Just About Set

It’s been a bear of a week at work, and I finished up a big project and presentation this afternoon.  Time to decompress in the man-cave.  So rather than take the ride I had planned for the evening, I tinkered around with arranging gear on the bike for camping.

From these angles, it actually looks like it takes up more room than it does; but the reality is that it is fairly compact.  What’s even more impressive, to me at least, is that there is a fair amount of stuff that I could take out and leave at home depending on the nature of the trip.

The front rack is holding down a Big Agnes bag in its stuff sack.  That webbing device is a Big Agnes Girdle, which they just came out with and works really well at getting all of the air out of the bag.  You could probably take just about any stuff sack and compress it down quite a bit using one of these.  The bag on top of that is an ALPS camp pillow.  It should probably have it’s own compression sack, but that would cost more than what I paid for the pillow.  I tried squeezing it in with the BA, but there wasn’t enough room.  It’s all held down with a single bungee that seems quite secure.

The right pannier is the rest of the bedroom.  I took the $5 compression sack from Wildware and that now holds the Kelty tent and rain fly.  There’s also the Big Agnes air mattress, an old rain poncho that I found in one of our car trunks, a headband mounted LED lamp, a pack towel, and some other small items that I’ll have to inventory at some point.

The left pannier is the kitchen.  I’ve got the stove with a large fuel cannister.  If needed, I could pick up a small cannister that would actually fit inside the stove, but the small ones cost the same as the large ones.  The stove has an integrated plate and bowl, but I also put in a small plastic tub for extra food.  That’s nested inside the bottom half of a milk jug that will come in handy for clean up, etc…  On top of that is a Nalgene bottle with a Steripen filter top if I would have to get water from a creek or pond, and a Steripen is tucked in the side pocket.  There’s still room for a meal or two worth of food, coffee, etc…  Then there are plastic bags, folded up paper towels and some aluminum foil tucked into the top pocket.  There’s other stuff like matches and utensils in there as well.  This is all a bit of overkill for any short trip where some cold snacks and fruit, along with a clean water source, would do the trick; but it’s cool knowing that all that space would be freed up.

You can see the tent poles tied off to the top tube.  It works, but I’m thinking some old socks covering each end to keep from scratching the paint might be in order, as well as some larger velcro straps instead of the cord.

At this point, the saddlebag is slated for tools, a tube, and a Leatherman in the right pocket; camera and phone in the left, and spare clothes in the main compartment.  That’s just going to depend on the time of year.  I found a smallish blue tarp in the basement that will work perfectly as a groundcloth under the tent that will most likely get rolled up and lashed to the top of the bag.

I took the loaded rig for a short ride last night before it started to rain.  It didn’t take long to get used to the extra weight, and things seem balanced out up front so steering is good.  I’m going to have to weigh the whole shebang, but by gearing down and spinning, it seemed OK.  I could tell there was extra weight on the bike, but nothing overboard.

As with all touring setups, I expect it to be a constant work in progress subject to tinkering and fine tuning as I get some trips under my belt.  I’m really looking forward to doing that.

Distance: 2.5 miles  2010: 117.6


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