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  1. #1
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    Ultra-light long distance touring gear...

    I figure it couldn't hurt to start planning my gear list now, even before I've got the right bike! Here's my ultra-light pack list...This gear is for a month or two of touring, with bare essentials in mind...Let me know what you think! Gear will be washed wherever there is water available...streams/hospitality hosts.

    -bike shorts x3 (at least one wool)
    -bike shirt (tank top/coolmax)
    -t-shirt (coolmax)
    -long sleeve shirt (marino wool/poly pro)
    -jacket (fleece)
    -pants/shorts (convertable baby!)
    -underwear x1
    -socks x 3
    -sleeping bag (my 2.1lb football sized cold weather bag)
    -hammock (my 1.1lb baseball sized magic hammock)
    -tarp
    -rain poncho
    -gloves
    -beanie
    -trail mix (my own custom blend )
    -jerky
    -phone/charger (to contact hospitality club hosts)
    -wallet (with only money/ID/bank cards)
    -bike shoes
    -flip-flops
    -camera/case/charger (budding photographer!)
    -chapstick
    -toothbrush/toothpaste (compact travel ones)
    -pocket knife
    -twine
    -lighter
    -pump
    -spare tubes
    -multi-tool
    -first-aid kit
    -headlamp
    -spoon
    -duct-tape
    -book
    -small towell
    -master links
    -chainring bolts

    See anything I left out?
    Last edited by Zemo; 10-14-06 at 11:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Si Senior dbg's Avatar
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    you're missing some essential bike tools and parts: pump, spare tubes, extra tire, multi-tool, master links, chainring bolts, ...
    David Green, Naperville, IL USA "The older I get, the better I used to be" --Lee Trevino

  3. #3
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    heh, of course! added. Do I really need master links and chainring bolts?

  4. #4
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    For ultralight, I'd leave 1 or 2 pair of socks, both underwear, flip-flops, phone and charger, razor, water filter, compass, (where are you going?) switch pants and shorts for convertible pants and take a zip-T Polartec 100 fleece. I'd take a 3/4 closed-cell foam pad.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  5. #5
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    Not sure I understand what you're saying....leave those things at home, take some convertable pants, fleece and foam pad?

    Why leave my phone at home? Isn't that sort of a necessity in emergency situations? water filter is debatable, but I'd hate to get jiardia on day 3...and why fewer socks? probably the most important piece of clothing...and if a pair or two gets wet? Compass is for some minor orienteering when I'm not near any citys...likely not really needed.

    I like the switch pants idea, and the foam pad is...eh...not sure it's worth the added bulk for me. The flip flops are for when I'm off the bike...instead of carrying around a second pair of shoes, just have some flip flops I can toss on.

  6. #6
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    I think he was just reccomending you leave that stuff at home if you want to go true 'ultralight' because there is stuff in that list that you COULD do without, making it not as ultralight as possible!

  7. #7
    Lentement mais sûrement Erick L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zemo
    Not sure I understand what you're saying....leave those things at home, take some convertable pants, fleece and foam pad?
    Yes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zemo
    Why leave my phone at home? Isn't that sort of a necessity in emergency situations? water filter is debatable, but I'd hate to get jiardia on day 3...and why fewer socks? probably the most important piece of clothing...and if a pair or two gets wet? Compass is for some minor orienteering when I'm not near any citys...likely not really needed.
    1- I hate phones.
    2- Water filter - It depends where you're going.
    3- Socks - 4 is a lot. 3 is plenty. Two is enough. If one gets wet, ride with it. Keep the other pair for camp.
    4- Compass - unless youre going offroad, I don't see the need for it. A map would be more handy and you can use the sun and clock on your computer for a rough idea of direction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zemo
    I like the switch pants idea, and the foam pad is...eh...not sure it's worth the added bulk for me. The flip flops are for when I'm off the bike...instead of carrying around a second pair of shoes, just have some flip flops I can toss on.
    A sleeping bag won't insulate you from the cold ground. Closed-cell pads are bulky but they're also the lightest and warmest. If you're using road bike shoes, I guess the flip-flops are handy, but if you're using SPD, no need.

    You ask for ultralight, without saying where you're going. I'm just stating what I'd do for an ultralight summer trip in North America. You don't have to follow my advice.
    Erick - www.borealphoto.com/velo

  8. #8
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    Makes more sense now, thank you! I'm planning on an ultralight late spring/summer North America tour...

    Initial post edited

  9. #9
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    Thermarest makes an ultralight inflatable pad, 3/4 length, orange on one side and black on the other. I'd argue the compass to stay -- I have used one a couple of times in unfamiliar cities and at rural junctions to orient myself. Down bags are the only efficient way to go in terms of heat for weight, in my opinion. I do most of my touring without a cell phone -- in many of the places I have been, reception has been scratchy, if it exists at all, and public telephones are still pretty reliable. It was pointless taking a cellphone to Europe last time I was there. But I *do* carry a PocketMail email device for use with public phones these days.

