This summer a few good friends spent nearly three self-supported weeks in rugged central Idaho on remote trails and back roads following Adventure Cycling’s new Idaho Hot Springs Route and all of its singletrack options. This is a long list of what I carried, and while everyone’s preferences will vary, hopefully you can learn a little from my haphazard style of packing. If you want to read about the route and trip itself you can find our trip report in four parts: Lost in Idaho — 1 of 4 — Idaho City to Smiley Creek Lodge Lost in Idaho — 2 of 4 — The White Clouds & Stanley Lost in Idaho — 3 of 4 — Journey North to Burgdorf Hot Springs Lost in Idaho — 4 of 4 — The Return South Through Eagle’s Nest Idaho hot springs It’s funny how a 3-week packlist is basically the same as a 3-day list. I vary my pack list for each trip depending on climate, speed, terrain, and downtime. What I’ve got here could be whittled down a lot more if you were to take out camera gear, liquor, and whimsical items. (ahem: slingshot) That being said, I managed to pack quite light and simple. Here’s what I schlepped all across Idaho’s rocky mountains for 17 days. I never weighed my loaded Krampus and haven’t loaded up my Carver Gnarvester yet either. No idea what my base pack weight is. No I don’t have a spreadsheet. Just remember you only need four things: clothing, food, water, shelter. You can add 15º to a 35º sleeping bag with thick socks, a down jacket, and a tarp. Find ways to use things in more than one way. Use the tarp as a warm cloak around the fire. Be smart about food purchases, which can add up to a big percentage of your pack weight. Repackage everything in smaller containers. Everything. Stop carrying so much water. Binge drink at streams, look at a map and only treat and carry what water you’ll need until the next source. Actually, plan to run out of water 30 minutes before the next source. Fluids will be your heaviest item after the bike. If you have a chance to eat a prepared meal, gorge yourself! id3 My sleep system for this trip was just a down bag, air pad, and chunk of tyvek to burrito myself in case of rain. I heard it doesn’t rain in Idaho (not true!) thus opted out of a tent. I had one wet yet thankfully warm night, but other than that didn’t mind sleeping under the stars one bit. My clothing was super minimal: a wool base layer, 1 chamois, 1 pair of shorts, 2 shirts, and a lightweight shell. Even though we were above 9,000′ a few times I wasn’t too worried about getting cold. The sun warmed things quickly and in the evenings and early mornings I’d wrap my down sleeping bag like a giant scarf underneath my shell. Works like a charm. The only things I never used were my wool gloves, headphones, extra bladder, mini tripod, and thankfully my bear spray. Water was everywhere on the route. I brought capacity for 6L but only used one of my 3L bladders. Our longest stretch without services was around 4 days. Not insurmountable by any means, but the energy-dense dry mixes I pre-made were perfect for packability. Even when they were available, services were extremely limited for most of the route. If you like burgers and chicken strips you’ll have some warm meal options. Ramen, Bear Creek Soup mixes, and Rice a Roni type meals pack down well and were available at most convenience stores & resorts. I relied on my dynamo hub for a lot of important things. It charged my iPhone which I used as a GPS in conjunction with the Gaia app. It’s a great combo with USGS map tiles downloaded for offline use and our routes preloaded in sections. My headlamp, camera batteries, and water purification system were all USB rechargeable as well. I’ve used this setup on several trips now and it’s pretty bombproof. Even if the dynamo fails I can survive without all that stuff as long as I have some paper maps to rely on. id1 I’ll let the lists and photos do most of the talking, but feel free to ask me any questions about my choices in the comments! Bike setup (full-write up)
  • Mostly stock Surly Krampus 29+
  • Alfine Dynamo front hub
  • Knards set up ghetto tubeless
  • Ergon grips
  • B&M Luxos light and USB charging system
  • Race Face 30t Narrow/Wide ring
  • VP platform pedals
  • KS Lev dropper post
  • Randi Jo Fab / Bunyan Velo Feedbag
  • DIY cowhide handlebar roll
  • Jun Co bear spray holster
  • Lifeproof iPhone case and mount
  • Revelate Framebag
  • Porcelain Rocket and Hunter Cycles Mr Fusion seatbag system
  • HMG Cuben Fiber SW 2400 Backpack
On me:
  • Wide brimmed straw hat — Essential to keep sun off
  • Limberlost cotton bandana — Many uses, keep it damp to lower body temp
  • Good quality lightweight cotton dress shirt — Full sun coverage, stays damp, and keeps me cool
  • Planet Bike cycling gloves with cotton mesh back — Natural fibers again, synthetics are my nemesis in hot climates
  • Short Jorts — For the ladies
  • Golden Cycle Saddlery Endo Customs bibs — For the boys
  • My dad’s handmade leather belt and Marbles knife — Definitely a weight penalty here, but both were passed down from my pops
  • Pockets: lighter and bottle caps
  • Icebreaker wool ankle socks
  • Five Ten Approach Shoes — Going with platform pedals allowed me to just carry one pair of footwear. These have a smooth Stealth rubber sole that meshes extremely well with the pedal pins and are way, way lighter than MTB specific shoes.
  Backpack:
  • HMG Southwest 2400 Cuben pack — I can’t rave enough about this pack. It’s much bigger than I need, but more comfortable and lighter than my Camelback. I mostly ride with a backpack to carry camera gear.
  • POC Helmet
  • Peak Designs Capture Camera Clip — Hands down my favorite piece of camera equipment
  • Empty 3L bladder
  • Nikon D7100
  • Tokina 12–24mm Wide Angle Lens Nikkor 35mm Prime Lens
  • Nikkor 55–200mm Zoom Lens
  • Pedco Ultra Pod II with Desmond Arca tripod head — Super neat tripod, but I never had the energy to setup any shots
  • Petzl Tikka 2 Core USB rechargeable headlamp
  • Portable USB Nikon battery charger and extra battery
  • Limberlost enameled camp mug
  • Handcarved wooden spoon
Idaho hot springs Diy Cowhide Handlebar Roll:
  • Tyvek tarp
  • Western Mountaineering HighLite 35º Sleeping Bag
  • Big Agnes Air Core
  • Icebreaker wool base layer
  • 2 pair wool socks
  • Merino Beanie
  • Wool gloves
  • Mavic Crossmax rain jacket
Idaho hot springs Idaho hot springs Handlebars:
  • iPhone in Lifeproof case and bar mount
  • Bear spray, custom handlebar holster
  • Bunyan Velo Feed Bag
  • Adventure Cycling Idaho Hot Springs Maps
  • Trail mix
  • Electrolyte pills
  • Caffeine pills
  • Ibuprofen
  • Tums Imodium
  • A beer if I’m lucky
  • Sunglasses
Idaho hot springs Revelate Framebag:
  • 3L Platypus water bladder
  • Tenkara fly rod
  • Tenkara fly & line tin
  • Toaks 1000mL Ti Pot
  • DIY Reflectix coozie
  • Trangia Alcohol stove with Clikstand
  • Snow Peak coffee dripper & filters
  • Misc energy bars and junk food — I like the Clif Builder’s Bars the best, protein is my friend
  • 2 29″ tubes with Stans — Regular 29″ tubes are much lighter than the 29+ tubes and work fine in an emergency
  • Crank Brothers Multitool
  • Tire lever
  • Patch kit
  • Spare bolts/washers
  • Zipties
  • Chain lube
  • Extra Stans — With nozzle to top off sealant without unseating tire
Idaho hot springs Idaho hot springs Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion Seatbag:
  • Micro paracord for hanging food
  • Alcohol fuel in bladder
  • 2oz bottles with cocktail bitters
  • Dried lemon peel
  • Bladders with DL Franklin vodka & Union Gin
  • Stumptown Hairbender coffee
  • Oatmeal for people who hate Oatmeal™
  • Miso dry mix
  • Cashew curry dry mix
  • Cheesy polenta dry mix
  • Handmade holly wood and leather slingshot
  • USB rechargeable SteriPEN Freedom — Lightweight, small, simple, and it works
  • First Aid & Misc Toiletries *This all fits in a tiny bag about the size of my hand.
  • Non-latex Gloves
  • Small sharpie
  • Gauze
  • Coban Wrap
  • Bandaids
  • Ibuprofen
  • Children’s Advil
  • Tums
  • Imodium
  • Benadryl
  • CPR shield
  • Iodine
  • Neosporin
  • Toothbrush, paste
  • Toilet paper
  • Needle, thread
  • Mini lighter
  • Gorilla tape
  • Micro cord
  • Chapstick
  • Chamois cream
  • Sunscreen
  • Rescue remedy ointment
And that’s a pretty exhaustive list. Of course it’s ever-evolving depending on each trip, I’ve got a new bike now and am planning on some winter camping bike trips which will be considerably different. Let us know what items you never forget to pack in the comments below!

