Josh Kato’s Winner Tour Divide Pack List
What do you need to bring on the Tour Divide in order to win, and break records? We asked Josh Kato just that…
Just a couple of weeks ago, Josh Kato, a 40 year-old full-time nurse from Washington, won this year’s 2,745 mile Tour Divide and set a new course record of 14 days, 11 hours and 37 minutes (14:11:37). Curious as all get out, we asked Josh what he brought (and didn’t bring) to allow him to average almost 190 miles per day and beat the previous record by a full day, set by Jay Petervay in 2012. Josh documented his kit down to the dental floss. Here’s what he had to say (words and photos by Josh Kato):
Here is my comprehensive kit from the 2015 Tour Divide. No, I never weighed the entire kit. I know, I know, everyone always wants to know the weight of a full kit. I do count grams when making a purchase but I place durability and functionality ahead of weight. I took what I needed and wasn’t willing to spend more money or time parring it down even further. That would have cut into my riding time. Could I have gone faster with less and or lighter equipment? Possibly but the psychological comfort of having a few extras can go a long way. I carried gear that I was comfortable with. Items I’ve used and abused. Like most Dividers, it is gear that I bought with my hard earned pennies. Everyone’s mileage will vary but trying to cut out something because it weighs an ounce or two despite being very functional, i.e sun sleeves, may not save time or energy in the end.
Full Revelate kit save for an on sale Camelbak Volt 13 LR pack. I’m not super tall (5’7″) and the sloping top tube of my small Fargo frame doesn’t leave a lot of space in the framebag area. To effectively carry food and extra water I carried the backpack. I found the backpack also helped “shade” me from sun and keeps me slightly warmer when cold.
Revelate Sweet Roll
- Z-Packs Hexamid Solo-Plus Tent with carbon pole and titanium stakes
- Western Mountaineering HighLite 35 degree sleeping bag
- Klymit X-Frame sleeping pad
- Off brand running shorts for sleeping in
- Drymax Cold Weather running socks
- Montbell Ex-Light Down Anorak
- Off branded mylar space blanket to use as a ground sheet
The Sweet Roll is challenging to attach initially as I also run cross top levers on my Woodchipper bar. There isn’t a lot of room to maneuver with the cross levers and aero bars mounted. However, once installed I never had to remove it and it did its job admirably. While I’ve never had a problem with the Sweet Roll letting water inside I did put the tent and sleeping bag/pad in their own ultralight waterproof OR branded stuff bags (5L sizes). Since my experience on the Divide revolves around my 2014 attempt I was prepared for A LOT of wet weather. A sleeping bag mixing with a wet tent doesn’t excite me. The sleeping shorts and my warm socks were stuffed in with my sleeping bag. My arm warmers, leg warmers and hat usually ended up in one end or the other of the Sweet Roll as I shed them off through the day. I also carried a lightweight Marmot wind jacket that would usually end up living in the Roll as well.
It was a mental boost knowing I could sleep anywhere and stay dry if need be. I stayed in a hotel twice. Most of the time I slept just off the road somewhere and just put out the space blanket and tossed the sleeping bag on top. I was never cold at night. I usually used the Montbell down jacket as a pillow and then would put it on in the early mornings while riding if it was cold out. It’s a great piece of down equipment. The hood was super welcome on chilly nights or mornings. I’d never leave home without it. Packs down so small, extremely lightweight and super warm. My final night on course I didn’t even use the sleeping bag. I just put on my down jacket and fell asleep.
I wouldn’t take the sleeping shorts again. I found sleeping in the buff to be nicer anyhow. The DryMax socks are very nice. They actually stay noticeably drier than my merino wool socks and in turn keep my feet warmer and happier. I’d sleep in them if it was below about 45 at night and also used them for cold weather riding.
The Western Montaineering sleeping bag is great! I do wish there was a bit better velcro or snap at the top of the zipper to keep it from opening so easily in the night but for the weight and warmth of the bag it’s hard to beat. Made in the USA as well.
I’ve been a fan of the Klymit pad for 3 years. I was skeptical at first but love it the more I use it. Only takes about 4-5 breaths to fill it up, deflates super fast and I find it to be plenty warm. I’d keep it inside my sleeping bag for ease of use and fast set-up.
