This is one of my favorite pictures from my Bike Around America tour.
Here I have converted my Salsa Fargo to it's first ever Bikepacking setup. Since that time, I have evolved to a more elegant and functional setup, but this photo shows that you can cobble something together and make things work.
I had been towing around a BOB trailer carrying way too much gear for more than half of the trip. I loved the BOB, but it falls into the Luggage Theory. That theory states that you will always end up carrying however much stuff will fit into your luggage. The bigger the bags...the more stuff you carry.
I decided that I needed to lighten things up, so I sold the trailer and converted the bike over to a simple and inexpensive bikepacking setup. A quick stop at REI where I bought a set of compression straps and two dry bags, and I was all set for the conversion. Everything else came from bits of kit that I was already carrying. The goal was to go lighter, and change my setup without spending a ton of money. I think the switchover cost me less than $100 with most of that going towards the two new dry bags. A couple of weeks later I would ditch the rear rack, and just lash one of the dry bags to my seat and seatpost.
• Stove, stakes, tarp tucked between rack and seatpost
• Use of camera bags as small ditty bags on handlebars
• Downtube water bottle is holding tools and spare parts
• Vibram Five Finger shoes make excellent touring companions
• Fargo is rigged with 700c x 32mm tires. It is just such a versatile bike. I would later switch back to 29 x 2.0" Schwalbe Supremes which I find to be awesome all-around tires for touring
• Two dry bags hold my gear. One is lashed to the Salsa Woodchipper bars and the other is lashed to my rear rack
• I traveled with a bivy and tarp as my choice of shelter
In the past year, I have further evolved my system and now have a complete set of bikepacking bags. While they do make things cleaner and easier, the point is this: You don't have to spend a ton of money to go light.
You just need a few key items and a desire to carry less gear. Going light helped me to increase my daily mileage and helped me to keep more energy in the tank at the end of the day. Suddenly those end-of-the-day hills that always spring up were no longer as difficult to climb.
I encourage you to give it a shot yourself. You just may find that once you go light, there is no going back.
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Glenn Charles spent his first 40 years living what he thought was the American Dream; he now says he’s living life. Traveling by bike and kayak, he finds new ways to explore the world, meet new people and grow as a person. As he travels 50,000+ miles by human power, he hopes to inspire others to reconnect with nature and lead simpler, happier lives. thetravelingvagabond.com