Saturday, June 4, 2011

Old School

A sure sign of age is when your favorite techniques are revealed to be "old school".

I have discovered that I am old school.

I like rain pants and hard shells, sharing a tent, meals, and a big cook pot with others.

I wear sleep clothes.

Call me old school, but when skiing on the Harding Icefield, it's hard for me to give up my sled for just a pack, and planning a "bikepacking" trip I find it hard to give up my rear rack.

As visible above my rear rack holds my Sawyer paddle shaft and inside that compression stuff sack (vintage 1996) is 10 days' dinner and breakfast and a gallon cook pot.

That little bit of blue foam will serve as insulation and a packraft seat when paddling. Right there it's keeping the rack from wearing a hole in the bags and makes it easier to get a good tight load, which I need for riding.

On top of the food bag is a Go lite shelter for three.

Notice all the straps. They'll be handy for getting the bike on the boat when bikerafting and for setting up tent (I carry no stakes).

While I may be an old dog, I am still learning some new tricks.

There's that Epic Designed Revelate thingy up front holding an 8 pound Alpacka 2011 model Llama with thigh straps.

I went and rode some bumpy local root wad trails with this and found that the packraft holder thingy bounces around a bit.

I must have put it on wrong, but with another single lash strap, I reefed on that bundle and tamed it so my handling was far more nimble than you'd think of fat ole me on my fat bike with a 30 pound load (that's for ten days) split between pack (10 pounds), rack (15 pounds), and bars (5 pounds -- this raft is not the one I'd use for bikerafting -- it's just a test load).

The pack is my last Cascade Designs Seal Pack (vintage 1997) with a 25 L P.O.E. dry bag holding a Go Lite Quilt, sleep clothes [Patagonia wool base top + bottom, socks], rain gear [pants + anorak], wound kit, lunches, Skurka cat food can, and other stuff I'd need a spread sheet to post properly, I guess.

I like to portage with my head through the main triangle and the rear rack resting on my pack, so I haven't gone to a frame bag just yet. And I do like my rack cause it holds twice the volume of a seat bag.

Not sure I can put 15 pounds in a seat bag, can I?

Anyway, here's an old story I wrote and maybe had published in the UK back in the mid 90s. It's pretty obvious who our sponsors were and it does seem pretty dated.

But with the new stoke on about bikerafting and "bikepacking", some readers might find it pertinent today.

Plus it's a good review for an upcoming bike trip!


  1. That old article still seems quite valid, except for some of the gear specifics. Interesting read with "hellbiking" and all.

  2. Nice article. Very relevant today.

    You can put 15 pounds in a seatbag, if it takes the right shape. The traditional seatbag/frame pack paradigm is the buisness for "traditional" bike packing with conventional camping and riding gear. Add weird stuff and a rear rack is a good idea.

  3. Yeti, are you the Fin with the 907 fat bike?

    How do you pack it for summer riding? I saw some video of you riding trails, I think.

  4. Dave -- nice ski rig over there on your page -- did you try letting skis extend back past the rack and so helping to tame the wandering boots? With such shorties, it just might work. Long skis hang down and get rubber burn.

    The seat bag that Parsons loaned me would not have held all the volume on that rack.

    Touch wood, but in all of our hellbiking trips we only broke one rack -- and that we fixed with stream stones and hose clamps and finished out the trip.

  5. That 907 was unfortunately not mine. I have a Pugsley, and for an upcoming week long trip up in the north I intend to pack it much like in the winter: Dry sack on rear rack, frame bag, dry sack either on handlebar or front rack and a small backpack for the camera. Like in the winter:

  6. Yeti, how about carrying your bike with the frame bag? Do you ever need to carry it?

  7. The head-through-the-frame portaging technique is a good one, Roman. Also, regarding rear racks being considered passe as of late I think this has a bit to do with everyone riding rear-suspension. Personally I'm loving the Tubus I have mounted to the back of my Troll.

  8. Carrying the bike with a frame bag is the weak spot of the system. I haven't tried it yet, but I thought of having some extra capacity or spare backpack like the Sea-to-summit Ultra-Sil Daypack for some of the frame bag contents and unclipping a corner of the frame bag to get an arm and shoulder through. That said, I don't think I want or need to carry it any longer stretches. After all, a fatbike and gear for a week weighs 60 lbs. I wonder how Eric Parsons and the other tough guys do it.

    I do like how little the frame bag contents affect the bike handling. Getting the heavy items low and centrally in the bike really makes a difference.

  9. Easy, unload the frame bag put stuff in your pack. Carry one armed for short sections. Take the bag off entirely and shove in beavertail for long stretches. Takes 3 minutes. On the last coast trip we never took the bags off however. Did on N-Mc though.

    15lbs is no problem in the seat bags. In Bolivia I at one point had 5 days of food, shelter, clothing and a full 10L dromedary slung underneath (extra strap added) worked fine but with a high center of gravity of course...

  10. Nice to coax a tough guy out of hiding.

  11. pushin my buttonz!
    you're the one coming out of hiding! out of the boat and back on the bike!

  12. Nice 907 you have there!

    I'm that Fin, I just did a short overnighter with the 907:

  13. Thanks Toni, Is your 907 Aluminum, too, or did you go Ti?

    I'll check out your link.

  14. Toni,

    Nice trip. Love those skinny little boardwalk single tracks. Many people here in Alaska think fatbikes are only for snow. Good to see your set up. Thanks for sharing here.

  15. Thanks Roman. I think fatbikes are wonderful year-round adventure bikes. I like to say that they are revolution of mountain biking.

    I'm planning to write a detailed post of my bikepacking setup but I will probably wait for the custom Revelate frame bag that should arrive in a couple of weeks time.

  16. For the love of Peter-John, I sure hope you manage to find a while lot more crap to cart along on this trip. I'd wager my setup is ~30# heavier than yours as it sits right now. Granted, 20# of that is camera shiznit, but still...

  17. Well MC I gotta go light to keep up with all you young dudes.

  18. Ok, Roman... no stakes for your Hex 3. You must tie it off to bikes, bushes, and big logs... yeah? And how did the gallon pot do with the cat can? How much water did you heat/boil at a time?
    'You never get old until you stop doing what you love to do.' Keep it up. And thanks for all the great posts.

  19. No stakes?
    How do you attach the straps to the shelter?
    Is it a custom set up?
    Great blog?


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