Two Years In… Packing for a Long-Term Bike Tour
Photos and words by Ryan Wilson
Packing for a trip that spans multiple years can be a bit daunting. Especially when you’ll be passing through just about every zone of climate you can possibly imagine, from the humidity and heat of the Peruvian jungle to the bitter cold of winter in the mountains of Patagonia… Dragging the bike up rugged 16,000ft hiking trails, across remote dirt roads, or even the occasional stretch of asphalt. Walking the fine line between having an excessive amount of stuff or too little is a tricky balance.
My setup has been gradually refined since I first started this trip two years ago, and while it’s far from a “minimal” or “ultralight” setup you might take on a trip that spans a few weeks or less, I think I’ve struck a reasonable balance between having everything I need to live and work on the bike in the long-term, while still being a rig that is fun to ride no matter how rough the terrain gets.
As time has gone on, I’ve found that the overall weight doesn’t really matter as much as how everything is packed. It’s when bags are bouncing around loosely or swaying back and forth where the size and weight really becomes a burden. When everything is tight and dialed, it’s just another bike. “How much does it weigh?” is a question I’ve been asked hundreds of times along the way and to be honest, I don’t have a clue. Ignorance is bliss, I guess.
There are some things on here that would be overkill for many people (large camera, computer, etc), and some things that would be a bit too minimal for others (clothes, sleeping bag, etc), but this is what works for me at the moment…
44 Bikes custom geometry 27.5+ Marauder UTE
SRAM X01 Eagle drivetrain
Jones H-Bar Loop
Brooks C17 Cambium saddle
Pass and Stow front rack
Thomson seatpost and stem
Hope flat pedals
Maxxis Chronicles 27.5×3 (EXO/TR)
Velocity Dually rims
Industry 9 rear hub
SON front Dynamo Hub
Paul Klamper brakes
RaceFace Cinch crank w/ 28t chainring
Sinewave Cycles USB charger
Schmidt Edelux II headlamp
Cygolite Hotshot USB re-chargeable taillamp
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 tent
Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Mattress
Western Mountaineering MegaLite 30°F/-2°C sleeping bag
Sea-to-Summit Reactor bag liner
Sea-to-Summit Aeros Premium inflatable pillow
Goosefeet down socks
Smartwool lightweight merino LS shirt
Mission Workshop lightweight merino LS shirt
2X Outlier Climber Pants (one to ride in, one for everything else)
Smartwool Merino Boxers
Civic Merino Boxers
Kitsbow Padded Merino Undershorts
Smartwool Longsleeve medium weight shirt (for sleeping)
2X Smartwool medium weight socks
Smartwool heavy weight socks (for sleeping)
Vasque Talus shoes
XeroShoes Amuri Cloud minimalist sandals
North Face Morph Down Hoodie
Arc’teryx Beta LT Hybrid Rain Jacket
Patagonia Houdini Ultralight Jacket
Patagonia Alpine Houdini Ultralight rain pants
Mountain Equipment Randonee Gloves
Wiguam Wool beanie
Sea-to-Summit DryLite Camp towel
Buff Merino wool neck gaiter
Edelrid Hexon Multi-fuel Stove
MSR Fuel Bottle
GSI 1.1L non-stick pot
Small Sea-to-Summit collapsable bowl/cutting board
Humangear fork and spoon
Random Grocery store knife
250ml re-purposed plastic Coke bottle for Olive Oil
Various spices in empty Tic-Tac containers
Small Tupperware for leftovers, marmalade, etc.
