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  1. #1
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Thanks- we're learning

    Just wanted to put a thank-you out there for all the information posted here and on bikepacking.net. We just did our first 'bikepacking beta test' overnight, although since it involved taking a 6yo we had to mod a few things. She was hauled in w/ a TAB off one bike, the stuff- including The REI 4-season/ 3 man Mega Tent- all thrown into a bob trailer off the other.

    Even on Memorial Day weekend, not another soul camping for miles at 4k feet on the east slope of the central Wa Cascades.


    Things we learned:
    - Keeping stuff light isn't a joke. We went as spare as we could and that whole lashup was heavy enough.
    - Our new Marmot down bags are the shizziest fo-shizzle EVAR. How can that much fluff possibly pack into a bag that small?!? BA air pad is a close second, making all stray pine cones/grass lumps/etc under the tent instantly vaporize.
    - The Mega Tent is rock solid even in 40+mph wind (a regular spring occurrence).
    - For adult-only trips: When we're ready to replace our little 2-man backpacking tent we'll skip the bivvy idea and go straight to another tent (BA Seedhouse 2 is currently in the lead). Between the wind and the cold and the bugs and my thrashing trying to keep my screwed up back from seizing up... tent FTW.
    - Even just hot water sucked out of the pan feels good at the end of a day, especially in the evening when the temperature starts dropping like a rock. The Stove Stays.
    - New esbit stove is pretty darn trick. Love the option of just shoving some twigs or a pine cone in there if you need a little more 'run time'. The Peak1 from our backpacking days was cool, but no extra emergency fuel for you!
    - The Mountain House mac & cheese needs to sit for longer than 9 minutes, and adding a cold pouch of chicken midway doesn't help.
    - Kids and adults will nosh down that slightly crunchy mac & cheese and it will taste awesome while huddled around an esbit stove in the middle of nowhere.
    - Kids + bikes + camping = excellence. We found our pot o' gold... it was us in this place, together, at this moment.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  2. #2
    gran jefe
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    love it! thanks for posting!

  3. #3
    A guy on a bike Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    - Kids + bikes + camping = excellence. We found our pot o' gold... it was us in this place, together, at this moment.
    Yes!

    Thanks for sharing everything that you've learned. The more kids that get into the mountains, the better!

  4. #4
    Cheesiest
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    That's awesome! My wife and I were just trying to figure out when would be the best time to do a bikepacking/touring trip with our two year old.

  5. #5
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    good effort in getting out there - keeping stuff light is no joke wihen hauling kids. My kids are 8 and 10, they have gone from being a carried load to little sherpa's - although we do get some complaints but 20lb max but usually only 10lb rear racks on the back of the kids bikes allows for a few luxaries (like wine, steaks and candies) in our bags. I just put a Topeak MTX, or sometimes a freeload rack on the kids bikes. I'll post some pics of our bikepack with kids trip last weekend later on.

  6. #6
    Single Speed Junkie
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    Sweet post. Makes me want to try and take our 6 year old out.

  7. #7
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by SimpleJon View Post
    ... My kids are 8 and 10, they have gone from being a carried load to little sherpa's - although we do get some complaints but 20lb max but usually only 10lb rear racks on the back of the kids bikes allows for a few luxaries (like wine, steaks and candies) in our bags....
    Getting the kids to haul in more so you can take wine... I love it, lol! Slipping a beer into my camelbak reservoir will be an option next time.

    Quote Originally Posted by crux View Post
    Sweet post. Makes me want to try and take our 6 year old out.
    Our daughter is 6 FWIW. The trick is to keep the ride in short enough that they're not totally flamed out by the time you arrive. We had 4 miles/1700' vert on a dirt road to get up to this plateau, which took us 1:30 to grind/push up (and we were actually surprised we got 'er done that quickly). This seemed just about right for her tolerance level. Now that she knows what to expect and she's looking forward to it, we'll be able to go a little farther next time. Taking lots of breaks is another tactic that works well for the kid's brain and mom & dad's burning legs.

