Ben, from Johnson Studios, had the brilliant idea of bikepacking and self-filming a solo adventure in the Andes of Peru. He had zero bikepacking experience. He figured his biking and backpacking knowledge would simply become one making the journey a breeze! How hard could it be?? This short film is an attempt at an honest documentation of the victories and struggles of a solo first-time bikepack through a hi-altitude far off world.
Words and text by Kona Ambassador Sandra Beaubien.
When I mention to my riding friends that I like bikepacking, many of them respond with “It’s too hardcore for me”, especially the women. I’m perplexed by this. I see my friends riding steep, technical terrain on mountain bikes or doing long, hard gravel races during early season conditions which tend to be muddy and snowy. This seems way more hardcore than a weekend bike packing trip!
As a smaller rider, one thing I’m always trying to figure out with my next bike packing trip is how to make my gear even lighter. These are a few things I have learned over the years, both from bikepacking experience and extensive backpacking trips in New Zealand and Nepal. Doing a 15-day trek will certainly teach you a few things about keeping your gear as light as possible!
Tent Versus Hammock
Switching over to a hammock has been a huge space and weight saver for me and was a relatively inexpensive way to achieve the lightness. I would have had to either buy a very expensive, light bivy bag or an even lighter 2 person tent. Light tents = expensive tents. With more hammocks coming on the market, it made my decision easier. I’ve only bike packed in Ontario so far and there is no shortage of trees! Having a built-in mosquito net is super important too. I’ve spent many evenings reading my book, swaying in my hammock safe from the bugs. It is a convenient way to dry your riding clothes too!
Even if we only do a 2-night trip, a substantial amount of weight can be saved on lighter food. It also means you can bring more! Riding a fully loaded bike in either the spring or fall (bugs are overwhelming in the summer) burns A LOT of calories. I’ve been known to get hangry before…
By borrowing a friend’s dehydrator and his mom’s food sealer we could make enough food to last for the season in just one weekend. It is a fraction of the cost of store-bought dehydrated food and also really tasty! We just mark on the outside of the packaging how to prepare it (usually, just add hot water).
With the food being so light, we bring an extra day’s worth. Or, it’s good to have extra in case a friend you are with doesn’t attach his food bag well enough to his bike 😊 Yes, that can happen!
This may seem crazy, but this is my favorite piece of light bike packing gear. I sleep better with the support of a pillow (I know, I can roll up some clothes and use that but I often wear everything I brought to bed because the weather is so sporadic!). This Klymit pillow only weighs a few grams and works great! If you do any travelling, I put it in my purse and use it to sleep on airplanes or catch a few winks in an airport. My old pillow wasn’t THAT heavy, but this is a simple and inexpensive way to maximize comfort and keep it crazy light weight and small! This pillow only weighs 54 grams.
Ok, so the fact I’m even bringing a chair might seem luxurious to some more serious bike packers, but in terms of comfort, this is phenomenal. For the majority of trips, we are using rustic campsites (i.e. a clearing in the forest near a lake or river) so there is nowhere to sit. The Helinox chairs are lightweight and very easy to strap onto the front of your sweet roll. To put it in perspective on our first group trip with 6 people only 1 person brought this chair. On the second trip, 4 people brought a chair and on the 3rd trip, all 6 of us had a chair. It makes the campfire so much more enjoyable. A great gift for someone who bikepacks.
Bike: Honzo versus Fatbike
The biggest way I’m saving weight this season is upgrading from an aluminum fatbike to a carbon Honzo! Even just decreasing the tire width will be huge weight savings in rubber, and the carbon frame will be lighter too. With the lighter bike, all of my bags will transfer over easily, so I’ll have the same capacity but it will make the climbs or long days that much more enjoyable.
Packing Strategy – Weight Distribution
From my backpacking experience, I learned that you want to keep your heaviest items centered as much as possible. When I’m packing my bike, I put my heaviest items (typically food and tools) in my frame bag, and also on my fork cages (stove/fuel and spare water). My front roll carries a fair load of weight with my hammock, sleeping pad and sleeping bag. Of course, my chair is strapped on too! My lightest items go in my hydration pack to compensate for the weight of the water (shell, first aid kit, phone, ID) and most of my clothing goes in my seat bag. As I eat down my food, I transfer things out of my backpack and into my frame bag to lighten it up even more.
