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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Let's talk a little more about "The Kit", shall we?

If you can't figure out by the fact that I've taken three different bike camping trips on three consecutive weekends this month (and plan on doing a lot more in the near future), this whole bicycle camping/bicycle touring thing has been on my mind a lot lately. So much so that I have been procrastinating in other departments. So much so that I'm obsessively looking at web pages talking about alcohol stoves.

I've talked a little bit about my nouveau set-up a couple weeks back in the post Modifying the Bike Camping/Touring Setup but since all this camping stuff is fresh on my mind (and I got inspired by this post over on Pushing the Pedals) I'm going to talk about it some more. (If you only like reading about me talking about Raleighs and all that biz-ness, you can probably skip over this post and go check out posts tagged with Raleigh. Or go check out this blog instead.)

First off, while I like reading other people's packing lists for bike touring/camping, I've never published one of mine. Maybe because I don't want to be judged (cue bearded old guy on the Icefields Parkway saying, "You're carrying too much!") and maybe because I hate making anything that sounds definitive or authoritive. I don't want people to look at the list and think they have to do it a certain way. Nope. So I'll preface it all and say this is what works for me. 

My current setup for the forseeable future, since I don't plan on doing any big-big tours this year is my Carradice Nelson Longflap transverse saddlebag in the rear, two small Route 7 panniers by North St. in the front. For more capacity there is the (theoretical) handlebar bag (more on this later) and/or switching out the Route 7s for my set of North St. Avenue B bags. And if push comes to shove, I can throw the rear rack back on and have both front and rear panniers. But for now I'm only going to use front panniers.

The Carradice currently hauls the "house" stuff, a job it is particularly adept at doing.

And what is the "house" stuff right now?

Clockwise, starting with the green thing in the bottom left corner:

  • Cocoon Air Pillow (inflatable)
  • Cocoon sleeping bag liner (silk/cotton blend)
  • Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy (the tent type thing)
  • Domex Travel 550 down sleeping bag (obscure New Zealand company)
  • ME Kelvin 3.8 regular sleeping mat ("self-inflating")
Everything except the bivy goes inside the Carradice. The bivy gets strapped to the flap, along with my rainjacket (Showers Pass) and Kryptonite U-Lock. If I had either a bigger Carradice (the Camper Longflap) or smaller other things (like a superlight sleeping pad), I could probably fit everything inside the bag. Though when I go camping with April, I'll be carrying my share of the tent rather than a bivy sack. 
In the side pockets go things like spare tube/patch kit on the left side, first aid kit and extra straps/cords on the right.

The pannier that goes on the right (drive) side of the bike contains the "kitchen" and food:

Clockwise from plate in "bottom left":
  • Plastic camping plate with spork and spatula/knife-type-thing
  • Camping sponge. Nothing more than a regular sponge cut in half!
  • Coffee infuser, this one be a GSI H2Joe!
  • Trangia backpacker set, contained inside: Trangia alcohol burner with "windscreen", 0.8L aluminum pot, non-stick frying pad/pot lid, and pot/pan grabber
  • Platypus 2L bag
  • In the center is a Ziploc screw-top container. I use this as a bowl, and it is a great way to store liquidy foods or things like berries because it's leak-proof and the lid won't pop off.
The above is my most basic, most minimal camp kitchen list. I usually bring a little more. This can be some or all of the following:
And the left (non-drive) side front pannier is the clothing, sundries, and other.

For a simple one-night camping expedition, I don't need a lot of clothes, just enough variety to work as a change from my sweaty on-bike clothes and/or extra warmth for the night. For the last expedition this consisted of:
  • Knit hat. The ability to tie this hat to head is great if I need it while sleeping.
  • Thermal bottom layer
  • Longer socks
  • Thermal top layer
  • Flannel button-down shirt.
And yes, true to my Retro-Grouch tendencies, everything pictured is either purely or mostly wool. 
If I was going to go for a longer expedition, I would most likely have another t-shirt, some more socks (shorter though) and some more underwear. But for one night, this is what I can use.

What about my toiletries?

Clockwise from bottom left:
  • Bug Spray
  • Deodorant (Crystal in the small size)
  • Travel pack o' Tylenol
  • Small bottle of Dr. Bronners soap. This serves as body wash, shampoo, and dish wash. Will also work as laundry soap.
  • Sunblock
  • Toothpaste. Normally I use the travel size but this tube is mostly empty
  • and in the center a travel toothbrush.
What else goes in the left pannier? Generally my sketchbook, assortment of art pens, and a book to read. Sometimes included are a few postcards. I also bring my Eton Scorpion radio. And oh yeah, my tool kit!

Now what about a handlebar bag? As indicated earlier, I am currently "between" handlebar bags. When I do get another one the handlebar bag will contain things like tool kits, snacks, electronics, and other things I would need to pull out the most. Since I don't have one now, I've been using a "hip bag" (or if you must, fanny pack) that holds some essentials:

Clockwise from left:
  • North St. hip pouch
  • Small flashlight (Princeton Tec)
  • iPod
  • Obligatory snack stand-in
  • Earbuds for iPod
  • Eating utensils (yeah, I pictured this twice, so sue me)
  • Strap for headlamp
  • Matches
  • Not Pictured for Painfully Obvious Reasons: Camera
Without a handlebar bag, I have a separate map holder.

So thems the basics! What's your packing list?


  1. Great set up! We’re packing similar stuff. When I travel alone, I usually sleep in a UL Hennessey Hammock. I love my CC longflap and have done two week tours on the Blue Ridge Parkway with it and a large Ostrich handlebar bag.
    Cool kit, Jack

  2. Unfortunately,as you know (I've made mention a few times) I've yet to get my first camp-trip down,even a S24O,I don't have a set date yet,but tentatively when my Son's released from school for the summer so he'll go with me (Friday's he spends mostly at Popaw's,and since Sunday is one of our church going days,and in the morning,Saturdays aren't the most convinient...sigh),so I can't offer my own pack-list. But soonmy friend,you will see just how I always pack and carry too much stuff. Soon,I tell you,WAAAAAhahahahahahaha!!!

    Oh...sorry,teeheehee. I was hoping to give you a good chuckle this morning :) Besides,you know I always enjoy any post relating to bike-camping and what to bring,and always take some ideas away from them :)

    The DC

  3. Outstanding! Thanks now I know what to bring.

  4. A great compromise between ultralight, and the 8 panniers of crap we all pile on our bikes the first time we go bike touring.

    For those who haven't read Shawn's Cycle Touring Primer zine, get it, its awesome and has lots of handy tips like this.



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