Bikepacking Organisation: How to Pack for Bikepacking

Bikepacking Organisation How to Pack for Bikepacking

When it comes to bikepacking, knowing what and how to pack can be quite a hectic task, especially if you are just getting started. 

You are not sure of which bags to start with and which things to pack where. You might also wonder if there are specific bags for bikepacking and whether you should buy them. 

In my opinion, though, packing for bikepacking is way much easier than most cyclists tend to think. 

I usually find packing my gear to be the most interesting part when preparing for bikepacking. It makes me get creative to ensure that I pack everything I need for the adventure. 

Now, if you want to learn the best bikepacking setup, this article will help you perfect your packing skills. 

While I’ve been a bike touring fanatic for many years, I have fallen for the idea of bikepacking over the past few years. 

To be honest, I didn’t have a great experience when packing my gear for a couple of the first longer trips. I ran into many gear-packing problems that most cyclists struggle with. 

This saw me trying out different ways to get my bags strapped on my bike and researching more to know the best ways to pack for bikepacking. 

That’s why I’m here today to share my tips with you and make it easy for you to get ready for your next bikepacking trip. 

You see those essential things you don’t want to leave behind, but you have no idea how to pack them? I’ll show you how! You can carry absolutely everything you need for your trip. With some creativity and tricks, of course!

Whether you are a seasoned bicycle traveler or just want to get started, this detailed guide will help you learn how to pack for bikepacking. Check it out!

How to Choose the Best Bikepacking Bags

Packing for bikepacking begins by having a good bag(s). And there are various types of bikepacking bags, including a frame bag, seat bag, and handlebar roll bag. 

These bags are usually smaller than panniers or traditional backpacks, but they come in a streamlined design for bikepacking. 

They allow you to carry your essential gear while still emphasizing on keeping your bike as light and compact as possible. This enables you to comfortably ride on different types of terrain, including the narrow single-track trails. 

Bikepacking bags are part of the aspects that differentiate bikepacking from bike touring and other forms of bicycle travel that use panniers and luggage racks. 

Traditional panniers and bag racks offer stability and volume when touring or traveling with more gear. However, the pannier setup has too much weight and is limited to rack mounts. 

Bikepacking bags offer a better experience and allow you to travel far on different terrains without feeling exhausted. 

Another exciting thing about these bike bags is that they are highly versatile, as you can use them on most bikes. Their specific shapes allow them to fit on a particular section of any bicycle, be it gravel bike or touring bike. 

Sure, bikepacking bags do not offer the same carrying capacity as traditional panniers and other touring bikes, and they can be prone to rattling. 

But with the right bag and thoughtful packing strategy, you can always overcome such limitations. 

Now, you might be wondering what is a good bikepacking bag or what factors should I consider when choosing one? 

Let’s take a look at the types of bikepacking bags and what to consider when choosing them:

Handlebar Bag

Also known as a handlebar pack, a handlebar bag attaches between the gear levers or brakes to the handlebar. 

While they provide a small packing space, handlebar packs have surged in popularity in the world of bikepacking. 

They come in a sausage shape that allows you to pack your rolled sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and other cylindrical items. 

You can also use it to keep the items you’ll often need, but you’ll want to pay attention to the order in which you put your things. 

Bear in mind that items deeply buried in the handlebar bag can be tough to access. So, pack what you need more last or in the outer zippered pouch for easy access. This could be your rain gear, hat, or gloves. 

Moreover, when packing your items in a handlebar bag, you need to watch the weight as overloading the handlebar can severely affect bike handling and steering. 

Now, when it comes to mounting the handlebar bag to your bike, you need to get a little more creative. 

You can use voile straps to lash the bag into the bike’s handlebar. 

When buying the best handlebar bag, you’ll find that different brands have different designs and sizes. The best one for you will depend on your budget and the features you want in a handlebar pack. 

Some handlebar bags come with extra features such as an outer pouch and cell phone or GPS device holder for maximum convenience. 

