The art of packing ultralight

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by smackyface, Oct 8, 2021.

  1. smackyface

    smackyface Boldly going wherever Supporter

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    Since The art of packing light has strayed so far from the light (har har), I figured I’d start a thread for those of us who will abandon all common sense and comfort to shave pounds off our gear. Please check your coolers and camp chairs at the door.

    This isn’t “Look at me I’m down to a single 85L duffle bag!” It’s “I think I could still hold what’s left of my toothbrush if I drilled another hole right here…” We're talking striving for a total weight of camping gear + tools + luggage of <= 25 pounds (not counting carried water). Staying in motels isn't ultralight you dorks, this is about being self-sufficient in remote areas.

    I’ll start: my biggest weight savings has been giving up cooking on the trail completely. I hit grocery stores when available for hard to find stuff like dried fruit and fresh veggies, but otherwise it’s trail mix and beef jerky from gas stations.

    I don’t carry a water filter. I carry a couple of Potable Aqua tablets for emergencies, but I do enough miles every day to gas up twice and just refill my water out of the soda fountain.

    Hygiene: small container of floss, travel toothpaste, travel toothbrush, travel deodorant, hand sanitizer for hands and foot funk, 2 shower wipes per day. If I’m doing hotels, I skip the shower wipes and hand sanitizer.

    No chair. Lean on the front wheel. If it’s muddy, I throw down my tent footprint. Usually I don’t really hang out long at camp though. My favorite part of riding is riding. I travel solo a lot so I ride until I’m tired, sleep, and pack up and go.

    I’m considering ditching my camp shoes, even though they’re pretty light weight. They take up space and I wear them for less than an hour a day. In the desert, ultralight footwear doesn’t really work, and I’m not 100% sold on putting on my MX boots to pee in the middle of the night, but I’m slowly convincing myself…

    What are your tips and what have you been willing to do without?
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  2. motokeith

    motokeith Long timer

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    If anyone even so much as mentions extra underwear then you know this thread has gone off topic :-)
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  3. Dracula

    Dracula On a Timer Supporter

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  4. smackyface

    smackyface Boldly going wherever Supporter

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    Booooooooo:dunno

    95D59199-678A-4BA9-AC8F-412EC3297024.jpeg

    My entire setup probably weighs less than the rack your hard cases are mounted on (30lb)
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  5. Cabrito

    Cabrito On the mend Supporter

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    Looks good, but I'm not sure 30lbs really qualifies as "Ultra" I like to weigh the contents, and often end up with around 25-35lbs, but wouldn't call that ultra light.
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  6. Dracula

    Dracula On a Timer Supporter

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    :lol3 :thumb
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  7. Lee R

    Lee R Man in a Box

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    Are we measuring this trip in MPG or Miles of Stench?

    I mean you could go most places with ONLY one pair of underwear and a credit card.

    That would probably set the high bar for the epic trips thread, Round the world on one pair!
    #7
  8. smackyface

    smackyface Boldly going wherever Supporter

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    Yep, agreed. I aspire to improve :ricky For what it's worth that 30lbs includes the luggage itself, and it's mounted on a very light soft rack I made myself of only two 7'-ish long pieces of 1" webbing. This is also my 4-season setup that includes an extra bag liner. I'm comfortable camping down into the 30s with this gear.

    Currently thinking through dropping some tool weight, clothes, and camp shoes, and replacing some of my heavier stuff sacks with lighter ones. I've put a lot of thought into reducing the weight of my shelter, bag, and pad, but I'm at a point where every pound saved there costs over $100, and it's hard to justify when I have reasonably good stuff already. Leaving stuff at home is free, so I'm starting there.

    Would love to see the details of your setup if you have time to post!
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  9. miks

    miks Been here awhile

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    I appreciate the intent of this thread. But without some metric of what “ultralight” in ADV is I suspect it’s only a matter of time before this devolves into another thread where people think camping chairs, portable fire pits, and solar shower bags are light because “light is relative and this is lighter than what those dudes on Long Way Round packed…” and other such nonsense.

    “Ultralight” in backpacking has a generally accepted definition as meaning a base weight (i.e. weight of all your gear minus consumables like food, water, cook fuel, etc) of *less than 10 pounds*. So, if the OP really wants this thread to be about an equivalent ADV base weight then there should be some quantitative standard. I would propose an ADV base weight of <=25lb. This is basically ultralight camping plus extra for tools, spare parts and tire stuff, med kit, moto-specific bags, etc. Maybe 25lbs isn’t realistic, but then again 10lbs when backpacking is crazy light and people still achieve it (some even go “hyper light” which is less than ultralight). Myself, I think I’m in the 30-35lb range.

