The start of the Arizona Trail Race is coming up on Friday. Many will take on the 300 mile version to Picketpost while others will continue on to the Utah border, It’s a grueling test of endurance whatever poison you pick. The trail is comprised of sharp and pointy singletrack, rugged dirt roads, and believe it or not some fairly high elevation. Those conditions dictate what type of bike to use as well as how to carry gear. The previous two times I have raced the 300 mile version I did so on a carbon hardtail. I was so crushed after both of those rides that I said I would never ride the route on a hardtail again. I have stuck to those statements even after nearly two years since I finished my last AZT experience. Another piece of the puzzle is figuring out water. Arizona in general is relatively dry, more so in some sections than others. It can also be very warm which will make you want to drink much more water. Between water, food, essential sleeping gear, layers, and emergency gear, my rig kept getting more difficult to pack – especially with a full suspension rig. Below is my gear list for the 2016 Arizona Trail Race.

Bike: Salsa Spearfish Carbon – Size Large While you lose some frame space and storage with a full suspension bike, there are still some with ample frame space like the Spearfish. For a trail like the Arizona Trail, it’s well worth the reduction of frame space.
  • Nox Rims with Industry 9 rear hub and Schmidt SON 28 front dynamo
  • Rock Shox Sid fork and Fox FLOAT Performance Elite rear shock
  • Paired with Some Maxxis Ikon tires, 2.2 rear 2.35 front
  • Sram 1×11 driver with Wolftooth 28 tooth chainring
  • Shimano XT brakes and pedals
  • Thompson seat post with Specialized Phenom saddle
  • Race Face stem with Etrex 30 stationed on stem
  • Salsa handlebars with ESI chunky grips
  • Cane Creek Ergo II Bar Ends
Now I will chat about the bags and what I have in each bag. Things will likely shift a little bit, but in general, this is how I will be carrying my stuff for the duration of the ride.

Frame Bag: Rockgeist Mudlust Frame Bag – Custom Fit Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig I tend to put a lot of things I really hope not to used towards the bottom of the bag, like tools and my rain jackets. Other things that I will need to access more are my hydration bladder which is near the top of the zipper opening. It’s also important to note that I put most of my heavy items in the frame bag, this is because it gives the bike an overall balanced feel, and it rides much better when the front triangle can support the weight being on the saddle or handlebars. Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig
  • Tool kit with replacement parts, and tools to keep me on the trail.
  • Spare spokes and nipples
  • Tube
  • Pump
  • First aid kit
  • Wet Ones
  • Terrex Swift Agravic Jacket
  • 2L platypus hydration bladder
Saddle Bag: Wildcat Tiger Harness with Seal Line 8L Dry Bag Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig I typically put my sleeping system in my saddle bag, Everything in this bag is super light and compacts very well. I will not touch the saddle bag unless I need to grab some shut eye, or maybe when I need to throw my down jacket on during some chilly sections of downhill riding. Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig Handlebar Bag: Andrew the Maker BarBar Bag Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig If I have to rock a handlebar bag it’s going to be small. Especially for technical singletrack riding where you need to lift up on your bike a bunch. The bag is easy to access so I can pull out all my layers, and when I’m using those layers, the front load gets lighter. It’s a simple option for layers Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig
  • Pearl Izumi P.R.O. Barrier WxB glove
  • Pearl Izumi arm warmers
  • Gore knee warmers
  • Arm coolers
  • Buff
  • Vest
Top Tube Bag: Nuke Sunrise Titan This bad boy will carry food, and that’s all. Gas station food and more gas station food. Stem Bags: Bedrock Tapeats To-Go Bag and Wunderlust Rattlesnake Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig As far as the Bedrock bag is concerned, you will find all of my electronics in there, including everything connected to my dynamo system. As for the Wunderlust Rattlesnake, I will store an extra bottle or food, depends on the situation, it may even be empty. Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig-01420
  • K-Lite dynamo system with Sinewave Revolution USB charger
  • Anker 9000mAh battery and Micro USB charger
  • Exposure Diablo helmet lamp and associated charger
  • iPhone charger
  • Spare batteries AA for Etrex and AAA for Spot
  • Headphones and iPod Shuffle
  • Transparent replacement lenses
Backpack: Camelback Octane Lumbar Backpack Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig-01470 I’m using a rather unconventional backpack for my setup. I will be incorporating Mountainsmith Strapplets with my lumbar pack to carry my bike across the ditch. I went with a smaller pack because I really hate weight on my back, and If it is small I will not be urged to throw extra stuff back there. Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig-01420
  • 2L lumbar bladder
  • Mountainsmith Strapplets
  • Extra food
  • Chain lube and small rag
  • Toothbrush and paste
  • Headlamp for the canyon ditch
On Me These are a few Items that have really worked for me in the past and I will continue to use them for the Arizona Trail. Arizona Trail Bikepacking Rig-01429
  • Gore Bibs
  • Pearl Izumi base layer
  • Griggs Ortho jersey
  • Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch II
  • Swiftwick Socks
  • Pearl Izumi cycling cap
  • Rudy Project Sterling helmet
  • Rudy Project AGON sunglasses
  • Giro DND gloves
And that’s it. If you have any specific questions on why I choose these items, shoot me a line in the comments. Obviously all setups are different, but I feel like I have the majority of items you would not only need for a race, but for a casual tour. I did go with very light bikepacking bags itself in hopes to keep weight down, same with my sleeping gear. But really, weight is all relative once you get on the trail.

