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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Packing Gear Next Time

I tried everything in my life,
Things I like, I try 'em twice,
You got that right,
You sure got that right.
You Got That Right, Steve Gaines & Ronnie Van Zant (1978)

In August 2020, I rode 7 days in and around the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming along the Cloud Peak 500 bikepacking course on a Jones 29+ bike outfitted with Revelate Design bikepacking bags. Here's a summary post of that trip, with links to daily ride and logistics reports.  See, Cloud Peak 500 Wrap.

I loved the capacity and versatility of my Jones 29+ bike, the combination of Revelate Designs bags, and the assorted gear that I carefully accumulated and tried over the past few years. See, Cloud Peak 500 - Gearing Up, Cloud Peak 500 - Packing Up,  Cloud Peak 500 - Gear List. But there's always room to improve. 

Here's a link to my prior post on the planned changes to the gear I'll carry on my next multi-day bikepacking ride. Gear List Next Time. I've heard from racers who identify things on my list I could leave home and I've heard from tourers who identify things not on my list I could bring. I appreciate the input and will continue to experiment on short trips this spring. For now, that Gear List strikes my balance between weight/volume and comfort/convenience for my approach to riding the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. See, Bikepacking the GDMBR.

This post focuses on how I will pack that gear next time. Although I've been working on possible changes for awhile, I finally assembled all the gear on my updated Gear List and packed it all into bags to determine the right combination. Here, after explaining the changes, I reproduced how I packed for the Cloud Peak 500 in normal type, followed by my planned change, if any, in blue. As you will see, I don't plan to make many changes.

 Well into Day 7 of my ride along the Cloud Peak 500 route in August 2020.

Before going through packing, bag by bag, here's an overview of my planned changes.

1. I'd like the ability to very quickly set up shelter in unfavorable conditions, without dumping other gear into the rain, wind, cold and/or dark. That means moving the tent into a bag that is easier and faster to access, without removing much of anything else.

My solution is to pack the tent in the left Fork Truss bag, which is very accessible and also puts a little more weight down lower in the bike. To do so, I must then move my sleeping bag and rain jacket out of that bag, which results in a series of other small changes.

a) I'll pack the sleeping bag where the tent had been, which was in the middle of the Salty Roll bag on the handlebars. That opens up some more room in the Salty Roll bag.

b) I'll pack the rain jacket in the lower part of the Frame bag, which is still quickly accessible, where I had the water filter, camp shorts and camp shirt, all of which will move to a handlebar bag.

c) The tent leaves a little room for something else in the left Fork Truss bag, so there I'll pack a small stuff sack with extra layer things (liner gloves, ear band, skull cap, buff).

d) Moving that extra layer things stuff sack opens up room in the right Fork Truss bag for a sleeping bag liner, which I didn't carry at the Cloud Peak 500.

2. Most any other trip for me will be colder and wetter than the Cloud Peak 500 in early August, so I'll add rain pants, shoe covers, arm warmers and leg warmers in a stuff sack easily accessible on the Terrapin seat post bag. All other clothes still fit in the Salty Roll handle bar bag.

3. In addition to the Mag-Tank 2000 top tube bag, I'll add a Mountain FeedBag for food to snack on during the day. As Paul Brasby noticed quickly and noted repeatedly during our Cloud Peak 500, I need to eat more on the bike.

4. For the Cloud Peak 500, I used two ill-fitting 32 ounce water bottles in conventional cages on the seat stays. I will replace them with the marvelous Soma Further Bottles, which are quality, standard diameter cycling bottles long enough to hold 38 ounces of water each. Better bottles and more capacity.

5. For the Cloud Peak 500, I started with 8 days of food in the Terrapin seat post bag, which was food for the entire ride. Next time, I'll probably carry 3-4 days of food and plan to resupply along the way, as needed. That leaves room for any number of things, including spare inner tubes, extra fuel canister, a collapsible water container for extra water capacity, rope to hang a bear bag, and the other Adventure Cycling Association maps not then in use. 

6. Everything else will remain the same.

That's it, for now. As you can see, I don't plan to make any major changes. And, as for the Cloud Peak 500, each bag has some extra room remaining, so I have some flexibility to change on the road, as needed. 

Here are the details. 

Truss Fork Bags (fork):  In addition to being light and strong, the Jones truss fork provides a built-in structure to support a pair of bags. Recognizing this potential, Jeff Jones and Revelate Designs created these bags, each offering nearly the capacity of a seat post bag. I pack the left side bag with a sleeping bag and a rain jacket. I pack the right side bag with a down jacket, sleeping pad, pillow and a stuff sack of extra layers (liner gloves, head band, skull cap, buff, arm warmers, leg warmers).

