“I'm too busy” is the procrastinator's mantra. Granted, these days it's easy to overwhelm ourselves with both distractions and non-negotiable obligations, but there’s really no excuse for not getting outside for a few hours a week. After all, science shows us that something as simple as a brisk walk is good for the soul — and nervous system. Abbreviated versions of some other sports might include a quick dawn patrol session for die-hard surfers, a day hike for backpackers and just an hour or two of scoring fresh tracks for skiers and snowboarders lucky enough to live in a mountain town. Bike campers too have an option: The S240.
More commonly referred to as the Sub-24 Overnighter, the S240 combines cycling, camping and exploring the options right in your own backyard, especially if you live near a campground or have some BLM land less than fifty miles from where you live. The theory is that some of the best adventures are pretty close to home and the trips aren't much of a time commitment. Short rides also allow you to carry some personal luxuries – things you wouldn't normally bring if you are doing some distance, like fancier food or a hardback book. Add a train trip to the mix and you can go ever further.
Entry-level essentials for the S240 include a working bicycle, a rear rack system with the ability to carry panniers, a basic backpacking kit (small stove, sleeping pad and bag) and of course a helmet. As for the what to bring, bike types know how nerdy things can get, especially when it comes to personal style, but here are some suggestions of what we packed to escape the city on a brief bike camping trip.
“Lightweight and packable” should be a prerequisite for any cycling shell, especially on a trip where you need the room to stash a layer or two. Temperatures change pretty quickly and while a climb could be hot and shirtless, you might need a way to cut the wind on the way down. Luckily, companies like Mission Workshop pay special attention to this along with combining the latest in fabric science for maximum comfort and a way to save space.
Their Sans Waterproof Jacket might just be the lightest shell ever made and unlike the competition, it's designed to feel like one, not a disposable wet weather option. It conforms to the contours of your body and also accommodates a helmet with a roomy hood. Mission Workshop commissioned Toray in Japan for the 3-layer fabric that pulls double duty to not only keep you dry from the outside but also give your skin the ability to breathe. I wanted to test the nerdy water column rating of 30,000 and MVTR of 30,000+ so I doused it with a bottle of water. Dry as a bone.
I'm a huge fan of hybrid items, especially when a few activities are packed into one trip like biking, hiking or in this instance, just strolling around camp. It's fairly safe to assume that you don't hike in cycling shoes and you obviously wouldn't want to cycle in hiking shoes. The answer for bike touring usually comes in the form of some sort of street kicks like Vans or Converse for the style conscious while big brands like Mavic, Shimano and Giro offer something more tech-inspired.
I wanted something in-between so I turned to Seavees, which makes the Mariner Boot, a US Navy staple that was standard issue in the late 1960s. The Santa Barbara-based brand combines a classic silhouette seen in two options: a waterproof suede and a water-resistant Ventile duck canvas upper on top of herringbone treads. Both are comfortable and stylish on and off the bike and provide the protection you need in a light rain or morning dew.
Treat your feet like you would your upper body, and give them a good base layer. Trust me, your feet will thank you if you invest in a pair of Mission Workshop's RunBikeHike socks that combine 37.5® vapor management science with Olefin moisture management. In layman's terms, these materials literally suck the sweat from your skin in vapor form before it turns into liquid sweat ensuring your feet stay dry and cool even in the most extreme conditions.
The best part about the S240 is reaping the rewards of local travel without spending too much time in the saddle. Chances are, if you're already reading this you're not new to the idea of self-contained bike camping, but if this is your first trip then this still applies to you: Invest in a seat for the long haul.
Brooks makes all kinds of options but the one that is most favorable to your anatomy is the B17 Imperial. So much of what goes into choosing a saddle is making sure it's the right fit for you, but consider one that also takes the pressure off your groin area, specifically the perineal nerve that can cause a host of discomfort if compressed over time. Unfortunately, the break-in period is a barrier to entry for most as it takes about seven-hundred seated miles for it to mold to your sit bones, but it's really worth the effort.
Yes, you can carry everything and the kitchen sink on a S240. Be liberal with your gear and pack some luxuries in the space you saved by leaving the doubled items behind. Fill up the Lands End rear panniers from Brooks which expand to a spacious forty-six liters when at capacity. The bags are named after the famous inclement touring route that starts at the wind-whipped Land's End region in Cornwall, England and finishes in John O' Groats, a wee village in Scotland. Modernized heritage is a hallmark of Brooks products so I thought they'd appreciate the mussels and salmon I packed in these no frills, water-resistant roll-top packs.
Like any other category in our industry, there's always room for improvement. In regards to fare, Patagonia Provisions has reinvented what should go in the camping pantry. In typical Patagonia fashion, they're not only mindful of their customer's taste level but also what impact their products have on the planet.
Snack on salmon from sustainable Alaskan fisheries or munch on some mussels that have been harvested with best practices for ocean conservation under the watchful eye of the Perez LaFuente family in Spain. Carbo-load on a variety of breakfast grains, a must if your S240 involves any climbing and hasten the recovery process with protein-loaded buffalo jerky. The best part is you can enjoy these meals by themselves or use them as a base for your own culinary imagination. The only caveat is carrying the extra weight on long hauls but for this quick trip the extra ounces were well worth it.
My go-to tent for bikepacking just so happens to be the one I also use for backpacking, an adventure moto trip or solo car camping. The Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL1 is not only ultralight at barely three pounds, it has also outlasted every tent I've ever owned. The designers put all kinds of science into making it efficient and minimal without sacrificing space, meaning you can your sleep with your stuff with a roomy 20 square feet of living space. Big Agnes also has a line of bikepacking-specific tents launching soon that boast similar features, just with shorter poles, so you can pack them in your panniers, frame bag or handlebars.
Humble shout out to Grant Peterson of Rivendell Bikes who is credited with the etymology of the S240. Pay them a visit and please remember to support independent frame builders.