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How much gear is too much?

Old 03-26-17, 02:10 PM
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BicycleCrazy
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How much gear is too much?

I'll be doing a solo, self supported CC ride this summer and have been putting together and modifying my list of gear. I've spent a lot of time looking through the photos on the "Pictures of your loaded rigs" thread and there are some great setups. I've spoken with some folks locally that have done tours many tours and they recommend not taking more than I absolutely need indicating that many people try to plan for every possible contingency taking excessive gear adding a lot of unnecessary weight and expense. Until I'm on the road it will be difficult to tell with certainty what I'll absolutely need.

What have your experiences been?
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Old 03-26-17, 02:17 PM
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Remember, those loaded rigs generally contain equipment needed for self sufficiency: camping, cooking, likely food and water, that a CC ride doesn't need.

As for my CC tour? Took way too many bike clothes, ended up wearing the same thing most days. Could have done just fine with one long, one short, one shorts and one long pants (assuming the temps are cold enough to necessitate longs), came back with three jerseys that hadn't even been unpacked over ten days. Actually, that is exactly how I am planning on packing for my next, non-CC tour too.
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Old 03-26-17, 02:17 PM
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Guess it depends on what "CC" stands for. Credit card, you don't need as much. Cross country or cross continent, depends on the country or continent, but probably more.
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Old 03-26-17, 02:20 PM
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Sorry...Cross Country (USA)
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Old 03-26-17, 02:20 PM
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Over the years (50+) I've become the master of light packing. Early on I adopted a rule that anything that turned out unnecessary on a trip, would be dropped from future consideration. So, while I'm not as extreme as my friend who rode from NYC to Miami, FL with one spare change of cycle clothes, a (very) few toilet articles and a credit card, I'm pretty close.

Look at every item your considering, think about whether you'll need or use it, and decide if it's worth dragging along. There's a bit of art here, since small and light stuff that mat only be handy, may be worth carrying because they don't impose a burden. The reverse, is anything large or heavy which has to be very necessary and see plenty of use to be worth it.

A guiding rule is availability along the way. Consider whether, worst case, you'll be able to buy what's needed for the unforeseen, or have it mailed from home to meet you along the way. The reverse applies, for example, you might want some extra warm clothing for expected cold weather in the mountains, but once in the plains can stop at a post office and mail it home, or to someplace west of the Blue Ridge where you'll pick it up again.

One other thing that helps is a dry run. After you've made all the decisions, do a ride duplicating a typical day's ride in terrain similar to that of one of the hillier days. Then decide if you'd rather err lighter, or are willing to stand pat.

BTW- though I don't swim much, over the years I've found a bathing suit to be very handy. It allows me to strip down and wash all my clothes during a laundry stop.

Last edited by FBinNY; 03-26-17 at 02:24 PM.
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Old 03-26-17, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by BicycleCrazy View Post
Sorry...Cross Country (USA)
Whoops, disregard my advice then!
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Old 03-26-17, 03:14 PM
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To paraphrase FB, I would think that your budget would also place another variable to consider what you need to pack. If you are credit card touring, and your budget is big, then the less that you'll need to take. If you aren't able to fill your water from public drinking water sources, or buy it, then you'll need a filter. Based on opinions from others here, I'm thinking about going stoveless. I just don't need hot coffee (as long as I get some) or a hot beverage, and there are plenty of enticing delicious meals to be had that require no cooking.

tent or bivy
sleeping bag
pad
toiletries
water
food - a day's worth
phone
headlamp

Aside from the clothing that I will be wearing: A pair of shorts, a jersey, a pair of briefs, a pair of socks, long sleeve shirt, cool weather top and bottom, a pair of swim trunks, and a pair of crocs.
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Old 03-26-17, 03:51 PM
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I've been cold and wet, not fun. I aways go with a thin polypro hat and headband, a wool sweater, and some kind of rain coat. Helmet cover as well. Even in summer in New England.
2 bike shorts for when one get wet or needs washing. I also carry one freeze dried meal for back up. Enjoy. I also am a big fan of a wide brimed hat for off bike.
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Old 03-26-17, 04:32 PM
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Posting your current pack list can help us provide feedback. However you'll likely get so many conflicting opinions on this topic that it may be of little help. For instance, I bring one extra pair of padded undies and socks and do laundry (wash clothes while showering) more frequently. This has worked fine for me for multi-month touring in 3-season conditions. Others carry two or more extra padded shorts and socks and some carry no extras.