I invested in the OBOVA Waterproof Handlebar Bag, and its additional storage features have been incredibly beneficial. 

The bag is pretty versatile as I can mount it on any bike I plan to use for my adventures. Its waterproof properties also ensure that my sleeping bag and puffy camping coat remain dry all the time. 

It’s also worth mentioning that some bicycles, like those designed with drop bars, cannot accommodate spacious handlebar bikes. They can only hold a small bag that leaves enough space for shifter movement when altering gears. 

But if you are working with a fat bike that doesn’t have drop bars, you won’t have to worry about the size of your handlebar bag. 

Seat Bag 

seat bag

A seat bag is a pack that usually marks out a backpacking setup a bicycle-touring organization. It attaches to the seat post and saddle rails, such that it sits right behind the rider. 

In general, seat bags offer a classic bikepacking look and is a convenient way to tow bulky, lightweight items like folded sleeping bags, sleeping pad, and clothes. 

There are two main types of seat packs in the market today, including lightweight, narrow but long models and wider or boxy bags with a flap. 

They come in a range of sizes from 5 to 20 liters, so you can be sure that you’ll find a bag that suits your needs. Their adequate clearance ensures that they don’t rub the tire as you ride. 

Seat packs are my all-time bikepacking bags as they offer relatively easy access to my gear during the trip. Sometimes it’s even possible to grab something when still cycling. But have to pack smartly for this!

However, I don’t recommend that you pack your frequently used gear in this bag, even though it’s not difficult to get things in and out. You want to keep the packaging intact and well mounted throughout the ride. 

Most seat bags feature a roll-top closure that allows the bag to become smaller or larger. It also keeps your gear safe and securely attached to the bike as ride. 

Another thing to look for in a seat bag is water resistance. Waterproof seat packs are the best as they always keep your items dry. They allow for wet weather bikepacking, which still makes excellent adventures. 

The only challenge I experienced when using a seat post bag as a beginner was managing the weight distribution. I felt that the seat bag was making it quite hard for me to ride my bike. 

Later, I discovered that keeping the heaviest items closest to the seat post would make the bike stable and easier to ride. 

This strategy helped in limiting side-to-side sways that may interfere with the bike’s stability when pedaling. 

If you are just getting started in using seat bags for bikepacking, my advice is that you always examine how secure the seat pack attachment is to your bicycle. This way, you’ll minimize swaying and maintain a comfortable ride. 

Frame Bag

A frame bag is designed to fit in the triangular space formed by your bike’s top tube, seat tube, and down tube. It offers an excellent way to pack heavy items and keep the bike’s gravity low. 

When choosing the best frame pack for your bike, you should consider the fit, size or volume, and organizational pockets. 

According to the fit, frame packs can be either a full-frame bag or a half-fame bag. Full frame bags cover the entire space, while half frame bags only fit half of the space. 

You may want to go for a frame pack that fits the triangular space entirely, as they offer more packing space. 

There are even full-frame bags that are specifically designed for particular bikes. If you can find such a bag, you won’t have to worry about the fit. 

Half frame bags are also ideal options, especially when you want to mount some cages for your standard bike bottles.  

It’s also important to consider where the attachment straps are and how they match your bike’s cables. The full-frame bag should fit nicely to inhibit any movements. 

Frame packs with multiple pockets are great for a bikepacking setup. They also make it easy for you to access the packed items. 

Additional Packs

Additional Packs

If your frame pack, seat pack, and handlebar pack do not provide enough space for packing your gear, it’s always wise to mount extra bags. 

Additional packs like stem bags, top tube bags, and cargo cages are great for carrying things that require easy access. Let’s discuss each one of them:

Stem Bag

A stem bag is a small cylinder-shaped pack that sits behind the handlebar. 

You can mount this dry bag on either the top tube or fork and secure it to the handlebar. Use it to store your phone, GPS tracking device, 

Some brands are even offering stem bags specifically made for certain items, such as cameras, lenses, and other small accessories. 

Top Tube Bag

Also known as gas tank packs or Bento bags, top tube packs attach between the bike’s stem and seat post. 

