17 May, 2017

All You Need For An Overnight

By Scott

As bicycle camping season kicks into full gear here in the Mid Atlantic, we thought it might be good to look at what's involved in going out for an overnight. Now, this list is just about an overnight trip. Certainly if you are going to ride from PA to OR, you'll need more stuff, but as a starting point, I think the following things are a great beginning. I've organized this list similar to a list I read years ago in Richard's Mountain Bike Book. Nicholas Crane, a British author and cyclist whose travels have taken him to the Himalayas, Africa, and all over Europe and the UK, developed a basic list of items for any bicycle trip. I'm using it as the inspiration for our list:

Basic level 1 - A bicycle - Yep, that's the absolute minimum you need to do an overnight. You can ride to a friend's house a few hours away and enjoy a shower and a bed. Nothing extra, just you and your bike. OK, fine, toss a spare tube and tire levers in a pocket and you're covered for a flat.

Basic level 1.2- A credit card or cash - You can choose your own end point for the day and pay for it with cash or card, as well as handle paying for food along the way.

(First overseas tour, Tasmania 1990)

Intermediate level 1 - Change of clothes - An extra top and shorts make life a little more comfy. A spare shirt or pants for off the bike in the evening add a bit of civility. You can put these in a bag and strap it to a rack or throw into a handlebar bag.

Intermediate level 1.2 - Tent and sleeping bag - Now you have control of where you can stop. You have shelter and something to keep you warm at night.

Advanced level 1 - Stove and food - You now have the ability to heat up food and have it wherever you want. Cold food and hot food has the same level of calories, but there is certainly something to be said for having a hot cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning with a hot breakfast to get you moving.

Advanced level 1.2 - Map/phone/electronic device that tells me where to go - In lots of places, if you are trying to get from A to B (or even to C) via roads that are not the main thoroughfares, there are small signs to help direct traveler's. I'd usually write down a couple of the major towns between me and my desired destination for the next day. Knowing the smaller destinations, allowed me to not have to think of the whole distance, and also allowed for interaction at junction towns, where I'd ask folks the most interesting way to get to B, rather then the fastest.

(Sweden 3 years later, still too much stuff)

So yes, I've simplified a packing list down to a very basic level, but that is one of the great things about touring by bike - so long as you have a destination, you can figure out a way to get there. Sometimes it's not even the destination, but rather getting there that makes the memories. I think we often take too much stuff, witness my old photos. The old adage, lay out all the things you need and then toss 1/2 is a good starting point.

Have you pared down your cycle touring gear list over the years or added to it?


Big Woods Biker said...

A sleeping pad goes a long way towards making a night on the ground more comfortable.
I'd leave out the tent before I would give up my Thermorest.

Anonymous said...

Try an ultralight cot. They are better than being on the ground.

Unknown said...

Toothbrush. If not staying at friend's house, toothpaste is nice too. A film can works great.

Other than that, spot on!

Sabotenfighter said...

Ultralight tent, light cut down sleeping mat, change of clothes, tools and spare tube are about all I needed for a several day trip around Central Japan in summer. Spare clothes and hitting the hotspring after the ride are a must.