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Ultra compact touring (vs ultra light)

Old 04-08-21, 03:57 PM
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Ultra compact touring (vs ultra light)

What lessons have you learned regarding compact touring? Most conversations focus on ultralight, but nothing really wrt ultra compact.

As an example - what's the most compact stove+fuel arrangement? (I've committed to Esbit, probably repackaged, but frankly haven't had the time to actually figure this out).

What about cookware? When touring with my wife, we use a silicone collapsible set. When solo, nested Snowpeak mugs (smaller insulated, largest plain)

As another example - quilt vs bag. Intuitively a no brainer (quilt). Turns out that Zpacks solo quilt is a mere 14g lighter than their bag. Compressed, that would be... 3ml?
---

This is in the context of fully self supported, weeks-long solo trip where I want everything to fit inside 2 front rollers + food and probably tent tied to the rear rack.

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Old 04-08-21, 11:09 PM
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Weight and volume are tightly bound factors, both important if you're trying to get everything to fit in soft bikepacking luggage... I have a quilt and bivy setup (Enlightened Equip. + OR Helium) that WITH the sleeping pad, all fits into the stuff sack for my light down sleeping bag. I carry the whole sleeping system (actually in a waterproof 13L rolltop drybag) on a harness between the hoods on my drop bars. It is also, coincidentally, much lighter than a tent and full bag But fitting in that spot on the bars was my primary concern

Volume was important in my cookset too, a 650mL ti pot holds a small canister stove, 4oz fuel canister, green scrubby, mini lighter, foil windscreen, instant coffee, bandanna and a bit of room to spare, and the pot inside a plastic bowl that fits just so

"Downgraded" from an extremely warm down jacket to merely a warm down jacket, because it was overkill and didn't pack down as well as I needed

Regular socks take up a surprising amount of space, thin wool running socks are great and tiny

Wool anything replaces multiple other pieces of clothes (assuming you're packing for reasonable intervals between laundry stops) because they last longer before getting stinky

Some bike-specific stuff is annoyingly bulky. Spare tires (one 16-day tour I lost two tires to routine but unrepairable damage...) often come packaged very densely - get rid of the packaging but rubber-band or zip-tie them to stay tightly wrapped. I'm always looking for spare tubes that come shinkwrapped so they stay compact and protected without a cardboard box. I wish someone would sell sealant concentrate (now that I'm mainly tubeless), just add water and inject
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Old 04-09-21, 07:51 AM
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Backpacking and canoeing I have generally gone with self inflating sleeping pads like Thermarest, shorty versions. But they do not fit well in a pannier, bike touring or kayaking I use air mattress that is more compact although it may weight more. My favorite air mattress is no longer made so I won't cite the brand and model, but there are lots of choices out there.

My most compact sleeping bag that is warm down to freezing temps is over 10 years old, a model no longer made. I also use a sleeping bag liner, it is nice to have on very warm evenings when a sleeping bag is too warm. And maybe an inflatable pillow. Bag is down, mummy style. I pack that with a thin stocking cap and down vest inside a compression sack that is rated for waterproofness. That gets packed in an Ortlieb, that is one thing where redundancy in waterproofness is not a bad idea. I do not recall the size I use, it is one of these.
https://www.granitegear.com/event-si...n-drysack.html

If you yank on a cord to compress the compression sack, you might tear a cord out. I put my stuff in the sack, then sit on it to compress it, then use the cords to take up the slack. That is just as effective a way to compress it, or maybe even more effective than just yanking on the cords. And sitting on it is much less likely to damage the compression system.

Tent weight and tent packed volume are nearly directly proportional. So, light tent will be a compact tent. Some people use a compression sack for these, but I find no problem in getting a tent packed down to very small size by folding and rolling it. Velcro strap around the tent to keep it rolled up.

My kitchen, below, excluding the fuel cannisters. (Yes, I read you are doing Esbit tablets, I am describing mine.)



