On my recent Flint Hills Bikepacking Tour, I rode my Salsa Journeyman on its inaugural tour. I have purchased and been experimenting with some bikepacking bags, but for this trip, I opted for a somewhat traditional setup with a rear rack and a single pannier. Here are some more details on my setup:
- Salsa Journeyman, Claris 2×8 drivetrain — The bike worked perfectly, no issues, comfortable, capable
- 700c Velocity Aileron wheelset, WTB Resolute 700×42 tires — Setup tubeless, really impressed with the supple ride, great choice for gravel
- Clamp-on aero bars — Just got these, and used them on this trip as an experiment. Not totally sold on them, but the extra hand positions are nice, as is the potential extra storage space. I mounted my phone in the center between the two bars, and I really liked that configuration. Still need to work on dialing in the ergonomics.
- Avenir rear rack — Cheap basic rack, but it’s reasonable light, and does the job. It carried my tent and sleeping pad, plus pannier.
- Sahoo 15L pannier — I played around with several options before settling on this one, including Ortlieb waterproof Back-Rollers (too big, too heavy, overkill), and Nashbar Daytrekker panniers (too small). This Sahoo pannier was cheap (~$20 from eBay) with a reasonable capacity. It’s not waterproof, but I was using dry bags, so that didn’t matter. It has a nice front pocket sized just right to hold my stove and fuel. Mesh side pockets are too small to be particularly useful. It mounts with hooks over the rack rail, and velcro on the lower rear. It was rock solid on this rack, even without using the velcro. I mounted it on the drive side of the bike, leaving the non-drive side clear for any hike-a-bike action. The pannier held my sleeping bag, clothing, electronics, and misc.
- Moosetreks frame bag — Another eBay score, size “small” is a perfect fit for my bike, attaches easily and securely, 6.5 liter capacity, used for on-the-go stuff.
- Alps Mystique 1.5 tent — I have a newer tent that hasn’t been field-tested yet, so I stuck with this old reliable model, and it didn’t let me down.
- REI TravelSack sleeping bag — 55-degree bag was fine for this weather.
- Therm-a-Rest foam sleeping pad — bulky but rugged, comfortable enough.
- Handlebar roll bag — Again, I had a proper front bag purchased, but wasn’t confident enough in it to use on a 5-day tour, so I settled for an old bag I had on hand. It held mostly snacks and such. It worked.
- Small seat bag with spare tube and tools.
- Bell Clinch 650 adjustable water bottle mounts for the front forks — Cheap, held bottles securely.
- Stem bags — Moosetreks on one side, Sahoo on the other. I like both of these a lot. The Moosetreks bag is a little more refined, but the Sahoo bag has better insulation.
- The bike rode fine with a single pannier, not an issue.
- A proper front bag would be an improvement, allowing me to carry a bit more capacity up front, freeing space for food in the rear pannier.
- I’m still not sold on the idea of a large rear seat bag over a rack/pannier(s). The latter provides so much more flexibility at the cost of a small weight penalty, and maybe(?) a point of failure in rough terrain.
- I think I’ll keep the aero bars, but I think they could do a lot more than just provide extra hand positions.
- The Alps tent is quite good, but I’d still like something smaller and lighter.
- I’m happy enough with the frame bag, stem bags, and fork cages. I may upgrade to Anything Cages for the forks, to provide a bit more carrying capacity.
- I may experiment with slightly wider tires, maybe 650×47 or larger. There was some really chunky gravel on this route, and wider at lower pressure is almost always better for those conditions.
Here are some photos from the trip: