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Backpack weight

Old 07-21-10, 08:15 PM
  #26  
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
....That makes me wonder if the bad experiences others have had with backpacks might be because they were using poorly fitted packs or packs that weren't designed for cycling.
It is possible, especially since there aren't many cycling-specific backpacks. Also I suspect many "backpack tourists" try the technique in an attempt to save money on racks and panniers, and aren't interested in investing in a $150 cycling backpack.


Originally Posted by SBRDude
Also, how do panniers affect handling? That is another concern of mine, but I'm not sure if it is well-founded.
With 15-20 lbs of gear, I doubt you'd notice any major handling issues. You might notice some handling issues with a backpack, though, since it is putting extra weight above your center of gravity.


Originally Posted by SBRDude
Regarding the contents of my pack, it is just a change of clothes, some toiletries, a small pump, and an iPhone. I already carry tools and a spare tube in a seat pouch for fixing flats. I don't normally carry tools for anything more serious and don't plan to do so on the tour. Most of my riding will be in populated places, so I see no reason to take a bunch of "what if" stuff.
You, uh, been to Europe yet?

One issue is that stores tend to close early. Another is that they don't always have quite the variety of items you'd get in the US.

Also, there are many places where you're going to be in the middle of nowhere; you could easily get stranded 10, 15 or 20 miles from the nearest bike shop on a road that doesn't have a lot of cars.

Further, just keep in mind if you have a serious mechanical, you might be able to get prompt service, but maybe not. I toured Belgium awhile back and had some wheel issues; if I had them work on it, I would've needed to wait a week. And that was in Ghent, which is a fairly big city.

You should definitely bring at least one spare tire, patch kits, a couple of tubes, and a couple of emergency spokes (metal or the fiber-fix kind) and a pump that's easy to use. It's worth the weight.
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Old 07-21-10, 09:00 PM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
I guess the reason I am interested in using a pack is because of my positive experience with a fully loaded hydration pack. When I first bought it, I assumed I would hate it. But, even on 2 to 3 hour rides I have never been bothered by it. That makes me wonder if the bad experiences others have had with backpacks might be because they were using poorly fitted packs or packs that weren't designed for cycling.

Also, how do panniers affect handling? That is another concern of mine, but I'm not sure if it is well-founded.

Regarding the contents of my pack, it is just a change of clothes, some toiletries, a small pump, and an iPhone. I already carry tools and a spare tube in a seat pouch for fixing flats. I don't normally carry tools for anything more serious and don't plan to do so on the tour. Most of my riding will be in populated places, so I see no reason to take a bunch of "what if" stuff.

You seem to think it is a choice between a backpack or panniers. Despite what several posters have said, you seem unaware that there is a third option ... the trunk bag. Assuming you've already got a rack because you're sort of considering panniers, why not just use a trunk bag? You can get them in all sorts of sizes and configurations.
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Old 07-21-10, 09:30 PM
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I would recommend handle bar bag, for the convenience of quick access, a fanny pack for things you want on you at all times, and a saddle bag. The sweaty back comes from lack of airflow to evaporate the sweat. Deuter and Vaude make backpacks that hold the load away from the back, to alleviate this problem (my son uses one but he doesnt ride long distances).. If you want to carry your water on your back, you should consider a bag that mounts in the triangle of the frame. Are you taking any rainwear, or jerseys/nickers for colder days? 2000 km of riding without some rain days is a bit optimistic and it could get cool going over the alps.
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Old 07-21-10, 11:17 PM
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- One thing to keep in mind, concerns about a sweaty back are a bit perplexing to me. I ALWAYS sweat when I ride. Even if it is cold outside, I sweat inside the layers. I have no idea how anyone could not sweat on a ride unless they are going at a very casual pace. So, anyway, I appreciate all the replies and I am indeed considering an alternative to a backpack, but not because of it being sweaty...


It is not that you sweat, it is what happens to your sweat. Another mind experiment would be to compare sweating while wearing a plastic bag wrapped all over your body, to normal clothes where the sweat can works its way out.
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Old 07-21-10, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
Thanks for all the replies.

