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Unipacking/Backpacking Gear, and should I just jump in?

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  • Unipacking/Backpacking Gear, and should I just jump in?

    Hello everybody

    I'm building a new unicycle with Unipacking in mind. I have visions of parking my truck at a trailhead, throwing a pack on, and riding off for the weekend; camping out overnight somewhere trailside. However, even though this is something I've been working towards for a while (I say I'm going to do it every year ) I'm always a bit aprehensive.

    I get pretty wrapped up in gear choice. I have a solid uni, but I'm starting from scratch everywhere else. I'm currently thinking of using a standard 40-50L internal frame pack and then a mummy bag with a Bivy sack. I'm shooting for a 4 season setup. However, I'd love to hear gear recommendations. Tents, sleeping bags, packs, tarps, etc. If any of you guys use something that works, I'd love to hear about it.

    Budget is going to be a concern as well though. For some reason I'll drop some real cash on my unicycles, but I'm a bit of a tightwad when it comes to everything else...

    I'm not a stranger to camping. I go deer hunting every year (though I'm staying a trailer) so I'm not 'new' to camping. I've also camped in a tent before during the summer, so I'm also not necessarily 'new' to that either. But I've never done the ultra light thing, and I've always had access to motor vehicles and that type of thing. This would be a bit more 'remote' than I've been before. Is this something usually recommended to ease into? Or would I be fine to grab the bull and metaphorically ride off into the sunset?

    Tips, info, advice, links, and gear reviews are greatly appreciated! If I'm way off base or missing something please let me know.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Killian; 2014-07-19, 01:48 AM.
    "I used to watch Highway Patrol whittlin' with my knife..." - NY

  • #2
    Originally posted by Killian View Post
    Hello everybody

    I'm building a new unicycle with Unipacking in mind. I have visions of parking my truck at a trailhead, throwing a pack on, and riding off for the weekend; camping out overnight somewhere trailside. However, even though this is something I've been working towards for a while (I say I'm going to do it every year ) I'm always a bit aprehensive.

    I get pretty wrapped up in gear choice. I have a solid uni, but I'm starting from scratch everywhere else. I'm currently thinking of using a standard 40-50L internal frame pack and then a mummy bag with a Bivy sack. I'm shooting for a 4 season setup. However, I'd love to hear gear recommendations. Tents, sleeping bags, packs, tarps, etc. If any of you guys use something that works, I'd love to hear about it.

    Budget is going to be a concern as well though. For some reason I'll drop some real cash on my unicycles, but I'm a bit of a tightwad when it comes to everything else...

    I'm not a stranger to camping. I go deer hunting every year (though I'm staying a trailer) so I'm not 'new' to camping. I've also camped in a tent before during the summer, so I'm also not necessarily 'new' to that either. But I've never done the ultra light thing, and I've always had access to motor vehicles and that type of thing. This would be a bit more 'remote' than I've been before. Is this something usually recommended to ease into? Or would I be fine to grab the bull and metaphorically ride off into the sunset?

    Tips, info, advice, links, and gear reviews are greatly appreciated! If I'm way off base or missing something please let me know.

    Thanks.
    You are definitely biting off a big challenge here, Kiefer. I've kinda thought about this over the past few months, but am daunted by the uni skills required. I've got a long background in backpacking/camping, and I know how heavy and uncomfortable the pack can get even while on foot.

    My immediate advice would be to get your system dialed with a couple of trips on foot - even just overnighters. Figure out what you need with you and can do without when weight and mobility are not an issue. Then you can start translating to being on the wheel with your true minimum amount of gear.

    My other thought is that you might be better off to plan to be walking, just with the uni along for once you get to camp. Hike in, ditch the gear and then go for an awesome, remote uni ride.

    Finally, if you want to borrow some stuff to see what works, drop me a PM. I have a bunch of extra gear that I'm not quite ready to give away, but would be happy to loan out for longer periods of time.

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    • #3
      If you haven't slept in a mummy before, try it at home first.

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      • #4
        ubernerd has really good advice--get the lightweight camping down first (figure out your camping style), then try it with a unicycle. A good resource for gear and techniques is www.bikepacking.net

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ubernerd View Post
          You are definitely biting off a big challenge here, Kiefer. I've kinda thought about this over the past few months, but am daunted by the uni skills required. I've got a long background in backpacking/camping, and I know how heavy and uncomfortable the pack can get even while on foot.

