Packing Question - CycleBlaze

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Packing Question

Joseph Washburn

OK, I have written and deleted this post a couple of times this morning.  While this is a simple question I tend to make it more complicated. 

So, how much different is your packing list for an overnight trip verses a three to five day trip?  

In planning my first self-supported trip I was planning a three day/two night trip... and had my packing list all done.  But when I had to sherten the trip to an overnight one, my packing list changed very little.  Sure, there will be less food and one or two fewer items of clothes, but mostly it is the same.

Am I missing something?  Thanks, from a newbie!

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3 weeks ago
Keith KleinTo Joseph Washburn

Hi Joseph,

Welcome to the world of bike touring! Your question is not at all too complicated. Packing is such an art and only a few trips will really tell you what you need and what you don't. So don't sweat it. Chances are you did one of two things: a (more common) you packed too much. You are only going for one night, so don't worry, just remember what you had to carry and never used. But you could be a type b: you didn't pack enough. Again don't worry, one night's privation won't kill you. You'll de better next time. After twent years touring, I'm pretty sure that I can pack for almost anything, but I usually find things in my bags I'm not using and don't find things I need when I'm in a remote bivouac. I'm not dead yet, and I still love to travel by bike. The important thing is to get on the bike and go.

Overnight: one pair of clean underwear. 

Two nights: two pairs.

More than three nights, three pairs and laundry in the sink ( or stream or whatever).

Cheers,

Keith

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3 weeks ago
Joseph WashburnTo Keith Klein

Thanks, Keith!

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3 weeks ago
Robert EwingTo Joseph Washburn

For me there are two types of overnight rides. One is the “get out of Dodge for the night”  ride and I will pack very light. If clear sunny weather is predicted I might not pack a tent. If I will be cooking, a minimum of stove fuel. No change of clothes etc. etc.. The other is the “shake down” overnight ride and that means packing most everything you would take for a month long ride. Here’s where you can decide on the right tires, tent design, sleeping bag warmth, cooking set up, extra water storage, rain gear and the list goes on and on. I find my best insights on reducing weight and jettisoning unneeded gear come on long steep climbs. When climbing at the 8000 foot level and gasping for a bit more oxygen, swapping out heavy factory tent stakes for fancy feather-light titanium needle stakes becomes ever so obvious, as does trashing that 1 ½ kg U-lock.

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3 weeks ago
Joseph WashburnTo Robert Ewing

Thanks, Robert.  I would think long climbs would definitely be a great motivator!  I live near the coast in North Carolina...our biggest climbs are called overpasses!  My guess is, that other than the clothes I carry and the amount of food, what I pack will be similar to what I would carry on a multi-night trip.  I'll be riding an out and back on the Natchez Trace Parkway coming out of  Nashville/Franklin, TN...MANY more hills/more climbing that we have here in this part of North Carolina!   

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3 weeks ago
John SaxbyTo Joseph Washburn

Joseph, you'll work out what you need & want by doing what you're doing.  (Then again, your preferences may well change over time--mine certainly did.)

I have a "core" kit of clothing, cookware, tools/spares, some electronics, and I adjust that according to terrain, weather, sources of food along the route, etc.  As you might guess, there are a lot of "depends"--going into the mountains, for example, esp in shoulder seasons, means taking precautions in the form of warmer sleeping bag, extra layers of clothing, and cool-to-cold-weather rain gear. Even in my neighbourhood of Eastern Ontario/Western Qué, a short tour southwards towards the St Lawrence and Lake Ontario means many more cafés, etc., than one going northwest or northeast into sparsely settled rural areas.

In recent years, I've overhauled my camping gear with a lightweight tent (from Tarptent), ditto sleeping bag (Western Mountaineering) and Thermarest Neo. That all saved weight and space, and allowed me to use Arkel Dry-lite rear panniers for overnights. A new Tubus Vega rear rack weighs just 360 gms, nearly half a kilo less than the Topeak it replaced.

Preferences and habits come into play, too. I usually pack a lightweight silicon-nylon tarp--a habit from canoe tripping--because I like a dry space for cooking breakfast and getting ready for the day's ride.  I could save the 400 or so gms, but I'd rather have the weather protection.

Depending on the comfort zone (list, weight & bulk) you eventually reach with your gear, you may also want to revise your bike's gearing. I spent a lot of time trying to get the gearing on my derailleur bike "right"--that is, low enough and reliable enough--and never succeeded.  So, I bought myself a Rohloff-equipped bike for touring, which is so reliable that I no longer wonder about getting the gear I want.  But I still found I had to experiment with lower gearing, and after about a year of touring, I lowered the gearing by about 5% (That's a very simple business with a Rohloff--just switch out the front chain ring, and adjust the chain tension.) That small change made everything work better for my requirements--loaded touring in hilly places--and abilities (modest).

Good luck, in any case, and enjoy the ride!

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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Joseph Washburn

The main difference in our packing is that for a shorter trip we carry everything along with us and on a longer trip we end up mailing the uneccessary stuff back after a few days. The next time out the stuff we bring is less, but our underlying principle seems to be to always drag along too much. Unless you are travelling in the real wilderness you can always pick up bits of kit you are missing as you go. Remember layers, essentials (varies with the individual), and to have fun. The rest is unimportant.

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3 weeks ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Joseph Washburn

For me, it really depends on the weather.  Here on the wet west coast, I *always* pack at least minimal rain gear unless the forecast (on *all* apps I use) are predicting sun for at least a day past my expected return.  I hate getting soaked!  Full rain gear on any trip longer than a couple of days.

I also always pack a light down jacket that zips into its own pocket.  It's a nice layer for cool evenings and, freed from its storage, makes a fabulous pillow.

I generally take two sets of riding clothes because I strongly prefer not to wear bike shorts for multiple days.  For a three-day trip I might take three pairs; otherwise two pairs mean I have something dry to wear if the ones I've worn and washed don't dry overnight.  Tops and socks I can hold my breath and put on again if necessary, but if I'm washing my shorts...  By the way, those are usually lightweight liner shorts (thinner chamois and fabric, faster to dry) and light mountain-bike baggy overshorts (pockets!), of which only one pair is needed.

Camping gear is the same for any trip; cooking gear depends on the destination and budget.

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3 weeks ago