From the start of this tour I have been wearing the Osprey Talon backpack that I usually use for bikepacking. Since shifting things around and moving the water bladder to the main compartment of the frame bag, the backpack has been as light as it can be, usually with just food, sandals, some of my documents and perhaps the puff jacket in it. Still, I haven’t loved it for this application. The perpetually sweaty back and confining straps are annoying during the long periods of static posture while touring. On singletrack, while concentrating on the dynamics of mountain biking, the laden pack disappears for me. Not so over these last five weeks.
I’ve figured out a way to ditch it. (In reality, give it away to someone who seemed elated to have it.)
Two things had to happen: Firstly, I needed to make space to carry food for the spans between resupply, and, secondly, I needed to be able to carry water. The space issue was addressed by the evolution of looking at and repacking the load again and again (e.g., “wait a second, I could put the pot at the end of the bedroll and cinch it down using the compression lid”), with a big breakthrough being moving the enormous spare tube to the saddle bag, now stuffed to the limit. With the spare tube and water bladder potentially gone, I could carry food in the main section of the frame bag.
But water carrying seemed trickier. Of course I knew I could attach two cages to the fork, with the lower bolt hole in the rack eyelet and the top of the cage secured with a hose clamp. But realistically that wouldn’t be enough capacity. In an aha moment, I attached two more cages to the rear, mounting the top bolt hole of the cages to the rear rack mount, and the lower part of the cage to the chainstay/dropout with another set of hose clamps. This four bottle setup has been reliable for a week over very rough roads and high speed bucking descents.
The result is a bit more Joad family than I’d prefer (yes, that’s a ti mug back there), but no sweaty back.