Colorado Trail Tech Talk: Gear and Rig
Andy and I knew going into our Colorado Trail ride this summer that our bikes weren’t going to be light. Although we both had grown older and wiser in our bikepacking ways since our partial ride of the Colorado Trail two years prior, this year we were bringing a lot of electronics: a nicer camera, a GoPro with multiple mounts, and a drone, all with multiple extra batteries and accessories.
Outside of this added weight, however, both of our setups would have been considered pretty minimal by bikepackng standards. We carried the bare essentials, with our only real luxuries being a tarptent that kept us mostly dry (versus a bivy alone) and our evening meal setup, which included a stove, propane tanks, and pots, which we wouldn’t have necessarily needed.
What follows is a basic packlist from our trip, to catalog what all we brought along with us on the ride.
- 2 extra drone batteries
- Drone accessories, i.e. sd cards, plug-ins, chargers, etc. (not shown)
- Propane canister
- Tire tube
- Shock Pump
- Tire Pump
- Duct tape and electrical tape (wrapped around pump)
- 3 to 4 days of food
- 1 pair of Gore Bike Bib Shorts
- 1 pair of long Pearl Izumi gloves, 1 pair of fingerless Pearl Izumi gloves
- 1 pair of tights
- 1 pair of Icebreaker wool underwear
- 1 pair of Smartwool socks, 1 pair of Darn Tough wool socks
- 1 pair of ‘around town’ shorts
- 1 Montbell Down Jacket
- 1 short sleeve tech shirt
- Specialized sun sleeves
- 1 long sleeve smartwool shirt
- SOL Bivy Sack
- Inflatable Pillow
Revelate Sweetroll Handlebar Bag (small)
- REI 45 degree Sleeping Bag
- Tarptent (carried in yellow drybag)
- North Face Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants (I cut the bottoms off, so they are technically rain shorts now)
- Neoprene Gloves
Revelate Jerry Can
- Grease rag
- Chain lube
- Crankbrother’s multi-tool
- Small off-brand multi-tool with pliars
- ~10 feet of nylon cord
- Zip ties (multiple sizes)
- Spare shoe cleat
- 3 quick links for chain
- Fiberfix spoke replacement kit
- 3 tire levers
- 2 tire boots
- 1 replacement presta valve
- Some pieces of rubber
Revelate Gas Tank (Not shown)
- Quick access food container: Carried Snicker’s bars, clif bars, peanut butter packets, etc.
Revelate Mountain Feedbag
- Replacement lenses for sunglasses
- MSR Pocket Rocket
- Shammy cream
Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cage (Downtube Bag)
- Toilet paper
- Wet wipes
- Propane Tank (not shown)
- Not shown: Miscellaneous toiletries/other bag – toothbrush, toothpaste, extra matches, extra lighter, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, nail clippers
Camelbak Skyline LR 10 Liter Backpack (not shown)
- Carried up to 3 liters of water at a time
- Cell phone, wallet, car key
- Olympus TG-3 camera (until it broke)
- Sometimes carried food, but only on the two long hauls (Waterton to Leadville, Buena Vista to Silverton)
What I Didn’t Carry
Since I was riding with Andy the entire way, we tried to split the load as evenly as possible. As you can see, I carried the tent, the cookware, drone and GoPro accessories, and the bike tools. Andy’s joint load was the actual drone (the DJI Mavic Pro) and drone controller, the GoPro and GoPro harnesses, and the first aid kit.
So the following question always seems to come up after posting a packlist: did I bring anything I didn’t need? And I can honestly say that, at this point, I feel like I’ve got my gear list pretty dialed in. I could do without the ‘around-town’ shorts and smartwool long-sleeve probably, but I used both, and even was wearing all of my clothes – sans my around town shorts – at certain points throughout the trip. I didn’t end up needing any of the bike tools, but it’s nice to be able to fix at least the little things if the need arises, so I think I’d bring all of that again. The only other thing would be my bivy sack, which I only used once, and probably didn’t need to use. I brought it because I was just a little worried about whether my 45 degree sleeping bag would be warm enough for me, but it ended up being totally fine, especially because I could just wear all of my clothes if temperatures got low enough. Overall, I feel like this is a pretty standard setup, and one that I will continue to use for long-distance bikepacking trips in the future.
Categories: Bikes and Gear
Awesome. Thanks for sharing! I just sent you PM through facebook with my list to compare.
How did the burritos hold up?? Did you need to eat them in the first couple of days or did they last the entire trip??
