Tour Divde Gear List
Meant to do this some time ago. Here is a quick rundown of my Tour Divide Bikepacking setup. I can recall an interview with a thru hiker called Squeaky. He triple crowned (CDT, PCT, AT) in one calender year! pretty amazing. He mentioned that his gear wasn’t always the lightest, but the fastest. Most of the time they are one in the same but sometimes they aren’t. If you have to futs with your gear because it was built too light, you’re blowing it. I am slowly learning that lesson.
Bike – Monē Continental
Building a bike specifically for the Tour Divide is big. The first year I rode the divide I designed and built a bike at Black Sheep Bikes. Sweet bike for sure. That bike was built on 100% my speculation and research. I’d never ridden the divide before, so what else did I have. When I look at many ‘Divide’ specific bikes, I see some good ideas and some others that seemed to be based on speculation just like my Sheep.
The Continental wasn’t based on speculation, it was based on divide riding and more than a few hours in the saddle pondering how to best solve the ultimate divide rig dilemma.
The bike is designed to run drop bars. The geometry of the frame is decidedly road inspired keeping a semi-aggressive position to maximize aerodynamics which is something widely neglected on the divide, but I think that shit adds up. If you can be comfortable while being aero, DO IT. It’s non suspension corrected, meaning it’s made to run a short fork, not allowing for the addition of a squishy fork. Makes for super classic lines, in my opinion.
Let us not be disillusioned, most anything can successfully be ridden down the divide. I would be happy to pick a number of sub $500 bikes on craigslist that would make it the distance, but as a white man in America, or more generally, a person of privilege from the first world, I want something schweet, not just a $500 craigs job that will make it..
Frame materials can be argued all day but since it’s my blog, lets just say that if it’s not steel it’s junk. Steel can be readily repaired in almost any town along the divide route. It’s generally revered as a very comfortable frame material, which I would whole heartedly agree with. For the divide, if I had my choice, steel would be it.
Big ass tires. My moto for the divide has become; ‘It’s not how fast your bike is, it’s how long you can sit on it.’ If you’re not comfortable on the bike than it doesn’t matter how tough your resolve is, you will come up with a reason to hop off with greater frequency, no doubt. The divide isn’t about how much you can endure, I would argue that it’s about how good you are and making the experience the most endurable. Tires. Big tires. Comfy big tires is a great start.
Surly 3.0 Knards 120 tpi
I have put thousands of miles on these tires. My first set lasted an entire divide, a summer/winter of riding and a ride down to Silver City from Vail. Guessing around 5000 miles. Not too bad especially for the lighter model. I love the tire because it’s big..it also happens to have been the only one on the market for some time. Surly launched it along with their Krampus. It is just slightly too big for any frame on the market save a few fat bikes. Good moves Surly. It retails for $120 per tire. Two thumbs down for price. Also, for $120 I would expect quality control to be a bit better. I have yet to see one without a significant wobble. My last set literally had a hole in the sidewall brand new. Thank the baby Jesus for stans. Long and short, super fun tire with some QC issues. Might consider Vee Rubber’s 3.0×29 for future builds.
SICK! At 590 grams it’s lighter than Surly’s Rabbit Hole rim by 109 grams. That’s a half pound for two! The 35mm width gives the the Knard 3.0 a good profile for divide riding, retaining some efficiency by rounding the tread a little. For trail riding I would probably go with Velocity’s Dually which is their 45mm offering. The wheelset is all Velocity. No issues with their hubs, me gusta mucho. Well done Velocity.
Light, relatively cheap. I would skip the unsealed XC BB and go straight for the All Mountain sealed version. The xc made it right up until it’s first submersion in a creek.
Dirt Drop Handlebars
I have no idea who makes them…wish I did, but I don’t. They are much more narrow than the woodchipper or midge. Perfect. Love them. Hand positions for days. Gel, cork, and more cork. Get greedy with hand padding, because why not.
No aero bars this year because they bum me out and look bad.
Hope V-twin Brakes
Dropbars require drop bars levers. If you’re a baby like me, you want hydraulic brakes, no question. For a long decent or just general performance they are light years ahead of BB7’s. For the Divide mechanicals are a fine choice but not my first. I haven’t tried the drop-bar hydraulic options that TRP has or Formula but the V-twin did the trick for me. The V-twin is a compact gizmo that attaches to your steerer tube and sits under your stem. It accepts the cables from drop bar levers and actuated hydro cylinders to squish brake fluid to run hydralic calipers. The runs of cable are short to minimize stretch so the brake feel remains relatively tight, not quite full on hydro tight, but decent. The achilles heel of the system is how the cables are captured in the unit…a tiny brass sleeve over the cable with two set screws. It does a good job of holding the cable but it frays the cable in the process, so, for whatever reason, you wanted to pull the cable out you couldn’t get it back into the unit. Solution: carry a spare short cable? It makes up for it by being the easiest hydraulic brake to bleed. 8mm wrech, open, squeeze, shut, repeat. extra fluid is on board in the reservoir. Not saying it’s immune to a line failure, but you could do a rudimentary bleed it you had to..
