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How heavy is what you carry? Did I overdo it?

Old 09-04-22, 07:59 AM
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cccorlew
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How heavy is what you carry? Did I overdo it?

I am sure there are threads about weight, but I'll be darned if I can find them.

My wife and I did our first self-contained trip on the C&O and GAP trails. As a road biker I was shocked how much my new touring bike weighed, and how much more it weighed loaded. It sure makes for slower going, especially off pavement.

I didn't weigh it before we left, but did when we got back.

My new Trek 520 Grando with a front and rear racks water bottle cages, full bottles pedals, spare tube and patch kit and a Garmin weighed 32 pounds,
Front and rear panniers and a front bag weighed 8 pounds. That's 40 pounds before I put anything on it. (A far cry from my 18 pound Roubaix.)

The stuff I carried weighed 60 pounds. That's clothes, sleeping bag, food, tent, JetBoil, personal items and such.The whole package ended up just under 100 pounds.

I know I'll cut a few pounds next trip. How much weight do YOU carry? What's a reasonable weight? I'm not interested in ultra light, and I'm not giving up the tent. I know some of you do this stuff almost naked and without food and enjoy it. But I'm looking for reasonable. Hints?

Note: I know I took too much recharging stuff (2.4 pounds) and I really didn't need my very light chair (1.2 pounds) so there's that...


My loaded Trek 520 Grando on the left, my wife's Salsa Vaya on right. Hiker Biker campground on the C&O
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Old 09-04-22, 08:05 AM
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You can always go to Post Office and Mail Extra Stuff Home. Try LESS Clothes. Wash Clothes when you shower.


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Old 09-04-22, 08:28 AM
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You'll figure out how to shed a few pounds here and there, but 100 lbs doesn't sound unreasonable. That's why you bought a 520.

I never weighed it but I'd bet I was easily 100 lbs on my Trek 720. One thing I learned after my first tour was to carry far less cooking stuff. I'd eat plenty of great meals at restaurants and diners along the way, but at the campground I made do with whatever I could heat up in the can beside the campfire, or cook in a piece of aluminum foil in the fire. No pots and pans and no stove and fuel, no food prep equipment at all. Just aluminum foil. If I couldn't make a fire then sardines and crackers for dinner was no problem at all. But that's just me - it depends on what's important to you.

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Old 09-04-22, 08:29 AM
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If you find you need to Replace something Broken, Walmart is good for getting stuff you may Need.
Target also.
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Old 09-04-22, 09:12 AM
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Now that you are back, go through your gear and put it in three groups:
1. Stuff you brought and used.
2. Stuff you brought, didn't use - and don't need to bring again.
3. Stuff you brought, didn't use - but there is a reason to still have in the kit - e.g. rain gear, when it didn't rain

It can be fun sorting between category #2 and #3, but I'll occasionally find I have more clothing than I needed. I probably still err on the side of bringing extra spares/parts though have been willing to put some in category #2.

With that done, then you can also think about things you might have brought but in a different type of trip might use a more lightweight alternative. For example -
1. A lot of trips I like taking my tent and it is a basic reliable shelter. However, I've also had trips where I anticipate sleeping inside most nights, but still want a backup for the occasional nights camping. On those sorts of trips, I've brought a light weight tube tent instead. It doesn't work well with mosquitoes or more extended times camping - but in more arid regions and for just an occasional night, it works fine for me.
2. I've learned over time that I get by perfectly well without a stove/cook gear. For others, that is definitely not the choice, but that works for me.
3. I err on the side of bringing more electronic toys, e.g. laptop, phone, kindle. Particularly on a shorter trip, I've figured out a better subset to take
4. I've toured enough to have something go wrong and hence a tendency to pack extra spares, a spare tire, two or three tubes, multiple patch kits, tools, etc. I still have enough recollections of something going wrong that I'll err that way - but on just a short trip or when I am going with others, I'll lighten up.

