Updated Lightweight Packing List for Bicycle Touring Couples

Now that we have a few tours under our belt, and our last tour was in a place where the temperatures were a bit cooler (New Zealand), our packing list needed to be updated. Here’s what we’re taking with us for our upcoming ACA Sierra Cascades tour. Total weight is everything but the bikes and racks.

Category Name Pieces Discussion Grams Pounds
Total       27 kg 59.5
Camping       4471 9.85
Tent Big Anges Copper Spur UL2 tent Tent Nice tent, fits two normal sized people snuggly, two doors, two vestibules. 450
Rain fly Rain fly Could have went with UL3 for another 500 grams, but don’t see need? 510
Overall Bag Overall Bag Left behind stake bag 11g 25
Ground Cover Ground Cover 175
GC Bag GC Bag 11
8 Stakes 8 Stakes 89
Emg Splint Emg Splint 10
Poles Poles 440
Pole Bag Pole Bag 13
Sleeping Bag ZPacks 20F 900 Fill Down w/ Draft Tube Sleeping Bag Evaluating durability, so light it is unbelievable. Regular girth is snug on me and I am skinny. 600
ZPacks 0F Sleeping Bag Smaller bag, but lower temperature rating. 595
w/Draft Tube
Stuff Sacks for Bags Sea to Summit UL Dry Sack 8L Roll up dry sack 56
Sea to Summit UL Dry Sack 8L Roll up dry sack Found that the version of these bags with compression straps weren’t really needed because we had plenty of space and the straps added 100 grams. 30
Sleeping Bag Liner Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner Liner Keeps sleeping bags cleaner, works as lightweight cover on hot nights, adds warmth if needed on cold nights 115
Cocoon Silk Mummy Liner Liner 115
Sleeping Pad Exped SynMat Duo Pad for two Lightweight & insulated; schnozzle bag makes inflating a breeze. Two independent inflation points so you can both sleep comfortably. 797
Pump Exped Schnozzle Pump Bag Store the sleeping pad and pillows inside the bag. The bag can inflate both sides of the sleeping pad in about 3 bags of air. 58
Pillows Exped M Air Pillow M Air Pillow 72
M Air Pillow M Air Pillow 72
Headlamp Black Diamond Headlamp weight includes 4 Lithium AAA batteries. Much brighter than previous headlamps. 100
Headlamp 100
Bug Netting Ben’s Invisinet mosquito protection 19
Bug Netting Ben’s Invisinet mosquito protection 19
Eating       3074 6.77
Stove Soto Windmaster  stove + bag 73
Stove Trangia Alcohol burner 110
Stove Trangia Gas burner  + bag 194
Pots & Pans Trangia  Pots, pans, and handle 858
Orange Bag Trangia 27
Bowls Sea to Summit Delta Bowl Bowl 87
2 Spoons & Forks REI Plastic 37
Measuring Spoon MSR Fold-able Useful for measuring/scooping 30
 Stirring Spoon  GSR  Long handle. 17
Can Opener John Wayne Style  +carabiner for storage 129
Dish washing Towel Small Camp Towel 22
Dish Drying Towel REI travel towel  Fluffy drying towel 57
Kitchen Sink Sea to Summit 5L Sink Makes dishwashing/peoplewashing easier when facilities are lacking 135
Bag 35
Dish washing Sponge Scotch-Brite Stay Clean Scrubbers Sponge Great easy to clean sponge 7
Fuel Primus 230g Gas Can 375
Bear Can Bearikade Weekender store all of our food in here don’t have to worry about critters, nor bears on future rides. 881
Hygiene       1109 2.4
Shovel Montbell Scoop if nature calls, while in nature 39
Toilet Paper Tiny Travel Roll 30
Towel Travel Towel Grey 113
Travel Towel Green 142
Turban  Green Helps dry long hair. 73
Wilderness Wash Citronella Body Wash 110
No Smell Other Wash 110
Shower Shoes Airwalk (Pam) Flip Flops 138
Cushe (Matt) Flip Flops 192
Toothbrush Crest Spin Brush Toothbrush Luxury choice to have battery operated toothbrush. Weight includes batteries. 100
Extra Head 0
Toiletry Bag Eagle Creek Lightweight 42
Fingernail Clippers Generic 20
Survival       1086 2.4
Space Blanket / Tarp / Picinic Blanket Space Tarp/EMG Blanket terrific all around tarp, used on side of roads, picnic benchs. Can act as emergency blanket if needed. Very versitale 345
Water Storage Nalgene 96oz Cantene going through arid areas, up to 90 miles between services, empty they weigh almost nothing 80
Nalgene 96oz Cantene 80
Bug Lotion 3M Ultrathon Lotion Excellent bug repellent, does contain DEET 70
