Personal setups, Smooth dirt and Road, Ultralight / Singletrack » personal setup: 5,9kg bike (initially!), 2,7+kg base gear, 145 day tour; Sstoz Tes



getty-up at campsite near Le Puy-en-Velay, France 2011-07-25

2 014 summer, I used this set-up for a 7 500km, 145 day bike-packing tour, following (to the extent possible) the major mountain stages of the three cycling tours — Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana, as well as the Criterium du Dauphine, Tour de Suisse and the World Championships (in Ponferrada, Spain). For mountain stages that I could not make during the races, I used the intervals between races to cycle to those regions and do the climbs. 2 011 summer, my girlfriend and I did a 77-day, 3 300km bike-packing tour of southern France, catching as many stages of the Tour de France as we could (5) and otherwise cycling in the Alps, Massif, Atlantic and Mediterranean regions and, finally, the Vercors.

The vast majority of both trips was on paved roads, typically rural “routes departmental.” These sometimes turned into double track and, rarely, single track, but were mostly in good condition. For the 2 014 trip, in Italy and France I camped nearly every night. Because Spain has a paucity of campgrounds and because it has an extensive network of pilgrim hostels in the region in which I cycled (the far north and west; they’re 7 – 17 euros/night, less expensive than campgrounds), I split my nights evenly between camping and hostels. For the 2 011 trip, we camped 70% of the time (sometimes “sauvage” but mostly of the paying kind) and stayed in hostels the other days.

For my 2 011 trip, my base gear had weighed 3,27kg and taken up 18 liters. For my 2 014 trip, I reduced this to 2,73kg and 16 liters, mostly by using an Apple iPod Touch (113g including USB cable and plug) to replace the dictionary, maps, book, and camera (340g aggregate). The iPod also allowed me to have better internet access, though, due to anti-terrorism laws in Italy and France, finding publicly-accessible wireless networks was often difficult. I saved a measure of weight with lighter clothing, too, particularly a lighter rain jacket, rain pants (from ZPacks) and shirts (Rahon) and long-johns. I also lightened the bike to 5,89kg, mostly by running 1 by 10 gearing. On a hot day I carried 2 liters of water in a water pouch. On a <300°K day I generally carried 1,2 liters – 1,5 liters. I also carried food, though typically less than 300g. For the sake of my back, I kept the aggregate backpack weight (base gear, water, food) below 5,5kg. I also wore light clothing. Helmet (195g), jersey (96g), shorts (145g), overshorts (145g), gloves (33g) and shoes (214g) combined to 864g.

My 2 014 set-up generally worked well. As in 2 011, my bike’s handling and climbing characteristics, both strong points for it, were not affected. I had no problems with back pain, butt pain was manageable (though I got a saddle sore (and strep throat!) after pushing too hard getting from the Giro d’Italia to the Criterium du Dauphine), I had ready access to my water and I felt unencumbered at the end of the day. Despite a wet summer, I mostly stayed dry and nearly always warm. As in 2 011, I thrice had some trouble sleeping due to cold (my gear was good down to around 280°K). I otherwise slept relatively well, despite my sleeping pad having been pilfered (which I did not replace) in Italy.

I did experience two significant equipment problems. The available mapping apps I used had either a enragingly unfriendly interface with useless features (GPS CoPilot, the GPS and dependent voice functions of which are non-functional) or, in the case of “crowd-sourced” mapping apps, whole areas that had no information at all. When my iPod Touch was stolen at a campground in France, I was forced to use tourist maps, which do not have sufficient detail for navigation, until I was able to procure a replacement iPod. More serious was an equipment failure on my bicycle. My rear hub, which had approximtaely 30 000km on it, failed in France, forcing me to purchase a wheel nearly twice as heavy (1 210g, v. 660g) for the duration of the trip.

If anyone is interested, I have specific gear reviews at a blog (

The base gear:

backpack: ZPacks Zero (24 liter; 96g)

sleeping bag: Western Mountaineering HiLite (200cm model; 523g, including sack)

tent: Gossamer Gear The One (633g, including sack, poles & stakes; the zippers eventually failed, but only after years of hard use)

extra clothing: long johns, rain gear, 2 shirts, hat, socks, et c. (629g)

toiletries: 79g (this varied a bit depending on how much I’d used of soap, tooth paste and medications)

bike-related items: tools, lock, lube, spare parts, et c. (519g)

other sundries: iPod, charger, spork, bowl (a converted 450ml Trader Joe’s plastic container) et c. (143g)

sleeping pad (attached to bike as a sort of fender): PlastaZote EVA (3mm by 50cm by 180cm; 56g, including straps; stolen and not replaced)

waterbag: MSR 2,5 liter (157g)

lights (attached to bike): Knog Blinder (30g)



Comments (11)

klackDecember 10th, 2014 at 11:49 am

cooking gear?

Sstoz TesDecember 10th, 2014 at 1:25 pm


The desert winds and crickets chirp on my post; thanks for the inquiry. To save weight, I do not carry cooking gear. Rather, I eat en route, which is a luxury of traveling on roads. Because I’m vegan, this means mostly bread, jam, muesli, fruit and (in France) ratatouille. That’s a sacrifice only in Italy, where the bread (save that in the Tyrol) is uniformly awful. In France, eating bread and jam is one of the best meals imaginable, and it is excellent energy food. The closest to cooking gear that I carry is an aluminum spork and a 450ml plastic container =)

Best regards

ChankMarch 14th, 2015 at 7:21 pm

Not too shabby.

Titanium bike? I’m assuming. Frame looks quite small so 13lb seems right if titanium.

I call bullshit on your 6lb pack weight though, and challenge you to prove it on using the real names of the items and their sizes. You didn’t have cooking gear but that would only weigh around 1lb.

