Bikepacking Guide to Essentials: Gear, Routes, and Tips

Bikepacking is an adventurous way to explore the great outdoors while incorporating the thrill of cycling. This growing trend combines the simplicity of backpacking with the speed and versatility of biking, allowing you to cover more ground and reach remote destinations that are inaccessible by car. If you’re new to bikepacking, don’t fret! This article will guide you through the essentials of bikepacking, including gear, routes, and tips to make your journey enjoyable and successful.

Understanding Bikepacking

Two people who followed the bikepacking guide for their first bikepacking trip for routes stories and coverage with photos articles are property

What is Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a unique form of adventure travel that involves riding a bicycle and carrying your camping gear and supplies. Unlike traditional bike touring, which typically involves carrying heavy panniers on racks, bikepacking emphasizes lightweight equipment and a minimalist approach. With bikepacking, you can explore diverse terrains, from rugged mountain trails to rolling gravel and even paved roads.

When you embark on a bikepacking adventure, you become one with your bike and your surroundings. Every pedal stroke takes you further into the unknown, as you rely on your own strength and endurance to navigate through challenging terrains. The simplicity of bikepacking allows you to truly connect with nature, as you rely on your own physical abilities to conquer each obstacle that comes your way.

Imagine yourself pedaling through dense forests, the scent of pine filling the air. You can hear the sound of birds chirping and leaves rustling as you make your way through winding trails. The adrenaline rushes through your veins as you tackle steep inclines and navigate rocky descents. Bikepacking is not just a mode of transportation, but a way to fully immerse yourself in the natural world.

Why Choose Bikepacking?

So why should you choose bikepacking over other outdoor activities? Well, there are several compelling reasons. Firstly, bikepacking allows you to immerse yourself in nature and enjoy the freedom of the open road. You’ll experience the thrill of conquering challenging terrains and discover breathtaking landscapes along the way.

Imagine waking up to the gentle sound of a flowing river, surrounded by towering mountains. The sun rises, casting a golden glow on the landscape, as you sip your morning coffee and prepare for another day of adventure. With bikepacking, you have the freedom to choose your own path, to explore hidden gems that are inaccessible by car or foot.

Secondly, bikepacking promotes physical fitness and mental well-being. As you pedal through beautiful landscapes, you’ll improve your cardiovascular health, boost endurance, and alleviate stress. The rhythmic motion of cycling creates a sense of tranquility, allowing you to clear your mind and find inner peace. The physical exertion of bikepacking not only strengthens your body but also releases endorphins, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

Lastly, bikepacking offers a budget-friendly alternative to traditional vacations, allowing you to explore new destinations without breaking the bank. With minimal equipment and the ability to camp in remote areas, you can save money on accommodation and dining expenses. Bikepacking also encourages self-sufficiency, as you learn to rely on your own skills and resourcefulness to navigate through unfamiliar territories.

Imagine the sense of freedom as you pedal through picturesque landscapes, with only the open road ahead of you. The simplicity of bikepacking allows you to disconnect from the stresses of everyday life and reconnect with what truly matters – the beauty of the world around and you.

Essential Bikepacking Gear

Essential gears for a multi day ride to inform through original bikepacking

Welcome to the world of bikepacking! If you’re planning a bikepacking trip, you’ll need to make sure you have the right gear to ensure a successful and enjoyable adventure. Let’s dive into the details of a bikepacking collective and what you’ll need.


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    Choosing the Right Bike

    A person who believe travel by bicycle choosing which bicycle has the power

    One of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right bike for your bikepacking journey. It’s crucial to opt for a sturdy and versatile bicycle that is specifically designed for off-road adventures. Look for features such as wider tires, durable frames, and mounting points for racks and panniers. These features will provide you with the stability and durability you need to tackle various terrains.

    When selecting a bike, it’s essential to test ride different models to ensure a comfortable fit. Seek advice from knowledgeable bike shop staff or experienced bikepackers who can guide you in finding the perfect bike for your needs. Remember, a well-fitted bike will make your journey much more enjoyable.

    Necessary Bikepacking Equipment

    Equipment for a down tube gravel bike from the bikepacking community

    Now that you have your bikepacking guide sorted, let’s talk about the essential gear you’ll need to bring along on your bikepacking trip. Lightweight and multi-purpose items are key factors to consider when selecting your gear.

    First and foremost, you’ll need a lightweight tent to provide you with shelter during your nights in the wilderness. Look for a tent that is easy to set up and pack down, as you’ll be doing this multiple times throughout your trip. A sleeping bag and sleeping pad are also essential for a good night’s sleep, ensuring you wake up refreshed and ready for the day’s adventures.

    When it comes to cooking, a camping stove and cookware are necessary for preparing meals on the go. Look for lightweight options that are easy to pack and won’t add unnecessary weight to your load. Additionally, a water filtration system is crucial for ensuring a safe and clean water supply throughout your journey.

