Bikepacking Israel event: References, resources, routes

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Join us Saturday night in Kfar Sirkin, Israel for an evening celebrating the simple pleasure of traveling by bicycle.  We’ve been in the country for three months, most often on or near the HLC track, joining weekend training missions to prepare for the HLC, touring the HLC, sharing the HLC with our friend Christina from Alaska (above), racing the HLC, and in my case, chasing HLC racers with my camera.  A collection of printed images will be on display from our time in Israel including postcard sized individual rider portraits from the HLC, which I will offer as a gift to all HLC riders.  All other images are for sale, so bring some shekels.  Help me lighten my load for the flight on Monday.

This reference is a companion to our bikepacking event in Israel.  For those unable to attend, some technical meat is contained in the links below, although we won’t talk about gear the whole time, I promise.  For a dose of inspiration, including words and images from our last few years by bike, dig deeper into the blog.  The search bar at the top of the page is a good place to start; the chronology or word cluster at the bottom is a fun way to navigate as well.  Be sure to read more about the other amazing riders listed below.

The equipment listed reflects a commitment to travel by bike and to an outdoor lifestyle, for more than half of each year.  It is not meant as a complete list, but only to share the more interesting choices.  Do not mistake the equipment we use as anything other than our best effort to enable the riding that we seek.  Each trip demands unique solutions, related as much to individual needs and preferences as the place or the weather or the terrain.  Lael has been sleeping without a sleeping pad for the past six weeks.  If you require a three inch cushion of air to sleep comfortably, don’t let us convince you otherwise.  Moreover, don’t make the mistake of thinking that it takes a lot of equipment to go bikepacking, especially here in Israel.  It doesn’t get any easier than Israel– the weather is great, the riding is great, you can camp all over the place, and if you really get in a bind you’ll have to fight off hordes of people who want to help.

I am especially proud of the list of European Bikepacking Routes, which I have extended to include the HLC and IBT in Israel.  This list is the result of 8 months of bikepacking across Europe, from Amsterdam to Athens via Ukraine, in the summers of 2013 and 2014.  Cheap flights from Tel Aviv enable access to some of the best bikepacking routes in the world, only a few hours away.  More established routes will appear in the next few years, and the opportunity for custom route design is limitless.  Read more about Bikepacking Europe: North Sea to the Black Sea in Bicycle Times #30.

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News, reviews, routes, and inspiration:

Bikepacker’s Magazine; USA/global

 

Routes:

European Bikepacking Routes

Pedaling Nowhere- Routes; USA/global

Bikepacking.net Routes (plus user-submitted routes); USA/global

 

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Luggage:

Complete list of bikepacking bag makers; global

Revelate Designs; the best, ready to ship from USA

Nuclear Sunrise; custom bags from Texas

InPack; custom framebags in Israel 

 

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Dynamo lighting and power:

Kerry Staite (K-lite) guide to dynamo lighting and charging

SP PD-8/PD-8X dynamo hubs; available from Intelligent Design Cycles

Supernova E3 lighting; E3 Triple headlight and E3 Pro taillight

Exposure Revo; light

K-Lite Bikepacker 600/1000; light

B&M USB-Werk; USB power

Sinewave Revolution; USB power

Forumslader; DIY charging designs (German)

Custom switches from K-Lite; recommended for most systems with lights and USB power

 

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Our favorite equipment:

Revelate Designs luggage

Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent

Western Mountaineering Summerlite sleeping bag

Mont-Bell Down Hugger #3 sleeping bag

Surly Krampus frame, lots of tire clearance

Paul Thumbies, thumb shifter mounts

Syntace P6 high-flex carbon seatpost

Answer 20/20 carbon handlebars

Light Bicycle 35mm carbon rims

Derby 35mm carbon rims, heavy duty

Ergon grips

Brooks B17 saddle

King Cage Top Cap water bottle mount

Maxxis Ardent tires, EXO or LUST casing

Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes

Fujifilm X100T digital camera

CrankBrothers M17 multi-tool

MSR Titan 0.8L titanium cookpot

Penny Stove, ultralight alcohol stove

 

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Inspiration:

Bunyan Velo; edited by Lucas Winzenburg

While Out Riding; Cass Gilbert

El Taraumara; Michael Dammer

Pedaling Nowhere; Logan Watts

Pedaling in Place; Joe Cruz

Zen on Dirt; Ezster Horanyi

Diary of Scott Morris; Scott Morris

Mjolnir of Bjørn; Bjørn Olson

Mike Howarth

Salsa Cycles Blog; MN, USA

Durable goods

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I’d rather not buy anything.  I will spend hard-earned money on durable goods to reduce cost over time and to ensure proper operation in use.  Unearthing equipment from the closet has exposed tired, torn and broken gear.  Some is repaired, some is replaced.  Some is ready to go, despite wear.  Getting ready for summer.