They offer a larger packing capacity than stem bags and come in handy when packing items that require easy access, such as cell phone and tools. 

Top tube bags come in varied sizes, from small snack packs to big packs covering the length of the top tube. 

These bags are easy to mount on different types of bikes. Some modern gravel bikes and bikepacking bikes feature mounting bolts on the top tube for attaching packs. 

Cargo Cages

cargo cage

Cargo cages are almost similar to water bottle cages but designed to accommodate more gear or larger water bottles rather than the standard bike bottles. You can mount them on your bike’s fork, down tube, or on the seat tube. 

When buying cargo cages, it’s important to check how they attach to ensure that they are compatible with your bike. 

I have seen cargo cages that require a 3-hole mounting pattern, which may not be available on some bikes that are not designed for bikepacking.


This may sound awkward, but yes, sometimes you may need to use a backpack to ensure that you carry all your gear. 

However, you need to pack only a few lightweight items as you don’t want much weight straining your back while riding. 

I only use a backpack to carry a hydration reservoir and a few snacks when I have to. 

Otherwise, all my stuff goes into the bike frame pack, tube pack, seat pack, and any other dry bag designed for bikepacking. 

When buying a backpack, you need to consider the quality, size, weight, and design. Small, lightweight backpacks with a variety of pockets are the best ones for bikepacking. 

Most high-quality backpacks for cycling usually have good ventilation, padded straps and are waterproof to keep your things dry. 

These are the main bikepacking bags available in the market today. Bag makers are still coming up with new solutions for bikepacking. 

So, try shopping around until you find you find something that perfectly suits your needs. 

Now that you’ve learned how to choose your bikepacking bags, let’s get on the tips on how to pack for bikepacking. 

Tips for Packing for Bikepacking

Tips for Packing for Bikepacking

When it comes to packing your gear, you need to ensure that everything goes to the right place to avoid issues when riding. 

You can use these tips and recommendations to streamline your bikepacking setup and come up with a packing system that actually works best for you.

Pack Your Sleeping Bag and Other Lightweight Items on the Front and Rear Bags

We are kicking things off with lightweight items like clothes sleeping pad and a sleeping bag. The best way to carry your lightweight gear is by putting them in the seat pack and handlebar bags.

The seat pack (on the rear) and handlebar bag (on the front) can comfortably hold bulky but lightweight items as they have a generous packing capacity.  

Avoid packing heavy items in the seat and handlebar packs as this may negatively affect how your bike rides. 

My rule of thumb for weight distribution is lighter weight on the front and rear and more weight in the middle.  

Pack Heavy Items in the Frame Pack

Heavy items like a cooking stove, fuel, tent, and bike tubes can make your bicycle lose balance when packed in the wrong place. 

For example, if you pack your heavy items in the seat pack, you’ll find it hard to handle the bike when riding on rough or technical terrain. 

You should pack them in a frame pack and secure the bag well to prevent bouncing as you ride. 

Packing the heavy items in the frame pack keeps the bike stable by keeping the center of gravity low. This will enable you to handle the bike well, even in the tightest corners or steep climbs and descents. 

Ideally, practice riding the bike a little bit after packing your gear to ensure that it feels stable. Practicing will also let you find out whether the mounted bags hits your thighs or knees as your ride. 

Pack Frequently Used Items within Reach

Pack Frequently Used Items within Reach

When packing your gear, you need to ensure that you keep the things you frequently need within reach. 

Consider keeping them in bags that are easily accessible, such as handlebar packs, top tube packs, or stem bags. Then keep other items that you’ll only need at camp in the frame bag or the seat pack. 

You will often need to use things like GPS locator, maps, snacks, and phone. So, you can pack them in stem bags or top tube bags. 

Then you can mount bottle cages for carrying water. Packing your items strategically will help you stay organized during the ride and save time. 

Buy Larger Capacity Bike Bags

Unlike backpacks and panniers that give up to 60L carrying capacity, bikepacking bags provide a smaller capacity. 

