Last fall, I invited E-Fred to join me on a bikepacking trip and warned him that I was going to film it. We decided to do the trip on our Horsethief bikes, which presented an opportunity (or mandated, really) for me to carry my gear differently than I had on other trips.
I’m typically a ‘nothing on my back’ guy, but in this case that was going to have to give. The lack of front triangle space on a full-suspension bike and the fact that my Revelate Designs Viscacha seat bag would hit the tire on bigger hits meant figuring out a different way.
In the end I decided to use a Freeload front rack and Osprey backpack, along with my homemade frame bag. The rack would hold gear I would only access in camp, and would eliminate needing to strap stuff to my handlebars. The backpack would allow me relatively quick access to my camera and tripod.
What worked? Well, it all worked really, though having a bit less weight on my back would have been nice. Next time around I’m going to run front and rear racks to lighten the backpack load a bit.
Here is the gear I used on this two-night trip:
Homemade frame bag:
Tent poles for shelter
SLIK Sprint Pro II lightweight tripod
Bag of food
Hyalite sleep pad
Flask of Jagermeister
Allen wrenches and patch kit
Spare camera batteries (x2), memory cards, lens cleaning cloth
Nikon D90 DSLR with old, fully manual 50mm lens (35mm film equivalent of 75mm on this camera body)
Long sleeve zip tee
Personals ditty bag (inside backpack):
Bottle of Aleve
Esbit solid fuel tabs for use as fire starter
Flint striker and steel
Swiss Army Knife (the real tiny size)
Toothbrush and paste
Film canister of chamois cream
Food (shared with E-Fred, along with some food and beer he carried):
6-pack of brats
2 packets of tuna fish
10 packs of cocoa
There’s one cool story I want to share from the trip. The first night, just after we’d gone to bed, a wolf started to howl from the other shore. We listened as he slowly made his way around the lake, stopping to howl periodically.
E-Fred left that next day as he had obligations to attend to, and later that evening, before the sun had even completely set, two wolves started to howl to each other, one closer to camp. They howled back and forth for close to 20 minutes, while I stared at my slowly shrinking firewood pile and was reminded of the great wild creatures living in these woods, and how fortunate I was to share that space for a couple nights.
Alone in the woods, howling wolves have a way of reminding you of just what place you hold in that world.
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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.