What is pictured doesn't seem out of the ordinary volume wise, but I suspect you can tune the load some based on experiences of what you used and didn't use and what you found useful. That by nature is going to vary by person.
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Old 09-04-22, 10:14 AM
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It's a little difficult to write exactly where you went overboard without a detailed packing list. I can say that you have six gear load points on your pictured and divided by your stated gear weight of 60 pounds. Simple math divided up it equals to 10 lbs per gear load point.
That seems really high to me. On my bike none of my gear load points bears 10 lbs. For starters, I really did like did like Mev's advice about putting your gear into four categories. I spent a lot of time researching tents. I always fly past Coleman tents in a flash, because the are the Sherman Tank of tents (heavy). For the longest time my without a thought/ go to front of the bike set up was the low-rider rack with panniers. My touring set-up recently lost four pounds by ditching my front low-rider rack for an over the front wheel rack. I made my own fork harnesses and put my tent body on one side and my sleeping pad/ pillow on the other. My sleeping bag goes on the front rack.
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Old 09-04-22, 10:22 AM
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Don't feel too bad, lol, it's a learning process. Accumulate, purge, accumulate, purge, rinse & repeat. 😁

I haven't actually weighed mine, but I wouldn't be shocked at all, if I found out I'm at 100 lbs., bike & gear. Besides all my crap, varying amounts of food & liquids, backpack, & tools, I keep finding cool stuff. Most recently, a small pair of vice-grips, like new, a Garmin lcd screen, and a nice dry-bag backpack. 😎

You just have to be firm with yourself, about not accumulating, at least not as much as I do. 😁

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Old 09-04-22, 11:39 AM
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I've been trying for decades to get my rig under 100 pounds. Just can't seem to get in a hurry.
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Old 09-04-22, 11:57 AM
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I'm one of the confirmed UL gram weenies, so I won't bore you with details. My first bike tours were 100+ pounds with bike. The camping was fun, but the cycling was not. Eventually I decided I wanted to enjoy the cycling more so I started learning how. UL hiker forums and gear makers can help.

As mentioned already, spare clothing is a big one. A tip--you should be able to wear all the clothing you pack at once, as part of a coordinated layering system.

Another tip--managing consumables. Don't carry an extra day's worth of food "just in case." You won't die if you miss a meal. Just carry the water you need plus a reasonable cushion depending on weather. A liter water bottle is heavier than any other single item in my load, so I consider carefully whether I need it, and will sometimes dump it early if guaranteed water is just over the next climb.

So decide if you want to go on a cycling trip or a camping trip, and pack accordingly.
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Old 09-04-22, 05:22 PM
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I carry something like 19kg (40#) including 2 front Ortlieb panniers (I no longer need back panniers).

As others have said, reducing the weight is an iterative process (i.e. figure out what you didn't use and isn't in the "emergency" category). I am probably at the "don't be anorexic" stage. (i.e. where the downside of shedding more weight comes at the price of safety/comfort).

One way to reduce weight is to purchase highly technical gear (ex: DCF tents), but at some point, the cost of saving a few grams becomes prohibitive. Being able to fit everything inside front panniers (with the exception of tent and food that I lash to the rear rack) is enough for me.
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Old 09-05-22, 06:17 AM
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I(we) don't have the extensive touring history of many folks here, which is probably good in this case as we're closer to your "stage of development". Depending on the trip and time of year, a full camping & cooking gear-load ranges from 30-40# for my bike and about 25# for my girlfriend. We carry very little food other than some bailout supplies (oatmeal..) in case we get in a bind. Our gear is reasonably good in terms of weight, but not in the UL class. The tent is just shy of 4#, sleeping bags are between 2 & just under 3 lbs. We consciously take some things that aren't needed, but they increase our comfort or enjoyment (bluetooth speaker) or on one trip we took UL camp chairs (less than 2# each). On another trip we took an UL sil-nylon tarp. We do use about everything we take, except for tools and spares, fortunately. We're doing a credit card tour of the Katy in the near future. That really lightens the load..

