Reducing pannier weight

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Reducing pannier weight

Postby bainbridge » 16 Mar 2015, 9:46pm

Hi tourers :)

My second ever tour is coming up soon and one of the most memorable lessons is how easy it is to take too much stuff. Last time round my panniers were stuffed and as I stood on the scales with them it became obvious there was way too much weight in them. So at the last minute I jettisoned loads of stuff into the porch to get the weight down. Much of it wasn't needed anyway as it turned out but some of it was.

So this time there's more preparation involved: I'm weighing everything :mrgreen:

The kitchen scales are a real eye opener. I intended to wear road shoes and take trainers, but the trainers weigh 890g. Ordered a pair of Shimano touring shoes in a sale which double up for a walking around in shoe so that's 890g saved.
My D-lock and wire whip combo weighed in at 970g and 530g respectively, so there is an Abus Titalium 40mm padlock on order weighing in at 83g to use instead of the D lock and that's another saving of 887g.

That's 1.75kg saved and I've only just started!

Any weight-saving tips would be much appreciated :D

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby rannochraider » 16 Mar 2015, 10:26pm

If you are going to replace the contents of your panniers with similar in Titanium you will save the weight of what was in your wallet for sure! Cycling and camping Light generally means expensive. Having said that I'll be watching this thread as I'm not at all experienced either. I'd love to see an inventory of what the experienced guys call a list of ' essentials' (items and brands)for a 2 week plus tour ?

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby al_yrpal » 16 Mar 2015, 10:34pm

Weigh your clothes one by one and choose the lightest stuff its surprising with things like tee shirts and trousers what a massive overall saving can be made. Your shoe plan is spot on.

Touring on a bicycle is a great way to explore and appreciate the countryside and towns you pass through. Make a difference...

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby DesWeller » 16 Mar 2015, 10:48pm

Ref your shoes, I opted to fit flat pedals for that very reason. Cycling in trainers is easy. But shoes like the old Specialized Tahoe were just not that great for prolonged normal use IME. I guess it does depend how much 'conventional' sightseeing you might be planning on doing though.

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby simonineaston » 17 Mar 2015, 12:49am

I remember a mate turning up for a tour of the West Country one time, with luggage that included 3 pairs of shoes, 3 different types of cheese, 2 lb of apples and not one but two bottles of shower gel, each of a different fragrance...

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby nmnm » 17 Mar 2015, 1:27am

Advice would vary depending on where you are going / how long / current packing list, but a good starting point is a look at this light-hearted lightweight blog. Few of us are so single-minded in our own approaches but there are numerous interesting pointers in there.

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby rannochraider » 17 Mar 2015, 2:01am

[quote="nmnm"]Advice would vary depending on where you are going / how long / current packing list, but a good starting point is a look at this light-hearted lightweight blog. Few of us are so single-minded in our own approaches but there are numerous interesting pointers in there.[/quote.

I don't know if that's just extreme or extremely sensible ? it's a good way to get from A to B but to my mind It doesn't really fit in with the leisurely paced / enjoy your environment / camping / self sufficient aspects that I thought were really the basis of 'touring'. Super ultra light touring under these circumstances isn't much more than a fast ride between stops where food can be bought? Each to their own I suppose. Where's the essential list for a lengthy SELF SUPPORTED / camping Tour and how do you cut the essentials to the lightest weights possible ?

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby whoof » 17 Mar 2015, 11:13am

Fewer clothes and some washing liquid, string and some pegs.
I've seen plenty of packing lists with 7 pairs socks, 5 boxer shorts and 4 t-shirts.
Clothing that works well on and off the bike. Light running tops are good to ride in if it's hot, make good base layers if it gets cold, make a good t-shirt off the bike and dries quickly for washing.
A cotton t-shirt makes a flappy damp riding top, a soggy base layer, are relatively heavy and takes longer to dry. No need to spend a lot can be purchased from a number of discount sports chains/ supermarkets.

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby Tangled Metal » 17 Mar 2015, 12:05pm

It really depends on what you are doing, how long and your style of touring. IMHO you can read a lot about lightweight backpacking on line which could be helpful if you are camping out. There appears to me to be many different styles of touring that without a pointer we could be suggesting irrelevent kit like cooking stoves and pots when you are credit card touring and planning to eat out rather than cooking yourself.

With backpacking the main weight is from the shelter, sleeping bag and the rucksack. With cycle touring the weight of the panniers is not an issue really so it is the first two. You can buy solo tents at less than 1.5kg with a decent space and at reasonable prices. I would consider a Wild country Zephyros or for less but with less space / more weight the Vango banshee (or the latest version is called something else). Or if bikepacking try a simple, light tarp and a bivvy bag, you can get decent and cheap ones at Backpacking light UK (R&R Enterprises IIRC is the company name).

I think it is all about leaving the stuff out you don't need and making things more useable for more of the time. By that I mean either washing clothes so you can carry less, using clothes that last longer before needing a wash and dry quicker when washed and trying to take things with multiple uses. A lot of stuff that is carried for one thing could be used for another. The classic multi use item is a simple buff. It can be a hat, scarf, head band or even something to hold a hot pot with (other uses are limited by you imagination).

Now with the long term in mind there is a good tactic to consider. After each trip sort your gear and clothes out into piles according to how often they got uses. A pile for a lot of use, low use and did not use. The last pile is a good place to consider leaving at home (things like repair kit and first aid kit apart of course). The second pile also needs looking at. Were some items used more or less? Could you repace some of this with one item instead of two? How about only 2 sets of boxers instead of 3? Just wash them daily and dry them in a mesh bag somewhere if dry. Also, good synthetics can dry by being worn, not nice at first but you can get used to it. I have some gear that I can get a full on dunking (say in a stream or lake) and can be dry in 10 minutes.