15 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing, y’alls!

  2. Interesting what you did there with the seatpost to accomodate the dropper and the bag. Have not seen that before – great idea!!! Looking forward to reading the 4 part write up of the trip…

    Gary

  3. maggiemaecra

    How did you like the B&M Luxos light and USB charging system for bikepacking/MTB? I have this on my road bike and really like it. I was worried about it’s durability for MTB or bikepacking; however I am adding a SON dynamo to my MTB and am considering the for that bike. I love how the Luxos U has incorporated the AC/DC converter and cache battery. Your review of this system as used?

  4. Nice setup!
    Did not find anything about the saddle. Regular one with cowhide added or made like that?
    Also, why ibuprofen and children Advil? it’s the same just different dosage :/

    • Good questions! The child’s Advil comes in more convenient dosages for stopping a heart attack. I prefer “Vitamin I” for long hard days, and the child’s advil is for extreme emergencies.

      The saddle is just the generic Velo VL2155 that came on the Krampus that I re-covered with a scrap of stretched cowhide.

  5. Pingback: 3 Bikepacking Campfire Cocktails - Bikepackers Magazine

  6. Hey Gabe: I rode my Kona Sutra during two Oregon Outbacks — with drop bars and Rock and Road 45s. Do you think that set-up would work for the Idaho Hot Springs loop, or should I be moving toward a hardtail that accommodates 2.2? Thanks — for everything. ric

  7. Are your 4 part blogs still available somewhere? The links are broken

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