Anatomy of four bikepacking setups or how I fastened bags everywhere to adapt environments.
Four times I changed the setup of the bike I traveled with for the Andes Traverse, along with frequent iterations. The setup evolved to adapt constraints such as water ressources or tracks state. Based on a versatile and lightweight inventory I almost never changed during the whole trip, the only variables were provisions : from day to day up to eight of them. Moreover, I tested each equipment location to improve the overall balance and confort while pedaling, pushing or carrying the bike. Today, I would almost use the latest setup for whatever ride, from an overnighter to a months long trip. I hope those evolutions will help others planning their trips, but keep in mind that only rare places offered bikepacking stuffs along the Andes back in 2019. I found Santiago de Chile the best place to find bags, spare parts or workshops, I met talented people here and there though.
I started with a hybrid bikepacking oriented setup made up of two small panniers on a rear rack because I was new to the discipline with no experience at all. In fact, I haven't even made an overnighter before I landed in Argentina and I felt more confident with those large and simple bags. Moreover, the first roads to overcome were large and flat gravel. I had an empty 25 liters backpack as well that I fastened on the rack for more capacity and hiking opportunities.
Then, I started to experiment fastening stuffs in every place on the bike, like bike tools or spare parts in waterproof sacks. Because ways and surfaces were more diverse with singletracks, sand and snow, I moved more weight at the front to better push the bike. I replaced the rear rack with a front rack and fastened the backpack on the handlebar pack.
Relatives brought me new components from Europe with them. The past months tought me there were no compromise about the quality, and the routine what I exactly needed. It was now time to afford an upgrade with more difficult routes to come. I changed the original yet strong 2.8" tires and tubes that got only one flat since the beginning with 3.0" tires mounted in tubeless to adapt harder terrains. Besides, I found the right balance with a true seat pack, removed the front rack and replace the panniers with proper top bags, cages and fork packs. I got used to have my empty backpack on my shoulders all the time, that I sometimes loaded with water and food in remote areas, or with my camera when beautiful places made me shoot every minutes.
I ended with a simpler setup with less elements outside because shops became more common and the season changed with precipitations everyday.