|CyclingSite > CO Collected Wisdom > How to Pack|
|How should I pack?|
|See also What
luggage should I use?
Assume whoever unloads your gear is going to dump it in a mud puddle and pack accordingly. Put all non-waterproof items either in plastic garbage bags or ziplocs. Double bag items you really care about. Ziplocs come in all sizes from pint to 2 gallon although right now in my area (Portland) I have only found the 2 gallon bags at Costco and Winco. I realize our fellow cyclists/truck unloaders won't leave our luggage in a mud puddle on purpose (don't flame me!), but recently watered fields can wick water up through your clothes almost as fast. Also, there are always unplanned thundershowers to deal with. Last year [CO 11] on day 6 our packs sat out in the rain for several hours and the clothes, etc. were dry and comfortable.
<Update - Hefty now also makes large Ziploc-type bags. Both Ziploc and Hefty bags can now be found at a large variety of stores or ordered online.>
Thrift stores are a cheap source of light weight smaller duffels. Be sure to check zippers and seams. They seem to conform to packing regular clothes easier than a stuff sack. Our big duffels contain a conglomeration of stuff sacks, small duffels, and ziplocs; all of them in many sizes and colors.
Think of the pockets in a pack or the individual stuff sacks or plastic bags in a duffle as rooms in a house - what do you keep in the bathroom, kitchen, etc.
Advice from my years of Scouting - do not bungee anything to a backpack or duffel bag. The bungees ooze over to the side and release your sleeping bag, tent, etc. at the most inconvenient times. They also catch on other people's gear. If your pack does not have straps for this stuff places like GI Joes have them available separately. REI has them in numerous designer colors. Wow!
Here is my approach to packing my duffle bag. I do the same for my backpack.
I use small, medium and large stuff sacks. On the end of every stuff sack cinch cord, I place several layers of masking tape. On the masking tape, I print in large letters, what's in the bag.
I continue to use many of the same stuff sacks that I made about 7 years ago. Most of the tape and printing is still in good shape. It is durable in other words.
I made about 20 stuff sacks of various sizes. I don't know how to sew very well, but I can make a stuff sack. You can go do the local fabric shop and get enough uncoated nylon taffeta in various colors, rope and those little rope stoppers (okay, I don't know the name) for about $10-20 to make plenty of stuff sacks.
If find that with a small headlamp or flashlight, it is easy to pick out the appropriate bag out of a duffle or backpack just by looking at the tape on each sack.
I'm not sure that I would recommend using a backpack. You'll end up strapping a lot of stuff to the outside. I would never, never, never, ever, ever, strap a thermarest pad to the outside of anything that someone else was going to handle. The same goes for my tent. What would happen if your tent or thermarest landed on something sharp????
At least in a heavy duty duffle bag, your stuff will be some what protected. Actually, when I pack my duffle bag, I put the important and fragile stuff in the center of the bag and surround it with clothing or other soft stuff to protect things like thermarest and tent flies and tent poles. Spending the night with an ill tent or flat thermarest does not sound like fun to me.
Your bag could be on the bottom end of a pile of 8 other 70 pound duffles. If your using a frame on your back pack, look out.
More on straps and strapping on things –
The straps we put on back packs range from 3/4" to 1" across and either have a buckle that the strap passes through or else those quick snap buckles that are on fanny packs. They are made out of the same stuff as fanny pack belts and straps on day packs. However, for real heavy-duty fastening stuff to the outside of a duffel I would use luggage straps. These are about 1 1/2" to 2" across and very heavy duty. You can get them at AAA or at the travel areas in some stores (I think Target had some back by their luggage.) Last time I looked AAA had them in lots of BRIGHT, easy-to-spot, distinctive colors. We have rainbow-colored. Depending on how long your bags are you will want 2 or 3.
Now the down-side. If what you strap on is mushy like a sleeping bag, or if your duffel is not squished to a fairly firm cylinder after you strap this on things will come apart. Sleeping bags are so smooshy that they just mush back and forth as things are set on them and then squirt out of the straps kind of like spitting out cherry seeds. Backpacks have enough protrusions and areas between the frame sides that a properly cinched-up sleeping bag will probably stay put, but a duffel bag is too free-form. Tents and thermarests do lash together well with straps. However, as Bob Mueller indicated, whatever is strapped to the outside will take a lot of abuse. Besides holes in it you can get broken tent poles. I spent an hour last weekend replacing a broken fiberglass tent pole caused by my son rolling downhill in his tent in his sleep (12 year olds are weird!) This was not a fun activity and probably fairly impossible while on CO. The pole was so splintered that even duct tape wouldn't have helped much.
