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Rad People Who Ride: Cameron Sanders

19 January, 2017

The photo above tells it all. Cameron Sanders (@adventure_by_bike) is a man of rad adventure. Not a watered down version of adventure that provides expectations or limitations. The rad kind adventure that is fueled by desire to experience life in an unconventional way that makes the memory more unique and authentic. He's always out there...constantly making a reality of the places he wants to see via bike. Not allowing anything to put a damper on his goals, he'll set out with a pack raft if that's what it takes to get where he wants to be. We sent him a set of Nano 2.1 and Ranger 2.8/3.0 tires to help support his bikepacking expeditions and next thing we knew we were receiving an endless stream of photos showing how he's used them to reach places we've only dreamed of experiencing. We'll let him take the stage from here and tell you what he's all about.

Name:

Cameron Sanders

Home Shop and City:

I'm a drifter by nature and never seem to settle into any one place long enough to call it home. I'd say I'm most at home in the saddle, with the bike loaded down and the world unfurling before me.

My garage is my home shop, although, recently I've been patroning Crows Feet Commons in Bend, OR for good company and to test out the newest dropper posts.

Notable passions, feats of accomplishment, interests, goals, phobias and unusual experiences:

I'd put getting asked to blog for WTB right up there with notable accomplishments and strange feats I never imagined doing!

Folks know me these days mostly for my bikepacking pursuits in out there places, like the Alaskan Backcountry or along the frozen Shoreline of Lake Superior… however, my Gateway Sport was caving.

I've worked 13 years with state and federal land management agencies like the National Park Service and US Forest Service. My career began as a cave guide and surveyor for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. Had it not been for the life lessons learned while surveying caves, I would likely never had pursued a life as a steward of our public lands.

Favorite WTB product:

Most any WTB tire with TCS Tough Enduro Casing gets a big thumbs up in my book.

Right now I'm loving the 3.0 Rangers for Backcountry Bikepacking and 2.1 Nanos for gravel grinding and fire road touring. If I were planning a trip around the globe via remote back roads (perhaps I am), I would reach for one of these tires.

Favorite Ride:

It's hard not to immediately think of Moab's Whole Enchilada or Captain Ahab trails when imagining the best and most epic trails out there.

I must say, however, the trails of the Alaskan Kenai Peninsula hold the most special of places in my pantheon of favorite locations to ride. Johnson Pass Trail, Resurrection Trail, Crescent Lake and Lost Lake Trails molded me as a backcountry cyclist. All these routes individually offer great all day all mountain adventures. Where these routes really shine, is when combined into long distance bikepacking expeditions. The Chugach National Forest even offers multiple rustic cabin rentals along the routes - perfectly spaced for touring. Back when I lived in Anchorage, I would take a hut-to-hut fatbike holiday trip with friends each December.

Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?

Most folks are surprised when they find out I didn’t learn to ride a bike until I was in college. Cycling entered my life by surprise.

I didn’t grow up riding a bike. As a young man never possessed dreams of touring the globe via saddle. As a misbegotten youth I lived out of a beat up Dodge Caravan and spent the majority of my time wandering the woods with a bright red Petzl Ecinrock helmet and a tattered secondhand NRS Farmer John wetsuit in search of caves.

Growing up I dreamed of leaving the Midwest in search of high crags, waterfalls, glaciers, and adventure. When I got the chance, I left on the first flight I could afford to Alaska with no home and nothing to my name but the lime green Osprey backpack on back stuffed to the brink with an oversized military sleeping bag and far too much cotton.

Most of who I am was forged in Alaska. During my first few years in the state I spent months out of sight of towns exploring wild places. The mountains there instilled in me a wilderness ethic and a sense of responsibility for our public places. Eventually I settled into work with the National Park Service and US Forest Service as befitted my lifestyle and ideals.

I learned to ride a bike that first summer in Alaska. My first bike, a $300.00 Diamondback, which felt like the most expensive bike in the world to me at the time, had one purpose: to take me into the mountains.

For many years my backpacking trips began on bike and my bikepacking trips consisted of cycling with a 65L pack for a day to a week and ditching the bike in the woods when a summit appeared which needed bagging.

As that first year in Alaska drug on and I remained vehicle-less, my bike took on fat downhill tread studded with roofing tacks and layers of interior ducktape during the harsh Alaskan Winter.

Being both completely broke and inquisitive in nature, a series of unfortunate bike thefts left me thinking I could simply ‘build up a bike for less’… I couldn’t have been more wrong, however, my experiences thereafter have left me with an understanding and appreciation for not only the ride, but the art of bicycle fabrication. I annoyed every bikeshop in town with inquiries as to why I couldn’t mix this with that and why this had to be that way. I cared little for fitting to the bicycle industry’s status quo and more about the inner mechanics which lead to the art of motion.

My dreams of making it as a hot shot mountaineer died with a winter expedition gone seriously wrong which left me wondering if I would ever walk again. The low impact nature of cycling assisted in my recovery and what once had been the means to access the wild, became the adventure itself.

