Follow Scott on his blog at http://spokeandwords.com/
Scott Pauker is on a bikepacking journey around the globe. He is currently traveling thorough Mexico where he has been since early 2015. The last time we ran into Scott, he was making his way through Central Arizona. Scott has been logging major miles and field time and it has translated to a collection of serious wisdom. If you are interested in hearing more about his journey head to our profile on Scott. Advice on what to carry? I prefer everything strong rather than light. I’m not racing and want to be out for as long as possible without repairs. It is better to depend on your gear than to be ultralight and dead in a ditch. Determine the difference between what you NEED and what you WANT, then own your choices. Experiment with discomfort. You don’t need much, and you can’t always get what you want anyway (i.e. super light and comfortable simultaneously). Try to make sure every item has multiple uses when possible. Titanium Spork (plastic ones break a lot), Gorilla Tape (I used it to limp a broken frame off a mountain for 30 miles), dry wool socks for sleeping, in fact wool everything. Bike shoes that you can hike in for absurd amounts of time when the trail is rougher than you thought. Oh, and if traveling indefinitely, a tin whistle. I can’t live without music, and it’s the lightest cheapest versatile instrument I could find. Advice on what to eat? Jello pudding mix is pretty good for a kick in the ass sugar/chocolate kick in a pinch. Clearly I’m not a nutritionist. I’m traveling for long enough that I need to get the most calories per unit weight and per dollar. Often that means lower quality food. So I balance my poor trail diet with good meals when I come through towns. It works… alright. Size, specs and species of your ride? Large Surly Ogre (29er), retrofitted with a Krampus fork to slack the geo a bit and to allow a 29+ front tire – Enter the Ogrus. Rolls plenty fast on the pavement when necessary and shreds the singletrack when possible. I’ve converted to being a fat tire believer with as much tread possible, so I’m running a Maxxis Minion 2.5” downhill tire in the back (biggest the frame would fit). Sidewalls are super beefy. So far 29” tires seem available in many places, outside of the US, but I always have a spare. I’m full rigid so I just added titanium bars and seatpost from Carver for a bit more pushin’ cushion. Brooks saddle. Rohloff rear and Schmidt Son 28 front hubs laced to 36 hole Velocity Blunt rims. Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes. Chris King BB (my first one lasted about 13,000 loaded miles,) Old man mountain rack. A pretty bomb proof rig, NOT light. But it’s strong enough to have added a packraft to my rig, so I’m pretty happy with it. Thoughts on essential bike equipment? If you’re bikepacking internationally: Tire boots, patches, dependable pump. Extra shoe cleat bolts. Go tubeless if you’re down South. Goat heads are a pain to keep patching. Tire plugs for tubeless tires when the hole won’t seal. Presta to Schrader adapter in case your pump fails and a 4wheeler rides by or you need to re-seat a tire at a gas station. A little quality bike grease for super annoying creaks in super hot dry places. Replacement zipper slider for your frame bag unless you’ve gone zipperless (I found a tailor to make the switch). Water purification method? I roll with a Sawyer filter incase the water is dirty and sketchy. But have been thinking about a switch to bleach/tabs and a handkerchief to save weight. Jury is still out. Stove/fuel strategy? I rolled with a pop can stove for a while cooking with Heet, but got stuck without good fuel source a couple of times in Baja, so now I’m lugging around a whisperlight international so I can run unleaded gas. Cheapest fuel out there: 40 cents lasts about 2 weeks. However it’s heavy and bulky. Still trying to find resolve on that one for international use. Thoughts on essential gear for staying alive? Good sleeping bag goes a long way, and a down jacket. Aforementioned backup wool socks and hat. Feet and head warmth goes a long way for warmth. Backup lighter to make sure you can make fire. Favorite trail / bikepacking recommendations? Arizona Trail and Lockhart Canyon Road for off the beaten path options. The Kokopelli Trail is great. But now I’m finding seemingly endless options for new routes here in Mexico. Good maps and Google Earth go a long way. Make your own routes, then share them with me!