Colorado Trail Video Journal, by Ben and Andy

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This past July, Ben Handrich and Andy Brubaker set out on the Colorado Trail. During their time on the CT they documented each of their 13 days in a video journal, complete with incredible drone footage and valuable insight into bikepacking this legendary trail + Ben’s full CT gear list.

Video and photos by Ben Handrich and Andy Brubaker
For many bikepackers — and mountain bikers alike — the Colorado Trail has a top spot in their bucketlist for routes in the United States. It’s incredibly scenic and beautiful. It’s long and unyielding in its severity. And it’s a daunting task, which for some results in a lifetime achievement of epic proportions.

Back in July, Andy Brubaker, from Indiana, and Oregon native Ben Handrich committed to a full experience on the CT. Before setting out on a 13 day self-supported bikepacking adventure, they started their trip by volunteering on a trail crew via the Colorado Trail Foundation — an amazing organization that maintains, educates, and informs people of everything they need to know about the Colorado Trail. Their four day temporary job with the CTF was to assist in building a new section of trail that would replace an old jeep road with new single track trail.

Colorado Trail Journal Video, by Ben Handrich and Andy Brubaker

  • Colorado Trail Journal Video, by Ben Handrich and Andy Brubaker
  • Colorado Trail Journal Video, by Ben Handrich and Andy Brubaker
Andy Brubaker, left; Ben Handrich, right

Colorado Trail Video Journal

Two weeks after they started the CT from Denver, the two reached the trail’s terminus in Durango recording over 530 miles with 70,000 feet of elevation gain. Along the way they recorded their trip in amazing drone footage and a nightly ‘fireside’ chat recounting each day’s perils and rewards. If you are considering the Colorado Trail and interested in getting play-by-play insight, add this to your watch list. If not, at least check out the scenic intro montage for the drone footage of the trail. Also, further below find Ben’s Colorado Trail Tech Talk video covering his gear list and details of equipment used on the CT + links to his blog posts from the trip.

  • Colorado Trail Journal Video, by Ben Handrich and Andy Brubaker
  • Colorado Trail Video Journal

Colorado Trail Gear List

Here’s Ben’s pack list for their 13 day Colorado Trail trip (by bag). His total packed bike weight loaded down with three days of food, drone gear, and camera equipment was 48.8 pounds. In addition, on day one his backpack weighed just over 11 pounds (usually it was between 5 and 8 pounds).

Outside of the added weight from the camera gear used to make these videos, Ben considers his setup fairly minimal by bikepackng standards. They carried only bare essentials, with luxuries being a Tarptent (versus a bivy alone) and their evening camp kitchen, which included a stove, fuel canisters, and pots.

Revelate Ranger Framebag

2 extra drone batteries
Drone accessories, i.e. sd cards, plug-ins, chargers, etc.
Propane canister
Tire tube
Shock Pump
Tire Pump
Duct tape and electrical tape (wrapped around pump)
3 to 4 days of food

Revelate Viscacha Seatbag

1 pair of Gore Bike Bib Shorts
1 pair of long Pearl Izumi gloves, 1 pair of fingerless Pearl Izumi gloves
1 pair of tights
1 pair of Icebreaker wool underwear
1 pair of Smartwool socks, 1 pair of Darn Tough wool socks
1 pair of ‘around town’ shorts
1 Montbell Down Jacket
1 short sleeve tech shirt
Specialized sun sleeves
1 long sleeve smartwool shirt
SOL Bivy Sack
Inflatable Pillow
REI 45 degree Sleeping Bag
Tarptent (carried in yellow drybag)
North Face Rain Jacket
Rain Pants (I cut the bottoms off, so they are technically rain shorts now)
Neoprene Gloves

Revelate Jerry Can

Grease rag
Chain lube
Crankbrother’s multi-tool
Small off-brand multi-tool with pliars
~10 feet of nylon cord
Zip ties (multiple sizes)
Spare shoe cleat
3 quick links for chain
Fiberfix spoke replacement kit
3 tire levers
2 tire boots
1 replacement presta valve
Some pieces of rubber

Revelate Gas Tank

Quick access food container: Carried Snicker’s bars, clif bars, peanut butter packets, etc.

Revelate Mountain Feedbag

Replacement lenses for sunglasses
MSR Pocket Rocket
Shammy cream

Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cage (Downtube Bag)

Toilet paper
Wet wipes
Propane Tank
Not shown: Miscellaneous toiletries/other bag – toothbrush, toothpaste, extra matches, extra lighter, Ibuprofen, Benadryl, nail clippers

Camelbak Skyline LR 10 Liter Backpack

Up to 3 liters of water
Cell phone, wallet, car key
Olympus TG-3 camera (until it broke)
Sometimes food, but only on the two long hauls (Waterton to Leadville, Buena Vista to Silverton)

Additional Resources from Ben’s blog

Ben Handrich

About Ben Handrich

Ben is a High School Counselor, Vegan, exercise addict, and mountain biking enthusiast who uses the dark and dreary days of winter to dream up future bikepacking trips for the spring and summer, with a few winter bikepacking mistakes thrown in for good measure. Follow Ben’s blog at Pedals Packs and Pinots.