Overtime my bikes took on new shapes to fit the objectives of my adventures: strong and light steel, fat tires, frame bags custom stitched in living rooms, dynamo hubs, and better components.

I am not some hotshot racer. In the rare instance I enter a race you won’t see me on the podium. I’m not an ultraendurance rider, although I try to lump my vacation together each year to accommodate some big ride I’ve spent months dreaming of. Like so many, I spend most of my time working to provide myself and my loved ones with food on the table (and bikes in the garage).

At the end of the day, cycling is a means to the end I’ve always desired: an escape to adventure.

Tube or Tubeless, why?

Tubeless because it’s single handedly the best improvement to cycling since disk brakes. Going tubeless is cheap and easy. Carrying a spare vial of sealant is easier than carrying a spare tube (Although I do carry a spare tube as well on long remote journeys. For really out there trips, I carry a latex mold powder blend with me to make DIY sealant on the go - just add water) . Nearly all tires and rims come tubeless ready these days. You have no excuses - go tubeless and never go back.

3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?

Your Trail Ethic:

  • Be kind to the environment
  • Be kind to other people
  • Be kind to the trail
  • Respect Public Land Rules and Regulations
  • Smile

A Sense of Wonder and Adventure.

A frame bag - Ditch the pack (or lighten it) and put everything else you need for a safe and fun journey in your frame triangle (this is a much better and more stable position to store things than on your back, seatpost, or handlebars).


Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?

I’ve seen lots of big game while out riding from Moose, to Grizzlies, to Bison. I even once got shot at while riding in very rural eastern Oregon.

I must say, however, the craziest thing I’ve ever witnessed on a ride is a toss up between a franken-truck backing down a waterfall via a wench a full day out into the Alaskan backcountry off of anything remotely resembling a road (the drivers were equally surprised to see a ‘crazy’ cyclist), and getting stalked by a mountain lion on a winter cycling trip this past November.

Most important lesson to teach the groms?

I’m going to be perfectly honest here and admit to Google searching “Define Grom” prior to answering this question...

It’s simply not enough to love to ride and do what you love. You’ve got to share your passion with others and you need to be civically engaged with your community, your trail networks and your local land managers. Join a local trail club. If one doesn’t exist, make one. Help maintain trails. If you don’t have local trails, approach the city manager, chamber of commerce, state parks and/or federal agency land managers. Don’t get frustrated if things move slowly at first. Don’t settle for “no” or “we’re too busy”. Don’t pirate illegal trails.

With hard work and the right approach, mountainbiking can benefit an entire community - far more than just benefiting the cyclists. Use cycling to make your neighborhood into a better, more resilient community. Use cycling to generate fellowship among neighbors.

Pay close attention to how your public lands are being managed. If changes are taking place which could compromise those lands, write to congress and let them know you disapprove and that their actions are negatively affecting your community and its wellbeing.

Be a steward and an ambassador of cycling.

Left my wallet in… (fill it in):

… in my coat or pants pocket and then it fell out during my ride/commute… I find it along the side of the road magically 3 weeks later after I have gotten a new wallet complete with all the important cards there within...

Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?

@Adventure_By_Bike Instagram - Follow my adventures on Instagram. Insights to aid in escapism.

National Park Foundation - The National Park Foundation is the official charity of America’s national parks. Funds contributed to the Foundation are invested directly into the national parks of the United States.

National Forest Foundation - Created by Congress as the official non-profit partner of the USDA Forest Service.

Adventure Cycling Association - The Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) seeks to empower folks to travel by bicycle. Many of the great touring routes in the USA have been created by the (ACA)

International Mountain Bike Association - The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is a non-profit educational association whose mission is to create, enhance and preserve trail opportunities for mountain bikers worldwide. Support IMBA.

BTR Fabrications - Looking for the dream bicycle to load up with all your WTB goodies? BTR Fabrications believes in no-nonsense and no compromise framebuilding. All BTR frames are handbuilt in the UK from the highest quality steel. #SteelisReal my friends.

ATM Handmade Goods - Need to find Item #3 from my “most important things to take on a ride list?”  There's lots of companies out there making framebags, but Andrew the Maker can outfit your rig with bags specific to your ride and needs. He's a stand up fellow; drop him a line.

Porcelain Rocket - Meet Scott Felter, owner of Porcelain Rocket. Scott makes some of the best bikepacking saddlebag systems in the world… and yes, he’s even got a dedicated setup for dropper posts.

Hammer Nutrition - Another good thing to have before, during and post ride is solid nutrition. I admit to living off of hammer gel most of the year. Don’t bonk and don’t let your body wear down.

TRP Brakes - I’m giving TRP a plug because their dual piston mechanical brakes (Spykes) are simply unparalleled when it comes to  straightforward, strong, reliable, field serviceable brakes. They may not be has strong as many of the hydraulics out there, but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages for those bikepacking in the remote backcountry.

