Wait, the Weight: My First Attempt at Packing for the TAT


I finally got all my stuff gathered, packed, and weighed.  It checked in at 96 lbs, which is way more than I was hoping for.  I talked about this in my earlier post about Compromise.  I want to carry a 40 pound load, and be prepared for anything.  I may be prone to unrealistic fantasies.

Funny thing is, the heaviest object I have packed is my tent and it only weighs 6.5 lbs.  All my stuff is just little stuff, but it adds up.  It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings:

The ocean is filled with drops of water.

I grabbed an empty bag and went to trimming.  I came up with 20 lbs I could drop very easily.  But, one of those things was my camera kit, checking in at 7 lbs.  I love photography as much as I love motorcycles, and this trip is primarily a motorcycle trip, not a photography trip, so I was willing to settle for cell phone photos.  My family convinced me to add it back in.

So, I had to do some more thinking about my pack list.  I’ve decided to not shoot video with the borrowed GoPro.  This means no GoPro, no battery charger, and no tablet computer required.  That should drop 3 or 4 lbs.  It also means less stuff to worry about and more time to focus on the ride and my photos.  I switched my quart of spare oil for a half full quart bottle.  That saved a pound.  I ordered a 1 lb hammock to replace the 6 lb hammock, but added a 2 lb sleeping mat for the nights I’m not using the hammock.  That’s a 3 pound drop.  I ditched the 2 emergency-use-only MRE’s, saving 3.2 lbs.  I’ll just pack my 2 to 3 days worth of food, restocking along the way, and rely on my beer belly to keep me alive if I get stranded. The can of Fix-a-Flat is out too, that’s a pound.  (turns out, I somehow made it to 50 years of age without knowing that Fix-a-Flat doesn’t work on inner tubes).  My sturdy foot operated air pump is replaced by a very light hand operated pump designed for bicycles.  That saved 2 lbs.  I’m culling some lengths of nylon rope to save another pound.  I’ll take a good length of para cord that doesn’t weigh much.  All of these small changes, when added up, reduce my load by roughly 14 lbs.

Is a 14 pound reduction significant?  Yes, yes it is.  A few weeks ago I was out and about on some short rides and a few longer ones (half day) and had used it on my 45 minute commute a few times in that same week.  I wasn’t packing any load at all for those trips.  One day I stopped at a store and bought about 10 lbs of groceries which I strapped to my back rack.  10 lbs.  When I took off riding, I didn’t make it out of the parking lot before I had to stop and inspect my tires for a flat.  I checked that the axles were tight.  It all looked good.  I took off, only to pull over again in about a half mile to do the same checks.  That 10 lbs was enough to change the way my bike felt.   That 10 lbs was enough to change the center of gravity, which my lizard brain interpreted as mechanical failure. Once I got it in my brain that everything was fine, I could ride fine.

I’ve done a lot of reading about light weight packing for motorcycle trips and it seems most people are in one of two camps:  40 to 50 lbs, or 80 to 100 lbs.  I’m not ready to spend more money on super light weight stuff, there are some creature comforts I don’t want to give up, and I like to be prepared.  Of the little things that I plan to take, there are lighter versions of them, at a cost.  Sometimes a high cost.  If I can reduce the weight of each of my things by 50%, my load goes from 80 lbs to 40 lbs.  That’s not cheap.  I may find myself in the 80 to 100 camp on a regular basis.  As a balance (justification?) to that, my bike weighs 100 lbs less than some of the other comparable models.  My 80 lb load plus bike will still weigh less than a 100 lb heavier bike with 40 lbs of gear.

After my hammock comes in, I’ll re-pack and re-weigh. I’ll post the specific list when I get it settled.

Categories: Motorcycles, TAT 2018, Trips

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