Highland Trail 550 – 2017 kit musings

Spoiler alert: I finished the race. Blog post to follow sometime.

When you’re in a ride like the Highland Trail 550, you’ve got a lot of time to think about things. As I was pushing up some hill somewhere, I started thinking about how much of my kit that I’d used in 2014 was with me in 2017. Let’s be clear, bikepacking can be cheap, but it can also turn out really expensive as you iterate through kit setups.

Firstly, an image to give some context to the following post:


Thinking back to the kit required for a week-long race, here’s what I still use three years later:

  • Midge net
  • Multi tool – Topeak Hexus II
  • Pump – Lezyne Mini HV
  • Sunglasses – Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ
  • Sleeping bag liner

Everything else has been upgraded, broken or simply replaced. Admittedly I did carry a lot more in 2014, but for everything else to have been swapped out is quite surprising.

My 2017 kit list in its entirety

  • Martha
    • Jones Spaceframe 3d Ti
    • Rohloff internal gear hub, Velocity 35mm rim (now dented) and a 2.2″ Nobby Nic
    • Shutter Precision PD-8 dynamo hub, laced to a WTB Scraper i45 and spaced (badly) to 135mm. Vee Trax Fatty 3″ tyre
    • Exposure Revo
    • Jones Ti Cut bars, foam grips
    • Brooks Cambium C15
    • Thomson layback post, 70mm stem
    • Garmin Edge 810
    • Single 750ml water bottle
    • Two inner tubes, taped into the frame at the seat mast
  • Revelate Viscacha saddle bag, containing:
    • Alpkit tapered drybag
    • PHD Autumn Racebag
    • Rab Survival Zone Bivi
    • Klymit X Frame short mat
    • Exped inflatable pillow (well worth the minimal extra weight)
    • Silk sleeping bag liner
    • Running shorts (suitable for bedtime)
    • Icebreaker Oasis crew neck, long sleeved (bedtime)
    • Spare Woolie Boolies, worn at bedtime
    • Gore Windstopper knee warmers
    • Icebreaker skull cap
  • Revelate Sweetroll, containing:
    • Berghaus hydrophobic down jacket, inside a 2l Alpkit drybag
    • Spare/emergency food – bag of cashews, unused
    • Food, 8 hrs of energy bars, which would not be revealed until the last day
  • Revelate Pocket (large), containing:
    • Food
    • Smidge
    • Riemann P20 sunscreen
    • SIS electrolyte tablets
    • Pump
    • Batteries
    • Sinewave Revolution
    • USB cables
    • Lube (Finish Line red)
    • My Lucky Spork (Light My Fire, carried everywhere just in case)
  • Alpkit Roo pocket, strapped into truss fork (bad idea, it wore through)
    • Topeak Hexus II multitool
    • Topeak tyre levers
    • Tubeless repair kit
    • Puncture repair kit
    • Tubeless valve
    • Cable ties
    • Nipples, various bolts
  • Blackburn Designs top tube bag:
    • Gels
    • Stoats porridge bars
    • USB battery and cable for charging the Garmin on the go
  • Osprey Talon 11 rucksack
    • Aqua Traveller filter bottle, which wasn’t used
    • Food bought en route, plus bars in the hip pockets
    • Lock
    • Charlie the Bikemonger’s Bum Butter
    • Leatherman Skeletool CX
    • Vitamin C tabs
    • Phone, inside a Lifeproof case
    • Basic toiletries
    • Exposure Diablo, carried in the bag for mounting to my helmet at night

I think that’s it for the kit I carried, and my clothing for riding is below. I’m not sponsored by Endura, I’ve just discovered that I buy a lot of it without really thinking about it.

  • Specialized Rime shoes
  • Woolie Boolie socks. I wore the same pair for a week
  • Endura FS260 bibs, suitable for long rides of 4hrs plus. Again, wore for a week and very very good
  • Endura Singletrack shorts
  • Endura long sleeved jersey
  • Endura MTB gloves
  • Howies shower-resistant jacket
  • Berghaus Goretex Active Shell jacket
  • Oakley Flak Jacket XLJ with photo chromatic lenses

My only regret is the dynamo debacle. I spaced out the 100mm hub to 135mm to fit the Jones truss fork, using a kit bought from eBay. Sadly the combined width of the 100mm hub and 35mm of spacers is less than the 135mm axle (probably a job for the Vernier scales to find out how much). This means that the hub doesn’t stay completely static in the dropouts, so it spins and rips the wiring out periodically. A real pain in the arse.

Thinking about it though, battery and light technology has got to the point where you don’t need a dynamo for rides of up to about a week. The weight penalty of the battery is less than that of the hub and charging solution, so I’m going to think about whether I keep the hub or not in future.

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