Gear Kits

Essential Gear for Bikepacking the Himalaya

The Road to Shangri La

Curated by Aly Nicklas

Last November my best friend and I thought it’d be a brilliant idea to bikepack on the Tibetan Plateau in China, despite having never bikepacked before, and knowing very little about biking in general (see our full story for more details on that). Now that we’re back on this side of the world, there’s not much I would have packed differently (except maybe more of those Honey Stinger chews), so I put together an abbreviated kit of some of our more essential items. Check it out—maybe it’ll help out on your next bad idea adventure.

These were perfect for the mix we did on loose backcountry trails and paved mountain roads. Crazy light, they were a dream even loaded down with 35+lbs of gear. The 29” wheels rolled over everything, and they were equally good on both trail and paved road. Having a hard tail meant for more storage space in the form of one more bike bag, and you betcha we packed it full of gear we would have been lost without (literally, because that’s where I stored the InReach).

We got matching sunglasses because these were exactly right for our trip—and because we’re dorks who somehow always pick the same products. That said, these are still my go-to’s for biking, and they protected our tender eyes from sun and glare while biking at 14k feet. Winning.

The allure of the Space Cowboy name notwithstanding, this uber light bag packs a surprisingly warm punch for how little it weighs, and we were able to pack into into our handlebar bags with our quilts without problem.

We knew our trip would involve radically different environments—from the hot muggy nights in pollution choked cities to freezing high Himalayan air. This quilt brought warmth when we needed it, and it was great to snuggle into for that 18 hour plane ride.

Light and fast is the name of the game when you’re hauling all your gear on a bike up mountain passes, and the second best part is how fast this baby inflates and deflates, getting you in bed or on the trail as quick as you can say "bananagram."

This classic staple of the light back (or bike) packing kit treated us well. It fits in...wait for it...your pocket! Just kidding, but seriously, having a reliable stove this small is worth at least five times it’s meager weight in gold.

Knowing we’d be wearing the same shorts for two weeks we went with Wild Rye’s fun designs and stay-clean, dry-fast fabric. Plus we were repping America with our wild west themed digs.

I got really attached to this pack, and still bring it everywhere with me. It’s incredible how much you can fit in the stretchy pockets, and while minimal in construction they handled the weight of cameras and food remarkably comfortably.

This thing is crazy, crazy light—just 1lb 13oz. It also sets up like a dream and doesn't take up much space, allowing more room for things like Chinese Oreos and other essential snacks.

Our whole bike bag kit was from Relevate thanks to our buddies Thomas Woodson and Joey Schusler letting us mangle, I mean borrow, them. I was in awe of how much we could fit in these, and how well they took a beating. When I go to get my own set this spring for whatever bad idea is next (hint: we’re headed even further north this time, to where these bags are made) the Viscacha will be my first purchase.

Thanks to this device our parents didn’t have to spend ten days wondering if we were still alive, and we got to communicate with them daily. It also opened up crazy possibilities for us to explore—we would never have found the wild mountain passes were it not for the Inreach, and this dream of a trip would have been a whole lot different.

I don’t know what we would have done without our wool. We more or less didn’t take it off, and I can’t say we smelled all that terrible after the ride. Those next to us on the plane may have disagreed, but it’s too late now to ask. It kept us warm, dry, and somehow didn’t get too dirty. Merino is one of the better tricks in our magic hat, true story.