Trevor Browne of Messkit Magazine (and also a Kona Ambassador!) took the time to interview our marathon-man, Cory Wallace about his adventuring and what exactly fuels him on his trips. Cory relies on a wide array of foods and powders to make it through his mega expeditions. He also loves to sample the local street foods in the exotic countries where he rides.
Whether in Nepal, Bhutan, Chile, Cambodia or wherever far-flung place he rides, you can rest assured food is the top priority for making it through big days in the saddle. Jump in to see what’s in Cory’s messkit!
“Overall, there’s no mistaking that this is a Kona, which is one of the reasons I think I fell in love with it. Kona has a habit of making bikes that are heavily focused on fun with a healthy dose of durability and performance. The Libre DL checks all of those boxes for me.”
Zach Overholt at Bike Rumor has just posted up his full review of the Libre DL on their site. After the bike making his Editors Choice list for 2018 we had a feeling that his review might show a little love for the Libre DL, but it seems that much like us, he is head-over-heels infatuated with this bike.
“Every time I ride the Libre DL, I’m constantly amazed at how good it makes me feel and that feeling is further rewarded with some of the fastest speeds that I’ve been able to maintain on a gravel rig.”
You can check out Zach’s full Bike Rumor review here.
Words: Matt Falwell of Gear Up Cycles in Kentucky
My granny’s people lived on the banks of the Tennessee the river and were forced out by the TVA during the reclamation of floodplain areas in order to usher in the advent of affordable hydropower for the common man. When dammed, the Cumberland and Tennessee rivers rose to create an unintentional recreational area that resulted in 170,000 acres of “Land Between the Lakes,” home to a wealth of outdoor activities, such as water sports, cycling, fishing, hunting and the like. I spend most of my time on the bike solo in these woods, on lonely back roads poking around the remnants of often-forgotten communities and homesteads. The plan for this trip came about while on these back roads–the idea of bridging together the two worlds of bikepacking and hunting. Squirrel hunting does not require a massive firearm. In fact, you can legally hunt them with a slingshot if you have the dexterity. It is also a social activity that can have several people out together walking the ridgelines and hollows, sharing conversation and stories that continue post-hunt back at the fire.
I truly love traveling by bike. It is often with the mindset, though, to get to and from a destination with the minimum amount of equipment as fast as possible. This trip would be in the winter months with temperatures hovering in the 30’s. So slower, more comfortable travel was made with the intent of riding to an isolated primitive camp. Said camp hopefully would be full of squirrels to provide a meal and tales of daring bushwhacking and the eventual outsmarting of our prey. I invited my longtime friend, Nathan Brown–artist, and avid outdoorsman, and Rockabilly music legend–along with my eldest son Isaac, also a musician and accomplished adventure paddler, to come out with me and wander the woods. It had been a long time since we last camped together. We packed light, as far as equipment, although, I carried equal the weight in fresh food. With the potential of possibly not shooting any squirrels, my “Be Prepared” attitude kicked in. Loaded, we rolled off into the forest. With a few water crossings and pauses to watch our bushy-tailed prey flit back and forth taunting us, we made our way into a series of remote glades that typically are flush with rabbit, squirrel, and birds. We rode overgrown roads, past remnants of farms, further back into the hollows.
Once we arrived at our destination, we set to the business of making camp, filtering water, gathering firewood, and building our cookfire. It was clear and cold with the temperature just above freezing. We warmed ourselves by the fire and had an appetizer of Brie and crackers with hot tea and bourbon. We are not savages after all. Foil packs of roasted veggies and a squirrel I had shot and marinated beforehand were our supper. That would be the last squirrel we would see for the rest of the trip. The freezing rain that night drove all the wildlife deep into their winter burrows. We awoke the next morning and shook off the ice. Strong cups of coffee were made while bacon warmed in the skillet. The sun began to show its face above the ridge, setting the glade ablaze in golden warm light. We spent the day wandering from hickory tree groves to tall stands of oaks, finding piles of empty eaten nut shells and worn entrances to hollow trees. Our bushy-tailed friends eluded us.
As the day drifted into dusk, we loaded our bikes and rode back to the trailhead, eyes at the ready for signs of movement in the trees, just in case. We had returned empty-handed with no meat for the pan. Yet the time away from the hustle of daily life was reward enough. A day in the open and a night on the ground, the song of the wind in the trees, or the laughter of a friend while feeling the warmth of the fire growing in your toes is what we really brought back. I remember my granny always ready to set a place at the table for family or friend that came to her house, with a gesture of time and a warm plate. I believe it is the shared experience that is the meal that feeds the heart–the meal oftentimes skipped in our daily rush. There will be future days riding in the woods with lone solitude or with the harmony of friends. Till then, I look forward to the abundance of nature and the freedom the bike provides, while I roll my way through my granny’s land between the rivers.
