Personal setups » an inexpensive setup


I try to do a couple 1-3 day trips every month and put together a basic setup which works well for 3 season camping in Colorado. The saddle bag, frame bag, and handlebar carrier were made from heavy ripstop or cordura salvaged from old laptop carrying cases. Most of the buckles and straps were taken from old wornout Camalbaks and packs. Thread, additional buckles, and straps cost under $4. The tarp is made from 1.1oz ripstop with a light waterproof coating. 3 yards cost just under $20 shipping included.

The setup

The front end
30 degree Sierra Designs down bag
5x9ft homemade tarp, 8 stakes, cord
Total weight – 3lbs 3oz

Frame pack
2 li ion batteries – 15 hours of run time
inner tube
patch kit
tire irons
misc tools
frame bag
Total weight – 1lb 4oz

medium weigh wool shirt
nylon shorts
wool hiking socks
wool hat
waterproof jacket
knee warmers
zip lock containing fire stick, matches, emergency blanket, toilet paper, tooth brush and paste, water treatment pills, swiss army knife, small first aid kit.
Total weight 3lbs 7oz

1 or 2 180 lum led bar lights, spot and flood
2 water bottles
air pump

On the body

Camalbak Hog with 100oz water
Montbell 120cm sleeping mat
rear flashing led
led headlamp for use use around the campsite and reading
2 trash bags, one large and one medium
550 cord
Cooking kit – homemade alcohol stove and stand, small Primus pot and cover
reading material – paperback book

My gear is pretty light and has held up well. I plan to make a quilt and lightweight bivy this winter and possibly a larger saddle bag for winter use.4 2144 217

Comments (12)

MelissaOctober 2nd, 2009 at 12:32 am


JimboOctober 2nd, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Did you make the lights yourself or did you purchase them?

12wheelsOctober 2nd, 2009 at 1:36 pm

I made the lights last year for under $30 each and that includes the cost of the li ion battery. They will be upgraded with the new Cree XPG, 300+ lum per light, if they turn out to be as good as the specs indicate.

JasonOctober 16th, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Hey 12wheels, I am interested in your light build. Do you have specs or a reference for construction? I would love to give it a try building my own.

12wheelsOctober 17th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Here’s a link to a post on them at the MTBR DIY Forum.
The lights were designed for bikepacking and are more efficient but not as powerful as quite a few of the homemade designs that many people use. The mount is really rugged and the lights don’t have to be removed if you flip the bike over and use it as a support for a tarp. The o rings which secure them to the bars can be found at most any hardware store or you can cut up an old inner tube to make a band.

There are more powerful and efficient LEDs available than the ones used with the 1st generation light and I’ll be using Dean connectors on my next versions. I’m also looking for a small driver which will allow me to run the lights at different, high/low, power settings. The Li Ion batteries were less expensive last year but can be purchased from All-Battery off of Ebay for less than they sell for on their website and you can use Bing to get a better discount.

JasonNovember 11th, 2009 at 2:19 pm

Thanks, 12wheels! I’ll be checking the light setup out!

BodSeptember 26th, 2010 at 4:28 am

Love your innovative use of your bike to set the tarp up; think I might have to steal your idea!
Nice bike too

[…] out this gear list and scroll down a bit… yep: “reading material – paperback book.” Ultralight […]

JohnDecember 18th, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Does your sleeping bag only have insulation on the top and sides? I think I have that bag and love it for 3 season bikepacking in co, though i spent a night in it at in june over 11,000 feet and it was a bit chilly.

12wheelsDecember 19th, 2013 at 6:45 am

I have the version with continuous baffles, the Wicked Fast, which allow you to shift the down from bottom to top for colder weather or top to bottom when it’s warm. It’s a great three season bag and good to around 30 degrees under a tarp. I switched to a quilt three years ago which is similar to the model you have but eliminates the fabric on the bottom to save weight.

JohnDecember 23rd, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Nice, that’s a pretty sweet looking quilt. I’ve been thinking about making one, but I think i’ll probably end up going with a comercially made quilt for simplicity’s sake. I think I have the wicked light, which I would love if I’d bought the long version, but as it is, it’s a bit too short so if it’s much colder than 35, I get chilly.

Andy WJanuary 9th, 2015 at 6:38 am

Maybe a daft question, but what stops your back wheel spinning when pulled by the tarp?

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