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bikepacking gear

i put this list together to share with friends who want to ride together on a bikepacking route! also to think out loud what i am planning on bringing on my next trip.

huge caveat: i once met some people who had biked from boston to santa barbara on cruisers with giant plastic square buckets attached via bolts to their frame. they stuffed their belongings in black plastic bags and that was waterproof enough. so while i want to write down some of my own personal thoughts on gear that works well, you definitely don’t have to buy a bunch of fancy or expensive gear in order to ride a bike a long distance.

bicycle essentials

also, before embarking, make sure to lube your chain!

camping essentials

clothing

unless you’re biking in foul weather, the clothing you’d need is mostly what you’d expect - clothing thats comfortable to bicycle in for a long time. often, people prefer having shorts with added padding in them which can more comfortable on long rides, and help you from getting saddle sores. for upper layers, its most importantly just to have a somewhat breathable wind breaker in my opinion. otherwise, i like wool best since it dries fast and doesn’t smell as bad after riding all day.

bags and packs

mixed terrain

from what i can tell, there seems to be two main approaches to storing things on your bicycle. for folks that spend more time going offroad, doing gravel, or have suspension on their bicycle, frame mounted bags and handle bar/seat storage seems preferred - mixed terrain cycle touring

(Photo: Jules Verne Times Two / julesvernex2.com / CC-BY-SA-4.0)

some of the major advantages of this type:

on the other hand:

mostly paved

the other type is more suited for paved, road based routes - where the bags (called panniers - from the french for “basket”) are mounted on racks and usually much closer to the ground:

(Photo: Keitheronearth / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0)

advantages to me:

basketpacking

another common approach is just to get a cheap basket! the washington area bicycle organization posted a good article on carrying things on a bike which shows an example of how a few of my friends use baskets instead of racks/bags to hold their stuff:

baskets like this can be found for very cheap and also don’t require any type of mounting points on your frame, which make them attractive as a quick and affordable option.

advantages:

disadvantage:

my setup

personally, my gear is bit of a mix. i have bags on my front forks, a frame bag, a handlebar bag, and rear paniers. so it is totally up to you to figure out what feels best on your bike. if you wan to read about what i specifically have on my bicycle, you can see more about my bike.

weight

regardless of what you chose, you’ll be more comfortable riding if you distribute the weight somewhat evenly on the bicycle - some in the front and the back, and some on each side of the bike. this ends up making you feel a lot more balanced, and avoid a silly fall when you’re tired at the top of a hill.

sharing the load

usually when planning a ride with friends, i try to coordinate at least a few things so we don’t end up having a full copy of everything. for example, we usually only need to heat one or two cups of water at a time, so one stove for heating water is enough. we also often don’t need to have a bike pump for each person, some people share tents, etc.


incoming links: bikepacking

2022.02.01