The Oregon Timber Trail is a nearly 700 mile bikepacking route that crosses the state or Oregon from the California border all of the way to Washington. As word of this project was starting to surface some time last fall, it also came to the attention of myself and a few friends that a complete solar eclipse would be passing through central Oregon in late August. Plans were hatched, mostly from the seats of our bikes here in Montana, but we knew that was where we wanted to be the next year.
I try to do at least one big bike camping trip a year. The full reset that happens after a few weeks of waking up with not a thing to do but ride your bike all day... well... there is nothing like it. A lot of hype has come about over bikepacking in the past few years, and for good reason, bikepacking is awesome. At the end of the day though, it is not so complicated: ride your bike, eat a LOT of food, sleep under the stars, repeat. No need to over think it.
That said, there are some logistics involved in a two week trip, so I thought I could share my set up here. A disclaimer though: Things often change throughout a trip and nothing is ever final. Also I tend to pack light and suck it up a lot, so I am looking forward to reading your comments and critiques below.
Here are some thoughts to start...
Pack with your friends
You may notice that some parts of my kit are not entirely complete. In our group of 5 people we have split into teams of two and three. My three man team is sharing cook-ware (I do not have our 1.5L cook pot or the jetboil we will be using for coffee, oatmeal and other quick meals) also a more extensive repair kit (I am mostly carrying the basics) or first aid. Splitting up things is a great way to keep your group moving at an even pace and to make things easier on yourselves.
Weight distribution is important to consider when packing your bike. Though your fully loaded bike is never going to handle as awesome as it does unloaded, there are ways to make it better. Try and keep your handlebars light. Pack heavy things like food and water in your frame bag, which is closer to the ground. "Mediumer" things are good in a saddle bag, though I try and keep that light as well for less swinging weight.
Pack light... But not super light
This could be a whole conversation on its own, but packing light is good. Bring what you need and no more. It has taken me a number of trips to find out just what that means for myself, but you can see below that I bring one outfit to wear while riding, some pretty basic camp clothes, a really light sleeping setup and not much else. Pack too light and you could get yourself in trouble. Pack too much and you could make things real hard on yourself just as easily.
First let's talk about the bike. This is my custom 27.5 plus mountain bike. It is my every day bike and my everything bike. It is fun, comfortable enough for all day rides and I love to ride it, which in my opinion is the most important thing for a bike packing rig. You are going to be sitting your your bike all day, so as long as you are happy with the bike you ride, then it is the right bike for you.
Where to begin exactly is hard, so I am going to break the gear up by where I keep it. Also I couldn't possibly go over every little thing, so I am just going to highlight some of the major ones and some of my favorites. Also please note the big thing missing here - food.
Anyhow, without further ado, we will start with the...
I like to keep the seat pack light if possible, but I am not afraid to keep some heavier items in there. Mainly because I am using a Porcelain Rocket Albert seat pack, which keeps things nice and sturdy. For this trip I have got a few extra Titan straps, which come in handy for all sorts of things. I also keep my sleeping pad (The Nemo Tensor), a few extra tubes, extra socks, my camp mug, and one of my favorite pieces of gear, a Patagonia Nano Puff hoodie. The nano has saved me in so many situations and is such a nice comfort for chilly mornings and evenings. I couldn't go without it. For shorter trips I keep a jetboil and fuel back here, but on this trip that is a job for someone else.
The frame bag is where all the heavy stuff goes. I use an awesome custom frame bag from Porcelain rocket which has two compartments. One is wider and gives me plenty of room for 2-3 days of food. The other is skinnier where I keep small and funny shaped things like my pump, spork and chargers. For this trip I am keeping our WhisperLite stove in the frame bag. I like to always keep an "emergency meal" on hand as well. In this case some dehydrated corn chowder that stayed with me for the entirety of the Colorado Trail last summer. You never know when you could really need it.
The Handlebar roll is a great place to carry your lighter, bulkier gear. Keeping weight off your bars is very beneficial for handling, so I put as much stuff up here as I can that is light, but takes up lots of space. It all gets shoved into a 20L dry bag and then strapped in to my Porcelain Rocket harness. Here I carry my tent, a nice light Big Agnes Fly creek that is awesome for one and just great for two really good friends. I also carry my sleeping bag, a 40 degree MontBell bag that I have had for years. Oregon summer nights are pretty warm and I should be just fine throwing on a puffy if I need anything more. I also carry a long sleeve hooded wool shirt and a pair of wool leggings from Duckworth, an awesome Bozeman company. Those sure come in handy on chilly mornings/evenings and camp chilling times. For this trip I am trying out a new feed bag from Revelate designs. Mostly to keep my camera and a few other things. Excited to see how that goes!
The Handlebar bag might be my favorite thing about bike packing, mainly because it is where I keep my snacks. It is also handy for those things you use often. I keep my Salomon windbreaker in here, an item which has saved my life on several occasions. As well as a multi tool, some repair stuff, gloves, sunscreen, aquamira for treating water. Oh and did I mention snacks? Haribo peaches are my favorite.
Finally I have the backpack. I can hardly stand riding with a pack any more, but ya know, for a big trip like this it is really nice. The hydration system makes it so you drink water all day and stay hydrated. We will probably set up camp at a few points along the trail and go for some day rides, so it should be nice for that too. Also... do you see how many snacks I can fit in there?
Well that is about it. Minus a few items and a whole bunch of food and water. It takes a lot of thought, but not a ton of gear. Let me know what I am missing before I leave and feel free to ask me any questions in the comments.
Can't wait to get out on the Oregon Timber Trail. Trip report to come!
Thanks for reading!