You'll benefit most by going on some overnighters before your trip to suss out what works for you.

Try bringing cook gear one night and going without a cook set the next night. Try carrying as little clothing as possible one night. Try camping at an RV park. Try stealth camping. Try camping without a pillow and with one. Trying riding in sneakers with flat pedals and then try riding clipless if you have it. Try riding and camping in the rain.
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Old 03-26-17, 04:47 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by BicycleCrazy View Post
I've spent a lot of time looking through the photos on the "Pictures of your loaded rigs" thread and there are some great setups.
There are a lot of great rigs posted there. Which ones, do you find particularly appealing?
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Old 03-26-17, 04:55 PM
  #11  
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I think I'm one of the ultra-lighters here so might represent one of the extreme ends of the spectrum. For me THIS is too much gear, while THIS is the bare minimum for 2 season wild camping.

Everyone has to work out what they are personally comfortable with over a number shakedown runs - unfortunately, usually through trial and error. I just went thru this last year over a few backpacking/bicycling/motorcycling short tours and I, more or less, boil down to:

5lb/10L - camping gear (shelter, bedding, kitchen, water processing, rain/cold wear)
5lb/10L - clothing/gadgets (3-4 'outfits', sandals, electronics)
10lb/5L - pannier/food/water (~1.5 days food, 2L water)
20lb/25L - total pannier (does not incl tools on bike, or pocket EDC)

Good luck.
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Old 03-26-17, 05:06 PM
  #12  
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I would say that the amount of gear you need is correlated with two other things - the amount of time you'll be on the road, and your budget. The more money and/or the less time you're planning to be gone = the less gear. Shorter trips mean that you probably don't need clothing for multiple seasons, for instance. If you've got a big budget and you're mostly eating in restaurants and sleeping in hotels, then you don't need much in the way of cooking and camping gear. On the other hand, if you're planning a mega long-term around-the-world adventure on the tightest possible budget, then you start to need to carry more stuff (clothes for multiple weather and/or cultural situations, cooking and camping gear, medical and safety kits, navigational equipment). Being on a very tight budget might also mean that you'd rather carry something that you already have, rather than having to buy a new one or pay to have it shipped to yourself later.

Even then, what one person considers an absolute need, other people might consider completely unnecessary. I've seen a bike tourist travel without shoes, for instance (he'd clipped a pair of flip flops to his bike for riding on, but otherwise carried or wore no other footwear). I watched a youtube video of a guy who travels around the world with only what he can carry in his pockets or sling across his chest in his shemagh. Then, on the other hand, you've got people who pack an entire 45-liter bag with just their makeup and personal hygiene kits.

If you want to bring something and you don't mind carrying it, then it's probably not too much. If an item is a weighty burden at the bottom of your pannier and it never, ever comes out, then it's probably not necessary. I don't think other people can determine that for you.
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Old 03-26-17, 05:06 PM
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You have the option of mailing stuff you don't use, back to somewhere, Right?


Flew to Dublin Ireland last weeks in 2/97, came with colder weather gear than I needed.

Warm waters of the Gulf Stream are very effective in keeping Western Europe warmer than its latitude would suggest.

so Morning of Day 2, after landing in the dark at 5pm, the previous day, and camping near a lay-by, I went to the Post Office...






....