Your bike with racks, bottles (full?), pedals... installed at 32lbs isn't out of line, at all. If the gear on your bike alone is 60lbs, and I assume your wife is carrying 25-30ish lbs, you're taking a serious bunch of stuff...particularly on the GAP/CO as there's pretty good support options the whole way. I can't imagine what I'd take on my bike that would sum to 60lbs. To get some good suggestions on how to lighten things up, you really need to post what you're taking along with weights. I'm guessing there's some low hanging fruit that could help reduce weight pretty quickly.

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Old 09-05-22, 07:18 AM
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I aim for under 40 pounds total. I've done multi-month loaded touring with over 100 pounds.

There is no right answer.

I prefer light.
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Old 09-05-22, 07:47 AM
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When I crossed the country in 2019, we stopped at Adventure Cycling world headquarters in Bozeman, Montana.
Visitors get a Polaroid Instamatic color photo taken at the front desk to add to their visiting cyclists wall but Dave, one of the guys I was riding with knew if you asked nicely, they'd take you out back for a quality BW photo shoot with the good camera.
You walk out back and they ask you to fill out a form describing where you're from, your route and anything notable about your journey. Along with that, is a question that asks you to guess how much your bike weighs with it's full load.
Then, just before they take your picture, they have you weigh it on their scale which is suspended from a beam above you, set high enough so that you have to heft the bike up to your chin to hang the bike's top tube on the hooks.
A shorter guy than me likely needs help to do this :-) but it's an effective way for you to appreciate how much weight you've been lugging across the country.

Mine weighed 86 LBs.

That following year that BW photo appeared in the ACA 2021 Calendar. Ha!
ACA Calendar June 2021 by Matthew Pendergast, on Flickr
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Old 09-05-22, 08:05 AM
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Different style

For overnight trips at campsites, my goal using a 20lb carbon road bike is 20-30lbs of added weight to the bike. This is with lightweight tent, instant freeze dried meals, tiny propane stove and sleeping bag. I have no idea what it would be for a longer tour like yours though. Seems like I would be inclined to take more food and clothes.

I am always surprised how heavy water and warm clothes can be so you might target those areas.
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Old 09-05-22, 08:10 AM
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You seem aggressively anti-ultralight, but I think it would do you some good to spend some time watching an ultralight forum or reading some books to understand the mentality and pick up some tips. It is definitely not the point to be uncomfortable or a martyr.

Sixty pounds is, IMO WAY too much! On the first trip I took everything fit in the equivalent of two book bags with tent, pad, and bag strapped to my rack and I did not feel tortured by need.

The basic philosophy of ultralight is to pack your needs (what you will actually use), not your fears (the things you *think* you might want someday, maybe), and to realize that you'll be spending more time sleeping for recovery than the recreating you think you will do (I packed a small paperback on that first trip and never opened it.). If I were to tour today (which I'm too old for) I would be able to shave more than ten pounds off that initial load by buying smart gear (lighter tent and sleeping bag, etc.), but I doubt I would take much more stuff (my phone and its accessories, mainly).

In the hiking community every stop has a "hiker's box" where people dump the stuff they brought and realize they were never going to use, because people do tend to over pack, and I suspect that there's a lot in your load that could be left behind that you would never miss, but without a list--others have asked for your packing list--I don't think you'll get much useful advice.

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Old 09-05-22, 09:54 AM
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My fully loaded bike with food and water accounts for 28 percent of my total. Or to put it another way, the bike and gear weigh slightly less than half my body weight.
But I don't care too much about weight, I bring the things I appreciate having with me and i use everything. Also, I always tour alone so there's no concern for speed or the ability to climb at any certain rate. Whats most important to me is that I can relax and enjoy my time on the bike. I love saddle time the most.

Also, though, since I've never toured with another person, I can only guess the weight savings for each because you can share the load of common items such as stove and cookware. Looking at your photo, I's say those are modestly sized set-ups. But you also can't tell weight from a photo. Bulk and weight are not the same.