Alpacka Packrafts - Another item you should try bringing along on your next bike trip is an Alpacka Packraft. These little stout inflatable rafts are small and light enough you can take them bikepacking, yet durable enough to take on whitewater rapids and river rock gardens. Additionally the rafts float with enough clearance to allow exploration of places other watercrafts simply cannot go. Biking out and floating back makes for an amazing adventure… in fact, I’d say #bikepackrafting changes the game entirely.

Aquabound Paddles - If you’re going #bikepackrafting, you’re going to need some paddles. Aquabound can hook you up with lightweight, 4-piece paddles perfect for backpacking or bikepacking.

Dirt Components - You may have noticed WTB does not currently offer full-fat tires or rims… Until they do, Dirt Components manufactures the highest quality carbon fatbike rims for your ride. Great folks making great products here in the USA.

Help Rad Rider and Bikepacker Leialoha Sousa-Sommo Fight Cancer and Ride Again - My partner in all things was recently diagnosed at 27 years old with advanced stages of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. Check out her Go Fund Me page and help her kick cancer and ride again.

Rad People Who Ride: Louisa Sussman

02 January, 2017


I met Louisa on my first day of work at WTB. In proper first-day fashion for a company in the bike industry, the hours of introductions and login credentials was topped off with a trail ride to fully seal the deal. We were joined by riders of the Nevada City Miners high school mountain bike team, with Louisa riding at the front of the pack. It was immediately apparent that Louisa carries an incessant love for being out on her bike, whether heading up or down the mountain. She's the type of rider who everybody looks forward to sharing the trail with.  

Her thunderous skills of shredding lurk beneath a humble, easygoing personality that makes friends first and rides bikes second. Though the two typically go hand in hand. She can be found putting laps in at Downieville for most weekends of the summer, while weekends away from the legendary area are still typically spent with bike in tow. Keep an eye out for here at the Downieville Classic!

With a constant demand for solid wheel builds comes a need for somebody whose role is dedicated to every aspect of the complete wheel. The wheel person...who understands the importance of a reliable build and is committed to making sure it is achieved. The person who pulls a wheel out of the truing stand with confidence that their build will hold up to anything, and everything, the rim was designed for. Louisa is the perfect person for the job and provides piece of mind that every wheel sent out is good to go. She's been rambling around the WTB Nevada City office for years and has always been one of the first to offer help at WTB events, but we're thrilled to have her officially join our team. 

Name: 
Louisa Sussman

Home Shop and City: 
Nevada City, CA

Notable passions, feats of accomplishment, interests, goals, phobias and unusual experiences: I recently helped create and won the first Expert Junior Women category for Downieville All-Mountain World Championships, bought my first car, and started work as a wheelbuilder and dog petter for WTB. I lived abroad for a few years and in addition to developing a fear of reptiles, I also became fluent in Spanish. I’d like to learn how to manual, fix everything on my bike and lots of things on a car, find the balance between being really good at promoting myself in order to achieve goals and still be down to earth and not annoying, race internationally, and maybe pick up a bike sponsor in the near future.


Favorite WTB product:

Favorite Ride:
Any sort of shuttle, Grouse Ridge, or Nevada City's Greatest Hits.

Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?
My brother got hooked after taking an after school bicycle repair class in 6th grade, and little sister monkey see, little sister monkey do! There seems to be no shortage of ridiculously rad people riding and racing bikes, and in addition to going on numerous road trips and meeting them, I get to spend a lot of time on mountains.


Tube or Tubeless, why?
Tubeless, it means no worries for the rest of your days!

3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?
One of those photo capturing device things that can also call an ambulance if needed, a sense of adventure, and some water.

Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?
Dead things, bears, and four front flats in one Downieville run.


Most important lesson to teach the groms?
You can do whatever you want as long as you keep your head down and put in the work.

Left my wallet in… (fill it in):
The car. Wanna buy me this shuttle? I'll buy lunch.

Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?
My instagram (@louisasussman), these wonderful organizations (http://www.norcalmtb.org/) (http://www.sierratrails.org/), and this cute cat (https://www.instagram.com/p/BNS8RmLAGCf/).

Pro.Files: Yuri Hauswald

11 November, 2016

Pro.Files w. Yuri Final from WTB on Vimeo.

 

" I'm just a big kid who wants to keep riding his bike for another 20 years. Thanks WTB for the video love. Couldn't do what I do without the generous support of many different sponsors over the years, some of whom like Marin Bikes Kaenon GU Energy Labs GiroSportDesign WTB that've been with me for close to a decade. "  And we really like you too buddy! Cheers to another 20 years of shredding! 

Rad People Who Ride: Brian Ohlen

07 November, 2016

A true man of the mountains. He lives among them, works among them, plays among them, rarely leaves them, complains when he does. Need further proof? His years of fighting forest fires has even crowned him the Saw God among certain circles. Here at WTB, we call him Ranger Danger. How else do you refer to a man who believes a proper bike ride requires boots, wrenches on bikes while thrashing to The Sword, has logged more miles on his pink 1989 Gary Fisher Celebrity than any other bike in his quiver, and firmly believes guns provide more protection than helmets? 