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Old 03-26-17, 05:12 PM
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post
I think I'm one of the ultra-lighters here so might represent one of the extreme ends of the spectrum. For me THIS is too much gear, while THIS is the bare minimum for 2 season wild camping.
Oh, piffle. 85 pounds is small stuff. Now, 400 pounds? That might be excessive.

Better yet, how about this rig that supposedly weighs 300kg? Someone who was (and maybe still is?) on the road for more than 8 years couldn't possibly be unhappy with their set-up...

ETA: On second look... did that guy seriously pack a folding chair, a cot, and a portable camping toilet? On a bike tour? For really? A portable toilet. On a bicycle. WAT???

Last edited by leanneg; 03-26-17 at 05:26 PM. Reason: astonishment
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Old 03-26-17, 05:23 PM
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There's no simple answer. Everyone has to make his own decisions, based on the specific factors of his trip. Are you camping? planning to cook at campsites, or eat beforehand, then only snacks and morning coffee? Are you willing to spend dough for lodging if weather dictates?, or skip camping altogether except for the occasional night under a bridge and find cheap motels?

The answers to those will determine a large slice of the gear you need to pack, tent, bedroll, foam pad, cook stove, pots and plates, etc.

Then there's the bike. I make sure mine has at least 1,000 predictably reliable miles, so carry only a spoke wrench and 2 hex keys. I used to also carry a rear gear cable, now not even that (in the USA).

A lot of what's packed depends on your coping skills and whether you're willing to trust to luck and your ability to solve problems, or like a boy scout you prefer to "be prepared".

IME - the big unpredictable is crash damage. I don't try to prepare for every crash scenario, because it's (IMO) not possible. Crashes do happen and if they damage my bike while not severely damaging me, I'll lay up and resorts to my wits and Fedex, to get rolling again.
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Old 03-26-17, 06:48 PM
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Back in the old days, cycletourists had this idea that they had to be entirely self-sufficient from the moment they rolled out of their start location ... that they had to bring everything with them. There are tales of people bringing large bags of rice and oats and things so that they never had to stop at a shop along the way.

These days, most of the places we tour have stores. You can buy stuff as you go.

I'll often start a tour bringing one wicking T-shirt ... and end up with about 5 of them by the end of the tour.

You can even start with one tent (or sleeping bag, or mattress or whatever), decide you don't like it for one reason or another, and buy another one halfway through the tour.

So yes, start light ... and if you find you are cold or uncomfortable or something ... buy stuff to solve the problem.
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Old 03-26-17, 07:39 PM
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I have learned that the need to carry a lot of stuff is inversely proportional to the the gradient of the roads I find myself on. Heidelberg to Basel was great and I enjoyed riding along the rivers and into small towns. One day later I was trying (and failing) to get over the foothills that lead up to the Alps. Life was no longer fun. Camping gear no longer seemed a necessity, and credit cards paid for rooms. Tools, ha! The nearest bike shop can fix anything that breaks. Food? That's what all those restaurants and supermarkets and bodega's are for. Extra clothing - let me smell bad, i don't care!

Mailed all that weight to my destination - Voila!

Want to carry more? Get a motorcycle.

It's not like you are going to ride across the moon. There are services most places. If you are bikepacking though the mountain forests - then your solution is to carry what you need to survive.
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Old 03-26-17, 08:23 PM
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The U.S. is full of pick-up trucks.
You might get passed by 200 per day.
One of them will give you a ride if you are really stuck somewhere.
It's okay to forget your cassette removal tool.
You won't die.
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Old 03-26-17, 08:58 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by BicycleCrazy View Post
I'll be doing a solo, self supported CC ride this summer and have been putting together and modifying my list of gear. I've spent a lot of time looking through the photos on the "Pictures of your loaded rigs" thread and there are some great setups. I've spoken with some folks locally that have done tours many tours and they recommend not taking more than I absolutely need indicating that many people try to plan for every possible contingency taking excessive gear adding a lot of unnecessary weight and expense. Until I'm on the road it will be difficult to tell with certainty what I'll absolutely need.