Another rule of thumb I adopted from Darren Alff is that you should be able to pick your bike up over a guardrail or stone wall. There's wisdom in that I think.

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Old 09-05-22, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by cccorlew View Post
I am sure there are threads about weight, but I'll be darned if I can find them.

My wife and I did our first self-contained trip on the C&O and GAP trails. As a road biker I was shocked how much my new touring bike weighed, and how much more it weighed loaded. It sure makes for slower going, especially off pavement.

I didn't weigh it before we left, but did when we got back.

My new Trek 520 Grando with a front and rear racks water bottle cages, full bottles pedals, spare tube and patch kit and a Garmin weighed 32 pounds,
Front and rear panniers and a front bag weighed 8 pounds. That's 40 pounds before I put anything on it. (A far cry from my 18 pound Roubaix.)

The stuff I carried weighed 60 pounds. That's clothes, sleeping bag, food, tent, JetBoil, personal items and such.The whole package ended up just under 100 pounds.

I know I'll cut a few pounds next trip. How much weight do YOU carry? What's a reasonable weight? I'm not interested in ultra light, and I'm not giving up the tent. I know some of you do this stuff almost naked and without food and enjoy it. But I'm looking for reasonable. Hints?

Note: I know I took too much recharging stuff (2.4 pounds) and I really didn't need my very light chair (1.2 pounds) so there's that...


My loaded Trek 520 Grando on the left, my wife's Salsa Vaya on right. Hiker Biker campground on the C&O
Did I overdo it?

yes you did .... )
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Old 09-05-22, 01:43 PM
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Carry what you need to enjoy your outing and have fun. If you don't use something, don't bring next time. If you need a chair to plop down in the middle of nowhere to enjoy nature, your friend, whatever...good on you!. Instead of a chair, perhaps a small sit pad cut from an old camping pad. Keeps the butt dry in wet weather and softens any rock. With time, you'll come up with your own solutions for stuff that might shed weight...dual purpose is always good objective. Keep riding and have fun!

Edit: The GAP... one of the best rail-trails in North America

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Old 09-05-22, 03:00 PM
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The GAP" and the C&O are so well served that the lower limit of weight is probably on the order of 12.5gm, the weight of a credit card.
More seriously, CGOAB has tons (pun intended) of posts of gear lists.
Personally, I have a chair I take when I'll be doing dispersed camping, camp sites have picnic tables to sit at.
One place to gain/lose weights clothing, the more fastidious you are, the heavier your load will be, the grungier you can tolerate, the less you can take.
My Rock and Road weighs 34 pounds, my usual load (including tent, sbag, stove, cooking gear, etc.) is about 35-40 pounds, so they total about half what I weigh.
One thing I learned that saves weight is a Kindle instead of a book.
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Old 09-05-22, 04:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Pratt View Post
One thing I learned that saves weight is a Kindle instead of a book.
Yep, a huge amount of my weight is books. I just can't help it, but at least those are easy to purge, when I'm done with them. 😉

I just recently found an old book called "Birds of North America, A Guide To Field Identification", copyrighted in 1966. It's still very relevant today, and I really enjoy learning things about them. Especially when I keep seeing new-to-me birds. 😎

​​​​

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Old 09-05-22, 05:50 PM
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OP here
Great answers and help. I love the specific takes. THANKS so much.
Just in case you are following and care at all, I did a blog post with numbers.

We have a week in Cape Cod coming up and I plan to use my experiences and the advice I got here. I'm sure I can shave 10 without much effort. Maybe more.

Bonus notes: I carried a JetBoil and extra canister along with their French Press attachment and a pound of coffee. I'd be fine without it but I don't think my wife would come out of the tent unless I bring her the morning brew....Now I know i don't need can #2.

