Some exciting additions to this thread, and it is frustrating that due to the press of daily life, I have defer my replies till later today. I'll jump on this one, though, 'cos it's core to the discussion...
can i just ask have you guys concidered loosing half the load. i'm not being a smart ass but what on earth have you got in all those panniers. surly for a two or three week tour you could fit everything into 4 panniers.
No, you're not being smart, jags, it is a logical question to ask and I'm glad you did. I've detailed my load elsewhere on the forum with pics, but basically...1) My two front panniers carry nearly all my "stuff"
Why? Because the contents are small and dense and stable and unlikely to change in volume much and I can take either of the two small bags into the tent with me or reach down and filch stuff out of them while astride the bike when stopped:
- two alu bowls I use as pots
- 1-liter of stove fuel (white gas or unleaded gasoline as the case may be).
- small toilet kit.
- reserve tools and spares
- spare folding tire, 2 tubes, 2 patch kits
- small paperback novel
- small plastic box with rechargeable batteries
- 1 pr. riding shorts
- 1 pr. casual shorts
- 1 spare jersey
- 2 spare socks
- lightweight fleece jacket
- lightweight long-sleeve wool jersey with nylon wind panels on the front.
- lightweight wool tights
- lycra tights2) The HB bag carries:
- Some energy bars/snacks in double zip-lock bags to reduce "bear smell" and are eaten away
from the HB bag.
- A little sack with my lightweight wind jacket
- A little sack with my sun hat, my light fleece balaclava, and my billed hat
- my wallet and lock keys, spare camera battery.
- my slim little flash-video camera (digital camera goes in my rear jersey pocket)
- "dumb" 3G CDMA cell phone with great battery life and tower reach. Even so, often out of reach for days.
- small sack for prescription meds for thyroid and pollen allergies, toothbrush and paste, floss, and small tube deodorant.
- small notebook and pen, small first aid kit, all-purpose pocket pack of paper tissues.
- small silicone cup, used primarily for snagging water from restroom faucets that are too shallow to refill my water bottles.
- small plastic zip-lock bag with bug spray, sunscreen, lip balm, zinc oxide, another Kleenex packet and two flat dust masks for dust storms.
- Map goes in case on top. LED headlight goes in side pocket with another little bottle of eye drops. Other pocket has two little packs of tissues (serve as napkin, snot rag, and toilet paper in descending order of multi-use).3) Rack-top drysack carries:
- 3lb/1.36kg winter-weight down sleeping bag good to -15C; use as a quilt in warm weather.
- 4.6oz/.13kg silk liner; use alone as sleeping bag on blistering hot, 80F/27C nights.
- 2.6oz/70g air pillow
- 2.21lb/1kg winter-weight dual-chamber sleeping pad
- 9.2oz/260g sleeping bag stuff sack and lightweight, 35l dry sack4) Other rack-top sack contains:
- Tent at 3.75lb/1.7kg with fly and footprint and a variety of stakes including deadman flukes for snow and sand and titanium needle stakes for rocky soil5) The rear panniers contain what I call the Cycle of Life: Food and water in, waste um, "out":
- Two side pockets: small pocket packs of paper tissues, whose shape and size makes them more ideal than rolls of toilet paper.
- Toilet trowel & Steripen UV water purifier and filter plus some pills for if the batteries go dead
- Small roll, bin liners for trash disposal.
- GoPro vidcam and chest harness/helmet mount (18oz/510g).
- Under 1 bag cap-lid: My rain gear (helmet cover, gloves, booties, jacket, pants) @ 2lb/1kg.
- Under other bag cap-lid: Camp shoes (20oz/570g), folding Alite Monarch chair (20oz)
Varies, depending on whether I am near stores or have to carry a week's supply. At home, I repackage the food to minimum dimensions and go with a lot of dry stuff and food in foil pouches. At the little rural stores I find on my route, most stuff is either canned or microwavable. MW stuff can do, but does not turn out well. So, it is usually cans. Because the bulk and type of food vary so much, it all goes in the rear panniers, which can be expanded or compressed to hold it. It also means there is no food smell in any other bags, so all I have to hoist into a tree at night is the two rear panniers. Bears aren't a problem in the desert, but they surely are in the heavily forested mountains I cross on the way there and back.