  • Depestel Christ

    Great !!

  • Josh Caffrey

    Is that a Garmin Fenix 5X on your wrist? How did the watch work out?

  • Yeah it is, Josh. Full disclosure, I have a friend that works at Garmin, so I can get their gear for cheap; otherwise I probably wouldn’t spend the money on the 5x, but it worked GREAT for the CT. My one complaint would be that it took a while to load the map in the mornings, but I’m assuming other devices would as well when the map is 537 miles long. After the map loaded, the watch would last all day (usually would get down to about 40% after running all day), and I had it set to use GPS and Glonass.

  • Ken Blakey-Shell

    Big thanks to Ben and Andy for doing such an awesome job of documenting the trail. I did the CT a few weeks after you guys in the same direction and your footage did a great job of capturing what the trail is like. Brought back a lot of memories and stoked the fire to start researching the next big adventure.

  • Kat Hardt-Holoch

    Fun! thanks for posting.

  • mikeetheviking

    Excellent! Thank You!!! Super Awesome!!!

  • Mark

    Really cool ride and video guys, well done! My one complaint, and this seem to be a feature of most of the bike videos I watch is the discrepancy between the volume of the music vs the ‘talks’. The music is just so loud compared to the commentary. Otherwise, well done, and Thanks for sharing!

  • Josh Caffrey

    Thanks for the honest feedback!

  • Thanks for the kind words Ken! We knew we wanted something that we could look back at to remember the ups and downs of the experience, so we tried to video as much as possible, even when we didn’t want to.

    Also, if you’re looking for a ‘next adventure,’ you should check out the Oregon Timber Trail. That’s my next summer adventure and, having done a number of the trails already as an Oregon native, I can tell you that there is some PRISTINE singletrack throughout the entirety of the ride.

  • I know Mark. As a novice film editor, I was really just ‘figuring it all out’ as I went along. I tried to make the music and commentary as equal as possible but, like you said, I think that the music ended up unequally loud. Something to work on in future videos for sure.

  • KB

    Really enjoyed video/doc. Great job of film editing, music, and commentary. We (Clydesdales pulling trailers) had to bail @ Breckinridge, so I enjoyed finishing the Trail vicariously with you guys.

  • TRAILERS??!! Wow, kudos to you for making it that far KB. As heavy as our bikes were, I can’t imagine hauling trailers over Marshall and Georgia Pass.

  • Kyle Inman

    Am I missing something…like the drone gear details and packing procedure?

  • Rob Grey

    finally got around to watching the full video last week, and i must say; great job!

    i’ll echo the music vs commentary volume concerns, but overall, well done. i enjoyed it immensely, and will use it as a guide whenever i get around to tackling the CT.

    thanks for sharing!

  • Glad you enjoyed it Rob!

  • Math Teacher

    If you go to his YouTube channel, he has it broken down by day. It makes it easier to come back to, I think, when it is in smaller videos so you can watch a few at a time.

  • Jason Czora

    Just curious with the limited space, what did you guys pack for food? Also curious because of caloric intake… thanks a ton. And great job and video

  • Hey Jason,
    As both of us are vegetarian, our choices on the trail were probably a bit different than most, but if you go to my Day 6 and 7 entry on my blog, you can see a picture of the food we brought along on our long 4 day section of riding without resupply. I think it gives a good idea of what we ate while on the trail.

    Knorr for dinner, clif bars, Fritos, trail mix, nuts, breakfast burritos, dried fruit, Snickers bars, nut butter, chocolate covered raisins, etc. were pretty much the staples in our bags, but unlike a lot of riders, we weren’t calorie counting. For our long section of riding, that probably hurt us a bit, as we both ended up with less food than we should have brought, but most of the time, our best guesses on how much we should bring ended up being about right.

  • Brian

    Hey guys! Great job. Just wondering if you dealt with stringing up food for bears or not? I see you brought cord with you. Haven’t seen a ton of info on other blogs about it. Thanks!

  • Pieter Smuts

    Wow guys, what an amazing journey. My friend and I are doing it as well and we are currently busy with the planning. I am totally inspired by your story. It is so comprehensive, thank you for the time and effort you have put into this. I am sure it will help many people who wants to tackle this journey.
    With regards to your sleeping bag, did you put the sleeping bag in the bivy every night for extra heat and what type of mattress did you had?

  • Hey Brian, yes, most days we hung our food, just to be safe, especially when way out in the wilderness.

  • Hey Pieter, I’m glad you found the video helpful! I ended up never using the bivvy I brought because it never got cold enough for it, and I used the thermarest neo air for the trip. Good luck with the ride!

  • Max Anderson

    Fantastic documenting! Super inspired to do this! Can I ask what kind of training regimen you did in preparation for the CT? Or what your regular riding looked like leading up to the trip? Thanks a lot!