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Bikepacking checklist

With the Tour de Chequamegon bikepacking trip only a couple months away, a few people have been asking questions about what to pack. or the weekend trip. If you ask a dozen experienced bikepackers what they bring, you are bound to get 12 different lists. Individual preferences vary widely and there is so much great gear out on the market for bikepacking now that I hesitate to recommend anything specific. But since I have had a few people email me to ask, below is what I generally suggest for this supported trip. I also list what I specifically use as a reference.

I know there are repeat riders registered for this next trip, so feel free to offer your suggestions in the comment section below the post.

Lubing the chain on my Milwaukee 29er in the morning before breaking camp. My Zpacks tent in the background. This was a fall trip, so I am wearing Swrve jeans, a Kitbow Icon relaxed fit shirt and my everyday Thorogood hiking boots.

Bike

People have done this ride on everything from a vintage touring bike to a fat bike. The terrain varies from extremely rough rocky ATV trails, hard-packed gravel, sand and mud. Narrower tires like those on a Quiver X All Road bike will definitely be faster over the long haul of all three days on this trip. A mountain bike, plus bike or even fat bike will be beneficial in some of the rougher loose sections where a person on narrower tires may be forced to hike-a-bike. Dave’s Choice: Milwaukee Bicycle Company Feral 29er

Bikepacking bags (recommended) or rack and panniers

Our experience has been that racks and panniers can break on route because of the excessive vibration from rocky terrain. If you bring a rack, we suggest one made of steel and that you double check your screws prior to leaving. Bikepacking bags are designed for these kinds of stresses.

Dave’s Choices: Salsa Expedition frame bag, Rockgeist Dr. Jones handlebar bag and Gondola dropper seat bag, Revelate Designs Gas Tank top tube bag and Mountain Feed Bag, custom stainless steel rear mini-rack for lightweight stuff in Sea to Summit 5L Big River bags.

Shelter

A tent is recommended, but riders may bring a hammock and tarp if they are willing to look for trees at the campsite. Not all campsites may have trees suitable for hanging a hammock.

Dave’s Choices: Zpacks Soloplex or Duplex

Sleeping system

Sleeping bag or quilt, sleeping pad, camp pillow (splurge, these inflatable pillows pack teeny tiny and are way more comfy than stuffing close in a bag).

Dave’s Choices: Enlightened Equipment Quilt, Exped Synmat Hyperlite or Thermarest NeoAir Uberlite, Sea To Summit Camp Pillow

Coffee making system

Making your own coffee or tea in the morning is a fun part of any bikepacking trip and people have lots of different ways to do it. We will provide hot water and coffee grounds, but you will need to make your own coffee.

Dave’s Choices: I like pour over, so I use the reuseable filter from GSI and my venerable Snow Peak titanium mug with the Hotlips silicone lip guard.

Kitchen stuff and stove

We do all the cooking, so you will not need a stove. You can bring a packable bowel, camp silverware and mug or cup. We will have paper disposable items available as well. 

Dave’s Choices:  I like the folding Sea to Summit X bowls and the GSI collapsable utensils

Hydration

Start the day with at least three water bottles on your bike or bring two and a filter system. There are many clear streams to pump water from along the route. Campgrounds will have wells with potable water.

Dave’s Choices: I’ve tried lots of filters, but love the MSR Hyperflow, which is fast, easy to use and clean and attaches to a bottle. I also bring a 40oz single wall Klean Kanteen bottle for the downtube that attaches to the filter. I can also put this in the fire to boil water.

Camp towel

Even though there are no showers at the campgrounds we will stay at, there are lakes to swim in if it is warm enough. These are useful if it rains too.

Dave’s Choices: REI PakTowel

Baselayers 

Two pairs of padded bike shorts of your choice or basic underwear. 

Dave’s Choices: I ride comfy saddles that don’t require padded shorts, so I just bring two pairs of Ex Officio underwear.

Socks 

I bring two pairs and rain socks if the forecast calls for them.

Dave’s Choices: Made in Wisconsin Wigwam lightweight hikers and waterproof socks from Showers Pass.

Shorts 

Two pair

Dave’s Choices: I only bring one pair of shorts I have an old pair of Club Ride shorts similar to the Fuze.

Pants

One pair

Dave’s Choices: I bring a pair of Zip-off convertible pants for camp or cold mornings that can also be used as shorts REI Sahara convertible pants are light and pack small. In cool weather I wear Swrve jeans or trousers.

Shirts

Two

Dave’s Choices: I ride in a long sleeve shirt for sunscreen reasons and to keep flies off my arms when they are in season. In hot weather a very lightweight, loose-fitting Patagonia snap front fishing shirt made from a wrinkled fabric that doesn’t stick to my skin. In cool weather I bring a wool flannel Kitsbow Icon Relaxed Fit shirt, I can’t find the old Patagonia shirt I have online anymore.

Rain gear

Rain jacket for sure

Dave’s Choices: I bring a very packable rain jacket that is also one more layer in case I am cold at camp. If the forecast looks like a lot of rain, I will also add rain pants, but I won’t bring them if there is only a chance of precipitation. If rain is guarranteed for the majority of a trip, I will also bring waterproof socks. Mammut Rainspeed Goretex Shakedry jacket packs super tiny, but fabric is susceptible to tears or Pearl Izumi Summit WXB rain jacket which packs about twice as big, but is sturdier, has pit vents/pockets and the fabric feels good next to bare skin.  Pants are Goretex Paclite Rain Pants and waterproof socks from Showers Pass.

Jacket

Dave’s Choices: The rain jacket is all I bring Pearl Izumi Summit WXB rain jacket.

Hoodie

Dave’s Choices: In warm weather I pack a lightweight, vented fishing hoodie and keeps the bugs off me. In cooler weather I might pack a merino wool hoodie. Bassdash SPF 50 hoodie or Kitsbow Kitsuma merino hoodie.

Bug head net

Bring one!

Dave’s Choices: While the bugs are generally not bad at the time of year when we ride, bring one of these anyway for at camp just in case. Any kind is fine, but I prefer the black color.

Footwear

Flat pedals and cycling shoes designed for them are ideal on bikepacking trips when you don’t want to pack extra shoes. They are comfy and work well on the bike, in hike-a-bike sections and in camp. If you ride in clipless shoes, you might want to bring some Crocs or sandals for wearing around camp.

Dave’s Choices: I ride in Wisconsin-made Thorogood leather work boots. But there are lots of more traditional cycling shoe options for bikepacking reviewed at bikepacking.com.

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