          My immediate advice would be to get your system dialed with a couple of trips on foot - even just overnighters. Figure out what you need with you and can do without when weight and mobility are not an issue. Then you can start translating to being on the wheel with your true minimum amount of gear.

          My other thought is that you might be better off to plan to be walking, just with the uni along for once you get to camp. Hike in, ditch the gear and then go for an awesome, remote uni ride.

          Finally, if you want to borrow some stuff to see what works, drop me a PM. I have a bunch of extra gear that I'm not quite ready to give away, but would be happy to loan out for longer periods of time.
          Awesome Will, I'll be shooting you a PM.

          Thanks guys, this is what I was looking for.
          "I used to watch Highway Patrol whittlin' with my knife..." - NY

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          • #6
            Make sure you bring a more intense first aid kit than you normally would for a day-ride (e.g., emergency blanket, QuikClot) and tell multiple people where you are going and how long you will be gone. I'd probably bring a map so that I wouldn't have to rely on a potentially-dead phone. My uncle does a lot of fast packing (not with a unicycle though) and he has a GPS device on him at all times that either clips to his backpack or is wearable. The device doesn't tell him where he is at the moment, but it sends out a distress signal if he becomes lost or injured. I don't know what his particular device is called, but I'm sure there are many types out there and they're Googleable. Depending on your environment, I'd also bring a water purifier (tabs, UV lights, filters, etc.) and things to protect you from the elements (e.g., pepper spray, bear spray, rifle (just kidding), benadryl). Since you may need to do more hiking than normal, I'd consider shoes that can handle both a lot of mileage of hiking and your particular needs for unicycling.

            Just my ideas if I were going to do this.This sounds awesome. If I had more unicycling friends and didn't currently live in a place with a lot of bears, I'd totally do this. I personally wouldn't do it alone, but I can see why someone might enjoy the serenity of being alone deep in nature on a unicycle. Have fun and stay safe!

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            • #7
              Thanks for the ideas Bri. Right now my first aid kit consists of about 3 band-aids, so anything extra will be more intense .

              I'm looking forward to trying it out. I'm excited to be able to take off after work on Saturday afternoons and get lost (figuratively) until I have to return to civilization.

              One thing I should mention is that my main focus is actually going to be on double track. There are dirt roads that wind around all over up in the hills around here, and that's more where I'm planning on touring. Not quite as strenuous as riding single track, but still remote if you know where to go (which is where I'll be going).

              But I think hiking in somewhere a couple times first is a great idea so I can decide what I absolutely need, or if I'm too chicken .
              "I used to watch Highway Patrol whittlin' with my knife..." - NY

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              • #8
                I used to ride up to Ben Lomond on my mtn 2 wheels and camp... cool views at night fun ride down in the morning. Did it one year when there was snow on the north side of the peak. We left our bikes at the saddle hiked up to the peak and fastened together some make shift sleds. It was fun. I've ridden down both ways (north fork & divide) but I can't remember which I liked better.
                Where are you thinking of going for you first ride?


                ...ps I want to ride your 29er again....
                Last edited by fugsworth; 2014-07-20, 02:08 AM.

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                • #9
                  I'm not 100% sure where my first ride would be. Something like the trip up to Ephraims Grave (near Logan) or Peter Sinks would be cool from Monte Cristo. Since it's a Fatty, the ride I really wanna do is Monte Cristo road after they close it for winter and there's snow on it. Riding up and camping out on the top sounds sweet to me.

                  I've always wanted to do both the Skylines in one ride, camping out on Ben Lomond or Lewis, but that'd be a pretty ambitious trip.

                  You can ride that 29er as much as you want (for $650 ) Seriously though, if you wanna go for a ride, you're more than welcome to take it out on trail.
                  Last edited by Killian; 2014-07-20, 02:24 AM.
                  "I used to watch Highway Patrol whittlin' with my knife..." - NY

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                  • #10
                    Just don't go twisting an ankle on your Uni and wind up like this guy:

                    http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/man-...rness-24637510

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Alice Arctan View Post
                      If you haven't slept in a mummy before, try it at home first.
                      I agree.
                      My youtube channel:CANMOREUNIPRODUCTIONS

                      Visit municycle.ca for all your unicycle needs

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                      • #12
                        I slept in a mummy bag inside of a sleeping bag inside of a snow cave on Monte Cristo once and I still froze

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                        • #13
                          It was 'that' cold? We'll see how the snow thing pans out. Normally I despise winter, but having a Fatty will hopefully help me see the light. I think it'll be a lot of fun.

