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How much gear weight is too much for a XC tour?

Old 02-11-11, 07:16 PM
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ullearn
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How much gear weight is too much for a XC tour?

Since planning for my TransAmerica tour I was hearing the average was about 40lbs and that became my goal. I planned my packing list but after putting it all together I came in at 48lbs.

Is this no big deal and you have long distance toured with a lot more weight or I am asking for very long hard days barely keeping myself upright?

Bike wo/gear = 33.4lbs
Bike w/gear =81.4lbs

My packing list

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Old 02-11-11, 07:42 PM
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Thats actually not too bad, Ive seen people with a lot heavier stuff. You have to figure that weight is also without food and water though, which will easily add another ~10lbs.

Its a good start though. All of my touring gear weighs less than 20lbs but I'm really into ultralight backpacking, so all my camping gear is really light.
There are definitely some things on there you could get rid of to drop some of that weight, like the laptop or the 10X10 tarp.

You just have to decide whether the weight is worth the comfort of having that certain item.
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Old 02-11-11, 07:50 PM
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First, let me say that you can carry as much weight as you want. It won't matter on flats. But, it will matter on the uphills.

Have you packed all this on the bike and taken a 50 mile ride with it up some hills? If so, did you like how it felt?

I checked the list on the link. If you want to lose some weight, here are my suggestions.

I don't carry a spare tire. That is what tire boots are for. You can always hitchhike if the boot fails. Get new tires before you leave and ride some miles on them to make sure they don't have defects and then leave the spare at home.

Why carry both a camping multi-tool and a knife? Doesn't the multi-tool have a knife on it?

Does your phone have a radio app? If so, lose the AM/Fm radio.

Do you really need the laptop?

Why a rain jacket and a windbreaker? Use the rain jacket for both.

Why 2 shorts and convertible pants? I only take one pair of convertible pants on long tours.

Convert the containers in your toiletries kit over to plastic ones and don't carry more than you need.

Have a great time!

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Old 02-11-11, 08:40 PM
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I'm a comfort guy who takes comfort in being prepared for likely things that could go wrong. My panniers weigh 50 lbs, but it is unlikely that I will ever have to hitchhike, seek shelter, or otherwise depend upon anyone else. Just food and fuel. I have encountered many cycle tourists who were miserable because they deprived themselves of what was necessary to enjoy themselves. Weight's a consideration, but not the first consideration.
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Old 02-11-11, 09:12 PM
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More concerned about bulk than weight for winter touring. Summer, weight is never a problem. Well, rarely a problem, depending on the grade

Pretty sure my basic winter kit is about 45 lbs, minus food and water. Bike with racks, 33 lbs. But, I'm not hauling a computer around. OTOH, I got a heavy kitchen. So call that a wash.
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Old 02-11-11, 09:21 PM
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Personally, I have discovered that if the total weight of the bicycle + my gear is more than half my body weight, I struggle. It's difficult to ride up hills and it's difficult to haul it around any time I have to carry stuff to the top floor of a hostel, or through train stations, and it just gets tiring in general, even on flat ground.

But if I keep it below half my body weight, I'm all right.

That said, I will carry more on a short tour than on a long tour. I figure I'll deal with the difficulty of carrying a lot of weight for a week or less in order to have the comfort. But if I'm on a long tour, dealing with the difficulty of carrying the extra weight wears me down and makes the tour unpleasant ... and having the extra comfort doesn't make up for it.

But definitely do what raybo suggested. Load it all up on your bicycle, and go for a day's ride about the length you're planning to ride on your tour. Even better ... ride out to a campground on a Saturday, camp overnight, and come back on a Sunday. Choose a variety of terrain to experiment on.
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Old 02-11-11, 09:27 PM
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Good List. One can always mail extra items home when you no longer need them.
Take the spare tire.
https://home.comcast.net/~mandmlj/tirefolding/index.html
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Old 02-11-11, 09:57 PM
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Members of this forum have a wide variety of standards for comfort, preparedness, and gadgeting. It's all good. Everyone finds their own compromises with respect to weight and bulk. I mailed some stuff home 5 days into my first tour. Now I'm comfortable with my choices.

In my opinion, 48 lbs. is too much only if YOU believe it's too much. I mean that seriously. If you're grinding up a long grade and you're primary thought is why in the #*&! you brought the laptop, the big pot, and the extra camera, you're carrying too much. On the other hand, if you're grinding up the same hill and you're thinking it's a good thing you only brought what you needed, you've nailed the weight compromise.
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Old 02-11-11, 10:14 PM
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I certainly concur with the suggestion to load up the bike and go take it for a few rides on varied terrain - preferably involving an overnight somewhere. You're taking more stuff than I'd choose to, but the weight doesn't sound unmanageable - the trial rides should determine how it feels to you. Also remember that you will be passing post offices along the way. It's easy to mail back any extra items you decide won't be needed on the rest of the trip and you could also have any forgotten items mailed to you (mail to General Delivery is one convenient method).

