Editor’s Note: Jordan Carr and co-author and photographer Leilani Bruntz are currently traveling the country spreading the gospel of mountain biking as the Subaru-IMBA Trail Care Crew. Along the way they’ve learned a thing or two about packing a car. They’ve also gotten to explore some of the country’s best riding locales, which they’ve been sharing in a reoccurring Mtbr Trail Report series. Follow Carr and Bruntz’s adventures on Facebook and Instagram, and be sure to check out their riding write-ups on Salida, Colorado, Oakridge, Oregon, Phoenix, Arizona, Marquette, Michigan, Brown County, Indiana, Cable, Wisconsin, and Hot Springs, Arkansas.
As the two-person Subaru-IMBA Trail Care crew, my girlfriend Leilani and I have been traveling the country, working with local mountain bike organizations with the goal of improving local trail development. When not working with local land managers, bike clubs, and/or community officials, we have filled our time with as much adventure, sightseeing, and food as possible. In other words, we’re professionally homeless, living and working out of a Subaru Outback station wagon. That’s meant fitting all the necessary gear for riding, hiking, cooking, camping, and working into one brightly colored car.
To spend two years living out of a four-wheeled home, you have to do more than just stuff it with gear. Establishing a system that’s allowed us to spontaneously embark on rides in the middle of a 10-hour drive without fully unpacking the car has been imperative. Now, after more than a year on the road, we’ve learned a lot about being efficient road warriors. Here are eight tips and tricks to help you prepare for your next mountain bike excursion.
1. Get a Rack
Keeping bikes and gear accessible is far easier if you have a good rack system. We’ve been using the Yakima HoldUp 2 hitch rack paired with a Yakima Skybox on the roof. This combo allows us to keep non-essentials up top, while our bikes are always accessible. No matter what you choose, having good rack system will make organization much easier.
2. Pack Light
This might seem obvious, but as you visualize every possible scenario you may encounter it becomes challenging to keep gear to a minimum. But the longer we’ve been on the road, the more we’ve weeded out from our initial set up, figuring what we really need and what’s expendable. Keep this in mind as you start packing, and ask yourself will I really need this extra pair of jeans or a fourth T-shirt?
When packing, think bins and bags. Having a specific place for all your gear is the key to tracking it down at the vital time when you need it. Organize things by uses. For us that’s meant having individual bags for riding gear, shoes, coffee, and kitchen items. This reduces frustration (and soak time) when it’s pouring rain and you are feverously searching for your raincoat and headlamp to get camp setup.
4. Choose Multipurpose Gear
This may seem obvious, but in a time when many of us have numerous similar items with highly specific purposes, it’s easy to get attached to a favorite pair of riding shorts or rain jacket. That’s fine. But when heading out on the road, make sure those items can serve as your riding gear — and work for hiking, grocery shopping, and just hanging out at camp. One great item we’ve discovered are mason jars. We each have one that’s used for coffee, water, beer, and all our other drinks. They don’t retain flavor and are a great drinking vessel that’s far better than wasteful plastic cups.