For multi-day mountain biking and off-road touring the knack is to travel light, but safe. On technical singletrack in particular excess weight becomes quite a handicap - requiring both increased skills and effort. So pack smart.
Lightweight bike-specific rainwear goes without saying.
The ‘killer app’ is a modern, lightweight, low volume down sleeping bag. The Sea to Summit Traveller has 200gm fill. An adequate rather than cosy pit for the night but weighs just 400gm in total and occupies a paltry 1.5 litres in your bag.
A lightweight down or primaloft jacket comforts you around the hut or campsite, and extends your lightweight sleeping bag if the nocturnal temperature sinks a bit low.
Time of year, terrain and availability of huts all impact on your selection but on a two day-one night summer mtb trip you should easily be able to stash all your food, clothing and emergency kit into the Ortlieb Seat Pack/Handlebar Bag combo. You may choose to supplement those with a small daypack to carry a water bladder, lunch, snacks and evening meal. Check out the Weight Watcher’s Equipment Guide for more.
The weapon of choice for bikepacking is a 29er hardtail. However plenty opt for a dual suspension rig. Either way you'll want to invest some time mounting your bags securely to your bike. Generally they stay glued to it for the duration of the trip. You get to lovingly pack and extract your gear at the start and end of each day.
Before fitting, lightly pack both bags.
Upfront, take care to not tangle with brake hoses or gear cables. The roll bag hangs below your handlebar, so ensure it clears the front wheel when the front shock is fully compressed. Locking the shock out, limiting travel or increasing air pressure is invariably required.
Out back a minimum 170 mm clearance (irrespective of any suspension) is required between your back tyre and the bottom of your seat rails. If you’re riding a dually, also check that the under-seat bag clears the rear wheel when the shock is fully compressed. The best remedy is to pump up the shock to limit travel.
Under-seat bags are not compatible with dropper seat posts. If you have a dropper either swap out for a standard post, or refrain from using it with the bag attached.
Take time at the start of each day to stash your gear thoughtfully. Create a solid platform to stack the lighter stuff on. And minimise any voids. This maximises your load capacity and prevents the bags from shuffling and jiggling around on your bike.
The Ortlieb Seat Pack and Revelate Terrapin dry bags have an air valve to let you to roll them tightly closed.
The Revelate Sweetroll and Saltyroll allow access from either end. In the ideal world you separate your gear so that at least one bag (normally the 'handlebar') remains packed all day. Leave ride food and clothing at the top of the other bag, or in your daypack.
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