7-day Tour: What I brought

On our recent central coast tour, Dustin’s ultralight set-up had me thinking a lot about my packing. I rode with a traditional rack-and-pannier load, on the lightish side with only two panniers in the front, along with a rando bag and one of Acorn’s brilliant large saddlebags in the rear.

After busting out 60-80 miles per day, I’ve concluded that this is the maximum I’d ever want to tour with, unless I was eating far less mileage and taking my time. But with young children, I don’t really foresee such a long-form tour happening in the near future.

We ate out (praise the maker!), so didn’t take cooking supplies or food. I realize that saved a lot of weight and bulk. On a California costal tour, we had to be ready for cold, wet nights up north, and sunny warm days down south. Besides tubes, tools, bars, and a pump, this is it. Plus a paperback T.C. Boyle novel and a Moleskin pad and pen. So, what did I take, and what could I change to save weight and make room for?

• Top: (1) Icebreaker wool t-shirt; (1) Swobo wool polo; (1) Patagonia cotton/polyester cotton shirt; (1) Woolistic jersey.
I could leave the Woolistic jersey (bulky) and Patagonia shirt, which I thought would dry easier, at home. I would add another polo, as the collar can be flipped up for sun protection. Not bad around town either if its not too nasty from riding.

• Bottom: (1) pair of Bouré Elite shorts; (1) pair of Ibex wool knickers; (1) pair of Swrve lightweight softshell knickers; (1) pair of Swrve cotton pants; (1) pair of cut-off shorts; (1) pair of Swrve wwr shorts; (3) pair of wool boxers.
Too much! I’d swap out the Bouré shorts and Ibex knickers for a couple of padded wool shorts if i could. I’d also get a pair of lighter-weight wwr Swrve knickers and leave the softshells and cut-offs at home. One pair of Swrve pants would be good for the evening.

• Outer: (1) Swrve windbreaker; (1) Patagonia down jacket that also served as a pillow (1) pair of wool armwarmers; (1) pair of wool gloves; (1) pair of Camper shoes for riding; (1) pair of Chaco flip flops.
Nothing to trim here! The Campers are trusty, but Adidas Sambas will take their place next time. I’d add a pair of arm coolers, as my arms got quite a lot of sun despite my sunblock efforts.

• Gear: (1) Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent; (1) REI Lite-core sleep pad; (1) REI down sleeping bag; (1) Jetboil PCS; (1) yoga towel.
The yoga towel was too big, but I couldn’t find my very small pack towel, which I apparently lost and need to replace.

I think with my changes, I could keep this two-pannier-and-rack set-up the same and add some freeze-dried food to use with the Jetboil, or even a frying pan to make something more interesting. Of course, the ultra-light route is also very tempting, forgoing the weight of racks and Ortlieb bags. This is what I’d likely pursue on my Black Sheep adventure bike. Some Kirtland-style canvas panniers would also make my Ebisu, with very lightweight low-rider racks, a capable fast and minimalist tourer.



  1. david

    I’d recommend an Aquis microfiber hair towel for travel. Used it for backpacking and it performs as advertised. http://tinyurl.com/4yamzmo Don’t be fooled by the “hair” part, it’ll dry you off after a shower or a dunk in a stream. Get the darker colored kind, not white.

  2. Errin

    Cool post Esteban. UL thinking seems to be spreading. I went to a seminar at REI last week about UL backpacking and learned a ton. There are so many parallels to bike touring so we can learn a lot. I’m actually working on a spreadsheet right now to see in hard numbers how much my gear weighs. Only then can I try and make adjustments to my gear. Nerdy, yes, but very helpful.

    • Esteban

      Those are the smaller front bags. I forget the model – the better ones. The “rollers” frustrated me.

  3. Andrew

    Love your setup. This was my luggage (not pictured: very small backpack for rain jacket, camera etc, and food loading at the end of the day) for a 3 week self supported tour from Vancouver BC to San Francisco.:
    The Sea Ranch CA.

  4. Nancy L. Seibel

    Nice post. I’ve been on a total of 2 tours now. One self-supported credit card tour and one group tour. Good insights on what to pack, and what not to, for a self-supported camping tour.

  5. Pingback: Slow Touring « Bonk if you don't know Velocio

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