From upper left to right, stove, some aluminum foil in a baggie, the white thing is a pasta strainer, measuring cut nests inside a titanium single wall mug that can also function as a tiny pot, bowl (green) nests inside large pot, the bottle inside that bowl is my instant coffee and that nests inside the insulated mug.

Lower left to right, a cheese wire slicer, silicone spatula, the white thing is a spatula that I think I will leave out in the future, folding fork and spoon, above the fork and spoon is an antique can opener, sheathed paring knife, cork screw, small windscreen (aluminum, folding, on top of the black storage bag, below that is a pot lifter, wooden spoon, on top of a coffee can plastic lid that is my cutting board, large titanium pot, upside down in ziplock bag is a fry pan, and lower right is the insulated mug that nests with my instant coffee bottle.

Not shown, some trips I bring the bottom two thirds of a plastic gallon jug to use as a bucket for hauling water, doing laundry, etc. Thin cord for a handle to hang it from. A bit over 2 liters in volume.

Not shown, bandana for hot pad.

Some of these things I am sure you would not bring, I suspect you have no need for a cork screw or cutting board, but that is part of my kit.

I do not have water treatment or filter stuff shown here, depending on where I go I bring something for that too.

I pack my tent with some other things that can get wet because my tent usually is damp in the morning. If you are packing a tent and stuff that has to stay dry in the same bag, think about how you will keep the moisture where you want it. When I am doing four panniers, the tent, sandals, some other stuff that can get wet are packed in the front right pannier. Air mattress goes iwith the tent, as the air mattress dries fast when wet.

I have never brought a folding chair on a bike trip, but I usually go where there are picnic tables. But I have seen some bikers carry them. I sometimes bring a piece of closed cell foam for a sit pad.

If you might do camp laundry, some light cord, roughly 8 to 10 meters and perhaps some clothespins may come in handy. But for only a week I suspect you will not bother with laundry in the campsite.

That is what comes to mind. I might add to this later.
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Old 04-09-21, 08:01 AM
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Not much. Did pick up a down bag and compression sack which greatly reduced volume. Also picked up the Sea to Summit collapsible bowl and cup to replace my "static" ones. They take up much less space and are easier to pack. Reduced the amount of off-bike clothes by a couple of items and picked up a pair of Xero Sole sandals that pack down pretty flat, even at size 12. I like to cook "fancy," so I have no interest things like miniature stoves and cookware. Been using the MSR Blacklite set (minus the frying pan) since I first got my own cook set back in 2000. The two pots nest, and a lot of my other cooking "supplies" (e.g., spices, can opener, cork screw, pot gripper, fit inside. I usually take one trip out west every year where the weather can be extreme, at least at altitude, so there needs to be volume for cold/wet/snow gear. (Had my 2020 trip in MT and ID not been cancelled I would have run into a blizzard.) And at 6' 2' with a broad frame, my apparel, bag and mattress are going to need more capacity than those of someone a foot shorter.

While it's nice to be able to now stow my bag in one of my panniers rather than on the outside, I have never really considered reducing volume for the sake of reducing volume. Then again, even for my first tour, which was nearly 4 months, I have never been one of those people who makes use of every cubic inch of my panniers.
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Old 04-09-21, 08:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
My kitchen, below, excluding the fuel cannisters. (Yes, I read you are doing Esbit tablets, I am describing mine.)


.
Last September, after the first day of my cross-PA tour, I managed to drop my Navy can opener into a gap between the floor boards of an Adirondack shelter at a campground on, amusingly, the GAP. What were the odds? The grocery store only had one of those mini openers shown in your photo. I could not for the life of me figure out how to use it. Fortunately, someone at the camping area had a full-size one I could borrow. Finally picked up a new one a few days later.

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Old 04-09-21, 08:15 AM
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Several interesting observations.

Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
I have a quilt and bivy setup (Enlightened Equip. + OR Helium)
Would you have links? Curious wrt bivy. Although my tent (Zpack's Duplex) is very light and small and is not critical -- it sits on the rear rack; but perhaps a bivy might change my mind.)

Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
Volume was important in my cookset too, a 650mL ti pot holds a small canister stove, 4oz fuel canister, green scrubby, mini lighter, foil windscreen, instant coffee, bandanna and a bit of room to spare, [... snip ...]
My kit is somewhat similar. Will post a bit later on this.

Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
Regular socks take up a surprising amount of space, thin wool running socks are great and tiny
Very true. I tend to ride barefoot in sandals. I am trying ultralight capilene socks. Pack very small and dry fast.

I no longer wear 100% merino on tour (still like it at home, though). Current favorite is a merino/capilene blend. Very comfortable, easy to wash in the evening (it'll be dry in the morning). Packs very small as well.

Originally Posted by fourfa View Post
Some bike-specific stuff is annoyingly bulky. Spare tires (one 16-day tour I lost two tires to routine but unrepairable damage...) often come packaged very densely - get rid of the packaging but rubber-band or zip-tie them to stay tightly wrapped. I'm always looking for spare tubes that come shinkwrapped so they stay compact and protected without a cardboard box. I wish someone would sell sealant concentrate (now that I'm mainly tubeless), just add water and inject
This is perhaps the most annoying dilemma. Damaging a tire beyond repair happened to me once (on a trailer, in a city....). I was trying to forget how annoying this would be on a deserted forest road, hundreds of kms from the nearest post office/spare tire. I dread the idea of carrying a spare. Thanks for reminding me that perhaps, I should :/
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Old 04-09-21, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
My kitchen, below, excluding the fuel cannisters.
Interesting kit. Will go over it in detail and see what I can learn from this. (I do carry a corkscrew -- I am civilised after all -- in a Swiss Army knife variant, which also has a can opener ). Two questions for now : (1) which Snowpeak mug is this? (300ml?); (2) in your experience, what do you gain from your folding wind screen? (I am ambivalent -- the Esbit folding stove gives some amount of protection, but two sides are open -- I assume that a flat rock would be enough if wind is a real problem; but maybe a shield increases performance to such an extent that fuel savings largely compensate for the cost (purchasing and carrying) such a contraption. Was looking at calderas but can resolve myself to carry one)

[One thing I like with Esbit is that you know how much fuel is left and can better manage your supply. Something like 16g/day is enough for me (oatmeal + coffee in the morning; boiled gastronomy in the evening). Travelling with my wife, we prefer canisters (faster boil time). But you have to carry a spare, waste fuel and/or live on the edge.]

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Old 04-09-21, 09:09 AM
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Iím into ultra-compact. Iím more of a motorcyclist, but I use a folding bike rig for touring more densely populated areas where it has the advantage in terms of parking, theft security, multimodal transport, and wild/stealth camping. <30L is my standard self-supported pack volume with camp gear, clothing/gadgets, and consumables each representing ~third of the volume. My gravel bike set-up is a 8L frame bag and 20L/10lb drybag backpack strapped to a rear rack.

For me, the trick is Ďultra-taskingí gear to cover as many functions as possible.... so many little things that add up. With todayís UL gear and gadgetry, Iím as comfortable as Iíve ever been with double-wall tent, chair, shower, bar, fan, sauna, evening movies, solar, indoor kitchen/toilet etc. Lots neat options open up if you can get small enough.
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Old 04-09-21, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post
Lots neat options open up if you can get small enough.
Great kit.

Two questions: (1) Six Moon is an interesting option -- does it really work well? (Zpacks makes a poncho+ground sheet. Perhaps a better idea since I'd need a mesh tent under the Poncho+tarp combo... -- what's your take on this?); (2) and now for the really idiotic question: Why a Nalgene bottle? I plan on a bladder to supplement 2 bidons. Is there something I miss wrt to the Nalgene? (ex: you use it instead of a bidon?)

Oh! and a third -- what do you use as windscreen?

