Bikepacking is not a new concept, people have been adventuring on bikes since they were invented. But the term "bikepacking" and the amount of people doing it has never been more popular than now.
So what do you need to get started? How do you keep things light but still have enough "luxuries" to survive the trip?
Thanks to a little help from some of our friends, we're going to focus on 5 different bikepacking adventures and what you will need.
- Surf Trip
- Off-Road (bush-trails)
- The Never-ending Adventure
Let's start at the beginning and hopefully you'll be prepared for an epic bikepacking adventure...
The type of bike and what you pack all depends on the type of trip you're taking.
When purchasing your bike, think about the terrain you will be riding on. Some key areas to consider are...
- What sort of suspension is required?
- How many gears will I need? (think of those hills)
- What wheel / tyre size do I need?
- The material of the frame (how light and how sturdy?)
- What packs will I need and how will I be able to attach them to my bike?
Make sure you consult with your local bike expert and give them as much information about your trip as possible.
IMG: @benrides' setup
Alright, so you've got your bike. Next up...
Once you've got your bike, the next most important thing you will need is a Repair Kit.
This is an absolute must! You don't want your adventure ruined by simply not having the right tools. You've got to be prepared for the unknown and, unless you're Macgvyer, you're going to need a solid repair kit.
Our advice, don't try and learn how to repair your bike when you're in the middle of nowhere. Know your bike inside out before you leave!
The essentials for your repair kit are:
- Patch Kit
- Multi-tool (with chain breaker)
- Spare tube
- Tyre levers
- Gorilla tape
- Super glue
Depends on how long your journey is, you can always add more items to your repair kit. If you think we missed anything add it in the comments below.
Last of the essentials is...
Your phone is your maps, your form of communication in emergencies and, sometimes, your sanity.
Depending on your bike's handlebar setup you can either grab a stem mount or one of the out front mounts.
Ok, now you've got your essentials sorted, let's break down 5 Different Bikepacking Adventures and what you'll need to make life a little easier on the journey.
The clarification of a micro-adventure might differ depending on your level of fitness. Generally it's classified as a 2-5 night adventure. You don't need to be a survival expert or super-fit cyclist to go on a bikepacking micro-adventure. You just need the right gear and a good attitude.
If sleeping under the stars isn't your thing, pick up a lightweight tent from your local camping store or online. Obviously the smaller the better and check how compatible it is to attach to your bike or fit in a backpack (avoid the backpack if you can and save that for other items).
Speaking of attaching items to your bike, the rise in popularity of bikepacking means that there are plenty of pack options now available. Whether you need a basic pack or a custom built pack, a quick google search will lead you in the right direction.
Common pack options are:
- Side panniers
- Saddle bags
- Frame pack
- Handlebar bag
Toiletries, spare clothes, cookware... what you put in them is up to you. For more on this, check out our catch-up with @benrides for his '10 Best Bikepacking Accessories you should have'
Lastly, make sure your bike has a nice holder for a drink bottle (or two). You're guaranteed to sweat it up. So make sure you can easily stay hydrated.
2. Surf Trip
It doesn't get much more difficult than lugging a surfboard around on your bike... especially if you're a longboarder.
Bedrock Sandals founder, Dan Opz, recently went on a bikepacking surf trip. Check out his setup below...
On this trip he used the Farfarer Trailer. These trailers are light (10lbs / 4.5kgs) and as you can see, it also opts as another storage space.
Dan also uses front panniers, a handlebar bag and the Quad Lock Stem Mount.
For more info, read Dan's Trip Report and while you're there, grab yourself a pair of Bedrock Sandals for your next surf trip.
3. Off-road (bush-trails)
Getting a little more extreme now, expect vast differences in terrain. From loose gravel to mud to thick grass, you'll need to ensure your bike has solid suspension and you don't overpack. Being light and nimble in these conditions is key!
Camping amongst the trees you may prefer to lighten the load by using a tarp rather than a full tent setup.
As you're travelling light, you may need to plan your trip carefully to ensure you have enough access to stock up on supplies along the way.
Alright, getting a little more serious now. When looking for inspo for your race, you can't go past our good friend Sarah Hammond (@flexgoogly). The multiple 'Race to the Rock' winner knows more than a thing or two about epic bike racing.
What you'll need? Well... firstly, you'll need to make sure your fitness is up-to-scratch. 2018's Race to the Rock from Tasmania to Uluru was more than 3500kms, starting in Snow and finishing in extreme heat.
Another epic self-supported race is the Trans Am, 7000km across America from Oregon to Virginia. Read up more on this epic bikepacking race here
In terms of your packs, opt for the slimline options for aerodynamics. Don't make yourself work any harder than you need to. Remember, it's a race!
Also, each race will have specific rules about what you can and can't take. So do your homework before undertaking one of these beasts.
5. The Never-Ending Adventure
If you're in this category, you're crazy! But we love you for it.
Our friend and fellow World Bicycle Relief supporter, Rory Macleod, has been touring on his bike for nearly 4 years now.
When we last caught up with Rory, we asked him what his essential bikepacking items are for that never-ending adventure.
"Here are three not-so-obvious but ultimately essential items to have on a long trip, along with a few others:
- A five-port USB adapter so that you can charge all of your electronics simultaneously using just a single outlet.
- A small, packable backpack for all your day hikes, grocery shopping, or just walking into town.
- A Click-Stand or just a regular, bike-mounted kickstand, along with a set of brake bands, which not only keep your wheels from rotating when parked on a slope but also add an extra level of security for when you leave your bike unattended for a few minutes but don’t feel like getting out your lock.
- Sewing needle and thread for patching up holes in your clothes, tent, sleeping bag, etc.
- Assorted ziplock bags, which will save you a ton of time with packing and unpacking by allowing you to keep similar items together (e.g. food supplies) while at the same time separating items within that group (e.g. lunch foods from breakfast foods).
- Clear nail polish for sealing scratches and chips in the bike paint to prevent rust.
- A debit card that allows you to use any ATM anywhere in the world without ever paying a fee (essential for international travel).
- Jackery Titan battery pack which will give you enough juice for a couple of days when power supply may be hard to find.
- RoadID wristband with your medical information and emergency contacts displayed on it."
For more gear lists, check out our friends at bikepacking.com. They've put together this HUGE list of riders and their gear.
If you feel there is something we've missed, include it in the comments below.