Friday, July 17, 2015

Holy Crap!

My bicycle camping buddy Roy and I decided this year to skip our annual bikepacking trip and go backpacking instead. We had our usual great time and I learned a number of things - especially when it comes to carrying a lot of weight.

The two of us near Princeton
When Roy and I started our annual trip nine years ago, I hadn't done any camping other than car camping with my family. So I was quite unprepared for bicycle camping. Roy had some experience  and I relied on him for advice when we began to plan. He told me that I should bring a Thermarest. A Thermarest? What on earth was that? A tent would be necessary and the list went on and on.

It turned out that I needed huge saddlebags to hold all my stuff. A lot of stuff. Pajamas, a bath towel, shaving kit, sandals, a huge sleeping bag, shirts, shorts, a toque, and a heavy plastic ground sheet among other things.
The ridiculous pajamas
There was so much stuff that due to the rugged trail we followed that the rack holding the saddlebags broke away from my bike and scattered my heavy crap all over a dirt road; in a place that had no shade nor anywhere to sit.
The spill
Over nine years, I've made a lot of changes to my gear and I look forward to my next bikepacking trip where I'll pare down my stuff even more. In fact I'm reading a book by ultra-light backpacker Ray Jardine and most of his ideas are practical and sensible. One idea that appeals to me is to use a tarp instead of a tent. Right now my one man tent weighs close to four pounds and Ray Jardine's tarp weighs mere ounces.

 Years ago I didn't know what a Thermarest was and now I have two - a long one (my first) and a shorter one that covers only my shoulders and hips. I wouldn't wear a light on my helmet again since a Tikka packed away in a handlebar bag weighs much less and can be used quickly when faced with a tunnel or when you set up camp in the dark.

Roy still makes fun of all the gear I brought on our first bikepacking trip and it gave me a certain amount of satisfaction on our recent backpacking trip to find out that Roy's pack weighed fifty pounds and mine a mere forty.

You can find out more about my backpacking adventures at: