What should you pack for a lightweight bikepacking trip? We tested some items from Sea to Summit.
Words: Ryan Walsch | Images: Tim Bardsley-Smith
Are you thinking of heading out for an overnight bikepacking trip? Here's a look at a few key items we used on a recent trip near Craigieburn, New Zealand.
Escapist shelter - 3m x 3m – 440g
One of our favourite pieces of equipment was the Escapist shelter. An ultralight 3m x 3m tarp weighing only 440g including 6 guy lines that shelters 2 people and gear with ease. In a pinch and pending how the tarp was erected, more people could take refuge under it.
What we didn’t know before using it was how well it's made and reinforced at the 8 tie out points with a rubberised waterproof fabric called Hypalon. All of which are designed for a ski/trekking pole to locate neatly into it, we had trees but a stick cut to length would have been ideal.
We set our Escapist Tarp up in an A frame configuration between two trees and used the Escapist bug net underneath. The bug net consists of an ultralight waterproof tent footprint and mesh upper that hooks up into the Escapist tarp from the underside.
The installation process has been well thought out and can all be carried out from underneath the Tarp. As everything is accessible from the underside, we could adjust the guy lines from the shelter of the tarp and then set ourselves up as the weather cleared.
As night falls and the camp fire finally starts to burn at the wet wood we collect, we notice that the guy lines are reflecting the light. Super simple features like this that save a blind stumble in the woods is what we like.
Spark SPII sleeping bag
$449 2 degrees Celsius – 464g Regular <183cm
The Spark SPII hails from Sea to Summit's lightest range of sleeping bags and is aimed at the minimalist traveller who requires light weight, low volume and warmth, yes you can have all three.
To be honest, when we pulled the stuff sack containing the Spark SPII out of the box, we didn’t realise it contained a sleeping bag. The stuff sack packs down to the size of a small tin of pineapple rings and was so small Sea to Summit needed to design a new style of compression sack to accommodate. The regular length bag suits people up to 183cm and weighs in at a scant 464g. The whole line of Ultralight sleeping bags built around the ultimate weight/warmth ratio using micro light fabrics and premium ULTRA-DRY treated 850+ loft goose down to repel moisture that often are not good for down bags.
A form fitting mummy design with full hood, foot box and a 1/3 zip there is nowhere the cool air can get in. We tested the bag right down to its temperature limit, and with socks and an undershirt we were just on the comfortable limit, so yes the rating is quite accurate.
To get the most out of any sleeping bag we highly recommend a liner, silk liner preferably. Not only do they add comfort and warmth, but moisture wicking keeping you comfortable while keeping damaging moisture out of the down itself. Small measures like this will ensure your gear performs at its best for many years.
We would recommend the Spark range for anyone who wants to travel light, has limited space and wants the best warmth to weight ratio. A must have for bike-packing, cycle touring and overnight camping adventures.
Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Mat
$189 – size regular – 480g – 183cm x 55cm x 5cm
Getting a good sleep is important, especially after spending a long day in the saddle and needing to backing it up day after day. The Ultralight range shares technologies with conventional mattresses using air sprung cells to keep you supported. As there are so many cells, your weight is supported across more surface area than a baffle style sleeping mat. We had the insulated version that adds a layer of Exkin Platinum metalized fabric to reflect body heat back towards the body and a layer of THERMOLITE insulation inside the cells
The perfect shape to insert into a bivvy bag and offering an extremely comfortable platform to sleep upon, we highly recommend investing in a quality Ultralight Insulated mattress when being fresh the next day is paramount.
Sea to Summit X-Set collapsible cook sets
X-set 21: $94.95
Remember the silicone baking trays mum has, imagine if they concertina'd down near flat and had a hard anodised aluminium bottom so you could use them on a stove. The X-sets vary in pot size volume and how many people you are catering for in camp, we had the X-Set 21 on test as we only needed to boil water for our freeze dried Back Country Cuisine meals and stove top coffee machine in the morning.
The 1.4litre pot sat neatly onto our Soto lightweight burner and boiled easily in 4 or 5 mins with thanks to the secure lid. Having a cooking pot, bowl and mug around camp that takes up this little room is a god send when trying to efficiently heat water and warm the weary body after a long day in the saddle. No more dangling metal mugs off the saddle bag needed.
$139 – 155g Straps $29.95
The Ultralight Hammock packs up into an extremely compact stuff sack around the size of a tin of baked beans but weighs on half as much, even with the straps and tree protectors we had on test.
The strap and tensioner system is the neatest and quickest to setup we have seen making this an easy item to string up and take a breather, we set ours up for a coffee at sunrise and had it ready before the water boiled. Quick Connect buckles and hardware are crafted from aircraft grade aluminum and snap together very securely.
Sleeping in a hammock is not for everyone, however when setup correctly it can be a great way to reduce bulky camping equipment and keep dry. We would recommend that sleeping in hammocks be a 2 season venture as there is no insulation underneath you unless you lug additional equipment along with you.
Sea to Summit offer Tree protector straps, tarps and gear sling accessories along with their Pro Hammocks which would be a more comfortable sleeping hammock should you decide to go down this path.
Available in single and XL sizes Sea to Summit has certainly crafted the lightest hammock we have seen and you can take the Ultralight hammock as an emergency form of sleep system in warmer areas or as a novelty for reading, having a few cold ones or taking in breathtaking views while relaxing.
Further details: seatosummit.com