Bike Touring: Gear Test For 750 Road Miles (so far)

The ‘Packing It Out’ crew is on a massive cross-country bicycle trip. Here the riders divulge on ‘The Four B’s’: Bikes, bags, bottles, and a BOB Trailer.’

Seth Orme and Abby Taylor are about 750 miles into a 5,000+ mile bicycle tour across the USA. They gather trash from scenic areas along the way, cleaning up America as they go. Here, the duo gives us a look at the four key pieces of gear that make “Packing It Out” on wheels possible.

Bikes: Co-Op Cycles Adv 2.1

REI launched the Co-op Cycles line this year. The company is a sponsor of our tour. The Co-op Cycles ADV 2.1 has proven a solid choice for our tour this year.

Modeled after the successful Novara Safari, the ADV 2.1 is a steel road bike made to take the bumps for hundreds of miles. It has the requisite bosses and rack mounts you need to tour plus wide 48c tires to handle heavy loads and a variety of terrain.

Its Shimano 27-speed setup is touted as a “mountain-bike-style drivetrain” that gives a wide range, from steep hills to descents where we need speed.

The brand notes it builds the bikes with “tried-and-true, durable components.” This includes thumb shifters, mechanical disc brakes, and the noted steel frame.

We’ve put over 750 gear (and trash) loaded miles on these bikes and have no complaints. The bikes even survived a mid-tunnel crash on the Blue Ridge Parkway without so much as a scratch!

With 4,500 miles left in our tour, we are excited to see how these bikes fair on the long haul.

Bags: Ortlieb and Granite Gear

Packing it out how to bike and clean up trash

This year, we chose panniers and storage bags proven on tours all around the world. Our bikes are each equipped with a pair of Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus panniers and Ultimate 6 Plus Handlebar Bags.

Inside these bags, we keep all of our equipment organized and protected with a variety of Granite Gear dry bags and zip sacks.

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The rugged Ortlieb panniers have more than enough space for our essentials, and loading them on and off racks is quick and easy. Magnetic snaps and clear tops on the handlebar bags make reading maps and reaching for a mid-ride snack super simple.

Granite Gear’s colorful, lightweight bags make organizing easy. The variety of sizes and fabrics means you can find something to suit any storage need.

Packing it out how to bike and clean up trash

This combination of products creates an ideal light, waterproof, and accessible storage solution for this year’s tour.

Not stressing about gear allows us to focus more energy on other things like logistics and trash clean-up.

Bottles: Klean Kanteens

Packing it out how to bike and clean up trash

While hiking the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail, I used a number of plastic water bottles, but also picked up thousands.

I used to carry plastic while hiking on purpose, for the light weight and the fact that if I broke it, I wouldn’t care as much if I broke a nice water bottle.

After picking up so many bottles off trails and trying in vain to pick up every photo-degraded sliver of plastic off the ground, I’ve sworn to use reusable bottles.

Klean Kanteen makes a variety of sturdy drinking and food vessels, both insulated and not. The company also has a goal to raise awareness and reduce plastic pollution. After picking up so much plastic, I’d say it’s indeed a worthy goal.

BOB Trailer

Packing it out how to bike and clean up trash

So far on this trip, passers-by make more comments and questions about our BOB trailer than any other piece of gear.

Something about seeing a bike with a trailer catches people’s attention, especially when it’s full of trash. Ol’ Bob has led to good conversations and allows us to share our story with a number of folks that we probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to chat with otherwise.

Our steel BOB Yak 28 Plus hauls up to 70 pounds of trash. The trailer pulls well and handles heavy loads with ease. Cleaning scenic spaces would be much harder without the trailer in tow

–Check out the crew’s 2015 and 2016 efforts on our ‘Packing It Out’ page. Connect with Abby and Seth on InstagramTwitter, and their blog.

–Our 2017 ‘Packing It Out‘ coverage is sponsored by REI.

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