Bikepacking Overnights are Adventure Snacks

bite-sized adventure for busy people

This past weekend my friend Anna and I put together a last-minute bikepacking trip to a local county park … for one night. I booked the campsite, threw together a quick route, about 25 miles each way with different roads, and scrambled to get my bike packed up the night before.

Isn’t that a lot of effort for not a lot of payoff?

Sure. And because it’s only (basically) 24 hours or less, one can experiment with minimalism and going as light as possible. Do I need this for the next 24 hours? No? Awesome – not being packed.

Adventure Bike is back!

For this overnight, I wanted to try out a few things:

Things that Worked

  1. Narrower Tires. For this trip, we had mostly pavement and smooth hardpack with the only chunky gravel in the county park. The narrower tires kept things light and quick, especially when the road started tilting upward. The narrower set up was squirrely in the chunky gravel so if this had been a longer trip, I may have switched to the 2″ tires for the added plushness and stability.
  2. Compression Sack for front harness. I was able to cram my tent, sleeping attire, rain jacket, and a few other items into the compression sack and then smoosh it down to fit between my bars. Being able to thread the front harness straps through the compression straps felt more secure than my usual dry bag.
  3. Inflatable sleep pad. I have only used the self-inflating kind so this was new. The Thermarest was extremely comfortable and warmth-retaining despite packing down well and being very light. However it does fit exactly under you so I had to figure out how to place my arms so they wouldn’t be laying on the ground (and cold). It crinkles when you roll over, which wasn’t awful but I was worried about waking up my friend every time I moved.
  4. Ultralight, ultra-packable sleep system. The 50*F quilt, liner, and sleeping pad all pack down super small, making it easy to just toss in the seatpost bag.
  5. Prepaying for firewood to be left at the site by the ranger. Once the sun went down, having a fire to hang out around was super nice. Not having to schlep it by bike was even better.
  6. Water Drop. I was able to bribe my kid with gas money to drop off a few gallons of water for us at the campsite since there is no water available in the park.

ThinGs That Didn’t Work So Well

  1. Summer-weight sleep quilt with spring overnight lows. I didn’t pay attention to the “comfort” limit being 57* for my 50* bag. So even with all my layers plus puffy plus thermal liner, I was chilly all night and slept superficially (low was 43*F) . Going to need to figure out how to bring my down 20* sleeping bag in the future for spring and fall bikepacking.
  2. Forgetting to take my digestive enzymes with dinner. While my digestion has stabilized pretty well over the last 10 months, I still have issues with fats and sugars, especially at the levels most backpacking meals contain. The PackIt Gourmet Chili was delicious – but my guts were gurgling unhappily all night.
  3. Shoes. This was a mix – they were very comfortable around the campsite but after a dozen miles or so or riding, I was getting uncomfortable under the balls of my feet. Likely because the shoes need to straddle being stiff enough for riding without being too stiff for walking around after. Seeing as these are a 2013 model that I bought for bike commuting but then never wore, I’m sure technology has changed and may be able to find something that straddles this divide better.
  4. Somewhere to sit that’s not The Ground. Because we had the fire going, I rolled over a tree stump to use as chair. Anna brought a lightweight backpacking chair. Exploring the idea of getting a lightweight backpacking chair to bring for the good times spent hanging out around the campsite with friends. Need to weigh the weight to need return – but sometimes creature comforts make or break a trip.

Conclusion

Bikepacking overnights are a great way to satisfy the need to get away for a bit and try new things in a low-risk way. It also just feels cool to be riding around on familiar roads with everything you need for a day or a weekend while everyone else is just out for their weekend ride. The gear signals Adventure Is Happening and hopefully sparks others to explore their proverbial backyards too.


Pack List

On Me and my Salsa Cutthroat (52) (I’m a Pactimo and Nuun brand ambassador!)

Seatpost bag (12L)

Framebag (4L)

Handlebar Compression Sack (14L, compressed to fit between bars)

Handlebar Pouch (2.8L)

  • camp permit
  • recharger and phone cord
  • travel packet of baby wipes
  • travel packet of chamois cream
  • bandana
  • compostable toilet paper
  • travel size bug repellent
  • travel size sunscreen
  • extra straps
  • medications (pre-portioned into Morning and Night)
  • Tube of nuun sport in grape flavor
  • multi function knife
  • Long-handled titanium spork
  • lighter
  • firestarter
  • Gallon ziplock for trash

Top Tube Gas Can (1.2L)

  • quick energy snacks (2 Clif Bars Peanut Butter Banana, 1 ClifBloks Salted Watermelon, 1 UNtappd maple syrup packet)
  • “medicine cabinet” (bandaids, Advil, throat lozenges, antacids, anti-itch spray)
  • Afternoon medications

See you out there!