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Almost ready

Old 08-27-23, 07:15 PM
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Almost ready

I wish to express my gratitude towards all of you bike tourers who have taken the time to write down so much information and experience to share with people like me who are thinking about getting (back) into touring on their bikes. Earlier this year I had no intention of doing anything right away, but the more I read the more I got excited about the possibility of getting things together for a short trip in the near future. My first bike touring was when I was 15 in 1973. With a friend we did a few-day camping trip in the Green Mountains, Vermont to get ready and then a month-long trip from Montreal, through New Hampshire and Maine to Saint John, New Brunswick, up to Campbellton, across Gaspť and back to Montreal, staying with several different families along the way. We just camped anywhere, even on the side of the road. Cycled more than 1600 km (1000 mi). Had a great time.

Me back in '73 the day of departure :



And then through the years it was motorcycle camping, then car camping, with several backpacking overnighters in the Adirondacks along the way. I've always ridden my bike around town, just haven't gone anywhere except for one really short trip in the early '80s.

So now back to cycling. I just took a spin on my fully loaded bike for the first time this afternoon and was relieved to discover that I could handle the weight even if my bike now drives like a heavy truck. I actually prefer the much slower steering with the panniers up front. There is only one hill nearby, a fairly short affair at not much more than 5% or so, and I've had this background fear all through my preparations that I wouldn't be able to make it to the top. I was pretty happy that I made it and even had a few low gears to spare.

Here's the bike. I've been following the recommendation to start touring with whatever you've got, and this is what I had. The black rack bag will be replaced with my Bear Keg full of food and I'll have tent poles on the top tube and fuel under the down tube. The lock will be replaced with something a lot lighter.



My saddle is the same one as in the first picture and been on all my bikes. So it's celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.

My plan is to make several day outings of 60-80 km (40-50 mi) fully loaded and then take off for a week or so of camping at campgrounds. The planned loop is 500-600 km (300-400 mi), never more than a couple of hours from home by car so I can be rescued by family if necessary.

Eventually, I'd like to cross Canada as I've never been out west and I'd really like to see the Rockies.
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Old 08-27-23, 07:59 PM
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Have a great trip. And bring some form of rain cover for that vintage saddle so you will be able to keep using it for years to come.
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Old 08-27-23, 08:51 PM
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Best of luck and hopefully you'll take plenty of photos that you can share
Btw, just a wonderful photo up top
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Old 08-28-23, 06:11 AM
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Nice looking setup and a good (short term) plan for a shake-down tour. Enjoy.
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Old 08-28-23, 06:25 AM
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Very cool! I'm also returning to bicycle touring after two decades mostly on motorcycles.

Go recapture a slice of your youth and let us know how it goes.
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Old 08-28-23, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat
Nice looking setup and a good (short term) plan for a shake-down tour. Enjoy.
I wish I could have taken a short trip before riding across the country, especially because I had never camped before. Alas, I was too busy with things like moving out of my apartment, and I didnít get my racks and bags until about 3 weeks before my train ride out west. I did manage to take one 62 mile ride fully loaded, during which I missed being killed by maybe 100í when some kid veered off the road, hit a telephone pole and flipped his car onto its roof in the lane I was riding in. Another motorist punched a hole in a side window with a Club (Remember those?) to vent the smoke that was building up inside. The kid seemed okay, but I couldnít help thinking it was a bad omen.
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Old 08-28-23, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
I wish I could have taken a short trip before riding across the country, especially because I had never camped before. Alas, I was too busy with things like moving out of my apartment, and I didnít get my racks and bags until about 3 weeks before my train ride out west. I did manage to take one 62 mile ride fully loaded, during which I missed being killed by maybe 100í when some kid veered off the road, hit a telephone pole and flipped his car onto its roof in the lane I was riding in. Another motorist punched a hole in a side window with a Club (Remember those?) to vent the smoke that was building up inside. The kid seemed okay, but I couldnít help thinking it was a bad omen.
We do see a surprising number of threads here on BF with someone planning their first tour and it being a rather major trip..1000 miles or more without planning any practice runs. Then there's the occasional guy (avid biker) and wife/GF (casual biker) jumping into a tour without a shake down trip or two. (yikes) Such a "plan" is ripe for a failure-to-launch after a few days or a staggered start. A couple/few short trips of 2-3 days along with some objective observation of what gear is really needed(hopefully it rains for a day or two on one of the trips) REALLY helps in making the actual tour much more pleasant.

With respect to your cross country..wow. Never camped before..interesting way to start. Sort of jumping in the deep end. Determination can go a long way in any effort. I've camped my entire life..it was the day after day riding 50ish miles that I wasn't familiar with. That part was surprisingly easy.

The accident in front of you would give one pause. A while back I had a texting young girl drift off the road about 10-15 feet in front of me. She pulled back on the road as her tires hit the gravel shoulder and woke her up. Had I left my house 10 seconds earlier..that might have been a bad moment for me. Sobering. I ride with a helmet rear view mirror now and watch approaching cars for a sign that they're giving me some room. If not I start considering plan B.
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Old 08-28-23, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by fishboat
We do see a surprising number of threads here on BF with someone planning their first tour and it being a rather major trip..1000 miles or more without planning any practice runs. Then there's the occasional guy (avid biker) and wife/GF (casual biker) jumping into a tour without a shake down trip or two. (yikes) Such a "plan" is ripe for a failure-to-launch after a few days or a staggered start. A couple/few short trips of 2-3 days along with some objective observation of what gear is really needed(hopefully it rains for a day or two on one of the trips) REALLY helps in making the actual tour much more pleasant.

With respect to your cross country..wow. Never camped before..interesting way to start. Sort of jumping in the deep end. Determination can go a long way in any effort. I've camped my entire life..it was the day after day riding 50ish miles that I wasn't familiar with. That part was surprisingly easy.
I did ACAís unsupported Northern Tier tour so I could learn the subtleties of camping, like donít pitch you tent where water might pool if it rains. The first night we stayed in the group area of Kitsap Memorial Park on Puget Sound. I had to use the porta potty in the middle of the night and was worried there might be a snake inside. When I exited, I had to shoo away a raccoon that was trying to get at supplies on the picnic table. Not long after that, a couple of us discovered that there were four really loud snores in the group of 13.

The riding part was relatively easy. I was an avid roadie and used a bike for general transportation. One and even two metric centuries or more during a weekend was not rare. I had also done two supported tour across PA. But when we crossed the North Cascades Highway we started out in the upper 30s. It started raining before Rainy Pass. The rain turned to snow until Washington Pass, and there was over 6í of snow plowed up along the sides of the road. I had never seen anything like it.

I carried a lot of heavy film camera equipment, including a medium format camera with three lenses and a 35 mm. That mentally helped me decide to leave home creature comforts. One nice thing is that my share of the group cooking gear was one of the large pots with a lid that doubled as a frying pan. No one wanted it because of its bulk, but Iím sure it weighed less than two full 32 oz. fuel bottles that a couple of people chose to carry.

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Old 09-02-23, 11:04 AM
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Went on another 70 km dress rehearsal ride yesterday, this time with most of everything. Bike path all the way. Not long after I set out, an elderly cycling gentleman I passed shouted out "nice beer keg !". Appropriately enough, in the town at the far end of my ride a four-day beer festival was just getting underway, so I fit right in.



This is my 'high-visibility' mode for when I'll be on roads with cars :



(that's not the trail I was on, which was a paved bike path)

I also have a pretty aggressive Cateye ViZ 450 taillight that I can clip on the rear rack.

I almost felt like I was already on tour, except that I got to sleep in a comfortable bed. Felt great.
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Old 09-02-23, 04:12 PM
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That's a loaded bike, the fat tired version of what my last attempt looked like but brighter colored. Having done this before, you know that you know how to tour but don't be surprised if your body can't keep up. Have fun anyway.
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Old 09-02-23, 09:38 PM
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Originally Posted by thumpism
... but don't be surprised if your body can't keep up.
This has been the big unanswered question all through my preparations, and the only way to find out was to go ahead all the way to the end. I hurt both knees running and couldn't run for a couple of years until last fall. Then I could only run less than one minute before it hurt too much. I practiced slowly during the winter and more in the spring and I'm now close to normal and can run an hour in the rough as long as I keep my knees straight. Cycling has never been much of a problem, probably because the knees are always straight, but I still haven't done long rides two days in a row. The only thing that hurts is my rear end after 4-5 hours, but yesterday was quite a bit better that previous rides.