Brian is humble. Soft-spoken. Understates everything. Has a way of describing experiences as far more mundane than they really were. Any time he recounts one of his weekend rambles, it comes with an unvoiced guarantee of additional realness he didn't hint towards. The ramble likely ended with him finding a way to pedal a whole antelope out of the woods. He's keen on details. Recognizes and respects the need for them, which has made him such an incredible mentor to countless up-and-coming wrenchers in his many years as a bike shop manager. Especially during his time at the Boise State University Cycling Learning Center, where I met him. Sincere. Truly sincere. Wildly passion about the aspects of life which captivate him, while lacking concern for those which don't intrigue him. That's how it should be.  

I once spent an entire shop shift neglecting and avoiding an ever-increasing stack of service tags as I instead spent hours incessantly nagging him to order a 29+ Surly Krampus the moment they first became available on QBP. By the end of the day, I found him sitting at his desk with an expression of complete satisfaction, credit card flung on the keyboard. "It is done."

Brian once nominated me for employee of the year. Somehow, his nomination actually convinced people to hand it over. Years later, I get to apprise folks of how rad he is. To inform fellow riders that there's a guy in Wyoming who's heading out on trails with a rifle leading the way. 

Name:

Brian Ohlen

Home Shop and City:

Absaroka Bikes. Cody, Wyoming

Notable passions, feats of accomplishment, interests, goals, phobias and unusual experiences:

Passions: I love combining my passions in a way that gets me to places other people don't go. Multi-sport adventures like bike fishing or kayak hunting add a new element to things I already love, and give me leg up over other hunters or anglers. Of course I love all things bikes, but mostly skids, wheelies, and sweet jumps. Fly fishing for trout and anadromous fish! Accomplishments: Living an overwhelmingly awesome life: amazing wife and family. Jobs I enjoy. Living in ridiculously cool places. Goals: I'm supposed to have these aren't I. I'd love to do a bike-fish trip in Iceland for Atlantic Salmon...does that count? Phobias: As a kid it freaked me out to watch someone threaten to pop a balloon. Now I relive this fear on a daily basis every time I seat tubeless tires.

Favorite WTB product:

Really digging the versatility of the Horizon Road Plus tires right now. Also, my WTB 'Merica trucker hat.

Favorite Ride:

1). Chasing a slightly better rider down anything technical or flowy. 2). After-dark pedal down the nondescript two-track that parallels a favorite steelhead river, cracked tallboy in hand, at the start of an extended bike-fish trip.

Background, how’d you get into riding, what kept you going with it?

My first mountain bike rides were in the baby seat of my mom's vintage Mongoose. Since then, bikes have always been a part of my life. My first job was in a bike shop and I'm still wrenching today. I love looking on a map, planning a ride, and then doing it; so I guess it's an exploration thing. 

Tube or Tubeless, why?

Tubeless because prickly pear cactus, goat heads, and 13 P.S.I.

3 most important things to bring with you on a ride?

Fishing rod (not pole!), camera, map.

Craziest thing you’ve seen or witnessed on a ride?

Grizzly bears.

 

Most important lesson to teach the groms?

Outside is fun, and the importance of our public lands.

Left my wallet in… (fill it in):

Never happened. I've got a mind like a steel trap...kind of. 

Anything you’d like to plug, courtesy of WTB’s blog?

This winter, as part of the Blackburn Ranger program, I'm pedaling from Canada to Mexico along the Pacific Coast. I'll be hauling fly fishing gear and braving the elements in the name of catching a steelhead in WA, OR, and CA. Follow along at www.spokenfly.com

Pro.Files: Lauren Gregg

02 November, 2016

Lauren's proven ability to relentlessly send it is only rivaled by her ability to increase the stoke level of any ride she's a part of. All smiles the whole time, high-fives are always in endless supply. Having lived in numerous mountain bike hot spots around California, her skills have been honed on a variety of terrain. From the decomposed granite of Mammoth Lakes to the rocky chutes of Thousand Oaks to the pristine loam of Santa Cruz to the loose chunder of the Tahoe regions - she sends it regardless of where she happens to be on any weekend.

Lauren Gregg Pro.Files from WTB on Vimeo.

 

Pro.Files: Marco Osborne

11 October, 2016

Marco Osborne, certified WTB sender and grassroots trail dozer, has been making a name for himself on the EWS circuit. Only a few years ago, he was the up-and-comer making a name for himself on the loaner bikes of Mark Weir and Ben Cruz.

Last weekend, his hard work allowed him to prove his mettle as he finished 9th at the EWS series closer in Finale Ligure, Italy. Quite the result considering his first race was only 4 years ago!

Check out his Pro.File for what a day in the life of Marco Osborne is all about.

Pro.Files with Marco Osborne from WTB on Vimeo.

 

Marco on his way to winning the BME.