Pepper Spray Fox Labs 2oz Spray Bottle Best pepper spray on the market. 145
 2oz Bottle 145
Filter Hydrapak Filter Bottle Collapsable filter bottle. 56
Purification Tablets Iodine tablets for emergencies. 0
First aid kit Assorted 135
Emergency Tape Tenacious Tape Terrific repair tape, have used on rain pants and toiletry bag holds very well 30
Bike Stuff       5515 12.2
Panniers Axiom LaSalle 45 Rear Pannier Have lasted two tours, work well 855
Rain Cover 75
Axiom LaSalle 45 Rear Pannier 855
Rain Cover 75
Randonnee Aero 60 Rear Pannier New/waterproof 885
Randonnee Aero 60 Rear Pannier 885
Axiom Cartier Front Pannier 775
Axiom Cartier Front Pannier 775
Repair Stuff Fiber Fix Spoke Kevlar Spoke Just in case can replace a spoke 16
Fiber Fix Spoke Kevlar Spoke 16
Bike Care Tri Flow Lubricant 68
RavX Retractable Cable Lock Extremely lightweight deterrent 50
ACA Maps 185
Luxury       575 1.27
USB Cord 17
Battery Backup Anker Bar 242
USB Cords Startech 6″ USB A to Mini B These weigh in a few grams less then other cables 12
1′ USB A to Micro B Yes I am obsessing over every gram 17
1′ USB A to Micro B Yes I am obsessing over every gram 17
Misc Micro B 17
Misc Micro B 13
Headlight for Bike Diablo Exposure Light 1000 lumen’s 🙂 109
Helmet Mount 10
USB Cord proprietary 🙁 25
Reusable Shopping Bag Chico Bag Bag included carabiner to clip to pannier, folds in to small pouch on its self to store small 41
Clothes Line REI Easier than string 55
Matt’s Clothing     5132 11.3
Rain Jacket Showers Pass Event Event Jacket w/hood 472
Rain Pants Sierra Designs Pants Cheap rain pants also used in cold weather to keep wind off legs 377
Bike Shorts AeroDesign 210
Bike Shorts AeroDesign 210
Cycling Base Layer Showers Pass  Top 176
Bike Shirt Ibex Neo Long Sleeve Wool 260
Ibex Indie Short Sleeve Wool 190
Giro 179
Cycling Base Layer Assos  Long Sleeve 215
Cycling Tights Castelli  Windproof pants 198
Down Jacket Patagonia 361
Leg Warmers D 117
Leg Warmers  Pearl Izumi 130
Arm Warmers  Cutter 65
Sun Sleeves Novara great for keeping sun off the arms 45
Cycling Vest Garneau High Visibility 126
Cycling Shoes  Pearl Izumi  MTB shoes  805
Shoe Covers GoreTex 176
Cycling Gloves  Pearl Izumi Full Finger for most days  68
Showers Pass Insulated Full Finger for cold days 142
Camp Pants REI 360
Camp Shirt Smartwool Long sleeve wool is great for not smelling, breathes well 161
Camp Underwear Exofficio 2 pairs 172
Stuff Sack Sea to Summit Event Bags Roll up dry sack not compression type bags with straps, they are 100+ grams heavier 50
Down Vest Marmot Zeus 268
thermal underwear  Icebreaker  wool 147
Balaclava Pearl Izumi Full Face protection 51
Beanie Zpacks 30
Bathing Suit 190
Socks Castelli 2 Pairs 54
 Showers Pass  1 Pair  67
 Swiftwick  1 Pair  49
Pam Clothing     6067 13.4
Underwear Exofficio  Travel underwear. Durable, washes and dries easily. To be worn off the bike. 3 pairs. 78
Camp Bra Victoria’s Secret 94
Camp Shirt Ibex wool Long Sleeve 143
Camp Pants REI  Long pants, convertible to shorts 352
Boy Shorts Stoic  Wool Underwear 83
Base Layer Under Armor  Bottom 187
Camp Socks Wigwam  Wool 75
Down Jacket Big Agnes 324
Down Vest Isis 309
Bathing Suit generic 129
Cycling base layer Showers Pass  Top 154
Heavy cycling shirt Assos Cycling  Cycling heavy layer-top 206
Sports Bra Victoria’s Secret  Front enclosure makes for easy removal at the end of a tiring day 145
Sports Bra Victoria’s Secret  Different style 156
Jersey Ibex  Wool S/S jersey 164
Jersey Garneau S/S jersey 116
Bike Shorts AeroDesign 217
Bike Shorts AeroDesign 212
Bike Shorts AeroDesign 200
Socks Smartwool 30
Socks Smartwool 33
Socks Ibex 28
Socks Swiftwick 38
Cycling Wind Pants Sugoi  Heavy, but necessary for me, I like them better than leg warmers. 449
Bike shoes Shimano MTB shoes 745
Balaclava Pearl Izumi Full Face coverage 50
Earwarmer phd 27
Riding Beanie Showers Pass  Also use as camp beanie 69
Glove Liner Showers Pass 30
Outer Glove Showers Pass 118
Arm Warmers Cutter 66
SunSleeves Novara 42
Rain Jacket Showers Pass  Elite 2.0 458
Rain Pants Showers Pass  Refuge 346
Shoe Covers Gore Tex 194

