Since starting this blog, I have been updating my camping gear at a relatively fast rate to build up the best bikepacking machine because I plan on longer rides. This post is about my new updated camping gear and why I have added, removed or updated particular pieces.
I’m planning on cycling the 1000km Munda Biddi Trail (bikepacking style) over 24 days in 2 months time. 24 days may seem like a lot even for amateur cyclists. This trip is less about bike-riding for me (although that’s what I’ll be doing between 4 and 8 hours a day) and more about seeing the South West of Western Australia from a different perspective (not from the car window). I love camping in the bush, I love living on the bare minimum, I love sleeping in the open. I don’t like feeling rushed for time or not being able to “stop and smell the roses” because I got to get from A to B. I want to go for swims, stop and chat with locals and connect with the areas I will be travelling through. Bike riding, as much as I love it, is just a means to explore the bush. I’m finding it more exciting than hiking and adds a challenge of compact packing.
Gear changes to Packing List I have made because of learnings from my latest adventures:
Cateye Volt 800 RC Front Light – I have been adventuring without a bike torch and relying on my headlamp. I have found that even though I don’t intend to ride in the dark, sometimes it’s unavoidable. I found myself half riding, half dragging my bike on rocky terrain (up a waterfall track) at 3 am in the morning recently (Whistlepipe Gully,
Kalamunda) and it could of been less dragging and more riding if I could see the monster rocks I was riding over. My headlamp just wasn’t strong enough. This torch seems super bright, has 6 modes and I liked it because it still seems quite small and compact. It’s also USB chargable. I haven’t tested this torch in the wild yet so stay tuned!
Abus 205 Combi-loop Bike Lock – This lock is light, small and is long enough to wrap around a tree.
2 Bidon Cage Looney Bin – Carrying enough water over summer has been difficult. Fortunately for me, the Surly ECR I ride has enough cage nuts on the forks to carry 2 sets of bottle cages. So I use one set on each side for my Surly Anything Cages/Cage bags and the other set now to mount these Looney Bin cages. They can carry bottles that are 1.5L. That’s an extra 3L on my bike! They have a screw you can tighten by hand if it requires tightening or if you want to carry different size bottles. These were cheap too ($30 a pop)!
Snow Peak 450ml Titanium Mug – My kmart mug seem to be getting a weird taste after putting over flame a few times (I’m sure it’s not designed for that) so I bit the bullet and got one of these babies! I still hold it and can’t believe how light it feels compared to the size. It’s also now big enough I could eat a meal inside it. It even tempts me to replace my x-plate but I think having a meal with a coffee at the same time is too nice. It also fits inside my Mountain Feed Bag without taking much room due to its foldable handles. So now I have options of where to store it. Also seems easier to clean. Highly recommend!
Titanium Spork – I bet half of you reading this saw this coming with my old plastic spork! Yes I broke it. And not even while adventuring! I snapped it in half when packing my bags! Flimsy thing. Get a titanium one! It cost about $20 and I don’t think this one will snap. The knife on it is a little sharper too.
DD Hammocks Tarp Small – So I did it! I have exchanged the tent for a Bivy and Tarp! Are you proud? I hate tents. What’s the point of sleeping outside if you are going to sleep…inside… Also the last thing I want to do after a hard day slogging it out on the trail is fumble around putting up a tent. I’m sure this tarp and bivy won’t be ideal for all situations but for now, for my next few trips – it’s perfect.
This tarp is certainly not the lightest out there, I was reading about new technology and cuben fiber options etc but this one seems to be a great “cheaper” option and does the job nicely. When it first came, I was worried the tarp might be too big. But have learnt – it’s greatto protect or camouflage my bike, myself and my dog Tesla. It took me 2 minutes to put up and about 10 seconds to dismantle. The bag provided is big so very easy to put away but small enough to sit flat in my handlebar harness over my sleep kit bag. I have packed an extra 5m guy-rope (comes with 4 x 2m) and 2 more pegs (comes with 4) with it.
Alpkit Bivy Hunka XL – There are so many bivys out there – it became overwhelming to choose. I decided to go for the cheapest option I could find that still had good reviews. Alpkit answered all my questions promptly and it arrived a month before they said it would. Condensation is an issue for bivys but really only if you are completely covered inside them. I haven’t felt any condensation yet. This bivy is mo
re a waterproof sleeping bag cover. I sleep with my face out of it using the tarp (and maybe in a different season, a mosquito head net) to protect me. It seems to also add heaps more warmth to my kit. If you run cold like I do – this is an important addition to the kit. The XL version allows for your mattress to be inside the bivy too. It was still a bit tight so I would get the XL regardless of your plans. Also I was trying to work out the best way to store my sleeping kit (sleeping bag, blow up mattress, liner, pillow) on the bike. I have got rid of all the bags and have just wrapped everything together in a roll (kinda like a lightweight swag) and strapped it in my handlebar harness.
(Photo of all sleep kit wrapped together and size comparison to 1.5L Water Bottle)
2 x 1.5L plastic bottles – I’ve decided to go with this option rather than the flexible 4L packtap. I found the Packtap was making everything it touched wet with condensation. Plastic bottles are simple. It has though, allowed me to carry 1L less than I was so now I’m carrying 4.5L instead of 5.5L. I seem to be always running out of water so this is my priority when riding especially with dogs.
Lifestraw – It’s just too bulky. I will rely on water purification tablets.
Emergency and First Aid
Bob Cooper Survival Kit – I have removed most of the survival kit and the things I have left have been added to other areas such as toiletries, Snake bite kit or food supplies.
KTI Safety Alert PLB – This is my Personal Locator Beacon for emergencies. I bought it second hand and transferred registration across on the AMSA Website. My parents can sleep soundly now.
Electronics & Accessories
USB Powerbank – Goal Zero Flip 30 Recharger – Almost immediately after getting my new Dynamo and Sinewave Revolution my old USB powerbank died. Not sure if it was related. I did some research and this power bank has been designed to work with solar chargers. I have decided to use it with the dynamo because it would have been designed to withstand continuous power supply interruptions and also has the ability to through charge (to be able to be charged and recharge another device at the same time). It’s compact and can charge my phone from 0% 3 and half times on one charge. It does take a long time to charge itself up to 100%. I’m tempted to bring a second back up for long tours.
Tweezers – Moved from Bob Cooper Survival Kit to Toiletries
Bandaids – Moved from Bob Cooper Survival Kit to Toiletries
Toiletries bag – I have now split up the toiletries bag into 2 bags for ease of packing and removing. One bag has things I would use every day and the other has things I would use less often (like shower kit and first aid).
Face Cloth – I have taken out facewipes from toiletries. It is an unnecessary consumable that is chunky, heavy and creates waste. I have decided to use a face cloth or a Chux Wipe that can be wetted easily and dried by hanging off the back of my bike while riding or hung up at camp.
Specialised Andorra Pro Womens Bike Shorts with Knicks removable inners – 2 shorts in one. Designed to keep body dry from sweat, specifically designed for bike riding comfort and looks good.
Eyres Terminator Safety Glasses – After loosing my Raybans on another trip, I decided a cheaper pair of safety glasses will do fine. These glasses have light brown lenses so I don’t need to remove them as soon as I’m in the shade.
Compression bag – To reduce packing room of clothes, I use a small compression bag for my camp clothes. It allows me to easily find what I need in the dark, keeps it compact in my bag and also clean from dirty clothes packed in there.
Bikepacking with Dogs
Dog Harness – Although I don’t plan any big trips with Tesla, I have found when he is required to be leashed, it much nicer for him to be tethered by a harness than by a collar. (Photo with my other dog Pepper).