I've been intrigued by the concept of bike packing for a while now. Despite having done a lot of cycling over the years I've never done any touring. The idea of having big panniers and all the associated extra weight has always put me off the idea but having built up a collection of lightweight camping gear over the last year (which I bought primarily for hiking) I began to contemplate using it on the bike as well. Bike packing is ultra light bike touring using a selection of bags that mount directly to the bike keeping weight down and preserving manageable handling. I've also recently built up a new mountain bike based around an On One Fatty frameset. This too is something that has been on my mind for a while after seeing my friend Mark's Fatty last year and hearing how much he's been enjoying riding it. Fat bikes have ultra-wide tyres and were originally conceived for riding on snow and sand, some more recent designs (like the Fatty) have a more trail orientated frame geometry making them decent all rounders (albeit with a weight penalty caused by the wide wheels and huge tyres).
So Fatty was ready to ride and the bike packing luggage that I'd been waiting for had arrived but I didn't feel ready to head out into the middle of nowhere on an untried bike loaded up with kit without a trial run. I've enjoyed reading the exploits of Alistair Humphreys, a full time adventurer who wanted to continue having adventures while stuck at home in between big trips and so came up with the concept of "micro adventures", short overnight trips often done close to home to maximise time away whilst minimising cost and inconvenience, click this link to read more about his exploits http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-2/
I decided to adopt his principle to test out bike packing with my fat bike and so set off from home at about nine in the evening on my first trip. Leaving so late meant that I'd already eaten dinner so had no need to worry about carrying lots of food (I did take some breakfast though). The bike felt pretty heavy despite the minimalist approach I'd adopted but as I wobbled tentatively off down the road from home it seemed to handle okay. I felt very eccentric pedalling through the streets of Helensburgh past people taking their dogs out for a last walk of the day and it was nice to get off road and onto some singletrack at the start of the trail that I'd decided to ride.
Climbing back out of Glen Fruin.
So that was my first experience of riding Fatty off road and of bike packing, I can't wait to do both again.