You find that even with multiple bikepacking bags, it’s hard to achieve a total of 50L carrying capacity. 

After all, most handlebar bags provide about 15L of carrying capacity, while frame bags offer about 6L of packing capacity. 

Seat post packs are usually larger but only best fitted for carrying items with a lighter weight. 

When I started bikepacking, I had quite a hard time packing everything in the small bags since I was used to larger capacity touring bags and panniers. 

So, when shopping for my bike bags, I usually go for larger capacity ones. Getting multiple bags for every part of the bike has also helped me pack all my essentials easily. 

If you plan to pack a lot of things for your bikepacking, you’ll want to invest in larger capacity bags and make sure you get multiple to mount in every available space on your bike. 

Look around when shopping for your bags as you may find that some companies offer bigger bags than competitors at a reasonable price. 

A larger capacity bag will give you more packing space to ensure that you carry all your bikepacking essentials. 

For a large capacity seat pack, Revelated Designs have some great options. You can find a seat bag with a capacity of up to 14L. 

Mount Stem Bags and Top Tube Bags for Extra Space

If your frame, handlebar, and seat bags are not enough for your stuff, you can mount stem bags and top tube bags to create more space. 

Stem bags are small pouches designed with a couple of hook-and-loop strips to attach behind the handlebar. You can mount one or two for keeping items that you’ll need regularly. 

They are great spaces for cameras, maps, sunglasses, water, or snacks. 

Top tube bags usually offer a larger capacity than stem bags, and they attach to the top of your bike’s top tube. Some tube bags can also attach right in front of the seat post. 

What I love most about top tube bags is that they are the easiest to get in and out while cycling. I use them to keep the items I frequently use during the trip, from energy bars to sunscreen. 

Invest In Bottle Cages to Stay Hydrated

Water is one of the most essential gears that you cannot afford to leave behind when bikepacking. You need to stay hydrated and healthy throughout the ride. 

However, it can be difficult to haul large water bottles on your bike, especially with all the other bike gear and camping essentials. 

This is where bottle cages come into play. You can invest in bottle cages and attach them to your bike. 

Bicycles specifically designed for bikepacking usually have braze-ons or threaded fittings on the fork or the lower side of the down tube where you can mount your water bottle. 

If your bike doesn’t have the braze-ons, no need to worry. You can mount a bottle cage with hose clamps. 

Utilize the Forks with Cargo Cages to Carry More Gear

Cargo cages are a lot bigger than bottle cages and are designed to carry more gear on dry bags and larger water bottles. 

They usually attach to the fork but can also mount on the down tube or seat tube, depending on what you want to pack in them. 

Nonetheless, you’ll need to be careful when buying cargo cages to ensure that you get the ones that fit on your bike. In this case, you may want to consider how a cage attaches to the bike before buying it. 

Keep in mind that some cargo cages can only mount on a three-hole fixing pattern, which may not be available on some bikes. 

Pack as Light as You Possibly Can

Pack as Light as You Possibly Can

One of the basic principles that I apply when it comes to bikepacking is packing as light as I possibly can.

I feel that bikepacking is about traveling simply with the least that you can survive on, especially when it comes to camping gear. 

At its heart, bikepacking is about simplicity and minimalism. So, you want to streamline your gear and bring only the things you can’t do without. 

Cutting down travel luxuries and being resourceful will give you adequate room for packing your essentials. Don’t pack multiple pairs of clothes when you can still work with only two sets.

My advice to a beginner is to audit all your things before packing and questionwhether you will really need a particular item. You want to ensure that you only pack things that will serve a real purpose while out there. 

In addition, if you plan to explore a camping-friendly locale and the weather is favorable, you can carry a tarp instead of a weighty tent. I have used a tarp many times when bikepacking. 

You’ll thank yourself for packing light when you come across rugged terrain or technical single-track trails. If there is a fallen tree across the path, you’ll be able to lift your bike over the obstacle freely. 