Sstoz TesMarch 15th, 2015 at 12:14 am


Thanks for your comments. The bike is a medium-sized aluminum 2 001 Schwinn HomeGrown LE, which used a proprietary “N’Litened” tube-set. The frame weighs 1,39kg, which was light for the day, but aluminum frames with Deddaciai or scandium tube-sets can be had in the 1,00kg – 1,15kg range these days. Carbon fiber frames, of course, can be had in the 0,70kg – 0,85kg range. The lightest titanium frames can be had in the 0,85kg – 1,20kg range (e.g. the LiteSpeed Ghisallo and Vortex), but the typical titanium frame weighs 1,4kg – 1,5kg.

As for the weight of the crap I carried, I took up your challenge. You can see it at If you look at it carefully, you’ll see the absence on things others might assume are essential. I didn’t have a sleeping pad (after my 3mm PlastaZote EVA “pad” was stolen in Italy), for example, nor a towel (I used my jersey, which I washed every night anyway), sunscreen, extra bike shorts (again, I cleaned them every day), or flip-flops.

The weights given are the starting weights. Things like soap, chain-lube, and toothpaste varied as I used them and replaced them.

Best regards

ChankApril 6th, 2015 at 6:24 pm

A lot of these weights are incorrect, since when does an Apple iPod Touch weigh 17g? They weigh at least 100g… Unless you live in some kind of alternate lower gravity world? It’s okay to tell yourself that your total gear weight was 6lbs to make you think that it’s that light but it’s lame to try to make it seem like it actually is that light for bragging rights.

Sstoz TesApril 6th, 2015 at 9:34 pm


It is the charger for the iPod Touch, which has USB on one end and “Lightning” on the other, that weighs 17g. The iPod Touch (generation 5) itself weighs 83g (113g with a LifeProof waterproof, protective case; since the case proved to be neither, I removed it just before leaving France for Spain). The iPod Touch, as well as my passport and debit card, was always on my person, so it does not show up on the list. I noticed that LighterPack allows one to create a list of items on one’s body (rather than in a pack), which I will do in a bit.

I have verified the weights of each item on both an analog scale and a digital scale (accurate to +/- 1g). This is not an intellectual exercise. With this set-up I sweated and gritted through a lot of extreme weather, up some of Europe’s most difficult climbs (list available upon request!), and on a budget and with a diet that I believe most people would find suffocatingly restrictive. I consider that these lists, particularly when shared with the public, should be field tested in such conditions and for long periods of time. That is the case with this list.

Carrying a backpack while doing self-supported cycle-touring lends itself to extreme choices. Or perhaps I’m a wuss — I dislike cycling (or hiking) with anything over 5kg on my back. Since I typically carry 1,5kg of water and, on a hot day, up to 2,5kg, plus food (usually less than 500g in Italy and France, but in rural areas of Spain by necessity I often carried over 700g), making the backpack realistic required excising weight with gashes so deep that I think most would prefer other means of touring (e.g. panniers). Backpacks have the overwhelming advantage of simplicity, both enforced (because one cannot carry much) and definitional (because backpacks by definition are simpler than panniers), which I value over its disadvantages.

Jeff B.April 8th, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Chank: I fail to understand while you feel compelled to be such an abrasive, anal-retentive ass about Sstoz’s setup. Perhaps you’d be a little nicer and a lot happier if you rode your bike more, as opposed to quibbling over the weight of someone else’s iPod. Just a suggestion…

As for your post, Sstoz: impressive setup. Not sure I’d be comfortable with that rig, but I’m glad it works for you, and that you enjoy it! Be well and warm regards,


Noa RoosMay 16th, 2015 at 11:07 am

Well sad Jeff, and Sstoz – impressive and inspiring. I just bought a new bike for bikepacking and I will really try to keep the weight down.
Thanks for sharing Your experiences.

GattoneroAugust 15th, 2015 at 2:35 pm

214gr for cycling shoes? 660gr for a rear wheel? Details, please

Sstoz TesAugust 18th, 2015 at 2:11 pm


214g for shoes that I used for cycling. This is not to suggest that they are cycling shoes — due to their flexibility, Vivo BareFoot Ultra shoes (sans inserts, though I did elect to keep in the tongues), which are basically a wrap of EVA held together with paracord, are the least (performance-) cycling-appropriate shoe I can imagine. But they offer full-foot protection and one can wear them anywhere, including in the shower and in the rain. I found those to be killer apps for camping and riding in all weather. I was even able to get in a couple of runs in them, though without the inserts I don’t recommend it for heavy hitters.

The 28h rear wheel was made up of a Stan’s ZTR 355 rim (559mm), Sapim CX-Ray 2,0mm spokes, aluminum nipples and an ExtraLite UltraHub SP hub.

Best regards

GattoneroSeptember 13th, 2015 at 6:42 am

I see.
Would like to see the weight of cycling shoes dropping, there are only a few models ATM which are sub-600gr. Northwave are my favourite cycling shoes, they fit me well due to the wide toebox; unfortunately their lightweight model comes only in crazy colours, so I’ll wait a bit more.
As far as “normal” shoes, well I can’t be asked to used the pushing on the pedals for more than a few minutes. I use good cycling shoes and carry a pair of NewBalance Minimus when I need spare shoes.

Interesting approach yours, during my short trips I always see the other extreme: people touring with lots of un-necessary things and crazy weight across 4-5 big panniers. My opinion is to stay in the middle, taking what it needs to travel&live with basic comforts. I.e., on the last trip my bike complete with bags+full camping equipment (tent, sleeping stuff, full cooking gear, waterproofs, etc.)+basic food stock, it weighted 17kg altogether and I’m happy riding it

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