 1 long sleeved, rain jacket/pants, vest, arm warmers, knee warmers,sandles, off bike pants and tshirt/beanie, tights, 2 pair gloves, tools, toiletries and I think that was it

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