Bikepacker Update

I’m slowly – as time and budget allows – assembling my bikepacking rig. It keeps growing in size and weight, but, the older I get the more attached I am to comfort. Accordingly, whether I’m building a bicycle or an RV is legitimate question.

What have I done between the last update and this one? I’ve acquired (and tested) a few more packs; changed the handlebars a little; and filled up some of these packs with the paraphernalia I’ll be using.

The frame is an OBED Boundary, which I specifically like for bikepacking because it’s got clearance for a 53mm tire and because it’s chock full of bosses I can bolt racks and stuff to. It’s a mechanical Shimano GRX gravel groupset, and the levers are mounted on a Profile Design DRV/GMR gravel handlebar. The aerobar clip-on is a flip-up pad design you won’t find for sale anywhere, and I’ve played around with the extensions. I’ve got an old set of off a 3T bar from many years ago that are on there now, and seem to be ergonomically correct.

The saddle is a BiSaddle Stealth, which is so far the only saddle I’ve found that works well as both a road saddle – in the road position – and as a saddle to use when I’m in the aero position. I can have both positions on this bike because of a Redshift 2-position seat post.

Water is an issue. I’ve replace the 25oz bottles inside the frame with 33oz mega-sized bottles made by Zefal. This, however, made me rethink the placement of these bottles if I was to keep that frame pack. I had a collection of old brackets that were part of a BTA system, and I retasked these to get my down tube bottle lower, and my seat tube bottle higher. There are plenty of aftermarket systems that would do this. What I would ask OBED to consider are placing additional bosses on the seat and down tubes that let me place these bottles in the position seen here, since this particular bike model is really tailor made to be a bikepacker.

The under-the-downtube bottle is still a 25-ouncer, as anything larger hits the trailing edge of the front tire. This gives me a total – so far – of 2.7 liters capacity on the bike. The cages are either XLAB Gorilla cages or Dawn to Dusk cages, which are pretty much the same cages, although Dawn to Dusk (XLAB’s gravel/MTB brand) cages come in various stiffnesses (with increasingly more aggressive bottle grip capacity).

Now we get to the fun part, which is, what goes inside all of these packs. What you see here is a Sawyer Mini water filter system. This will be my go-to for during-ride security. But there’s a filtration bag I think I’ll prefer made by CNOC, as that filtration bag has an open-mount option that makes water easier to collect from a stream. (I’ll take the CNOC and leave the other bag behind.) I have a bottle of water filtration pills as a backup.

I’ve become a Big Agnes fan. Truly, I wish I could get that rear horizontal pack you see on the bike further forward, closer to the bike’s seat tube. Those rear packs are from Aeroe and I’ll see these folks this week at the Sea Otter Classic and I’m going to ask about that. But, back to Big Agnes, what’s in that rear pack is the Big Agnes 3N1 sleeping bag system, which is quite light, so, at least I don’t have a lot of weight in that waterproof Aeroe pack. That Big Agnes 3N1 bag gives me options, and whether the night will deliver 45°, 20°, or 0° some configuration of that Big Agnes system gives me the right temperature.

In one of those rear side bags – again Aeroe waterproof bags – is a Big Agness tent and sleeping pad. The pad is a Q Core SLX and the tent is bikepack-specific: a Flycreek HV UL1 Bikepack.

I’ll write more about how all these items function in a separate installment, when I deploy the tent, the pad, the sleeping bag, and the water system somewhere in the wilderness – 30 yards from my house.

Those two front Apidura bags on the fork, and the other Aero side bag on the rear, remain empty. That’s where my clothing will go, and my mess. I have yet to purchase my JetBoil (or similar) stove, and that stove and my food will take up the space in those remaining bags.

It’s been many years since I’ve bikepacked, and everything has changed since then. All the tech, and the approach. But I retain some of my own ideas, such as, I’m not going quilts and gas station food. I guess I’ll find out what I don’t need after my first trip and jettison that for subsequent trips. I’d rather – as they say – have it and not need it than need it and not have it. But that means I have to lug it around.

More later.