The days leading up to my first ever bike camping trip were grey and the streets lay bruised from the occasional downpour of the Pacific Northwest. Sunday was to be perfect. The forecast was for clear skies and temps from the high 50's to mid 60's. The goal? Bike from my sublet on SE Clinton and make my way down through the Historic Columbia River Highway and camp out at Eagle Creek Campground. I've never bike camped before and I haven't camped in over 10 years but this is something I've wanted to do for a long time. The following is a summary of my experiences and will hopefully be a resource for those who are interested in bike camping.
Notes from the field - Having a bicycle that is properly set up for touring would be more than ideal. - Learn how to make a proper fire. - Leatherman Knives are not made for chopping wood. - Carry real food. Backpacking food sucks! - Learn how to properly read + navigate maps. - A rain jacket doubles as a firewood carrying tote and it works really fucking well. - Don't trust cheap water bladders and definitely don't fill those cheap water bladders with whiskey.
Problems I had - My rack was rubbing my tire at times due to clearance + weight. - I didn't know how to set up my rain fly or properly stake my tent. - Took me way too long to start a fire. - $5 portable whiskey bladder exploded when I opened it. At least it didn't explode in my bag!
This is the gear I brought - All City Macho Man + Axiom Streamliner rack + Ortlieb Bike Packer Plus panniers + two 25oz insulated Camelback bottles + Garmin 810 - Big Ages Fly Creek UL2 tent + Custom ground sheet. - REI Radiant +20 sleeping bag + Therm-a-Rest NeoAir XLite Sleeping Pad. - Snowpeak LiteMax stove + Gas 100g + Snowpeak Ti Mini Solo Kit + Snowpeak 300 + Snowpeak Spork + GSI Coffee Drip + lighter with duct tape wrap. - First aid kit + soap + toilet paper + baby wipes + 2 liter water bladder + a couple zipties. - small cloth + larger bath towel. - Bike lights, Bike pump, tire lever, 2 tubes, patches, tire boot, bike cable + combination lock. - Radioshack portable power + iphone and garmin cable. - Food. I brought more than enough. - map - Pantagonia Nano Puff + Mountain Hardware rain shell + Uniqlo long underwear + Addidas soccer shorts + Rapha beanie + Wool socks x2 + @bonedeth t shirt + Vans. - On the bike I wore Endo Customs bibs + Search and State jersey + Defeet base layer + Defeet socks + Giro gloves / spd shoes / atmos helmet + Oakley gloves
Random gear notes - I used a $12 waterproof REI drysack as a handlebar bag. Works great! - Axiom Streamliner racks barely work with 33c tires. Will go to 28c next time for better tire clearance. - My Leatherman Wave broke while cutting wood which was pretty disappointing. I sent the knife in for repair and they sent me a brand new one. So kudos to Leatherman for standing behind their products!
Conclusion - First bike camping trip was a success with little to no problems. - 43.5 miles from my apartment to Eagle Creek Campground. Stoner pace. Took lots of stops to shoot photos and take it all in. - Oregon Forest Rangers are super nice and very helpful. Don't hesitate to stop and ask them questions. - The Historic Columbia River Highway is fucking beautiful and I will most certainly be going back. - Bike camping is amazing and I can't wait for the next trip.
Well I've heard that bike camping is addictive and I can tell you that after this first trip I am definitely hooked! Hopefully you enjoyed this write up and maybe even found it a bit informative? Regardless this is the first of many and I look forward to sharing my adventures bike camping in the Pacific North West. For the full routes I took check out day one here and day two here. You can also find more photos and cycling related nonsense on Pedal Often.
Until next time!