A few people mentioned problems commuting with backpacks, which reminded me that I used to commute to work a few days a week with a backpack. It was 20 miles each way and I never had an issue with the pack, sore back, etc. The only reason I stopped doing it was the bad traffic after work; mornings were enjoyable rides, but afternoons were terrible.

Whatever I decide to do, I agree that some testing is certainly necessary.

I guess the reason I am interested in using a pack is because of my positive experience with a fully loaded hydration pack. When I first bought it, I assumed I would hate it. But, even on 2 to 3 hour rides I have never been bothered by it. That makes me wonder if the bad experiences others have had with backpacks might be because they were using poorly fitted packs or packs that weren't designed for cycling.

Also, how do panniers affect handling? That is another concern of mine, but I'm not sure if it is well-founded.

Regarding the contents of my pack, it is just a change of clothes, some toiletries, a small pump, and an iPhone. I already carry tools and a spare tube in a seat pouch for fixing flats. I don't normally carry tools for anything more serious and don't plan to do so on the tour. Most of my riding will be in populated places, so I see no reason to take a bunch of "what if" stuff.
Keep in mind bike messengers ride all day, every day, with heavy loads on their backs.
Likewise, an Army Ranger goes hiking every day with a severely non-ergonomic 100 lb backpack every day, not a modern hiking pack,
Much of what you will want to have as your touring rig has a lot to do with how interested you are in comfort, versus versatility, versus budget, etc. Guys doing the Great Divide MTB race mostly have small backpacks along with frame bag setups, they do okay.
It is all a judgement call, based on the tradeoffs that you accept.
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Old 07-22-10, 03:15 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Machka
You seem to think it is a choice between a backpack or panniers. Despite what several posters have said, you seem unaware that there is a third option ... the trunk bag. Assuming you've already got a rack because you're sort of considering panniers, why not just use a trunk bag? You can get them in all sorts of sizes and configurations.
Here's one example ... this is me with my bicycle set up for a 200 km or shorter ride, complete with handlebar bag, small trunk bag, and bento bag ...



If a trunk bag like that is too small, you might want to look at the Carradice collection. I have a Nelson Longflap, which is one of their largest trunk bags. For me, it's too large for shorter rides but works well for greater than 200 km rides (i.e. the 300K, 400K, 600K randonnees) and for touring. I'm considering the Pendle as a happy medium between the bag in the above photo and the Nelson Longflap.
https://www.carradice.co.uk/
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Old 07-22-10, 05:28 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
You, uh, been to Europe yet?

One issue is that stores tend to close early. Another is that they don't always have quite the variety of items you'd get in the US.

Also, there are many places where you're going to be in the middle of nowhere; you could easily get stranded 10, 15 or 20 miles from the nearest bike shop on a road that doesn't have a lot of cars.

Further, just keep in mind if you have a serious mechanical, you might be able to get prompt service, but maybe not. I toured Belgium awhile back and had some wheel issues; if I had them work on it, I would've needed to wait a week. And that was in Ghent, which is a fairly big city.

You should definitely bring at least one spare tire, patch kits, a couple of tubes, and a couple of emergency spokes (metal or the fiber-fix kind) and a pump that's easy to use. It's worth the weight.
I have been to Europe a few times. I'm not concerned about stores closing early because I don't plan on riding all day or even deep into the afternoon. Not going through France, so that should help. Bike riding is of course a major part of this trip, but I also plan on doing the other normal things people do when on vacation in Europe. I would prefer to leave each day by 8 or 9 am and ride for 3 or 4 hours. On flat roads, I usually ride about 20-22 mph, so I would go a bit slower, especially on days where I needed a break. Anyway, the plan is to average 60 mi/100k per day and have at least 2 rest days.