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  1. Yo Neil – what’s the red item in your tool kit photo? It’s on the right side of the photo, near the tape-cladded allen wrench.

    Nice job on the website, and good luck in the race!


  2. Can you post some info (and photos) on how you prep the bike for the carry across the ‘ditch’?

  3. Have you noticed a big difference between the carbon Spearfish and aluminum Spearfish. I have a Gen 1 SF but am wanting some increase lateral stiffness in the rear triangle.

    Have fun, Best safe, Go fast!

  4. @ Steve looks like valve core remover

    Neil- thoughts on bringing a shock pump on fs rig? or a tire/suspension combo pump?

    • Neil Beltchenko
      Neil Beltchenko

      Yep, it’s a tool to take out your valve core so you can add more No Tubes Sealant. I do bring a lezyne pump that can do both, super important.

      • Jeff Brooks

        I figured out that the #3 spoke wrench on my crank bros multi-tool works for removing valve cores. I love it when something has a dual purpose. Great Job crushing the 750 Neil! This was my first time on the 300 (2nd BP race) and all I can say is Wow! That is one tough mudder!


  5. Thanks for the Interesting write-up. I have no experience with this type of racing or the region, but I was curious how you manage without a change of clothes. I would have guessed that you must sweat a lot during the day, and that it really cools off at night. So you could get really cold, really fast while, say, trying to eat dinner in your bib shorts.
    Thanks and good luck in the race!

  6. Cheers Neil,
    Congrats, Awesome work.How did the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Launch II work out?

    • Neil Beltchenko
      Neil Beltchenko

      Really well, kinda suprised. I will continue to ride with them. Review should be ready in a month or so.

      • Glad to hear the Launch II shoes worked out. I used the Enduro IV and the tongue kept slipping down and to one side. I am now sitting here with bloody ankles because the top strap kept rubbing across the skin.

        • Neil Beltchenko
          Neil Beltchenko

          Exactly why I really like the Launch, and the Boa closure worked perfectly. I have nothing but good things to say about them at this point. Way to kick some butt, Jason!

  7. What is inner width of rims that you used? Thanks

  8. Stan Potter

    Neil – Well done on the win – Not sure if people realize how big of an effort the 750 really is!! Question: How do you manage to get any amount of quality sleep without some type of sleeping pad – especially at altitude. Surely you carried something?

    • Neil Beltchenko
      Neil Beltchenko

      Hey Stan, Not sure, but I just sleep well once I settle into the trail, no matter where or what I’m sleeping on. I tend to put down my down jacket or other layers I have if it is rough. In general, I tend not to carry a pad. That may change down the road. My first night of sleep was not very comfortable, but once I got fatigued as the week went one, I fell asleep quickly.

  9. Hi Neil. Wondering what mount you use/used for etrex? I have recently gone toshorter stem, and the basic Garmin mount I have used for years does not work. Need something which holds the GPS prouder up off the stem so I can slide unit in. Best, and thanks. bd

  10. Hi Neil- wondering what bracket you are using for etrex? Have always had mine on stem on a basic Garmin mount. Just went to a much shorter stem, and need a mount which will hold GPS up higher off stem to allow clearance to slide into clip. Whatever is on your rig here looks pretty good that way. Thanks. Best. bd

  11. Don Schwieters

    Neil, no rain gear for the AZT?

  12. Thanks for the write-up. How in the world did your Camelbak and the Strapettes carry your bike through the canyon! Mind blown.

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