Revelate Front Pocket
- ACA Great Divide Maps (2-6)
- Spare lenses for my Smith Threshold sunglasses (carried clear and gray polarized)
- Bear Spray
- Spare packing strap
- pen and paper
- Nexcon 5000mAh solar panel portable power supply
I only carried maps 2-6 as I’m very familiar with the Canada and Montana stretches of the Divide. The maps were nice to have along to figure out logistics on course such as distances between resupply.
My bear spray found a new home when I reached Pinedale with some tourists traveling to Yellowstone. I purchased a little bottle of human dosed pepper spray at a gas station for a touch of mental security for the rest of the route.
The charger allowed me to keep my iPod charged and provided me with more mental insurance of being able to get my phone charged in case of emergency.
The large pocket allowed a fair amount of overflow storage for food.
Revelate Feed Bag x2
- Battery pack for my Fenix BT-10 Headlight
- Dental Floss
- Lip Balm
The feedbags are a versatile piece of gear. One I used primarily to store the headlight battery pack as well as toothbrush, sunscreen and other items I liked to have at hand. The other was my feed trough. Often held donuts, jerkey, bars, deviled ham and salami. The outer mesh pockets on the Feedbag served as my trash area for wrappers.
Revelate Gas Tank
- Food, mostly various bars and some Emergen-C packs
Revelate Jerry Can
- Spare bite valve for water bladder
- iPod Nano (an old one)
I started with 12 AA and 6 AAA batteries. My main headlight was the Fenix BT-10. It runs on 4 AA batteries. I also had a Fenix LD 22 on my helmet. Both lights were perfect for me. The distance and brightness of both lights is awesome. The LD22 is kinder on batteries and is pretty much indestructible and was nice to have at camp. The BT-10 is a very nice headlight. Yes, I had to carry batteries but I’d get a night, a morning and part of another nights worth of riding from a set of batteries. I usually alternated the intensity of the beam depending on my speed so I’m sure that helped save battery life. It was a nice light and worked at zero to super, duper slow speeds. I only changed the batteries in my LD22 twice. The Garmin GPS needs AA batteries and my Spot needed one replenishment on it’s AAA batteries on the last day of racing. I had a taillight that also used AAA batteries that I had to change once.
Revelate Ermine Seatbag
- Spare Garmin Etrex 30
- Schwalbe SV19A Tubes (x2)
- Sugoi RS Pro shorts (spare set)
- Patagonia M10 Jacket
- Patagonia Torrentshell Stretch rainpants
- Gore Wear Gore-Tex socks
- Outdoor Research Revel Shell Mitts
- Velcro adjustable leg strap for rainpants
- Pearl Izumi glove liners (from a pair of PRO Barrier WxB gloves)
- Pearl Izumi Pro Softshell Lite gloves
- Repair Kit (Patches, Hutchison Tubeless Tire repair kit, Park Tire Boots, Stans Sealant, Brake Pads x3 sets, 3 spare Sram Quicklinks, spare pedal cleat screws, BB adjusting tool TLFC16, 3 spare valve cores, rubber bands, lighter, zip-ties, durable dental floss, curved needle, straight needle, spare deraileur hanger, homemade bladed-spoke holder.)
I carried a spare Garmin GPS. Last year my wife’s Garmin GPS went crazy on her for some time and made navigation a mess. A spare GPS is well worth having and doesn’t weigh much (more mental insurance).
I carried a total of 3 spare tubes. The two in my Ermine Seatbag were the extralight Schwalbe tubes. They pack down very small and have removable cores so I could add sealant to them if need be. I wrapped them in heavy plastic wrap to prevent them from getting wear holes in them while bouncing down the trail.
I did carry a spare pair of shorts. I used two pairs of Sugoi RS Pro shorts. I ended up throwing away the first pair as the chamois started to detach after 900 miles. My second pair is functional but the chamois is also starting to detach. A shame because were super comfortable for me. I prefer shorts rather than bibs. It’s MUCH easier to heed the call of nature.
The only item in my repair kit that needs explaining is the homemade bladed spoke holder. I used Sapim CX-Ray bladed spokes on the wheels I built up. If you need to replace or true a wheel a spoke holder is nice to have to help prevent spoke wind-up. I used a dense piece of nylon plastic and made a few slits in it that would hold a spoke from wind-up in the event I needed to service a wheel (I never needed to). I carried a lot of patches and tire boots as well as the Hutchison repair kit for tubeless tires. I don’t like being stranded due to airless tires/tubes. It’s that mental insurance thing again.
