In preparation for our Coast to Coast Wales adventure, we’ll be testing kit and sharing the results with you! This week we’re Bike Packing, covering what you should bring, how you can store it and sharing what we think. On these adventures, we’re not the best, and we’re not the experts! Let’s learn together, we’d love your thoughts.
We must pack lighter than this when in Wales! But the extra 8-10kg on this South Downs practice ride was remarkably doable. Perhaps we’ll go lighter on the beer, buckets and stoves when we hit the mountains.
As he was first with the new toys, John was the guineapig. His Ortlieb packs fixed to his Canyon Neuron Trail MTB we set off. Keeping balance was key. He clearly had to face the trail sludge with a little more care – the wheels sank deeper and the extra weight on the bars means there’s a new balance to master. It was clear that the seat post pack was swaying by a few degrees too. But did this affect the ride? Apparently not. The balance was remarkably good allowing John to take-on each terrain without a hitch.
There were a bunch of compromises of course;
- The dropper post can’t work with a bag on the back – so go easier on those fun trail centre berms & jumps
- The extra weight makes those uphills much harder – ah, but those downhill speeds!
- You have to bring enough stuff to allow the packs to take their form (John had to pack extra clothes) – So size your packs carefully before buying
What’s in the packs?
On the front & back
The roll on the front and the rackless pack on the seat post contain the stuff you need at your overnight. The tent, mattress, sleeping bags and spare clothes. In addition John packed 2 beers, a bucket, a stove, collapsible bowl, pan and cup, plus all the food needed to make a vegan stroganoff for dinner and porridge and coffee for breakfast!
The accessory pack on the front contained the close to hand stuff. More energy gels and biscuits than you’d need for a 5-day mission. Cards, money and phone. Of course, maps can live in here, but it’s best to keep these even closer. I keep two SplashMaps scrunched in my short pockets and one doubling-up as a bandana under my helmet.
Why do Bike Packing?
John’s a Scout leader. He has the outdoors and self-sufficiency in his blood, but seeing him ride and checking out his overnight accommodation – apparently cosy even in mid-Feb – helps you see the attraction. Why Bike packing? There’s a sense of achievement in every micro-adventure. The kit may be expensive (just the 4-litre rackless seat bag costs £104 at Rutland), but like investing in anything outdoors, you’ve invested in experiences and memories. You’ve invested in yourself!