    For a specific gear suggestion I’ll make one with respect to the classic gratuitous weighty gear: chairs. An actual chair IMHO is never “ultralight” or even “light.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable. Behold the Thermarest Z-seat. This folding foam pad converts any rock, log, or piece of ground into a semi-comfortable “chair”. Weight is only 2oz. It can also double as a handy changing mat, fan flames of a fire, double as a pillow or extend a sleeping pad, and gives you a dry seat in the rain. It’s only slightly larger than a Nalgene bottle, and they’re so useful and valuable that many ultralight backpackers pack them on multi-month thru hikes. Cheap, too.

    So, what’s the ADV ultralight standard?

    https://www.thermarest.com/seating/seats/z-seat/z-seat.html
    #9
  10. redrock88

    redrock88 Been here awhile

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    A little camelback, a lightweight water filter, lightweigt stove (must have hot coffee in AM), some lightweight run shoes for a morning ridgeline walk, and a relatively restful night at around 13000' elev. Years of bikepacking/backpacking gear comes in handy on the moto.


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    #10
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  11. Jan from Finland

    Jan from Finland Long timer

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    That is the key to ultra light travel. :jkam It solves almost all issues; food, hygiene, chair, bed...
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  12. smackyface

    smackyface Boldly going wherever Supporter

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    I think you're right, and I know for a fact that 25lbs is attainable. This is my own short-term goal. As I mentioned, I'm at 30 with some luxuries and spare tools I could live without. I think 25lbs probably represents a realistic number where you're still carrying enough tools to be self-sustaining and safe, and just doing without luxuries. I'll add a note to the top post.
    #12
  13. sharpie1

    sharpie1 Long timer Supporter

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    You could lose 100LBS by getting a lighter bike.
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  14. smackyface

    smackyface Boldly going wherever Supporter

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    I've been thinking a lot about shelter lately. I'm currently using a Naturehike Star River 2 freestanding tent, which supposedly weighs around 5 pounds - light but definitely not ultralight. Ultralight backpacking tents can get down to < 2 pounds, so there's a ton of potential savings there, but they almost all require trekking poles. Rigging up a set of collapsible carbon fiber poles should be easy enough, but there are tradeoffs with setup time, site selection, durability, etc. Anyone have experience with trekking pole tents? Are they worth it?

    Another option is a bivy sack like the Outdoor Research Helium. It's relatively inexpensive ($180), extremely light at 16.8oz, and packs down to 3.5" x 12.5". I could cut 4 pounds off my total weight right here! Also crazy fast to set up and supposedly warmer than a tent (which could be good or bad depending on season). The major downsides seem to be condensation and questionable waterproofing in serious rain. A lot of people recommend pitching a tarp over it, which basically negates the weight/size benefits compared to a 1 person tent. I keep reading that in some weather conditions, you're just going to be damp, and that's pretty rough.

    A double-wall trekking pole tent maybe be better, like the Lanshan 1. 24.3oz, and packs to 4.7" x 12". Needs to be staked out, and would need a separate set of poles, which adds a couple oz. Seems to negate a lot of the downsides of a bivy or single wall tent, but without the super-quick setup time.

    With all of the smaller shelters, I wonder where my gear would go. Fire ants are everywhere here, and they're aggressive. Cowboy camping isn't an option, and neither are shelters without a floor. Thinking maybe boots go in one kitchen-size garbage bag, helmet in another, and pants/jacket in a larger outdoor garbage bag... gear won't air out or dry out overnight, but hey, whatever.
    #14
  15. MATTY

    MATTY BORDER RAIDER

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    Best way to lose weight is to lose gear or weight off you or the bike.
    If something is not there it weighs nothing, its choosing what you need and what you don't need that's the key. And every trip can be different, a trip in the height of a summer dry spell can warrant a lot less gear than a cold trip in mid October to the same place.
    Rider! Well loose weight if you can or want/ need too. Take clothing you need that is comparable with your trip requirements and expected weather conditions no more.
    Bike!. This might or might not be one the remit of this thread, dependant on your take on ultralight and what it means to you. But again if you are shedding weight then, if its not there it can not weigh anything, decide what you must have on the bike if you are in the market for stripping, tyres component / parts all can be removed modified or replaced with lighter options pick and select any tools and parts you might chose to carry with weight in mind. . I love the bike weight reduction game, have done it on many bikes over the years, and i genuinely feel its worthwhile. Many threads on bik weight reduction on this board and others, this thread i have long felt very interesting, and there are others too.
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-dr350-and-i-go-on-a-diet.1262182/