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Old 04-09-21, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Would you have links? Curious wrt bivy. Although my tent (Zpack's Duplex) is very light and small and is not critical -- it sits on the rear rack; but perhaps a bivy might change my mind.)
https://enlightenedequipment.com/enigma-stock/ (I probably went overboard with customizations, but it was nice to get a long length / regular width in fabric weight / colors / waterproofing of my choice)
https://www.outdoorresearch.com/us/helium-bivy-269292 (I'm a longtime bivy user, wore out an OR Advanced Bivy, replaced under warranty with an Alpine, got the Helium for less weight and size when appropriate. Not for mountaineering or sleeping on scree.)

Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
This is perhaps the most annoying dilemma. Damaging a tire beyond repair happened to me once (on a trailer, in a city....). I was trying to forget how annoying this would be on a deserted forest road, hundreds of kms from the nearest post office/spare tire. I dread the idea of carrying a spare. Thanks for reminding me that perhaps, I should :/
Yeah. I will say though, as much as I'm a fan of fast low CRR tires, racy tubeless stuff for recreational riding - on tour, I haven't had a problem with a tubed Schwalbe Marathon Supreme that I couldn't fix. Including a screw in the sidewall and out the tread that took a boot just fine. It was a pair of Gatorskins that fell apart on me.
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Old 04-09-21, 10:44 AM
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Tires, my spare tire if I carry one is lightweight and intended to be good enough to get me to a bike shop, not a heavy replacement.

A couple years ago I picked up another spare tire at a swap meet, someone had a very lightweight folding 700c cycloross tire, small knobs, 33mm width for a cheap price. While the knobs would not be ideal for pavement, it is only 290 grams and that is ideal. When I am touring on 700c, I usually do not carry a spare because I likely am close to bike shops. Most of the times I carry a spare are on a 26 inch bike as I am more likely to use a bike with those wheels if I am more remote and far from bike shops. Then I have a 430 gram spare in 26 inch, which is about two thirds of the weight of one of the tires that are on the bike.

Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
...Two questions for now : (1) which Snowpeak mug is this? (300ml?); (2) in your experience, what do you gain from your folding wind screen?...
The mug in the lower right corner of the photo in the previous post is Snowpeak 450ml. The other mug (single wall, red handles) is Evernew 400 ml, that nests outside my 450 mug.

That windscreen sits pretty low and I only use it if it is pretty windy. In less wind I am more likely to use a pannier or something like that as a windscreen.

In the photo, using a pannier and an Ortlieb Rack Pack as wind breaks. Heating water in the 400 ml mug to have a cup of tea in my 450mm (insulated) mug.



That smaller windscreen only gets used when I need more wind protection than my other stuff provides.

I also bought the lid (optional) for the 450ml mug, photo below. The plastic on the handles on the 400 ml Evernew mug is very close to the flame on the stove, I have to be extremely careful to avoid burning that.



A lot of this stuff that nests is trial and error. The plastic bottle for my instant coffee, I have had that bottle for over 40 years, was quite lucky to find it nests perfectly in the Snow Peak mug. And that mug fits in the wider and flatter Evernew mug.

My Evernew titanium cooking pot, the bowl is MSR and nests perfectly inside, the fry pan was $6 USD at Ikea and I had to drill the rivets out, but that fry pan nests perfectly in the MSR bowl. The ziplock over the fry pan is to protect the non-stick coating.
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Old 04-09-21, 12:20 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Great kit.

Two questions: (1) Six Moon is an interesting option -- does it really work well? (Zpacks makes a poncho+ground sheet. Perhaps a better idea since I'd need a mesh tent under the Poncho+tarp combo... -- what's your take on this?); (2) and now for the really idiotic question: Why a Nalgene bottle? I plan on a bladder to supplement 2 bidons. Is there something I miss wrt to the Nalgene? (ex: you use it instead of a bidon?)

