How To Bikepack Like An Amateur

how to bikepack

What could possibly be more wonderfully uncomfortable, more pleasantly basic and more fringe-of-society-ish than living in a 1993 van, often on the side of Hwy 6 with the semi trucks on a hot July weekend? If you know me, it’s a half-planned bikepacking trip, McGyver-ing packs together to carry on my not so ideal mountain bike set up, knowing I’d have to do without a cold beer at the end of the first long day before an (un)romantic snuggle in a one person tent with just my bony bum for a sleeping pad.

While the route turned out to be a fail, and we rode too many miles of pavement, and had to hike-a-bike for over an hour up a washed out jeep trail that ended up being a dead end, and had to backtrack on said pavement, and had to again hike-a-bike up into the White Mountains in search of shade for camping, I felt a massive sense of accomplishment for simply embarking on the expedition. And for not crying. Or yelling at Paul. Or for not tossing my bike down the sandy wash that I couldn’t pedal through.

We get caught up planning and planning for when we have the right provisions, devising projects for a yet to be determined date, promising to take a vacation when we have the finances; more often than not money and proper tools can easily be worked around. Forget the wages lost from a day off work or the time “wasted” not keeping up with emails. Figure it out. Use what you’ve got. Just get up and go.

  • 3 REI 18L Flash Packs, one on each of our backs, one strapped to Paul’s handlebars

  • 1 pilled blanket wrapped in a sleeping bag stuff sack, velcro-strapped to my top tube

  • 1 55 degree sleeping bag

  • 1 sleeping bag liner

  • 1 ultra lightweight MSR stove (didn’t use, just wanted to see if we could fit it in our stuff)

  • 1 propane tank (ditto, above)

  • 1 folding fork

  • 1 plastic spoon I’ve been reusing since we left Bend 12 months ago

  • 2 Hydroflask containers for food (“bear containers”)

  • 1 camera (not used enough, but stopping to drag it out felt so, so exhausting)

  • 2 iPhones

  • 2 Suunto watches (both died at end of first day)

  • 2 headlamps

  • 2 travel size sunscreen packets (uhh, will check to see if it’s zinc next time to avoid looking like ghosts)

  • 4 insect repellent wipes

  • 1 ultralight shovel / toilet paper / baggies

  • 2 books that we were too tired to read

  • 1 map

  • 2 pairs Old Navy flip flops

  • 2 swimsuits just in case (sadly no water to be found)

  • 2 pairs leggings

  • 2 long sleeve shirts

  • 1 pair extra warm socks

  • 2 beanies

  • Bike tools including hand pump, 2 tubes, CO2 cartridges, multi-tool

  • 1 pre cooked concoction of basmati rice and sausage (Paul) in Hydroflask strapped to bike

  • 1 cold bean and cheese burrito with packet of sriracha from Starbucks (Susan) safely protected from smushing in other Hydroflask

  • 1 avocado

  • 1 small baggie of Paul’s leftover rice

  • 2 king size Paydays

  • 1 RX bar

  • 1 Perfect bar

Bought at only gas station/restaurant found after about 20 delirious unanticipated miles in the saddle:

  • 1 gallon water

  • 2 Squirts

  • 1 Gatorade

  • 1 Diet Coke (I just like it, sue me)

  • 1 bag salsa spicy something or other Doritos

  • 1 bag cheddar and sour cream Ruffles

Number of fights engaged in (with each other): < 1!  (I call that success)

Number of fights engaged in (with anyone else): < 1 (almost with guy that cut me in line at gas station)

Number of crashes/mechanicals: Big ol’ Zero

Calories consumed at hotel post-trip: 200,000