One thing you learn early on about bikepacking is that every trip is an evolution of strategy and kit. One common dilemma is that it can be hard to find the right combination of capable bike + gear, especially if you don’t have a large frame to pack with ease. To get the lowdown on kit and strategy we asked Elisa Meza– a city commuter, Kait Boyle — a mountain bike endurance athlete, and Rebecca Rusch– a high performance all arounder, to give us the breakdown of their rigs.
BikepackHER: Rebecca Rusch
Ride: Giant Revolt Advanced 0
How tall are you? What size frame is this? 5’6″, medium frame
Why did you choose this bike?
This bike is meant for endurance off-road riding. Dirt roads, easy single track, adventure riding or gravel racing. I choose it for the composite materials, the geometry and the important details like mounts for cages and racks.
How would your rate it for bikepacking on a scale of 10, 10 being best ever?
10! It has space and hardware for mounting a rack, fork mounted gear, spacious inner triangle, so it can be loaded easily for a really big adventure or stripped down for a day ride or gravel race. Also super comfortable and zippy feeling. The Giant D-fuse seat post provides flex and comfort for long rides. The composite frame and lightweight feel racy and quick even when loaded. It’s a high performance all arounder…like me! It rides great loaded or unloaded and will fit a ton of stuff for a big adventure.
Tell us about your packing technique!
For a shorter adventure, I love the Tangle frame bag because the half frame bag leaves water bottle cages accessible and that’s great for quick filling up. If it’s a longer trip, then the full Ripio Frame bag is the way to go. I always try to put heavy stuff like bike tools, food, batteries, water in the bike triangle for best bike handling.
My cockpit set up almost always has the Mag Tank 2000 and Mountain Feedbag, no matter how long or short the trip. Food and essential items that I always want at my fingertips go here.
For the handlebar I’m a Pronghorn girl because it’s super light, minimalist, but can carry plenty of clothing and lightweight stuff. If I can get by without a handlebar roll, I will. If I use one, I keep it as small as possible. I put the things I might access the most near the opening of the bag, so I don’t have to go digging too deep.
Seatbag-wise I run the range from Shrew, Vole, or Terrapin, depending on what kind of expedition it is. These are also lighter weight but bulky items like clothing or sleep system or a pair of camp shoes.
I use the Jerrycan for trash and allows me one place to put trash easily while riding and one place for quick empty when I find a trash can.
I’m excited to try the Joey down tube bag for water or stove and as another option for heavier items that won’t fit in the frame bag.
Can you fit all your gear?
I rarely carry a tent on my bike. I’m happy with a sleeping bag, bivy and tarp that I can tie to my bike and trees to create a shelter. This is a lighter set up than a tent and perfectly suitable for me. Yes, I can load this bike up for a multi-day adventure. It’s usually when I’ve just loaded up on water and foot that pockets and bags are stuffed to the gills, but that just makes me eat my food and hydrate well to make space again.
What is it good at? What does it lack?
This is still a new ride for me, so the solution is for me to do more adventures and report back. Stay tuned please! Next up on this bike: Dirty Kanza XL 350 mile race and some Idaho exploring at Rusch Academy.
Does it have mounts for cages/racks?
YES! So stoked for this because no two adventures are the same and I like having the flexibility to change my set up and pack differently depending on the situation.
How is the handling while loaded?
It handles great loaded. I find that the way you pack a bike is super important in the handling. Keeping the weight off the front end maintains the best handling for the bike, so I try to keep heavy things near the center of the bike for the best ride.
Any additional notes on fit you’d like to mention?
I do make a few alterations to suit my needs for endurance riding. On the handlebar, I use Enve bar tape and gel padding underneath to make a wide, cushy platform for my hands. I run a WTB Koda saddle. I’m favoring a shorter stem these days for bike handling, but wider bars across all of my bikes for a more natural and comfortable hand position.
To read the bike + kit reviews from Kaitlyln Boyle on her Pivot Les 27.5 and Mach 5.5, and Elisa Meza on her Otso Waheela S click here!
Rebecca Rusch is the Queen of Pain with a heart of gold. It doesn’t matter if Rebecca is pedaling through the night on an epic adventure across Italy, riding her bike up Africa’s legendary Mt. Kilimanjaro, or teaching at a #JoinTheRusch camp or clinic, she brings energy, positivity and inspiration to whatever challenge she meets. She redefined the team dynamics of adventure racing and has given the men a run for their money in endurance mountain biking. Rebecca’s work extends far beyond the start line as the best selling author of Rusch to Glory, event producer for Rebecca’s Private Idaho, motivational speaker, firefighter, and cycling advocate. Rebecca released a full length feature film, Blood Road, which followed her very personal journey biking the 1,800 kilometer Ho Chi Minh trail. Follow her at Rebecca Rusch.