Weekend bikepacking is all about challenging how light you can get away with, but without putting yourself in danger if something does go wrong.
For example one cooking pan will work as a pan, plate, bowl and mug. A buff is a hat or neck warmer. One set of spare dry warm clothes is enough to wear in evening and sleep in. The essential safety kit you need will vary depending on where you’re going, but I will focus on my kit for the wetter climate of Scotland.
Bike bags I take for weekend bivvy camping trip in Scotland
Large Apidura Saddle Pack 17litres
Large Apidura Bar Bag 17litres
Large Apidura Frame bag 6litres
Accessory pocket 5litres
The saddle pack
1. Spare dry thermal legs and thermal top plus a buff preferably all merino to hold warmth when wet.
2. Inflatable tube style roll mat e.g. Therma-rest neo-air, Decathalon Forclaz, or Alpkit numo, are what I’ve used.
3. A bivvy bag weighing about 400gms (mine is Terra Nova Gore Tex). My Tera Nova Laser 1 tent weighs 900gms so fits in if needed.
4. A fleece top rather than down jacket. When it’s going to be wet a fleece holds up better than a down jacket in the damp.
5. Spare dry socks for the evening, essential.
The Bar Bag
1. Down sleeping bag inside a dry bag. Mountain Hardwear Phantom. If your sleeping bag doesn’t fit get another one it’s too big and heavy!
2. Pan – Titanium Snow Peak, stove MSR Pocket Rocket, spork and gas can all fitting inside the pan, squeezed in after the sleeping bag. Pad the stove with a sock as it rattles loads! I love my MSR Dragonfly but it’s too big for trips like this.
To aid packing the sleeping bag, open both ends of the bar bag to let air escape and it slides in easier.
The Frame bag
No structure needed here so put food in that will be used up and other bits that can’t be squashed as much.
1. At least one spare tube, Puncture repair kit
2. Bike Spares:
Small pump, chain oil, multi tool (with chain tool) and/or pen knife, spare chain link, bike lights if riding long days.
3. Snacks in here also for easy access.
4. All my food that can’t fit in saddle pack.
5. First aid kit – Tape, dressing pad, painkillers, antiseptic wipes, plasters
6. Bits n pieces:
Head torch, compass, Cash + bankcard, lighter, map, phone,
Waterproof jacket and trousers. If forescast is clear I would take just a jacket and squeeze it in the saddle pack, but rarely the case in Scotland so I clip this accessory pack on the bar bag!
That’s all I take for an overnight camping trip, anything else weighs you down.
Packing kit for super light overnight Bothy or mountain hut Trip
Apidura 9 litre Dry Bar Bag
Apidura 9 litre Dry Saddle pack
Large Apidura Frame bag 6litres
For weekend Hostel or bothy trips I use the smallest size dry Apidura bar and saddle bags and I totally love them. No liners needed as they are 100% sealed, just put clothes directly inside. I even dropped them in a river to test and they were all dry inside!
1. Sleeping bag
2. Roll mat compressed directly into bar bag. (Open both ends to let air out when packing)
2. Any clothes extra can squeeze in from the saddle pack.
No cooking gear taken just a cold meal packed, could fit stove and pan in accessory pocket clipped on the front if needed.
Frame pack taken for the same food and bike spares as discussed above:
With no bivvy bag or roll mat in this set up, I use the smaller dry pack for clothes only as per my list above and I squeeze in waterproofs too. By cramming them in and the thicker material of the dry pack also allows good structure for the pack without a air mat or bivvy bag.
Any questions on kit the lists let me know. The key is going light but not dangerously light. You need emergency dry clothes and essentials like map and compass but throw out that poncho.
Nice write up. What type of sleeping bag is that, or what is one you’d recommend? Also in the UK.
Hi thanks and glad you like blog. The sleeping bag I use is a Mountain Hardware Phantom, they seem to be discontinued. It’s 800 fill down and about 0.95kg, the 800 down packs super small and very warm. It’s not cheap but was lucky to get it through work in Canada and love it, camped in the Andes and Alps well below freezing. This is it: http://www.mountainhardwear.com/mens-phantom-15-regular-OU8484.html however anything 750+ fill and around 1kg would be similar.
I like tthis set-up, but my thoughts are always the same: don’t you get eaten alive by insects in a bivvy?
The beauty of a bivvy is that you can camp in strong winds so it’s ideal for camping up high on the mountains away from the midges. Either that or just go early or late in the year!
Great list, awesome site. Definitely inspiring. thanks
Thanks, great to hear!
Thanks for this great list! I was wondering, what tyres (size and make) do you use for your more adventurous off-road touring? And what do you think os the minimum size tyre you’d want for a gravel+road bikepacking adventure? Thanks
Hi It really depends on the exact trip, I used Teravail Rutlands set up Tubeless on my last trip around Slovakia as I knew shops wouldn’t be far away and was on gravel, I used spiked Schwalbe Marathons for winter in Kyrgyzstan as bomb and ice proof and then Continental Travel Contact in 42mm and Continental Contacts in the Pamirs, Mongolia, Tibet etc. as these are bombproof. I wouldn’t use gravel tubeless in remote areas like this but in Scotland I use the Rutlands or WTB Resolutes tubeless.
No toothbrush or other toiletries? What would you wear on a trip like this please?
If I remember I’d take a small sample soap and tooth brush but usually forget any toiletries for a weekend. For a spring to Autumn trip I would wear bib shorts, baggy shorts, a merino thermal and gilet/windproof then full waterproofs if needed. Off the bike a fleece/down jacket and thermal legs and top to sleep in and maybe spare socks/pants. Depends what comforts you are used to. If it looks cold an extra layer to ride in and if hot a short sleeve option.