Unipacking/Backpacking Gear, and should I just jump in?

I attempted an unsupported week-long tent camping trip last summer. It didn’t go as I’d have liked, but I did learn from the experience.

This was my (intentionally goofy) video about the trip:

I used a Nemo Gogo LE tent, which is very small and light thanks to its lack of a rigid frame (you can see how its air-supported in my video). The tent was fine (though expensive), but the emergency blanket I brought was awful. I would never use a “metal” emergency blanket camping again–it was useless in the hot and in the cold. Really miserable trying to sleep in a cocoon of your own sweat.

I had intermittent access to water, which made for trouble on long hot stretches of trail. After the first day I tried to compensate for this by loading up on as much water I could carry–which added a lot of extra weight.

I tried to cover too much distance each day. In the end, severe knee pain ended my trip. In hindsight, I wonder if I should’ve planned for 20-30 miles per day instead of 45-50 miles per day. As a novice who’s not used to riding consecutive days, I think the shorter legs would’ve let me last longer.

Also, I was using my Garmin GPS watch to track my distance/time. These types of watches are primarily made for running, so I was depleting the battery before I could finish my ride. This was a big pain in the butt because it made it harder to judge how much farther until my next camp (I was mostly unfamiliar territory).

To save weight, I took two changes of clothes. So I’d have to wash them each night. This worked out okay, but the clothing made from traditional fabric (like cotton socks) took way too long to dry. So I’d go entirely with synthetic quick-dry clothing.

Because of the weight of my loaded down unicycle, free-mounting became a problem for me after I was fatigued during a long ride (especially when my knee was hurting badly). I learned to avoid free-mounts as much as possible by taking breaks on bridges or other spots that could provide some support to let me mount without zapping too much energy.

I think I could ramble about this for a while…let me know if you have specific questions about my trip.

My only advice about packing is that in my experience you will find yourself redefining what “comfortable” means. It’s amazing how much you can live without in order to find yourself in amazing places. For uni packing I would try for the lightest system possible. Plan for routes that offer water, foraging, and fishing along the way. Get a Tenkara rod and you should have no problem catching dinner. I have a little glass rod that I bought on Amazon for my son. It was $7, and with everything else to make it work for Tenkara I think it cost under $20 total.

What about using a hiking trailer. They seem simple enough to make, maybe an old aluminum crutch, and the hip belt from a frame pack. Anyway it would get the weight off of your back, and I would guess if you could uni on a trail you could tow a trailer.

If he unicycles with that trailer, then is he now riding a bike? :slight_smile:

Maybe, but only if he attaches the trailer to the uni. I think if it’s attached to him it wouldn’t count as a bike.

That’s not the slickest design I’ve seen. It was just the first one that came up in the google image search. Still not bad though. Many of them will also double as a frame pack for situations where the trailer isn’t working.

What about the uni gear?

I see lots of great ideas as to camping equipment, but what about the uni-related equipment? Can one get by with patch kits and a multi-tool? At what point does one pack extra spokes? What other parts and tools should one plan to take?

A related question, but this might not be the place to ask it, is whether a Schlumpf is advisable on this kind of trip. While I love the idea of having a geared hub to make the miles easier, I wonder whether that increases the risk of tour-ending mechanical breakdowns.

Scott Wilton and I did a trip on the Swiss alpine MTB trail in Switzerland after Unicon 16 and before the Grisha Muni Challenge in Arosa in the east of the country. It was about a week or mainly off road riding on our geared 26" Munis. We carried a pretty minimal load of clothes etc (no camping, substantial food or water carrying, only staying in mountain huts and guest houses). Even being pretty minimal with your gear, you end up taking enough stuff that it is not really the best to ride the technical stuff you like doing in the first place. It was a fun adventure but I don’t think unicycling easily supports the amount of gear you need to truly be self sufficient on trails for days at a time. My personal preference would be to smash out a huge day and start and finish at the one spot (or go between supplied areas), or load up the touring bike and hit it up for a longer adventure (ahhh the sweet relief of no weight on your back!). With a geared Muni you can cover 100-130km in a full day of riding in fairly technical terrain once you build up the fitness. If it’s not that technical, i’d prefer not to be on a uni and have a few more comforts that an expedition touring bike can accommodate.

Killian, did you ever go through with this? I have something similar in mind. I was wondering how exactly you packed your uni and how everything worked out. I imagine you can move some of the weight to the frame to ease the load and lower your center of gravity. Also, what would you take in terms of repair? Is a patch kit and a few allen wrenches good enough? Obviously it depends on where and how far you go, but input from anyone who has done this would be nice.

Unfortunately, no I didn’t follow through with this. Got busy with other stuff and never could get up enough ambition to do this.

My current thought would be to try this on a bike first and see how it goes. Then uni.

As far as what to pack, I typically carry way to much even on day trips so I’m not much help. If needed, I could dismantle my unicycle and rebuild it trailside typically.

Haha well thanks anyways. I’m just not sure what uni related items are a necessity. I typically carry the bare minimum. I wouldn’t want to ride out a day or two only to lose a crank bolt and have no way of keeping my cranks on (this happened once on a short 4-5 mile ride). I just know I’ll overlook something. I guess I can take a look at what bikepackers have to say and cut that down to size.

Fortunately with a unicycle, you don’t need many different tools. I have attached the few tools I have in my backpack. With that, I can do most (if not all) of the tuning and repairs on the go. If I were to go in a remote area for a while, I would throw a spare tube too.

To the question : “where is you pedal wrench”, the trick is: some pedals also support hex wrenches :wink:


Although i haven’t camped on a unicycle trip yet I did some trips where small volume and weigth and size of my pack was a concern (climbing/hiking). There are sleeping bags which only cover from the waist down leaving your torso exposed. It is designed to be used with a warm jacket which you can also wear during the day. For example this one : https://www.alpkit.com/products/point-5 I have also supplemented sleeping bags with thermal leggings, thermal underwear which is really small and light weight. I have also used Thermarest mattresses which is half the length of a normal mattress. There are also very lightweight tents available for example this one : https://www.tarptent.com/protrail.html I now have a different tent though.

My advice would be to go with a friend since you can share things and safety goes up. I realize that it is very unlikely to find someone who is willing to go on unicycle trips like this but a combination of a well trained unicyclist with a partner on a mountain bike is doable i think.