We’ve worked really hard to get these numbers as low as we can. I’m sure there’s still some places where we could shave off ounces, but we’re both pretty comfortable that we’re not carrying any extra unnecessary weight this time around.

Gear Review: Mocreo Universal Travel Wall Charger Power Adapter Converter

If you’re planning on making a trip overseas, don’t forget that other countries have different power systems. That’s right! Your power plugs won’t fit into the outlets overseas. And don’t try to force the plug in. Not only is the plug shaped differently, the voltage and frequency are probably different. You will risk damage to your electronics, and possibly cause a fire. So, before you go, you’ll need to get a power adapter/converter.

There are many brands of adapter out there. But we found the Mocreo adapter to be a great option.

Black version of Mocreo Universal power adapter


  • Covers more than 150 countries. You don’t need a new adapter for each tour.
  • Contains two USB ports, so you don’t waste a plug with a USB adapter when charging your electronics.
  • Easy to operate.
  • Safe to use. It has two fuses, and built in safety precautions so only one plug type can be selected at a time.
  • Folds into a square with no protruding parts.


  • It is heavy. Sometimes it would fall out of the wall socket due to weight. It also sticks out far out of the wall. It adds 100 grams of weight to your pack.
  • It is not compact.
  • The white version has a blue glow that may disturb your sleep. I’d recommend the black version.
  • This does not convert the voltage, it just changes the plug. Make sure what you’re plugging in can support the different voltage. Most electronics can, but some can’t. Check before you plug it in.

AC: 6A Max. 100-240Vac 50/60 Hz
USB: 2100 mA Max. +5Vdc

Warning: AC-AC. No voltage conversion. USB is for charge only. Indoor use only. No grounding.

If you’re planning on traveling to many different countries, this adapter will definitely meet your needs.

Disclaimer: All opinions about any products mentioned in this article are my own. I have not been compensated in any way by anyone. I will, however, receive a small commission if you choose to purchase the item from Amazon after clicking the link.

3 Ways to Consolidate Your Gear on Tour

Thinking of going on a bicycle tour? Each time we go, we find new ways to streamline our gear list. Here are three tips for how to multiply the uses of your gear on your next tour.

Turn a water bottle into a lantern. This works with the clear water bottles. Simply fill your water bottle at least halfway with water, turn your flashlight or headlight on, and shine the light into the side of the bottle. This improvised lantern provides a surprising amount of light, without the added weight of an actual lantern.

Use an emergency blanket as your tent footprint. Emergency blankets are really handy. They’re lightweight, and help reflect your body heat back toward your body in an emergency. Save weight by leaving your tent’s footprint at home (or don’t even bother to purchase one, since most tents these days don’t have one included). The blanket might even prove to be more puncture-proof than the footprint, which will save your air pad, as well. Bonus! We love this one.

