Bikepacking is one of the best ways to explore the outdoors – but to do it right, you’ll need the correct gear. When you’re planning your first bikepacking trip, you might feel overwhelmed by bikepacking blogs and bikepacker testimonials that tout the necessity of expensive gear and ultralight camping equipment. And, while investing in quality parts and accessories is never a bad idea, you really only need a good foundation in the form of a decent bike to get started with bikecamping.
Start by using what you already own and test out what you have on a short trip from home, around 20-50 miles. The only way to figure out what you really need is by riding and figuring out your preferences. With that said, we’ve got some tips for how to make your first bikepacking trip a success.
Before you start: Best bikepacking bikes
If you’re starting from scratch and you don’t even have a bike yet, here are some great choices to get your started on your outdoor journey.
- Surly Karate Monkey
- Kona Rove
- Specialized AWOL
- Salsa Journeyman
Tip #1: Always carry a repair kit
It’s important to know how to do basic maintenance on your bike. Make sure you carry spare tubes (if you’re not already running a tubeless setup), a bike pump, a multi-tool, and extra spokes. Many bicycling companies sell entire repair kits that have everything you need.
Tip #2: Bring a First Aid kit
If you’re going to be backpacking in rural areas, it’s important that you bring a basic First Aid kit with you. Emergency services might be dozens or even hundreds of miles away – so it’s important to be able to take care of yourself while you’re on the trail.
Tip #3: Choose the right seat pack
A good seat pack should be waterproof and secure. There are tons available below the $100 mark if you want to stay under budget. Whatever brand you choose, make sure it doesn’t sway. In most cases, you’ll have a few sizes to choose from, so make sure you know what will go into the seat pack to help you decide on the right size.
Tip #4: Choose the right handlebar bag
Although it’s tempting to pack your belongings into a fat sausage shape, a long and slender handlebar bag actually works better for bikepacking. Plus, a longer, skinnier bag makes your bike less cumbersome to steer which is important when you’re taking on more technical trails.
Tip #5: Don’t forget your frame bag
A frame bag should fit directly into the main part of your bike’s frame. There are frame bags that fit your entire frame while others will just take up half or even less of your frame. You’ll need to decide the size of your frame bag based on where you want your water bottles mounted.
Tip #6: Remember to have fun
When you get to your campsite, you might have some downtime. Consider investing in some high end playing cards to pass the time.
Tip #7: Opt for comfortable sleeping gear and tents
Whether you choose in invest in an ultralight one-person bikepacking tent, or you opt for a hammock for a tree-lined destination, there’s tons of options when it comes to your sleeping gear. Whether you decide on minimalist setup or something more extravagant, we do recommend that you pair it with additional padding.
Tip #8: Bring food and kitchen items
There’s a huge range of camping and bikepacking stoves available. You can go ultralight with titanium setup or something simple, even a DIY Coke Can Cooker will do. Just remember to plan properly when you’re traveling through areas without stores to restock your supplies.
Tip #9: Know before you go
Before you head out on your first trek, make sure you use the resources available to you. Download GPS data with the route, use routing apps, bring paper maps with you, and tell friends and family where you’re planning on going.
Conclusion: Get ready for your adventure
Bikepacking is one of the best ways to explore the wilderness and with a few tips, you can have an awesome time. Remember, it’ll take a few trips for you to really understand what you need – so do some shorter practice trips before tackling anything bigger. Have fun!