On the other hand, if you don’t plan to ride off-road, it can be appropriate to get away with a little more weight as you are unlikely to find any obstructions on gravel roads. 

Use Straps to Secure the Load Well

When packing my bikepacking gear, I always assume that anything can go loose, especially when riding on rough and challenging terrains. 

To prepare for the rattle, I use straps to secure my packs well. Straps and cords also come in handy when lashing forgotten items or additional gear like a fishing rod. 

Whether you choose to use a backup cord, sleeves, or buckles, you need to ensure that they are well fixed. 

Keep in mind that they may slip and get caught in the wheels, causing your bike to lose control or, worse, cause a terrible accident. 

You Can Still Use Your Bike Panniers

While some cyclists will say that it’s no longer bikepacking when you use panniers, there are some companies that make lightweight bikepacking panniers. 

You can use them if you need to. Bikepacking panniers are less bulky and smaller than traditional panniers used for bicycle touring. 

They are a great packing solution when you need to carry more gear and there is not enough room for extra things. 

You can mount mini panniers at the front or rear for more packing space, especially if your bikepacking adventure will last for more than a couple of weeks. 

What’s more fascinating about these mini panniers is that they are almost compatible with most types of bikes. They are a better option when working with road bikes that lack braze-ons. 

Another exciting thing about bikepacking panniers is that they are cheaper than most bike bags. And you can use them interchangeably be used on different bikes. 

However, you’ll need to be careful when packing as the mini panniers can increase the temptation to pack more than you need. Remember, over-packing will make it harder to carry your bike across obstacles.  

Protect Your Bike

One problem with using bikepacking bags is that they can rub against your bike frame and eventually ruin the bike. 

Most people often ignore this issue, and they just ride with their bags strapped directly to the frame, handlebar, and seat post. 

If you want your bike to last, you need to take precautions, as there are some simple steps you can take, especially if your bike has a carbon frame. 

One of the most effective ways to protect your bike is by adding some helicopter tape before strapping bags to the frame and other mounting parts.  

This tape is clear and will keep your bike safe. You won’t have to worry about riding an ugly-looking bike. 

One last thing, be sure to tweak the tires and adjust the suspension system before setting out. You can increase the air, especially if you are carrying some heavy loads.

This will ensure that your bike is fit for different terrains and prevent the tires from getting flat. 

What to Pack for a Bikepacking Adventure

What to Pack for a Bikepacking Adventure

Bikepacking trips involve cycling in different types of terrains and camping. So, you need to ensure that you have everything you need before setting out for the adventure. 

While every bikepacking adventure is different, having a checklist to refer to will make your packing experience a lot easier. You don’t want it to be a bit of a puzzle every time you pack. 

Here is a comprehensive checklist that you can use to ensure that you don’t forget anything:

Bike Gear

These are the essential things you’ll need to stay on the trail. They include: 

  • Bikepacking bike or touring bike
  • Helmet
  • Headlight
  • Trail light 
  • Bikepacking bags

Generally, you can use any bike for bikepacking, provided it has some mounting areas where you can attach your gear. 

However, a bikepacking bike is the best option as it can handle different terrains, from gravel and dirt roads to single-track trails. 

A mountain bike is also an ideal option, as it comes in handy for mountain biking. If your trip involves riding on steep climbs, don’t hesitate to use a mountain bike for bikepacking. 

For the helmet, you can use what you have, as long as it fits your head properly. A helmet is vital for your safety as it protects you from the head and facial injuries. 

Headlight and tail lights come in handy when riding in the evening as you’ll need a source of light to illuminate the roads ahead. You can also use them at the campsite when cooking or doing other camping tasks. 

When buying your bikepacking packs, you need to go for the sizes and designs that suit your specific needs. The main bikepacking specific bags are the seat pack, handlebar pack, and frame pack. 



While clothing is one area where I find it easy to slim down my gear, I always check the weather forecasting when packing my bikepacking clothes. 

Basic clothes are usually enough for most of my summer bikepacking trips, but I usually a pair of warm socks for the cold nights. There is nothing that feels satisfying as being warm at night while out there.                           