Originally Posted by Machka
You seem to think it is a choice between a backpack or panniers. Despite what several posters have said, you seem unaware that there is a third option ... the trunk bag. Assuming you've already got a rack because you're sort of considering panniers, why not just use a trunk bag? You can get them in all sorts of sizes and configurations.
Yes, I have seen the suggestions by others about a trunk bag and I am considering it.
Originally Posted by AndrewP
I would recommend handle bar bag, for the convenience of quick access, a fanny pack for things you want on you at all times, and a saddle bag. The sweaty back comes from lack of airflow to evaporate the sweat. Deuter and Vaude make backpacks that hold the load away from the back, to alleviate this problem (my son uses one but he doesnt ride long distances).. If you want to carry your water on your back, you should consider a bag that mounts in the triangle of the frame. Are you taking any rainwear, or jerseys/nickers for colder days? 2000 km of riding without some rain days is a bit optimistic and it could get cool going over the alps.
Using a variety of bags sounds like a strategy worth considering. I'll probably take leg and arm warmers and lightweight windbreaker. I also plan on taking a lightweight fleece that can be used in a pinch if it gets real cold and that I can use at nights in street clothes.
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Old 07-22-10, 10:25 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
Also, how do panniers affect handling? That is another concern of mine, but I'm not sure if it is well-founded.
For carrying big loads, I've used panniers and a Bob trailer, and I prefer the panniers. For handing reasons it's good to distribute the load front and rear. Since I"ve had spoke-breaking problems in the past, I put a lot of weight in the front. That affects handling a lot.

With all that mass on the front wheels, steering is slowed. It resists changing direction. When I'm riding at normal speeds everything is fine. But when I get going really slowly, like up a mountain pass in my lowest gear, it becomes a bit of an effort to maintain a straight line. I have to concentrate so I don't wander out into traffic. It's not that big of a deal, and I certainly prefer it to pulling a trailer.

Also, when you stop, the weight on the front makes the front wheel flop around. It's annoying! (Whine)

About 35 years ago I had a friend who heard my tales of bike touring and wanted to try it. He had a big Christmas check from his grandmother, so he bought a touring bike, panniers, etc. He got them just before we left and didn't have a chance to try them out. He loaded them up the morning we left. We had a bunch of friends there to see us off. He waved goodbye to everyone, got on his bike, rode about 10 feet, then crashed. He had tried to make a sharp turn and lost control. It was pretty funny. Nothing was damaged and he had no more problems on that tour, and we had a great time (in the San Juans in Washington.) Ah, youth.
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Old 07-22-10, 01:49 PM
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The consensus seems to be "go with Panniers" I agree.
But you could go with a backpack, and purchase panniers in Europe if you find you don't like riding with the backpack.
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Old 07-22-10, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
....I don't plan on riding all day or even deep into the afternoon. Not going through France, so that should help. Bike riding is of course a major part of this trip, but I also plan on doing the other normal things people do when on vacation in Europe.
Aha! Herein lies the rub.

Almost everyone here is assuming you're going to spend all day on your bike, covering say 50 miles a day, with riding the bike as the focus. If short riding days are the plan, a backpack is more feasible for the off-the-bike days.

I still think you'd be better off with a big trunk bag combined with some type of small backpack with room for a hydration system and a bit of stuff. That way most of the weight stays on the bike, but you still have the backpack with you for wandering around town, and leaves you the option for longer days on the bike. Kind of handy to be able to do the extra miles if you get lost or just feel like riding more on a given day.
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Old 07-23-10, 06:59 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
Aha! Herein lies the rub.

Almost everyone here is assuming you're going to spend all day on your bike, covering say 50 miles a day, with riding the bike as the focus.
My original post said 3-4 hours per day at a brisk pace...

I am indeed rethinking my use of a backpack. I happen to have one of those Topeak MTX beam racks that is leftover from a hybrid I used for commuting short distances in grad school. I might buy the fold-out bag that an earlier poster showed pictures of and see how I like riding with it. I know they are designed well and safe, but I was always a bit apprehensive about having a weighted down lever arm attached to my seatpost. Does anyone make a rack that attaches via the skewers?
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Old 07-25-10, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by SBRDude
My original post said 3-4 hours per day at a brisk pace...

Does anyone make a rack that attaches via the skewers?
Yes. Old Man Mountain racks. Not cheap, but strong and light. Sometimes hard to find in a single package.
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Old 07-25-10, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TOLOCOMan
Yes. Old Man Mountain racks. Not cheap, but strong and light. Sometimes hard to find in a single package.
Excellent - exactly what I was looking for.

FWIW, I have pretty much abandoned the backpack idea. Thanks for all the info from everyone.
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