- And, of course, the rear bags (Ortlieb BikePacker Plus) weigh something. So do the nylon webbing straps I use to secure the lot. By the way, Arno straps rule.Besides food, the big weight for me on my extended, self-supported, solo desert crossings is the water
. When all bottles are full, I carry 1.7 US gal/14lb (6.5l/6.5kg) on the frame
.I also have to carry extra water
for when I'm spending extended time where water supplies have been poisoned by alkali and cannot be made potable (I carry pH strips to test first). To cover that contingency, I have a 10l MSR Dromedary water bag. If I carry 6.5l in it, that allows me to refill all the bike bottles once
. This can be on the knife-edge of needed capacity. All the water is for drinking and cooking only
. I cook in freezer bags so there are no dishes or pots to clean (the used sacks become trash bags for responsible disposal later). I don't bathe for a week or two at a time (Eww, but true) except for the occasional wipe-down of um, "delicate" areas. I wear really lightweight undershorts that can be rinsed under a water bottle stream and air-dry in a few minutes in the low humidity. The shorts and their synthetic chamois get washed about once a week, and sometimes ride wrongside-out atop the racktop load so the sun can do its work on them. Waterless alcohol-gel hand sanitizer and gel deodorant keep-down bacterial growth in the nether regions. There's many other tricks and tips I've developed over the years that help, often coming from military training practices.
This seems to be the irreducible minimum for what I do, leaving a minimum margin for safety and durability. I've got to deal with temperature extremes -- hot and cold
. June temps are often 9F/-13C at night in snow when crossing the mountains from the Valley to the Central Plateau and then desert regions. Last trip through, the rangers closed the gates at Steens Mountain due to whiteout conditions near the summit where I'd planned to overnight. Once in the desert, nighttime temps of 18F/-8C are common, and my bottle freeze solid if I don't bring them into the tent and place them on the foam sit-pad. During the day, air temps are commonly 124F/51C. My temperature data logger has repeatedly recorded well over 148F/64C on asphalt, which melts and sticks to the tires. This is why I need the chair to keep me up off the pavement with an air-gap when I stop; the foam sit-pad tends to stick to the melting tar, and if I sit on the pavement directly, I get scalded and the tar sticks to me like napalm. There's no shade. I've though about packing a small umbrella and expoxying a 10-24 nut to it for my camera clamp to fix to my rear rack at stops in my chair, but the wind would blow it wrongside-out. I used to just stand around when I stopped for a brief rest, but I may be getting um, "more experienced" (*not
* "older"). That's why the chair now holds more appeal.
I am just
warm enough if I wear everything I've got when it is coldest (3-5F/-15C--16C) and I'm standing still:
- Jersey, shorts, socks.
- spare jersey, shorts, socks on hands
- all the rain gear
- hats/balaclava/helmet cover
- lightweight fleece jacket
- light wool long-sleeve jersey with wind panels
- tights, wool and lycra
When I'm working (riding), then the layers come off. They go back on when I stop, hence the convenience of storing the two jackets and rain gear under the bag-caps where I can get them by just unsnapping the two buckles and flipping the lid. Really helps to leave the main bags closed if it is snowing, pouring rain, or in a dust-storm.
I almost always toss in a couple pairs of women's pantyhose (tights) as well. They are light, cheap, and provide a couple more layers' warmth for minimum bulk and weight. I've sometimes cut off the legs and used them as long sleeves to reduce sun exposure (lighter than bigger bottles of sunscreen). They also make it harder for ticks to bite and attach themselves and work great as silt and scum filters for skimming water from cattle troughs before hitting it with the SteriPen and/or pills. I recommend them highly if you can get over the idea of it.
The tent is a 1-person jobbie; I only stay in it to sleep. If it rains, I ride in the rain and cook in the rain; the tent is just for sleeping. The rest of the time, I am on the bike 16-17 hours/day and usually eat on the bike. The one cooked meal of the day is dinner in camp before I crawl into the tent to sleep. I've got to deal with winds
. When I break camp I try to get in at least 20mi/32km before eating so I can make some distance before the winds start. Afternoon winds are usually steady, blowing the alkali dust at about 39mph/63kph. They're usually quartering or headwinds, but occasionally I'll pick up an oikaze (favorable following wind, as Japanese fishermen call it).For off-bike recreation
, I take landscape and flower photos and soon video and limit myself to reading a chapter a night to make the one paperback novel I take last as long as possible. I also listen to the little 1-AAA battery-powered AM/FM/Weather radio I carry or my little .8oz/22g rechargeable MP3 player (America's "A Horse with No Name" usually seems appropriate).
So, that's what I carry, and where. About the only weight I can lose or vary is the amount of food and water I carry, and there's times I need all of that I can lug.
All the best,