 

WTB Athletes Dominated Finale Ligure

05 October, 2016

We're proud. We don't say it enough, but we mean it when we say it! We sponsor athletes who give it their all, whether it be for top spots on the podium or endless high fives. The series finale of the Enduro World Series in Finale Ligure, Italy last weekend was a prime example of just that. By day, they were found making the trail look a bit too easy. Like daaaaayyyyum, that's impressive. By night, they held podium spots. Now, they get the fanfare...which they deserve every ounce of. 

et's start here. Stoke level doesn't get much higher than this. The Rocky Mountain / Urge Team crushed it throughout the entire series, putting them on the top spot and taking the overall team title for the 2016 EWS. Congrats! Photo cred: Matt Wragg

They celebrate well, as they should. Drink up, you're champions. Check out the Gehrig twins, Anita and Caro, taking turns pounding champagne on the left side. Photo cred: Matt Wragg

The whole Rocky Mountain / Urge team are known for their playfulness on the trail. Why keep it planed when you can do it the proper way. See above for proper technique. Photo cred: Matt Wragg

Check out that top-notch Silverado on this race rig. The whole team runs WTB saddles and we're proud knowing they allowed the team to achieve their EWS overall title in comfort! Photo cred: Matt Wragg

Quite the crowd! All eyes on Anita Gehrig as she charges into a rocky section of the DH Uomini stage. How can you focus on the trail when then surroundings are so stunning!? Photo cred: Sven Martin

Caro Gehrig stays calm and collected through one of the gnarliest sections on stage 5. Photo cred: Sven Martin

Anita took 3rd overall in the series and Caro took 5th. We'd like to request a new category: Siblings Who Send It. Congrats, ladies! Photo cred: Sven Martin

One misstep and spectators becomes new obstacles. The expression on the face of Jerome Clementz shows that he's zoned out into his own world, without any distractions. Photo cred: Jérémie Reuiller

Jerome Clementz is all too familiar with gracing the EWS overall podium. He took the top spot in 2013, when this whole "race blindly all over the world" thing was brand new. He became a world champion, which is something that is timelessly incredible and inspiring. 2015 brought him another place on the podium as he took 3rd overall. This year, he takes 3rd overall once again for the 2016 EWS! May that be a record for the most overall podium positions for an EWS athlete? 

This photo is what results when we can't get our hands on a photo of Marco from the weekend. This is his happy face, which is likely the same face he made when he took 9th at the series finale. It was his first time breaking into the top 10 in an EWS race, and we assure you it won't be his last. He's been in the big boy leagues for years, but now he's really showing the top spots where his skills are. 

Last but not least...big congrats to Martin Maes! You've come close a ridiculous amount of times. We've been certain you were going to get it countless other times. But you now have it under your belt...a round win in the EWS. Not to mention at Finale Ligure...what an incredible way to end the season.

Pro.File: Ryan Gardner

03 October, 2016

Ryan Gardner, WTB athlete and EWS shredder, was looking for a way to keep the bills down while racing the EWS last year. The solution: van life. That alone shows considerable commitment, but he also did so while tying a tie as he jumped out of the side doors each morning to get to his desk as a sustainability consultant full-time. Not many can stay true to van life while still keeping it clean cut and driven. It's one of Ryan Gardner's many skills. Only rivaled by his shredability on two wheels.

Get to know Ryan Gardner a bit better through his WTB Pro.File.

Ryan Gardner Pro.File from WTB on Vimeo

Congrats to Amy Morrison, 2016 California Enduro Series Champion!

27 September, 2016

Did you hear!? With the hustle and bustle of Interbike now behind us, we have time to make the important announcements. That's right...Amy Morrison has taken the overall title of California Enduro Series Champion! Race after race, Amy put together a string of impressive finishes through a season of racing some of the toughest enduro courses in California, Nevada and Oregon. 

Her third-place finish at the series finale in Mammoth Lakes, California gave her the points she needed to finish ahead of fellow WTB athlete and Marin/Rabobank teammate Essence Barton, who took second. 

Amy was running a WTB Vigilante tire up front and Trail Boss on the rear to provide all the bite needed for the loose terrain Mammoth throws at racers every September.

CONGRATS AMY! YOU'RE A BOSS! 

Wanna learn more about Amy, both on and off the bike? Check out this edit for a day in the life of Amy Morrison. 

Pro.Files with Amy Morrison from WTB on Vimeo.

Photo Credit: Called to Creation

Packing for Your First Bikepacking Trip

15 September, 2016

We provide all the products needed for you to get out on an overnight bikepacking trip, but haven't provide a proper tutorial on how to actually get out there. We apologize. Between the Trail Boss 3.0 and Ranger 2.8/3.0, we make the perfect bikepacking tire for your needs and conditions in which you explore, with many sizes even available with TCS Tough casings for those trips when you decide to REALLY get out there. We make saddles along the lines of the Volt, Pure and Rocket...which all promise a happy bum throughout long days in the saddle. We make PadLoc grips, which prevent a pinched ulnar nerve from causing numb hands when the day's riding ends up being a few hours longer than planned. Luckily, we now provide a guide for you to utilize all these products and plan for your first bikepacking trip. We understand bikepacking can be intimidating...that's one of the many beauties of it...but hopefully this helps you feel a bit more comfortable and confident when heading out on your first overnighter on two wheels. Think about it as simply camping with your bike...that sounds pleasant, right? It mostly is. 