Use hair elastics to keep your air pad/mattress rolled up. We found an easy way to keep our air pads tidy is to use hair elastics. This gives me the benefit of having a few extras on the trip, as I have a tendency to lose my hair bands at some point on tour. Sure, you could use rubber bands, but I can’t use rubber bands in my hair.

Bonus: Have you heard of Tenacious Tape? Great for fixing everything from tents to rain gear, this is a must-have on tour.

Sometimes if you step a little bit outside the box, you can save weight and energy on your tour. What are some inventive weight-saving ideas you’ve had? Let us know in the comments below! Also, check out our post on reducing your gear weight on tour for some more ideas.

Gear Review: Brooks Flyer S

My first touring bicycle came with a Men’s Aged Brooks B17 saddle. Even though not designed for a woman, I quickly (after about 200 miles) became used to the saddle, and continued to ride it for several thousand miles. I even moved it to my second touring bicycle when the time came, as that bicycle came with a foam padded saddle that hurt my butt after about 5 miles of riding, and I never could get used to it. Now, with my third (and probably final) touring bicycle purchased, I had to make a choice. Do I move my B17 to the new bike? Or do I try out a new saddle? Well, I decided to go with a new saddle, and so far I’m not regretting that decision. I continued with Brooks, opting for the Women’s Flyer S. I’ve ridden a couple hundred miles so far (*update-a couple thousand miles, still no regrets), and plan to use the saddle on all tours in the future.

Women's specific Brooks Saddle Flyer S
Brooks Flyer S


  • Shorter front to back (about 5cm less than the Men’s B17), which is a better fit for me.
  • Springs-takes some of the road bumps away
  • Slightly thinner leather top compared to the aged B17 that I’ve come to love.
  • “Special” version has hand hammered copper rivets, which add a nice look.
  • Quality Brooks Saddle, well made, and made to last.


  • Leather top needs proper care.
  • As with most Brooks Saddles, takes a certain amount of time to “wear in.”
  • While I have not experienced this, some people complain the springs squeak.

For women the saddle specifically made for you is simply a shorter version than the men’s. Initially I was concerned about this length difference but find that it fits my smaller bicycle well and doesn’t have any negative impact. In all, I’m very pleased with the quality and look of the saddle, as well as the fit and comfort. If you’re in the market for a new saddle, try a Brooks. Take care of it, and it could be the last saddle you ever buy!

Disclaimer: The above contains my opinions only. I have not received any compensation for this review. This review is for informational purposes only. I have not been in contact with the manufacturer.

Co-Motion Pangea Post-tour Review

About a year ago I purchased my Co-Motion Pangea after an exhaustive search for the “dream” touring bike. Post-purchase I decided that a break-in tour was needed, to put the bike to the test. We began preparations for a tour of the South Island of New Zealand, which proved to be an amazing test of my Pangea. During our tour we experienced a little bit of everything you can throw at a touring bike: rain, gravel roads, river fording, snow and ice, mud, steep hills, and high winds.


To get from sunny Los Angeles to New Zealand involved a 13 hour direct flight. Air New Zealand has a reputation for being very strict on their baggage policy and the Co-Motion suitcases dimensions are pretty much at the limits of allowed baggage sizes.

However the real issue ended up being weight. The suitcases themselves weigh near 14 lbs., and you only get 50 lbs. per bag. We packed the bikes and added the cages, bottles, pedals seats to the suitcase only to find that we were over the limit. After some re-arranging and putting all the extra bits into our other luggage, we managed to get the bikes under the weight limits.


Putting the bikes back together was exactly as we practiced at home; please make sure you practice at home before you tour. No issues to report, everything worked as expected. It was a half-day event getting two of them together and tuned up.


So, how is it to tour on a Pangea? I can sum it up in three words: I love it! The ride is very smooth and responsive. We started off on paved roads for the first few days and had no issues with any kind of pavement. The Brook’s saddles with springs, 26×2″ Monodial tires, and thick steel tubes make for a supremely comfortable ride. Even on gravel roads, the Pangea continued to ride very smoothly. My butt has never felt so good and the saddle wasn’t even broken in yet.

