Try this for a bike tour in NJ
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Backpacking is pretty-much a 100% nature experience. Bicycle touring (on roads) is a mixture of nature and civilization. Backpacking allows you to get away from it all more completely. Bicycle touring allows you to travel greater distances and see more. Backpacking is good if you are nervous about sharing the road with traffic. Bicycle touring is good if you want to meet people and experience rural life.
Has anyone here used Bushwhacker trunk bags or panniers? I'm an avid day cyclist but am interested in getting into some weekend tours. Unfortunately the budget is very tight so I'm looking for a basic but durable set of bags for the rear rack to get started. I don't mind utilitarian but I don't want "cheap" bags that don't do the job or don't hold up.
Here is an example of what I am looking at:
I'm open to other suggestions for a set in the under $150 range if possible.
Assuming your bike has the same specs as those on Trek's current web site you will need:
1. Lower and better gearing. It comes with a compact 50/34 crank and an 11x34 9-speed cassette. That gives a barely low enough low gear (27") for loaded touring by a strong rider and an absurdly high top gear(122"). A triple crank with a 22 or 24T granny ring and a 44 or 46T big ring would be a lot more useful.
2. The wheels are also suspect for loaded touring having only 24 spokes. Usually the minimum recommended spoke count is 32 and 36 is even better.
3. The pedals should be replaced with those that, at a minimum, take toe clips and straps. MTB-type clipless pedals and matching shoes would be far preferred.
4. Obviously you need racks. Rear only if you are going lightly loaded (credit card touring) or front and rear if you are carrying a heavy, full camping and cooking load.
5. Panniers to match the racks and your luggage volume.
5A. A travel trailer such as the BOB can be substituted for 4 and 5 above. There are partisans on both sides of which is better.
6. Other minor items include a frame or mini-pump, additional water bottle cages and/or a hydration pack, multitool for on-road repairs, extra tubes and patch kit, etc.
Frankly, given the deficiencies of that bike for what you plan to do, buying a more suitable true touring bike might be more cost effective and satisfactory.