How cool are these things. nuf said.
Black Sheep Ti Seatpost
Because I had one. Because of the geometry of the bike I don’t show a lot of post, but if you were, the benefit of a titanium seatpost is amplified. Many frame manufactures sell riders on something called compliance. How much flex or movement. Compliance is most important at two places, your ass and your hands. For your ass, many bike manufacturers would have you believe that compliance comes from seat stays. Bend them, make them out of carbon, put an elastomer in them (actually that one works..) all sort of tricks to make them ‘comply’. The reality is, that even though the design is intuitive (marketable), it’s still a triangle, very stiff by design. Real deflection at the rear axle, or your ass is minuscule. Instead of modding out the rear triangle, adding a flexible cantilever beam, ie; your seatpost is much more effective. Nothing is better at flexing than titanium and the longer the beam the better.
For your hands, it’s all about fork flex. The suspension of a rigid bike is like a wishbone, and the movement of the wishbone is largely dependent on fork flex. If you have ever come into some deep washboard at 40+ mph then you know what I am talking about. A well designed steel fork is great for this.
Even more important that a compliant seatpost are compliant seat rails. Watch someone ride rough terrain in the saddle it becomes very obvious which part of their bike is flexing most…the seat rails. If you are on the heavy side or wear a large pack, skip it, but if you can afford it, ti rails are where it’s at. You also can’t argue with the hammered copper rivets. The Team Pro has become my saddle of choice. A little wider than their racier options…I have 4 of them, the divide one in titanium, I’m a white guy in America..
Look S-track pedals
Used egg beaters my first year. Did fine but didn’t have a lot of surface area which is what the s-track prides itself on. The egg beaters also have a terrible reputation concerning durability, so i switched. Haven’t had particularly bad or good luck with pedals in the past but I will say between single track at home and the AZT I did a ton of walking on these cleats and they seemed to not degrade in their engagement at all. A little annoying that all your buddies run SPD and can’t click in but that’s the French for you.
DT Swiss Thru Axles
If you are running Maxles, throw them away. The DT axles don’t have any quill shenanigans like the maxle ones and can be cranked down without issue. Oh, and they don’t break. I ran the Rockshox Maxle until my front end became noticeably loose, tightened, broke, switched over to DT Swiss and never looked back.
Luggage: Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks
This is one area where speed trumps weight. The first year I ran bags of my design and construction. Amazingly light but lacked convenience, usability and durability. Dave Wilson has been in the game for a long time and his bags are a testament to that. Very well thought out, extremely high quality, durable to no end. There is nothing worse than messing with luggage failure, and NSS luggage will nip that in the bud. It’s a step up from Revelate and it looks better too.
Aerodynamics is another key factor for me when choosing my luggage. I want to avoid the big wide handlebar roll at all costs. The key for me is a generous frame bag. I run a bladder in the top compartment because it’s the most efficient way to carry a lot of water. The tank bags are huge for convenience items.
This year I went back to a seat bag that I made, which was an improvement over years past but still pails in comparison to Dave’s stuff. I will not make the mistake of doing anything but NSS again.
Bag, Golite Ultra 20 quilt
Had it forever. warm, light, relatively cheap
Bivy, Titanium Goat Ptarmigan
Super light, NOT, however, a substitute for a shelter…mistake on last ride. Not a bad Bivy though.
My future divide sleep/shelter choice will be a tarp that pitches with the bike as a post and smart guy lines to minimize stakes, no bivy. Nothing is slower than having to camp early because you can’t adequately camp in rain. Jay P says ‘if it’s raining I’m riding’…not me, the Divide is too long for that shit.
I ran a super light Montane jacket in years past but it could not be considered rain/weather proof in the least. On my last ride I saw rain almost every day I was out and this jacket was the difference between enduring and misery. It was also a great warmth layer allowing me to skimp on other layers. Not super light but when it’s wet it’s what you want. Real performing rain gear is key during the monsoon.