I finally gave up on strapping stuff on the side and paid $50 for GI Joes' super gigantic duffel and it holds it all easily. When you compare that $50 to the cost of the equipment it protects it is cheap.
We have one heavy (65 lb.) duffel that holds the tents, thermarests, etc. for the 3 of us and I put two luggage straps (2" wide) around its middle to help out the zippers. These are the rainbow colored ones.
Make sure you pack so you have a bunch of room left over. It weighs nothing and there will be lots of shirts and stuff to buy and paper info and stuff you are given. Take along some extra ziplocs to protect this stuff from the rain.
My favorite way of separating and protecting clothing and personal items is various sizes of Zip-Loc baggies. You can write on them with a Sharpie, and they're simple to open, close, and stow.
Here's a suggestion about those packing lists that we have talked about before. Get one on paper and follow it when you pack. Keep it around and review it when you get home. You can then add things you you wish you would have taken, remove stuff you didn't need and you will be prepared for next year.
Why is that important?
Because once you have gone on one trip, chances are you will be coming back for another.
Ok. I'll clock in on pads and packing. You are allowed one piece of "luggage". Most bring a duffel bag of some sort. Tent, sleeping bag, clothes for cycling and after, clothes for cold, clothes for heat, supplies, toiletries, etc.. Think compact. Also, either you pay the local kids $1 to lug your bag to and from the trucks, or realize you have to schlep it yourself. Think compact. I still have trouble fitting it all in. I have a therma-rest and recommend it, too. One last (yeah, sure) word-- don't wait til the last night before departure for a trial packing job--it might not all fit in! (done that)
I'll add one thought to that... when doing your trial packing, don't forget that you're warm and dry in your living room, not cold and damp in the pre-dawn. If things are tight at home, they'll be almost impossible to fit in when the deal's real. I know... I did this the first time out.
Leave yourself a little room for slop and sloppiness... you'll be glad you did.
> Why are you guys putting stuff in so many stuff sacks and plastic zip bags?..
It's to keep things dry, in case of rain or heavy dewfall, plus having things sorted makes them easier to find at 5:00 in the morning!
At the end of Cycle Oregon 10, our bags lay forlornly in the rain for a long time before we got there to retrieve them.
I don't expect that this year, but you never know! Summer thunderstorms in eastern Oregon are unpredictable.
Imagine putting all of your clothes and other paraphernalia in a giant duffel and putting it in a paint mixer (those shaker things they put paint cans in). That is how everything will be mixed-up after a couple of days of loading and unloading and throwing into wheelbarrows, etc. if we don't put "barriers" around it to separate it. ;-) That's why we use small duffels, stuff sacks, and ziplocs inside.
I'm one of those people who chuckle when I see all of the stuff people bring. Espresso machines ?? Huh.
Anyway, I'm also one of those who cut the handle off a tooth brush to save weight and space when backpacking.
But I still bring my stuff sacks to segregate my stuff, whether CO XII or backpacking. The stuff sacks help maintain my sanity by providing a little organization to a potentially cluttered domain.
Stuffed stuff sacks make great pillows too.
Housekeeping tip 398.001 [written to be used a couple of weeks before a Cycle Oregon]
Baggage hauling and prep.
Start getting your stuff together pretty soon. Practice packing up your bag out on the lawn. Practice carrying it for several hundred yards. Throw out the "rock collection", repack, try the carry again.:-)
When the lawn walk is doable move to a rutted field repeat all steps :-) Try it in the dark.
Sherpas are nice, but at times unavailable. Sometimes harfin your own bag is the difference between getting going and waiting too long. Get to know your gear and discover if your conceptual packing ideas are practical before showtime.
Hard luggage isn't practical. Doesn't fit well inside those supposed two person tents, wheels will only cause you difficulty in the fields we normally end up in.
