For the last week and a half or so I have paused Sara’s build to take advantage of REI’s annual anniversary sale to replace some of my camping gear.
Four years ago when I started getting into bicycle touring I discovered that it is all too easy to focus almost entirely on the bicycle and not enough on the gear to be carried on it for trips. As a result, a lot of the camping equipment I have been using is heavier and/or bulkier than it could be. After last summer’s travels I decided that I needed to trim away as much weight and bulk as I could, so I started going through my gear with the intention of moving toward more of a light-weight backpacking selection of gear, and less of a car-camping selection while trying to maintain a certain level of comfort.
After a rather extensive and critical review of everything I have been carrying for the last few years I came to the conclusion that almost everything could be replaced, but the biggest weight and bulk savings could come from just three things: tent, cargo carrying equipment, and sleeping bag. The tent I still haven’t settled on, and deserves it’s own posting anyway. Cargo-carrying is also something deserving of an entirely separate discussion, but for me it basically means that I will be moving away from using a trailer. This, too, will be the subject of a future post.
The sleeping bag, along with some other, smaller, things, I took care of this past week.
For every one of my cycling trips in the last four years I have been using a Big Agnes Encampment 20 degree synthetic sleeping bag that I bought quite a few years ago for a climbing trip to Red River Gorge with my son. The Encampment has been a good bag, and has served me well, but it is quite heavy, and bulky. To replace it I bought an REI Igneo.
The Igneo is also a 20-degree bag, but it’s down, so it’s lighter and much less bulky than the synthetic Big Agnes bag it replaces. I also have the 30-degree version of this bag (the REI Flash) which I bought for backpacking in summer conditions, but felt that it might not be suitable for a tour of the upper-midwest in autumn when the temps can drop rather drastically overnight.
I also replaced a good bit of my “kitchen” by getting some Sea-to-Summit X-Pots, and an MSR Pocket Rocket stove, and I replaced my camping pillow, headlamp, and water-filter as well. I’m sure that somewhere down the road I will discuss all of these items, and their inclusion in my packing list, but for now I am just reveling in that new-gear smell.
For those who are interested in Sara’s build, do not despair. This week I will be getting the recently acquired hubs to a wheel builder; having the headset installed; and begin gathering and installing Sara’s new drive-train. My goal is to have her road-worthy within the next couple of weeks, so I can start tweaking the fit and start getting used to her. I will of course update as things progress.