I have a new frame of mind, which is go at the speed that is comfortable and not more. So I'm pretty slow. In the past I'd get frustrated by a strong headwind and force my way forward, making progress being most important. Now it's staying comfortable at a cadence of 75 or so which may mean 10 km/hr or less. I no longer care if I'm making progress, I know I'll eventually get to where I'm going so don't even think about it. I've discovered gratitude in being alive and really enjoy just looking at everything as I pass slowly by. The second big unknown is how it'll go in hilly country. Even as a kid I pushed my bike up some long steep hills so I expect I'll be doing a lot of that. Hopefully I'll find a comfortable slow way of doing that as well.
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Old 09-03-23, 05:16 AM
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The worst part of pushing a loaded bike up a climb is hitting the inside leg on a pannier. I have often given thought to removing the offending pannier and strapping it down to the opposite side of the bike so that I can be more vertical when pushing instead of having to lean over from one side when pushing.
Have you weighed your packs and gear?
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Old 09-03-23, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero
The worst part of pushing a loaded bike up a climb is hitting the inside leg on a pannier. I have often given thought to removing the offending pannier and strapping it down to the opposite side of the bike so that I can be more vertical when pushing instead of having to lean over from one side when pushing.
Have you weighed your packs and gear?
I'm pretty close to 50 lbs of packs and gear without water, food or fuel.

I'm been thinking about the safest way to push a bike on a road with cars and little shoulder. Since my natural position would be to push on the left side of the bike, it seems to me that I'd be better off on the other side of the road (we drive on the right) so the wheels are on pavement and I'm a bit out of the way and can see what oncoming cars are doing. But my feet would likely be on gravel, which may not be ideal for pushing. On the right side of the road the bike would be in gravel, I'd be on the pavement or also in gravel, and cars would be pretty close. Looks to me that the far side is the better side. Do you switch from one side of the bike to the other on a long push ?

I was pretty inpired by reading a post by a woman who pushed her bike for eight hours one day in the alps on a single uphill.
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Old 09-05-23, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
I'm pretty close to 50 lbs of packs and gear without water, food or fuel.

I'm been thinking about the safest way to push a bike on a road with cars and little shoulder. Since my natural position would be to push on the left side of the bike, it seems to me that I'd be better off on the other side of the road (we drive on the right) so the wheels are on pavement and I'm a bit out of the way and can see what oncoming cars are doing. But my feet would likely be on gravel, which may not be ideal for pushing. On the right side of the road the bike would be in gravel, I'd be on the pavement or also in gravel, and cars would be pretty close. Looks to me that the far side is the better side. Do you switch from one side of the bike to the other on a long push ?

I was pretty inpired by reading a post by a woman who pushed her bike for eight hours one day in the alps on a single uphill.
only you know what you are carrying, but if you can bring this down, you'll appreciate it.
adding in water, food and fuel is going to make it pretty heavy.

in the end, you're going to have to spend a week on the road to figure out what stuff you really dont need, but again, we have no idea how heavy your tent is, campmat, sleeping bag, and if you have too many redundant pieces of clothing and or heavy clothes to begin with.
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Old 09-05-23, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
only you know what you are carrying, but if you can bring this down, you'll appreciate it.
No doubt. For me, and for now, it comes down to a question of comfort at the campsite over comfort on the road, especially for constant-rain days (I'll be far from any possible indoor activities). So far I'm comfortable with the weight on the flat and moderate, possibly long uphills. I still need to experience lots of hills in a day.

If it didn't rain, I didn't cook and didn't want to recline, I could save 8 kg (17 lbs) + fuel.
Panniers are 6kg (13 lbs) empty.
3-season tent, sleeping bag, and mattress 7kg (15 lbs).

Total of the above 21 kg (45 lbs). I'm trying to not go too far past 50 lbs with clothes and the little things.

I should get away some time next week if the weather cooperates (at least for the first day or two).

EDIT :
I just realized that I've already blown past the 50 lbs mark because I've been riding with a front pannier loaded with dummy stuff to balance out the other one which is tent-related. It hasn't been included in my calculations apart from the pannier itself and will contain mostly clothes.