I've seen the soft bags balanced on bike seats and rolled to the destinations. I harf mine up on my shoulder and sort of teeter back and fourth:-)
Don "more than a race bike, its also a hand truck" Bolton
Practice putting things in the same spot each time... practice finding where you put the one small item you will need half way through the trip that you have no idea where is... think creative thoughts about marking your duffel....
If you are packing a giant duffel and it seems a little tight just pick it up by the handles and shake it gently a couple of times. Often stuff "sloshes" together into a more compact mass - especially if it is packed in smaller duffels or bags inside the giant duffel. I always do this before zippering in order to make the zipper area a little looser and not put as much strain on the zipper while pulling it. Then I put 2 luggage straps around the outside to hold things together so the zippers don't have to do all the work. Then I realize I left something out...
One addendum. To the "same place" school of packing... I find my load redistributes from clean to dirty clothes. I use a compression sack to pack the dirty stuff which airs in a mesh bag in my extra vestibule in camp. The compression sack helps bundle the load into a similar shape, but the load does morph over the week...
Also, remember to allow room to add things... That killer design Tee shirt. The locals hand out info/care packages at each overnight.
Don "adventures in packing" Bolton
Last year, I put my ziplocked clean clothes in two very lightweight laundry bags, and let my dirty stuff dry out at the bottom of the duffel. It helped me to easily see the things I wanted without mixing up the clean and dirty things. I also use other lightweight zippered bags to store certain types of things...the flashlight, clock...in one, Power Aid, and snacks in another...
I've been gathering a lot of useful advise from this group, and thank everyone for the tips. I got the tourbook yesterday, and I'm ready to set up my tent in the living room!
Christina (and Chuck)
The garbage bag I was using was about 2" narrower than the duffel bag so I went to my local Safeway and got down and really examined the labels on the boxes. I discovered quite a bit of difference in width between brands. And then I started noticing the thickness of the plastic.... trash compactor bags are very heavy duty! I suppose they would have to be, but I don't have a trash compactor. Anyway, if you are concerned about a buckle or zipper pull or your fingers stabbing a hole in a bag you are going to be using over and over for a week here is a solution. They are kind of spendy and don't bend as easily, but I don't need all that many.
For the people who are packing un-light.... :-) The following are the results of this year's [CO 12] attempt to make everything squishing around in a giant duffel easy-to find. We all agreed after CO that this system worked so well for us we would keep it virtually unchanged in the future. These are the notes I made to remember what I did (along with some explanations to make it easier for you to understand them.)
Note: This description was written with 2 people in mind. Since many of you are going solo I have appended a brief list of how to modify it to the end of this post.
The huge duffels we use are heavy duty bags about 36" by 13" by 19" high and made by Outdoor Products. They are rectangular and have a large pocket at each end (included in the above measurements) and a small flat pocket on the front. I am using distinctively-colored luggage straps to help preserve the zippers. (Having 65 lbs. randomly pushing and pulling against a zipper while the bag is tossed around has got to be hard on them!) Be sure to mark your bag very well. Besides the luggage straps we have surveyor’s tape ribbons tied to quite a few points of each of ours. Be creative and unique in your markings!
Apparently Outdoor Products no longer makes the 3 compartment duffel, but I have left the descriptions in as they are good clues as to how to arrange items in a long, single compartment duffel (or some other brand's multi-compartment version). The Outdoor Products Colossal size Carryall Duffel should work well for CO with similar packing.
When carrying a LARGE duffel it is easier if it is somewhat balanced between the two ends. I.e., don't put your rock collection in one end and your feather pillow in the other.
First, we had the main compartment of one duffel for gear (groundcloth (on top), tent, 2 sleeping bags (in a stuff sack in a trash bag), 2 Thermarests, 2 chairs) and that was all in its own stuff sacks and stacked like logs in the duffel. Each of us had one end pocket of the gear duffel full of basic bike clothes all sorted into ziplocs (1 day per ziploc). Only 6 days of clothing fit into a pocket. The end pockets of the other duffel were miscellaneous, pillows, and the rest of the ziploced bike clothes. These end pockets could also be replaced by small duffels in a giant duffel that has no end pockets. The main compartment of the other duffel was all clothes sorted into smaller duffels (lined with plastic trash bags). In the flat front pocket of each duffel I put some spare trash bags and a small flashlight. These are not our main flashlights, but function well if we get back to our tents in pitch dark or need a flashlight in a hurry. We always know where they are and can get to them quickly in the dark.
