Gear List - Chequamegon Bikepacking Trip

For quite a few years I’ve done a solo backpacking trip at this time of year up in northern Minnesota. During those trips I’ve experienced the full range of just what mid-to-late October weather can bring: beautiful sunny days in the 50’s and 60’s or bitter cold, wind, and snow.

The bikepacking trip I took last week was the first time I’ve chosen the ‘bike’ over the ‘back’ for this annual outing.

I chose the Chequamegon area not only for its great riding, but because I know the area somewhat well, and knew that I could have a great time whether I rode a lot or a little.

One difference between this bikepacking trip and my previous backpacking trips was that I really didn’t have a specific agenda. I didn’t have to get to anywhere in particular and was free to take my time, take as many photos as I liked, and whatnot. I wasn't trying to get from point A to point B. In fact, the only place I had to be was in the Rock Lake trailhead sometime around 1pm on Friday to meet up with Bobby and E-Fred.

Why talk about all this? Because it plays into what gear I chose to take and which gear I chose to leave.

Here’s the breakdown of what I took and where it went on my El Mariachi.

Minimalist rack prototype contained:

-POE dry cylinder
-Wiggy’s FTRSS sleeping overbag
-Groundcloth from an old tent
-GoLite Shangrila-1 shelter
-Two lengths of nylon rope for hanging shelter

Enabler fork contained:

-Singlespeed rear wheel for emergency backup
-Granite Gear insulated Nalgene bottle holder with 34 oz of water (can't find these on their website anymore)
-Regular 24 oz water bottle

Revelate Designs seat bag contained:

-Lightweight sack with additional riding clothes (wind vest, wind jacket, knee warmers, long sleeve wool baselayer: unless I was already wearing these)
-POE dry sack with camp clothes (Patagonia NanoPuff pullover, some cheap nylon pants, fleece hat, spare pair of socks)

Wildfire Designs frame bag (not sure he makes these anymore) contained:

-Ditty bag with two 29’er tubes, aluminum tire levers, patch kit, mini pump
-MSR Titan kettle with fuel canister inside it and lid
-POE Ether Compact 6 sleep pad
-Ditty bag containing personal and survival items (mountain money, wet wipes, matches in waterproof container, lighter, vitamins in film canister, toothpaste, iodine tablets, emergency space blanket, spoon)
-MSR Pocket Rocket stove in plastic container

Wingnut Hyper 3.0 hydration pack:

-Pedro’s multi-tool
-Spare chain links
-Gerber fold up 6” saw
-Super tiny compass
-Ultra Pod tripod
-Panasonic Lumix LX-3 camera
-18mm lens adaptor
-Petzl E+Lite headlamp
-wallet and car keys
-small POE drybag that my camera could go in if needed

-trail map

-and all my food for three and a half days (6 packs of oatmeal, 7 packs of ramyon, bag of Reeses peanut butter cups, one foil packet of tunafish, about 10 packets of GU-type stuff, about 6 packets of drink mix type stuff, 10 packets of cocoa)
-after meeting up with Bobby/E-Fred I also had five Miller High Life’s in here…

Around my neck:


Was this a lot of stuff? I don’t think so. Looking back at the list these are the very few items that I could have left behind.

-one length of nylon rope
-Gerber fold up 6” saw
-some of my cocoa as I didn’t eat it all…but I could have eaten it all I suppose…

There are really only two things I wound up missing:

-chainring bolt tool (my middle ring became seriously loose and it just isn’t that easy to tighten without something to stop those chainring bolt backs from spinning…I got it done though)
-some more protein (either more tuna or some beefsticks). I am sure I was running calorie deficient but let’s be honest, I was already storing a bunch of extra calories on my body…

Also keep in mind that I wasn’t racing anywhere, I was just riding…which is pretty much just what I do.

You should also know that my goal is always to take as much weight as possible off my body. That’s why the hydration pack basically just held food items, most of which were dehydrated.

That’s the scoop. I’m pretty confident I could have handled temps down to zero degrees with this setup, but there would have been some shivering involved. I tried something for the first time and that was putting my sleeping pad inside my sleeping bag to turn the compressed sleeping bag into insulation and let the air pad warm up. And had the forecast even shown a hint of rain, I would have included my rain jacket and pants.

Hope the list is of use to some of you as you consider your own setups. Honestly the point isn't sweating the gear, it's about getting out there and enjoying it.

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking El Mariachi Kid Overnighter

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Mike Riemer

Mike Riemer

I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.


Glenn Charles | October 20th, 2010

Awesome post.  How did you like your front pack loading versus something like the Revelate bags that run under the handlebars.  Any issues with handling?