Carradice Camper saddlebag, repaired several times.

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Brunton cookpot, previously repaired (note handle from M5 bolt and housing ferrule), soon to be replaced.  Product discontinued.  Suggestions for an inexpensive .8L-1.2L cookpot, not too deep not too shallow, not too heavy?

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Big Agnes Seedhouse SL2 tent, previously repaired, several parts replaced.  In use for almost 5 years.  Ready to go.

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Klean Kanteen 40 oz and 64 oz bottles.  One large bottle dented, one smaller bottle broken from severe freeze.  Water always tastes good and can be warmed over stove.  Dented bottle, ready to go.

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Tires.  Since tires are consumable by design, it is common to consider the price of a tire in relation to durability and other features.  I prefer Schwalbe touring tires for puncture resistance and durability, wearing several tires well past 10,000 miles.  Maxxis makes some tough mountain bike tires that we like.  CST, Geax, and Kenda sell some great tires at a great price.  Reflective sidewalls are a useful feature, with no downside.  I am always looking at tires.

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Nylon quick-drying shorts, without liner.  Cheap and durable, good for riding, swimming, sleeping, walking, everything.  Cotton t-shirts– everyone is giving them away.  Need new shorts, probably Patagonia 5″ baggies.

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Wool long underwear is comfortable, wicks moisture and resist odors.  Wool is not particularly durable compared to synthetic fibers.  I generally trust Ibex for quality.  I generally avoid Smartwool clothing, but recent experiences are changing my opinion.

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EMS down jacket, in use for two years.  Down is always said to last a lifetime.  That may be the case in the closet, but in the real world a garment will have a finite lifespan.  I recently replaced the zipper slider and  have patched several holes with duct tape.  I am searching for a purpose-specific ripstop fabric tape.  Light and warm, ready to go.

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EMS Deluge jacket, made of Gore-Tex Paclite fabric, which boasts waterpoofness and breathability in a lightweight package.  The zipper is fatally scrambled and the fabric has worn in several places in two years of use.  Replaced.  The exact same jacket is on order.  Otherwise, I would have gotten the Marmot Minimalist, but this jacket fit me better.

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Salomon mid-height Gore-Tex hiking shoes.  These are the best all-weather biking shoes I’ve ever used.  Expired, due to extended hard use.  Need replacement.

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Patagonia Capilene 2 long-sleeve top.  My current clothing system relies upon this layer, over top of a lightweight wool shirt, and a cotton t-shirt.  Walz cycling cap has outlasted nearly a dozen chains.

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Revelate Gas Tank, top tube bag.  Fits more than you’d think and built light and tough.  Ready to go.

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Sea-to-Summit eVent compression drybag.  Durable, ready to go.

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Enameled steel camping mug.  Tough as nails, beat to shit, ready to go.

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Thermasrest Prolite sleeping pad.  Either it is durable or I am lucky, but this has been with me for over a year without any punctures.  I have punctured mats from REI and Big Agnes.  I have repaired several holes in the past with bicycle patches and duct tape.

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Mont-Bell UL3 Down Hugger sleeping bag.  This is one of the best in class, and after several years of testing bags, I have landed on this model.  Lael loves her Western Mountaineering Summerlite bag, except when it is 12deg at night.

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Brooks saddle.  Comfortable.  More notably, this saddle has been extremely durable.  People often mistake it for a new saddle.  I smile and respond that is has seen over 30,000 miles since October 2009.  Lael loves the stock saddle from her Cannondale Hooligan.  If I was to buy a new saddle, I’d pick one up for $35.

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Steel bikes.  I’ve broken one steel frame, but I’ve also ridden dozens.  I would not hesitate to ride aluminum, yet I still ride steel.  Titanium would be nice, but it’s out of my price range.  Steel wins again.  The Pugsley is coming to Europe.  Shown here with 26×3.8″” tires on 65mm fatbike rims last summer, I am currently building 29″ wheels for our upcoming journey.  Thinking about Rabbit Hole rims.

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For further details, revisit my Kit List posts from last fall.