One [bike] to rule them all, One [bike] to find them, One [bike] to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.Surly ECR. What's that? It's a Krampus that loads up better, if rides less playfully. What's a 'Krampus'? A 29er mountain bike with huge wheels so you don't need to futz with suspension, and floats over poor conditions. This is a big deal. Surly put out the Krampus a year or two ago and cannot keep up with orders. The ECR will be the same. No other significant player is putting out low maintainance, high durability, off piste bikes at a reasonable price point. In fact, there is nowhere you could not ride if you had an ECR and a Cross Check. An Ogre would put you in the middle, but who wants to be 'middle of the road'?
I want to get into 'bikepacking' when I return to Canada, mainly as riding roads with the fast and idiot driven traffic there appeals not at all. Racks and panniers suck, I have come to believe: add weight, break, and are bulky. To that end I have a Revelate Viscacha, handlebar Harness and Pocket which... I have only had the opportunity to use as a commuter on my fixed gear bike. Highly recommended. Plan to use them on the road bike for some brevets. One can also get frame bags, but I like to leave a place for bottles, and maybe I am knock-kneed, but I find a frame bag abrasive.
Krampus 'loaded for bear'.