Speaking of gravel roads, we found that New Zealand roads aren’t graded like American Roads. It was rather common to find ourselves going up 11-14% grades that are a rarity in the US. We found that the gearing of our Pangea’s may be a little higher than we would like for such steep roads, especially dirt or gravel. However, there may have been another factor. We hardly trained for the tour. So I am uncertain how much of the gearing issues was due to our weak bodies.

As we progressed through New Zealand there were very few bicycle problems. About two weeks in I started noting that my chain was clicking a bit as I pedaled. I found that the tension was very loose and the chain was flopping a bit. I busted out the best multi-tool for a Pangea and adjusted the chain tension using the eccentric bottom bracket. This brought the chain nice and tight eliminating the noise from the drive train. Pam’s right handlebar brake lever started to get loose but that was probably a bike assembly error. Pam was missing one gear of her 14MW on Rohloff, once again likely bike assembly error (seeing a theme here? I am wondering about the shop we used to get the bike). We had to adjust chain tension several times. The Brook’s saddles with springs produce a tiny bit of noise every now and then. The stainless steel drops require a lot of force on the quick removal skewers to keep quiet.

My biggest disappointment was the SON generator and USB outlet. Riding along on flat roads it wouldn’t charge my battery pack or phone reliably. It would turn on, with the green LED lit, then the device would start to charge, then it would shut off, and repeat. If going downhill it would charge for a bit, but as any tourist knows the downhills are always too short. Finally we went through a particularly remote 4×4 track through the mountains that involved fording knee high water 40 times. The SON generator stopped working the next night and never turned on again.

After the generator stopped working I wanted to troubleshoot it, but as a cycle tourist I was carrying nothing I needed. I had no multi-meter or method to test if the hub was producing and the USB outlet failed, or if the hub failed. I unplugged the hub and we made use of our touring techniques for maintaining electric power for devices. New Zealand campsites usually had power available, so we were never more than two days without have an outlet. As any cycle tourist knows, you just make do.

Final Thoughts:

I am very happy with my bicycle, and I was recently asked if it was worth $7,000? For me it is. It feels great to ride, and I spend my time enjoying the ride not worrying about a derailleur tuning, or wondering if my bike could be just a little bit better. If I were to do it again I would skip the generator hub, but I stand by my decision to get a chain instead of the belt drive; the Rohloff itself is amazing.

I know that the Pangea will take me anywhere in the world I want to pedal; it is built like a tank. All that being said, you don’t need a fancy expensive bike to tour, the sites and views look the same, just get out there and ride! If you want the best bike money can buy I would put my money towards a Pangea.

*Note: I was not compensated in anyway for this review, just my two cents on a bicycle I purchased with my own hard earned money.

Gear Review-Joe Blow Sport II Floor Pump

An essential item for any lover of riding bicycles is a tire pump. We’ve already talked about our favorite hand pump. However, it’s a good idea to have a floor pump handy as well. With a floor pump, you can pump your tires more quickly, with less effort. Obviously, you won’t be taking this one with you on your rides (although I once saw a kid with one strapped to his back as he rode along a bike path. I’m sure there was a story to go along with that). We’ve tried a few different floor pumps over the years. Our favorite by far is the Topeak Joe Blow Sport II, which we like so much that we even purchased a second one when we misplaced the first. This pump has it all: it’s easy to use, it’s durable, and its color stands out even in the messiest of garages (I’m speaking from experience, trust me). Here’s what makes this pump special.


Yellow floor tire pump
Topeak Joe Blow Sport II Floor Pump


No need for an adapter. Presta valve and Schrader valve on each side of the pump head, so you don’t need an adapter. It’s right there, on the head.

Pressure gauge. Large analogue pressure gauge, easy to read. This makes getting the right pressure in your tires a breeze.

Hose. 28 inch / 71.5 cm flexible hose, makes reaching tire valves easy, even when on a bike stand.

Color. Yellow color helps it stand out and makes it easy to find in a messy garage.

Handle. Large, padded handles add comfort to your pump.

Base. Large steel base makes for a stable foundation.

Extras. Need to pump up a basketball? A ball needle is included. Also included is a bladder head, which you can use to pump up anything from air mattresses to exercise balls.

