Sandra was bikepacking to visit her grandparents. In early May, she rode from Wolfratshausen to the Uckermark, about 900 kilometers in 5 days on her bike. She rode against the wind for hours while the rain poured down on her. She stayed overnight in 2 shelters, with a friend in Leipzig and with family members.
Read about what she had packed, how she stored her luggage on her small bike and her conclusions about all of this in this article.
Bikepacking bags for my small bike
With a body height of 1.60m I belong to the rather smaller people. Accordingly, my bike is also small and bikepacking bags quickly come to their limits. The distance between the saddle and rear wheel is small, so that many bags drag on the tire. A plus point of my bike are the 27.5″ or 650B wheels, so the space for the saddlebag is slightly larger than on a bike with a 28″ wheelset. The next point is that the space in the frame triangle is limited, often a decision must be made: Either water bottles or a frame bag. My handlebar is 38cm wide, there is not much space to fit a bag between the drop bars. I have found a setup that fits quite well for me but high-priced. This consists of:
- Seatpack about 11 liters – Custom from Gramm Tourpacking
- Frame bag – Custom from Gramm Tourpacking (matched to the frame and the space my bottles need).
- Top tube bag – Custom from Gramm Tourpacking
- Dry bag on handlebars from Restrap, attached with voile straps and a DeWidget strap deck
- Small lightweight backpack from Decathlon
Without the food I was carrying, my bags- without a backpack – would have been sufficient. But with all the food just not. I wore the backpack during the whole tour. The reason was that I wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible on the road, so I had that much food with me. And also because Saturday was a holiday and therefore the supermarkets were closed. In the small backpack I stowed mainly my change of clothes for cycling. I changed to rain gear and back again several times a day. It was very convenient not to always have to open a bag for it but only the backpack. In addition, I also had some of my food on my back.
The packing list in detail
My sleeping setup
On my bikepacking tour I planned to sleep in shelters. First, because that way my luggage would be lighter and second, because I don't own a tent or a tarp. My sleeping setup is new to me in its composition. I wanted to achieve a flexible setup that would allow me to sleep comfortably in both summer and temperatures down to about 0°C. I tried a combination of summer sleeping bag, down pants and insulation jacket for this purpose.
- Summer sleeping bag (Yeti - now Nordisk - Fever Zero)
- sleeping pad (Thermarest NeoAir X-Lite Women)
- Down pants (Cumulus)
- Insulation jacket (Patagonia Micro Puff with hood)
What else I wore during the night
- Beanie (Rvmble)
- Leggings (see clothing on the bike)
- Merino sports bra (see clothing on the bike)
- Merino longsleeve (see clothing on the bike)
- Thick merino hiking socks
My conclusion: I love the combination of summer sleeping bag, insulation jacket and down pants. After a few tests, I think it works perfectly for me for temperatures down to about 0°C. What really excites me about it is that I crawl out of the sleeping bag and I’m not immediately cold! This is worth its weight in gold both in the evening and in the morning, when I do not lie down directly after arriving at the sleeping place in the sleeping bag. A small upgrade would further perfect my setup: Down slippers to keep feet warm during cold nights.
The only drawback for me is the down in my sleeping bag and pants, mainly for ethical reasons. However, due to the limited volume in my bags, a synthetic material was out of the question.
Packing list: Clothing
Clothes on the bike
On Friday, I started my tour at 19°C. After a good 30 kilometers it started to rain and it got colder. And it stayed cold and wet for the rest of my trip.
This is what I wore on the bike all day:
- 1 sports bra (Icebreaker)
- 1 merino baselayer (Rapha)
- 1 pair of merino socks (DeFeet)
- 1 pair of bib shorts (Velocio Womens Luxe Bib shorts)
- 1 cycling jersey (Biehler)
- Vest (Cafe du Cycliste Audax Jaqueline for women)
- 1 pair of thin gloves (100%)
This was added as needed:
- Arm warmers (Biehler)
- 1 long sleeve merino baselayer (Bergans)
- 1 leggings (7mesh Hollyburn Tight) – I wore the pants day and night from saturday on, it was just cold
- Rain jacket (Velocio Women’s Ultralight Rain Jacket)
- Rain shorts (Vaude Drop Shorts)
- 1 pair of waterproof socks (SealSkinz with Hydrostop) – I exchanged them for the normal cycling socks when I needed them (actually from nightfall on Friday)
- Helmet (Specialzied S-Works Prevail II)
- Bike cap
- Sunglasses (Evil Eye)
- Shoes (Fizik Terra Powerstrap X4)
Conclusion: The waterproof socks were not tight, and my feet therefore got wet and repeatedly ice cold. Exactly for this reason every now and then I was thinking about to stop, and to continue the journey by train. Maybe long rain trousers, which reach up to over the socks would have helped. But I actually like the short rain pants. Usually I sweat fast, so the shorts are perfect because they keep the chamois dry but it still doesn’t get too warm. Maybe next time I’ll try overshoes, hopefully they’ll keep a little more warmth in the shoes even when the feet are wet.
Clothes off the bike
- 3 underpants
- 1 pair of socks
A sweater, I knew, I could get from my grandma - she still has several self-knitted sweaters in her closet, one of them should pass into my property in Berlin - so I was warmer and my grandma was happy!