Some items I'd cut back on (but not implying that everyone else should since we all have different priorities):
spare clothes (my bike stuff dries fast so I can wash it when I shower and just wring it out, and I just take one set of non-biking clothes - one pair convertible pants and one shirt)
no extra shoes (my biking shoes are comfortable enough for walking/hiking)
no spare tire (in my years of biking I've had three trips interrupted due to a frame cracking but not a single one due to an unrepairable tire)
no ground cloth (figure if the floor of my tent ever wears out then I'll pick up some plastic/Tyvek - but haven't needed to in 40 years)
no tarp (can rig the tent fly as a tarp while cooking, etc. and don't need a tarp once I pitch the tent to go to sleep)
no laptop, but an MP3 radio/video/music device is light and handy to have - your smartphone may include this
a small Kindle or equivalent (I use an iPhone) can hold lots of books and weighs less than a single paperback
no separate bike headlight - use a bright enough LED headlamp to double as bike light and camp light
I'd opt for a good compact camera that has decent video capability over the separate D40 and camcorder - easier to get pictures while riding
no separate drybag - anything that needs to be dry I keep in waterproof panniers
no pillow (I just put some clothes inside a stuff sack, but YMMV)
no SB liner
no rack-top bag (makes it harder to lash other items on top of rack)
If your smartphone doesn't include GPS/maps then I'd add that - can be handy to find businesses along the way
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Old 02-11-11, 10:20 PM
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I had 56 lbs of gear on a 600 mile camping trip.
Less is best.
I carried some food that I wanted to use up.



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Old 02-11-11, 10:43 PM
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Get rid of the front rack and panniers (and save ~4lbs in the process) and limit yourself to only what fits in your rear panniers and on top of the rack.

I've gone both routes; 4 panniers with more than I needed from Seattle to San Fran to VA Beach and I've also toured with minimal gear on just a rear rack and panniers from Vancouver, BC to San Diego. The difference is phenomenal! And there's only one way you'll find out....
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Old 02-12-11, 02:09 AM
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I'm in the process of trying to set my bike up for lightweight bikepacking type touring but for distances/times significantly less than crossing the continent so can't comment on your extensive packing list other than to say that the methanol fuel in that Heet product is ok in a pinch and available in gas stations along the way, but I'd be tempted to get my own container and at least start with a denatured alcohol with the highest ethanol content (and thus lowest methanol content) as possible. It's more efficient and less toxic.
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Old 02-12-11, 03:04 AM
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Now you've got me wondering what my gear weighs.
I don't even know the weight of my bike.
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Old 02-12-11, 04:32 AM
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Lots of different advice for different comfort-levels and strategies.
I would use a front rack for long distance but keep the rear racktop free for lashing tent, sleeping bag and mat (inside drybags if needed).
You have a laptop and a smartphone. Why not take a small keyboard for the phone and ditch the laptop. I used library internet access during my travels.
If you are using Trangia, why take the mini+a cookset. The Trangia 27 does everything you need for one person.
I do take a windproof + waterproof. It gives you lots of options at little extra cost (weight/bulk). Waterproofs make sweaty windproofs. W/proof pants are good if you are in high mountains during an unseasonal storm.

How are you for power management. I took a windup am/fm radio/flashlight and a AA/AAA solar recharger with USB input/output.

You have no food or water yet. I filled one front pannier with food. On the road it is hard to buy small quantaties of stuff and you may need a few days of self sufficiency.
I also carried more fuel, I would estimate 3 days supply in that bottle.

I take skin moisturiser, lip salve, dental floss.
More spokes, fewer tyres.
One large waterbottle for camp use only (eg overnighting away from water).

Last edited by MichaelW; 02-12-11 at 04:45 AM.
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Old 02-12-11, 05:09 AM
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The ride will tell you but a pre-ride experiment can't hurt. Pack it, ride, unpack and carry up some steps, repack. Then take 10lbs off without concern for specifics and repeat.
There are lots of post offices along the way. It's funny how 30yrs ago it would never occur to me to carry 8lbs of electronics. You'll spend more time deciding now than you will on the trip.
If it was me I'd leave the spare tire, laptop, a couple clothes items, consolidate some tools/cooking gear. From the photo it looks like your front panniers could move back 2".
If you decide ten lbs less is preferable it wouldn't be difficult to achieve without giving up essentials, even if the laptop is an essential.
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Old 02-12-11, 05:55 AM
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When I was packing for my first long tour, the advice given to me was ... spread out everything you are thinking of taking on the bed. Remove half of it. Pack the rest.
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Old 02-12-11, 06:05 AM
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I don't think you are too far off. FWIW my bike multi tool includes a chain breaker (Park Tool MTB-3)

I would load up and go for a couple of 50 mile rides over varying terrain and see how it works out. FWIW I carry a spare tire on any tour over a weekend in length, it has paid off a couple of times.

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Old 02-12-11, 06:31 AM
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I also don't think you're too far off. As others have mentioned, you can always mail stuff back along the way. Less stuff, however, is also nicer just in terms of how much hassle you'll have packing and unpacking each day (i.e. weight isn't the only issue)... but there's nothing wrong with figuring that out along the way.
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Old 02-12-11, 09:22 AM
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These are personal choices and there is no right or wrong answer, but since you asked...