Oh! and a third -- what do you use as windscreen?
For me itís awesome, but you need to be <6ft. Mid shelterís inner/outer tent modularity is big advantage - I generally just use the fly and polycryo ground sheet while awake for more room, open doors, leave shoes on, indoor kitchen, etc. and then set-up the solo inner nettent for sleeping. Fly w/open door and skylight (headhole) is ~80% effective flying bug deterrent taking advantage of bugís own instincts to avoid enclosed/trapped spaces, and then to seek height and light for escape. However, still need the inner nettent in heavy/aggressive bug pressure, @ 5í8Ē I still have enough room to change clothes and watch movies while sitting in my ground chair. I also ultra-task the fly for EDC as a bothy bag, palmer furnace, and puffy jacket.

I trust Nalgene and Gatorade bottles to be leakproof since that bottle gets stored inside my bag with quilt/clothes. Gatorade is lighter, but the Nalgene is better as a hot water bottle to sleep with. Otherwise, I use Sawyer/Evernew bladders for drinking, you can see one in the seat bag.

Windscreen is a DIY 4-layer tinfoil job... itís visible in the two middle-left pix.
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Old 04-09-21, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN View Post
The mug in the lower right corner of the photo in the previous post is Snowpeak 450ml.
I have the same + 300ml, both stored inside an MSR Titan kettle. OK but perfectible. (1) 450 is a bit small for a meal. And (2) the kettle is lower than the 460ml. I've order a 600ml insulated mug from AliExpress, that looks like a SnowPeak copycat (ie., the 450 should fit inside. And the 700ml Snowpeak single wall kettle to replace the MSR. Difficult to tell for sure, but there is a non zero probability that all three would be (nicely) stackable.
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Old 04-09-21, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for the feedback on sleep systems.

Being impulsive, I've almost ordered an OR Helium bivy (reviews are extremely positive). But as I must also try to be reasonable, I'll probably try a dry run and see how things fit in my panniers before pulling the trigger. And there is this thing about rain (a certainty for this summer) which might make me regret this decision. (OTOH -- what a nice piece of equipment )
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Old 04-09-21, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by reppans View Post

Windscreen is a DIY 4-layer tinfoil job... itís visible in the two middle-left pix.
Nice job -- I've Googled a bit in the meantime. A couple of threads suggesting aluminium pan liners. Made me think that an aluminium foil pie plate (comes free with a pie ) might do.
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Old 04-09-21, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
A couple of threads suggesting aluminium pan liners. Made me think that an aluminium foil pie plate (comes free with a pie ) might do.
I saw aliexpress up there... I got similar stuff (Toaks brand) though on amazon. 650mL pot is just enough for my favorite jumbo curry ramen soup (which is double the size and calories of basic top ramen), and big enough for almost any can of whatever at the grocery. So there's an FYI

I got greedy and got a ti foil windscreen too. Damned thing is razor sharp and a constant hazard to fingers. Stick with the pie plate.
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Old 04-09-21, 04:30 PM
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I went through this exercise in the course of hiking the Triple Crown trails. Eventually I get everything to fit in the smallest, lightest backpacks. When I started bike touring again after that, everything easily fit in two panniers.

First came clothing bulk reduction, mainly the puffy layer. On three-season trips, I stopped carrying one. Second came the cook kit, with the same solution--I stopped carrying one. Those were no cost, easy options. The down quilt cost a little more, but it's the best gear investment I've ever made. I don't really carry any extra clothes. I can wear all my clothing at the same time as part of a coordinated layering system. That means a little time most days stopping to wash, then wear them dry.

A single wall tent (Tarptent Protrail) greatly reduced bulk from the behemoth I used to carry on bike trips.

