Backpacker - - Skill Set Pass/fail -

Keep your cen­ter of grav­ity low.

The lower the load, the more sta­ble and pre­dictable your ride. Pack food and heavy items at the bot­tom of your pan­niers or frame bag.

Pack for bal­ance.

Dis­trib­ute weight evenly on the left and right sides of your bike. Oth­er­wise, you’ll have to lean to one side the en­tire time to off­set the dif­fer­ence.

Go easy on the front fork.

It’s nice to have things handy, but steer­ing gets re­ally twitchy with even 10 pounds over the front tire. Store wa­ter in bot­tle cages on the frame, and save the front rack for on-the-go essen­tials and light­weight gear.

Ride the widest tires your frame can fit.

Large-vol­ume tires can take the sting out of rocks and wash­board roads and gen­er­ally im­prove grip by in­creas­ing con­tact area (aim for a 2-inch width if you can). Down­side: more rolling re­sis­tance.

Bring a beefy re­pair kit.

Add two ex­tra tubes to your nor­mal kit, plus a tire boot, chain lube that won’t pick up tons of dust (like Boeshield T-9; $10), and, of course, Chamois Butt’r.

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