The main compartment of the clothes duffel held the following:
In-Camp Clothes - We each had a duffel about 12" in diameter and 24" long for "around-camp" clothes. This did not include the outer layer of clothing. These were not crammed full so they smashed and stacked well on each other.
In-Camp Outer Layer Clothes - We also had a flat duffel about the size of a briefcase that we put our top-layer "around-camp" stuff in such as fleeces and hats. It was very handy to just grab this one duffel in the early evening and have everybody's warm stuff all at once. We shared this duffel, but if you are going solo just use a smaller bag.
Outer Layer Bike Clothes - We each had a duffel about 9" (diameter) by 18" for colder/wetter weather bike clothes such as raincoats, leg warmers, heavy gloves, etc. These were aired out every afternoon and packed away for the next morning. It made it very handy to get dressed in the mornings to just grab this duffel and a ziploc of basic bike clothes and you had everything together. No more hunts in the dark for a lost black leg warmer while sitting on a black sleeping bag! Also, the clothes were warmer to put on after being packed in plastic all night (instead of thrown in a corner like last year).
Towels and Toiletries - We had a small flat duffel with all the towels and toiletries in it so they were quick to find when we got into camp each day.
All of the smaller duffels except the 12 by 24 were lightweight duffels I found last year at thrift stores. They are made of thin nylon and weigh practically nothing. Make sure you check zippers if you buy them used! However, regular duffels in smaller sizes can also be easily used. These are often available at camping stores (i.e. GI Joes).
The small duffels worked very well. It was easy to find what you needed quickly and to put away things each night. Clothes stayed relatively unwrinkled (who was checking anyway?) and also nice and dry and clean.
You could also use stuff sacks for some of these, but I have found stuff sacks harder to pack and find things in since they are top load.
When using a giant duffel it helps to have the smaller duffels or stuff sacks in different colors (or a least tie plastic colored tape on them or something)
The following is how we loaded the duffels described above:
In-Camp Clothes - This list also includes what we are wearing on Saturday on the drive to CO. These clothes are all loose and comfortable (and often somewhat shabby or "broken-in"). Remember, you can take less and do laundry.
8 "normal" socks (wear 1)
slip-ons or lightweight tennis shoes – comfortable! – These are packed in a plastic bag and stuck in a corner of the clothes duffel somewhere.
In-Camp Outer Layer Clothes –
Basic Bike Clothes - These are packed into 2 gallon
Ziplocs with one day’s clothes for one person in each bag. Remember
you can take less and do laundry.
Bad Weather Bike Clothes - packed separately in a Ziploc
- to substitute in when needed on wet days.
Outer Layer Bike Clothes - These are used throughout the whole week. Each night we listen to the weather forecast and choose what to wear. Coats and vest have full-front zippers so you have a wide range of temperature adjustments. Whatever is not being used each day is packed in plastic in the big duffels.
fleece vest – these are not wind-proof, but very
warm when combined with the windbreaker or raincoat
How to Pack 2 Duffels Going as a Pair:
Note: I chose what I put in which end pockets carefully. The two duffels fit end-to-end along the left side of our tent. The clothes duffel is closest to the door. This means the left pocket of it is behind the door when it is hanging open and harder to get into. Also, the main compartment of the clothes duffel is close to the door for easy access. The main compartment of the gear duffel is empty when the tent it pitched so that duffel collapses inward and it is harder to get things in and out of the end pockets. I put the basic bike clothes in the end pockets of the gear duffel since I do not get at them very often.
Clothes Duffel –
Left end pocket – backstock of carried items (sunblock,
etc.), 2 ziplocs of Bad Weather Bike Clothes, 2 ziplocs of basic bike
clothes (don’t fit in other duffel end pocket)
Gear Duffel –
Left end pocket – Bob’s bike clothes in
ziplocs (6 days)
How to Pack a Single Duffel Going Solo:
Left end pocket – bike clothes in ziplocs
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