So, whether you want to bikepack at the height of summer or spring, you need to pack a number of clothing layers. Ideally, all your clothing should fit in a 5L pack.

Here is a general clothing kit: 

  • Wicking jersey
  • Padded shorts
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Rain jacket 
  • Rain pants
  • Bike shoes
  • Gloves
  • Wind jacket
  • Arm/leg warmers
  • Underwear
  • Cap or hat
  • Insulated jacket 

Food and Water

Cycling requires a lot of energy, especially when riding on steep climbs and rough terrain. So, you need to eat well and stay hydrated throughout the trip. 

In most of my bikepacking journeys, I prefer carrying a water filtration system and purifying tablets to ensure that I have enough drinking water. In this case, the Sawyer Mini Water Filter does the magic. 

I also pack low-volume foodstuffs with a high calorific yield for dinners and lunch. This can be instant noodles, rice, quinoa, pulses, tinned fish, and cured meat.

Dried fruits and snacks like chocolate bars, granola bars, apple chips, trail mix, and potato chips also keep me energized and refreshed for longer trips. 

If you plan to bikepack on areas with access to restaurants and hotels, I recommend that you try to have a proper meal at least once a day. 

Packing your own food during the trip will save you some bucks, but you also don’t want to neglect your health by entirely relying on dried foods.

Here is a list of food and water supplies for bikepacking: 

  • Water filtration system
  • Purification tablets or drops
  • Bottles with cages
  • Foodstuffs for main meals
  • Dries fruits and snacks

Camping Gear/ Shelter

  • Tent, tarp, hammock, or bivy
  • Ground cloth
  • Stakes

Camping gear and shelter are arguably the most debated topic when it comes to bikepacking essentials. 

But of course, the best option for you largely depends on the nature of your bikepacking adventure, the weather, and personal preferences. 

Bivies are great shelters when bikepacking as they are cheap and lightweight. I usually pack bivy when I suspect that the weather will be dry. 

Tarps are an ultralight shelter option, and they take the least space since they can fold down to the size of a soda can. Their poles also fit into the smallest bike bags. 

However, they may not be the best when bikepacking in wet seasons when storms and snow are inevitable. In such cases, a tent is a viable choice. 

Tents offer the best protection against weather and wild animals compared to other shelter options.

Today, manufacturers are making lightweight tents with compact tent poles that are fit for bikepacking and cycle touring. If you can find one, you’ll boast a stronger and safer shelter.

The only setback of using tents for bikepacking is that they are a bit expensive and require more packing space. Some tent poles also don’t fit in the frame packs. 

In my opinion, yet, bivy bags are the best when the weather is favorable. I love using a bivy bag for my adventures due to its lightweight and the fact they it allows me to gaze up at the stars on a dry night. 

Seeping System

sleeping bag

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Pillow optional

The sleeping system is another must-have gear for bikepacking. It will allow you to relax and rest peacefully at night after a long cycling day. 

A sleeping bag and sleeping pad are vital for a comfortable and warm sleep while out there. But if you have more space, you can still pack a lightweight camping pillow. 

When packing the sleeping gear, you want to ensure that you are using a dry bag that won’t let water through. 

If you don’t have a waterproof seat pack or tube pack, you should pack your sleeping gear into a waterproof stuff sack before putting it into the bag. 

Cooking Gear

  • Camping stove
  • Fuel
  • Mini lighter
  • Mug or pot
  • Spork 

If your bikepacking involves longer trips off-road where you cannot access restaurant foods, you’ll need to bring your cooking gear. 

A good cooking setup is one that allows you to prepare your meals with ease. A camping stove with fuel is basically enough for your cooking tasks. 

Sometimes I also use my camping fire with balanced rocks to cook meals and save fuel. 

Now, when it comes to the cookware, you only need a pot or mug and a spork or spoon. 