Price. You can get this one for a little over $40, which is a great value.

Weight: 1.4 kg / 3.09 lbs
Height: 67.5 cm / 26.6 in
Capacity: 160 psi / 11 bar

Bottom line. We love this pump. It does everything we need it to do, and then some. Highly Recommended.

Disclaimer: This review is for informational purposes only. All opinions about any products mentioned in this article are my own.

Co-motion Options

As big of a fan as I am of the Co-motion bicycle, (see this post, here) the company website could use some refinement. When I started researching my dream touring bike I found that there were several options available that had little to no description. I spent a little bit of time trying to educate myself about the varying options and I wanted to share what I learned.

Stainless Steel Dropouts: The dropouts are the points that the wheel axles attach to the frame. Typically these are made of steel similar to the rest of the frame, so if you select this option they use stainless steel at these points. There are two distinct benefits of this option.

First, the stainless steel dropouts are not painted, leaving beautiful shining stainless steel which looks very sharp.

Second normal steel dropouts get all of the stress of you riding the bike put on them, and are prone to becoming slightly worn over time making it harder to get the wheel perfectly aligned. Additionally as you remove and re-install the wheel on a steel dropout you will likely chip the paint from clamping the wheel to the frame and will see rust building up. Since stainless steel is stronger than normal steel the stainless dropouts will not rust and will be less likely to get worn.

A close-up of stainless steel dropouts on a front wheel
Co-motion Pangea Stainless Steel Dropouts

If you are looking at having the bike for a long time or just love the look, my recommendation is to get this option.

Pathfinder Package: This replaces the front hub with a Schmidt SON 28 generator, includes a Schmidt Edelux LED headlight, and a “the plug” stem cap with a built in USB charger. For a serious tourist getting off the beaten path this is a great way of giving you the ability to charge your electronics on the road. The headlight is top-notch, plenty bright for night time riding, and is a nice convenience to have.

The two downsides are that adding a generator to your bike does increase the amount of power required to pedal the bike. However this drag is relatively small being about 1 Watt at 5mph, and 6.5 Watts at 20mph. Considering that an unloading bicycle going up a 5% hill at 13mph takes ~320Watts, and pedaling on a flat surface with no wind at 13 mph takes about ~80Watts this generating hub and light are a small load.  This package does add some complexity to the bike. However given our modern electronics this option is increasingly becoming more and more necessary, and I sprung for it on my bike.

If you look at the above picture, you can see the hub inside the wheel.

Co-pilot: Do you need your bicycle frame to be able to broken into two pieces to allow for packing of the bicycle? Yes? Then you need S&S couplers. These mechanical stainless steel joints have teeth between the joints and screw together to couple the two pieces of the frame together.

These couplers actually stiffen the frame a little bit and have been proven to be very reliable in service. To separate/tighten the couplers you do need a special spanner wrench (included with purchase). The only maintenance required is a dab of Teflon lubricant every now and then.

Matt's Co-Motion Pangea Rolhoff in Metallic Black.
Matt’s Co-Motion Pangea Rolhoff in Metallic Black.

You can clearly see the two sets of S&S couplers on the frame, one on the crossbar and one on the downtube.

Co-pilot Padding Kit: When packing your bicycle you need to wrap padding around the frame to keep the paint nice and prevent any metal parts from rubbing against each other (bare metal rusts and can be a potential weak spot). If you are trying to save money you could just use some generic foam padding or rubber insulation material. However, the Co-pilot provides sewn padding kits with a nice fabric and Velcro closure to keep the padding attached to the frame. The time you save using this kit may be worth it if you plan on packing the bike a lot versus trying to wrap it yourself every time, or making your own padding.

Co-pilot Case: At $400 this is a significant amount of money. What you get is a very well built bicycle-packing specific suitcase. There are 4 exterior pockets, 3 interior pockets, reinforcements where the wheel axels will poke the bag, heavy duty zippers, and compression straps to ensure you can meet the airline size requirements. Additionally it is built with telescoping handling and wheels to make transport a breeze. The case appears and feels very well made, and I think you would be hard-pressed to find a better alternative, but let me know in the comments if you have heard of or found a suitable alternative.

