"Big Rubber" Adventuring

I haven’t been this excited about a “new” trend, since Gravel.

And of course it’s not new. Just “re-newed” thanks to Matt and Tabi’s BT700

And having worked all winter…they now have over 5000 kms of Bike Packing routes around (and across) Ontario with the new ONXL ONXL - BT 700 BIKEPACKING

There are a fast growing number of us who are “into it”…but none so much as the Queen (Taryn D.) and King (Steve S.). There are many others…Swarbs, Kyle, who could light up a discussion here if anyone has any questions.

Whether it’s a simple GNR overnighter with a hammock stuffed in a backpack (aka Mark Weymouth) or fully loaded frame-bags, saddle-bags, handle-bags for a 5-7 day tour like BT or the Hasty Highlander…there is no better way to find instant “freedom and happiness” than heading out on a bike-packing adventure.


Matt would admonish me for talking about fancy bikes and gear. He would say…just use what you got and go exploring. He’s right.

But…we’re cyclists. We like to talk about bikes, gear, weight, tire tread, width, pressure and other silly things. And it helps others who are thinking about such things. And everyone is proud of their bikes. So, here’s my Bike Packing Bike set up.

It’s a Stock 2016 Salsa Cutthroat. It’s specifically NOT a gravel bike. It’s a Monster Drop-Bar Mountain bike with IKON 2.35 (60mm) MTB tires. It’s got a super light carbon frame with a solid carbon front fork with road bars and road shifters and clip-on aerobars to haul ass and cargo over 700km in record speed.

Dave G. and I have plans for 4-5 Bike Packing adventures this summer. You may want to ask him what happens when you have a Klymit R1.4 Sleep Pad and a MEC Talon 5+ bag when it is zero degrees on the GNR with coyotes howling in the the middle of the night in November? I’ll let him tell the tale.


Alain hit the nail on the head, once again. What started as gravel riding has taken on a whole new dimension with bikepacking! I was first drawn to this in 2016-17 when my older bro and I started discussing it. We shared ideas on gear, packs, routes etc. In 2017 we started with an overnight to Turkey Point (on our fat bikes!). Later that year he and I did COLT with BT legend Matt Kadey and our buddy Hal (again on fat bikes). I’ve included a couple of blogs here. Last year, 2020, I did the Simcoe County Loop Trail, which many people ride in a day. But we added some loops and took our time to see the sights. I did this with my sister and brother-in-law.

With lockdowns, I have nothing planned for 2021 at this time, but if anyone has any questions, let me know! I’m always researching gear, routes, bikes.


2017 COLT bikepacking:

2020 SCLT bikepacking trip:

My latest bike/gear setup is blogged here:


This “Big Rubber” thread seems to be getting some hits. So let’s keep it going.

I (we) originally planned to do the GNR on the May 24. But with the Lockdown being potentially extended another 2 weeks, the first bike-packing trip may have to wait until June.

In the meanwhile, I thought I’d share one of my most coveted, curated and crafted lists. It is my Bike Packing Set Up for 2021.

It is over-thought, over-wrought, and overly-indulgent.

There are 109 items on this list. Probably cut it down from 200. It is version 12.0 and took approximately 5 months to collect, purchase, organize and test all this gear. Each line painstakingly considered, modified and yes…weighed.

This is for a 5-7 day ride. I would pair it down significantly (half) for an over-nighter like GnR or C300.

I kept myself busy all winter watching dozens (and dozens) of videos on bike-packing gear, read all the gear comparison websites and tips and techniques on how to back-pack and bike-pack and how to squish it all down into bags and shave precious grams off by cutting your tooth brush in half to using a trail bidet so you don’t have to carry toilet paper. I agonized over all the different components of the “sleep system” for about 5 months. I never want to watch another sleep pad comparison video in my life.

But still…the list changes every week as I learn more. So, feel free to question, criticize, scoff, roll your eyes (Tabi) or otherwise pan my choices. Because one thing is for sure…one person’s Ultra-Cush Monster 2-person tent, camp stove, drop-bar MTB set up is completely wrong for another person’s ultra-light race-winning over-night bivvy rig. Personally, I aspire to be more like Mark Weymouth on his CX bike with 33mm tires a couple of water bottles and a $40 hammock stuffed in his jersey pocket for the 350km GnR last summer.

As my Grand Mother used to say…To Each His/Her Own".

And bringing it back up to the guidance from Matt K…ride what ya got…don’t be a weight-weenie or a gear-snob. Just ride your bike.


P.S. Turns out I can’t upload the actual spreadsheet or even a .pdf…so I’ll just dump a few screen caps…you’ll get the idea and can build and share your own lists here.


Sheesh! And I thought I was overthinking, overspending and over-obsessing. The dangers of having too much time on your hands during never-ending lockdown maybe?
(Yes I do have a spreadsheet and thanks for reminding me I need fuel and a lighter…and about 50 other things LOL)
It will all pay off on the trail.
Let’s just get out there and do it!


Here is what we have planned for July. Fingers crossed.
600 km , 8 days ie easy pace 20+ microbreweries eastern townships gravel growler.
Soft core credit card bikepacking - hotels are all booked several 5star with spas and long wine lists
the only fancy equipment was a new gravel ebike for one of the non cyclists in the group
let me know if I should post in a different section for wusses


A wine flask is all well and good, but a scotch flask is much more practical!


You’ll love all this weight on those BT hills

Antihistamines and painkillers. Definitely scotch over wine.

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Makes sense. Scotch packs so much more punch per ounce.

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Not sure whether that is a bike packing set up or you are moving out. The list though is useful information. As for alcohol my choice is a flask of Goslings Rum. At this point I have the Cannonball (in reverse) planned for mid June. Nothing planned yet for the balance of the year but Matt posted some interesting routes up towards Blue Mountain that are likely to be sampled later on.

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