Packing for a week of Brompton bike camping

A couple of overnight shakedown rides helped identify the glitches in my camping set-up.  The most difficult thing about Brompton bike touring was finding a way to carry things on the rear rack.  The Path Less Pedaled hiking bag solution is great – for longer trips.   I didn’t want to buy an expensive hiking backpack nor did I think I needed that much space.

I had to rule out my Arkel pannier as the gear bag despite it being a good size and waterproof.  The hard back of the pannier rubbed my ankles as I pedalled and was just a bit on the small side.   If you don’t need to incorporate using transit solo, you can likely make do with a waterproof pannier.  I could probably better position the bag with a bit of practice to avoid the heel strike issues.

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Pedalpapa tours with a MEC duffle bag.  This is a great (and not too spendy) solution.  My biggest fear was being able to tote the bike, Brompton touring bag and my gear bag up and down stairs in transit.  3 bags, 2 arms.  You see the problem.  It was essential that the gear bag be backpack-able.

I really wanted to buy the bag that the husband owns – the MEC Supercontinental 45L – alas, they don’t make it anymore.  It was nearly the perfect bag.  MEC… seriously.

My hunt for a narrow duffle-like bag with backpack straps was challenging.  Very.  I narrowed down my choices to the Gregory 45L Stash Duffle , Osprey Transporter 40 and Eddie Bauer Travex pack.  The Osprey 40L size was difficult to find locally.  I went with the Gregory bag since MEC had it on super sale, but it was actually too long for the Brompton’s rear rack.  Then by chance, I was at the mall and walked into Eddie Bauer and found *just* the right bag.  The Travex was compact, narrow, had lots of pockets and great backpack straps that tuck neatly into a back pocket.  (This is made for airport travel and securing your bag to your suitcase, but works like a charm for bike touring!)

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Also, it was on sale.  So, I bought it and collected my Eddie Bauer points.

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Here’s how I packed the “gear bag”.  I was able to squeeze in my tent (North Face Stormbreak 1), sleeping bag, mattress pad, pillow, Monarch chair, towels and more.  (Not shown: I squeezed lights, flip flops, rain cover and camp food into the pockets.)

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I brought a rain cover a size too small (the 15-25L size, but it fit like a glove. I really liked that there were no loose straps on the bag to flap around while biking.

Meanwhile, up front in the Brompton T-bag (touring bag), I kept my maps, kitchen things, clothing books, camera/phone cords and first aid kit.

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I packed my “off the bike” clothes into a compression sac (the black bag), bike clothes and underwear went in the green bag, outerwear (jacket and hat) went in the blue tube.  The green clothing bag was part of a set of lightweight packing cubes from Eagle Creek.  I loooove these bags.

The coffee system was the Porlex grinder, MugMate filter, and beans, coffee mate and sugar measured into their own Nalgene storage containers. All the food-related items were also packed into an Eagle Creek packing cube.

My headlamp and lantern had their own little bag.  The platypus bottles, washclothes and dishsoap went into their own bag.  Bug sprays – again, packed in a small bag.  Toiletries fit into the small green bag at the bottom.  And finally, I used a 5L transparent dry bag as my “washing machine”.

I squeezed the smaller clothes bags, first aid kit, toiletries, lights and washing up gear into the larger of the Eagle Creek set.

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So, in the end, the T-bag had 3 large bags inside: off-bike clothing, sporty clothing, and food.   The JetBoil, fuel and mug were tucked neatly on top and easily accessible.  I also kept my bike lock, sunscreen and bug spray tucked into the T-bag’s side pockets for quick access.

Things that worked really well:

  • 2L Platypus bottle.  This takes up no room, is lightweight and saves going back and forth for fresh water.
  • Packing cubes.  Love them.
  • Electra handlebar bag (no longer made… too bad, everyone loves this bag.  I love this bag. It’s just big enough for your camera, phone and wallet. The velcro straps make it easy to take on and off for when you need to shop.  It is a great bag.)
  • Gear straps that double as a laundry line
  • Therm-a-rest pillow.  Worth it.
  • My Camelback sport water bottle lid became impossible to clean after many uses. So, I replaced the lid with this Humangear one.  Much better.  Less crud.

Things that could be better:

  • MEC Reactor 2.5 mattress.  Comfortable enough.  But I’d like to upgrade to a better matress – this Big Agnes one has my eye.  Given the warm weather during my trip, my sleeping bag was too hot.  A light blanket would have done the job.
  • The North Face Stormbreak tent was great and light.  As long as you don’t mind not sitting up straight.  I can’t help feeling I should have spent the extra for the MSR Hubba NX or even the Marmot Tungsteen.
  • I’d probably invest in an insulated mug for my coffee for the next trip, so I could brew a larger amount at once.

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I mean really – it’s all about the #coffeeoutside.

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