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Old 09-06-23, 06:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
No doubt. For me, and for now, it comes down to a question of comfort at the campsite over comfort on the road, especially for constant-rain days (I'll be far from any possible indoor activities). So far I'm comfortable with the weight on the flat and moderate, possibly long uphills. I still need to experience lots of hills in a day.

If it didn't rain, I didn't cook and didn't want to recline, I could save 8 kg (17 lbs) + fuel.
Panniers are 6kg (13 lbs) empty.
3-season tent, sleeping bag, and mattress 7kg (15 lbs).

Total of the above 21 kg (45 lbs). I'm trying to not go too far past 50 lbs with clothes and the little things.

I should get away some time next week if the weather cooperates (at least for the first day or two).

EDIT :
I just realized that I've already blown past the 50 lbs mark because I've been riding with a front pannier loaded with dummy stuff to balance out the other one which is tent-related. It hasn't been included in my calculations apart from the pannier itself and will contain mostly clothes.
you will be setting off soon, so unlikely to change things, so given the weight of the bike and your age, (just a bit more than me) I would suggest if possible to plan for a few shorter days at first, maybe 50, 60k, but if you can't, just make sure that you sleep well in the days prior to leaving and as you say, slow and steady.

Here in the Montreal area it is going to be damn hot this week, 30, 31c , until the weekend, so I hope you aren't setting out in this.

When you are back, you will have a much better idea of what things you took and didnt need, and hopefully can assess the things that you took and which were too heavy.

"If it didn't rain, I didn't cook and didn't want to recline, I could save 8 kg (17 lbs) + fuel."---- 17lbs seems a lot, so probably you have a folding chair (reasonable item, Ive just never gotten one because of the cost and weight) but I suspect your cooking kit is extensive and I also suspect you are bringing a tarp. Ive learned over the years to have a pretty simple cooking kit, usually one smallish alu pot and a mug, thats it, plus a simple spork, plastic knive and a swiss army knife for the can opener, knife etc.

Ive tended over the years to use the lighter Ortlieb Plus panniers, but have used the regular ones too, just trying to keep empty pannier weight down. You also have that food barrel, which is a smart thing for keeping your food safe.

"3-season tent, sleeping bag, and mattress 7kg (15 lbs)." -- from the length of your poles, I suspect the tent is heavy-ish, maybe the sleeping bag and mattress too. I totally get when getting back into an activity like this that you are using camping stuff you have already, buying new things add up quickly.
I don't know if you'll want to do more cycle touring, but gradually changing out some heavier items for much lighter ones will take the overall weight down, and you will notice this on hills, but thats neither here nor there right now, you have what you have and are heading off soon.

do make sure that your seat height is at the optimum height, and downshift, downshift downshift to take care of those old knees and leg muscles.
I hope that taking it easily, eating and drinking properly during the day and getting started at a good early time will mean it goes well enough.

Want to add like others said, great photo from 73. Very cool.

have fun on this return to bike touring.
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Old 09-06-23, 07:49 AM
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Originally Posted by djb
you will be setting off soon, so unlikely to change things, so given the weight of the bike and your age, (just a bit more than me) I would suggest if possible to plan for a few shorter days at first, maybe 50, 60k, but if you can't, just make sure that you sleep well in the days prior to leaving and as you say, slow and steady.
Thanks djb for the suggestions and thoughts. I've been riding 70km every 2-3 days for a week fully loaded and will be going out again today. It's getting easier. The only thing that hurts is my rear end at the end of the ride, but I can feel that also getting better. I seem to be slowly conforming to my saddle, which is a bit weird. I tend to move around a bit always searching for a good posture and there is one position where everything is just right, little weight on the hands, back ok, smooth pedaling and the saddle just feels like a perfectly fitted hammock. This only happened in a noticeable way last time I was out.