All these are little ideas but as with all things it is how far do you go? Are you really the cutting the handle off your toothbrush kind of person? At the end of the day it is an incremental weightloss programme and TBH can take a few trips to get to your ideal kit. BTW it is simply not worth cutting labels off clothes. I cut one off because it irritated me then decided to see how much it weighed, very little. So I went around all my outdoor clothing (of which there is a lot) cutting out all labels. I got only a few grammes and a couple of handfuls of labels. That is a myth that removing labels really matter.

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby PH » 17 Mar 2015, 12:46pm

I think your idea with the shoes and whoof's suggestion that you go for clothes suitable on and off the bike is probably the biggest saving you'll make without compromising comfort too much. Though I like a change of footwear and take a 350g pair of sandals. A saddle that you're comfortable on without padded shorts is a huge saving on convenience, and a bit of weight. I don't want to carry any clothes that don't dry in the tent overnight in reasonable temperatures. Merino kit suites me well, and doesn’t need frequent washing. The two pannier V’s four V’s trailer debate has no correct answer. Having tried all three I prefer two small panniers, saddlebag and bar bag, that’s a fair bit of weight just in the rack and luggage. It surprises me how many tools and spares some people carry, I’ve never felt the need for tours that are never too far from civilisation.
It's all a balance, I cut the weight down to 8kg on a couple of tours, found comfort and enjoyment suffered and found my balance at about 12kg. I have a friend who is happy to tour with a saddlebag and another who takes loads even on a B&B tour, we're all different.

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby Tangled Metal » 17 Mar 2015, 1:04pm

All is easier and nicer with two to share the communal items. A 2 man tent and cooking kit is lighter split than a 1 man kit.

With modern synthetics merino has less of an advantage and wears quicker IMHO. I once did an 11 day backpacking trip with basically 2 sets of clothes, one worn the other washed. I also took only a pack of wet wipes for washing myself with toothpaste and toothbrush. A small microfibre towel. I washed in streams and lakes mostly. Then at the end of it all I got on a crowded summer tourist bus for a 2 hour journey home and not one person showed any signs of clothing or my person being anti-social. Not one item was merino but was all synthetic so if the smelly helly thing was still a big deal I would have ponged the bus out.

All this weight saving is really a personal preference. No one solution is right and IMHO it takes experience to sort it out for yourself. I have not done much on a bike so for me it will be relatively new. I have done a lot by foot and think it is transferable to some extent. My kit for that was hard won and had many a blind alley with kit options. Clothing is a very good example of having to experiment to find your solution. Above all with the main kit like shelter, sleep kit and bad weather clothing it is really down to your personal journey to the right solution. However I would say that if you are down to the last kg to cut out I would also look to personal weight too (this applies to day rides as well as tours).

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby foxyrider » 17 Mar 2015, 1:13pm

Even if you don't have a big budget you can save a lot of weight and bulk easily, here are some of my top tips.

Orikaso flatware - cheap off Amazon
Sea to Summit aluminium cutlery
yes weigh that clothing - underwear/socks can be washed or even replaced easily. Avoid cotton clothing - its relatively heavy and dries slowly.
Consider replacing standard stuffsacs for tent/sleeping bag etc with lightweight versions
weigh your panniers! a pair of Ortlieb classic Back Rollers weigh @ 1400g, some of the Altura bags weigh that each.
replace steel pegs for al or maybe even ti

My line of attack when looking at taking out weight is this - does the lightweight item do the job still - its no good having a 250g tent if it won't keep the wet out or is too fiddly to erect. Can you eat with that plastic knife, does it cut?

I reckon my camping gear has cost me about £1000 and 3 season all up weight is under 5kg with @ 4kg of clothing/footwear (that includes the set i'll be wearing!) On the subject of footwear, multifunction shoes are great but i always take some lightweight (sub 200g) sandals/pool shoes to give my feet a rest and also some overshoes (i use lightweight Gore spats) to keep my cycling footwear at least drier if the weather is grotty.

On the subject of what to take - do a dry run with the kit, put the tent up, set up as though you were at a campsite, is anything missing? what hasn't been used? i have a standard list of stuff i take that works for me, others may have different priorities. for example i only use a short sleep mat, i don't need to have my feet cushioned when i'm asleep! weight saving 100g! :)
Convention? what's that then?
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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby axel_knutt » 17 Mar 2015, 3:36pm

My problem is preventing the panniers getting heavier, because I have kit which is getting tatty and needs throwing out, but can't find replacements. I ripped my canvas deck shoes in 2008, but all the ones in the shops now are too big and heavy to carry, so I wear the torn ones. The same goes for my fleece jumpers, and my new fleece jacket takes up too much room by comparison with the old one. I've got a Regatta cagoule which is light and compact, but it's getting past it, and I can't find anything else as small. I used to buy 250g tubs of Flora until most of the shops stopped selling them, so now I have to make room for 500g, and 500cc cartons of milk are getting rarer too.
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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby jgurney » 17 Mar 2015, 4:26pm

If your budget will stand it, look at lightweight clothing from firms like Rohan.

I have some of their t-shirts with weight and volume less than half than of typical cotton ones, and a 'spark' insulated top which weighs very little but is very snug and water-resistant (and reversible between yellow or dark blue).

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Re: Reducing pannier weight

Postby nmnm » 17 Mar 2015, 4:33pm

Foxy mentioned pool sandals. I made probably my best ever gram per £ saving by replacing a pair of pool sandals with another pair of the same. The old ones were 200g, the new were 120g or something, and £3 at tesco, because the soles were sort of blown foam rather than molded rubber. You can spend a lot to get 80g out of a cassette or a crankset!