When I started planning my Alps trip I knew I was going to have to invest in quite a lot of kit; I've never been a particularly avid adventurer so didn't previously own any camping equipment. Given I'm taking quite a leap of faith by heading straight into a two week bike-packing adventure from doing nothing of the sorts, I decided it would be sensible to strike a balance between getting good kit, but holding a sensible budget.
My initial research online lead to me to some ridiculously nice tents that weighed about 500g but equally cost £500 - is there really any need for such extravagance? Some will argue yes. I on the other hand, invested in some Google time and found the kit that I think sits nicely in the middle and therefore was purchased for my trip.
Let's start with the bike; I wasn't going to buy anything so had to choose between the two most sensible bikes in my possession. The first is the Ribble R872; a carbon fibre, rim braked bike with a fairly aggressive position. The second is the Ribble CGR, a disc brake, wide tyre bike with pannier mounts. I think it's pretty clear from the descriptions which I chose. The CGR just feels more robust and I didn't feel quite as bad whacking a 34/50 crank and 11-32T cassette on. The pannier mounts would be handy too, but I opted for different luggage options.
Again, after a reasonable amount of research I opted for the current bike-packing trend of the pannier-less setup, utilising various bags attached to the frame and seat-post in strategy locations. I opted to buy the full Restrap range for the trip as shown in the photo below. It's not necessarily in fitting with my 'keeping it cheap' ethos, but I have been using as part of my commuting setup too so figured I could justify the cost. It's made from 'military grade' material and I've proven it's waterproof. I have 14 litres on the front, 12 litres on the back, and 8 litres in the frame bag.
Bar Bag // Tent
The bar bag on the front of the bike holds my tent. I settled on the Vango Nevis 100; a one person trekking tent weighing 1.49kg (trail weight). It's held up by one pole and some tent pegs so might be a little bit of a faff each day, but given I've only dropped £70 on getting it from Ebay I'm willing to risk that; my longest day is only 70 miles anyway so I should have plenty of time each day to pitch. It fills the front bar bag alongside my quick dry towel.
Rear Bag // Camping and Clothes
I was able to fit a lot more into the rear saddle pack than I expected; the sleeping bag (Alpkit Pipedream 200) and camping mat (Alpkit Numo) packing really neatly into the base of the bag to keep the weight central on the bike. They weigh 450g and 400g respectively and cost £150 and £39; not the lightest kit but again, nowhere near the most expensive. The sleeping bag is a summer only piece of kit which is fine because I have no intention of sleeping outside in winter.
On top of those two bulky items I'm able to fit some of my cycling clothes; a spare pair of shorts and a jersey, as well as my off the bike kit, which I have opted to be a pair of Nike leggings and a Dry-fit wicking tee; lightweight sports wear given I'll not spend much time wearing none-riding clothes.
Frame Bag // Clothes and Tools
I chose a medium sized frame bag in order to force myself to keep the weight down. In here I have the rest of my kit; a lightweight gilet, rain jacket, nano-flex arm warmers, knee warmers, a pair of socks and some pants. I'll be washing my kit along the way so no need to panic!
As the frame bag in split into compartments, I'll keep my tools in here; I've listed out everything below in more detail. The Pro Bike Tool foot pump will be strapped to my bottle cage though rather than going inside the bag; given the extra weight I suspect I'll be more likely to puncture. I'll also chuck some toiletries in this section to help clean me and the kit each day.
Top Tube Bag // Power Pocket
The top tube bag is basically my power station. In there will sit a battery pack from Anker capable of charging my phone and Wahoo several times before needing a top-up of power. I'll keep the cables in here alongside the often forgotten plug adaptor for when I do get mains power. Most importantly though the passport and EHIC go in here so that they're always in sight.
Food pouch // Snack Pack
This handy little bag by Restrap attaches on top of my bar bag and is somewhere handy to keep a couple of gels in case of emergency and a pack of electrolytes; I'm not packing light so might as well take a few extra items to make sure I get around in one piece. I can top this bag up each day from the supermarket when required. Bread, ham and cheese anyone?
Complete Kit List:
- Euro's / Swiss Francs
- Wahoo / Camera / Phone cable
- Sleeping bag
- Camping Mat
- Rain Jacket
- Bib Shorts
- Arm warmers
- Leg warmers
- Tee & leggings or shorts
- Pump / Tubes (x2) / Patch kit / levers
- Quick Link / Mech Hangar / Brake pads
- Multi tool
- Face wipes
- Mini antibacterial shower gel / Toothpaste & Brush
- Exposure MaxxD
- Exposure Blaze
- SiS Electrolytes / emergency gels
I've read this list back and I'm fairly sure I've probably forgotten something important, so please point out if I have; if not, I have two weeks to figure it out! Safe to say I'm officially bricking it for my first adventure now!