I started the TA with a bit less than that and decided it was more than I wanted to carry. I repeatedly mailed stuff home and subsequently replaced a few items and left more stuff home. I now shoot for but, don't always manage to get to 30 pounds.
Personally I would have:
  1. Picked a lighter front rack
  2. Skipped the dry bag
  3. Skipped the Novara Top Rack Pack
  4. Skipped the spare tire
  5. Used a single pot
  6. Considered using a lighter tent and leaving the footprint home
  7. Skipped the tarp
  8. Taken light weight running shorts and the convertible pants as the only regular off bike pants. The convertibles would be light nylon ones (I like world wide sportsman brand from bass pro shops).
  9. Used the rain jacket as a windbreaker. I use a really lightweight coated nylon one.
  10. Underwear? My convertible pants and running shorts both have a built in brief.
  11. Skipped the arm warmers
  12. Taken a lighter camera
  13. Skipped the video camera
  14. Skipped the laptop
  15. Skipped the radio
  16. I'd probably add some very lightweight rain pants
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Old 02-12-11, 09:52 AM
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I like having a front rack to carry some of the weight. Lessening the chances of broken rear spokes is worth it and I like how the bike handles.

I also don't carry a spare tire. I start with new or fairly new tires. I've never had a tire fail except when it was really old. When I happened I could see it coming by the look of the sidewalls. (This only happened at home; I never start a tour with sidewalls that look like they're getting long in the tooth.)

I carry a good multitool (with a chain tool) and a Swiss Army Knife. I don't use a Leatherman. The only thing the Leatherman would give me (I think) would be pliers. I've gotten along fine without pliers on all my tours. I also carry tire irons, a Stein cassette-removing tool, spare spokes, kevlar emergency spokes, and a spoke wrench. (There's a spoke wrench on my multitool. I'm going to try it out. If it's acceptable I can leave the spoke wrench at home.

I carry a loaf of bread, a squeeze tube of sugarfree jam, and a small jar of peanut butter at all times. I'm diabetic so I'm limited in food choices. A pb&j sandwich is a good snack for me, and in a pinch it will be an emergency meal. I used to carry a backpacker's dehydrated meal for emergencies, but it's hard to find any that aren't loaded with sugar, and I don't like them much anyway. Carrying a lot of food is something bike tourers don't need to do unless they're going someplace remote.

I try and limit the clothes I take, but I do like a pair of sweatpants. I wear them around camp and I sleep in them when it's cold. I carry one pair of nice-looking shorts for eating out at restaurants.

I use platform pedals and only bring one pair of shoes. I save a little weight that way and it works for me. (Most people would make a different choice.) On the other hand, I've lately started bringing a folding chair. It's very light. It's not the most comfortable chair, but the luxury of being able to relax in a real chair is so valuable to me that I don't mind the extra weight.

Choices like these are very individual and refining my packing list is an ongoing task. The best way to go about it is to tour a lot and try different combinations.
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Old 02-12-11, 11:00 AM
  #21  
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On my Pacific Coast tour I packed up everything I thought I'd need and loaded up the bike. It was heavy. I didn't weigh it, but I went through the list of stuff again and again, and decided I needed all of it.

So I started riding. After one week of riding, including plenty of climbing, I had a completely different perspective of what I needed and what I didn't. I sent 24 pounds worth of stuff home. Your current weight is about what I ended up with (but that's including food and water), and it was fine for me.
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Old 02-12-11, 11:40 AM
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90 lbs. of bike and gear from Seattle to Bar Harbor to Philly to Ocean City, NJ.

Ride with what you are comfortable with.
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Old 02-12-11, 12:43 PM
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I have a few questions, namely what are 'magic gloves?' They sound appealing. As well, what's your third 'other' hat? I think you could safely downsize the glove and hat situation to save some weight.

You could leave the footprint at home, and just bring a piece of Tyvek cut to size, that way you still get the protection of a ground cloth, but less weight.

You could definitely stand to loose some clothing, 2 pairs of cycling clothes and 1 set of camp (or town) clothes is usually enough.

Unless you are really attached to your sleeping bag liner you could leave it at home at no real consequence. They do feel nice, but they don't really provide much functionality.
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Old 02-12-11, 03:18 PM
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ditch the electronics,
and get a lighter front rack.
ditch the racktop bag.
streamline the cooking gear.

you just saved at least 10 lbs.

dont forget you'll have another 10-15 pounds of food and water.
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Old 02-12-11, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ullearn View Post
Since planning for my TransAmerica tour I was hearing the average was about 40lbs and that became my goal. I planned my packing list but after putting it all together I came in at 48lbs.

Is this no big deal and you have long distance toured with a lot more weight or I am asking for very long hard days barely keeping myself upright?
I would add in 2 folded cardboard boxes, a roll of packing tape and a sharpie marker. That will let you easily mail home the first batch of stuff you don't need and are sick of carrying up every hill - probably about day 5. The second box is for the second batch of stuff you send home because you are still sick of carrying it uphill - probably day 10-14.

When you read cross country tour journals the two trips to the post office are so common it should almost be a touring tradition.
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