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Backpack weight

Old 07-20-10, 08:18 PM
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Backpack weight

I am planning a trip in Europe for next summer. Right now, the ride will be from Amsterdam to Rome. I have never done any touring (I am a very experienced cyclist, however) and I'll definitely be doing the "credit card" variety, i.e., staying in hotels and eating out. I have no interest in camping or being self-reliant. I want to take as little with me as possible and I don't want to use panniers. So, my only option seems like a backpack. I've done a lot of planning regarding what I should take and what I can do without, and right now my backpack weight is about 11-12 lbs (including the pack itself).

I have used fully loaded camelbacks for mountain biking. I never notice the pack being there, but it usually ways about 6-8 lbs. Since my planned load is proportionally much larger, I'm trying to find out if anyone has ridden for hours with a larger pack without any discomfort. On my trip, I plan to ride about 3-4 hours a day on average (some shorter, some longer), usually at a brisk pace. Days with lots of climbing will mean longer hours for that day.
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Old 07-20-10, 08:32 PM
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Years ago, I commuted to work with a backpack. I would carry only a change of clothes and shoes, but hated the pack. I always arrived at work with a nasty sweat spot on my back, and sore shoulders. This is why I recommend using panniers or at least a saddlebag.
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Old 07-20-10, 08:37 PM
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I don't see why it would kill you, it just doesn't make any sense to carry the pack when you could have it on a rack. You don't even need a fancy rack and panniers thing, just enough rack so you can strap your pack to it. While I prefer panniers, a lot of them weigh quite a bit, so a golite approach of a pack and a cheap Al rack will work.

Around page 43 they go from backpacking to biking. Ray is the original golite promoter, and uses a really light approach that includes camping gear, and still under 10 pounds, but even he used a rack:

https://www.rayjardine.com/adventures...Bike/index.htm
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Old 07-20-10, 08:44 PM
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For 6 years I commuted year round with a backpack loaded with a change of clothes and lunch, etc. My commute was 13.6 km round trip, and I was just fine with that backpack.

Then I moved and tried to commute to my new job with the same setup ... same backpack, same stuff. But my commute was 70 km round trip. I used the backpack ONCE, and nearly threw it into the ditch. 13 km was fine ... 70 was definitely not.

My suggestion would be to load up a backpack the way you're thinking of travelling, and go ride the distance you're thinking of travelling every day ... see how you go for yourself.
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Old 07-20-10, 08:59 PM
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Hate the hot back. I use a messenger bag now when on my rackless road bike. For a light touring trip I'd go with panniers that double as messenger bags like this one:

r
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Old 07-20-10, 09:54 PM
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Have you considered a trunk/handlebar bag combo? Less 'bulk' than panniers and without the sore back and sweatiness a backpack would give you. A hydration pack is about all the 'backpack' weight I can stand when cycling long distances; YMMV.
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Old 07-20-10, 10:58 PM
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Maybe a saddlebag? You don't need a rack, and it can be easily taken off the bike when you stop.
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Old 07-21-10, 05:42 AM
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FWIW, I recommend the following.

• Assemble your gear for the trip, and don't skimp on repair gear (spare tire, spare tubes, etc)
• Put it in a backpack
• Wear the backpack for a 50-mile ride
• Imagine doing that 6 days in a row

If it works for you, or doesn't feel comfortable, then you have your answer.

IMO though you really aren't benefitting much by paring things down to the point where you only have one pair of underwear, no deodorant and a sore back.

It's also very easy and convenient to use something like the Topeak Trunk Bags, many of which have 12l / 750 cu in of available space, or just find some very small and light panniers. It really is not a big deal to use them, and much more comfortable than a backpack.
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Old 07-21-10, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Bacciagalupe
IMO though you really aren't benefitting much by paring things down to the point where you only have one pair of underwear, no deodorant and a sore back.
People carry underwear on tour? : )
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Old 07-21-10, 07:00 AM
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You're almost certainly going to be miserable if you try to carry a backpack for that long. If you really don't want to have a rack, go for an uber-big saddlebag - Carradice makes some really sexy ones. If you're not cooking for yourself or camping, all you really need is bike repair/maintenance stuff (not much space or weight), whatever changes of clothes you want, and snacks and water for while you're riding. You can easily fit all that in a saddlebag.
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Old 07-21-10, 07:03 AM
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I am probably larger than most people here. My thoughts are, the more weight you have on your upper body the more sore your rear will be at the end of the day.

At this point, I don't like carrying a camel back unless I need the water. I would rather have my weight off of me and on the frame.

Do a test ride with a full pack and with a little extra weight. See if it effects your balance and how sore your rear is.
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Old 07-21-10, 10:33 AM
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I carry a Camelbak on tour. I like having the extra water capacity (on top of my 3 water bottles - I don't have them all full very often, but I like having the capacity if needed.) I also like how it keeps cold water cold for much longer than bottles on cages.

In college I rode my bike the 4 miles to school every day and carried all my books and things in a small backpack.

Both of those comments illustrate my feeling that a moderate load in a backpack isn't all that bad, if that's what you want to do.