    For anything over a week, I go with three pairs of bike shorts, three pairs of socks, and three jerseys -- and the destination will determine which two are long or short sleeved. I also take two polypro tops, leg warmers and tights (the latter can be used for added warmth at night) and several pairs of gloves. A long pair of microfibre trousers go in -- the zip-off convertible ones have become quite a bit cheaper these days. Microfibre is an excellent wind protector, and does pretty well on water repellancy, I have found.

    All this, of course, is based on poor to moderately good weather. I also take a tent because I like to be comfortable when the weather turns bad and indoor accommodation is not an option. I don't like being annoyed by bugs and animals while trying to sleep, and a tent with floor and mesh walls, plus fly is a good investment over a simple tarp. I know Stokell loves his hammocks, too.

    I have been down the lightweight touring track, and it has its interests in the challenge to minimise weight -- more so for the weight limits on aircraft nowadays. But I have found that every ounce, gram, pound or kilogram saved on a tour usually means a compromise on comfort, and I am old enough and wise enough now to know that the extra weight on the bike is almost heaven sent when I get comfortable in camp. I pack a Thermarest knockoff chair converter for the sleeping pad. I will take my thickest down bag if the temp looks like getting anywhere near zero, despite the extra weight and volume. I have a two-person tent for solo touring. I take a full-blown Trangia cookset with two pots, two burners and various other bits and pieces. And my clothing is like a wardrobe. I might need four panniers, but then the bike probably handles better, too.

    By the way, you don't say what you are doing for food. Are you getting fixings each night for cold supper? Eating at restaurants? Living off the land?

    I'd add in a spoon, too (nick it from McD or somewhere) because you *will* want to open a can from a supermarket and eat what's inside. I'd ditch the rain poncho if you're jacket is reasonably waterproof. The best quality ponchos are quite heavy, and the cheap ones don't hack it for mine on a bicycle. Use your tarp if you need to. What about a bike lock -- a simple cable lock will do. Lights? You don't think you'll ever need them, but you will one day on a two-month tour. Energiser, I think, makes a completely serviceable head torch that can serve as a headlight and for night movement around the campsite. On water filters -- I bought one five years ago, and have *never* used it on tours throughout Australia, northern Europe and England, and North America. Ditch it, and take some extra water bottles or bladders.

    Oh yes, on the washing... nothing beats a good soap up in the shower or in a washing machine to get the skid marks out of shorts. Washing body or clothing in streams, especially with any soap, is not acceptable practice these days.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    -bike shorts -- OK
    -bike shirt (tank top) -- go with a plain, classy-looking jersey in CoolMax or some other material that is light and will scrunch down well
    -t-shirt -- coolmax or nylon
    -long sleeve shirt -- marino wool or polypro - both light, warm options which can be used on and off the bicycle
    -jacket (fleece) -- OK, if you plan to use the rain poncho while riding
    -pants/shorts -- one pair of convertible pants
    -underwear x1 -- swim trunks so they can be used for two purposes
    -socks x 3 -- you could probably get away with 1 or 2 pair
    -sleeping bag -- there are a lot of itty-bitty, ultra light ones out there (I've got two)
    -foam pad -- be sure to cut it down so that it goes from your shoulders to hips

    NOTE: If you go with the itty bitty sleeping bags and cut-down foam pad, you'll be travelling ultra-light, but you won't be overly comfortable ... just something to be aware of.

    -tarp -- space blanket, unless you are planning to use it as a tent
    -rain poncho -- definitely!!
    -gloves -- regular cycling gloves and mini-gloves to wear under them in cooler temps
    -beanie -- I'd go for a balaclava
    -trail mix (my own custom blend ) -- not too much of this, you can buy stuff along the way
    -jerky -- same as above
    -phone & phone charger -- personally, I'd leave these at home
    -wallet -- go with a small, light one
    -bike shoes -- make sure you can walk in them
    -flip-flops -- OK
    -camera & camera case -- OK
    -battery charger -- where are you planning to plug this in?
    -bike glasses -- OK
    -chapstick -- OK
    -toothbrush & toothpaste -- buy a set of those mini ones you can get in the pharmacy dept of Walmart
    -water filter -- why?
    -pocket knife -- OK
    -twine -- why?
    -lighter -- OK
    -pump -- OK
    -spare tubes -- OK
    -multi-tool -- OK



    See anything I left out?

    Have a look at my website in the signature line below, then click on my Packing List link. That's a link of all the possibilities of items you might want to consider bringing.

  11. #11
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    You can substitute iodine tablets for the water filter, i barely used my filter in my C2C.
    ...

