Get Into Bikepacking

For some riders, the desire to extend their time in the saddle is constant. Bikepacking provides an accessible and straightforward means for riders of all types—be it road cyclists, gravel enthusiasts, or mountain bikers—to increase their adventures beyond a single day. It opens up opportunities to travel further and experience more. We delve into the essentials of getting into bikepacking, whether you’re planning a short overnighter or gearing up for a multi-day trip.

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Two bicycles and a rider at the top of a gravel mountain pass

Where To Go Bikepacking

The question of where to go bikepacking is a top consideration for many riders. Bikepacking allows for exploration anywhere – on-road, off-road, through remote landscapes, or between cities. A bikepacking adventure can range from a simple overnighter with friends to a week-long solo excursion. The only constraints on your route are how far you want to ride and your accommodation preferences.

Venturing beyond your regular roads and trails into new and exciting settings might seem daunting, with a variety of unknowns. Simplify the process by breaking it down into location, length, route and kit. We’ve explored this approach in-depth in an article aptly titled “How to Plan a Bikepacking Trip.” It’s worth noting that there’s often little difference between packing for an overnight bikepacking trip or a multi-day trip. For those seeking experience before committing to a longer journey, short overnighters can be as fun and insightful as multi-day bikepacking trips. Plus, they offer the advantage of testing different approaches in quick succession, allowing you to explore accommodation styles before making a commitment to a certain accommodation style.

Three riders on a gravel track

A rider on a gravel track

Different Styles Of Bikepacking

While the notion of a night under the stars with just a sleeping bag holds a romantic allure for some, it doesn’t resonate with everyone. Despite the common association of bikepacking with rugged camping, the reality is that bikepacking doesn’t have to involve sleeping outside. “Fast packing”, a style of bikepacking emphasizing travelling light and fast, is an excellent way to dip your toes into the world of bikepacking without the need for camping. Opting for accommodation like hotels, bunkhouses, or bothies eliminates the need to sleep outdoors, making bikepacking more accessible for newcomers.

With fewer items to carry, you have the flexibility to run a minimal setup, keeping the weight on your bike low. Alternatively, you can use the extra space for additional food, layers, or a set of regular clothes for your evenings. One significant difference from a day ride is the variation in temperature and weather when riding for multiple days. For detailed guidance on what to wear while bikepacking, we’ve broken it down in our ‘What to Wear Bikepacking‘ article.

While the sheltered accommodation approach requires extended route and logistics planning to line up your chosen route with your accommodation choices, it has the advantage of eliminating other logistical challenges, such as planning resupply points. This allows you to focus on your ride without worrying about last-minute dashes to a petrol station for dinner.

Two people looking out over the sunrise in bivvy bags

Sleeping Outside

For those seeking the thrill of a night under the stars, various approaches are available. Options range from established campsites to pre-planning a suitable camping spot or, adopting a more spontaneous ‘stop and drop’ approach. The richness of experience tied to sleeping in nature, whether in your local woods or a distant location, is incredible. For new bikepackers, starting with a local overnighter can help remove many of the unknowns as you can easily plan a known, sheltered and comfortable location to help make your first experience a truly memorable one.

Choosing The Right Bikepacking Gear

Your chosen approach to bikepacking—whether it’s indoors accommodation or camping—influences the choices you make when selecting bikepacking bags. For many people dipping their toes into bikepacking, who might not have super lightweight gear, there is a tendency to choose a pack with the biggest possible capacity. While there may be a necessity related to the size of items like sleeping bags, it’s also a well-known observation among experienced bikepackers and ultra-distance racers that there’s a natural inclination to fill any available space with items that may not be essential. However, it’s crucial to note that a leisurely bikepacking trip with friends differs significantly from the competitive atmosphere of an ultra-distance race. If your goal is to prioritize comfort and ensure your first trip is as enjoyable as possible, go for it.

Which Bike for Bikepacking?

While some bike brands offer dedicated bikepacking frames, the reality is that any bike can be a bikepacking bike. Our bikepacking packs are designed to accommodate a diverse range of bikes. Some options capitalize on popular mounting points like top tube bolts or fork mounts, while the rest of the range can be easily fitted without any additional hardware.

While certain bikes may be better suited than others, we’ve collaborated with riders and athletes to create solutions for various styles and sizes of bikes. Our Backcountry series, tailored for mountain bikes (MTBs), considers the angles and geometry of modern MTB frame designs. Solutions like our dropper post adaptor enable the use of saddle packs while still allowing the full functionality of your dropper post.

Two bikes leaning against a fence

For riders on smaller bikes, packs such as the Long Top Tube Pack in our Racing Series expand carry capacity in areas not confined by the internal frame dimensions, which can vary significantly between different sizes. Smaller, reversible fit options like the 1L version of our Racing Frame Pack are designed to maximize space in compact frames. If you’re navigating the limitations of a smaller frame, our Guide to Bikepacking Setups for Small Bike Frames provides numerous examples of how to optimize your carry capacity.

Just Go For It

Embarking on a bikepacking adventure is a great opportunity to explore the outdoors, discover new cultures and most importantly have fun. There’s also a thriving community of bikepackers ready to sharing experiences, tips and routes with like-minded individuals helping you find adventure wherever you are in the world.