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As a bikepacker or even, a would be bikepacker, the issue of weight can’t have escaped you. Anyone who’s ever puffed and wheezed their way up a one in four or required assistance to lift their two wheeled behemoth over an unweieldly gate, will testify to the fact that weight and its reduction, is a very important consideration and a pursuit worthy of further investigation.

There will be those who take a different stand on the matter. Some people – usually between mouthfuls of Ginsters, will tell you that riding a heavily laden bike is in some way an aid to their strict training regime, although it’s unlikely you’ll ever recall seeing them on any start line since they came seventh at the primary school egg and spoon race, some thirty years ago. Others will use their bikes heft to justify any shortcomings in their own performance … a cunning ploy and a similar tactic occasionally employed by those riding fat bikes and single-speeds. In fact, anyone with a heavily laden, one-geared fat bike, might never have to ride it in public. Simple ownership, may be enough to deflect any misgivings their peers might be harbouring and remove all responsibility for their actions from their aching shoulders.

TLS packing system … sadly not being deployed.

Generally, no amount of reasoned argument or scientific explanation will persuade either of these two camps that the path to bikepacking enlightenment, is not a heavy one … just do yourself and your back a favour and make sure you’re safely out of harms way should they come to a locked gate whilst in your company.

However, there is a group of people who’s immense burden isn’t induced by a dismissive attitude towards reducing weight. They can see the benefits all too clearly but for one reason or another are unable to shed the excess pounds. It might be a belief that reducing their pack weight will cost them dearly in monetary terms or perhaps it’s a deep rooted fear that less weight will lead directly to less comfort? Although clearly wrong, I can see why someone might come to these conclusions and in turn, find a programme of weight loss a difficult thing to embrace … But I’m happy to announce that help is finally at hand for anyone who finds themselves in this awkward position.

Following a long and highly laborious period of experimentation and detailed analysis, we believe that we’ve finally discovered the secret of travelling light. As I’m sure you can imagine, it’s a highly complex subject full of equations, little squiggles that no one quite understands and lots of numbers, graphs and other clever things. Over the last few months, we’ve taken all this highly detailed information and distilled and condensed it into what we believe, is a fool-proof packing strategy that will help anyone reduce the amount of weight attached to their bicycle. The boffins in the lab have christened it the TLS system and with the aid of ‘John’ the imaginary bikepacker, I’d like to give you an example of how the system works in practice.

Ian Barrington demonstrating the TLS system deep in Radnorshire.

In time honoured fashion, John has laid all his kit out on the living room floor before packing it for his forthcoming two night trip – the result is listed below. If John had adopted the TLS packing system, then only the items in red would be on his list (please note, the list does not include the clothes he’ll be wearing, food or water). As you’ll see, there’s quite a difference between the two sets of equipment.

  • Tarp, guylines and poles – 560g                                                                                                                                
  • Pegs x 12 (4 spare) 180g 
  • Pegs x 9 – 135g
  • Groundsheet – 190g                                                                                                         
  • Bivvy bag – 320g
  • Sleeping bag – 860g                                                                                                           
  • Sleeping bag liner – 225g                                                                                                  
  • Sleeping mat – 472g
  • Self inflating pillow – 180g
  • Liner shorts – 1 pr – 298g                                                                                                   
  • Over shorts – 1 pr – 310g                                                                                                    
  • Socks – 2 pr  – 120g  Socks – 1pr – 60g                                                                                                         
  • Base layer top – 175g
  • Base layer bottom – 190g
  • Micro fleece top – 280g
  • Down jacket – 410g
  • Insulated hat – 130g
  • Buff – 35g
  • Crocs – 195g
  • Cycling gloves – 105g
  • Stove – 80g                                                                                                                        
  • Fuel – 185g                                                                                                                        
  • Lighter – 12g                                                                                                                     
  • Fire steel – 43g                                                                                                                   
  • 450 ml mug – 88g                                                                                                             
  • 750 ml pan – 146g
  • knife, fork, spoon set – 70g  Spoon 18g
  • Multi-tool – 80g                                                                                                                
  • Pocket knife – 136g                                                                                                          
  • Leatherman – 78g                                                                                                             
  • Inner tubes x 2 – 610g  Inner tube x 1 – 305g                                                                                                
  • Puncture repair kit – 68g                                                                                                   
  • Quick link – 4g                                                                                                                  
  • Tyre boot – 60g
  • Cable ties and tape – 60g
  • Pump – 235g
  • Co2 x 2 and inflator head – 83g
  • Micro towel – 90g                                                                                                             
  • Small bottle of liquid soap – 35g                                                                                      
  • Toothbrush / paste – 65g                                                                                                  
  • First aid supplies – 88g                                                                                                    
  • Phone – 235g
  • Battery pack – 490g                                                                                                         
  • USB cable – 25g
  • Whistle – 13g
  • Foil blanket – 52g
  • Head torch – 210g
  • AA batteries x 4 – 80g
  • Wallet – 210g
  • Keys – 300g

            Total weight 9166g     Total weight 4585g

    I’m sure you’ll agree that a fifty percent weight saving is truly remarkable, especially when you consider that there’s been no additional financial outlay and no noticeable reduction in comfort or practicality. The TLS system really does deliver on all its promises and can help anyone shed the excess lard from their kit …  and if anyone’s wondering what the initials TLS stand for, it’s quite simple – Take Less Shit.


    1. Unknown says:

      "no additional financial outlay and no noticeable reduction in comfort or practicality"

      Not taking one's keys will probably reduce one's comfort when when can't get back into one's house for a shower and a sleep on one's return.

    2. How about just taking the one key, rather than the big bunch people often have? Same goes for your wallet … a twenty pound note and a card rather than the whole thing.

    3. Unknown says:

      Pocket knife + leatherman + knife/fork ???

    4. Oh yes Dainius, I've seen it before on more than one occasion ;o)

    5. ResRobin says:

      With my sensible head on I'd say defo take your whistle.

    6. Mark says:

      I can take less kit that's not a problem… it's the food I need, no way could I ride after couple of flapjack/cereal bars for supper/breakfast. :o(

    7. Perhaps it's time for a lightweight recipe thread.

    8. Anonymous says:

      Yep, wallet = bank card plus a bit of cash. Key(singular) is either house or car key. FA kit is a few plasters.

      Take what you need, not what you think you want. Doesn't take many trips before you realise the two are different. Find the minimum in summer then add just enough kit to deal with inclement or cooler weather.

      "Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing more to take away" Anthoine Saint Exupery

    9. Unknown says:

      Erm….I'm not the bashful type, but it appears that John is more or less naked.
      A down jacket and a buff is probably a good look if you can pull it off, but without asking where he's wearing the buff, I'm not sure It's a look that works in all but a very few 'select places'. But who am I to question the less is more ethos.

    10. Ooh, no Oliver. He still has the clothes he's been riding in, his down jacket and buff are are simply additions to keep him warm once he stops pedalling ;o)

    11. Have a good dump. You can then literally TLS.

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