Photo credit: Abner Kingman

Bikepacking has gained incredible momentum over the last few years, and for good reason. Riders are gaining an incessant drive to travel further, to more remote locations, one pedal rotation at a time. Each of us love the quick one-hour rides that fill the available time slots in our lives, but there’s something about truly getting away from everything with only a few buddies, and our bikes, that appeals to the adventurous side of many riders.

Cities are becoming over-crowded concrete jungles, the cost of travel is skyrocketing exponentially and we’re constantly bombarded by the ill-fated state of nearly every corner of the world. At times, it’s a bit much. We find ourselves searching for extended trips, enveloped by the outdoors, to escape it all and endlessly explore with our trusty bikes. It enables us to see, hear and experience something our standard trail loops would never expose us too.

Photo credit: Abner Kingman

That being said, we can’t simply hop on our bikes, hope for the best and expect to return home safely for Sunday dinner. The pedaling aspect of bikepacking is often the easiest part of endeavor. There’s a considerable amount of research, planning and preparation that goes into a successful bikepacking trip. While such trips can evolve into weeks, or even months for the dedicated explorer, we’ll begin by covering the needs of an overnight trip.

Minimizing Gear Weight

You don’t have to be a weight weenie to use ultralight gear while bikepacking. The idea behind bikepacking revolves around experiencing overnight adventures on a mountain bike while still having the ability to shred trails during the day’s ride. It’s important to keep the gear weight to a minimum in order to preserve every bit of bike nimbleness possible. While companies have done a great job of creating solutions to storing gear on a bicycle frame without racks, it’s still weight on the bike that isn’t typically in those areas. Additional gear weight creates a riding experience that differs from how your daily trail bike feels, and it can take some time to get used to it. It's important to note that how you pack is all based upon preference. For instance, while the handlebar bag is a very efficient way to carry when the majority of the route is on dirt roads, it is certainly the piece of bikepacking gear that makes the bike lose it's nimbleness the quickest. Therefore, many folks prefer using a 15-25 liter backpack on shorter trips to keep the front end of the bike light and snappy. It’s in your best interest to load your bike up with gear and test it out on a familiar loop before embarking into the unknown. While each person will have their personal preferences and available resources, the following are great ways to keep gear down to a minimal weight.

Photo credit: Abner Kingman
    • Titanium: Leave your steel cookware and stove at home. Titanium will lighten your load, yet is still extremely durable. Hefty price tags...worth it.
    • Down insulation: Sleeping bags and jackets insulated using down feathers have a much higher warm-to-weight ratio than synthetic insulation. Additionally, down insulated gear will always pack down to a smaller size than an equally warmth-rated synthetic counterpart.
    • Dehydrated food: Companies like Backpacker’s Pantry and Mountain House make ultralight dehydrated dinner and dessert packages that are far more delicious than anything we’ve cooked from scratch in the backcountry. Since they only require you heat up water in your pot, it also makes cleanup a breeze.
    • Lose the luxuries: You should limit your gear compared to what you would bring to a picnic table campground with the family. Camp pillows can be replaced by rolling up your extra shirt and shorts in a sleeping bag stuff sack. While a tent is roomier and are often more comfortable, utilizing a bivy sack or hammock will significantly reduce pack size and weight.
    • Water is the heaviest necessity: Always carry all the water you’ll need for the duration of a trip unless you’ve confirmed refill locations along the way, especially in the desert. Call the local ranger district to check the flow of streams during drier summer months. When water is accessible en route, using a water filter is much lighter than packing extra water.

How to Load the Bike

As important as it is to have lightweight gear, it’s important to pack it onto the bike in the most appropriate areas. Bikepacking specific saddle, frame and handlebar packs are the most efficient ways of utilizing a bike’s entire gear holding capability. Not only do they enable the transport of large amounts of gear, but they also allow you to distribute the weight where it will be the least noticeable. The heaviest items should be placed in the frame pack, which is the lowest and most central storage area on the bike. This will prevent the bike from being overly top-heavy and allows it to retain its agile characteristics. Unfortunately, the frame pack is the narrowest storage area, which may limit the size of items within it, but we’re still able to fit our smaller cookware, first aid kit and a hydration reservoir within it.

The rear saddle pack should hold all of your mid-weight gear items. Usually, such items will consist of your clothes, toiletries, sleeping pad and food. With it being one of the highest storage locations on the bike, it’s crucial to keep weight to a minimum. In order to ensure everything is packed in snug, place larger items – such as a sleeping pad and food – in first, then cram your clothes around them. This will fill in all the air pockets that would exist if you were to fold the clothes separately. Your clothes will indeed reemerge wrinkled, but there’s no beauty contest out in the woods.

Photo credit: Abner Kingman

You’ll notice additional weight the most up on the handlebars, which is why it’s important to load only your lightest gear into the handlebar pack. Though the handlebar pack mounts are usually pretty sturdy, if you overload them you’ll notice the bar momentum will want to continue rotating after you’ve stopped doing so. You can imagine the tumbles such situations can lead to. We typically pack our handlebar pack with our sleeping bag and minimalistic bivy or hammock. Not only are they some of the lightest gear we have, in comparison to their size, but they’re also long and narrow, which matches most appropriately with the length of the handlebar. Depending on your handlebar pack, it may have a zippered storage pocket on the front. We utilize the pocket to hold items we may need on the fly, such as a map, GPS device or camera.

Photo credit: Abner Kingman

Now, What Should I Bring!?

Ah yes, that's why you're here. We've compiled some photos of what we suggest you bring for an overnight trip. Start there, with a single overnight trip, and then build upon the duration of your trips from there. Realistically, the amount of gear brought does not vary much between a single overnight trip in comparison to a weeklong trip. This is because minimalism and simplicity are the key focuses to have in mind when packing for a bikepacking trip of any length. For longer trips, the only items needed in increased quantities are usually food, water, clothing and some tools. Below is what we suggest for the bare minimum. This is in addition to the riding clothes you start with, including either a flat pedal/shoe combination or clipless setup that includes a sturdy Vibram sole for those inevitable moments when you're walking your bike. 

CLOTHING

 

  • Rain shell: ALWAYS bring a rain shell! We understand you checked the weather forecast and it predicts blue skies. Bring a rain shell anyways. You don't need until you really need it, but it can then be the single piece of gear that keeps you safe and comfortable on a soggy day. 
  • Thermal bottoms: This will increase your level of warm and comfort at camp each night. We typically get to camp, strip off our adult diaper (chamois), throw on our thermal bottoms and then wear our riding shorts over them. The riding shorts will simply prevent the thermals from getting ripped or dirty while sitting. Wool is best, as it resists smell, keeps you warm when wet, and is lightweight.
  • Buff or beanie: Something to keep your head (primarily ears) warm. We prefer a buff, which is essentially a sleeve of wool or cotton material we slide over our head. Those willing to carry a bit of extra weight and volume may chose a beanie.
  • Wool socks: At some point, you'll inevitable slip off a rock while hopping across a stream. Your socks will get soaked and you'll be bummed if you don't have an extra pair on deck. Plus, socks get stanky. Fresh socks are always something to look forward to putting on before a long day of pedaling. 
  • Puffy jacket: Companies are now making ultralight puffy jackets with down insulation, providing maximum warmth at a minimal weight. The RAB jacket in this photo packs down to roughly the size of a grapefruit. Picture it? That's small considering the amount of warmth it provides. Need more warmth? Throw the rain shell over it and you'll be exponentially warmer. 

SHELTER

 

This is the most personal aspect of any pack list and preferences vary from person to person, as well as the environment in which you will be traveling. 
  • Bivies (top left) are certainly the most simplistic way to go, due to it being nothing more than a waterproof and bug-proof sack to place your sleeping bag and pad in. They can be a bit claustrophobic for some folks, but if you're able to look past the tight confines, they're a lightweight shelter that can be used anywhere. We've woken up with a foot of snow on our bivies...still dry.
  • Hammocks (top right) are in the middle of the range when it comes to weight and packability. Due to the lack of poles, they can be stuffed into a seat pack really easily. Some people find incredible comfort while sleeping in a hammock while others wonder how anybody could ever sleep in one. It's important to do a test night in your yard before heading out with the assumption that a hammock will work for you. We suggest a backpacking hammock (Hennessy and Warbonnet are excellent brands), which will come with a bug screen and rain fly. Remember, there is one prerequisite for hammocks and that is....trees. They're not the ideal choice for desert trips. 
  • Tents (bottom) provide a familiar comfort to many, which often makes it a great choice for an introduction to bikepacking. They provide a great sense of "home" at the end of a long day and often allow people to feel the most comfortable out in the middle of nowhere. The only downside to a tent is its weight and volume, which is compounded by the rigidity of poles, which often have to be strapped to the handlebars. However, the packability of a tent can quickly become the most realistic if you're getting into bikepacking with a significant other or close friend and can therefore split the packing of the tent between two individuals. 

SLEEPING NECESSITIES

 

Down is the way to go, always. It packs down small and creates ample loft between the baffles of the fabric, which is the air pocket that heats up, retains heat and allows you to dream sweet dreams of endless pedal rotations throughout the night. Just be sure to avoid getting it wet, as the down feathers will then clump up and lose their insulating capabilities. Regarding temperature rating, the value provided is always the comfort threshold of a bag. Therefore, a 35-degree bag will keep the average person warm when the weather dips down to 35 degrees. Be sure to check the weather forecast and bring an appropriately rated bag. Both the sleeping bag and pad are pictured outside of their storage sacks because that's exactly how they should be packed. Doing so will allow the pad and bag to fill any voids created by pieces of gear that don't have a flexible shape, such as a stove or first aid kit. No, this is not a paid advertisement for Big Agnes. They really do have the best sleep systems available that provide optimal warmth and packability at a reasonable price. 