Rain gear is ultra-important! My wife and I used Patagonia gear last year and it worked perfectly. The rainpants my wife and I used last year are still good to go despite tons of use. I did get a new pair for this years race. I don’t think Patagonia makes this particular model anymore which I think is a shame. Full length side zips and stretchy knees are VERY nice to have. I know a lot of racers use 3.4 length rain pants. That’s great if it works for you. In 2014 I know that I enjoyed every inch of the full length pants. It’s amazing how much warmer full length pants are than 3/4 length pants. If I’ve got my rainpants on that means it is cold and I want to be warm.
The M10 jacket is very light and packs very small and has proven to be perfectly durable for my endeavors. I personally feel that an attached hood on a rain jacket is essential. I can put the hood on under my helmet. It not only keeps me dry but far warmer than a jacket with no hood. You will get wet, no matter what. Perspiration, water spray and mud will make you wet inside and out. It’s definitely more important to be warm and wet than trying to stay totally dry. The only way to stay dry on a 200 mile ride in the rain is to not ride.
The Gore socks are great and have lasted a long time for me. They are very nice as a wind shield layer on very cold mornings too.
I used overshell mitts this year and found them better than all-in-one insulted gloves. Lighter, easier to pack and easier to put on. Also more versatile as a windshell when you just need to keep the cold air out. I took the warm but thin liner glove from a pair of Pearl Izumi WXB gloves. I primarily used the Soft Shell Lite gloves in the cold/rainy weather of Canada. I used them last year and was very impressed by their warmth in wet and cold conditions especially given their lack of bulk.
The Ermine Seatbag proved to be durable and stable during my race. I was a bit worried as it seems so light but it held up fine and probably has another Divide or two left in it still.
Revelate made Salsa branded frame bag to fit small Salsa Fargo
- MRS Dromlite Water Bag 4Liter size
- MRS Hydration Kit Adapter (with Camelbak bite valve)
- Continental Tube – with 40ml of Flat Attack Sealant
- Crankbrothers M17 multi-tool
- Leatherman Squirt PS4
- Spare Brake Pads x3
- Lezyne Carbon Drive Lite hand pump
- Inovation 20gram CO2 cartridges x2
- SRAM Mini CO2 inflator
- Sapim CX-Ray spokes x4 with DT alloy nipples
- iPhone 5s with waterproof case
- Kabletek Flexweave Cable 3/16″x6 feet with small, cheap padlock (Not shown)
I can realistically carry 3L in my frame bag with all the other items in it. I do wish someone would make a framebag water bladder that would fit the contours of a framebag more closely.
I carried a lot of spare brake pads (6 total sets between frame bag and seat bag). Last year I think I went through 4 pairs and I heard that the shops on route were running out of BB7 pads. This year I didn’t change them out at all and the set I finished with has plenty of life on them.
I used one CO2 cartridge on the last morning to top off my tires. I knew I was in for a lot of pavement the last day and thought I’d get a bit faster roll by topping off the tires.
I did carry a “smartphone” as it is the only phone I own. I don’t really think it helps at all. I know there are apps and ways to make your smartphone a mobile navigator and race updater. I just didn’t have battery life for that (no dyno) I used it to call my wife and check for route update emails/texts from Matthew when I came into major towns. There’s barely enough service most of the time to get trackleaders to load unless you have the phone on all the time which I did not. I looked at the tracker page once or twice during the race. I realized that many people were getting voice mails or texts from loved ones updating them on positions during the race. Smartphone or not those texts and voicemails still come through. The battery life on most “dumb” phones is better than smartphones so perhaps the less smart phone is a bigger benefit. Regardless, I just used what I have.
