What is Bikepacking: everything you need to know for your route

28 November 2023

Are you familiar with the word bikepacking?

It refers to a fashionable mode of bicycle touring with light luggage.

This type of bicycle touring is very common in the United States and Canada.

For this reason, we use the word in English.

If you are one of us and you like to know new ways to discover the world on two wheels, we tell you:

  • What exactly is bikepacking and what are its advantages?
  • What bikepacking bags are available to carry all your luggage.
  • What is the best bike for this type of cyclotourism.
  • Other useful tips: the essentials of bikepacking and where to practice it.

Let’s roll!

What is bikepacking and why is this new form of cycling tourism triumphing?

Bikepacking is a minimalist way to travel by bicycle.

It is a type of cyclotourism that consists of carrying the minimum amount of luggage without a pannier rack.

Although it usually covers long mountain and off-road routes, the reality is that each adventurer adapts it to the itinerary he/she wishes to follow.

How does bikepacking differ from pannier cycling?

Bikepacking and pannier cycling have something in common: they are multi-day bicycle trips. However, they are not exactly the same as you can see in this table.

What are the advantages of bikepacking?

After having practiced several modalities of cyclotourism, these are the advantages of bikepacking that we like the most:

  • You don’t need a pannier rack, so you can pedal more comfortably since this tool tends to bounce over bumps.
  • You carry less luggage, so you ride lighter, get less tired when pedaling and can ride more demanding routes.
  • The bags are attached with Velcro, so they fit all types of bicycles.

Speaking of bags… what types are there?

Woman riding mountain bike with bikepacking bags

What types of bikepacking bags are there?

The bags make bikepacking a light and versatile cyclotourism.

Pay attention to the types.

1. Bikepacking bags for handlebars

In the handlebar bags, we recommend that you carry the equipment that takes up the most space, such as a tent or sleeping bag.

Check the handlebar length when you get yours to make sure it fits properly.

2. Bikepacking bags for the frame

There are many sizes, so you should have no problem finding yours (regardless of your bike).

We like it for storing objects that you need to locate quickly, such as your cell phone or GPS (although depending on the size you can also store clothes or other objects).

3. Bikepacking seatpost bags

If you use a full suspension mountain bike, pay attention to this detail: the bag must not touch the tire during compressions.

What material should a good bikepacking bag be made of?

Most bags are made of nylon, polyurethane or polyester. We recommend raincoats because they protect your belongings in case of heavy rains.

Those that are simply waterproof can get chalky, so keep your items in a dry bag or grocery bag when bringing them in, if you think the weather is going to be bad.

Which bike to choose for bikepacking

There are already some bike models created specifically for bikepacking.

However, the bags are adaptable to any model.

So, which is the best for a route of this style?

Most adventurers tend to choose rigidmountain bikes or gravel bikes. Stick with the former if you ride on rough terrain and the latter if you alternate with roads or always ride gravel.

Another element to consider is the size of the frame. Choose one that fits your size as we explained here.

Man next to tent in forest and bicycle with bikepacking bag

What equipment do you need for bikepacking: the essentials for your trip?

Bikepacking is a form of light cyclotourism.

But beware: light does not mean unprepared.

You need to bring all the essentials so that you don’t lack anything, otherwise you will be in trouble in the middle of nowhere.

Here is our must-have kit.

  • For sleeping: a light tent, a sleeping bag, a sleeping mat or a light inflatable mattress. Bring sheets also if the temperature drops.
  • For cooking: stove, pots and pans and cutlery.
  • To eat: plenty of water, energy drinks and food (non-perishable or vacuum-packed).
  • To dress: wear different clothes for pedaling, sleeping and relaxing at the campsite. We recommend you to follow the 3 layers theory.
  • For your hygiene: toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, tissues, deodorant, intimate hygiene.
  • For your first aid kit: alcohol, betadine, bandages, gauze, plasters, ibuprofen, paracetamol or any other medication you may need.
  • For other things: flashlight, GPS, map, solar charger and cell phone.

And, last but not least, the most important thing: you want to enjoy yourself and have a great time!

Where you can do bikepacking (solo and in company)

You have several options for bikepacking, depending on your experience and your desire to live an adventure.

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