As ever we tried to go even faster and lighter for our trip to Tibet. I reassessed where we could save bulk and weight and made some new investments in shiny kit. Marion had been off the bike for 4 months so the other question was: “How can I get more kit on my bike and less on Marion’s but still use bikepacking bags?”.
The eventual bag selection was perfect I wouldn’t change anything, exactly the right balance of space, weight and bulk. A few new ways of adding water were needed too due to the remote and high plateau nature of the route. The choosen set up made the huge climbs and headwinds so much more bearable and let us both keep a decent pace across the trip considering the altitude.
First up I’ll go through the Apidura bags we each took:
On Ed’s Tripster ATR (Another blog on my bike setup here)
– Handlebar pack Regular 20l Classic design
– Accessory pocket 5l Classic design
– Full frame bag in large 14l Classis design (How this is only 14l I don’t know it fits so much kit!
– Saddle Pack Regular 17l Classic
– Top tube pack extended
These bags are a couple years of heavy use old and still going strong. The full frame bag was the new one for this trip and I loved the space it provides – downside is needing to find other places to put water bottles.
Marion’s Custom Steel Bike
-Handlebar Pack dry series 14l – (The dry bags are on their 3rd big trip now and are holding up just as well as the classic bags and most importantly are still 100% waterproof, fair to say we love them mostly for here in Scotland. The only issue is the inside can be a bit tacky and sticks a bit when sliding a sleeping bag inside, but with both ends open it worked.)
-Saddle Pack dry series 14l – Brilliant bag must be the best about, stable light, robust and well made.
– Large food pocket x 2 – never convinced I needed this before this trip but was perfect for snacks, loo roll, go pro camera, sun block, lip stick etc.
So that’s all Marion had for the whole trip, just 28 litres of bike bag space! The bungy cord on the bags let her stash a warm jacket and the small tent outside.
-Tent – Terra Nova Laser 2 Comp – Mixed thoughts on this new tent, light and small but certainly a few flaws….reviewed in another blog This is to the cheaper version branded as Wild Country, same design but heavier and a third the price.
– Sleeping Matt- Therma a Rest Neoair Xlite – First trip on these mats and no complaints, warm, solid, small and light They’re not cheap but you know the saying, wish we just bought these while ago!
This shows the tent and sleeping mat with a boarding pass for scale, the tent can be compressed even smaller as the bag is quite loose:
– Sleeping bags – Mountain Hardwear Phantom 1kg 850 fill down bag for Marion and Ed used a Kathmandu Pacesetter 800 fill down 1.1kg. Both models tried and trusted by us. With the Apidura dry series bar bag Marion could ditch the stuff sack and put her sleeping bag straight in the bar bag with a sleeping matt too. This saves a few extra grams!)
– MSR Dragonfly stove Trusty reliable stove not the lightest or smallest but worth it, over 10 years using these
– Lightweight Titanium pan Titanium pans are strong and light; don’t use aluminium it bends in the bags too easily
– Water to Go water filter bottles We relied on these and had no issues drinking some random water on the way! Hard to decant from these into another but if you use bigger bottles for dirty water and just drink from these it works well.
– Topeak extra strap on bottle cages on Ed’s tripster’s rear stays, a great solution but don’t rely on them for big trips, they wear out at the plastic clip. The new Truipster V2 has another cage mount under down tube. We also used extra bottle cages on Marion’s Surly Long Haul fork which is more secure solution.
Canon 6D Love this camera, it’s the smallest full frame DSLR, has limitations like auto focus speed but best camera for my trips. Being a DSLR means battery life is fantastic can use a battery a week if careful.
Canon 17-40mm Lens Great Sharp lens, not the fastest but love this with a polarising filter and perfect for landscapes.
Canon spare batteries x 3
64gb SD cards x 2
Timer remote for night shots and time lapses Like this but buy cheaper version from Amazon!
Tamron 70-200mm 2.8 lens – This is a good fast zoom, but it struggles with colours a bit in bright conditions and slight distortion along edges in certain situations, not as sharp as Canon optics but a third the price. It was still worth taking this 1.4kg lens though!
Go Pro Hero 2 – Old now but reliable for images and film.
Climate varied in temperature by about 36 degrees on an average day from -12 to +24. Altitude varied from 500m to 5050m where snow lay and could fall any day, so we needed kit for any eventuality!
I am supported by Morvelo with riding kit, however that’s because I love how well it fits me. I’d love to review other brands riding kit but I don’t want to take the gamble that it’s uncomfortable on trips like this, therefore I keep going back to what I trust!
-Morvelo Thermo Active long sleeve Dasch jersey – A great warm layer I wore this almost all of the time take a look Dasch Patern at Morvelo
-Morvelo Stormshield Bibshorts I absolutely love these bibshorts my favourite piece of kit at the moment, so warm, pretty wind resistant and usefully water repellent now I’m back in Scotland!
-Morvelo Leg warmers Dasch pattern again (well it all had to match didn’t it!). I used these a lot when descending the high passes and highly recommended. Resist wind and rain pretty well. A super fit for my long legs.
-Morvelo Nauty jersey my first Nth series kit. Impressively light weight and super comfy, normally worn under the long sleeve jersey.
-Morvelo Rise and Descend MTB baggy short – I wore these almost 24/7, my only pair of shorts on or off bike for the entire trip, good fit with useful zip pockets, and they survived the UV blasting well. The first of two waist popper buttons unpopped a few times, ironic given I lost almost 6kgs!
Other clothing: 200 weight Merino Baselayer, Merino legs, Wool socks x2, basic Fleece and lightweight Hagloffs down jacket. Merrell hiking shoes for toe clip pedals, Berghaus Goretex Active Jacket and cheap Decathalon Waterproof trousers, Ski gloves from Head and Rab Merino wool undergloves.
Marion started as an ambassador for FINDRA clothing this year and has been busy testing their stylish kit in harsh environments. FINDRA make women’s kit and are based in Scotland and almost of of their kit is made here. Marion took with her:
– FINDRA Caddon merino cowl neck jersey in slate grey – the detailing on this top is great and Marion found it super cosy and ideal for a range of temperatures.
– FINDRA Tress long sleeve top in teal – super soft and great both on and off the bike.
– FINDRA Relaxed mountain biking shorts in French navy – Marion wore these all the time and loved them.
– FINDRA striped Betty merino wool neck warmer in blue – you can’t beat merino for keeping you warm! Also good to wear as a headband when your hair has gone crazy.
– FINDRA Merino wool trail Beanie in navy and coral – reversible so you can pretend you brought 2 hats with you for extra style!
Pretty much the same other clothing as Ed except Arc’teryx waterproofs for Marion. And she took a synthetic Primaloft thermal jacket rather than down, in case of getting wet!
3 inner tubes, 3 spare chain quick links, Puncture repair kit, Spare brake pads for both bikes, tyre wall repair kit.
Spare spokes/nipples for roughly each size, Zip ties , gaffer tape wrapped around frame,
Spare chain ring bolts and a few generic M4 sized bolts for bottle cages etc.
Multitool – Topeak Alien
Mini pump – Planet X random one it was never needed.
First aid kit – Life Venture First aid kit Did the job, but we added antibiotics, painkillers, eye drops and rehydration salts.
Head torch – Black Diamond LED
East Tibet Gecko Map – Rubbish detail but best available
Huawei smart phone – cheap and cheerful relaible to use with cached Google maps
Vittorinox Swiss Army Knife