Bikepacking might sound like something new, but it’s an old sport, specifically a multi-day mountain biking or dirt-road touring with an emphasis on traveling light and seeking adventurous routes. It’s easy to plan and prepare for compared to other adventures because of the few pieces of equipment you need and the easy skills to learn. Requisite skills include self-reliance, navigation experience, and backcountry savvy, but also bike maintenance
Here some bikepacking basics you need to learn before planning a trip!
The Difference Between Bikepacking and Bike Touring
Bike touring and bikepacking allow you to explore using your bike, be independent overnight, and cover more ground than just hiking. But while bike touring keeps you, your bike, and stuff on a paved-road adventure as you connect different towns and campgrounds on paved trails, bikepacking simply takes that love of exploring on two wheels and puts it into the backcountry.
Bikepacking destinations are usually reached by passing through forest-service roads or singletrack trails, so a mountain bike makes an ideal choice. However, any bike which can mount racks and/or storage bags can be used. Here are some factors to consider when choosing a bike for bikepacking.
Where you ride s the most important factor. A bike that’s built for pavement is not the best option for rugged singletrack trails. Other types of terrain include mixed surfaces, gravel roads, and forest roads.
Suspension is what helps smooth out rough trails. It also adds weight to your bike, so try to match the type and amount of suspension to the terrain you will be riding.
The frame also plays a big role here. The goal is to minimize weight while maintaining strength.
Wheel and Tire
These also influence who your bike can take the terrain. Most touring bikes come with the standard road wheel size which allow you to use fatter tires for a more comfortable ride. Also, remember that wider tires provide extra comfort.
You don’t need a lot to get started with bikepacking, making it such a favorite by many outdoor lovers. Aside from your bike and bag, some food, water, a route, camping equipment, and proper clothing will allow you to enjoy the adventure hassle-free!
There are several types of bikepacking bags you can attach to different parts of your bike. Here are some of them:
- Frame bag
- Handlebar bag
- Seat bag
- Top tube bag
- Accessory bag
- Stem/bar bag
You can start with just a handlebar bag and a seat bag. Then, you can invest more in other bags if you start to need more space. Go with a frame bag next. If you still need extra space to carry food, clothing, camping equipment, or any other personal items you might be bringing with you, consider adding a top tube bag.
You can also consider getting a saddle since a comfortable riding seat is intimately connected with your overall comfort and enjoyment of the bikepacking trip. Lastly, bring some bike repair gear with you.
Because the goal of many bikepackers is to get into nature while cycling through areas, camping then becomes a great way to spend the evenings. This is what makes bikepacking different from mountain biking.
If you’re planning to participate in a bikepacking trip, here are four ways you can spend the night with nature:
It’s important to measure the pros and cons of each type. For instance, while a tent gives the most protection from the elements, a hammock, tarp or bivy are significantly lighter and less bulky. Which feature matters more to you? Also, consider the weather condition!