    And the trip highlights are always different for the adults than the short people. Yesterday she said her favorite part was the little centipede she discovered just in front of the vestibule in the morning. Today she says it was cooking the noodles with the stove.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  8. #8
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    Awesome man, nothing like a beautiful and some camping to bring serenity!

    I actually use a Hennessey Hammock for my shelter which is great because it doubles as comfort, doesnt require a sleeping bag if you pack the right gear to wear and allows you travel ultra light. I use a 2012 Fox Oasis pack and the result is phenomenal

  9. #9
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickgann View Post
    ...I actually use a Hennessey Hammock for my shelter which is great because it doubles as comfort, doesnt require a sleeping bag if you pack the right gear to wear and allows you travel ultra light. I use a 2012 Fox Oasis pack and the result is phenomenal
    I climbed into a friend's HH for the first time a couple weeks ago and might experiment with one of my own next season. I think my back would like them quite a lot. However, I'm not yet convinced a hammock will be suitable for what we can run into without complex & costly mods that might not wind up with any weight savings at all.

    Gettin' skooled Cascade style: Years ago we did a backpacking trip into the Goat Rocks wilderness under a warm blue sky on what was predicted to be a beautiful stretch of weather at the end of July. After one gorgeous day a raging storm hit us with nonstop sideways rain and frost in the low patches of the meadow we were camped in. We walked down out of the storm a day later back into 70F+ and blue sky, while the ominous cloud bank hovered on the peaks behind us.

    Heck, there's been snow flying by (but not sticking) in town on the 4th of July, so it's not even like you have to 'go' anywhere to get some sketchy conditions. Marmot Helium bag FTW.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  10. #10
    Single Speed Junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    Our daughter is 6 FWIW. The trick is to keep the ride in short enough that they're not totally flamed out by the time you arrive. We had 4 miles/1700' vert on a dirt road to get up to this plateau, which took us 1:30 to grind/push up (and we were actually surprised we got 'er done that quickly). This seemed just about right for her tolerance level. Now that she knows what to expect and she's looking forward to it, we'll be able to go a little farther next time. Taking lots of breaks is another tactic that works well for the kid's brain and mom & dad's burning legs.

    And the trip highlights are always different for the adults than the short people. Yesterday she said her favorite part was the little centipede she discovered just in front of the vestibule in the morning. Today she says it was cooking the noodles with the stove.
    That is a great motivator for us. Wife is just getting back into riding and we are planning an early July trip about that distance up to Lost Lake here in NM. Daughter wants to try to catch a fish for the first time on the trip.

  11. #11
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    A hammock is rarely a weight saver except when it's super warm and your tent very light. It is almost all about comfort. The question becomes, is it enough extra comfort for you to carry a bit more weight? For me, it is.

    Good times bringing the kids along. Btw, kids love hammocks.
    Last edited by Harold; 05-28-2012 at 10:39 PM.

  12. #12
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    A HH is the tent though, so it is a definite weight savings.

  13. #13
    Trail Rider
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    This is a great report! Thats pretty awesome you managed to pack a kid in there too!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by nickgann View Post
    A HH is the tent though, so it is a definite weight savings.
    it is only a weight saving option if it's warm at night. the colder it gets, the more gear you need to stay warm and it will rather quickly exceed the weight of a comparable tent setup.

  15. #15
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    it is only a weight saving option if it's warm at night. the colder it gets, the more gear you need to stay warm and it will rather quickly exceed the weight of a comparable tent setup.
    That's totally it. Plus when you have 2 people (or in this case maybe 2.5?) that can share a lightweight tent like the BA Fly Creek UL3 at 3 lbs 10 oz, the math gets even stronger for the tent.

    I'm still interested in experimenting with a hammock just for my own curiosity and comfort, but that will have to wait until next year or so.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  16. #16
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    That's totally it. Plus when you have 2 people (or in this case maybe 2.5?) that can share a lightweight tent like the BA Fly Creek UL3 at 3 lbs 10 oz, the math gets even stronger for the tent.

