Well, it has been quite some time since I purchased the bikepacking bags from Carousel Design Works with every intention of getting right out there and trying them out. Not! One thing or another always got in the way and summer reared its hot, ugly brown head. I knew I needed to do some quick trips to get things sorted out. I had never used the new one man tent, I used the sleeping bag once, and the bags were unproven as far as how they rode on the bike, how it handled, etc.
I still have things to do: build a penny stove, get some different odds and ends, but I had enough to actually get out there and try it for real. An overnighter. OOOOhhhhh. Scary! So, it was with more than a little bit of nervous feelings that I pedaled off into the local hills to bed down for the night.
First though, lets us take a look at the gear again. In the saddle bag I had the tent 'canvas', the tent footprint and the liner for my sleeping bag for extra warmth. I still had room for the storm fly of the tent and maybe even more, but that would have been about it. The tent was an REI Chrysalis one man deal that I had picked up on close out. I do want to get into tarp camping, but I still want the option of a tent for more of an enclosed experience or bad weather trip.
In the frame pack I had my tool bag off the bike (normally under the saddle rails) and my helmet light in case I needed to bail in the dark, etc. There was plenty of room for more in that bag, what with all the side pockets etc. Good map potential, etc.
The fuel cell was pretty much empty except for my evening dessert...a Snickers Dark. Yum.
The bar bag carried the 3/4 length Thermarest mattress and the tent poles rolled into the pad center. I had more room on each end of the bar bag for rain gear, jackets, etc. The bar bag always gives me grief every time I go to mount it on the bike. I know this is hard to make fir all the different bikes and combos of cabling etc, and it is a balancing act to get it to fit without interfering with cables/hoses and brake levers. Even once that is done, the bag was way too wiggly. I could wag it side to side too easily. Maybe I have it on there wrong...that is possible, but if so, I am not smart enough to figure it out...yet. If you see an error in my ways, sing out. So, I wrapped the two extra/external straps around the crown of the Reba and that settled things down nicely for now. I am already working on a rack of sorts to allow the bag more support and less chance of getting into the cables. We shall see.
The Gregory z22 backpack carried the extra clothes, the Deuter Dreamlite 500 sleeping bag (note the pic next to the water bottle cage...it is a really small package, that bag), and some other odds and ends plus a nearly full 100 liter water bladder.
I had really struggled with where to go for that first LOVN. That is Local OVer Nighter for your info. I am surrounded by foothills, but I did not want to camp in the dry brush. Too snaky this time of year. I had to be back at home early Sat AM so a trip up into the higher forest was not in the plans. Finally, I thought of a spot in the local lake area that is forest-like, had a nice viewpoint, and is remote enough (and gated) to not have any yahoos driving around there at night.
So there I was, pedaling over the few miles to camp with the oddest feeling. I am not sure why, but it seemed so darn adventurous! Weird, I mean it is not like I was crossing the continent. Arriving at camp, this was my view just at dusk.
I went to sleep with the sound of ducks and other water birds calling across the dark waters of the lake.
My alarm clock was a pack of coyotes singing, barking, and yipping like the world was ending. It was not, but my sleep time was. The morning view beat anything I get in the bedroom at home.
I was pretty comfy actually. The tent is plenty roomy for one and it set up easily. I realized that without a storm fly on the tent, I had no vestibule. So I clipped my helmet to the tent pole and left the shoes out for the raccoons to wear around if they felt frisky. I am a side sleeper so that means I need to keep some kind of pillow thing going on or my neck will be trashed. I found that a compressible camping pillow on top of the Gregory pack was absolutely perfect. The pillow will have to go as it is still too big to pack for longer trips, but I have a camping thingy that makes a jacket or whatever into a pillow with a pillowcase arrangement.
The temps got into the mid 50s, maybe. That is pretty warm and the Dreamlight 500 bag was barely adequate at that temp range for me as I am a cold sleeper. However, with a Thermarest silk liner I was pretty warm and it could have dropped a few more degrees and been OK. Beyond that and I would have been cold. However, there is an emergency bivvy product that I bet could be used as a burrito warmer/bivvy sack and extend that another few degrees beyond that. If it is getting into the mid to low 40s at night, I would probably have a bit of warm riding clothes with me that I could layer in those as well.
The bike handled just like a mtn bike should. I knew it was loaded a bit, and I really was not fully weighted down like I would be for a long trip, but it handled the singletrack just fine. That is sweetness.
There will be a few more of these LOVN rides for sure. Then when I have things figured out, the real planning will begin.