Hygiene during my bike packing trip
- Sunscreen (I would not have needed at all)
- 3 x compressed toilet paper in tab form (Portawipes) for washing, wiping ass, …
- 1 cloth handkerchief for pee breaks (so that the bib stays cleaner and drier and I don’t have to carry toilet paper/tissues with me and then use them to take them to the nearest trash can)
- ½ bamboo toothbrush
- Toothbrush tabs
Packing list: Stove, pot and food
Like I already mentioned, my goal was to be as independent as possible and to have as few contacts as possible. Therefore, I took enough food with me that it should be sufficient for me from Wolfratshausen all the way to Leipzig. I started my tour on a Friday evening, Saturday was a holiday and the supermarkets were closed, supermarket on Sunday doesn’t work either of course. So my other option would have been only food from gas stations. All I needed for my meals was hot water.
My cooking packing list included the following utensils
- Self-made spirit stove from 2 beverage cans
- Titanium potf
- Knife (Opinel)
- Spoon (Sea to Summit)
For Friday evening I had prepared couscous. This I had refined with spices, nuts, dry sunflower mince and dried tomatoes. I put the mixture in the cup, added boiling water, stirred in some peanut butter and waited a few minutes. Then the meal is ready too.
For breakfast on Saturday, I had pancakes with me and spread peanut butter on them. I had a cup of hot water to go with them. Hot water when it”s cold outside drinks better than cold.
On the bike and during the breaks on Saturday I had
- boiled potatoes with salt and pesto
- Nut-fruit mix with cocoa nibs
- Sour vegan gummy snacks
- a coffee at a gas station
- Oreo cookies
That evening, I was not alone anymore, we had Mie noodles. I had already mixed them with spices etc. at home, too. Again, all I had to do was pour hot water on it and wait a few minutes. With peanut butter, the whole thing becomes creamy and immediately gives even more energy. In anticipation that perhaps a friend would come to the hut, so that we can cycle together to Leipzig on Sunday, I had a double portion of it. Together, we ate the noodles and my companion had some Manner waffles with him – and Piccolo champagne bottles, because we had not seen each other for a loooong time.
For breakfast we had French rolls, also brought by him, plus the last pancakes and even coffee today.
If the meeting had been cancelled, there would have been a second portion of noodles for me for Sunday breakfast.
During the trip we had the same snacks as the day before: potatoes, nuts, dried fruit, wine gums. Also, chips at a snack bar. I guess that’s where Marie left her influence – you can’t drive past a chip shop. Thanks for that, I was very cold after the break :).
Packing list: Tools & Repair
For me, every ride includes tools and a few spare parts. So of course I had a few things with me on my bikepacking tour to be prepared in case of a breakdown.
- Multitool with chain riveter
- 1 tire lever
- Mini pump (Specialized Air Tool Flex Pump)
- derailleur hanger
- 1 chain lock
- 2 spare tubes (Tubolito)
- Repair kit (Tubolito)
- chain wax SquirtLube 15mll
Fortunately, I did not need any of this apart from the chain wax. The rain has done quite a bit of damage to the chain. As long as it was wet the chain didn’t squeak, in the hours without rain it started to get louder and louder and move more sluggishly. When it was as dry as possible I stopped and applied wax, after that everything felt much better again, although it was not optimal. Because actually the wax needs to dry a bit before continuing.
I didn’t have much with me in case of an accident. Not even a rescue blanket. I figured if something happened that I would need a space blanket for, I might as well take the sleeping bag.
What I did have with me were a few painkillers, because I’ve been plagued by severe headaches a lot in the last few months.
But: I didn’t need a single one of them!
Packing list: Other
- Woho Saddle Bag Stabilizer to take 2 extra water bottles with me
- 2 FidLock bottles
- 2 Rene Herse bottles from Dailybreadcycles
- Wahoo Elemnt Bolt
- Cell phone
- Charging cable (I charged via my light system on the bike)
- Bluetooth headphones for an extra portion of motivation in between (used 2 times)
- 2 tea lights and 1 glass as a windbreak (my headlamp was not where it belonged and in a pinch I unceremoniously packed a glass with 2 tea lights, one for each evening in a shelter.
- Cable tie combination lock (Hiplok Z-Lok Combo).
- 2 Teelichter und 1 Glas als Windschutz (meine Stirnlampe war nicht da, wo sie hingehörte und in der Not packte ich mir kurzerhand ein Glas mit 2 Teelichtern, eins für jeden Abend in einer Schutzhütte, ein.
- Kabelbinder-Zahlenschloss (Hiplok Z-Lok Combo)
Short summary about the Saddle Bag Stabilizer: My opinion of the Saddle Bag Stabilizer is ambivalent. On one hand, it was great to be able to carry two extra bottles of water like this. So I could use 2 bottles of water for my food and drink in the evening and morning and still had enough water for the first hours on the bike. However, the installation of the saddlebag was much more difficult and far from optimal. Again and again the bag touched the rear wheel. Without the Saddle Bag Stabilizer I did not have this problem. I think I have to figure out how to combine both, saddle bag stabilizer and seatbag in a better way.