Patagonia Torrentshell Pant
Again, not the lightest option (this was the first year I carried any rain pant) but was a big part of staying warm in the cold and wet. Another Jay P call… Both Patagucci items where freebees which is also important when finding good rain gear cause this shit is spendy! Might be able to save some weight here (raingear) but this is what I have…
Noname Midweight wool layer
Ditched the arm/leg warmers. Lost convenience, saved some weight. Not sure how I would do it in the future…
Pump, Lenzyne Micro Drive
If you’re Matt Lee and run your tires hard all day every day, then by all means, carry just the tiny carbon pen-pump, but if you want to vary the pressure in your 3.0 29er tire, carry something to get the job done in under 500 strokes. I am varying my tire pressure from 10 psi to 35 psi with regularity. Coarse knowledge is big here because I know when there is a very rough or loose section I won’t hesitate to drop the pressure. I also know if there is a long pavement section to bring it way up or if it’s just temporary I leave it. I have three general pressures I like to go with. 35psi for pavement or smooth mag-chloride, 18-20 psi for general gravel work, and ~12 when I know it’s going to be rough/loose like the Brazos or Idaho rail to trail. This pump is sweet. I would add the pressure-gauge-hose as well, not sure where mine ended up…
Cheap, rechargeable, does the job. Pretty bright. Tiny headlamp for backup.
Nice Aux Battery. Good for two headlight charges/two iphone charges. All I need between wall outlets. I carry a multi port USB wall charger. Enough to charge Iphone, light, and battery at once. Important as to not worry about switching over during sleep etc… All USB to use with battery or wall charger. Super simple solution. A bit on the heavy side but cheaper and simpler than gen-hub setup.
2 super light 26er tubes
Not sure how to do it any lighter. I also carry a little stans and a presta adapter to get a tubeless set back up at a gas station.
Iphone for navigation backup, still don’t remember every turn. Matt Lee brags about no nav aids but i’m not quite there yet. OG Spot to save on the batts. Camelback 100oz bladder with hose to bars. Cockpit is clean, hose for drinking and mount for light. No 100 gadgets on bars, not into it. Zinc for sunscreen (small and light). Half travel toothpaste.
Before my first thru-hike I researched the shit out of gear I was going to take along. Was pleased that I had done so because the resulting pack weight was in the 6 to 7 lb range…right where in want to be for a long hike in my opinion. This is pretty much identical to my Pacific Crest Trail Gear List. So here’s me adding to the collective knowledge. The goal with the setup is a balance between low cost and lightweight and often times those two factors are not mutually exclusive. Often times the lightest shit is also stupidly inexpensive.
THE BIG 3
PACK- The J. 19.9 oz
I came up with the design while hiking the PCT.
Concept: Pack that also serves as a ground cloth.
‘boot lace compression system’ to always ensure optimum pack compression. From a 7 day carry to the last day before town, The J will always be the perfect/smallest size. Perfect if you want to appear like a badass when a legendary hiker is in your presence. If you’re gonna meet scott williamson you are gonna want to be rocking a tiny pack. This also replaces the need for all stuff sacs!
-Doubles as a GroundCloth. Complements a floorless tent by acting as a perfect groundcloth. Now the pack is part of the sleepsystem!
-Swallows up all gear in a snap. Perfect for any speed-packer who is looking to minimize breakdown times or just as slick for anyone who prefers to stay organized on the trail. All gear is simply places on the groundcloth and folded once inside, aided by three elastic straps. From there it simply rolls up, like a Joint. A foam pad such as a Ridgerest or Gossamer Gear’s Nightlight is recommended to keep shape.
-Dyneema Gridstop. At 4oz/yard, it’s an obserdly strong and durable fabric for the weight.
Coated to be waterproof resulting in a pack that is very water resistant. I never use a pack cover. The same fabric that Golite, ULA and MLD use in their packs. Each line of spectra can hold 150 lbs!
Super Bomber construction ensure that this pack is ready for multiple thru-hikes. No more 2500 mile disposable packs. This bitch is ready for a triple crown. Bar tacks on bar tacks, double reinforced everywhere. Ultralight doesn’t have to mean Ultra-pussy.
–Super comfortable. Wide padded shoulder straps mean your shoulders won’t suffer
- Backpack that is a groundcloth
- Light – just over 1 lb for GroudCloth and Pack
- Optimum compression all the time
- Stay organized with big pockets and minimize breakdown time
- Super durable- other lightweight packs can’t touch this
- Comfortable – huge padded shoulder straps
- Steezy design- find a more stylish pack…can’t….science
Shelter – Original Shires TarpTent 18.2 oz
- Perfect shelter. Encompassing enough not to require a bivy (death coffin) but at just over 1 lb with poles and stakes way lighter than a regular tent of tarp-bivy combo. Also bug proof…sanity preserved.
