View Full Version : Bike packing

2010-08-11, 17:56
Just curious if anyone on here has ever bike packed before, and if so, did you use all you're regular and maybe just strap the food and water to the bike to keep the weight nicely distributed w/o having to fork out the money for racks and panniers.

I'm thinking about getting into this but don't want to buy any gear that I don't have, and all the bikepacker stuff that I read seem to be by people that are either doing more miles than I care to (500+), or have no real UL hiking background.

2010-08-11, 19:08
I rode my bike from Andover,ME to Key West and then north to SC from October '93 to March '94 about 3,000+ miles. I just took what I had with me plus tools and spare parts for the bike after hiking from Harpers Ferry to Gorham,NH the summer before. I did 60 to 80 miles a day. My advice to anyone doing it today, buy a trailer.

2010-08-11, 20:22
I'm doing this on bike friendly trails (like the Womble or the Ouachita trail), so as few roads as possible. Would prefer to avoid the whole trailer issue as it would limit the amount of technical sections that I could do.

Also, the slacker angles of a mountain bike doesn't but as much pressure on your perineum as it would on a road bike.

2010-08-11, 20:39
there's a bike packer forum on Practical Backpacking


2010-08-14, 18:59
Hi Taildragger,
Haven't done a lot of cycling, but did make a 20 day off road crossing of the Nullarbor (desert area) in Australia. From my experience of that I can offer a couple of bits of advice for what they're worth...if you can manage to get hold of some racks (fore and aft) for your bike then do it. It'll distribute the weight evenly making it easier for you and the bike. Don't think of carrying anything on your back while riding - you'll want as little weight on your butt as possible after some miles. Also get yourself some padded cycling gloves - I just used ordinary leather gloves and by the time I'd finished, (1060 miles) the continual jarring over the rough terrain had damaged nerves in my right hand making it useless. Couldn't even hold a pen. (or a beer) Took a few months for it to come right.
I lashed my sleeping bag and tent to the rack directly above the front wheel. I also had canvas panniers for the racks which I hired for the trip as was a lot cheaper than buying. Though nothing to stop you making up some bags yourself if you have the time I guess.
Don't know how long your trip will be or how remote, but if you're going to be wandering off the beaten track then consider taking a few spares - spokes, axle, (rear) chain links, and a bit of wire. Some kind of chain lubrication is a good idea if you'll be heading into sandy or dusty terrain. I didn't take any and was accompanied by a grinding noise for most of the way.

2010-08-15, 22:26
I'm looking at doing a 74 mile shakedown in October on the Womble in Arkansas (one night) just to see how I like it. My plan was to put the light bulky items into my ULA circuit (I used to ride with the thing on in Utah, so it doesn't bother me). Was hoping to get a saddle bag for food and utensils on the back, maybe a frame bag for spar parts.

I ride a full squish, so a lot of the racks are out of question for me.

After looking at some stuff on bikepacking.net, it looks like this system won't be too bad, just need some cooler weather (and some rain to fill the creeks) before I go and try it out.

2010-08-23, 06:58
I'm looking at doing a 74 mile shakedown in October on the Womble in Arkansas (one night) just to see how I like it. My plan was to put the light bulky items into my ULA circuit (I used to ride with the thing on in Utah, so it doesn't bother me). Was hoping to get a saddle bag for food and utensils on the back, maybe a frame bag for spar parts.

Your plan sounds great. How many people will be in that trip?

2010-08-23, 11:30
Your plan sounds great. How many people will be in that trip?

So far I'm going solo, don't know many people here who do more than car camp to begin with, and most of my rider friends are significantly out of shape

2010-08-23, 21:00
Has anyone bike ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway? I'm thinking about hitting it soon

2010-08-23, 22:41
Has anyone bike ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway? I'm thinking about hitting it soon

It's will be tough but I guess it depends on what kind of shape you are. Last year I did an overnighter into SNP starting close to the southern end and rode to the first wayside where I camped up the hill just past it. That was the hardest thing I've done in a long time. You'd think starting out on top of the mtn the climbing would be all done. Just about killed me.

If you're going to do it better go before all the leaf peepers come out. There's no shoulder as I'm sure you know.

