Bike Camping Basics With Swift Industries: 1/2
By Swift Industries, Seattle, WA: The best way to hit recharge is to get outta dodge for a weekend of bike camping. With a little planning and some simple gear tips, we’ll get you primed for the kind of adventuring that gets you back to the simple life and soaking up the open road. Here are a few bike camping basics to help your next trip roll smoothly.
#1 State of Mind
Curiosity is ingredient numero uno to grabbing life by the horns and trying a new way to wander! Are you searching for the highest road in the North Cascades? Ever wondered if you could skinny dip a different river every day for a week on end? Piqued by making pizza over the hot coals of a camp-fire? Us too.
There are folks who wonder their entire lives, and the folks who are hellbent on turning curiosity into discovering what the world is made of. We’re thinking you’re in the second camp.
#2 Essential Gear
A bicycle with gears and a rack to carry panniers is the first essential tool to getting started with bike touring. Riding loaded with camp supplies will turn your bike from a mustang to a burro so having gears on a bike can make the climbs a little easier to conquer. Pop panniers filled with provisions on your rear rack to let your bicycle do the heavy lifting.
Your nomadic home should include shelter (a tent, tarp, bivy or hammock), a mat, and a sleeping bag. If you’re shopping around for a bag, we’re head over heels for down because it’s highly compressible and hella cozy–but beware–down and rain are not compatible so keep your stuff in dry-bags to avoid a long and soggy night. If you’re travelling with a multi-person tent and a bunch of buddies, you can spread the love and split up the footprint, body, and rainfly among friends.
The roving kitchen should be small and packable. Our kit includes:
- Cutting board out of food grade plastic
- Sharp knife
- Spice kit (small containers of salt, pepper, cumin, chili, etc)
- Plastic squeeze bottle of cooking oil
- 1L pot and pan
- Backpacking stove and fuel
- Coffee kit
- Mug for both eating and drinking
The art of packing is mastered over time, and we’re eager to share what we’ve learned. Packing with evenly distributed weight between your two panniers is the first thing to practice. Over a hundred miles in the course of a weekend, it takes lots of muscle strength to steer an unbalanced bicycle.
If your bags look like a lumpy sack of potatoes, dump ‘em out and start again. Use the soft stuff like socks, leggings and puffy to fill in the area around hard goods like mortar. Filling a cook-pot with socks and a fuel cannister will utilize the dead space. A tent can be attached to the top of the rear rack to leave space inside the touring bags for weather-sensitive provisions. A little mindfulness goes a long way: put sensitive gear like down sleeping bags and electronics in seam-sealed bags. There’s nothing like crawling into a warm, dry bed if the weather’s gone to shit.
Last but not least, shrink everything! Think as efficiently as possible about space. Maybe the sun-screen can be put into a smaller tube, and there’s no need to take the whole salt shaker if you can put a little seasoning in film-canister sized containers. This is prime time to get really OCD about how you pack.
Check out our selection of Swift Industries gear before heading out on your next bike camping trip, and stay tuned to the blog next week for Bike Camping Basics Part 2.