If you’re thinking of hitting the trails for a single night bikepacking trek or a multi-day tour, here are the core essentials you need.
In theory, with enough leg power and determination, you can go just about anywhere for a day trip on a mountain bike, enjoying the sights and joys of the great outdoors along the way. But what if you want to go further and for longer? That’s when you start a bikepacking adventure.
Hang on a second. Bikepacking? Am I strapping a bike to my back or something?
You can do that if you really want to – I certainly won’t judge – but the core of bikepacking is the idea of taking gear with you that you could use for camping and survival in as lightweight a way as is feasible. A bikepacking trek could take be just a single night’s stay with plenty of riding over two days, or a multi-day trek, although clearly in the case of longer trips, you’d need to take more gear with you.
It’s no good simply strapping on your helmet and hitting the trails without any preparation at all, and there is some bikepacking gear that it’s actually smart to take with you even if you only plan on a short day ride — you never know when conditions might change. If you found yourself suddenly stuck in the great outdoors, you have to think about survival and comfort well before you engage in more intriguing outdoor pursuits such as astrophotography.
Preparation is key, and the gear you need for a bikepacking trek in winter will differ from summer. As will the needs for tackling different terrain types, which may also determine the best bike or tyres to take with you as well.
So what should you consider taking on a bikepacking trip?
Unless you’re taking very sensitive items – such as a DLSR and lenses – then a backpack isn’t ideal, because it’s going to put more stress on your own body when the frame of the bike can handle that much better with a low-slung, low centre of gravity set of bags, like this $72.35 water-resistant rear saddle pack.
For smaller items, you could use a handlebar bag like this $25.99 Wotow one, especially if you’re only planning a small overnight trip and won’t need much in the way of carried supplies.
For those shorter trips, you can pretty easily stow food, but far more vital is water, which you’ll probably need more of than you think. A collapsible water bottle like this $29.20 Hydrapak Stash is one option if you know you’ll have guaranteed access to fresh water on the way.
You could also opt to install a bottle cage for a standard water bottle on your bike like this $41.30 Blackburn model, or opt to take a lightweight water filtering bottle such as this $32.08 Sawyer Water Filtration system.
It’s not nice to think about it, but things can go wrong in the great outdoors, so a lightweight, basic first aid kit, like this $22.99 Auselect first aid kit is a smart inclusion for your bikepacking adventures, as is a compass, topographical map and a standalone GPS device like the $245.19 Garmin eTrex22x.
When the sun goes down, the temperature also goes down, and that’s why your bikepacking kit should include a simple lightweight tent or at the very least one, a tarp that you can use to create temporary shelter in a pinch. It could be as simple as this $63.31 Go Time Tent, or something a little more fancy like this $229.74 Paria Zion Tent. Pair that up with some simple sleeping bags, like this $52.04 Suuno Ultra-Light model and you’ve got the basics of your night’s sleep sorted.
The range of gear – and indeed the range of adventures – that you can undertake on a bikepacking trip is nearly endless; if you’re looking for more inspiration for what to take on any kind of camping, backpacking or bikepacking trip, we’ve got a more exhaustive list of what to consider here.
Editor’s note: Descriptions and features are as taken from manufacturer/seller claims and user reviews on Amazon.