Gravel Culture: Your first gravel bikepacking trip Part2

Posted By Gravel Union On 7 April 2021

What is bikepacking and why should you consider giving it a go? What should you carry with you? What should you leave at home? What the hell is a danglemug and do I need one? Emma gives us the benefit of her time-served gravelly bikepacker expertise.

What to pack for a bikepacking trip is probably everyone’s favourite thing to obsess over! You will discover that everyone has different requirements and even those can change trip to trip.

For early season (spring) bikepacking trips I find it a little tricky to work out my kit - April can be a cruel month and it can throw all sorts at you, but in turn can also be gloriously hot. With this in mind, this is my current list of clothing (which I maintain the right to alter at the last minute, if the forecast changes…) Some of you might think this is a bit long, but I really can’t cope with being a total smelly scruff!

• 2 pairs of mega-comfy bib shorts
• 1 great fitting long sleeve jersey
• 1 great fitting short sleeve jersey
• 2 pairs of thick merino socks
• 1 long sleeve merino base layer
• 1 short sleeve mesh base layer
• 2 properly fitting sports bras
• Fleece-backed knee warmers
• Arm warmers
• 1 pair of short fingers gloves
• 1 pair of winter gloves or ¾ season long finger gloves.
• 1 thermal gillet (I love this top so much)
• Long sleeved waterproof jacket
• Cap
• Merino beanie.
• Merino long johns
• Primaloft smock
• Helmet
• Lace up MTB shoes
• Sunglasses

Gosh that seems a lot of clothes when I list it up. The long sleeve merino top, beanie and long johns are to sleep in. One of the most important things is working out what is right for you, there’s no point in copying someone who can cope with wearing shorts in the snow if you freeze like a popsicle at the first autumnal breeze.

Moving onto sleeping, I’ve mentioned before that I favour a tent over a bivvy bag.

  • Vaude Power Lizard SUL 1p - a crazy light, tiny tent, and a shade of green which vanishes neatly into the landscape.
  • Vaude Norsken sleepmat - I get cold, so whilst an insulated mat is heavier, it’s also more cosy at night.
  • Vaude Cheyenne 200 - A two-season down sleeping bag.
  • Vaude Silk sleeping bag liner.

I bundle my excess clothes into a pillow, but I know some people prefer to take a small travel pillow.

As the morning sunshine wakes you, it’s coffee time. I carry the following - yes, I’m a coffee fan.

  • Esbit pellet stove – I carry three pellets per, day plus one spare (to include meals)
  • Cigarette lighter
  • My beautifully crafted wind shield (ok, yes, it’s a bit of tin foil)
  • Esbit Ti mug to heat water
  • Ortleib drip coffee maker
  • 2 filter papers per day, plus 2 spare
  • 2 scoops of coffee per day, plus 2 spare in an Ortleib non tear food pouch.
  • smaller Ti mug to drink from.
  • Ti tin opener
  • Ti folding spoon
  • Expedition foods - Thai Chicken curry and hot breakfast.

I keep one pouch for food and try to buy things which are calorie dense where possible.

In addition to this lot, there’s obviously a micro bathroom to consider.

  • Folding toothbrush (I tried a sawn off one and it’s a faff)
  • Tiny toothpaste
  • Small bar of soap
  • Travel microfibre towel
  • Smidge insect repellant
  • Suntan lotion (ever the optimist)
  • Sportique Century ride cream
  • Tissues
  • Tick puller
  • Basic first aid kit
  • I have been known to carry the head of a razor to shave my legs - you can tape it to the top of a tyre lever but I think I’ll just about last 600km without a vanity moment.
  • Painkillers
  • Anti-histamines

Then there’s the rest of the bits that you hope you don’t need.

  • A selection of bolts of differing sizes
  • Cable ties
  • Bits of Gorilla tape wrapped round pump
  • Electrical tape
  • Lezyne Multitool with knife
  • Lezyne tubeless tyre repair kit
  • Dental floss threaded on a curved needle (for potential tyre repairs)
  • Lezyne pump
  • Spare tube of the appropriate size and valve type
  • Cafe lock
  • Back up GPS unit
  • Regular tube patch kit
  • Brake pads of the correct type for the bike
  • Split links
  • Emergency Mech hanger
  • Tyre levers
  • Little bottle of Smoove Lube

Then of course there’s all the things you will definitely use.

  • Anker power bank
  • EU or UK plug with 2x USB
  • Cables for phone and GPS
  • Lezyne 700 head light
  • Lezyne Mega C GPS
  • iPhone
  • Passport
  • Monzo card
  • Cash
  • Note of useful contact phone numbers

This time of year is probably the hardest to pack for. At the moment the weather looks good, but it’s hard to trust a forecast even a week in advance. Dithering does mean a chance for some practice packing though. Make sure you keep all the stuff you need to use at night somewhere dry and away from a soggy tent. Make sure you can easily access things you might need quickly during the day such as food or a multi tool.

And lastly, there’s no need to #danglemug and have sheep poo for tea when you can pack all of your cool stuff and mini bathroom inside it and keep it tucked away in your bags!

Good luck.

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