Take a journey to southern Utah. Enjoy some big climbs and stunning vistas.

We suited up and took the drive down to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area for a four day bikepacking trip.  The plan was to conquer the trail with a Why Cycles (Revel) El Jefe outfitted with a perfectly matched set of Jpaks bags to embrace form and function. This route is courtesy of the great people at bikepacking.com.

Keep reading below to learn about our route, gear, and lessons learned.

Route Brief: 

Many of the iconic mental images of Utah we conjure up are reminiscent of Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef- this route explores the lesser visited, more remote southern part of the state which in our opinion is equally beautiful. Most of this journey is free of traffic and only the occasional traveler, a big difference between most of our other journeys.  

This route is an adventure and is extremely remote- come prepared! 

Bikes and Gear:


Why Cycles (now Revel) El Jefe. Size Large. Build Kit: Shimano XT/XTR Blend (1X12). Notable components: Enve M6 780mm handlebars, Shimano XTR M9120 Brakes.

Surly long Haul disc trucker. Size Large. Build Kit: Sram XX1/Internal gearing. Notable components: TRP Hylex hydraulic brakes, Salsa Cowchipper handlebars

The El Jefe is the more modern of the two bikes and designed with singletrack in mind. The Jefe was at home during the choppier sections of trail and is an absolute pleasure to ride in all conditions considering the titanium frame. The Surly is more oriented toward touring- but was no stranger in the rough sections of trail and appeals to our inner bikepacking purist with its 650b wheels and internally geared drivetrain.

Both bikes have their advantages, but we do love titanium at Abe's. 


Prior to this trip, the El Jefe had been measured and outfitted with a beautiful set of custom bags from Jpaks to best fit the swoopy nature of the El Jefe. The bags outfitted included a top-tube bag, frame bag, and saddle bag. A last minute decision came to add an Apidura handlebar bag- which performed admirably. The surly, continuing its touring lineage,rocked pannier bags, providing significantly more storage capacity, but suffered on rougher sections of trail. 

To compliment the Jpaks bags, the Jefe rode with an Apidura Expedition Handlebar pack, which is extremely useful for long cylindrical objects (tents, sleeping pads) and is very well appointed with easy mounting via velcro straps. We ride many Apidura products and universally love their products (including their frame bag shaped bladder).

If you're planning a trip and are unsure of which direction to go in with any of your adventure riding decision, let us know, we're here to help! Message us!

Bottom Line on Bikes and Gear:

Both bikes passed the ride test with flying Colors, we recommend going with whatever style you prefer - Fast or slow just go!

Jpaks bags are among some of the best in the industry, keeping out the rain, mud, and moisture this trip! They are also like a fine piece of art- wonderful to admire and a conversation piece.  Japks is locally made in Denver, Colorado.  The bags also command a premium, one we feel is extremely worthwhile, but if the budget doesn't allow it, Apidura makes some equally performing products. 


Interested in the bikes or gear? 

Abe's can get you riding most everything we write about!

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