However, once, when I was really young and stupid, I carried an exterior frame backpacking backpack on a bike for about 10 miles. Boy, was that dumb! It was totally unwieldy and the frame hit my head.

If you want to carry a moderate load on a backpack it should be fine. If you need more, consider combining a backpack with a small rack-mounted load.

Last edited by BigBlueToe; 07-22-10 at 10:12 AM.
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Old 07-21-10, 11:04 AM
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If you really can keep your backpack weight as low as 12 lbs (I am assuming just clothes, toiletries, camera, bike tools?) it should be no problem. If you are not interested in pannier or rack, then I don't know why everyone else is pushing it when you already said it. Go with the backpack, but if you have a low bar on your bike, you may want to raise it or flip the stem to get your position a little more upright.
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Old 07-21-10, 11:51 AM
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This is the setup I've used on race bikes. Weight is limited to 20 pounds, and you have to use an alloy or steel seatpost (not carbon). Topeak MTX rack with DX-P trunkbag with zip-out panniers. It's a cools system, although not cheap. It travels easily from your home to Europe, etc., having to carry it on the plane and trains. It literally slides off the rack when you're at your destination with the click of a button, and it has a nice handle atop the trunk for easy carrying.

Only downside is cost -- about $200 all in (rack, trunk, raincover, side stiffeners for panniers, confiscatory gov't. tax .)




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Old 07-21-10, 11:57 AM
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I did an overnight trip with a lightly loaded Camelbak backpack--really just one change of clothes, basic toiletries, and energy bars. It was a challenging ride both ways, and I really felt the weight of that thing on my back. In fairness, I probably would have been aware of any additional load, on me or my bike.
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Old 07-21-10, 12:05 PM
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I'm not the most in shape of all people so might not match most people here. I did 30 miles yesterday to come visit my girlfriend, as yet I haven't got a rack for my bike so used my backpack, being slightly cunning I sent clothes ahead of me when my lady drove back from my house to hers. All I had in my pack was a litre of water, toothbrush, roll on deodorant, book, 10" netbook and relevant cables.
By the time I got to her house, I was drenched through with sweat and ached slightly, I'm really not looking forwards to the ride back tomorrow, and may skip the water and hope I can fill the litre bottle on my bike back up about half way or more often, instead of carrying it. (Memo to self get a new cage when I can afford it.)
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Old 07-21-10, 12:19 PM
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By the way, while I'm still not recommending backpacks you might want to try the Ergon series or something similar:

https://www.ergon-bike.com/us/en/product/bc1

It includes a hydration pack and is (theoretically) set up to haul loads on a bike for longer days, and to shift a lot of the weight to your hips.
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Old 07-21-10, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by benajah
. If you are not interested in pannier or rack, then I don't know why everyone else is pushing it when you already said it. .
Probably because the OP has ALSO said he has NO experience touring, and those WITH experience touring with backpacks and found it problematic are offering suggestions which the OP will likely find more suitable, efficient and comfortable for the tour he is planning and help him have a more enjoyable trip.
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Old 07-21-10, 01:02 PM
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That's a heck of a lot of weight to have on your back. Sounds like an fun trip and it would suck to be in pain the whole time.
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Old 07-21-10, 01:19 PM
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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.
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Old 07-21-10, 02:57 PM
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I would personally use a large carradice saddlebag- either the super C or camper longflap. these will not affect handling or comfort at all.
https://www.wiggle.co.uk/p/cycle/7/Ca...ag/5360042581/

However, I think that a very comfortable and well-fitting backpack with waist and sternum straps, on a bike with relatively high bars wouldnt be too bad... a poor-fitting pack with only shoulder straps would be horrible.

need to test your bag, on your back with your bike.
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Old 07-21-10, 03:17 PM
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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.
If you're traveling as light as you say, the weight in panniers (or saddlebag) won't affect handling any more than the weight on your back in a backpack, but panniers would relieve you of the discomfort of shoulder straps and a sweaty, weighty back. Conversely, the weight in a backpack raises your center of gravity, which could have a negative impact on your bike handling.

If I was traveling that light, I would use a handlebar bag and/or a racktop trunk bag. I wouldn't even consider a backpack for a tour from Amsterdam to Rome, even for the lightest of loads.
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Old 07-21-10, 05:24 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...
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Old 07-21-10, 06:40 PM
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The system that NoGa has is good. You can also just get a clamp on rear rack and throw your stuff in a gym bag (a fairly water-tight one), bungy it down and take off. You'll notice the strain from the backpack and the clamp on rack (use an alloy or steel seatpost!) is so much more convenient.
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Old 07-21-10, 07:19 PM
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Maybe I have a weak mind but I use what is called an assault pack by Bianchi. I carry a minimum of a half gallon of water and tools, patch kit with spare tubes. I have ridden from 5 miles each way commute to 52 mile rides and it has NEVER been too heavy. It always gets lighter as you go if on a club ride. I eat and drink a lot while on a lengthy ride. I guess I'll have to try the Katy trail and get back to you guys about how the hydration pack does. Blues Frog
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