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The Ontario Bikepacking thread


This topic contains 144 replies, has 24 voices, and was last updated by  Matthew Kadey 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 106 through 120 (of 145 total)

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    I’m up for that discussion and libations.



    Wow that looks interesting! @fasttimes hope you had fun in Muskoka! Unfortunately I had some ankle injuries and now that I’m recovered, only my winter commuter is still active with this weather.



    Sorry to hear you were injured @lawrence_y I’ve got a lingering ankle injury as well. take care of it, your feet and ankles are the foundation to it all and if not taken care of can cause all kinds of injuries from supporting joints and systems.

    The Muskoka loop was insane. I now see how this connects to other zones I have explored and have it looped into a 400km loop. All raw, shield and pristine forest. That may be the route for the spring ride. that’s the only window other than the fall as the bugs will eat you alive and certainly make camp life a drag.



    Hi Jodi,

    I am thinking about trying this same adventure next year, not sure if fall or spring, and was curious what you thought of it? and if you had any insight to offer to someone who has never attempted something like this before?

    Thanks – Cory



    Well, my friend and I are signed up for the BT700! See you all there!



    BT700 looks cool. Although I think calling it “great divide style” is probably a bit of a stretch! Hoping to do at least 2 or 3 good bikepacking rides this season, this will be on the list for sure.



    That’s very cool @lawrence_y !



    A lot of my camping gear is due for replacement, so I’m using the downtime this winter to piece it all together with an eye to the light and compact for bikepacking.

    What have you guys been using so far?



    Welcome back @micah356 !

    I’ve been super happy with my Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2. Light, roomy, packs small and is quick and easy to set up. The poles can be a challenge to pack depending on your frame size and bags. It would be nice if they compressed more, shorter sections. It’s a very well vented tent yet has a good fly to keep you dry. I also use a ground sheet. You’d be chilly in it if the wind picked up or temps dropped but it’s a great late spring, summer and early fall setup.

    For a sleeping pad, I am using the Therma-A-Rest Neoair XLite. I steared away from this on my first go around, fearing the crunching noise, but it’s not an issue. While this is bigger than my last model (once inflated), it packs down smaller, insulates better and is lighter.

    I rely on two sleeping bags options, depending on conditions.

    1. Mountain Hardware – Phantom Spark – 2°C
    2. Nemo – Sonic – 18°C

    My first setup was synthetic. I was cold (actually had to stop and buy a warmer bag) and it took more space to pack. Down is trickier to care for but can last forever and keeps you toasty. It must be kept dry at all times and dried before packing if it does get wet. I’d say this was the single best improvement to my camp-life.



    I was recently asked by someone else about bags as well.

    I went lightweight for my first set of gear, mostly for the CX/gravel rig, and went with the Apidura stuff. It’s well made, reliable, water resistant and thoughtfully designed. They have full-on waterproof stuff now but, at the time, it was only water-resistant. Fitment isn’t optimal as the straps are typically in one place, it either works or it doesn’t. Being water tight is high on my list so I had my stuff in dry bags and waterproof stuff-sacks nested inside the Apidura bags. Not everything had to be 100% waterproof, but for the items that did, such as my sleeping bag, it was a must. By the time I made things waterproof, the bags neared or surpassed the weight of some of the more robust bags. Most of the weight savings is in waterproofing, reinforced seams, zippers and fasteners, Components I feel are more critical than the weight they shave. I also found the handlebar and seatpacks had too much movement, oftentimes coming loose on rougher terrain. They made a racket and took away from the exercise of escaping the noise. I also did not like the zippers. The lightweight fabric made them bunch and not easy to open/close with one hand. Really great stuff for a lightweight setup or race rig but I wanted something more secure.

    I’ve since moved on the the Revelate Design stuff and prefer it over my initial setup. Overall, it’s burlier and waterproof. I use their handlebar mount/roll, frame bag, toptube bag and bottle pouches. It adds a bit of weight but having the frame-mount for the handlebar roll really keeps it in place and perhaps even more important, makes it possible to place it in the perfect spot for my cockpit and fork. Thats valuable real-estate on a bikepacking rig. Being able to position it slightly forward from the bar, rather than hugged snug against it, eased the placement of computers, lights and devices. No tire buzz or lever conflicts like on my previous setup. Most of the straps have alternate positions and use replaceable and customizable straps (velcro). These are easily replaceable as well and can be purchased from any supplier. There are also more customizable compartments which make packing and accessing gear a bit more convenient.