  • GPS device
  • Cell phone
  • Compass
  • Map
  • Compass

Do you really need a GPS device for bikepacking? I have heard many cyclists ask this question, and all I can say is that GPS navigation is a vital part of any bikepacking adventure. 

The GPS on your Android or Apple phone is a brilliant way to navigate. However, the phone will die after a few hours.

And if your bikepacking trip is taking weeks off-road, you may not be able to track your location and routes while out there. 

In such scenarios, you can significantly benefit from a handheld GPS device with a rechargeable battery. It will help you plan your routes, forge new paths, and explore more with confidence. 

GPS devices are excellent for bikepacking as they can handle rugged terrains and mixed weather conditions. 

If a compass and paper map are all you have, they are also great for navigation and planning a ride. You only need to ensure that you pack them in easily accessible bags. 

Bike Repair Kit

A bike repair kit is another must-have for bikepacking, especially if you plan to ride in the backcountry. 

Keep in mind that a simple mechanical deformation can suddenly turn your enjoyable ride into the terrible misery of hiking with a bike through the woods. 

To avoid this, you need to pack a well-thought-out bikepacking bike repair kit like this one:

  • Spare tube
  • Spare spokes
  • Lubricant
  • Compact tire pump
  • Nuts and bolts
  • Patch kit
  • Tire levers
  • Superglue for small punctures 

Hygiene/Toiletries and First Aid Supplies 

  • Toothpaste
  • Toilet paper 
  • Pack towel
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Deodorant 
  • Blister pads
  • Bandages
  • Pain-relief pills

It’s important to pack plenty of toiletries that you mind need while out there and ensure that they are travel size to save on space. 

Most bikepackers can survive with soap alone for bathing, but if you need to bring shampoo for your hair, don’t hesitate to get a travel size and pack it in your toiletry bag. 

You may also want to pack your toilet paper within reach, as you may need it several times while on the road. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Q: How Do I Get Started for Bikepacking?

A: Bikepacking is an exciting way to explore the world and experience nature. It involves riding off-road, mountain biking, dirt touring and cycling single-track trails with a stocked bike. 

 It’s a great way for cycling enthusiasts, couples, and family to cover miles together and have fun. 

If you want to get started on bikepacking, there are a few basics you need to learn about to ensure that your trip is enjoyable and successful. 

You can learn them in these four steps: 

Step 1: Find a Bikepacking Bike

While you can use any type of bike for bikepacking, there are some bikepacking specific bicycles in the market today. Such bikes offer more benefits when bikepacking compared to others. 

Most bikes designed for bikepacking are fit for cycling in different terrains with ease and allow you to haul your gear with less hassle.

Now, when buying a bikepacking bicycle, you’ll find that they come in different designs, sizes, shapes, construction, and materials. 

The best one for you will depend on your cycling needs and preferences. Whichever size or shape you choose, you can be sure that your bikepacking bicycle will comfortably ride over rough roads for long distances. 

Your bikepacking bike will also allow you to mount your gear packs and attach some bottle cages for carrying water. 

Step 2: Plan Where to Bikepack

Whether you love cycling on the road or off-road, you can easily find an exceptional bikepacking destination no matter where you live. 

If you live in the US, there are many locales with fabulous routes to bikepack and explore, from Colorado Trail and Virginia Mountain Bike Trail to Alaska and North Dakota. 

When planning your routes and destination, you’ll also want to examine the daily distance you plan to cover in a given day. 

The bikepacking distance may be significantly shorter than other cycling tours, as riding on technical terrains means a slower pace. 

I do not recommend going for a continent-spanning expedition for the start as such a trip will count on your experience. You may also not be fit enough to cycle the world with a packed bike. 

The best thing to do is to start shorter and build up as you progress. Once you gain some experience, you’ll be able to bikepack to your best destinations in the world. 

Step 3: Get Some Bikepacking Specific Bags

Get Some Bikepacking Specific Bags

You’ve already picked out your bikepacking bicycle and chosen a destination, it’s time to get some good bike bags for your trip. 

The main types of bikepacking bags are handlebar roll bag, seat pack, half frame bag, and full fame bag. 