    Don’t forget to pack weather-appropriate clothing to keep you comfortable in various conditions. Layering is key, as it allows you to adjust your clothing based on the temperature and weather changes. It’s also important to bring along a repair kit with tools, spare tubes, and a first aid kit to handle any unexpected situations that may arise.

    Remember, every ounce counts when you’re bikepacking, so pack efficiently without compromising safety and comfort. Prioritize lightweight and compact gear that serves multiple purposes to make the most of your limited storage space.

    Packing Your Gear Efficiently

    Now that you have all the necessary gear, it’s time to pack it efficiently to ensure a smooth and enjoyable bikepacking journey. Strategic packing is essential to maintain balance and stability while riding.

    Distribute the weight evenly between your bike’s front frame bag, handlebar, and seatpost bags. This will help maintain stability and prevent your bike from feeling too front-heavy or back-heavy. It’s a good idea to place heavier items closer to the bike’s center of gravity, which is typically around the bottom bracket area. This will help you maintain control and balance while riding over rough terrain.

    Utilize compression sacks and storage organizers to maximize space and keep your gear organized. These handy tools allow you to compress bulky items and keep everything neatly in place. Additionally, consider investing in waterproof storage solutions to protect your gear from unexpected weather conditions. Rain covers for your bags and dry bags for sensitive items will ensure your gear stays dry and functional even in wet conditions.

    By packing your gear strategically and efficiently, you’ll have easy access to everything you need during your bikepacking journey. Plus, a well-organized setup will make it easier to find what you need without having to unpack and repack your bikepacking bags almost constantly.

    Now that you’re equipped with the knowledge of essential bikepacking gear and how to pack it efficiently, you’re ready to embark on your bikepacking adventure. Enjoy the freedom of exploring new places on two wheels and embrace the challenges and rewards that come with bikepacking!

    Planning Your Bikepacking Route

    A bike route with a sleep system and local overnighter

    Planning a bikepacking route is an exciting endeavor that requires careful consideration of various factors. It’s not just about picking a destination and hopping on your bike; it’s about creating an adventure that aligns with your preferences and capabilities. Let’s explore some factors to consider when choosing a route.

    Factors to Consider When Choosing a Route

    When planning your bikepacking adventure, there are several key factors to take into account:

    Fitness Level

    Assessing your fitness level is crucial in determining the type of route that suits you. Are you an experienced cyclist or a beginner? Consider your endurance, strength, and ability to handle different terrains. This self-assessment will help you choose a route that challenges you without pushing you beyond your limits.

    Time Constraints

    Consider how much time you have available for your bikepacking trip. Are you planning a weekend getaway or a month-long expedition? Understanding your time constraints will help you determine the length and complexity of your route.

    Desired Level of Difficulty

    Do you crave a challenging adventure or a more relaxed ride? Think about your comfort zone and what you want to achieve from your bikepacking experience. Some routes offer rugged terrains and steep climbs, while others provide a more leisurely journey. Choose a route that matches your desired level of difficulty.

    Terrain, Elevation, and Climate

    Researching the terrain, elevation, and climate of potential routes is essential. Are you a mountain lover or a fan of rolling hills? Consider the type of scenery you want to immerse yourself in. Additionally, take into account the weather conditions during the time of your trip. Be prepared for rain, extreme heat, or cold temperatures, depending on the region and season.

    Water Availability, Resupply Points, and Camping Options

    While on a bikepacking adventure, you’ll need to stay hydrated, refuel, and find suitable places to rest. Research the availability of water sources along the route, as well as resupply points where you can stock up on food and other essentials. Look for camping options, such as designated campsites or wild camping spots, to plan your overnight stays.

    Considering these factors will help you choose a bikepacking route that aligns with your preferences, abilities, and goals.

    Popular Bikepacking Routes

    When it comes to bikepacking, the world is your playground. There are countless incredible bikepacking routes range to explore. Here are just a few renowned routes that offer stunning scenery, challenging terrain, and unforgettable experiences:

    Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, North America

    A bike route with a few tips

    The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is a legendary mountain biking route that stretches approximately 2,800 miles from Canada to Mexico. It follows the Continental Divide, taking you through breathtaking landscapes, including the Rocky Mountains. Prepare to be awed by vast wilderness, remote areas, and encounters with diverse wildlife.

    Highland Trail 550, Scotland

    Highland Trail 550, Scotland with water reservoir

    The Highland Trail 550 is a challenging route that covers approximately 550 miles of rugged Scottish terrain. It takes you through the stunning Scottish Highlands, with its majestic mountains, picturesque lochs, and ancient forests. Be prepared for unpredictable weather, technical trails, and breathtaking vistas.

    Carretera Austral, Chile

    Carretera Austral, Chile with public lands

    The Carretera Austral is a scenic route that spans over 1,200 kilometers through the remote and wild landscapes of Southern Chile. This gravel road adventure takes you through lush forests, past turquoise rivers, and along the majestic Andes Mountains. Prepare for challenging climbs, river crossings, and encounters with unique flora and fauna.

