Are you looking to get a little more adventurous on your bike? Are you curious about bikepacking but not sure whether you want to spend money on whole lot of new gear? Flashpacking might be for you. Sarah Hammond has a lot of experience running flashpacking trips here at Curve. In this blog post, Sarah explains what flashpacking is and what you should pack.
What is Flashpacking?
I think of flashpacking as a multi-day ride where you stay inside at accommodation you have arranged along the way. In Australia, this accommodation is usually caravan parks, motels or country pubs. I've also seen the term credit card touring used for the same idea.
What makes flashpacking interesting is that you don't need to take sleeping equipment, like sleeping bags, tents / bivvies and pillows. You can travel a bit lighter, still have an awesome adventure and don't need to invest in much new gear. Flashpacking is a good gateway drug to bikepacking. If you're curious about bikepacking, either racing or touring, it's a good idea to try a flashpacking trip or two first, just to make sure you really enjoy it.
Flashpacking trips are great fun. Get together a group of friends, plot out a course, make sure you've planned spots for good meals to share some laughs and refuel at the end of each day, and get ready for a fun adventure.
Pack List for Flashpacking
Below, I've outlined my pack list for Flashpacking trips. It includes all the gear that I take on my weekend adventures. It is important to be self-sufficient and prepared for any situation. Whether it's nasty weather or mechanical issues, I like to carry the gear that will get me out of 99.9% of scenarios. If something does go wrong, that's often when the adventure starts!
There's no such thing as bad weather, only bad equipment (and a bad attitude). It's important to have the right clothing for they conditions you are likely to experience. Here's what we take on our trips:
- Waterproof jacket
- Wind jacket
- Insulated jacket
- Base layer
- Arm warmers
- Leg / knee warmers
- T-shirt and shorts (our version of Lycra). We wear this all weekend on and off the bike and don't bother with a spare change of clothes. If you want a change of clothes, that's fine - you just have to carry it
- Thongs or slides, or just wear your MTB shoes off the bike, like we do
- If the weather is ugly, we also pack waterproof pants and socks. But if we're staying indoors overnight and can have a warm shower, we often won't worry about these items.
You don't want to skip on rain gear. Good waterproof gear is not cheap, but worth it. I will spend a few bucks on a t-shirt to ride in but hundreds of dollars on waterproof gear. Here at Curve we sell the awesome 7mesh waterproof jackets. Whatever jacket you get, make sure it really is waterproof - yes, I'll admit to standing in the shower with my jacket on to check.
Tools & Bike Parts
The following list of gear will help you get out of most situations. I pack most of the following into zip lock sandwich bags, although you can also use some of the great pouches that are available nowadays.
- 2 x spare tubes. You should really be riding tubeless for anything remotely adventurous, but if you do get a flat, and plugs won't cut it, you need a back up.
- 2 x tyre levers. Make sure you get some robust levers, ones that won't snap under load.
- Tubeless repair kit. You will get out of most flat tyre situations with a tubeless repair kit
- Small sealant bottle.
- Patch repair kit
- Multi tool with chain breaker. Make sure you have the bolts on your bike covered (there was one time I got caught our when I needed a 2.5mm Allen key to replace my brake pads)
- Quick links
- Pump (I wrap gorilla tape and electrical tape around the pump for emergency use)
- Spare brake pads. If it’s wet and muddy, you will wear through brake pads fast
- Cable ties / Zip ties. Sometimes if you are struggling to solve a problem, just think about how you would solve it with a cable tie. You'll be surprised how often that helps.
- Tyre boot
- Chain lube
- Spare chain links
- If you want to go the extra mile, pack some spare cleats and cleat bolts and consider a Fibre fix spoke too.
Do you need help sorting out your pack list? We've got you covered at Curve. We have a range of Lezyne gear (multi-tools, pumps and pouches) as well as tubeless repair kits, lube and sealant. This curated selection of gear is what the Curve squad uses for their adventures.
- Spare front and rear light (always have back up lights)
- Navigation device (Garmin, Wahoo, etc) and batteries or a charger to keep it running all weekend. Don't forget to load the course as well. It's good to load it onto your phone as a backup. I like to upload a kml file to maps.me for this
- Wall charger
- Cables for phone, lights and battery pack
- Battery pack
Other Things to Pack
- Sunscreen (if it's that time of year)
- Lip balm with sunscreen
- Cash (some shops in small towns won’t accept cards, and sometimes EFTPOS machines go down)
- Medications / vitamins / painkillers
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- 2 x 1 litre water bottles (check SiS, Zefal or Elite options)
- Basic first aid gear - Space blanket, Bandaids, antiseptic (betadine)
- Hand sanitiser
- Food / Snacks. This is your fuel - make sure you have some base calories that you know you can always eat (eg sandwiches, muesli bars, etc), something sweet (to get out of a hunger flat fast) and something salty (to fend off dehydration - nuts, chips, etc).
How you pack your gear is a very personal thing. There is a wide range of great bikepacking bags available for you to carry all your gear. Some people use saddle packs as the main luggae item, others like handlebar rolls. You can even carry a backpack. It’s up to you.
My preferred set up is as follows:
- 1 x large top tube bag
- 1 x feed bag
- 1 x frame bag
- 1 x large saddle pack (waterproof)
- I use dry bags to pack my clothing. I normally put warm clothing in one and waterproof in the other
Getting Ready for Adventure
Aside from having the right gear, there are a few other things to get sorted before you head out on a flashpacking adventure:
- Tyres: Make sure you have tyres that are close to new and be sure to choose a robust tyre. Tyres are the source of most mechanical problems that we've seen people have on flashpacking rides. Turning up with bald and worn tyres is asking for trouble. Turning up with ultra light tyres with super thin sidewalls is also asking for trouble.
- Sealant: Tubeless is the only way to go. Make sure you top up your sealant before you leave.
- Brake pads: Starting your ride with near-new brake pads is a smart move, especially in wet and muddy conditions.
- Make sure your bike is in good working order. If you are riding with a group of friends, and your bike is squeaking and creaking all weekend, there's a good chance you will be looking for new friends at the end of the weekend.
At Curve we can make sure your bike is ready for adventure. If you're in Melbourne, why not book your bike in for a service? We can also give you some tips on mechanical matters to help get you out of trouble.