As more and more people are opting for adventure in the form of bikepacking this summer, there’s a scramble to borrow tiny tents and panniers, front and rear lights, and serious mini-pumps capable of actually inflating a tire to reasonable PSIs. But there are some weirder small things you might not be thinking about packing… That could make a major difference between a fun, successful trip, or a miserable one. Here’s the semi-weird selections Peter and I would bring on a bikepacking trip:
Between the occasional public washroom and much more common ‘pee in the woods’ stop along your bikepacking route, plus the use of friction-fighting chamois cream, you’re going to want to get your nether regions clean at least a couple of times a day, and definitely when you’re out of your kit for the night.
Spare bike shorts
You can wear a dirty or damp jersey, but dirty/ damp bib shorts? Don’t do it. That’s a recipe for saddle sore disaster. You can hand-wash your shorts pretty easily if you have a stream or tap and a bit of soap (I would also bring a bar of Dove and use that for face, hands and clothing if I was going super light–it won’t irritate your skin like some detergents might if you don’t rinse perfectly). But you also need the shorts to get dry for the cleaning to be effective, and often, if you’re stopping at dusk, you won’t get them dry overnight. Bringing a second pair of shorts to wear every other day will be a lifesaver.
A tiny squirt bottle of glasses cleaner and a rag can make glasses much more efficient throughout a longer trip. It seems superfluous, but anyone who’s gotten stuck with greasy lenses thanks to over-exuberant sunscreen application knows how key this is.
Face towel / washcloth
Honestly, if you’re doing a multi-day trip, having something to truly get your face clean is going to make you feel like a million bucks when you’re off the bike for the night. Consider the buildup of sweat, sunscreen and general road grime (and bug splatter) throughout the day. You will be SO happy to be able to wash your face and really scrub off the grime. (Sure, a bandana works here too. But honestly, the scrub-y nature of a regular washcloth is just so much more satisfying on really gross layers of stuff on your skin after a long day.)
Want more intel on BIKE PACKING and Ontario’s awesome BT700 Bike packing route? Listen to the episode with Matt Kadey
Or whatever candy bar will be helpful in an ’emergency’ hanger situation. Don’t use it as your primary fuel, keep something like this saved for those “I’m going to punch someone” moments. If traveling with a friend, bring one for him or her as well. (This is what saved Molly on our fast-pack trip of the 80 kilometer La Cloche trail!)
Frozen water bottle
This is a day 1 hack (or everyday if you’re staying in hotels versus camping) but start with either a full frozen bottle in your pack, or freeze half of each of your bottles so that the water on top stays cold longer.
Easy application, and — I know this sounds weird, but… it can be used for underarms/inner thighs if you’re having any chafing issues. We like the sunscreen stick because it’s less likely to spill in your bag, and it’s easy to quickly apply while you’re on the move. No muss, no fuss.