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Towards the end of his ten years as a professional road cyclist, Giant Factory Off-Road Team rider Josh Berry found himself looking towards the trails beyond the roads he'd been glued to, wondering what was out there and whether he could ride it. Sure enough, he started exploring the singletrack and smooth dirt roads near his home in Tucson, Arizona, before leaving the road entirely and taking up what Josh calls 'Alternative Racing' with a strong second at Unbound (formerly DK) on his first try. Community, opportunity, sweet rides and success all followed. And yes, he went tubeless.

With spring in our sights and new adventures on the horizon, we took some time out from a recent photoshoot with Josh to talk bikepacking hints, tricks and some surprising kit bag extras.


"So many people go on big trips with absolutely everything on their bike. All their bags are full, and they don't have room to add stuff," Josh says. "So I always stow a little lightweight, stashable backpack someplace, and when we make a stop for beer, food or whatever, I whip it out and carry the haul to camp." And don't forget the straps. "Bungee cords save lives!" he laughs. "Being able to strap on an extra thing or two - or hold something together in a pinch - is a game-changer."


"I never go anywhere without earplugs or an eye mask," he says. "Where I ride, I often don't go with a shelter, other than maybe an emergency blanket. And when you can just push in your plugs and cover your eyes after you've ridden all day, you tend to sleep all night."


"You've got to do a test run of everything on your bike and feel how your bike rides fully loaded before you go out on your trip," Josh explains. "That's a big thing because you'll quickly find out what's wrong, and you don't want to be at your destination and realise that your rear bag is swinging too much and need one more strap."


"Clothing is super personal, but whatever you wear, the rules of layering still apply," he says. "I take my best pair of shorts, and if it's going to be a long trip, I take an extra pair. But I keep it simple. I have a lightweight foundation - not necessarily a jersey - but a thin base layer. Then I wear a trail tee, like the Sight, and finish it off with a Polartech® piece, like the Gryphon Crew midweight." And if that all sounds like too little for cold days, Josh knows better. "The key is the combination of insulation and breathability in that final piece," he explains. "If it's cold and you're going up a climb, you're not holding in any of that moisture, but the Polartech® layer is keeping you warm." And when the weather's turns? "Always take the best rain jacket you've got," he says. "Layering a base layer with the main layer, an insulating layer, and a rain jacket is going to cover you in all but the coldest of conditions in my experience. And if it gets colder than that, I'm probably not riding!"


On jackets, Josh keeps things simple. "Buy the best possible rain jacket you can afford," he says. "In a great jacket, you can stay dry and breathe. That's half the battle, and it gets rid of four things that you'd normally have to take. In Idaho or Arizona, it could be 35 degrees in the morning and 70 in the day. You can get on your bike in your rain jacket over your t-shirt, and go ride in that, pull that off, keep going. That's what you need."