 

FOOD

 

The most lightweight and easy way to go is dehydrated meals with a stove that does nothing more than boil water. Alcohol stoves are an excellent choice, but can be intimidating to use and require a bit of skill to master. Jetboil stoves boil water in less than two minutes. Amazing, we know. Long-handle sporks ensure you can dig deep into the delicious bags of food, without leaving half the bag on your hand. One good rule to follow: calculate how many meals you'll need, then bring one or two extra. There will always be those days where the route was harder than you planned and a few extra calories can go a long way to help you get back on the bike the next day. Eat a lot at night, while keeping breakfast moderate in size. Then snack...constantly. Bars, gels and almonds (or other nut of choice) are your friends. 

 

ODDS AND ENDS

 

  • Hand pump: DO NOT bring CO2! You'll be bummed when you get your second flat but already used your CO2 cartridge. Plus, it's heavy. Plus, you're enjoying the outdoors and a hand pump is far more sustainable. 
  • Tire levers
  • Tire sealant: Small bottle, but sometimes that's all you need to seal up a tire. Always be sure to start with an adequate amount of fresh sealant in your tires as well. It's hard to be Orange Seal. We're saying all this on the assumption that you know tubeless is the ONLY way to go while bikepacking. TCS Tubeless, of course. 
  • Spare tube: If you're part of a group with mixed wheel sizes, remember that a 27.5" tube will fit both 27.5" and 29" tires. 
  • Tool kit: Make sure that you have a tool for EVERY bolt on your bike. No exceptions. This is one reason why we avoid centerlock rotors on our bikepacking bikes. We couldn't find our chain tool for the photo, but it's important. Heavy bikes loaded with gear equate to snapped chains. 
  • Bug spray: Some make consider it a luxury. We can't stand mosquitoes. It's a permanent fixture in our bikepacking kit.
  • Sunscreen: Traditional tubes of sunscreen work well, but we find the sticks work better for applying on our face. They also don't have the potential to explode in your pack like a tube of sunscreen lotion does. 
  • Headlamp: Whatever works for you. It's simply for walking around camp.
  • Lighter: Fire provides hot food and keeps you warm in emergencies. The lighter is among the most important pieces of gear. If you're traveling in a wet region, waterproof matches are also a good addition, but they still don't replace a lighter. 
  • Bike light: Get a self-contained one. External battery packs are a pain. We use one with a handlebar mount and have it attached the whole time...night and day. 
  • Water filter: We've yet to find something more simplistic than a Steripen. Some question its effectiveness. We've used it in some really suspect places without a problem. This is purely preference though. There are both chemical and mechanical methods to purifying water. That's a completely different, and lengthy, discussion though. We'll get into that in a later post.
  • Water reservoir: Platypus makes reservoirs that are very pliable and conform to the shape of any packing method. Even if you choose to wear a hydration pack, we suggest you keep the reservoir in your frame bag. Keep the weight low!
  • NOT PICTURED BUT IMPORTANT....Toilet paper: Nature calls, even when you're in nature. Bring more than you think you need. We wrap it around our hand until we think we have enough, then we wrap it around our hand ten more times. That should be enough.  

Emergency Gear and First Aid

We left first aid out of the gear list. Did you notice that? It's lack of presence in the list doesn't make it unimportant. It's a crucial aspect of any bikepacking pack list, but the specifics of it depend on what you, and those with you, feel comfortable with. Some go light and hope for the best while we've seen others bring the equivalent of a nurse in a bag. Remember...common sense is your most valuable tool when navigating any backcountry experience. Always ride according to your surroundings. Regardless of trip duration, always pack an extra pair of clothes in case your primary pair becomes wet or destroyed. Waterproof matches ensure you don’t pull out a lighter only to find it’s too wet to light when you need it most.

Companies, Spot being our personal favorite, offer GPS devices that can be set up to leave a breadcrumb trail of where you’ve been. It also has a check-in function to inform friends and family you’re ok, while an S.O.S. function will immediately inform all necessary agencies of a distress call and your precise location. We suggest using a GPS unit, but never depend solely on batteries for your navigational needs. Waterproof maps and a compass (along with the knowledge of how to use it) should always be a part of your gear list.

For 1-2 night bikepacking trips, there’s no need to carry an all-inclusive first aid kit, but there are some crucial necessities that you need to have on hand. As we suggest for riders in urban trail systems, all mountain bikers should have a basic training in, and understanding of, basic first aid. When riding in a group, have one person carry the complete first aid kit, while others carry the cookware and food. Our first aid kit consists of the following:

  • Ultralight medical kit: Includes necessary items for trauma and bleeding, along with medications for environmental and allergic reactions.
  • Lightweight alloy splint: Used to stabilize fractures and strained joints.
  • Epinephrine pen: Crucial when traveling with somebody who has a known life-threatening allergy or with a large group where the probability of an unknown allergy is higher.

Photo credit: Abner Kingman

We'll soon create a more extensive pack list for trips of longer duration. We'll also address the needs of different environments and logistical obstacles. The WTB crew will be posting up a few of our personal bikepacking trips in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. See you out there? We sure hope so.

 

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