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Ultra Light Bike Packing

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Severn Bore:
A new era in comfortable adventure could be approaching.  My camping kit has always been light but, on the mountain roads of mid-Wales, I could feel my pre-Thorn bicycle flexing.  It is not a reassuring feeling.

The Audax is brilliant for hostel/B&B touring but now, using techniques adapted from Ray Jardine, this bicycle can be used for serious camping tours.  I have slept soundly and eaten well while backpacking with a rucksack weighing less than fifteen pounds including food and maps.  When used on the Audax, this camping gear means that travelling can be as comfortable as arriving, and the risks to the 25mm rims are no greater than when cycling unloaded.

The lightest rucksack I have ever used for a night out on the hills stayed on my shoulders for two days of technical mountain biking (on a different bicycle).  The wild pitch was fantastic, the food great and I really enjoyed drumming up by the side of the track.  There were no cold nights under a cape in a bus stop.  There was no suffering at all - just a joyful adventure.

I have been motivated to write by a naughty Cass Gilbert comment in Cycling Plus.  The Ray Jardine approach can increase the comfort of a weekend on the bicycle and should not have been compared with the sacrifices that the Crane's chose to make for exceptional performance.  Ultra light opens up a lot of possibilities - in complete comfort.

Best wishes.

Tell us what yez took and how it all happened then?

Severn Bore:
Golite Jam pack
Golite Cave 1
Kathmandu 2x2 bivy bag
Hilleberg Akto footprint as groundsheet
RAB Quantum 200 sleeping bag
silk liner
Mini Trangia set

complete change of clothing but no waterproofs as weather was set fair, just a Golite Wisp windshirt

measured (but generous) quantites of all consumables

OS map

I won't mention the bicycle used now that Thorn are doing the Enduro, but it is lighter than my Audax and has been carried through gullies, across streams and up a small earth overhang.  Pushing through heather is good for cleaning the bike.

"Beyond Backpacking" by Ray Jardine (AdventureLore Press) appears to focus on techniques for backpacking in dry climates, but really it's about attitudes to preparing for your trip and a thought-provoking read.

There are many good websites on ultralight backpacking, with the best I know of being  Ryan Jordan runs this site and he uses mountain bikes and pack rafts for long trips as well as walking.

So I've a way to go to reduce my 41Kg load, then? Mind you, if I'd left the 3 year old at home that'd reduce it a bit.

cass gilbert:
The Ray Jardine comment wasn't supposed to be naughty!!

My reference is him wasn't meant to be a direct comparison with the Cranes, just a shared minimal approach of ultralight tourers. Personally, I particularlry like his tarp ideas. However, I do think many people would see his methods as some sacrifice to comfort, even if they do open up other (more worthy?!?) possibilities in touring, including the ones you've mentioned. After all, comfort is a very subjective emotion. I've met plenty of overly laden tourers (at least in my eyes) who are loving their journey, and have struck a balance that they're happy with.  

But I agree, his website and book are inspiring stuff and howver you like to camp, there are some great tips that you can learn from.



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