Hopefully this sheds some light on to a few of the options that I found little information on, if you have any more information or questions let me know in the comments!

Gear Review-Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2 Tent (2013 version)

Restful sleep is essential to putting on the miles day after day. Ever noticed how it takes a while to get used to falling asleep in a new place? That definitely happens to me. But one thing I have observed during my bicycle tours is that even though the tent I’m sleeping in is in a new place each night, the tent itself doesn’t change. Having that consistent environment makes up for new locations each night. So, for me, this makes the tent is one of the most important purchases for a bicycle tour.

I did a lot of research before deciding on the Copper Spur UL 2 tent for our touring tent.

a tent set up in a field with a forest surrounding it
Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2


First off, the pros:

  • Two “rainbow” doors, one on each side. This means that we each had a side to enter and exit the tent, and weren’t crawling over each other to get in and out. This turned out to be even better than I thought it would.
    • The one person tent only has one door and vestibule.
  • The tent, rainfly, and poles weigh in at 1400 g. and the 2014 version coming in 125 g. lighter. This tent is truly lightweight.
  • Easy to set up and take down (even with just one person). At the end of the day, this tent went up quickly with either one or two of us setting it up.
  • Head space.
    • Matt is 6’2” and I’m 5’6” and there was plenty of headroom for both of us to sit up in the tent. Previous lightweight tents that we’ve had skimped on headspace to save weight, but the Copper Spur left more than enough room for comfort.
  • Adequate ventilation.
    • Nothing is worse than waking up to bedding that is saturated with condensation. We found no problems with this tent throughout our entire tour.
  • Durable.
    • Stood up to 60+mph winds on our most recent tour.


  • Footprint
    • Does not provide protection against thorns
    • Not included with the tent/needs to be purchased separately
  • Color
    • The bright orange doesn’t lend very well to stealth camping.


What’s changed on the 2014 model: The 2014 model is very similar to last year’s model, only slightly lighter. We have not had a chance to try the new version out.

We highly recommend this tent for bicycle touring. The Big Agnes Copper Spur comes in a single person as well as three-man and four -man versions. The single might be a bit small for a larger (taller) person, so keep that in mind. What are some things you look for in a tent? Let us know in the comments below!

Disclaimer: This review contains my personal opinions. I have not received any compensation by the manufacturer for this review. This review is for informational purposes only. If you click the Amazon link and make a purchase, we will receive a small commission.

High Visibility: To Wear or Not to Wear – Updated

I was reading through our most recent touring journal (haven’t read it yet? Check it out here!) and came across this situation:

Day 33: Fox Glacier to Hari Hari…Along the way we passed another touring couple who was clad in dark blue jackets, black pants, dark panniers, and had no lights. We were decked out in bright red jackets, neon yellow vests, and taillights that are extremely bright. Since it was raining we didn’t get to stop and chat, but afterwards Pam and I stopped and both shared how invisible they were riding up the hill. It just doesn’t make sense to us, why take the risk of not being seen? Drivers aren’t going to hit us because they didn’t see us…

Unfortunately, we see many riders, whether at home or abroad, who subscribe to this same attitude about visibility. We’ve already posted about this, but I thought I’d repost, as a reminder of where we stand on the issue.


High visibility: To wear or not to wear?

High visibility clothing, commonly referred to as “high-vis,” is a matter of contention among bicyclists worldwide. You can be pretty much be assured that every bicyclist has an opinion about whether or not to wear high-vis. Even government is getting involved. At the beginning of this year (2014), officials in New Zealand considered making it mandatory for all bicyclists to wear high-vis. Take some time to consider your visibility before you embark on that cycle tour.

So what is the big deal? Many bicyclists feel that high visibility clothing is uncomfortable, un-fashionable, and doesn’t actually help the bicyclist be seen. There also is the feeling that it is not their responsibility to stand out. Unfortunately none of the above matter when someone does not see you and you are hit/injured.

Modern high-vis comes in many shapes and sizes. Matt and I like to wear high-vis vests over our normal cycling clothing that we are wearing at the time. The vests don’t hinder our movement, have vents & mesh to keep us from overheating, and give us peace of mind that we are going to be seen. We even get compliments from drivers about how visible we are.