- Henry Shires puts the plans for this tent on a website in which he is SELLING TENTS! A classy move. http://www.tarptent.com/projects/tarpdesign.html
- ~$40 in materials…really?
- Has survived 3 thrus
- I carry 6 stakes and only a front pole. Sticks and rocks provide the rest
- ***Arguably best feature, no floor. Need to pee? Lift quilt, roll over, lift side of tent, let-er-rip.
Not so Good
- Not the sturdiest shelter in high winds. Careful site selection required
- Sil-nylon stretches when wet. Restaking during a shower blows
- Warm – 800 fill – 3 thrus, never once a cold night
- Super light – no zipper, no straps, no hood
- Cheap – picked it up for under $150. 800 fill doesn’t come cheaper
Cook System – 4.6 oz
POT – 2.2 oz – $7 – The infamous grease pot. Only found at K-mart.
STOVE – .3 oz – $.50 – Vienna Sausage tin with a few holes punched. Not the best but does the trick. A bit difficult to prime, requires a bit of finesse.
SCREEN – .3 oz – $1 – Cut from baking tins
LID – 1.2 oz
RAG – .5 oz – Comes in handy for cleaning and covering a suety pot
- Broken Screen – functions like 35 mm, never know what you got
- No Charger or connection cord – all included
- Batteries – http://www.usbcell.com/ – AA’s that plug into USB – NO CHARGER!
- SD card – http://www.amazon.com/SanDisk-Ultra-Plus-2GB-Card/dp/B000EWI8IK – SD card that tranforms into USB plug – NO CORD!
Diddy – 7.5 oz
- Z-line http://www.zpacks.com/accessories/spectra_cord.shtml
- Duct Tape on toothpick
- Zinc for sunny sunny days
- Broken tooth brush- bane of my existance- prefer w/ handle
- mini lighters
- Eye dropper w/ bleach (purify when I’m not too lazy which is about never)
- 1/2 full tooth paste
- Zig Zags for pow-wows
- razor blaze for cutting fools
- Super glue for down item repairs and cuts
Clothing – 40.5 oz
Shoes – New Balance 875-(not counted in total clothing weight)
- Durable- over 1000 trail miles on this pair
- Not breathable- foot sweat come sweat mud- no likey – won’t buy another pair
- Woke up to a mouse eating the right shoe. lighter now i guess
- $160 retail – stupid
- $50 ebay – not stupid
- sucker for the old lumber jack styles
- Montane Lite-Speed H2O Jacket
- $50 steepandcheap
- 5.7 oz – light as carbon fiber shit
- I added a hood to my tarptent to make a poncho. Good in concept, pain in the nuts. Prefer rain coat which is also a key layering component + i can wear it while i set up the tent (not possible with tarp-poncho).
- Montbell Ultralight – 4.8 oz
- $80 – geartrade
- A truly ‘ultralight’ coat. (go to REI, check the weights of all the ‘lightweight’ down coats. Seperate the coats into two piles. 1: over 6 oz and 2: under 6 oz. I will pay you 1 million dollars for every coat in the second pile)
- pretty steezy, but mine smells a bit even after washing.
- I often don’t carry it, too warm to hike in and i’m usually hiking or sleeping. Only if I plan on doing some camping or it’s late season I throw it in
- A REI poly-something long sleeve. 8oz
- Found it in my room $0
- Patagonia Short Shorts
- Thrift store – Seattle
- 1 x-country bike ride, Annapurna Circuit, Kathmandu to Malaysia bike ride, Colorado Trail thru
- heavy repairs but still solid
- XXL nike pro undies 3.6 oz
- big fan of the super oversized fit. Pull em up to walk and roll em down for warmth
- only pair of undies for 5 months on PCT. Still going but just barely
- Socks – black dress socks 1 oz can’t go wrong
- found these in Salida on CT. Couldn’t bring myself to put them in my stinky ass shoes so i carried
them to Denver $5 1.4 oz
- 1.2 oz headlamp
- $0, found it in my room
- Rip off ray-bans. Thank you bangkok 150 baht (~$5 USD) 1.3 oz
- Case 1.5 oz
- H20 – gatorade bottle + bike bottle (found on CT $0) Capacity 1.5 liter (never like to carry more)
- Data Book 1.7 oz (CT)
- Headband (lighter than a hat) .6 oz
- Ziplocks .6 oz
- Wallet (stripped down version) 1.3 oz
- phone 3.5 oz, charger 2.7 (feel like a pussy for carrying it. Did just fine on the PCT without it. my opinion: challenge yourself to leave it at home)
Pack Baseweight- Dry (no fuel, water, food, worn clothing [shorts, undies, shoes, T-shirt])