What have your experiences been?
My setups have been getting lighter and lighter over the years for my tours. But it depends on location. I made a video for an ultralight backpacking trip I did last summer. Hope this will help...

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Old 03-26-17, 09:35 PM
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Assembling touring kit from scratch helps in that one can buy the most appropriate stuff for the intended mode instead of making do with old stuff. Choices all depend on how one balances comfort, convenience, cost, speed, fitness etc.
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Old 03-26-17, 10:10 PM
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Read what you may, my advice is to get out on weekend trips and start to get a feel for what works for you personally for given temps and for given total bike weight/your bikes gearing/what sort of gradients.

I am just finishing a trip where for the range of temps and terrain I was in, I ended up being very satisfied with what I brought and pretty much used everything clothes wise, and the spare parts or meds and what not I didn't use were still appropriate for the places I was riding through and would take again given the what ifs.

I wouldn't have been this successful without the experience of past trips, so get out there and find what works for you comfort wise.
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Old 03-27-17, 12:14 AM
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Maybe this is too much.



Member here in BF.
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Old 03-27-17, 05:51 AM
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I started out carrying around 50 pounds of gear on my first coast to coast tour and reduced the load every trip since then. My last coast to coast trip I had 14 pounds of bags and gear. All my trips have been camping and cooking type trips. While I could go lighter and some people carry more, I figure that pretty much describes a fairly reasonable range depending on your preferences.

You really need very little and even and ultralight list like the one for my 14 pound trip still can be trimmed. At some point the rewards for cutting become pretty minimal, but in my experience that comes a a point much further on the light end of the scale than you might imagine.

People always remind that you can send things home, but remember that you can also buy things or have them sent from home via general delivery.

A little article I wrote on my experiences with trimming my load:
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Ultralight
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Old 03-27-17, 08:51 AM
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If you are willing to ride who's to say what's too much?

For me it's a balancing act between being reasonably self sufficient, willing to forgo some conveniences while still enjoying the intended purpose of the tour.
That last one is a biggie.

If it's a social sight seeing tour I'll take whatever. I'm a strong rider so it's no sweat off me.
If it's a solo fast tour I'll take less. I can survive with just some very basic needs.

But there's no need to survive on little when the purpose is to have fun and you can outride everyone else on the trip. In that case I'll even take some of their stuff. I'm capable and it just doesn't bother me.

I was looking at that minimalist set up linked in post 11. Sort of impractical UL thinking there.

Let's say it's raining and cold and one sets up camp. Now one needs to walk somewhere. Oops, it seems the rain jacket is the tent. No worries, one can just wear the sleeping bag out in the rain instead. Don't get me started on the collapsible cup.
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Old 03-27-17, 09:54 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Happy Feet View Post
...I was looking at that minimalist set up linked in post 11. Sort of impractical UL thinking there.

Let's say it's raining and cold and one sets up camp. Now one needs to walk somewhere. Oops, it seems the rain jacket is the tent. No worries, one can just wear the sleeping bag out in the rain instead. Don't get me started on the collapsible cup.
You just need a little imagination. Part my clothing incls a 3oz DWR hooded windshirt - that works fine for short exclusions in the rain, the tyvek footprint (inner NetTent only used for sleeping) works fine too. I layer my extra clothing while active/moving, the poncho/quilt is strictly for stagnant/idle use while around camp during the cool evening and early mornings.

Floorless pryamids are also the most protective tent I've ever used due to their modular interiors which can be set-up/taken-down under the cover of the fly, can be used as a giant vestibule to cook in, and even dig a cathole latrine for your morning 'business' (wild camping, as the last step before leaving). The minimalist weight and pack size are just bonuses - I won't be going back my BA Flycreek UL2. What's your issue with collapsable cups?

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