The Bike: Diamond Back Haanjo EXP Carbon
This bike offers up a smooth ride thanks to 27.5-inch wheels that accommodate 2.1-inch-wide tires. Those wheels also provide better traction with only a negligible diameter loss compared to a 700c wheel (which also fits this bike). It goes against the high-tech grain with a triple chainring on a nine-speed drivetrain, which allows for a very broad gear range (and it’s easier to find replacement parts for it on those international trips). The bar-end shifters are bombproof, easy-to-fix if something does go wrong, and don’t have an issue shifting like STI levers do when there’s a bar bag or front load. The carbon frame delivers a supple ride, and the water bottle cage options give you several hydration configurations. $1,900 | diamondback.com
The Bags: Oveja Negra
Soft bags, rather than traditional panniers that require racks, are the way to go when you are bouncing along on rough roads and trails. A lighter system also fits on a broader spectrum of bikes. Oveja Negra uses U.S.-designed, durable and water-resistant SuperFabric material for these lightweight bags. While the fabric is not waterproof by definition, it’ll keep cargo dry in typical Rocky Mountain weather. One word of caution: SuperFabric is not chipmunk-proof, so be smart about where you stash your food cache. ovejanegrabikepacking.com
Big Agnes Fish Hawk 30 sleeping bag
Finding the right sleeping is key to enjoying your trip. Ask yourself: How cold is it actually going to be in the evening? Can I really get any sleep in a bag that fits around my legs like saran wrap? Big Agnes’s Fish Hawk 30 sleeps more like a comforter than a koozie, but it’s still damn light (two pounds, 12 ounces)—and offers plenty of warmth for riding season in the high country. $173 | bigagnes.com
Big Agnes Q-Core SLX sleeping pad
Impressively light (15 ounces in the 20-inch-by-66-inch size), this pad offers plenty of integrated comfort with Big Agnes sleeping bags, and lends itself nicely to multiple packing options. Pro tip: I line my sleeping bag’s stuff sack with the deflated pad, then stuff the bag inside it. This omits one stuff sack, adds a moisture barrier to the packed bag, and spreads out the bulk of the sleeping pad. $140-$250 | bigagnes.com
Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL2 Tent
This tent tips the scales at a magical two pounds, gives you just enough room for two people who are used to sharing a bed together, and sets up in a hurry. Upsizing in just about any of the ultralight pack tents is something to think about, as almost all of them will be a tight fit for bigger/taller people. Room to move around in your one-and-only shelter in foul weather is worth consideration before you choose the absolute lightest option available. $390 | bigagnes.com
Potable water is mandatory, but it’s also heavy, bulky, and easy to blow through if you’re not careful. Camelbak’s new All Clear UV Purifier Bottle ($99; camelbak.com) cleanses 750 ml of creek water at a time for drinking and cooking. One USB charge will last for 80 cycles, which equates to 16-gallons. I still pack a full 100-ounce bladder in a hydration pack, and pack another 21-ounce bottle on the bike, but it’s nice to skip the rationing and drink as much water as you want. The bottle fits the Oveja Nega Chuck Bucket ($50, ovejanegrabikepacking.com), but, by design, it doesn’t fit in a water bottle cage as the added weight of its filtering top cap makes it susceptible to flying out when things get bumpy. My cook system of a Jet Boil MicroMo ($130; jetboil.com) fits inside a titanium single-serve mess kit and weighs just under 500 grams (including a spork and knife). Plus, it stashes into the frame bag with ease. A yummy bag of Mountain House Freeze-dried Chicken Fajitas ($9; mountainhouse.com) provides plenty of calories and keeps pack weight to a minimum.
Consider a Pack Towl Personal Towl ($10-$40; packtowl.com). It’s a simple little luxury item that’ll make a world of difference out in the woods.
Carry a spare tube and either a patch kit or tire plugs, a little bit of chain lube, a bicycle specific multitool with a chainbreaker, and a multitool like the Leatherman Wingman ($40; leatherman.com). And don’t forget the duct tape and zip ties.