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | October 20th, 2010

Thanks Glenn. I haven’t tried the Revelate handlebar bag/sling product but I’ve done the DIY setup of using straps to cinch a stuff sack to my bars and frame. The DIY setup is greatly enhanced by using a stuff sack that has a daisy chain sewn onto it so that the bag can’t really slip one way or another. That setup worked but my sleeping bag is a bit bulky compared to down bags so it has sometimes been close to interfering with my brake levers. Crushing my cables hasn’t seemed ideal either. I know that Eric at Revelate continuously improves his products and he now has a spacer system to create gap between bar and bag system so that the cables can run more freely. His system must work as it has been proven countless times on the Tour Divide and such.

There is something very nice about the Minimalist rack though. It is simple, solid, pretty low weight, and easy to load.

The Revelate system might weight a bit less though I’m guessing.

This trip was my first time using the Minimalist rack and even with my getto wing-nut in the parking lot mounting system, it worked perfectly. No problems. Is one better than the other. No, they are just different options for doing the same thing.

Options, options, options. I would suggest trying a ghetto hbar setup sometime to see what you think.

Glenn Charles | October 20th, 2010

Thanks. Yes, lots of options, and while I love Revelate’s designs, I would prefer a DIY option for the front.  I believe I will go with one of his packs for the rear.  My upcoming trip will be across the US southern tier, up the Pacific, and then across the northern tier.  I am very interested in getting a Fargo for the trip as I think it fits the multi-use path best.  Hopefully I can find a dealer some where on the East Coast that will be carrying the 2011 models.  Thanks again for your thoughts and posts.  I have been travelling ultra-light by kayak for the last 2.5 years and am looking forward to some time on dry land.  Thanks again for your post.

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D.C. | October 20th, 2010

Dude! Love this insight on your trip.  For me, I would have hauled out the big dawg Camelback for extra juice and a little more space for some brews!  Lastly, what is “mountain money?”

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Bill | October 20th, 2010

I pretty sure I know where the middle picture was taken:  near the Lake Owen boat landing, right? 

My family’s place is across the lake and down a few hundred yards from there . . . beautiful spot, and tons of great riding in that area. Sounds like you had a great trip.


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Kong29 | October 20th, 2010

Enjoyed the posts, great photos and info, be great help planning my first bike pack.

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Wally | October 20th, 2010

Nice write up and nice adventure. Thanks!

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Doug | October 20th, 2010

Hoping all the racks I have seen are out prior to xmas…..they are on my wish list :-)

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Spiny Mouse | October 20th, 2010

So, why did you choose to ride an El Mariachi and not a Fargo?  I would think the Fargo would have more options for making a multi-day trip comfortable, such as the ability to attach a rear rack and fenders.  Or was your intent to show how much can be done with an El Mariachi?  I’m debating which way to go, Fargo or El Mariachi, for my first new bike purchase in 22 years (my ‘88 Peugeot Crazy Horse has been a lot of fun, but it’s time to move on) and I appreciate any insights here.  Thanks.

Kid Riemer

Kid Riemer | October 20th, 2010

DC: ‘Mountain Money’ = that special roll of white paper next to your toilet…if you don’t have it…and you need it…it’s worth money!

Bill: You are lucky to have a place up there, but no, that photo is not taken near the Lake Owen boat landing. You are right about their being tons of great riding in the area. Honestly, it is a relatively undiscovered paradise for this type of bikepacking trip.

Spiny Mouse: I’m fortunate to have an original Fargo and and El Mariachi. My Fargo is converted to flat bars though as I’m just not that much of a riser bar guy. I chose the EM because I really like the use of the Enabler fork. Yes, I know that the Fargo fork has the same braze-ons, but I like having the ability to run the ‘spare’ singlespeed wheel up front. By the way, I love that model name: Crazy Horse.

There is actually one thing I neglected to call out in my post regarding bike setup. I used our prototype 23-degree forward sweep bar with a production sample +25 degree 80mm stem. Honestly I threw it on my bike the night before the trip. Sat on the bike in the basement and moved stuff till it felt right. Then took the trip. The setup worked great for me. It raised me up slightly into a more casual position, which I enjoyed with the extra weight on the bike.

Outsider/Yeti | October 21st, 2010

Nice writeup. I’m still waiting for Minimalist rack to become available…

I must also say that I really appreciate the stories you have here on the Salsa blog. It adds credibility and character to your product line seeing you use them yourselves in this way.

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Carl | October 21st, 2010

What braze ons will the minimalist rack mount to when it becomes available?

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AlanG | October 21st, 2010

+1 on ease of loading and accessibility. i did the ‘strap it to the bars’ thing with a dry bag and some webbing and it was a total PIA. my goal for next time is to get everything as easy to pack as possible. that might mean a min. rack or possibly aerobars. then you could take advantage of another hand position. love the everything cages.

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Jeff Miller | October 22nd, 2010


Thanks for posting photos from the trip. I got my wife view them and she said, “Now that sort of bike trip would be interesting!” So I’m working on her to do something like that.

But I’m looking at that same frame which I would have to build up.  What are those bars? and pedals? When you get a minute, please send me a brief list of components. I want to see if I can find it in my budget. I live in sandy, fairly flat north Florida, but I may still want susp forks; which would you put on there?



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