Two of my favorite things – biking and camping. To be able to take off on a weekend and do both is the best of both worlds! Riding down a tree-covered trail by day and sleeping under the stars listening to the symphony of night.
I started collecting ultralight camping gear to allow me to stuff my kayak and overnight on a gravel bar. After I had all the light-weight camping gear, the next logical step for me was to buy a backpack. I am now an avid backpacker and regularly carry all I need for a weekend in a 65 liter backpack that normally weighs 35-40 lbs packed. Next step…..let’s try to get all that gear I carry in a backpack and see if I can manage to get it on my trail bike so I can do an overnight ride on the Katy Trail.
I have two choices for sleeping. If I will be on a trail where I know I can find trees, I will bring my hammock setup. If I am not sure if I will be able to find trees to hang the hammock, I will bring the tent and sleeping pad.
- LL Bean 650 Down 35 degree sleeping bag – 2.25 lbs
- Eno Double Nest with Atlas Straps, Guardian Bug Net and Dr Fly Rainfly – 4.25 lbs
- LL Bean Microlight F2 Tent – 2.75 lbs
- Nemo Cosmo Air Sleeping Pad – 1.75 lbs
- Nemo Strato Loft Dow Sleeping Bag – 3.5 lbs
When I sleep in the tent with the sleeping pad, I use a different sleeping bag that is made with a bottom pocket for the pad. As a side sleeper, before I got the Nemo pad and bag, I spent many sleepless nights when I would roll over and roll off the side of the sleeping pad followed by a few four-letter words. I highly recommend the Nemo Cosmo Air if you are a side sleeper. The pillow is a foot pump and the pad pumps up to a lofty 4″ thick keeping my hips from digging into the ground. Since it fits into the pocket of the bag, when you turn over, the pad stays with you. No more rearranging everything in the middle of the night trying to get the pad back under me! I am more than willing to carry a few extra ounces for this pad and I am sure my camping friends also appreciate me not being grouchy in the morning when I don’t sleep.
For cooking, my Jetboil MiniMo (15 oz.) with a small canister of fuel allows me to boil water for drinks or for dehydrated foods. I can also throw in my Sea to Summit X Pot which opens up the possibility of cooked food to soups and pasta! The X pot has flexible sides and collapses for packing and will hold 47.3 ounces of liquid.
One more important part of camping gear if you will be on a trail without water fountains or convenience stores to fill up, the Sawyer Mini water filter is small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and comes with a collapsible water bladder. Simply fill up the bottle with water out of the nearest stream or lake, screw on the filter to the top of the bottle and squeeze the filtered water into your drinking water bottle.
My one luxury item – my Helinox Camp Chair. It folds up into a small 14″ x 5″ zippered bag. At the end of the day when you get off your bike and set up camp, for me, a chair is more of a requirement than an extra.
Other miscellaneous gear I carry – a headlamp, first aid kit, plate/bowl, fork and spoon, and coffee cup. All of this is loaded into my Topeak MTX Trunk Bag which slides and locks onto my back rack. With the hammock setup, everything fits into the drop-down side panniers with the Jetboil in the top compartment and I still have plenty of room for my bike tools, food, a change of clothes and toiletries. If I take the tent, things are a bit tighter. The tent and rain fly will fit into the panniers, however the tent poles need to be tied to the top of the bag along with my Helinox chair.
Now that the Topeak bag is loaded with my camping gear, it is time to hit the trail! The Katy Trail is waiting for me!
Donna is a Moxie Cycling Ambassador and blog contributor. Check out her bio here!