                          As far as mummy's go, I've been in a hybrid before, but nothing as confining as a mummy. I'll be sure to try it out at home first. I'm not claustrophobic or anything like that.
                          Last edited by Killian; 2014-07-21, 03:12 AM.
                          "I used to watch Highway Patrol whittlin' with my knife..." - NY

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                          • #14
                            I am afraid that as with many other things it is a bit that you get what you pay for also with camping. So you might consider not going for the cheapest options.

                            When it comes to sleeping bags, the sleeping bag that is comfortable in the summer, might not be very comfortable in the winter and the other way around. To my experience it is smart to have a light small one for the warm months, and then a thicker one for the cold months. Should it be really cold you can always bring both. Goose down has good weight to insulation ratio, but also costs a bit and gets cold if soaked. Consider getting a thin inner silk bag. It insulates when wet, protects a bit from mosquitoes if it is warm and you sleep with the zipper open and it is easier to clean than the complete sleeping bag.

                            your sleeping mat should be light, but thick enough to also keep you warm if you plan to go camping in the winter. The inflatable ones work well. For ultralight there are 2/3 sleeping mats that are supposed to be large enough for your body and head, but not your legs. I'm not sure if it is worth it. Place your empty backpack under your feet to keep them off the ground. If it is warm you can get away with using a hammock, but figuring out how to sleep comfortable in one can take some getting used to. Sleeping diagonally helps.

                            Get some light waterproof rollup bags to pack your stuff inside your backpack. One or two for clothes, one for sleeping bag. It helps keeping your stuff organized when you empty your backpack.

                            For tents, there are small lightweight one person tents, but just using a tarp might be more comfortable if you can get away with it.

                            Your backpack should fit your back well and it should be possible to compress it so that it sits as close to your back as possible. Choosing a slightly larger one than you need gives you room to also carry stuff comfortably if you need to bring a bit more than normal. An overstuffed backpack can be uncomfortable. On the other hand, a small backpack forces you to consider every item you bring as space is an issue. Make sure to try it out in the shop with some weight in it. All backpacks are comfortable when filled with bubble wrap.
                            Last edited by nokon; 2014-07-21, 07:26 AM. Reason: half sentences
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                            • #15
                              I like the idea. I've done lots of hike backpacking, as well as cycle touring and mountain bike camping. I think the primary thing to figure out is which minimalist class can you get down to (to limit weight):

                              The lightest gear is the gear you don't even take with you.

                              Do you need a tent? or just a biwak sack? or can you even forgo a sleeping bag and sleep in a hammock (summer and good weather only) or just with a sleeping bag and thermorest pad?

                              Do you need to cook? i.e. can you go without a stove and fuel?

                              Are there water sources? (i.e. how much water do you have to pack in?)

                              How much food do you need? or can you get provisions easily?

                              And of course how long? as for an overnighter you won't need much in supplies or repair stuff, but if you do a 5-day trip where you're maybe far away, then you need waaay more.

                              I think I'd figure out how much weight you can comfortably carry by doing a short unicylce tour with some weight -- and then take 2-5 pounds LESS than what you found bearable. I think 30 pounds is more than I would think about and 20 pounds more like the ideal (I used to do 7-10 mult-day mountain bike trips in the Alp hut system and 11kg (24 lbs) became uncomfortable after a few days, so I set 10kg as my max basic (+ extra food/water for longer sections). So may be try limiting to 25 lbs.? and see if you can do a day tour with that weight?

                              I you're doing short 1-2 overnight trip in the summer and the weather is stable, then I think you could feasibly do it with a light sleeping bad (maybe a biwak, but if there's a high pressure system I think you could risk it) and a lightweight thermorest pad.

                              I personally can't see being able to handle the weight with a stove, food and more substantial cold weather gear (on my cycle trips I always something else for carrying, be it a one-wheel trailer (BOB) or saddle bags).

                              P.S. I bought a superlight 1 man tent a few years ago, which if I remember right is under 2 lbs. I've done a lot of trips with the thermorest, tent and summer sleeping bag at pretty light weight. But again, I think on the unicycle it's even harder to deal with the weight than on a bike (and of course way worse than hiking where I can carry a lot of weight).
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