Bike packing - What's it all about?

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Several of you (some off the record) have asked me about bike packing.

A couple of you have even entered the #JennRide in May 2017 to join 3 or 4 of us club members already signed up.

If you have any questions simply ask myself or Zoomer, the following is a list of gear which i have fine tuned over the years that take I take and how I carry it. There are many ways and different cost levels which I'll try and list for you below.

There are mainly 2 types of overnighter suitable for the UK,
1) Where you use a pub or take away for an evening meal and a cafe for breakfast, this helps you travel light and travel in comfort.This is my favourite*
2) Where you carry absolutely everything including your food and cooking gear
* All you need are breakfast bars and snacks, great if you can survive a night/morning without a coffee or a tea.

There are also 2 types of free accommodation
1) Wild camping
2) Bothy
For Bothy info see here, but don't forget they may be not the type of people that you want to mix with, or it could be full. So a wild camping bivi option should still be carried so you could dry out in the Bothy but sleep in piece outside.

But as those looking to get into it or just so see what its about with a simple local #MicroAdventure up to a bigger 2 or 3 night out adventure I'll list my gear that I've found works best for me here in the UK at all times of year.

Sleeping - 2 types of filler
Down - this is light, compresses small but costs more and when wet it takes longer to dry
Synthetic - this is cheaper, dries quicker, but doesn't pack down as small and it's heavier

I prefer a down quilt which a backless and hoodless sleeping bag but still with a bottom for your feet like a sleeping bag
My summer choice
My winter choice
When the temperature drops a down jacket with a hood is essential as are "dry" clothing layers and a woolly hat to help keep you warm over night
I prefer a quilt as they have a cord that wraps them around your sleeping mat that as you roll over the quilt doesn't move with you as I've found that sleeping bags do, plus I don't like the restrictions of sleeping bags and need more wiggle room.
Unfortunatly these quilts are only available from Europe because the UK importer of this company doesn't think that they will sell here in the UK, so you need to search over the channel and pay in euro's

Below I'll list some alternative sleeping bags that are available from many outlets and depending on your warmth needs or budget I'll list a few below

Alternatively there's a local guy based in Southport who a couple of guys I know have used and rave about his price and quality.
Here's his ebay site
and the gear he sells
Plus he can make anything, he's currently making a 450 quilt like mine for someone, so just ask him ans he will give you a price.

Another company to consider for all of your gear from bike packing luggage to sleeping mats and cooking gear is

Now all of the rest of my gear is also available from any of the above suppliers in one type of another so I won't list them all again and again, if you see anything you have a question about PM me with your questions and I'll do my best to help you out.

Sleeping Mat
If you sleep on your back, go for a wide one as your arms will fall off the side off a narrow one waking you up all the time.
My summer one is an older version of this
My wider wider down filled one is this

Bivi Bag
I prefer one with a net that is help up off my face, Alpkit ones are great but there is no midge net to keep the creepy crawlies out.

To keep the wind or a passing shower off your face and it will ensure you gear around you stays dry and together.

Above is all you really need for a far weather night out under the stars, but if a bivi bag is a bit too much then a tent is maybe a better option for you.

Optional for use in winter, if heavy rain is forecast, or in winder conditions.

Tent pole
Made to measure in carbon with several folds to fit it in frame bags for holding up one end of the tarp or the main pole for the above tent

My luxury
If heading to the wilds a great little water filter that means I don't need to carry any more than 2 bottles on my frame
and a cheap Inflatable pillow

Cooking gear you wont go far wrong with Alpkit
Bike luggage - My go to company is but Alpkit gear is nearly as good, cheaper, heavier and less waterproof
But if your gear is small and light you can take it in a ruck sack, but as you know I never carry anything on my bag.

Ref bike packing I prefer to carry everything on my bike including water, so a half frame bag is preferred over a full triangle frame bag

Below is the gear that I carry for a spring/summer/autumn 2 night bivi ride with food stops along the way, extending this trip will only mean another change of cycling clothes that take up no extra room.
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  1. JohnClimber's Avatar
    Events to get you out there

    Between Christmas there will be a Twixmas ride out in Mid Wales - Between Xmas and New Year - 1 night out

    1st or 2nd weekend in January - 1 night out

    1st Bank Holiday in May - 2 nights out

    19th May - 2 nights out

    But there's always "A bivi a month" to join in on and which I've been doing now for 6 months in a row with a total of 14 nights out this year to date.
  2. JohnClimber's Avatar
    A full list of bike packing luggage manufacturers is here
  3. JohnClimber's Avatar
    yes there are 33 different species of mosquito's here in the UK but the only bad thing about summer and autumn bivis near water, apart from axe wielding murderers, is the b@stard little Midge......

    Not all mosquito/midge nets are the same, so DON'T buy a mosquito net tent/bivi/ heat net that isn't midge proof.

    Midges get through the holes in mosquito nets and will ruin your evening, so I'd always got for Smidge head nets
    And of course Avon's Skin So Soft which works for me but not for others
  4. JohnClimber's Avatar
    A few videos from Alastair Humpreys
  5. JohnClimber's Avatar
  6. JohnClimber's Avatar
  7. JohnClimber's Avatar
  8. JohnClimber's Avatar
    Part 1.
    "What sleeping bag and mattress do you use?
  9. JohnClimber's Avatar

    This is my set up for a late November single night out but long ride around Kielder forest, with a forecast of dry weather and down to around 1 degree above freezing overnight, with the aim to get to a bothy at 90miles but carrying a tent in case we don't make it.

    What's in the bags?
    Rear seat post bag
    Winter air bed mattress, evening trousers, long John's, pump to blowup matress and a Costo Double down quilt

    On and under frame
    2 x bottles of water
    1 x tool kit and inner tube in a bottle tool kit

    Frame bag
    2nd inner tube (running tubless)
    light weight rain proof top
    tent pole & pegs
    snacks, breakfast bars and 2 x tin mackerel
    Multi tool, spare GPS batteries

    camera bag on top tube for camera

    front yellow bag
    Cumulus 450 quilt, down to -1 degree comfort level
    Down boots and down hat

    Front pocket
    odds and ends such as maps, spork, loo roll, vitamin I, mini camera tripod, snacks, money etc

    Small back pack
    Down jacket
    Helly Hansen base layer
    spare socks (so I have a full change of clothes fir the evening and night)
    Helmet light and battery (for riding after 4pm to get to the bothy
    Water filter
    Brew kit, tea, burner, tooth paste
    inflatable pillow
    Full hip flash
    Head torch
    External power pack for phone and camera charging
  10. JohnClimber's Avatar
    Luckily this sort of adventure is't for everyone and the trails and woods are nice and quiet at this time of year.