    For my seatpack, I use either the Porcelain Rocket or Arkel models. Both are compatible with a dropper-post. I have been loving the Arkel bag. Stays put, no tail-wag, and is easy to slide on and off without having to reattach everything with each use. I find it takes folks a lot of time to get setup and packed up each day whereas it only takes me minutes. Sometimes an hour of primo daylight is wasted getting ready. I’ve also observed that those using the lightweight setups require many additional straps to secure the bags properly. I did not have to reinforce my setup at all last trip. Things that wiggle loose are a hazard and are usually the first to go. It wasn’t as much of an issue on the primarily gravel trips but last year we got rocked on some crazy rough trails. Was so awesome! Part of why I liked my setup, despite being on a rigid, drop-bar bike in Hilton’esq trails, was how solid everything was. It made a huge difference. If I was doing a big descent, on a loaded trail bike, I would definitely not want straps dangling and shit coming loose.

    Comparing the two systems, I like the weight-balance and ride dynamic with the second best. I could not believe how well the bike handled, fully loaded like it was. It’s different with each bike, gear and terrain but this is quite versatile. This setup carried a comparable amount of gear, in less bags and weighted roughly the same or less overall. I was also able to ditch the backpack which was great. Though that was partially due to water placement options as well.

    I don’t think there is right or wrong setup, just like there is no right or wrong bike, it’s just about the best bike and setup for your adventure. Most of all, run what ya brung. Having the more dialled setup can make the trip run more smoothly but not having it shouldn’t stop you as we have seen many examples of folks making varied systems work for them.

    Sorry for long reply. I think from so many years or working with various camera bags I have become a bag nerd. I have different setups for ski, bike, moto shoots and just like with the bikepacking stuff, its different for each job. What do I need to carry, for how long, under what conditions and how quickly will I need to access items.

    This has me itching to go on an adventure!!!




    I recently did the Old Ghost Road in New Zealand. It was a hell of a ride to choose as my first ever bikepacking experience. Certainly will be hard to follow in Ontario, but it did totally sell me on the overall bikepacking idea.

    I was staying in huts so didn’t need a tent. The middle part of that trail is pretty rocky and technical, so I decided to forego my seat bag in exchange for being able to use a dropper.

    I had the Blackburn handlebar and seat bag. I didn’t end up using the seat bag, but the handlebar bag was totally unimpressive. It worked fine until the bolts that hold the harness to the bar clamp started backing out, and I found that the bolt heads were sewn in under fabric, a.k.a. no way to tighten them! I made it through that ride thanks to my ample supply of bungie cords. Blackburn has since replaced that entire series of bags with the Outpost ‘elite’ version. My handlebar bag got warrantied into the elite version, which seems far superior – it has an entirely new mounting system that seems pretty bombproof. I haven’t actually used the seat bag yet, but may replace it with the elite as well. It has another take on the dropper-compatible seat bag that seems like it might work.

    I have the same Salsa frame bag as you, although probably a different size. I really like it, although it is not 100% waterproof when riding in a day-long downpour. I also find it hard to close the right side zipper if you open it all the way to the rear of the bag. The Unit has a pretty small front triangle which is pretty limiting for cargo capacity. Although I am glad it happened to be a perfect fit for the Salsa bag!

    Other than that, I have cargo cages on the fork with a 5L dry bag each, and another under the downtube which can fit up to a 1.5L Nalgene for backup water supply. And regular drinking bottles go in handlebar pouches.

    –Camping stuff–
    I have both a North Face Triarch 2, and a Tarptent Moment. For any trip of a week or less I use the Tarptent. It has some drawbacks but is the fastest tent to set up I’ve ever used (one pole and two pegs) and is just 800g.

    I have been using an old MEC 0 degree down bag and a Thermarest Prolite for about four years, but the sleeping bag is heavy and bulky and the thermarest has filled with mould (ew!). So I just replaced those with a Marmot Phase 30 bag and Klymit Static V Ultralite SL pad. This will make a huge difference to my packing:
    Bag: Previous 1.3kg / 8L, New 0.5kg / 3L
    Pad: Previous 0.5kg / 2.2L, New 0.3kg / 0.5L
    The sleeping bag has the same warmth rating as my old one, but is way, way smaller and lighter. The pad is far less warm, but I’ve been too hot almost every night with my previous set up, so I think it should be fine. I can add an emergency blanket underneath for borderline temps.

