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The packing list. It’s the beginning of most trips, from a quick overnight to an extended trip. You hope you’ve got everything you need, but there’s always something you could add – and take away – from every kit. 

As part of our Swift Campout Activity Book, Meghan Dinneen shared a list of unexpected items that contributed greatly to her comfort and joy while riding the 2,700-mile Great Divide Mountain Bike Route:

What I’m Packin’

Words and Illustration by Meghan Dinneen.

I know there are many “what to pack for bike tour” lists floating around in the world, and they’re informative and valuable! When I was packing for the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route with Carolyne and Taylor, we (of course!) had our sleeping setups, cooking arrangements, etc. Other sources have (and do!) expound on those much more thoroughly than I could ever do. What I was surprised by, though – and what I’ve tried to highlight a little bit here – were some items I packed or acquired along the way that became unexpectedly crucial to my comfort and joy over those 2700-some miles.

A. Frame pump. I’d never owned a frame pump before this trip, and I was really missing out. To be moving that much more air than with a pocket pump is a luxury; when you’re dealing with New Mexico’s goatheads after slogging through mud and food poisoning, it’s absolutely vital to your team’s morale and sanity. Chocolate helps too.

B. Ibuprofen. More than you thought. Maybe with every meal for a few days there.

C. Brake pads. Of course you brought brake pads. What you didn’t expect was to wear out brand-new ones after a week of solid rain and dirt-road descents down real mountains. Bring more.

D. Chain lube. Much like the brake pads and ibuprofen, you didn’t expect the sheer amount you would all need, but it was either pouring rain or dusty dirt, and this called for near-daily application. Keep it handy.

E. Performance cotton! I had packed two jerseys and then this SF t-shirt as a casual addition / pyjamas. I lost one jersey in a downpour outside Whitefish, and shredded the other in a disc rotor several days later. The remainder of tour was spent in this shirt. In a prescient moment, I had sewn “jersey pockets” to the back of it before leaving home. Don’t underestimate sleeveless performance cotton!

F. Can opener. I was gifted a tiny, little can opener by my sweetie, and while canned goods are too heavy to carry regularly, it is SUCH A TREAT to be able to make a meal with luxury items like canned beans and coconut milk if you find them in a town! This little tool weighs nothing, takes up virtually no space, and can really broaden your culinary possibilities!

Meghan’s alternate pack list is just one of dozens of activities, hot tips, and entertainment in the Swift Campout Activity Book. Grab one here!