Category Archives: Ultralight

Choosing a Lightweight Sleeping Bag

Today’s sleeping bags offer a huge and growing variety of features and designs. Even the least kit savvy person could point out that they come in two varieties; synthetic or down insulated, but, even though this may be one of the most important choices to make, it’s by no means the last. For ultralight touring in particular there are many variables that can add or reduce weight to your bag beyond the filling type and quantity. Here is a breakdown of of what I think are the most salient.
Continue reading Choosing a Lightweight Sleeping Bag

Bikepacking or Ultralight Cycle Touring?

Ultralight Touring-Bicycle
Ultralight Touring-Bicycle Prototype – with heavy ‘normal’ cycle bottles.

Which do you call it – bikepacking or ultralight cycle-touring? Correct me if I’m wrong but bikepacking seems to be more orientated towards mountain bikes and ultralight touring towards road bikes.

They both use a bike to carry the minimal amount of kit to get the job done with a philosophy that values freedom, motion and adventure over comforts and luxury. I suspect that the only real difference is that bikepacking evolved from mountain bikers doing ambitious overnighters and ultralight cycle-touring was the logical answer to road tourers wanting to go further and faster whilst taking in a few high alpine cols. It looks to me like a case of convergent evolution where both camps have found similar solutions to the same problems, such as ditching panniers and racks in favour of dry bags, to save weight but also because mountain bikes and road bikes are less well designed to have racks mounted to them.

What I’d really like to know is, which do you call it and what type of bike do you use?

Ultralight Bicycle Tools For Cycle Touring

Ultralight modified cycle multitool
Ultralight modified cycle multi-tool

When looking at ultralight bicycle tools for ultralight cycle-touring there is one main debate I’ve seen thrashed out on forums and blogs; ‘should I use a multi-tool or separate tools?’ Is it lighter to use separate allen keys, chain tools and screwdrivers or to use a multi tool with all of those features combined?

The answer usually comes down to how ergonomic and usable you want your bicycle tools to be. As a guideline, I would suggest that a tool kit (minus, puncture repair and spare parts) that’s less than 120g, easy to use and robust is an achievement. If you want ultralight bicycle tools and don’t mind modifying your multi-tool, perhaps even chopping parts off that you don’t need, you might be able to get that weight down to 80g or less and still have a reasonable level of functionality and ergonomics. Continue reading Ultralight Bicycle Tools For Cycle Touring

Cycle Touring on a Road Bike

My new book; ‘Ultralight Cycle Touring Guide‘, which is available on Amazon, deals with the subject of using a road bike, and a very carefully chosen selection and arrangement of equipment, to make an ultralight touring setup.

Road bikes have many natural assets; they offer precise handling at high speeds, are lightweight and aerodynamic. But, on the other hand they are less capable on rough surfaces, have a more fragile frames and often don’t have attachment points for racks.

To make your road bike work as a touring bike you will have to make some fundamental changes to the way you tour as well as a few compromises. In return, you’ll be able to build a sensational lightweight touring bike and enjoy the freedom of easy miles and easier hills. Continue reading Cycle Touring on a Road Bike

What You Need To Know About Brooks Saddles [Video]

Worn Brooks B17 Special
My Worn Brooks B17 Special

Brooks saddles, made in Birmingham, England, are the de-facto bicycle saddles for touring. They also have a stronghold in the commuting markets and the… erm… cool types. You know the ones, they have (at the moment) long sleeve shirts, skinny trousers and crepe soles. It strikes me as unusual that what suits the terminally trendy also appeals to the nomadic traveller as well as the cantankerous, heritage supporting, northerner (such as my friend Adam) and even the casual cyclist, father of three, who just wants to ‘pop’ to the shops to replenish his secret stash of Werther’s Originals in his shed. Continue reading What You Need To Know About Brooks Saddles [Video]

Building an Ultralight Touring Bike [Video]

Earlier today I made a video showing how I piece together my ultralight touring bike. In the video I’m using the standard 7.6kg setup as described in detail in my book along with my 10.5kg road bike. The 7.6kg is not all on the bike as it also includes what I am wearing; cycle shorts, cycle jersey, socks, SPD MTB shoes, helmet and sunglasses.

Please let me know what you think in the comments below. Cheers!