We ate ours after they sat in our framebags for four days and were just fine. They tasted normal – like frozen burritos that have thawed – but the frozen burritos we bought expressly forbid letting them thaw before eating on the label, so you kind of are doing it at your own risk. Maybe I’m a risk-taker, but I’d do it again. 🙂
Nice setup Ben, thanks for sharing.
I am planning to the CT next summer and I need some advice from you.
I have MSR whiperlite universal. I do not know is take gas or white gas with me. What do you recommend? Also you saddle bag is 100% WP?
Thanks Juan. In answer to your questions, I don’t know what people recommend necessarily for the Whisperlite, as I don’t personally own one, but I know bikepacking.com has written about the Whisperlite before. Here’s a link to their article about the stove: Bikepacking.com’s thoughts on different stoves
And while my Revelate Pika seatbag is not technically 100% waterproof, I rode in unceasing all-day rain through the San Juans of the Colorado Trail, and the stuff in my seatbag did not get wet, so it’s at least 99% waterproof. 🙂 Hope that answers your questions.
Thanks Ben, help a lot. I saw your are vegan, any problems to find vegan food around the trip? Thanks
Hey Juan, I ended up eating vegetarian for the trip, as cheese was a precious commodity that provided an alternate protein source for me and was found in many of the soups I bought. But if you were a diehard Vegan, it could definitely be done!
I’m sorry about too many questions Ben, how many canister did you use in the CT trip?
No worries, Juan – I enjoy thinking back on my trip! Because the staple of our evening diets was Knorr packets, which require 7 minute simmers, we went through 3 of the smaller canisters (can’t remember the size, but the rather generic backpacking sized ones). We didn’t go through as much as some people because we stopped and ate in pretty much all of the major towns along the route, and only used the canisters for dinner. Hope that helps.
Thanks Ben. Appreciate your help. That give very good idea!
Hi Ben, I’m trying to figure what plan of action to take with food storage, so just wondering if you needed to take any precautions with food, to protect against bears or small furry creatures getting into your food supplies whilst camping? I see you mostly had packet stuff, but just wondering if you either (1) hung food at camps with trees or (2) stored food away from your campsite above the treeline? Any input would be appreciated – many thanks. Nicholas
Hey there, we did end up bringing a bear bag that we hung all our food in every night as an extra precaution, and we always made a point to camp below treeline, again for safety. But I’d just as soon sleep with my food if I were doing it again. I’d be more concerned about chipmunks than bears. 🙂
Hi Ben, thanks for getting back to me – much appreciated. When you say camping below the treeline for safety, are you referring primarily to protection from the weather (e.g. less exposed to thunderstorms) or something else?
Hey again, I’m totally talking about weather. We weren’t worried about thunderstorms at night so much; more concerned about wind/snow. Lots of people camp above treeline, though, just so you know, we were just able to avoid it the whole time, so we did. Great questions!
Hey Ben , curious, would you consider taking the highway 285 detour from Bailey to Kenosha pass over the Lost creek detour ?
I have plans on a solo trip of the CT this coming summer and would really like to skip long Lost Creek section.
I have heard of others opting for the shorter alternative from Bailey to Kenosha pass . 27 miles from the end of section 3 with 19 of that on pavement, as opposed to the 78 miles the other way.
What time of year did you ride the CT and how many days did it take.
I am personally hoping to start the end of the first week of July and am planning for as long as 16 days.
Hi Craig! That’s a great question and I’m sorry I’m just now getting to it. I wasn’t familiar with the highway 285 detour when I rode the CT but, for Andy and me, at least, we wanted to ride as much of the route as possible, so we didn’t plan to skip any sections, no matter how brutal. We did end up skipping 10-mile because of a fire, which was a bummer and a blessing, from the sounds of it.
As for ride time, Andy and I started in late June. My original plan had been to ride it with him and then yoyo back the other way for the CTR. But having completed the route one direction, I decided once was enough. 🙂 The first week of July is a great time to start.
I watched all of your Colorado Trail videos and they were nicely done! Good info! My question is were you happy with the tarp set up vs a tent? Any issues with critters or animals ? Or the ground getting wet under your sleep system? (I assume some sort of a ground sheet was used also)
Thanks Isaak! We did use a tyvek ground sheet and didn’t have issues with getting wet even though we were in some solid rain the last few days. The tarptents do build up a bit of moisture on the inside, though, so you do need to be aware of that. If I were riding the route again or riding solo, I would probably use a tent simply because they are easier to set up and a bit more structurally sound and reliable as a rain proof option. But both are great options, for sure.
Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll be going with a bikepacking tent, Hopefully I can find one to buy… inventory seems to be an issue.