Search This Blog

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Packing the Bicycle for Camping: A Pictorial Essay

Bicycle with panniers mounted... ready to tour!

Tomorrow I'm hitting Lake Jennings Campground.  The following day I'll be at Green Valley Falls.  Today I took some time to pack the bicycle and I took a few pictures while doing so.

Being a bit anal retentive (I'm not even sure what that means) some time ago I organized  a list of the 4 panniers and handlebar bag and what things go into each.  I have the advantage of 4 stuff sacks: one blue, one green, one orange, and a large black sack for clothing.  By packing loose items into stuff sacks you greatly reduce the amount of clutter and confusion occurring in your panniers (man, that doesn't sound right).

Here's my basic organization: My bicycle has both front and rear racks.  These racks are designed to hold panniers (although the rear rack is actually designed for a bicycle with disc brakes... but what the hell, it fits my camping bike so I use it).

I have 4 panniers and one handlebar bag.  Thus, the plan is to evenly distribute the weight of my gear between the panniers, the bag, and the racks.  With me so far?

I have 4 stuff sacks that I organize mentally as: orange = repair kit; green = food; blue = glasses, pens, paper pad, checkbook; and black = spare clothes.

I distribute between panniers as follows:

  • handlebar bag = these are my most accessed items so I want them where they're easy to find
  • front bag left = food stuff sack; toiletries zippered bag; camp stove (if I choose to bring a camp stove... this particular trip I will not)
  • front bag right = toolkit stuff sack; camp towel (comes in its own stuff sack)
  • rear bag left = clothing stuff sack; tent; wisk broom/dustpan (made especially for camping; both items are small and flat; the wisk broom clips into the dustpan); extra bungee cords
  • rear bag right = sleeping bag liner; camp pillow; sleeping slippers (to keep my feet warm); extra plastic bags; large trash bag (to act as a doormat for the tent); Kindle/reading light (these fit into a pocket in the pannier)
Handlebar Bag
    Let's start with the handlebar bag which is where we stow the most accessed items.  Here I include sunblock, hand sanitizer, pills, a radio, my camera, and a stuff sack containing my glasses, pens and pencils, gum, a notepad, and my checkbook.  Also this is where I keep my bike lights.  No need to dig for these items; they'll be right there front and center!
    Here are the most accessed items stowed away in the handlebar bag.  Nicely organized; no mess.
    Front Bag Left

    The 2 plastic bags are the kind used for covering newspapers... they work excellently for covering shoes left outside the tent (I always leave my shoes outside so they don't track in mud).  The green stuff sack is for my food.   I don't plan to cook at the campsite this trip so I'm not bringing my camp cook set.  I only require some granola bars as "on the road" energy.  I stop at fast food joints for meals.  Lotsa carbs... cheap and plentiful!!
    A toiletry kit should be basic.  Here I have toothbrush and toothpaste, sanitizing wipes, soap in a latching plastic container, floss, toothpicks, solid anti-antiperspirant, and shampoo.  It might be a good idea to also bring along a small roll of toilet paper... just in case the campsite bathrooms are under-inventoried.  I got the plastic zipper bag with a pack of underwear.  See how everything can be recycled and put to good use?
    Front Bag Right
    I covered an essential toolkit in an earlier post.  In the toolkit I also bring extra batteries and 2 extra tubes.  Nothing would piss me off more than to carry only 1 extra tube, have a flat, replace the tube, and them promptly have that tube go flat.  My motto: 2nd tube for 2nd chances!  Also, please note the blue bundle to the right: this is my camp towel in its stuff sack.
      Rear Bag Left

    My clothing stuff sack, my tent, wisk broom and pan, some extra bungee cords.  Sorry, no picture.

    Rear Bag Right

    Here are the sleeping bag liner, my camp pillow, my "sleeping slippers" in their own stuff sack (what can I say?  My feet get cold at night!), my Kindle and reading light, etc.
    Loading the Bike

    I like to load the bags and cinch 'em up before positioning them on the bicycle.  Bicycles are unstable platforms at best for loading gear.
    These items - a sleeping bag pad, a tarp, and a sleeping bag - will go on the back rack and then be secured by the cargo net (note the 4 hooks... very handy).
    First, secure 2 of the hooks and hang the cargo net over the back fender.  When you add the tarp, pad and sleeping bag it's a simple matter to then stretch the net over them...
    ...and secure the hooks to the rack rail nearest the seat post.  So simple a caveman could do it (doh!)


    1. god your so organised . l wish l was like that

    2. Other than bicycle camping my life is pretty dull. Thus, I have plenty of time to organize. Sigh.