TVA: Tennessee Valley Authority
XL Kona Wozo stock
MD Kona Big Honzo
54cm Kona Sutra LTD frameset, 27.5×2.8 WTB wheels w Arisun tires, Sram Freagle 12 spd Eagle drivetrain with 11 spd microshift thumb lever set on friction, Crust Jungle runner bars, Brooks C17 saddle with Specialized CGR seat post. Shimano hydro disc
Bike Biz reporter Josh Reid recently took his Kona Rove to Arkel bag company in Sherbrooke, Quebec to get all suited up for his upcoming bikepacking trip on the Cabot Trail. The company has an interesting history and stellar product that suits bikes like the Rove, Libre, and Sutra.
You can check out the full story here.
Your escape. Your secret stash. Your remote. The place you long to be all week, and can’t wait to head out to, even if just for the day. The Kona Remote is the bike to get you there.
What exactly is remote? Well that’s really up to you. For Kona Gravity team rider Graham Agassiz and Kona Canada’s resident fishing enthusiast Matt Stevens, that thing is fly fishing. So, they made a plan, packed up their Remotes, and converged in Lytton, British Columbia to head to their own secret stash. Prepped with fishing and camping gear, Matt’s fishing kayak, and Aggy’s dog Autumn, they headed straight for the goods.
Find Your Remote
Whether you’re a fisherman, an outdoorsman, or a recreational enthusiast, the Remote can take you where you want to go and get you there quickly. It’s a capable mountain bike with Bosch’s top end Performance Line CX pedal assist system. We equipped the Remote with Bosch’s compact Intuvia display, high capacity 500 watt Power Pack, and a re-keyable Abus Plus battery lock.
With the made-in-the-USA Old Man Mountain rack, you can add accessories to carry just about anything you can think of. The wide range SRAM 1×11 drivetrain and Level T brakes ensure you’ll be happy going both uphill or down. The Remote is an access tool, adaptable to your needs. Swing a leg over one, and find your remote.
The Remote is one of three Bosch-equipped pedal assist bikes in the Kona lineup this year. Get the details on the Remote from Kona Product Manager Trevor Porter:
Kona Remote – North America
Kona Remote – Europe
Head to Konaworld.com for all the details on the Remote.
Words by Kona Supreme, Delia Massey. Photos by Delia and her riding partner, Kinsey.
Two days before I left for a week-long vacation to Anchorage, I decided I wanted to bikepack the entire Denali National Park Road. My last-minute trip planning escalated quickly, from realizing that Denali was a 4-hour drive from Anchorage, to discovering that the 90-mile road through the park was only open to bikes and park buses, to finding blog posts from people that had bikepacked the whole 180 miles out and back. I had never full-on bikepacked (just done an overnight with a stay at a hotel), but I figured why not go big for my first real trip?!
My partner in forest crime, Kinsey, reluctantly agreed to my crazy idea, and we quickly rounded up some lightweight gear, packed our bikes and lots of warm layers, and got on a plane to Alaska. The night before we left, I sent an email to Revelate Designs, an Anchorage-based bikepacking company, asking if we could stop by and get some bags the next day. They responded yes, so we got off the plane, picked up our bags, and after a trip to REI for food, a bear can, bear spray, bear bells, and some other emergency supplies, we were as ready as we would ever be!
Fast forward to Sunday, May 27th. Kinsey and I drove up to Denali National Park, checked in with the ranger, and picked out our planned backcountry camping locations (both were around mile 60 on the road, assuming we would cover 60 miles a day for 3 days). We watched a video on park etiquette and safety, which was very useful, but also heightened my fear of having a bear encounter. We had our final meal of burgers and beers at 49th State Brewing, and did a practice run with our borrowed Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 tent at a local campground. Aside from putting on the rain fly inside out, we were dialed.