    Now the most directly relative to this topic. Gear!. Again its take the minimum obviously, and if i can get away with a fly sheet rather than a tent i will, i know there are tents at a price near as light as a fly sheet but a sheet folds up fits under the seat and had no frame tubes just use the bike para cord and a few pegs. One item of gear i nearly always Cary is a sheepskin, these strap on the seat make the seat comfy and good on your backside over distance, can sit on it lay on it partially cover yourself up in it if it gets cold at night.
    Any storage luggage on you or the bike, avoid heavy complex racks, or any kind of hard cases, they are heavier than soft bags and remain big and inflexible even when empty.
    The rear fender flat racks are lighter than big tubular/ box section racks or frames. But i use where possible any grab handles or the unused passenger saddle space, and my favourite place for carrying luggage the tank.
    I use an oxford tank bag and british army patrol pack and gortex cover for trips on a Kawasaki bobber which has no rack or anywhere to fasten any saddle bags.
    Cooking gear can be a lighter use kindling and wood, or a small stove, i use a radius stove its small simple and i have had it over 40 years not looking for anything else.
    I carry a alloy saucepan and lid, inside i fit a small dome kettle, and shortened to fit wooden spatula, and knife fork and spoon i wrap in a clean flannel. .
    I use a Aloy Flask lid cup as a drinking cup, light and has no handle but insulated and more practical than the tin mug i used for years.
    Water? i carry a British army water bottle but use two if i am not near clean water overnight, if i need more i use 2 l itre drinks bottles, i can dispose of them responsibly when empty.
    Food ! brown rice is your friend and i carry corned beef, i like it its in a handy tin its ok on its own or with rice or pastas. But best to carry minimum food just buy food as and when required if possible.
    Sleeping ! I use a British army Bivi bag cover and a timberline Bag for warmer weather, in colder weather use the same bivi bag cover and a relum eiderdown bag its heavy but in the cold its the only thing i trust to keep me warm. Just use the gortex cover you got to keep them dry, a wet duck down is bad news and you wont be drying it overnight in winter in the uk.
    its all relative to weather conditions climate and the degree of comfort you need or are prepared to accept.
    #15
  16. david61

    david61 Queue, a word with 4 silent letters....

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    Thankfully, US "cottage industry" makes some brilliant stuff for backpacking, with of course translates nicely to bikes. Pity about current exchange rates.

    Depending on conditions, shelter/quilt/pad and cookware under 2 kilos is pretty easy, and very compact too. Then the fun begins when you start trying to pare down every single gram you can, let people think you're a nutjob [ while you help them pick up their fallen bike for the 10th time that day ].

    I'm now trying to lose the [ single ] tent pole I use. Strong line from peg on ground, up the bars on the bars on the bike then to a suitable tree, tent has a loop on top. Line weighs about 30gms.

    If my morning or evening routine takes a little longer than others so be it, 10 minutes spent at either end of a day is nothing compared to riding around with a heavy pig of a bike for an entire day......
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  17. Sunaj

    Sunaj Been here awhile

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    Ok, I’ll bite. Even though I will keep my chair.

    Talking metrics for this topic, I would like to suggest some base requirements for the ultra light goal:
    - shelter, so no hotels
    - tools, so no phone calls for road side assistance
    - spare parts
    - first aid

    It’s just too damn easy to mention a creditcard and go on a total boring tarmac and civilization focussed trip.
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  18. Sunaj

    Sunaj Been here awhile

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    My next weight saving to do is the front fender bag that is around 270 grams. Looking to make a new bag that holds two tubes with a small zipper and a single webbing to keep it in place with voile straps. Bag and voile straps should stay well below 50 grams, saving 220 grams.

    Inspiration is from the mosko moto guys:
    IMG_5689.jpg

    But I think I’m going to mount it on the fork like my tow strap. Believe that will fit.
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    #18
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  19. Hobbomock

    Hobbomock I's wide open

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    Loose some weight, you FFF's!

    :lol3


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    #19
  20. Mumbles24

    Mumbles24 Been here awhile Supporter

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    My spare dual.sport tubes are in vacuum seal bags and strapped under my fenders. No issues for about 2000 miles of pavement and gravel.
    #20
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