by Kerry Werner
The hardest thing about packing was walking the line between bringing too much and not enough cold weather clothing and food stores. We wanted to be ready for unexpected weather up high above tree line, but we didn’t want to haul around extra clothes we’d never wear. I also wanted to have plenty of food because, like my beagle Sherman, I am highly food motivated. That said, food takes up a good bit of room and is kind of heavy. Below is all my gear set out.
When it comes to choosing clothing, I nailed it and I’m so glad, given the variety of weather we saw.
All of the mentioned products are made by 7Mesh Inc. They are a sponsor of the Kona Team I ride for, but I honestly would have bought this gear specifically for the trip if they weren’t.
The wore MK3 cargo bibs, which are a new model that includes 5 pockets – two “cargo” pockets on the sides of the legs and 3 rear pockets similar to a traditional cycling jersey. They were perfect for stashing food which was especially key for re-upping at supply points.
I wore a baggy wool top for the sake of comfort so I didn’t have jersey pockets and also wore a camelback so the pockets in the bibs were key.
I packed wool tops (ashlu merino wool and desperado merino henley), specifically for their quick dry and anti-stink components. Unlike synthetic materials bacteria doesn’t grow well on the organic fibers of the wool while I’m sure I was eventually pretty stinky the situation was far improved. I also used my very favorite piece, the Compound shirt. It has an abrasion resistant chest and shoulder fabric, which also works as wind stopper, but still regulates body temp and moves moisture. That sort of versatility was key on this trip.
For outerwear I packed a light-weight rain jacket, the Guardian. It’s not their lightest weight but its fairly packable and has a hood, which came in handy as it fit over my helmet and kept me warm and dry up at 13k. I also packed the free flow jacket – my favorite outerwear. It has Polartec Alpha insulation on the arms and the chest, where you need it, but not entirely, so you don’t overheat as easily.
All of these articles of clothing packed up really small and I kept them in a dry bag so the jackets and long sleeves were still warm and dry at the end of the day. With these layers I was never really cold, even when the freezing rain came down at 13.3k.
I also brought along my Giro mid-weight gloves (good for 40-50ºF), a Giro beanie, light wool socks, and heavy woolie boolie DeFeet socks. In our resupply I had a fresh chamois, jersey, socks, and MTB Lizardskins gloves.
I recently got the new Giro Manifest spherical helmet with MIPS integrated into the helmet shell. I used Julbo Rush Re-Active lenses for the whole trail, which transition from light to dark depending on light conditions.
The right clothing is such a key point to a fun and successful trip and this stuff did the job perfectly.
For food I packed dehydrated meals from Mountain House and Backpacker’s Pantry. I packed one dinner per night and a chocolate cheese cake (an additional yummy 600 calories). For breakfast I had a mix of dehydrated food and oatmeal to mix it up. Russell just brought oatmeal for the whole trip, which is the weight conscious way to go but not so satisfactory on the pallet side. For food other than breakfast and dinner we relied on a mix of Clif Bars and gas station snacks. Whenever we would swing through town we would load up on twin snakes, gummy bears, and Russell was big on Paydays.
We tried to disperse our gear out among the crew to reduce redundancies. Russell carried our tent and poles and I carried the rain fly (we shared). Each of us carried a Big Agnes sleeping pad and we used our clothes and stuff-sacks for pillows. I carried the Jet Boil. He carried the fuel. On day 4 we rolled into Mount Princeton Hot Springs, where we sent a care package that had 4 days of food and aforementioned gear/clothes. This we would need to get to Silverton as the stretch between Mount Princeton and Silverton sees no civilization and Sargent’s Mesa will try to bury you 6 feet under.
I had a small parts cache that I am pretty proud of: Spare cleats, shift cable, zip ties, quick links, extra valve cores, tire lever, CO2, brake pads, multi tool, tire plug/refills, we each had 2 tubes, (Lucky for us no one had any tire or mechanical problems. Probably the most awesome part of the whole experience.) and a handful of ski straps
I was pumped to get vlog footage and take photos. I packed two GoPro’s but dropped one at Mount Princeton. I had a 128G SD card that I was able to get all the footage on as well as 8 batteries to power (I stole some of Russell’s). I had my Sony a6000 with 16mm prime lens, 35mm prime, and 50-100 zoom lens. I decided not to bring the solar tablet, which is pictured in the gear list, because I didn’t think it was necessary. I did bring a portable charger, which was handy (I recommend buying a good one with ample amp/hrs that way you only need one charger for bike computer, phone, and other batteries).
My bike setup was similar to other setups I had run. I used a combo of Blackburn bar and frame bag with a Pro Discover set bag. Russell has a Camelbak contact so we tried out some new packs. The key for packing the bikes is to put most of the weight in the frame and bar bag (mostly frame bag). There is a lot of leverage on the seat bag so you don’t want that swinging around a ton. I wasn’t able to fit my water bladder in my frame bag but the other guys did and that was the way to go. It will save your ass/back some aches down the road/trail. We used Sawyer inline filters in conjunction with our bladders to save time filtering water. This way we could just dip our bladders in a stream or whatever and be on our way. Just be careful when filling the bladders at a soda fountain to not hit the lemonade button behind the water. Russell and I slipped and think that slowed our filters down.
Be sure to reset your shock and forks air pressure based on sag after you are all loaded up. This will lead to a much more pleasant ride experience.
The only components I changed to account for a more rugged trail is my tires. I had an Astral Serpentine wheelset, which proved to be completely bombproof out there. I would often hear rocks get flipped up into the spokes and cringe, only to find everything was fine and the wheels stayed completely true thought out the trip. I did put 2.35 Maxxis Reckon Race 60 TPI tires on to prevent flats. Other than that everything was the same that I would use for an XC race. Kona Hei Hei CR DL Large frame (120mm), Fox 34 120mm fork, XTR M9100 32 chain ring, 51/10 cassette, XTR pedals, Pro Tharsis components, Fox Transfer 150mm dropper post, WTB Silverado saddle, Lizard skins lock on grips, k-edge chain guide and steer tube Wahoo mount.
The only thing I would have changed is having a bar bag that wasn’t quite so floppy. The Blackburn one I used is meant more for road and gravel. It worked just fine but was very bouncy in the rough stuff. One of their bags designed for trails would have helped. I also wish I could have put my bladder in my frame bag but it wouldn’t fit, and I sure was glad I had the warm clothes and food. Overall, this pack list worked very well.