This week I’m joined by Rob and Lyle on the Rapha Pennine Rally. It’s 5 days from Edinburgh to Manchester, off road with 517km distance and 8000m of elevation.
Why a rally? We’re not racing, we’re taking it all in. Getting this amazing opportunity to explore the arguably the most beautiful parts of the UK. So I thought, why not soak it in and go in style? Welcome to my packing list!
A couple of people have asked what I’m taking but before I dive in, here’s a bit of background. I went to military school as a teen and did a lot of mandatory bivvying, I’ve done a lot of multi-day backpacking, kayak and raft trips. Camping is what I do to enjoy the outdoors and it’s how I feel most comfortable. When I moved to London it took a bit of a back seat and I didn’t go as much. Cue a love of cycling mixed with this and suddenly I was back at it again, this time on the bike.
What’s the difference for me? Space. When I’m backpacking I’ve got a rucksack and everything is shoved in. When I’m on my bike I find smaller items more portable so tend to use modular systems for a more compact weight distribution throughout the bike. Utilising all the space on the bike equally makes the ride change slightly less and also means if one bag gets wet then not everything is a write off.
In the past I’ve tried everything. Maps, compasses (I still carry a compass), phones and other computers. On long trips you either need lots of maps or your computer dies. However, this year I got a wahoo roam. This really does what it says on the tin and I couldn’t be more pleased with its bikepacking capability. No cap.
This one is short and sweet. Sea to Summit wash, towel, sudocrem, toothbrush and toothpaste and a cat-hole trowel with some toilet roll. I always carry dog poo bags to dispose of my TP at the nearest place as animals tend to dig it up and it’s pretty gross!
I’ve packed my Big Agnes HV UL 2 bikepacking tent as my main shelter. It’s light and designed to fit on my bars. A perfect size for 2 small people or for one person and their stuff, if you’re not counting every gram it’s definitely worth getting a 2 person tent. But I’ve also got a lightweight summer bivvy (MSR E-bivy) to spend an especially nice night under the stars. This may seem like a luxury to pack but definitely worth it for a beautiful sunrise over Bowes.
I hate to admit it, but I’m that person who has a winter mat and a summer one. I can’t recommend enough the Thermarest Neoair Uberlite which packs down to the size of a soda can for summer. Light and comfortable. To pair with this I’ve got a sea to summit airlite pillow, despite being a bit of a glamping item I find the headache of not propping your head up comfortably isn’t worth the weight.
And lastly, I’ve got the sea to summit FM1 and FM0 to use together or apart. This means pretty much every base is covered and I can split the two up keeping space for other things. The thing I find the worst is getting cold and not being able to escape it.
I’ve got a wood burning, alcohol and solid fuel stove. Gas stoves definitely work faster but on a multi day trip the chances of running out of gas go up and up. I also find it a little wasteful when I throw out a gas canister just to boil some water.
For water I’ve got a metal Klean Kanteen on the downtube so it can’t be split. Then a nalgene and a hydrapak in my food pouch for sipping on the go. My MSR Trail shot filter might seem excessive, but on a long trip in summer headaches and fatigue from dehydration can quickly ruin something for the want of a pear sized filter. To carry this all to the campsite I’ve got a 4L packdown bladder – the MSR Dromlite.
To eat with I’ve got my titanium spork and a sturdy enamel mug. To drink I’ve got a titanium mug and of course my GSI coffee filter for the morning (or midday!) cup of Joe.
Even though I’m running tubeless, anything can happen. My panaracer Gravel kings and amazing to ride on but the sharp rocks can sometimes lead you astray. So I always carry 2 spare tubes, a spare tyre (if it’s a longer trip), valves, a Dynaplug and a puncture repair kit. Ive got a great crank bros multitool with a chain tool integrated onto it. Something I’ve recently acquired is my SKS Super Short which is a high volume off road pump, it’s incredible for bikepacking as it’s small, lightweight but packs a big volume so doesn’t make pumping your tubeless tyres up a nightmare. Add in the quick link, some extra links, thru axle and brake pads, bolts, hanger, tyre levers and a gear cable and I’m ready to go.
For general maintenance I’ll always have a leather man knife. This particular version (the Signal) is specifically made for camping with lots of nifty features including a tent peg hammer, flint and a saw. I also carry some gear aid and duct tape for my tent and gear.
I’ve got my rapha cargo bibs and explore t shirts! Bikepacking is an art of distributing weight well. Anything on your body adds up and can make the saddle uncomfortable quite quickly so I tend to avoid riding with a rucksack or jerseys full of things.
Some trusty Giro Manta Lace shoes are my go to. Laces are perfect for bikepacking because they’re easily replaced if things go wrong.
One thing I love on a bikepacking trip is a cap. It keeps the sweat out of your eyes and on a really hot day, pop some water on it and it’s a cooling system!
I always carry a first aid kit, survival tin and emergency Bivvy. It seems a bit extreme to have these but the main use I’ve ever found for them is if something goes wrong with your kit it’s always done me we’ll go have spare bits and bobs to reply on in an emergency.
I carry my hiplok extendable lock for a very good reason. At night I connect my frame to my guy-ropes with this. If anyone tries to take my bike it’ll shake the tent and wake me up without them seeing a clunky lock. It also works wonders outside a cafe!
If you’ve got this far I’m sure I’ve forgotten something but thank you for reading! I can’t wait to get onto the trip itself, but I need to ride it first ⚡️