Bike tools and spares are the heaviest items, but I don't worry about their bulk so much. The spare tube, patch kit, pump and multitool are always on the bike anyway.
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Old 04-09-21, 06:32 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
- what's the most compact stove+fuel arrangement? (I've committed to Esbit, probably repackaged, but frankly haven't had the time to actually figure this out).
Expedition Research titanium.
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Old 04-09-21, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Second came the cook kit, with the same solution--I stopped carrying one.
I'd like to read from you about this. You eat nuts and fruits? You cold soak? You eat in restaurants? I can certainly appreciate the weight/space savings. Not clear how it works out.
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Old 04-09-21, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
I'd like to read from you about this. You eat nuts and fruits? You cold soak? You eat in restaurants? I can certainly appreciate the weight/space savings. Not clear how it works out.
Here's a recent thread on the topic. It comes up fairly often.

https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/1...ve-cooked.html
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Old 04-09-21, 11:42 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
Here's a recent thread on the topic. It comes up fairly often.

https://www.bikeforums.net/touring/1...ve-cooked.html
Yes yes, followed that thread. Yet there's a difference between what can I eat that doesn't require a stove, and, I want to tour without a stove.

I can't imagine going stoveless on an extended trip. Weekend, sure. Week long, perhaps. Summer long, I wouldn't try.

So, perhaps, two questions. (1) do you use a stove/range/micro wave when at home or do you mostly eat food at room temperature? (2) is it something that you decide and do in one fell swoop, or a slow and progressive change?

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Old 04-10-21, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Yes yes, followed that thread. Yet there's a difference between what can I eat that doesn't require a stove, and, I want to tour without a stove.

I can't imagine going stoveless on an extended trip. Weekend, sure. Week long, perhaps. Summer long, I wouldn't try.

So, perhaps, two questions. (1) do you use a stove/range/micro wave when at home or do you mostly eat food at room temperature? (2) is it something that you decide and do in one fell swoop, or a slow and progressive change?

​​​​​
Good questions. I definitely cook at home. Stoveless travel is just a tool in the toolbox. For example, I've had to travel a bit by car during COVID, and being able to eat easily in motel rooms has been a good skill to have. I'm having a muesli breakfast in a La Quinta Inn in Santa Fe NM as I write this. I don't miss the old hot motel breakfasts at all.

It was a gradual process, forged in the crucible of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail one summer. I met an experienced hiker who became a mentor and she traveled stoveless. I mailed my stove ahead a few weeks and tried her diet. but I didn't like it. I carried the stove again for a month, got tired of what I was cooking (warm salty glop) and especially got tired of cleaning up, so I massaged the diet a little and it worked better. By the end of the 5 month trip I had it working well, and never carried a stove again. A bonus was realizing I needed to carry less water for desert hiking, and I came to prefer dry camps. Another bonus was not having to resupply with fuel in trail towns, one less chore. The next time I needed to buy a pack, I got the smallest, lightest one I could find and really liked that.
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Old 04-11-21, 09:06 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
Thanks for the feedback on sleep systems.

Being impulsive, I've almost ordered an OR Helium bivy (reviews are extremely positive). But as I must also try to be reasonable, I'll probably try a dry run and see how things fit in my panniers before pulling the trigger. And there is this thing about rain (a certainty for this summer) which might make me regret this decision. (OTOH -- what a nice piece of equipment )
A little late to the discussion but I highly recommend the Borah Bivy. I use that along with a Zpacks Cuben fiber tarptent. The tarp made a huge difference in volume and weight.
Wool over poly
Tarp over tent
quilt over mummy
down over poly
Can't live without my coffee so I bring a Soto Windaster, one can go smaller but it is fast and easy.

Edit: Whiskey over beer (titanium flask)
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Old 04-11-21, 10:44 AM
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Fitting everything in two front rollers plus tent on rack doesn't require much of anything special. I managed that kind of volume before I was even packing what I really consider ultralight without making any special effort at going compact. I think I hit that kind of volume around the time my base weight hit 22 pounds or so. I am about half that base weight these days.

I find that I can manage less volume that that these days without specifically trying to reduce volume for volumes sake. I do use a Borah side zip bivy (or sometimes a bug bivy) and a light tarp and my sleeping bag packs about softball sized. Clothing is carefully selected and it all packs in small stuff sacks where if compresses a good bit. My cooking/eating kit is varied with the trip, but they are all pretty compact.
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Old 04-11-21, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by balto charlie View Post
...
Edit: Whiskey over beer (titanium flask)
Yup, dehydrated to save weight.
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