As far as fashion goes, we feel that this is a nonissue. We cycle not to look good, but for enjoyment and fitness and the ability to enjoy the outdoors. Most importantly we cycle to enjoy being alive. Wearing high-vis helps keep us visible to cars and distracted drivers, thus letting us live longer. These days there are many more fashionable versions of high-vis clothing and jerseys available to keep you visible while still fitting your fashion sense. However if you are looking for something cheap, not much will beat the construction vest.

Many studies have been done on this subject of visibility, mostly on the related subject of motorcyclists, and they come to varying conclusions. The consensus seems to be that contrast is the major factor in being able to see an object. Most cycle/auto interactions occur during rush hours and dawn/dusk/night, times when the number of cars is high and visibility is low. High-visibility clothing can help with that contrast. Lights also increase your visibility.

Of course, just being visible doesn’t mean you can’t be hyper vigilant and aware of the cars around you. After all, they are protected by a metal box, and you have nothing. Don’t take anything for granted, and pay attention to what’s going on around you at all times.

Think about it. Why not do everything in your power to make sure you are as safe as you can be? If this means wearing a high visibility vest, it is such small thing to do, and it may save your life. We’d rather be out there enjoying our bicycles than be injured or worse.

Pest Control

There are many things I enjoy about bicycle touring. I love the fresh air, the beautiful scenery, and the grand vistas. There is definitely one thing I DO NOT like: bugs. A perk of living in southern California is the lack of bugs (sure, there are bugs here. But not like in other places. Trust me.) On our tours, we’ve had to deal with mosquitos, ticks, chiggers, mites. I’m like a bug magnet, if there is a bare patch of skin the bugs seem to find it. So how do we handle all the bugs in the world?

One thing we did on the Southern Tier was to treat our clothing and tent with a product called Permethrin. We picked up a few bottles from the sporting goods store, and treat all our camp clothing, plus our socks and tent. The active ingredient is Permethrin, a synthetic insecticide that was developed by the US Army to prevent its soldiers from being bitten while on duty, because of this it has been tested for safety and currently seems to pose no issues. Maybe you’re hesitant about using a “non-natural” product? Well, I have misgivings, too, but if this stuff can keep me from getting bit (or sick) then I’m all for it. This stuff should be sprayed directly onto clothing or gear, but never onto skin. It’s highly toxic to fish and cats, so if you have a cat, keep it away, and it smells very strongly upon initial application, however that fades as it dries.

In addition to treating our clothing, we also like to bring along a few repellent products. Two sprays, one cream. One spray is Repel Natural, a more natural product, with the active ingredient citronella (the stuff in those candles people burn to keep mosquitos away). If that’s not working, we break out the Ben’s 30% Deet spray. And if we’re still having an issue, Ultrathon Insect Repellent cream by 3M has 34% Deet. Now, I hesitate to use Deet, so we try to be sparing with it and only use it as a last resort. But, honestly, if the bugs are bad, it’s totally worth it.

We have yet to tour in the rain forest or jungle, so our experiences with bugs has been mild so far. But I’ve heard the sand flies (or no see ums) are pretty bad sometimes in New Zealand, so we’re going prepared. And as we plan grander tours in the future, bug-infested places might be on our list. It’s a good idea to think about it before you’re attacked by a swarm of mosquitos with no place to hide. What are your tricks to avoiding bug bites? Let us know in the comments below!

Update: Now that we’re back from our New Zealand tour (didn’t read the journal? Catch it here!), here are my thoughts about the repellents we used there. We went at a great time of year, just cold enough that the bugs weren’t too terrible. But the sand flies were very annoying at times. We found that using the Repel Natural worked as a quick fix. If we weren’t going to be stopped for very long at a time, like for lunch, we’d spray it on the exposed areas and it worked well enough (especially combined with movement, which seemed to also work well. If you keep moving, the sand flies don’t have a chance to annoy you.). I felt good using it when we didn’t have access to water for washing, as its non-toxic. A few times we were in a sand fly infested area for longer periods of time, and the Deet cream or spray worked very well at keeping the bugs away. We just made sure to keep it away from our faces and wash our hands well if we could.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert and these are only my opinions. Consult a health care provider if you are concerned about any ingredient. I have not been compensated in any way by any of these manufacturers.