Monday morning, we got up early and drove to the Denali Visitor’s Center, where a couple of moose wandered the parking lot while we attached our bags to our bikes. We set off around 8:30, starting with the climb up the first 15-mile paved section of road (and the only section open to cars). Spirits were high, our fully loaded mountain bikes were cruising on the pavement, the sun was shining, and excitement was in the air. We got our first views of Denali around mile 9.5, and I was awestruck with how large it was. Rainier seems big, looming over my home of Seattle, but Denali is simply massive. At the 15-mile mark, we came to the gate that only allows bikes and buses through, and we saw our first grizzly bear, near a river. Seeing the size and speed with which the bear moved did not make me feel any better about camping in bear country!
As our tires hit gravel, the adventure truly began. No more cars, just buses full of tourists rumbling by every so often (and that only lasted to mile 53, where the buses turned around due to snow). I felt like we were part of the park as the people on the buses took photos of us and waved. We steadily pedaled mile after mile, with plenty of breaks for food, water, and bathroom breaks. There were bus stops and designated campsites with bathrooms and trashcans along the way, which was a huge help. Water was plentiful, with clear streams from snow melt along the way, so we never carried more than 2 liters each (treated with a Steripen).
We climbed over Sable Pass and Polychrome Pass, both of which offered spectacular views, and made our way to our first campsite on a gravel bar right near mile 60. The park rules dictate that you must camp at least a half a mile off of the road, and must be out of site of the road, which is why I chose to pedal in flats to make the hiking easier. We cooked our freeze-dried dinner, had some M&M’s, and stored our bear can away from both the cooking area and our tent. We attempted to sleep, with sunset around 11:30pm. I woke up at 5:00am with the sun and was convinced there was a giant animal walking around outside our tent, sniffing at our things. Kinsey woke up and poked his head out of the tent, and we didn’t see any evidence of any big animals, so perhaps it was just the wind and my overactive imagination. We did find that his helmet straps had been chewed by a hungry ground squirrel!
Day 2 was bright and sunny, and as we came over the Stony Hill Overlook, we had a crystal-clear view of the south side of Denali. It was absolutely breathtaking. I stopped and took the greatest photo I have ever taken with my self-timer, and after soaking in the views, we pedaled on to the end of the road. We passed many kettle ponds, formed when large chunks of ice detached from a glacier and become buried in sediment and melted, and finally reached Wonder Lake at mile 85, and pushed on to our final stop on the road, a beautiful outhouse between mile 89 and 90, that offered us shelter from the wind to cook lunch, and a stream nearby for water.
After that, we began the slog back up the 30 miles we had just descended. We paused for a bit at the Eielson Visitor Center at mile 66, made friends with a marmot, and kept moving back towards mile 60. We saw a momma bear and 2 cubs around mile 62, headed directly for our planned camping spot. We decided it was safest to continue on a few more miles, finding a bluff at mile 58 with a good view of the surrounding terrain.
We survived without any midnight bear attacks and pushed through a headwind on Day 3 to finish up back at the car around 3:30pm. Tired, delirious, with sore butts and sore legs, we were full of joy and adventure! Riding through the park was the ultimate experience, something you can’t get on a bus or in a car, and I highly recommend it. The wildlife was abundant, and in total we saw 18 grizzlies, as well as caribou, Dall sheep, marmots, countless ground squirrels, ptarmigan, hares, and magpies.
I learned that nothing compares to the simplicity and teamwork of bikepacking. Your only goal for the day is to pedal, and your only concerns are food, water, warmth, and wild animals. It was challenging and painful at times, but I loved it, and I’m already planning my next big trip!
- Tent: Big Agnes Fly Creek HV UL 2 (Thanks Mal and Kelly!!)
- Enlightened Equipment Revelation down quilts, 20 degree
- Cocoon silk mummy liner
- Thermarest Neo-Air
- Sea to Summit pillow (for delicate Delia)
On bike (Delia had a Kona Honzo CR Trail DL, and Kinsey was on an Evil Following MB):
- Revelate Egress handlebar pocket: (snacks, map, gloves, hat, buff, Steripen)
- Revelate Handlebar Harness and Salty Roll: Sleep system, synthetic puffy jacket, rain jacket and pants
- Tent (Delia) or bear can with food (Kinsey) attached to harness with pocket
- Revelate Ranger frame bag (1-L water bottle, fuel, tubes, toilet paper, charger/cords)
- Revelate Gas Tank (Tools: pump, tire levers, tire plugs, multitool, derailleur hanger, master links, knife, headlamp, ski straps)
- Revelate Pika Seatbag: full change of base layers, extra fuel, emergency bivy, emergency ponchos, MSR reactor stove
- Swift Industries Sidekick Pouch w/ Nuun water bottle
- All food aside from clif bars/shotblocks was carried in the bear can at all times unless cooking!
