For my first trip I needed to loaded up my bike with gear. This is going to be a continual learning process.
Here’s my bike full loaded on my first trip:
So I didn’t go the usual bike packing way of a large handlebar bag and a behind the seat bag for a few reasons. I found most of the handlebar bags quite restrictive - they take up a lot of space where my hands would normally go. I found that extremely wierd. I’ve ridden with a rack and saddle bags for ages, I find it comfortable.
Finally, I’m probably going to be doing more bike touring than bike packing and I’m rarely going to be doing anything too technical and mountain bike like.
So I’ve got:
- Two MEC 5L dry bags on the front
- One middle frame bag from Apidura
- Two panniers from MEC that I stole from my wife’s bag. In there was another MEC dry bag.
- One dry bag that we had lying around on the top.
Dividing everything up logically I was then able to pack this way:
- Sleeping back and thermals in one of the front dry bags.
- Most of my remaining clothes in the other front dry bag.
- Sleeping mat in the dry bag lying on the top of the rack.
- One dry bag containing all other things that should stay dry in one pannier.
- Tent in the other pannier.
- Food and all heavy stuff in the middle frame bag.
- Remaining stuff (fuel, stove, pots, first aid kit, rope etc) distributed around.
This seemed to work well, although I made a few changes as I went along:
- I ended up with a few heavy things in the sleeping mat bag. This meant they slid to the back of the bike and caused it to be unstable when standing or cornering. I moved them into the frame bag to be directly over the bottom bracket and that helped a lot.
- I found a few things I needed quickly on a cold wet ride: hats, buffs, waterproofs. I quickly redistributed these to places I could get them quickly. The dry bags on the front forks were ideal for just one or two things at the top like this. Quick and easy to get in and out.
- The panniers had two big flaws, I’m looking for replacements. They aren’t fully waterproof (as the website says). They are fine for short journeys, but 8+hrs of cycling in the rain… no. The velcro can open up when they are overloaded.
- The frame bag got quickly disorganised because its so big. I need to find a way to organise it better.
Overall once I got the weight distribution better, it worked out well. Until I took a bikepacking.com route and ended up on trails that are just not designed for me with panniers. But it was still fun.
The bike was not gonna fit down some of these parts of the trail.