    These popular bikepacking routes offer a taste of the incredible adventures that await. Before embarking on any of these original bikepacking routes stories, it’s essential to thoroughly research each one, gather maps or GPS files, and consult with experienced bikepackers or online communities for valuable insights.

    Safety Measures on the Route

    Ensuring your safety while bikepacking is of utmost importance. Here are some safety measures to consider:

    Potential Risks

    Take into account the potential risks associated with your chosen route. Are you venturing into an area with wildlife encounters? Are there extreme weather conditions to be aware of? Are you entering remote areas with limited communication signals? Understanding these risks will help you prepare accordingly.

    Wilderness First-Aid Procedures

    Familiarize yourself with basic wilderness first-aid procedures. Knowing how to handle minor injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, or sprains, can make a significant difference in an emergency situation. Carry a first aid kit equipped for these minor injuries, and ensure you have the necessary knowledge to use it effectively.

    Itinerary Sharing

    Share your itinerary with a trusted person. Let someone know where you’ll be and when you expect to return. This way, if something goes wrong or you encounter unexpected challenges, someone will be aware of your whereabouts and can initiate a search or rescue if needed.

    GPS and Communication

    Utilize a reliable GPS device or smartphone app to stay on track and navigate your route. Make sure you have a backup power source to keep your devices charged. Additionally, consider carrying a satellite communication device for emergencies, especially if you’re venturing into remote areas with limited cell phone coverage.

    By taking these safety measures into account, you can minimize risks and ensure a safer bikepacking experience.

    Top Bikepacking Tips for Beginners

    A bike on its first trip

    Preparing Physically for Bikepacking

    Before embarking on your bikepacking adventure, it’s essential to prepare yourself physically. Start by gradually increasing your cycling distance and incorporating strength exercises to build endurance and improve overall fitness. A mix of cardio workouts, such as jogging or swimming, can also improve cardiovascular health. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new exercise regime.

    Navigating and Route Finding

    Navigation plays a crucial role in bikepacking. Familiarize yourself with map reading, GPS coordinates, and smartphone apps that provide offline maps. In addition, learn to read the landscape and keep an eye out for trail markers or signs. Always have a backup plan in case of navigation failures, such as carrying a paper map or compass as a last resort.

    Food and Water Management

    Proper nutrition and hydration are vital during bikepacking trips. Plan your meals and snacks in advance, ensuring they are lightweight, calorie-dense, and easy to prepare. Opt for dehydrated meals, energy bars, nuts, and fruits. It’s crucial to stay properly hydrated as well, so carry a sufficient amount of water or pack a water filtration system to refill along the way. Remember to familiarize yourself with water sources and potential contaminants to avoid any health issues.

    Bikepacking Etiquette and Nature Respect

    A person with no water bottles that are plastic to respect nature

    Campsite Etiquette for Bikepackers

    Embarking on a Bikepacking Trip is not merely a journey; it’s a commitment to the environment and the communities encountered along the way. As advocates of responsible exploration, we present a set of guidelines encapsulated in Bikepacking Etiquette – a philosophy that intertwines adventure and environmental stewardship.

    Minimizing Impact on Surrounding Environments

    When threading through Bikepacking Routes, the conscientious rider is attuned to the delicate balance between thrill and preservation. Singletrack Trails become more than mere conduits; they transform into channels of respect for the terrain. Navigate with finesse, minimizing the imprint left on the earth. Every frame bag and Bikepacking Bags should serve as vessels of responsibility.

    Respecting Wildlife and Local Communities

    The heart of Bikepacking lies in the harmonious coexistence with nature. As you pedal through the Original Bikepacking Routes Stories, become a silent observer. A Full Suspension Mountain Bike gliding through the Rail Trail should not disturb the ecosystems it traverses. Engage with local communities as a humble guest, leaving behind only goodwill and positive interactions.

    Being a Responsible Steward of Nature

    In the realm of Bikepacking Adventures, being a responsible steward involves more than a well-packed Handlebar Roll or a diligently stocked Repair Kit. It’s about embodying the ethos of the Bikepacking Collective, believing that travel by bicycle empowers both rider and environment. Established Routes are not just trails but pathways toward sustainable cohabitation.


    The ethos of Bikepacking transcends the mere act of traversing Bikepacking Routes; it is an intricate tapestry woven with threads of responsibility, community, and profound connection. The conscientious rider, armed with a Repair Kit and a Frame Bag, is not merely embarking on a Bikepacking Trip but undertaking a transformative odyssey through Singletrack Trails and Rail Trails.

    By understanding the fundamentals of bikepacking and equipping yourself with the necessary gear, planning a memorable route, and implementing valuable tips, gear news and events, you’ll be well on your way to embarking on an unforgettable bikepacking adventure. So, lace up your cycling shoes, secure your gear, and immerse yourself in the joy and freedom of bikepacking!


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    Bikepacking Guide to Essentials: Gear, Routes, and Tips