- From High Above Cascadia hip pack, with 2L bladder
- Bear spray!!
- 3 dehydrated dinners
- 2 freeze dried breakfasts
- 1 freeze dried lunch
- 4 tuna packets
- 1 bag of beef jerky
- 1 bag of roasted dark chocolate almonds
- 1 bag of instant mashed potatoes
- Various clif bars and shot blocks
- Nuun electrolyte tabs
“‘The Kona Sutra LTD is a drop-bar bike “designed by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.’ As simple as that statement may sound, the result is one of the most versatile, category-shattering rigs in the mainstream bike market.” – Logan Watts, Bikepacking.com
Recently the riders from Backpacking.com spent a few months aboard the Sutra LTD. Riders and writers Logan Watts and Ryan Sigsbey weigh in on just what makes the Sutra so unique, from it’s tire clearance, frame thickness and overall geometry. From pavement to gravel to singletrack the bike was tested around Pisgah’s dark winding forests. The net result? Watts ended up buying a Sutra LTD, and we think that’s as good of a review as we could ever hope for.
Irish cyclist David Flanagan has recently completed a book about cycling all around Ireland’s gorgeous countryside. The book is gorgeously illustrated with route maps, elevation profiles, and detailed descriptions of dozens and dozens of rides. The photography features a Kona Sutra in various gorgeous environments.
A word from Flanagan:
“This book documents the best cycling that Ireland has to offer. With eighty routes spread across the entire island, there is something for everyone; from gentle, traffic-free cycles, ideal for the whole family, to long challenging routes packed with relentless climbs.
The routes range in length from 8km to 207km on a variety of surfaces including tarmac roads, gravel tracks, canal towpaths and singletrack. – David Flanagan
Each route description includes:
- A full-colour map.
- Turn-by-turn directions.
- A route profile.
- A detailed description of the route.
- Advice on variations, extensions and shortcuts.
- A downloadable GPX navigation file.
The book also includes details of over fifty family-friendly greenways and trails, information on Ireland’s long-distance cycle routes and sixteen pages dedicated to cycling along the Wild Atlantic Way.
This comprehensive guide is packed full of detailed information and inspiring photography that is sure to appeal to everyone interested in cycling in Ireland.”
The book is available for purchase here for the price is €25 which includes shipping worldwide.
“David Flanagan is a publisher, writer and freelance journalist from Dublin. He is the author of a number of climbing books including Bouldering in Ireland, Bouldering Essentials and Rock Climbing in Ireland. In 2016 he published Exploring Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, a collaboration with Kerry-based photographer Richard Creagh. A keen cyclist with a particular interest in off‑road exploration and bikepacking, he published Cycling in Ireland in May 2018 after more than 18 months of research.”
What would do you like to do for your birthday? Kona Pro cross racer Kerry Werner is all about adventure. Yesterday was his 27th birthday, and to celebrate he is going on a mini 2-day bike packing trip from central North Carolina to Western North Carolina.
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#bikepacking for my birthday. I know it was yesterday but better late then never. #ashevilleorbust to see @bercume3 and @lindseyh12 get married. | @konabikes #superjake outfitted with @blackburndesign frame, seat, and handlebar bags, and bento box. #adventureAwaits thanks for the help @sherman.shields @feedbacksports
He will be pedaling the Kona Super Jake. After a great CX season domestic and abroad, Kerry is showing just how versatile this bike is by strapping some bike packing gear to it and saying, “say0nara” to the status quo for what an elite-level CX bike can do.
“I have some friends getting married just west of Asheville, NC. The whole family is going to be going and bringing mountain bikes fpre-weddingdding ride, so I figured, why not kill two birds with one stone? I’ll be riding down on Wednesday and Thursday. Thursday evening my crew arrives and the weekend will resume per usual. I like to do these mini-adventures, especially during structured training, which I am just getting back into. These kinds of things help keep my mind fresh and ease the stress of having a regime to follow every day. I like a mix-up,” Werner said.
His route is just shy of 200mi with 15,000ft of climbing. There will be plenty of dirt/gravel roads along the way, scenic rivers, and hopefully lots of blue skies.
Godspeed, and happy birthday Kerry!