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February 14, 2019

Our Favorite Bikepackers, Their Favorite Gear

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For folks just starting out bikepacking, it’s hard to know where to begin. From an advice standpoint, we could offer any number of gear combinations that work. Determining what works best is really learned through miles on the saddle. With that in mind, we asked the folks who ride with our gear the most for advice. Here is what our ambassadors have to say about the gear they can’t live without.

Joe Cruz, photo by Logan Watts

Joe Cruz


Rider Profile: A frequent off the beaten path bike tourer. A few places Joe recently traveled include Tasmania, Cuba, and Japan. He rides pavement, gravel, washed out two-tracks, and hike-a-bikes up rocky boulder fields. He’s also a regular contributor at Bikepacking.com, where you can read up on his trips and check out his fantastic photography.

Joe Cruz’s Favorite Gear: Terrapin System, Harness + Saltyroll

The original Viscacha seat bag set the benchmark for a light, functional, bomber carrying method. The Terrapin pushes that standard to perfection by adding a waterproof and removable bag. Seat bags are a core piece for riding hard on and off road. It’s the first thing someone should buy because it will see so much use.

I’ve carried it all in the Terrapin: it’s had six days of food that I’d drag it into the tent vestibule to prepare dinner in the pissing rain, it sometimes gets stuffed with camp clothes and a sleeping bag, on fast and light credit card rides it carries every single thing. The strap arrangement can tolerate anything, it’s rock solid, it’s the single bag on my bike that’s inevitable.

The Harness was a revelation. Once I saw that any morphing or awkward thing can be strapped into the harness—from a packraft to a dry bag to firewood—nothing else could compare. On a flat bar bike the salty roll can expand so wide that most all of my clothing and bedding goes in it. Or it can be tucked tight at both ends to go between drop bars.

The Terrapin plus the Harness/Saltyroll, are really all you need, the rest is gravy. I’ve ridden across states with just these items and they are the foundation of trips I’ve done in Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, and Norway, to name just a few. Tight against the bike, sealed against the elements, designed to unhook in an eye-blink for bringing inside. Eric could have stopped designing with just these (glad he hasn’t, though)

2012 Bikepacking setup. Photo by Joe Cruz

 

Rebecca Rusch

Rider Profile: Rebecca, affectionately known as the Queen of Pain, is a mountain biker, endurance racer and gravel grinding champion (she was first female finisher on the inaugural DKXL 350m in 2018). Being from Idaho, she also takes a lot of pride in riding locally and sharing the beauty of Idaho with others. JP’s Big Fat Pursuit, and her namesake multi-length gravel race, Rebecca’s Private Idaho, are among her favorite local rides

Rebecca Rusch at the Fat Pursuit.

Rebecca’s Favorite Gear: Expedition Pogies

By far my favorite Revelate product is the Expedition Pogies.  As someone who suffers from poor circulation and whose hands are pretty much always cold, these pogies are the only way I can be outside riding a bike in the winter.  I just couldn’t do it without these amazing “sleeping bags for my hands”. The pogies are basically my gateway to winter riding and open up terrain and experiences that were previously off limits for me.

Rebecca Rusch’s Dirty Kanza XL setup: Tangle frame bag, Gas Tank, Mountain Feedbag (x2).


Nicholas Carman

Rider Profile: Nick’s motto is “ridin’ bikes & travelin’ light” and that’s what he does best. He most recently spent his winter touring Europe and his summer in Anchorage growing the local bike scene by hosting rides and doling out expert advice at the LBS. He just wrapped up his umpteenth ride on the Baja Divide, but as co-creator of the route, seeing others enjoy it may bring him the most joy.

A freezing night on the Jordan Bike Trail, around 5000ft near Kerak, Jordan. January, 2018. Photo by Nicholas Carman.

Nicholas’ Favorite Gear: A Frame Bag

My frame bag is certainly the most used, most essential, and most loved piece of gear. It lives on my bike and gets used every day of the year while traveling, commuting, grocery shopping, and leading local mountain bike rides in Anchorage. Years ago, I adapted my touring style to rely less on racks and panniers, and a frame bag was an essential part of that transition. However, at that time the zippers that everyone was using would fail after just 6 months of regular (hard) use. I asked Eric for a solution and he came up with two— a panel-loading zipperless frame bag which worked fabulously, and a “new” zippered bag with a big plastic toothed zipper and two elastic panels on either side of the zip. Two years later, both were still alive and my faith in zippers had been restored.

Baja Divide. Photo by NIcholas Carman.

Eric made a frame bag for me two years ago to fit my steel hardtail— a pink Meriwether Cycles 29er— patterned like a Mexican flag to celebrate the newly minted Baja Divide bikepacking route in Mexico. The bag has a tricolor pattern and printed eagle emblem at the center to look like the Mexican flag with the words Baja Divide underneath. Two years later, that bag has been through Baja California, Alaska, Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, currently in Spain en route to Morocco. It still holds stuff and zips with ease. No more dead zippers every six months.

Dylan Kentch


Rider Profile: Dylan thrives in uncomfortable places. Circumstances we may argue he sometimes creates for himself, or perhaps it’s just that certain uncomfortable things could only happen if you are Dylan. He’s been on infamous hell biking expeditions through Alaska’s soggy Lost Coast and through the mountains in Wrangell St-Elias, but he currently rides the snake trails of South Australia’s Outback.   

Photos by Dylan Kentch.

Dylan’s Favorite Gear: A Frame Bag

Frame bag, frame bag, frame bag! I met Eric 10 years ago and was introduced into this world of bikepacking then, although I had been riding big distances with panniers for years before that.  (Actually, we technically met when he drove me and a pile of pizza home from the Mat-Su 100 in 2003.) We went on several fatbike packrafting trips in 2008 and used early versions of some of the things now mass-produced.

What really really sold me on the frame bag was a bike tour down to Ushuaia in 2010/2011. I put so much stuff into that bag everyday, riding over 15,000 miles.  I reckon that I had as many things in it as a front pannier carries. I blew out the zipper in Peru and had it replaced locally with velcro, thinking this would handle my over-cramming better.  And it did, kind of, but I’ll take today’s zips over velcro any day. Today’s stuff lasts forever! I’ve had the same Gas Tank for over 40,000 miles of touring — it’s in constant use with dozens of openings and closings a day, living outside and NEVER cleaning the zipper teeth or lubing them. So good!

Biking Alaska’s Lost Coast. Photo by Eric Parsons

Ali Criscitiello

Rider Profile: We’ve never actually seen a photo of Ali biking without pogies. She lives and breathes the Arctic. For fun (and work– she’s an ice core scientist) she ventures to far-off frozen places like Antarctica, where yes, she bikes. She surely has some pro advice on winter warmth, but we’ll save that for another blog post.

Ali’s Favorite Gear: Gas Tank & Sweetroll

My favorite pieces of Revelate gear is hands down the Gas Tank. I always have an inReach, GPS and snacks ( a must for cold-weather riding!) on the ready in there. A close second is a toss-up between the Sweetroll and the Ranger frame bag. Together, they allow me to pack *so much* bulky gear onto parts of my frame where it stays well-balanced.

Biking from Dawson to Tuktoyaktuk on the ice road. Photos by Ali Criscitiello.

Gear Wrap Up

We hope this info gives you a starting point and several things to consider when choosing the right gear for your needs. Another helpful resource is our Dial Your Ride page where we have paired kits for different terrains. The only right answer is to get on your bike and ride. Have fun out there!

Santa Cruz Tallboy set up for technical singletrack.