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  1. #1
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    Tour cycling using a backpack instead of paniers/trailer?

    I set off on a 3 day 200km ride the other week, with all my gear - tent, food, clothes etc. in a hiking style back pack. It posed no problems with the motions of cycling, but the main issue were the extra weight it put on my butt onto the saddle, which got quite sore after a while. And also I felt I sweated a lot more on my back as I guess my skin could not breath properly.

    Wondering if anyone else has attempted touring using a backpack instead of paniers/trailer, and how you found it - pros/cons etc? I'm keen to do some more touring, and guessing it would be better with paniers/trailer, but can't really affored them at the moment.

  2. #2
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    My main concern about using a backpack for a tour would be the impact it would eventually have on my back. You were gone for three days, imagine doing that for three weeks, or even three months as some on this board have done. For those really long hauls, it's better to put as much of the weight as possible on the bike. As far as the cost is concerned, there are a number of people here who have made their own panniers from various bits and pieces. Maybe one of them will have some insight into what you can do about your situation if you can't afford panniers just at the moment.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member jurjan's Avatar
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    I would try and use the backpack on a rack.
    But that would of course depend on the pack not being too big / heavy.
    The only pro i can think of is that using a backpack leaves you free to hike as well.
    cons: the weight is higher up, destabilizing you . the weight is on you, instead of on the bike. the backpack will interfere with sweating etc.
    have a nice day,
    Jurjan

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamboWatt View Post
    I set off on a 3 day 200km ride the other week, with all my gear - tent, food, clothes etc. in a hiking style back pack. It posed no problems with the motions of cycling, but the main issue were the extra weight it put on my butt onto the saddle, which got quite sore after a while. And also I felt I sweated a lot more on my back as I guess my skin could not breath properly.

    Wondering if anyone else has attempted touring using a backpack instead of paniers/trailer, and how you found it - pros/cons etc? I'm keen to do some more touring, and guessing it would be better with paniers/trailer, but can't really affored them at the moment.
    If I were on a super tight budget, I'd look into building my own panniers. If you Google "DIY bike panniers", you'll find a bunch of ideas. You can build something functional using plastic bins and metal hardware. Another solution would be building a "backpack rack" using PVC plastic pipes. I've seen pictures of this somewhere on this forum. The guy would go touring, stash his bike somewhere and then go hiking with his backpack.

    As for you last question, I've never attempted real touring with a backpack. I've done a 100km single-day ride with a backpack once (containing a change of clothes and some food) and I swore that I'd never do it again. The only person that I know of that set out to tour with a backpack ended up buying some cheap panniers on the second day of his week-long tour.

  5. #5
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    I knew someone in the early '70s (1972, to be exact) who sold his surfboard in Athens, bought a cheap Peugeot 10 speed, strapped his Kelty frame pack to the rack, and rode it to Amsterdam. Of course, the touring equipment that was readily available back then wasn't much better than his rig.

  6. #6
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    Depends on the weight of your backpack i would say..
    I went around Irland for 18 days with a 45 liter lowe alpine sack, the weight on the sack was 8,5kg.
    That was no problem. But ive packed really ultralight, no real tent and i also went so far that ive reduced the weight on my tothbrush. I would do that again if its just a short tour on 2-3 weeks.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    The only thing that comes to my mind... why?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shemp View Post
    The only thing that comes to my mind... why?
    He did say "but can't really affored them at the moment."

  9. #9
    LitePacking
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    why: its so very practical to go in and out of pubs etc without thinking about that your panniers being robbed. It is also easy to store your sack somewhere safe place and then go for a bike tour without any luggage.

  10. #10
    Senior Member slowjoe66's Avatar
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    Don't do it. It is relatively easy to build your own panniers. I made some good ones I use for commuting from some army navy surplus bags and a good look at somebody else's expensive panniers. Total cost about 30 bucks for the pair. I was totally drenched commuting home yesterday in a downpour, but the stuff in my panniers was dry as a bone.
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  11. #11
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    Get a rack and panniers

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    1 day of commuting (70 kms round trip) with a backpack filled with a change of clothes and a few other little items, and I switched to a saddlebag ....

    And 1000 kms of a 1200K brevet with a smallish camelbak and my left arm, shoulder, and part of my back were alternating between numbness and screaming in pain.


    There is absolutely no way I could tour with a backpack.

    If you go to MEC, you can get a rack for your bicycle for less than $20, and strap the backpack, or some sort of other bag to the rack. For me, that would be the preferable solution.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Shemp's Avatar
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    I personally can't imagine the sacrifice of riding all day with all that weight on your back outweighs (pun intended) the trouble of removing 2 panniers from a rack. Cost is an issue if you insist on new, but used, you can stay well under $100 and get a decent rack and two large panniers. If $100 seems like a lot at first, I'm betting it pays off within the first week of the tour.

  14. #14
    J E R S E Y S B E S T Jerseysbest's Avatar
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    I would never. I've done 60 miles twice with a back pack with a few cloths, some snacks, and that was it. Never again.

    I did 20 miles twice this weekend with a backpack with a pair of jeans, two t shirts, underwear, and a pair of light shoes. I really think thats my limit, just too uncomfortable, too sweaty on my back, shoulders got sore (I'm not sensitive at all), and I feel less aerodynamic when I'm in the drops going into a head wind.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member pasopia's Avatar
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    Ugh. Sounds not fun. You could always get those metal basket panniers, and throw a bag you have in them. I remember there was a thread a long time ago in the touring forum about it. Those and and a cheap rack could be had for not that much money, and would be way better than riding all day with a heavy back pack.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CamboWatt View Post
    I'm keen to do some more touring, and guessing it would be better with paniers/trailer, but can't really affored them at the moment.
    Think of a rack and panniers as investments rather than expenses. And good investments pay for themselves many times over. There is no reason for cycle touring to be uncomfortable or painful. Biking is supposed to be fun, not a masochistic exercise!

    Buy used panniers if you need to. That's what I did. I bought my current set of panniers on ebay. Or if you absolutely cannot afford panniers, at least spring for a rear rack and strap your backpack to it.

    I sometimes wear a backpack when I go grocery shopping by bike, and fill it after my panniers are fully loaded. Ten minutes hauling 10 or 15 lbs is enough for me. I would not want to do it all day.

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