I'm going to push the bike up an overpass today because I have as yet no idea of what it'll be like pushing for when I have to.
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Old 09-06-23, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul_P

I'm going to push the bike up an overpass today because I have as yet no idea of what it'll be like pushing for when I have to.
Be mindful of crank arm position. Not difficult skin your shin if you arenít.
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Old 09-06-23, 08:32 AM
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I generally have found not pushing to be easier, but my bike has nice low gearing, so hopefully yours does also. That said, sometimes a short walk up a hill can feel good because different muscles are used, you just dont want to whack your shin on the pedal, which can happen.

re riding comfort, there is no magic answer here, and why its better to have ridden your bike a lot before going on tour, to get little details dialed in. Often just a small change of this or that makes all the difference, and riding a rather heavy bike, like 80-90lbs or whatever yours is, means that little things will show up discomfort.
Same with knowing that your padded bike shorts work for you, or whatever.
The more you ride though, hopefully the better you get at noticing perhaps small changes that can make a difference.

all the best
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Old 09-06-23, 08:34 PM
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Originally Posted by djb
I generally have found not pushing to be easier, but my bike has nice low gearing, so hopefully yours does also. That said, sometimes a short walk up a hill can feel good because different muscles are used, you just dont want to whack your shin on the pedal, which can happen.
Well I pushed my bike up a rather large overpass just to see... not that much of incline. More awkward than I hoped, the issue being that once the bike is tilted over to clear the rear pannier, it's way off balance and has to be held up while also pushing forward (all of you already knew that, I'm sure). Still, doable. I guess I'll have to develop some bike pushing muscles.

For the same hill, I can push at 5-6 km/hr or pedal at 8 km/hr in 2nd gear (22.0 g-in). I also prefer pedalling :-) I have yet to use my 1st gear (17.9 g-in) and I'm not sure I'll be able to keep the bike upright at such a slow speed, need a steeper hill to find out and some practice, no doubt.
26" wheels, 175mm cranks.

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Old 09-06-23, 09:18 PM
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Biking at slow speeds is like anything, you get better only by doing, not reading about it or watching YouTube videos. Worth trying out though.
you'll improve, touring bike handling skills aren't that different than regular riding skills, you'll get it.
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Old 09-08-23, 11:42 AM
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Looks like I may get to try out my rain gear. I was planning on leaving wednesday sept 13th but they're predicting 25-30mm rain (1") between wed and thurs , then chance of more in following days.


I'm planning a pretty long (for me) first day (95km / 60mi) and would rather not be soaked the whole way, but I'm also really anxious to get away. Hopefully there's still time for the weather to change.

Edit: I just freed up Tuesday which is supposed to be sunny to give me a better option. I don't mind rain as much once I'm somewhere.

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Old 09-08-23, 04:00 PM
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What I really mind, as Iím sure many others do, is having to pack up in the rain.

A couple of years ago there was a good chance it would start raining before dawn one day. Got up extra early and moved everything, including the still erected tent, under the large overhang of the bathhouse. Made my coffee, ate my breakfast and packed up everything while it was still dark. Of course, the rain held off until I was on the road.
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Old 09-09-23, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Paul_P
Looks like I may get to try out my rain gear. I was planning on leaving wednesday sept 13th but they're predicting 25-30mm rain (1") between wed and thurs , then chance of more in following days.


I'm planning a pretty long (for me) first day (95km / 60mi) and would rather not be soaked the whole way, but I'm also really anxious to get away. Hopefully there's still time for the weather to change.

Edit: I just freed up Tuesday which is supposed to be sunny to give me a better option. I don't mind rain as much once I'm somewhere.
At least it'll be reasonably warm. Be sure to take a riding jacket or (obviously) rain gear..not to keep you dry so much as to keep you from getting too cool as you ride. Once it's raining and you're riding..you're going to get wet, as wet everywhere as you can get(either from the rain seeping in or sweat seeping out). Keeping the "wind chill" under control is key. Riding completely soaked isn't that bad if you're warm.

A helmet cover is nice too. It won't keep you dry, but it keeps rain from seeping into your eyes.

Keep your saddle dry with a cover if it's leather..obvious, though still lost on some folks.

Staying dry in camp, when you want to (need to) stay dry is where to focus your staying-dry efforts.

Packing up in the rain sucks..just pack wet with wet and keep it away from your clothes and sleeping bag. Heavy duty, trash compactor plastic bags are good insurance in keeping dry things dry and robust enough to limit holes from repeated use.
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