Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Colorado Trail Race Gear (2010)

Edit: my newer setup for 2012 can be found here.

In preparation for the Colorado Trail Race in 2010, I spent months tweaking my gear list. I didn't want to carry a lot of extra stuff, but I also didn't want to end up leaving behind something important. While I've had a decent amount of experience with selecting gear for backpacking and mountaineering, the requirements for ultra-light bikepacking are somewhat different.

There are a number of great resources on the web that helped immensely. Some generous riders have posted their gear lists, which provided an excellent starting point. There are also some superb ultra-light backpacking sites that have good ideas for saving weight, many of which are applicable to bikepacking. Probably the best site on the web is

My final list ended up being pretty extensive, and therefore a little heavy. But I decided that I'd rather risk carrying too much than too little, especially in light of my relative inexperience.

Probably the most "contrary" equipment choice that I made was to ride with panniers. Very few racers use panniers anymore, instead choosing to use seat bags, frame bags, handlebar slings, and lightweight backpacks. But I didn't want to carry much more than water on my back, and most racers seem to carry pretty large packs because it's difficult to fit everything on a bike. On the plus side, panniers are incredibly flexible and easy to load/unload. On the downside, they tended to whack my legs when walking--and they weigh a couple of extra pounds. I was worried that they would stick out and hit trees, etc., but that was never a problem. Some people also warned me that panniers would unbalance my bike, but I honestly didn't notice them much. See this post for more thoughts on panniers.

For my next CTR attempt in 2011, I'll be re-thinking my entire kit, including whether to use panniers again. I now have a much better idea of what gear I really didn't need, so I'll easily drop a few pounds. With luck, next year will be drier, and I won't feel compelled to add a bunch of extra warm clothing at the last moment like I did for 2010!

Here's my CTR 2010 gear list. While overkill, I did manage to finish the race--and I never worried about being cold or being unprepared. I'll post my 2011 list when I get it sorted out.

helmet visor
fingerless bike gloves
warm gloves
helmet liner/hat
bike shorts (2 pairs)
short-sleeve bike jersey (2)
heavy-weight long-sleeve bike jersey
mid-weight fleece pullover
rain jacket & hood
rain pants
leg warmers
long underwear
wool socks (two pairs)
down jacket

For Toby
lip balm
chamois cream
extra contact lenses
contact solution
contact case
asthma inhaler
small bottle of alcohol
toothbrush & toothpaste
dental floss

GPS (Vista HCx)

hydration pack
feed bag
batteries for all gadgets (GPS, headlamp, HRM, camera)
Velcro headlamp straps
rite-in-the-rain pad
waterproof pen
travel wallet
cash ($100)
credit card
cell phone & batteries
cell phone box
bandannas (3)
hear-rate monitor strap
bike lights (front and back)
small leatherman tool

sleeping bag
bivy bag
TP & shovel
wet wipes
big Ziploc bags
small Ziploc bags
extra straps
water bottle

electrolyte pills
Aquamira water purification drops
7,000 to 5,000 calories/day

First Aid
athletic tape
tick picker
oral thermometer
band aids
safety pins
antibiotic cream

Repair Kit
random extra bolts
3 extra chain links & quick links
super glue
derailleur hanger (2)
tire boot
brake pads (6 sets)
spare tube (2)
tube patch kit
zip ties
cleats & bolts
extra pannier clip
quick stick
spare derailleur cable
needle and thread
safety pins
duct tape
grease rag
Thermarest patch kit

If anyone has any specific questions about brands, models, etc., please feel to post questions in the comments section.


  1. As I am planning for my first ctr this year, I look forward to seeing what you would do different.

    I appreciate all the info you have posted here and on the forum....


  2. Hi Greg,
    Yikes, I really need to finish selecting my gear for this year. Mostly I'm trying to reduce weight and bulk, while still keeping a reasonable safety buffer. I expect that I'll post my "final" gear list in a month or two.
    Good luck out there--the CTR is a great time!

  3. Any word on what your gear setup looks like this year?

  4. Hi Lucas,
    Just so happens that I spent a few hours yesterday going over my list and sorting gear. I need to do a little shopping this week, and then my gear should be complete! I'll post the list when everything is finalized, which should be soon! FYI, I'm sending you a package later today. :)

  5. Thanks Toby,
    Hopefully my last question for you.
    I recently bought a GPS Etrex Legend and loaded all the waypoints into it. However when i go to look at them it shows just the waypoints and no track. It is still helpfull but I am new to the whole "GPS Setup" and cant seem to figure out how to get a track following the waypoints.
    Looking forward to the coming month and hope training and preparation is going smoothly!

  6. Hi Lucas,
    Waypoints are different from tracks. You also need to load the tracks from Stefan's CTR website. Download the 20x500 version from his site, and then upload it to your GPS with Garmin Mapsource (the software that came with your GPS). Tracks are also different than routes. You're just going to visually follow the track on the map mode of your GPS--where you will now see both tracks and the waypoints.

  7. Hey, it worked, the problem was i couldn't get to the files in mapsource until I changed the format of it. This is pretty cool!