The Itasca Lakenights is a new yet-to-be-published bikepacking route in Itasca County, Minnesota. The Nxrth scouted it with some friends this summer and will be publishing it exclusively for Patrons soon. Here we're highlighting Josh Rizzo's bike and gear setup to highlight some awesome gear that worked well on this forthcoming route.
Photos by Josh Kowaleski @pointed_north
Josh Rizzo's Kona Rove ST
Bike: 2019 Steel Kona Rove ST with Wren Sports Perseverance Adventure Dropbars
Gearing: 1x11 Sram Rival 1
Rack: Tailfin Aeropack
Packs: Cedaero Tank Top filled with Embark Maple Syrup and Cedaero Devil's Draw. Homemade half frame bag. Oveja Negra Chuckbucket.
I told our group this is a scouting trip. The route was made almost entirely via Google satellite imagery and Ride With GPS heatmaps and zero reports from actual humans who rode here. I wanted to be prepared for possible major reroutes, surprise flooded sections, and sandy hikeabikes if the satellite images that looked like gravel turned out to be sand.
That being said, I wanted to pack lightly. I utilized Dave Schlabowke's bikepacking lending library in Seeley, WI so that I could use much lighter gear than I have in my own gear bin. I got an awesome Enlightened Equipment quilt, Big Agnes bikepacking tent, and Exped mummy air mattress.
My Kona Rove ST was my first gravel/bikepacking bike and still the only one I've owned. It's everything I need in a Northwoods explorer: steel frame, generous mounting options, 1x Sram Rival drivetrain, and wide tire clearance. I added some Teravail Washburn tires and a Wren Perseverance Dropbar to the mix which felt perfect on 90% of the ride. There were a few sandy roads and ATV rocky sections where beefier tires would be nice but most of the route was hero gravel.
Bags & Rack
For bags I brought a homemade half frame bag using my favorite Xpac X11 cotton duck fabric. In my cockpit, I stuffed a Cedaero Tank Top bag with Embark Maple as well as a Cedaero Devil's Draw full of beef jerky and gummy bears.
My handlebar roll was another home sewn stuff sack that held my sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Lastly, this ride was the maiden voyage on my new Tailfin Aeropack which was an amazing system with the cargo cages and cage packs.
I love love love my Wren Perseverance Adventure Dropbar. I was never an aerobar guy nor did I ever use wide bars. But on long loaded gravel rides, this bar is killer. I spend so much time in the aero position and have so much confidence in the hoods with the added width, I'd have a hard time ever going back to 'normal' drops.
Another non-negotiable is my Big Agnes Skyline UL chair. It isn't the absolute lightest on the market but the butt bucket is just perfect and it's nearly as light as the Helinox Chair Zero. I don't think I'll go bikepacking without a camp chair again.
Lastly, I gotta give a shoutout to my dangle Crocs. I try to always bring a more comfortable camp footwear option after riding and it's tough to beat a pair of Crocs. They're impossibly light and more comfortable than clouds.