Lightening the Load
The first time I did the New Mexico Off Road Runner, I used the bike I had at the time. I wasn't sure if I'd like bikepacking and didn't want to spend a lot of money to find out. I had this old Cannondale hardtail that cost about me $500 new about 10 years ago. It was really still new since I didn't like riding dirt much and I may have only had 100 miles on it.
The bike had a triple on the front and a 9 speed cassette, which made it pretty good actually for bikepacking. It had great climbing gears as well as a high end to ride on the road. I loved the way that thing performed bikepacking. Everything was stock, it had an entry level drivetrain, forks, etc. The only thing I had done was replace the stock wheels with Stan's tubeless wheels.
I remember that bike being so heavy that I had a hard time picking it up after I laid it down to take a break. It felt like a motorcycle. I know it wasn't that heavy, but it felt like it. I weighed it in at 80lbs before that trip and it did the job for sure. I still have that bike and still really like it.
I packed it down on the front with a Revelate Designs Sweetroll on the front with my Sleep system and food on the front as well. On the forks I had 2 Walmart attach anywhere water bottle carriers. I had a full Revelate Designs frame bag that had extras like gloves, a notepad, a pistol, spork, and fire starting kit. In the rear seat bag, I had my sleeping pad and clothes. I used a rear bag stabilizer to hold extra bottles of water and to keep my saddle bag from swaying as well. I had 2 top tube bags and on the front I carries chamois butter, a few snacks and a trowel. The back one was my tool kit with a multi tool, tire repair stuff and sealant.
I had been looking at the Trek Supercaliber since it was released a few years ago. It looked super fast for MTB rides and was a cross country race bike. It weighed in at a little over 20 lbs for this custom build of a 9.9 frameset. it had a 12 speed 1x eagle Drivetrain with an oval up front to help with climbing and a 10-54 in the rear to get a wide range of gears depending on the terrain we were in.
I decided to try and streamline my loadout to minimize weight since I had a lighter bike. Less weight is easier to ride the more miles you add up on a long trip. On the front I packed my sleeping bag, tent and Jetboil with some electronics like a walkie talkie and Spot GPS. I decided to not use a frame bag as I didn't want to get rubs on the paint from the Velcro mounts on the frame bag. I used a 1 liter mountable dry bag to take the place of my frame bag and put it on the front roll with batteries and hand warmers in it. The 1 liter bag in the triangle had my tool kit from the rear top tube bag along with my gloves. The saddle bag was packed the same except I put my food on top of it in a Revelate feed bag. I also had 2 less water bottles that the Cannondale, which ended up not being a big deal.
The end result was the Trek was lighter and I was carrying quite a bit less gear and water, which was more efficient. The Trek had better road and climbing gears than the Cannondale as well. The full suspension on the Trek was amazing on the rough downhill we had in the Manzano mountains as well. I really still love my Cannondale, but the Trek is the perfect bikepacking rig.