INTRODUCTION


With the vast resources now available to start building a bikepacking or bike touring gear list from scratch, I thought I’d step a little outside the typical gear lists and shine a light on a few items I have found to be very useful. I especially tried to highlight items that seem to be missing from most bikepacking gear lists or discussions. Hopefully both people just starting out in the biking world and the veterans will find something interesting and useful.

Let me know in the comments below if my hopes were right and if there are any items you think don't get the press they deserve :)

If you found the gear journals / lists useful, a free way to support this site and my travels is to use the amazon links on this website. I receive a few pennies on the dollar of your amazon purchase (at no extra cost to you) which go toward buying my next bag of oats :)


SHORT VERSION


Below can be found the summarised version of this top 3 list. Any wisdom and tips I have gained and wish to share in using these items can be mined from only reading the longer version below. Sorry guys, sometimes the big gold nuggets can’t be found via the easier open-pit mining; the overburden is too great and you must go deeper.

1. Baby & Alcohol Wipe

Why you should use them...

  • Gets you clean of mud / grit and kills bacteria at the end of each day
  • Cheap and wildly available
  • Light and minimal bulk (if you buy the smaller packets)

Read below for my 5 minute wipes routine that is a body cleanse, detox and will get you feeling fresh and ready for the next day. Amazing I know!

2. ZPacks Pillow Dry Bag

Why you should have it...

  • Incredibly light at 47 grams / 1.65 oz
  • Very comfortable with the correct method
  • Doubles as a dry bag to keep things compressed and dry

What is the 'correct method' you ask? You'll have to read on to find out!

3. Aero Bars

Why you should have it...

  • Gain incremental speed from simply lounging on your bike
  • Shift from a passive cyclist exploring the world to competitive athlete
  • Hold additional easy to access water

Competitive athlete at what you ask? You'll have to read on to discover what you stand to win!


LONG VERSION


1. Baby & Alcohol Wipes

Brand: Nondescript

Name: Baby & Alcohol Wipes

Link: Nil

A big part of bikepacking is getting down and dirty wherever the trail leads, no matter the amount of unsavory mud or sweat that starts to build up on your bike and all over your body. While this does add to the experience of it all, it becomes a bit of an issue when you’re exhausted and want to roll into your sleeping bag at the end of each epic day.

This is where the Baby & Alcohol Wipes come in! They are cheap and wildly available: wherever there are babies in the world, there are baby wipes, and from my experience babies seem to be everywhere.

Get stripping down from all your dirty and sweaty bike clothes to the bare minimum which may be down to nothing at all, I’ll call it out right now I fall into this group. Prepare yourself for a body cleanse, detox and feeling fresh and ready for the next day. Am I over selling it yet? Start with one or two baby wipes and get removing all that built up dirt, by far the majority will come from your hands and legs.

Next use the alcohol wipes which further clean away any dirt but are mostly there to kill any bacteria that may be forming a base camp to summit and claim your most vulnerable bodily regions (arm pits, between your legs…you know the drill).

Grab one last baby wipe and do a quick wipe down to make sure you’re spotless and wipe away any alcohol on your skin. Any alcohol left in the wipe can be squeezed out into your mug and consumed for a mildly intoxicating affect. Just kidding, please don’t do this.

That’s it, you’re done! In less than 5 minutes you have experienced a makeover that people would pay hundreds for! The tent and sleeping bag await. Better yet, grab a silk sleeping liner and you’re bed and sleeping bag will stay spotless for eons.

Oh and make sure you stick those used baby & alcohol wipes in a small plastic bag to dispose of them in the next town. Mother nature appreciates it.

 

2. ZPacks Pillow Dry Bag

Brand: ZPacks

Name: Pillow Dry Bag

Link: Click Here

Oh the joys of sleeping in a tent on lumpy, hot windless nights on the flattest patch of ground you could find. The flattest patch which is still steep enough that your convinced the climb from one side of your tent to the other must at least qualify as a 5.13c ( for the rock climbing inclined out there).

While a pillow won’t necessarily solve all this, the ZPacks Pillow Dry Bag will get you moving in leaps and bounds to a better night’s sleep. All I’m thinking when I’m searching for a biking pillow is two things:

How bulky and heavy is this thing that I have to lug around which I don’t even use during the day anyway?

 AND

On a scale of passionate hate to complete and utter disdain, where does this pillow sit in terms of comfort? Not sure which way the scale goes, passionate hate to utter disdain OR utter disdain to passionate hate, in terms of incremental comfort? Me either.

Let’s address both of these. In terms bulk and weight, it doesn’t get any better. It only weighs 47 grams / 1.65 oz and it’s probably only slightly bulkier than that plastic bag that has been sitting in the bottom of one of your bike bags that you’re convinced will come in handy one day. Maybe use the plastic bag to store the used baby and alcohol wipes you now carry with you?

Comfort is a little more complicated. By that I mean weight and bulk is grade 3 maths complicated and comfort is Higgs boson quantum physics complicated! Thank you Peter Higgs for making that analogy possible! Now I know comfort is subjective but I’ll give you my two cents of what worked and didn’t work for me with this pillow.

Simply stuffing the bag with my down clothes didn’t seem to work. I either had too many clothes in there and the Velcro holding the pillow closed would open or I had too little clothes and then it felt like no pillow at all. The sweet spot I have found is packing one down jacket to the bottom of the pillow bag and the other down jacket (or you could use your down pants) to the other side of the bag near the Velcro strip.

This means you have what would appear to be a poorly packed, uneven bag.

But wait, the magic is about to happen. With the jackets on each side and nothing in the middle of the bag, you are able to rest your head with support on each side. This also creates a slight convex in the middle of the pillow which gives the feeling the pillow is conforming to the shape of your head. That’s because it is! You have just made a pillow that will get you back countless hours of sleep that were otherwise lost.

Turn the pillow bag inside out and voila! You have another dry bag to use as you wish. This item is a win, win…win!

 

3. Aero Bars

Brand: Profile Design

Name: T3+ Aluminum Aerobar

Link: Click Here

I having been a triathlete in one of my previous lives and experienced the light speed affects…no light speed is too slow…ludicrous speed… of having aero bars I was very eager to give them a go on my bikepacking setup. This was especially important as with my new fat bike setup (which you can read here) I was gaining 4 season and off road capabilities with fat tyres but needed something to offset the additional weight and rolling resistance.

 

Having used aero bars for a number of months now, I honestly couldn’t see me having a bikepacking rig without them now. The ability to add a few extra kilometers an hour, or a few (albeit less) miles an hour, to your current speed by simply lying down on the pads and bars restores my belief that there are times in life where you can get something for nothing. That and the intrinsic feeling of slicing through the air in this aggressive position really changes my mindset from riding as a passive observer to competitive athlete. What do you stand to win as a competitive athlete? A more enriching experience of course as you get to explore more and go further each day.

I’ll admit for comforts sake I won’t spend all day on the bars but a good few hours on them will quell my urge of the need for speeddd! To my surprise, even on reasonably rocky trails you can safely sit in the aero position as long as you’re switched on to what lies just ahead.

As a bonus, the bars also give you torpedo look-alike water holding capabilities with the Xlab - Torpedo Versa 200 and a new (improved) position to sit your trusty GPS.


Interested in more Gear Articles? Check out the latest below:


If you found the gear journals / lists useful, a free way to support this site and my travels is to use the amazon links on this website. I receive a few pennies on the dollar of your amazon purchase (at no extra cost to you) which go toward buying my next bag of oats :)

3 Comments