  12. #12
    Because I thought I could ks1g's Avatar
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    Thermarest pads - I have a 3/4 self-inflating pad (helps I am also short) and it is fine for spring/summer. For cold, I need to insulate my lower legs and feet from the ground, too! Folds up VERY small. Bring a patch kit as if it gets a hole (it will) you have NO mattress and minimal insulation from the ground).

    Sleeping bags - correct down is best, but consider chances of bag getting wet - synthetics will still provide warmth and there is less of a size/weight advantage for down in warmer weather bags.

    +1 on zip-off pants. If there is a chance of cold weather (mornings), arm/leg warmers for the ride (and maybe in camp?).
    Consider swim trunks rather than underware for in-camp. packs smaller, dries faster, cleaner than cotton.
    Definitely bring "camp shoes" (flip flops, sandles, whatever). You don't want to spend all day and evenings in the same shoes.
    Phone card or "rechargeable" long distance phone service card - cell phone service isn't universal ('course, neither are pay phones).
    You need a basic 1st-aid kit for road rash, bites/ticks, sunburn, campfire/cooking burn, simple cuts, etc.
    Flashlight. Consider a small LED-based handlebar or helmet-mountable self-contained bike lightwhich can double as a flashlight and as a riding light if you get caught out at dusk. Or one of the LED backpacking lights you can wear on your head in camp. If you just need it in camp, one of the button-battery single LED lamps is about as ultralight as you can get.
    If multitool has a knife, leave pocket knife home.
    Matches (waterproof or in water proof container).
    EXTRA ROPE AND STAKES!
    DUCT TAPE (wind some around a water bottle or something else to save space - maybe the bike top tube?).

    When you think you have everything you will bring, load the bike, then empty out EVRYTHING and think again about what you don't need. If necessary, have a friend who tours or does lightweight backpacking help. (Was a HUGE help for me!).

    Smaller panniers help you bring less. Empty space attracts weight!

  13. #13
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    iodine tabs tend to make me queasy :-(
    I've got a nice compact lightweigh hammock, in leiu of a sleeping pad...I've also got an extremely compact and lightweight cold weather sleeping bag, so no probs there either.

    why several pairs of bike shorts/shirts? Thermal tights isn't a bad idea, however...

    original list revised...how we lookin' now?

  14. #14
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    Oh, as a side note, I've taught wilderness survival courses, and lead ultra-lite backpacking expeditions :-)

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zemo
    original list revised...how we lookin' now?
    See my comment above. I'm still not clear on what you're going to plug that battery charger into if you're heading out into an area where you think you may need a water purifier.

    And who are you going to call when you're in the middle of nowhere? I toured for three months in Australia without a phone and never needed one. The few calls I made to my parents were done on a pay phone. Personally, part of the reason I head off on tours is to get away from people and to ensure people can't contact me unless I want to be contacted. I don't want people to be able to get ahold of me! Oh wait ... that's also the reason I don't own a cell phone at all!

  16. #16
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    I'm going to be doing a north america tour, and using hospitality club when applicable...which means I'll have a place to plug stuff in and shower properly from time to time (not every night).

  17. #17
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    Call me crazy but I would take 2 pairs of bike shorts. Depending on how long you plan on going between washing they could get pretty rank. Don't wanna get a bacteria buildup down there if you can help it.

    -D

  18. #18
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    Zemo,

    Don't get fixated on shedding grams. Comfort means a lot on a tour. Take whatever you think you need to be safe/warm/cool/dry etc. In the end, it does not matter whether you take two pairs of socks or three, or whether you take your compass or leave it at home. For all practical purposes, these items are "weightless." So is a deck of playing cards, a list of important telephone numbers, a spool of twine, a jar of peanut butter, and a tube of Crazy Glue. If there is some benefit or pleasure for you in taking something, then take it.

    I think some of the responses you have received are over prescriptive. If you feel safer carrying a cell phone, it’s OK to bring it. Many people haul stuff that others would never dream of. A serious photographer might carry a sturdy tripod. Some people carry laptop computers. I once met a guy who crossed the country with a teddy bear, mounted on the handlebar, that he had stolen from his ex-girlfriend. It's all OK. (Well, maybe the guy with the teddy bear “trophy” was a bit disturbed. The problem wasn’t that he was carrying someone else’s keepsake; it was that he was carrying a GRUDGE!)

    I have carried a compass on every tour, but I don't recall actually using it. Hell, I hardly know how to use it! But I wouldn't leave home without a compass. It’s my boy scout instincts.

  19. #19
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    heh, sounds smart.

  20. #20
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    definetly the spoon, the foam pad, the cordage and the headlamp versus flashlight. I bring 3 pair of cycle shorts, wool ones don't dry out in a single day all the time.... bear bag to hang food from critts. where's your cup?

    you say you've led ultralight expeditions? I'm not sure what that means? you mean were paid to bring clients into the woods where they left the creature comforts at home to rough it? cool. or do you just go camping and climbing with dirtbags that like to leave the tents at home?

    i'd definetly have a lightweight shell jacket in addition to the fleece, and a down vest. where's the sunscreen?

    for short trips you can leave the sleeping bag and that hammock thing behind, just use a down vest and a beanie inside a bivy sack...for across country i'd still bring a sleeping bag, fursure.
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    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  21. #21
    This user is a pipebomb brotherdan's Avatar
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    How about a book or a magazine?
    Bikes belong in the motor city

  22. #22
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    spoon/headlamp/shorts/cup added...

    And yes, I was paid to lead expeditions, though it was for highschool kids through a summercamp program :-)

  23. #23
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    Well sure those coach homes are really comfortable too... The subject is light weight, sure there is an argument for heavy weight, it's still worth knowing what goes in either stack. A lot of road based touring is just reluctant credit card touring. It's not as though you will die if you leave something behind. So start out as light as you want, you can always pick up something you may have left behind.

    I don't carry phones, cameras, or anything else that plugs in. I can see why people do , just depends on the experience you want. I doubt there is much safety advantage on the road.

    Looking at your list, I would say that:

    - If your bike needs glasses it may be time to get a new one;

    - I don't carry a wallet. Most of the stuff in my wallet I can't use on the road, like hunting and *** permits, or library cards. I take a few bank cards, and my health card, and my money and dump it in a little net bag.

    - Doesn't sound like you have a bug net, good luck with that, or alternatively can you give me coordinates. Where I live the bugs are getting worse and more dangerous every year.

    - On clothes you really need to be your own guide people wear out, stink up, or require the comfort of, different things. I like the crocs type footwear for around the camp, but I think with touring sandles one could easily do without anything else. They don't seem to stay wet, and are pretty good everywhere I go. I carry waterproof pants. I don't use them for anything other than biking, but it's like having a fire hose turned on, some days. Chaps would be better if you find them. I wear shopping bags over my socks under my sandles. I stay very dry and warm. I bought some cycling booties but they seem heavy and I doubt they work better than bags. They may be going back.

    - I carry a really minimal sellection of tools. I have for flats: a Quick Stick, Park instant patches, and a road morph pump. For wheel breakdowns I have my spokes strategy organized (never broken one, which is chapter one of the plan); a folding spare tire, and some inertubes. Other than that I carry whatever I need to fix whatever can break on the bike I am riding, that I know how to fix, or figure I can fix on the road. Basically I can fix anything, but I don't really expect to work on hubs, BB, or cranks, unless the bike is under 500 miles, or I'm out there longer than 2 weeks, or in the boonies so bad I die without a ride home. So I just carry something for every other bolt including a spoke wrench. Apparently there is a plastic one, I may notch a piece of Delrin. I have a good multi tool, but in the real world, those things often have stuff that isn't on the bike, or is too short to get the job done. Like I have a multi tool that has an 8MM key. The only thing that tightens on my bike is the cranks and you aren't getting 50NM on that. So maybe rather than carrying the multi tool with the spurious sizes, the torx I don't have, and the scales I don't need, I will carry a real 8mm key. Sometimes you can do stuff like weld it to a cassette tool, and you have a hypercracker/crank tool. On my last trip I had to carry two small wrenches to service the brakes, and that can need doing at any time, I'd like to eliminate that stuff. But the point is, your abilities, interests, and the bike dictate the recipee. The fact you are travelling ultralight doesn't really change what you carry for breakdowns. I carry a bag, that + wheel breakdown stuff and pump, fits in the palm of my hand. The fact my gear is light, probably helps keep the breakdowns to a minimum, but it's a bike trip, and the bike has to keep moving. Of course you can decide that the route allows really easy bail outs and you don't need this stuff, but that isn't a lightweight variable. As you can see, people's desire to travel lightweight is not determined by the trip alone. Some will go heavy for a weekend trip and others will travel light for the long range trip of their life.

  24. #24
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    Take at least two pairs of shorts because you'll want to be able to alternate where you get chafed. As for the rest of the clothing, find a way to tie a mesh bag over the top of your rack to stick wet clothing in and you can cut down on how much you carry.

    Really, ditch the filter. backpackinglight.com sells the no-mix chlorine dioxide and that will probably get your water safer than just a filter. The water ends up pretty much flavorless.

    My opinion on needing a second pair of shoes, off-bike clothing, or other comfort items is that they're for general traveling, not really a bike tour. I generally go right to sleep when I get to camp and have no use for a set of clothing for the 30 minutes before I go to bed.

  25. #25
    Velocipedic Practitioner
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Oh wait ... that's also the reason I don't own a cell phone at all!
    Ah, a lady after my own heart.
    Other forms of transportation grow daily more nightmarish. Only the bicycle remains pure in heart. - Iris Murdoch

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