Bikepacking Gear: 9 New Toys for The Thick of Pisgah

A preview of a few new items I’ve assembled for an upcoming bikepacking trip through the Appalachians…

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Things wear out, break, become irrelevant, or just won’t work for an intended purpose. My clipless shoes are shot; my helmet is falling apart; my pack won’t fit my camera. It was time to upgrade a few core elements of my bikepacking kit for a 6 day western North Carolina Pisgah adventure. This one will be sans my better half, so I am lightening the load with a one-man tent, and a smaller 1L pot. I procured (and made) a few other things to help me lug a DSLR through the woods. Also, the Krampus will be set up with a rackless/cageless system for this enduro bikepacking romp-about. Here are some initial impressions/thoughts. More to come once I put this stuff through the wringer.

FiveTen Maltese Falcon Clipless Shoes

Bikepacking Shoes - Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Race - Clipless

My Lake clipless shoes have seen many years of mountain biking abuse including three PMBARs. They are coming apart at the seams, so I had to find another pair of lightish shoes that would be burly enough for a long haul, but comfortable enough climbing and walking to manage a few Pisgah hike-a-bikes. I was so impressed with my Five Ten AEscents after a 7,500 KM beating, I decided to replace my Lakes with the new Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT. More to come on these…

Osprey Manta 28 – A Bikepackers Backpack

Backpack for Bikepacking - Osprey Manta 28

My old hydration bag is also an Osprey. Same color even. I’ve had it for at least 5 years and it’s definitely taken a beating. But I needed something slightly bigger, big enough to fit my DSLR (which is kind of ridiculous, but I have a hard time going without it). At first glance the Manta 28 seems extremely well built and has a few new tricks that my older Raptor is lacking: an integrated rain fly; waist belt zipper pockets; and, the Airspeed suspension system with a mesh back panel to keep air between you and the bag.

Crumpler Haven (M)

Carry DSLR Bikepacking - Crumpler Haven

The Crumpler Haven is a simple no-nonsense camera bag liner. Basically the idea behind it is to allow any bag to become a camera bag. The medium fits my 6D with a lens and slides into the main pocket of the Manta 28.

The Bell Super

Bikepacking Helmet - Bell Super

My old Giro Xen was just flat worn out. I always loved the Xen, but helmet tech seems to have come a long way since the Xen was the fancy kid on the block. The Super is an attractive helmet that seems well built with a couple nice bells and whistles. I am normally not a graphics kind of a person, but I am kind of digging the Día de los Muertos graffiti style art.

A Simple DIY Framebag for the Krampus

DIY Framebag for Surly Krampus Bikepacking

I made this over the last couple of days with some leftovers from my ECR bag. I have had some people write and ask, and I took some photos of the process, so time permitting, I’ll soon post a little how-to. Or at least materials and links to better how-tos from which I learned.

Vargo Bot

Titanium Pot - Bikepacking - Vargo Bot

I had heard about the Bot when I was in Africa; someone pinged me on Facebook and mentioned using it strapped to an Anything cage. At 133 grams with a lid, this genius little titanium pot is also a bottle. The Bot 4” in diameter, and once I saw that spec, the first thing that came to mind was using it as a kitchen container that would slide in the frame bag. I will let you know in a further review.

Ultrapod II

Tripod for Bike Touring and Bikepacking - Ultrapod II

I’ve always wanted to carry a tripod, but it’s kind of ridiculous luxury. I’ve read that the Ultrapod II can support a DSLR and lens with ease. It is tiny and weighs only 119 grams. We’ll see…

Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 1

Another Big Agnes to try on the trail. I know you you can get tarp setups now that are ridiculously light, and I have friends who use ultralight hammocks, but I like a good ole tent. Lugging a 3 person tent up the steeps of Pisgah didn’t sound like too much fun, so I decided to pick up the little brother of the tent that treated us well in Africa. Overall I don’t have any complaints about the FlyCreek design, so expect the same from this minified version. In a small 4×18” package, it weighs less than 2 pounds.

DIY Handlebar Lens bag

I threw this ugly little prototype together with scraps the other night. Basically I wanted to carry a spare lens on the bar opposite my Randi-Jo Bartender Bag. This should do the trick, but I have a few ideas on how to make it better… once I build 2.0, I’ll post more.

  • Logan, I was dissatisfied with the Fly Creek 2 compared to the Seedhouse SL2. It used a single pole at the foot of the tent. Under tension– as in high wind or rain– the tent wants to collapse to either side. It looks like the Fly Creek 3 uses a similar design to our Seedhouse SL2, which enables high tension set-up. The Fly Creek 1, 2 and Seedhouse 1 use the Y-shaped pole design. Nonetheless, the lightweight designs are enticing. This is exactly why we tried the Fly Creek in the first place. We’ve since chosen to stick with the Seedhouse SL2, after five or six years.

    I also think I’ve found a winner in the MSR Titan 0.85L kettle/pot. It is the best size for our 2-person adventures, plus fresh vegetables or other local delicacies (bread, cheese, fruit, etc.).

    That framebag looks great. How is the Krampus treating you so far? Better, or different from the ECR?

  • Hi Nick, Interesting point on the Y pole design.. I will have to see how she fares. I do love the FC3 though… we put that one through hell. Camping in it tonight, actually (local campground with some trails attached). I am surprised you guys get away with a .85L pot… We were using a 2L in Africa and it sometimes seemed too small. I am loving the Krampus so far. It is definitely different. More playful and it really makes a fantastic replacement for my FS trail bike. How is the EU tour going so far… I wish I were following the stripes right now!

  • We’ve put the SL2 through hell for six years. The Fly Creek 2 doesn’t compare, with a flimsy designs, thinner material, and smaller zippers.

    The Krampus is loads of fun, although I think a 100mm design may be ideal for my travels. More later, but at some point, the geometry of a bike (such as the Krampus, or greater) is less prone to small bump compliance. I’m not thrilled with my new Fox fork, as well. Not sure why yet, but already looking to a RS for in the future, such as a Revelation or Pike.

    We like the small pots. We’ve had smaller, and only as big as 1L, ever. Seems we always have some bread or tomoatoes, cheese, kovbasa, puvo, horilka, salo…

  • nin

    Looking forward to the framebag post :)

  • Cool. I will do my best. It might be a couple weeks as I am heading for the woods for a 6 day bikepack on tuesday.

  • Jamie

    I bought the Fly Creek UL1 and loved the design but it felt a tad too small for me. My first use was a windy snowy December mountain top and the whole thing just felt a little too insignificant against the elements. I also like the option of bringing some gear in with me and have a little wiggle room to change etc. So I returned it and got the UL2. Same tent with a little more elbow room and only 4oz heavier. The extra weight for me is very much worth the extra space and ability to change/weather a storm comfortably etc. Just my personal preference.

  • How did the Osprey pack work out?

  • Miles Arbour

    Just snagged an Ultrapod II from MEC. Immediately impressed with how sturdy it holds my Olympus OMD EM5 MII with 12-40mm, it’s a fairly front-heavy camera setup. I’ll be testing it out on a 450km, 6 day route in Ontario next week!

  • Whoops. Late reply. Worked well! I like my Acre Hauser better though…

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