Mission Workshop/Acre tool pouch
(2X) 27.5+ tubes
(2X) 2oz bottles of Stan’s sealant (or whatever I can find locally)
Tire boots and patch kit
Gear Aid Tenacious Tape (for repairing sleeping bags, air mattress, tents, clothes, etc)
Spare bolts, nuts, and straps
Lezyne Micro Floor Drive High Volume Pump wrapped with spare Gorilla/Duct Tape
Crank Bros multitool
Spare 12 Speed Chain
Spare derailleur cable
(2X) Spare Derailleur Hangers
Water (typically 4-5 liters):
Platypus GravityWorks filter
(3X) Widefoot Designs LiterCages
(2X) 1L Nalgene bottles on fork
1.2L Kleen Kanteen under downtube
1L Bottle in Stem Bag (as needed)
0.7L Kleen Kanteen mounted to seat stay
(Extra as needed – for 18 liters in total):
3L Platypus bladder in frame bag
2L Platypus bladder in the F-Stop bag
2L bottle strapped between front rack and head tube
(2X) 1L bottles strapped to side of Mr. Fusion
(2X) 1L bottles strapped to the tops of panniers
3L bottle strapped to top of Jones bars (desperation mode)
12” 2016 MacBook in Sea-to-Summit dry bag
(3X) External SSD drives
Sony A7R mk2 w/24-70 f2.8 lens
Sony RX1 mk1 (when I would prefer to be more discrete)
iPhone 6s w/GAIA GPS
Anker PowerCore II 20100mah power bank
Garmin InReach Mini satellite communicator
Black Diamond Iota headlamp
MeFoto Backpacker Air tripod
A few thousand random batteries, cables, memory cards, chargers, adapters, and camera cleaning tools
Sea-to-Summit Passport Wallet
(6X) Voile and Black Diamond ski straps
Bell cable bike lock
Basic First Aid Kit
How Is Everything Packed?
Porcelain Rocket 52Hz Waterproof frame bag: This is where I keep my repair and first aid kits, air mattress, water filter, large water bladder, spare tubes, tent poles, and rain fly. There are also typically a few “emergency” ramen noodle packs I’ve been carrying for years at this point, just in case.
Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion seat pack: Here I keep most of my sleeping gear. The sleeping bag, thick wool socks, sleep shirt, and down socks go in a Sea-to-Summit compression sack. The bag liner (a new addition for Patagonian winter) and inflatable pillow also fit in here, and there is a ton of extra room for supplies if it’s going to be a long stretch without re-stocking points. I’ve also got my tripod strapped to the bottom of the Mr. Fusion rails and a fanny pack wrapped around the dry-bag for extra food space as needed (aka peanut butter storage).
Many people would find a 30°F sleeping bag to be not warm enough for the Andes given that it drops below that almost every night while camping at altitude (and occasionally significantly lower), but I don’t mind layering up clothes to sleep for those nights where the temps plummet.
While a traditional Carradice-style saddle bag has benefits when it comes to accessibility, this setup keeps the rear end slim and stable, which is crucial for hike-a-bikes… Something that is required on a nearly daily basis if you’re trying to access an out-of-the-way area to setup camp.
F-Stop Kenti Camera Backpack (mounted to front rack): This is mostly made up of electronic gear. Laptop, cameras, hard drives, cables, adapters, etc. It being a backpack makes it easy to take off and bring with me if I’m going into a store or restaurant, rather than having to leave everything mounted to the bike. I can also wear the bag on my back for technical hike-a-bikes, which makes the bike significantly easier to carry. My down jacket lives here and the roll-top is expandable to carry additional supplies when needed.
This was the most questionable part of my setup before I started this trip, but it has worked out surprisingly well. The weight being well distributed between the straps on the Jones Bars and the top of the rack is absolutely crucial here, as a bag this heavy would destroy the handling if all of the weight was on the rack.
Porcelain Rocket DSLR Slinger Stem Bag: This thing has been through the ringer over the years and is still a favorite. I don’t use it for a camera at all. Instead, I find It’s good for snacks along with hauling larger and more sensitive items that you don’t want to smash into a pannier like fruit, vegetables, bread, hard boiled eggs, etc.
Choike Jumbo Stem Bag: The use of this depends on where I’m at. In areas that lack water re-supply points I’ll keep a liter bottle in here along with my wind breaker and whatever else I can stuff in there. If I’m in a place like southern Chile, where water is readily available, I’ll swap the bottle for my thick gloves, wool hat, and anything else I may want readily-available.
RandiJo Fab Jeff N Joans bag: This is where I keep my rain jacket and rain pants along with some small camera accessories. I’ll also stash my phone in here while I’m riding so I can easily charge it using the Sinewave Cycles Dynamo USB port.
Revelate Designs top tube bags: Here I keep a basic bike lock, Leatherman, multitool, chain lube, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, and any other small object I may need on a regular basis.
Ortlieb Sport Roller Classic Panniers: These are used for cooking supplies, the stove, food that has to be cooked, the inner-mesh portion of the tent, wash kit, and clothes in a Sea-to-Summit organizer.
Any questions or suggestions? Let me know in the comments below!