Camelbak Volt 13 LR backpack with 3L water reservoir
- Sawyer Mini Water Filter
- Platypus 1L Softbottle
- Optimus Titanium folding spork
- MSR Aquatabs (30)
- Canon S110 camera
- A couple fast food restaurant packets of vinegar
- Glide dental floss (often ended up living in my feed bag)
- Casio travel alarm clock
- Park GSC-1 cleaning brush
- ProGold Xtreme chain lube (4oz)
- Cleaning Rag (an old fleece sock)
- “Butt Kit” – A&D ointment, clotrimazole antifungal cream, benzoyl peroxide ointment, alcohol hand sanitizer, wet-wipes (this care-kit often resided in my seatbag)
- A three pound cinnamon roll from Lambkins in Lincoln Montana (carried for about 500 miles)
- Blackburn Mars 4.0 taillight (attached to rear of pack)
- SPOT 3 tracker (attached to back of shoulder strap)
Carrying a backpack is always a debated subject for a race like the Divide. I just don’t have the real-estate on the bike to carry everything I want to bring. Small framebag and low clearance between seatbag and rear wheel either necessitate carrying less gear or using a backpack. I rarely ever carried water in the pack’s bladder. Only 2-3 times did I actually put water in it. I was glad to have it when I did. If I had run into more extreme heat I’d likely have filled it with ice and water when in towns. I find it amazing the small amount of shade offered by the backpack. I strapped the pack to my aero bars once or twice and I noticed quickly how much warmer I was getting just from direct sun exposure on my back.
The Volt backpack was a sale purchase made not too long before leaving for the Divide ( I used a Camelbak Octane 18 last year). I was very happy with it. It uses a high density raised foam that rests on your back. It was superbly comfortable in channelling airflow around my back and truly kept my back from becoming a swamp of sweat and dirt. It’s nowhere near as pronounced as some pack makers “suspension” style packs that keep the pack all but off your back. However, I’ve tried those systems before and they are really nice but I find on rides over 5 hours the weight distribution of those packs digs into my hips and shoulders more than a pack that actually rests along the length of your back.
The cinnamon roll was a treat I purchased in Lincoln, Montana when Dylan Taylor (4th overall) and I stopped for breakfast. Dylan and I laughed aloud at the size of the cinnamon roll. Literally as large as my head. I called the cinnamon roll Goliath. It was way heavy but wow did it taste good when I got up to the Wind River Range in Wyoming and needed a gastric and mental lift. Also, I think it might have helped me bomb down some long descents faster than some of my competition.
I often over-carried food. At one point I had 5 double cheeseburgers, 2 Red Bulls, 5 donuts, a burrito and orange juice in my backpack. That in addition to my feedbag, front roll and gas tank supply of food. Mentally I was happy and so was my stomach, at least for awhile.
- Branded Novara Sprint Jersey (in exuberance color)
- Sugoi RS Pro shorts
- Darn Tough Sasquatch Mid Calf Light socks
- Pearl Izumi X-Project 2.0 shoes
- Pearl Izumi Divide full finger gloves
- Bell Sweep helmet
- Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves
- cheap Timex wrist watch
- Arcteryx Phase AR Beanie
- Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Arm Warmers
- Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Leg Warmers
- Marmot Trail Wind Jacket
Loved this kit. A full zip jersey is a must in my opinion. The jersey itself has nice reflectors sewn onto it and the weight of the material is great. Tight enough weave to shed a bit of wind chill while the zipper opens it all up on hot days.
I really like the chamois in the Sugoi RS Pro shorts but the stitching that keeps the chamois attached was almost completely gone by hitting Antelope Wells. I had two pairs with me. Both pairs had the same issue. Granted, the chamois never bunched up or became problematic but the stitching just wasn’t up to the task of the Divide.
Shoes, I almost brought my preferred touring shoe, the Pearl Izumi X-Alp. However, a last minute choice to bring my “racier” X-Projects proved to be a good one. Not much walking this year as the course was snow-free. I always buy my ultra-long-day-in-the-saddle shoes 2 sizes too big. It allows for foot swelling as well as layering socks and addition of my Gore sock covers in cold weather without compressing my foot. I never got a blister. It’s so easy to snug up shoes with ratchets that I find no reason to get a shoe for an ultra-distance ride that actually fits “properly”. Also, my toes like to wiggle freely to the tunes in my head while riding alone.
My arm and leg warmers usually made their home in one end or the other of my Sweetroll as temps increased. Same can be said of my hat and wind jacket. The Buff usually lived on my aero bars.
The windjacket is something I would never do the Divide without. It serves as a light windshirt, an extra layer under the rain jacket when cold, a bug shirt if needed when stopped for lunch or repairs and a sleeping layer. It’s light, packs small and the hood can be put up for an extra measure of warmth. Attached hoods are a super good thing in my opinion.
My wife talked me into the sun sleeves before leaving this year. I’ve never used them before. I rode the entire route with them on. I rode in them and slept in them. Awesome! Highly recommended.
That’s it. This is what I carried to Antelope Wells.
For more on Josh and to follow his adventures, check out his blog, Far Out Wanderings.