Photo Credit: Brett Davis
In this second article on bikepacking, we focus on sleeping bags and camp kitchen. There are plenty of good options in these categories and good information is easy to find.
The preferred method, thus far, has been to attach the sleeping back to the front of the bike. All you need to do is cinch down the stuff sack to the bars with some type of straps that can be tightened and loosened. Salsa and Surly both make cinch straps, along with many other companies. A good sleeping bag doesn't weigh that much and is easy to carry. A proper sleeping bag and pad can mean the difference between a warm and a cold night's sleep, comfort or misery, and survival vs. extreme danger. This is true for the most extreme adventures on the planet and even quick overnights close to home. In bicycle camping much like backpacking, weight, compressibility, warmth, and durability all are important factors to consider when choosing the sleep system that is right for you. Sleeping bags will provide temperature ratings and sizing. So, it is easy to choose what will work best for you. A good sleeping pad is crucial for insulation. You will stay much warmer if you get off the ground just a bit. Additionally, a good night of sleep will not only keep your physical body going but will also keep your mental capacities sharp and in tune. I like the Sierra Designs Utopia 15 sleeping bag as an option that isn't too expensive but comes with some nice features.
We all know that bike riding does take a good amount of energy out of the rider. Especially, if we are talking about carrying all this gear. Not only do we have to think about what to eat, but how to cook it, as well. It would be nice to think we can all survive off our favorite energy bars, but if you are going to be out for 2-3 days, or more, it is important to be prepared. Easy enough! Here are a couple options:
There are a ton of dehydrated meals to choose from, and Backpackers Pantry does a great job in this category. Add water, cook, and dinner is served. When I first cooked the Cajun Rice with Chicken, I was assuming these would be about as tasty as hospital food after surgery. I was wrong! These ready to go meals are quite tasty and provide large enough portions so you won't be left hungry. There are vegan options and allergens are clearly stated. These meals are quite compact and very easy to pack where ever you can fit them. In addition to these meals, anything can be brought for food. It's completely up to the rider. One nice trick is to bring a treat along for the end of every day's ride. Looking forward to, or earning, that little treat can provide just enough to get you to the end of the day's ride.
Cooking meals has become easy, as well, with the development of light weight stoves. I have been using the Optimus Crux Lite Stove for over a year without a single complaint. It is simple to use, compact, light weight, and will boil water very quickly. I have proven mine to be durable, as well, as I'm not quite awake before the first cup of coffee. The included pots a good, usable, size and are easy to clean. There are several options for stoves. JetBoil makes fantastic stoves/cooking systems, as well. I am happy to say that these options taken any concern I had about cooking. Eating well while out on your adventure will provide the sustained energy needed to have a fantastic trip.