    I'm still interested in experimenting with a hammock just for my own curiosity and comfort, but that will have to wait until next year or so.
    definitely. I choose a hammock for comfort, but there's only so much extra weight I'm willing to carry to satisfy those ends.

    I happen to love my Tarptent for those other times. I have a Cloudburst 2. For a real fully-enclosed tent, it's hard to get lighter.

  17. #17
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    Inspiring! We are a family of four – kids are 11 and 6 – and the wife and I have been drooling over bikepacking info for the last few months. We’ve charted out an easy overnighter for the two of us, but would like to include the kiddoes at some point. We’ve done a lot of backpacking, so I think we’re good on gear, but the little tips are really helpful. Rock and Ride!

  18. #18
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    Great story and love the 2nd picture!

    Quote Originally Posted by verslowrdr View Post
    - The Mountain House mac & cheese needs to sit for longer than 9 minutes, and adding a cold pouch of chicken midway doesn't help.
    On this I think you're saying it didn't hydrate completely and got cold? Anyway, you might consider a pouch cozy like this. I have an older one for the Enertia meals that was sold by trailfoods.com and it keeps the contents super hot, even after 8 minutes... even after adding a cold pouch of tuna.

    The thing is I don't think they make one for multi-person meal pouches so you would have to find another or improvise / DIY.

  19. #19
    since 4/10/2009
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    lots of folks make their own cozys out of reflectix material you find in the insulation materials aisle at Lowes/Home Depot/etc. I used it to wrap my water heater and I have some extra that I use for DIY projects like this.

    and for mac & cheese, skip the mtn house version and make the real stuff. The velveeta kind only requires boiling the noodles because the cheese sauce is already liquid. the plain kraft kind can be made with powdered milk and those single serve margarines from your favorite restaurant. you can even buy powdered cheese sauce separately and use whatever noodles you want.

    powdered milk is pretty useful on the trail as an ingredient. I once found little olive oil pouches that were the size of a ketchup packet. those were great for a calorie boost and flavor improvement of commercial meals, I need to restock.

    couscous is the perfect trail pasta, too. just add boiling water and let it sit in a cozy.

    on one hike I even brought along ingredients to make wraps. tuna in a pouch, your favorite flavored sauce repackaged, plenty of lettuce, etc. it was over 100deg that day and the food was fine on day 1. might not have had good veggies by day 2, but depending on the length of the trip you can include less resilient foods on day 1 and then saving the dehydrated and freeze dried stuff for the end of the trip.

  20. #20
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    Here is a page that tells how to build cozys, for pots and for bagged/pouched food. Build to size.

  21. #21
    Slothful dirt hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by random walk View Post
    On this I think you're saying it didn't hydrate completely and got cold?
    It was undercooked to a point beyond 'al dente'... It was something we found when we picked up the stove and we just nabbed it- the cost for the 2.5 of us for one night wasn't bad, and was backed up with pepperoni sticks and skittles. She thought she was livin' pretty large.

    ETA: Husby just stuck the pouch under his fleece pullover. I can vouch that's plenty 'cozy', lol.
    "...Some local fiend had built it with his own three hands..."

  22. #22
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    Personally I detest those dehydrated meals, they are all taste rubbish even the expensive ones specifically formulated for camping trips.
    The wife got one of those $50~$100 vacuum food sealers they are brilliant for bike packing Pack your food small in correct portion sizes and removing air makes the food last longer.
    I tend to dehydrate my own vege's in the oven fry up onions till they go crispy and brown, sun dried tomatoes / peppers and that type of stuff - then vacuum pack it all - in portion sizes. and take cured meats like italian sausage etc
    Instead of dehydrated cheese sauce with pasta I will use normal pasta and then then fry up some dried garlic / chilli in olive oil (also vacuum packed) and dump the pasta in the oil with grated cheese.
    It's a bit more work prior to the trip but it tastes a hell of a lot better, and it doesn't take up any more space or add weight

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