Hog On Ice
2010-08-24, 09:53
ditto the leaf peepers - its difficult enough just crossing the road - I can only imagine how dangerous it would be with a bike at that time - normal times especially during the week its not bad at all as far as traffic goes

2010-08-24, 22:29
Stumpknocker and Ms Gorp ended their ride of the BRP last year because of the traffic and lack of shoulders. HOI is right, any other times not bad at all.

2010-08-25, 00:12
I have friends ride across the US annually. Panniers are the way to go according to them but they are expensive.
For trail riding, on the rails-to-trails, I have used a river type dry bag on a bike rack over the rear tire and that worked but carry light. I had a camel back on my back. Two water bottle carriers on the bike, one carried electolyte drink, the other had patches, co2 deal to air up tires, etc.. A bike bag on the front handlebars carried other stuff such as food for the day, first aid kit, spare tube, and other sundries.

2010-09-11, 10:11
Phreak & I just finished cycling the Blue Ridge Parkway section from Okanaluftee visitors center to Blowing Rock in 4 days. Pretty awesome ride. ~17,780 feet of climbs, 189 mi with side trips, 13.1 mph avg, 44.3 mph max on the racer (2 sport was faster but had no computer), dropped 1.8 lbs (disappointment - was hoping for 4 lbs)

He rode a 2 sport with rack bag, handlebar bag, and backpack. Heavy bike but enough gears to climb a 30% grade. Bike hauled ass on the descents.

I rode a carbon fiber racer with saddlebag & backpack. Gearing 52/42 - 25/11. The CF racer out climbed the 2 sport bike due to weight advantage

Lessons Learned:
1. Ride on weekdays when the traffic is light

2. The weather (temps) is awesome the week after Labor Day

3. Hotels & Inns discounted their rooms the week after Labor Day

4. Start early every day to maximize recovery for next day. We were done with our rides by lunchtime every day except the first day when we rode 62 mi from the GSMNP visitors center to Pisgah Inn. This section had over 8500 ft of climbs up to 7% grade

5. Leave the camping gear behind. We dropped food, stoves, extra clothing at the Pisgah Inn. Hotels & Inns are close enough to each other to ride w/o the gear.

6. Be sure to pack wind shirts & light hats for the descents

7. I carried 155 oz of water on our first day. It was not enough. We were wise to cache water at the 1/3 & 2/3 points

8. Keep the effort in the aerobic zone 3. There are 18 mile climbs

9. Eat often. Gu is a wonder food to keep you energized for the climbs

10. Try to keep the weight off the back. Our first day had ~20# packs & sore backs. Our last day had ~10# packs and was much better

11. Don't forget the rear red blinkies & head lights. There are scores of long dark tunnels.

2010-09-11, 12:46
I did a bike/hike trip last year. Keep meaning to do it again. If you are going ultralight in summer it simplifies greatly how you carry stuff on the bike. About 50 miles to the Fundy Footpath, and then a couple of days of hiking. My pack was light but not on the bike otherwise I would have done the return ride too maybe. So I got the rear rack fitted and tested so my summer pack fits on it well, and I move the two water bottles up to the holders on the bike frame. I have a small handlebar pouch for a few items also, but not much weight. Using the same pack and the same clothing and same water bottles and same shoes is a good way to save some weight. Also, when biking you can usually defer most of your food purchases until you get closer to the trail head. I use a road bike but with the fattest tires I can fit, and pump them up as much as I can for less rolling resistance. The fatter tires are important for the roads we have here, and for bailing out onto the shoulder if a truck goes by a little close or something like that.

2010-09-11, 12:54
Another thing when combining lightweight hiking with biking is that it is more important to compress volume as well as reduce weight. For lightweight hiking volume reduction is not as critical unless you want to do some trail running, but it makes it alot easier to fit your stuff on your bike without using special packs and stuff, which adds redundant cost and weight. So if your keep the weight and volume down you should be able to do as I did and get by with your regular summer pack on a simple rear rack, and just move the water bottles up to the frame and maybe some odds and ends to the handlebar pouch. You want a good solid rack though, not one that only attaches to the seat post.

I need to get out again. I am not sure how late I can push this setup into or Fall. Nice thing about such trips though is you don't tie up the vehicle if you only have one, and you save on gas too of course. Ideal for short trips, like a weekend or long weekend. You gotta be able to stash your bike though. Here I am happy hiding it and locking it to a tree and leaving a note on it.