    I’ve used either a MSR Whisperlite or Trangia stove in the past, but I now have a MSR PocketRocket Mini kit which seems ideal for ultralite one person cooking. Haven’t used it yet. Packs down into 0.75L pot including a bowl/cup and fuel. I also have a GSI Ultralight coffee filter that fits in there as well.

    I am set on finally doing the COLT this year, and probably the BT as well. A couple of my coworkers are interested in the BT so I may end up doing that with them, and being ‘forced’ to stay in hotels… Probably won’t have time for anything else longer than three days or so, but that still gives plenty of options.



    It’s so rad you did that trip! Love to hear more about it on a ride or over a pint.

    You seem to have a pretty dialled setup. With my smaller frames, I haven’t tried mounting a 1.5L Nalgene bottle. Under the downtube is great place to carry one if you can get away with it. It fits easily on a fork but I like to keep the steering light and prefer to pack a sleeping bag and similar soft-goods in that location.. A single ring setup helps facilitate getting it back further, not sure if it would be far enough to clear my front tire however. Need to work on that.

    We have to hook on one of these trips, think you’d really enjoy the route we did last spring as well.



    Well here’s a bit of a different take on this 🙂 My gear tends to be based on two things 1) budget (I’m a student) and 2) much is adapted from my previous experience with backcountry hiking. As such, I get my gear used from Kijiji whenever possible, and often have makeshift stuff.

    I first started with (and still use when there’s a few of us) a MEC Tarn 3 that I picked up for $50. Unfortunately I didn’t take care of it and it got mildewed, cost me $70 in cleaning and rewaterproofing materials to get it useful again haha. Learnt my lesson. Not the lightest of tents, but it has taken me through several rainstorms and massive winds.

    Since then, I’ve been experimenting with hammocks when by myself as a cheaper alternative to buying a smaller tent. Am loving it so far! We have plenty of trees in Ontario so it’s been no issue. Even tested it this past weekend and slept great down to -16C (-24C with windchill). Hennessy makes great hammocks, and I fit in the Scout size which is nice for the wallet.

    -Sleeping pad:
    Started with a used MEC Kelvin 3.8 until it developed a leak I couldn’t find. Have since sourced a Klymit Inertia O’Zone which has been great! Weighs nothing and only takes a few breaths to fill.

    -Sleeping bag:
    Been bouncing around a few options, still haven’t settled on one. I get by with a cheap Mountain Warehouse one in the summer, a Eureka for the shoulder seasons, and I just borrowed my friend’s synthetic -18C bag for winter (Teton LEEF). Eventually I imagine I’ll find a down one once budget allows, they are just so much lighter/more compact for the warmth.

    Topeak Midloader for the half-frame bag has served me well as a barebones bag that’s fairly water resistant and doesn’t shift around. Actually fits my frame perfectly. I use a WolfTooth BRAD 4 with 3D-printed double bottle adapter to hold 3 bottles underneath the frame bag.

    I had an Arkel Tailrider trunk bag from before, so I use that with a Topeak Super Tourist DX rack in the rear. Hasn’t failed me so far, but then my bike is definitely more gravel than singletrack oriented.

    In the front, I use two Titan straps with a 14L drybag to strap it to my handlebars. Sometimes I also just strap my tent there. Works well even if it’s a pain to cinch it tight enough, never had it move around or loosen up when attached to my Surly Moloko bars. I think this will be my first upgrade, to get a proper harness of some sort.

    On the forks, I recently installed some 3D-printed 3-bolt mounts (reverse engineered from the Baryuk Mule) to be used with 3D-printed cargo cages. The plan is to use them with some 5L drybags but this part of the setup hasn’t been tested yet. Excited to see how well it works!

    Also plan on making some stem/snack bags from my old leaking sleeping pad. Just haven’t had the chance to borrow a sewing machine to get that done.



    @micah356 was kind enough to share his amazing adventure bikepacking New Zealand’s famed Old Ghost Road. You can read all about it here: https://www.ridingfeelsgood.com/riding-new-zealands-old-ghost-road/

    Definitely another bucket list ride added to my list.



    Hi everyone! As a warm-up for the Butter Tart 700 and in order to test out some new gear, I’m organizing a quick overnighted on Thursday/Friday June 6-7. Take the GO Train out to Pickering, ride to Sibbald Point Provincial Park on Lake Simcoe for some lakeside camping, then ride back either to the city or to Pickering GO the next day. Outbound route here: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/29823204
    Still working on the route back, it I would like to incorporate the Seaton Trail. About 120km each day.

    Right now I’ve got a group of four friends coming a long, but you’re all cordially invited! Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you more details.

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