As for water, I was surprised how many pumps were non functional on the C&O. I understand the water is really bad even at the working pumps. We bought a filter but didn't end up using it. I ended up carrying too much water some days, but others we used it all.

I did carry too much food we didn't use. I even brought some home, Next time....

Good comment on chairs. There were picnic tables a plenty. We only used out 1.2 pound chairs once. My wife insists our time on them sitting by the river one evening justifies all the time we carried them. I'm not as sure, but it was nice.

Having comfy chairs to sit on my the river was kinda cool

THANKS TO ALL WHO OFFERED EXPERIENCE AND INSIGHTS
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Old 09-05-22, 06:03 PM
  #22  
indyfabz
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Might be helpful if you list weights for some gear, like bag, tent and mattress. Iím packing this evening for a cross-PA tour with camping and elaborate cooking. While I donít weigh my gear, Iím sure itís well below 60 lbs.
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Old 09-05-22, 06:21 PM
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I think it depends on how you like to travel. 60 pounds is a lot of weight for non-expedition cycle touring, but your 40 pound bike/rack/luggage setup is probably ideally suited to it. Plenty of people tour with half that net weight, but they also might ride a bike where carrying 60 pounds would be problematic. If you've got what it takes, enjoy it.

I came into cycle touring from a backpacking background. Backpacking, your body bears the weight. 60 pounds would be brutal for most people. A general rule of thumb for pack weight is 20% of body weight. A very fit backpacker can carry 25% of body weight. Some people strive to carry as little as possible, but when you go with a group (like with your wife or kids), you might end up carrying more than your own stuff. If everyone is fit, they can all carry 20-25% of their weight, but some people's 25% will be more than others. If some are less fit or have disabilities, then 25% might be too much. However, it's risky for a fit person to take on a lot more than 25% trying to help others. It can work for a few days, but if the terrain is rugged and the trip goes on for weeks, that kind of burden is disabling.

The reason I'm sharing this is because touring with your wife, you probably share the load and want to help her but also be fair and equitable to yourself rather than disabling yourself with excess load. The other reason for sharing this is that 60 pounds is 25% of 240 pounds. A very fit 240 pound man could lug that kind of weight through the mountains, but there are a lot more backpackers that take far less by necessity. If they can do it with less weight, you almost certainly could also.

I backpacked earlier this summer and my pack weight was just over 30 pounds (including the ~5 pound pack). I took on another 5 pounds of stuff from another person and an aging dog that needed to be relieved of some weight. That's more than I normally carry except when starting a long trip with a lot of consumable weight (food). So self-contained travel can be done with less weight.

Cycle-touring, I tend to go even lighter, but not self-contained. I carry some food but buy the rest. I buy water instead of filtering it. I've also yet to cycle tour with a shelter because it hasn't been needed. But I tend to fill up the bike with non-necessities like additional camera gear or art supplies or books, and with tools and spares I wouldn't take backpacking, so my cargo weight still ends up close to 25 or 30 pounds (including the bags).
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Old 09-05-22, 07:05 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Might be helpful if you list weights for some gear, like bag, tent and mattress. Iím packing this evening for a cross-PA tour with camping and elaborate cooking. While I donít weigh my gear, Iím sure itís well below 60 lbs.
Would that "elaborate cooking" include s'mores? 😁 Just goofin', obviously. 😉

It hit 114įF here in Sacramento today, a new record for Labor Day, but it's supposed to cool off to 113įF tomorrow, lol. I don't eat well when it's hot, but fruit sits well. I was getting tired of watermelon & grapes, so grabbed some nectarines & gigantic black plums today. 🥰

Just sayin', don't forget your fruits & veggies, folks. 😎
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Old 09-05-22, 07:32 PM
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Originally Posted by stardognine View Post
Would that "elaborate cooking" include s'mores? 😁 Just goofin', obviously. 😉
Naw. I donít like most chocolate. It has to be really sweet, like a Snickers bar. Iíve never eaten an entire chocolate chip cookie or piece of chocolate cake.
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