    Pack the tent and small sack of extra layers to the left side bag. Pack the down jacket, sleeping pad, pillow, and sleeping bag liner in the right side bag.

Harness + Salty Roll (handle bar):  My small tent occupies less than half the volume of the Salty Roll. So I stuff it into the middle, leaving more than a quarter of the bag remaining on each side for all my clothes.

    Pack the smaller sleeping bag into the middle of the Salty Roll, leaving even more room for all clothes, except a stuff sack of extra layers (more readily accessible in the left side Truss Fork bag), a stuff sack of rain pants, shoe covers, arm warmers, leg warmers (more readily accessible on the Terrapin seat post bag), and a rain jacket (more readily accessible in the bottom of the frame bag).

Egress Pocket (handle bar):  Strapped to the Harness and atop the Salty Roll, the Egress Pocket holds my camera, wipes, toilet paper, paper, pens, and sunglasses/glasses.

    No change.

Adventure Cycling Map Case (handle bar):  This map case is sized for the Adventure Cycling maps (like the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route), is water-proof, sits atop the Loop Hole H-Bar bag, and doesn't move at all in use. Perfect.

    No change.

Loop Hole H-Bar (handle bar):  This bag is not visible, because it's under the map case and tucked into the space between the lateral tubes of the Jones handle bar. It is bigger than you think, is a great use of space and is on the bike full time. It holds a pump, first aid kit, sunscreen, lip balm, aspirin, Tums, and insect repellant.

    Move water filter into this bag.

Mountain Feed Bag (handle bar):  Bear spray. Yes, this bag is big enough for a large water bottle, but instead holds a large canister of bear spray a few inches from my right hand. Quick draw.

    Add a second Mountain Feed Bag on the left side to carry more and different on-the-fly food and, in an outside pocket, a Spot X Satellite Messenger/Tracker.

Mag-Tank 2000 (top tube by the handlebar):  This handy bag holds 2,000 calories of on-the-fly food and gels.

    No change, other than a resolve to eat more food and eat more often.

Jerry Can (top tube by the seat post):  This sneaky little bag holds an entire tool kit, including a patch kit, tire plugs, CO2 cartridges, extra sealant, chain lube, extra chain links, bolts and cleats, spare derailer hanger, mini-tool, and LeatherMan.

    No change.

Terrapin (seat post): This modular setup comprises a harness that attaches to the bike and a 14 liter dry bag that easily removes from the harness. I pack this dry bag with food, so I can readily remove it for overnight storage away from my sleeping area. Think grizzly. As shown, this bag contains breakfast, lunch and dinner for 8 days without re-supply, as well as kitchen utensils.

    Reduce the amount of food carried. Add two spare tubes, extra fuel canister, 34 ounce collapsible water container, rope to hang bear bag, the Adventure Cycling Association maps not then in use, a stuff sack with rain pants, shoe covers, arm warmers, and leg warmers. 

Frame Bag (main triangle):  The frame bag is divided into top and bottom compartments. The right side of the top compartment holds a 100 ounce water bladder and easily holds more. The left side of the top compartment is a relatively thin sleeve that holds maps, wallet, car keys, phone and mud scraper. The bottom compartment holds spare tubes, water filter and rain pants.

    Add battery charger in the left side thin sleeve. Pack rain jacket in bottom compartment.

Down Tube Cage:  Strapped to the Salsa Anything Cage on the down tube is a stuff sack containing my Jet Boil MiniMo stove, fuel and cook pot.

    Substitute Voile flexible straps for the standard nylon straps.

Rear Axle Cages:  Bottle cages near the rear axle hold two large water bottles. I use one for an electrolyte drink and one for extra water.

    Substitute Soma Further 38 ounce water bottles, reinforced with a tie around the top third.

In addition to the bags and their contents, I mounted a Cateye head light and tail light, a Cateye cyclocomputer, and a Stem Captain compass. I also mounted some old, odd-shaped bar ends near the levers on the Jones handle bars for some really different hand positions. The crowning touch is the Slow Moving Vehicle sign strapped to the back.

    Cut the bar ends down to about 2 inches and angled them a little more forward.

Next up - What changes, if any, to the Jones 29+ for my next remote bikepacking ride?

You Got That Right, Lynyard Skynyrd, live (1977).

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