Handlebar pack and seat pack are great for carrying bulky, lightweight gear like sleeping bags and clothing. 

Full frame bags works best for heavy loads like the cooking gear and tent since they are mounted at the bike’s center. They can help in maintaining balance when riding in different types of terrains. 

You can also leverage other additional packs like stem bags or feed bags, top tube bags, and cargo bags.  

The best thing about bikepacking bike bags is that most of them are designed as dry bags to keep your stuff dry when riding in wet weather. 

Step 4: Pack Your Bikepacking Gear

When it comes to packing for your bikepacking trip, you don’t need to get all sorts of specialist equipment. Start with what you have, and you’ll improve in the long run. 

Some of the most essential things for bikepacking include clothing, tent or tarp, foodstuffs, sleeping bag, GPS, toiletries, and a bikepacking bike repair kit. 

Once you mount your packs to the bike, you need to take a ride around on a local trail to ensure that you can comfortably ride the loaded bike. 

You might also wonder how to train for bikepacking?

My recommendation is that you ride your bike regularly before your actual bikepacking tour. Riding 15 to 20 miles a day will help your body to adjust and build cycling resilience. 

You can also practice climbing hills and riding a loaded bike to condition your body for the long bikepacking ride. 

Q: How Should I Pack for a Bikepacking Trip?

A:  When packing your gear, it’s wise to cut the weight as much as possible without compromising your comfort and safety. Heavy gear can turn your first bikepacking trip into a disastrous and exhausting experience. 

Unlike bike touring that uses racks and panniers for hauling gear, bikepacking requires some specific bags for packing the essential things. 

These bags include a seat post bag, frame pack, handlebar pack, stem bag, top tube bag, and other dry bags. These bags have a smaller carrying capacity compared to bike touring panniers. 

So you need to ensure that you only go for the most compact form of gear you can find. You also need to ensure that you pack your things creatively so that they all fit in these bike bags. 

First, you need to determine which things will go where. 

In this case, you’ll want to pack your bulky, lightweight items like the sleeping gear and clothes on the seat post and handlebar pack. 

Then pack the heavy items like the cooking and camping gear on a full-frame bag. Other lightweight things that require easy access can go into your additional dry bags. 

You also need to ensure that your load capacity and body weight combined don’t exceed the bike’s weight. Overloading the bicycle can damage the bike frame.  

Q: Do You Wear a Backpack While Bikepacking?

Do You Wear a Backpack While Bikepacking

A: You don’t wear a backpack while bikepacking as it can be cumbersome when riding on rough terrain. 

Most bikepackers prefer packing all their gear into the bike bags and mounting them to the bike for a comfortable and stable ride. 

However, there is nothing wrong with carrying a lightweight backpack, provided you don’t keep heavy items in it. 

Today, bag makers are producing lightweight and compact backpacks that can provide more space for bikepackers. 

You can use such a lightweight backpack to carry your snacks, repair kit, and items that require easy access throughout the ride. 

Q: How Many Liters of Bikepacking Do I Need?

A: The suitable packing space you need for bikepacking will depend on the type of your trip and the amount of gear you intend to carry. 

For an overnight trip or multi-day bikepacking, you probably need about 15 to 20 liters of packing space. 

If you plan to tour for more than a few weeks, then you’ll need up to 50 liters of bikepacking. You can achieve these liters using a seat pack, handlebar pack, stem bags, frame bags, top tube bags, and cargo packs. 

Bikepacking dry bags come in various sizes and designs, meaning that you can quickly get what suits your load needs. 

Final Thoughts

final thoughts

Whether you want to get started in bikepacking or are just looking for effective ways to improve your touring experience, knowing how to pack your gear is key. 

While there is no correct way to pack your bikepacking gear, the tips provided above can set you on the right foot. Feel free to use them when packing your bike. 

As you gain experience, you’ll be able to come up with a bikepacking setup that works perfectly for you. 

Don’t wait until you have all it takes to start bikepacking, just get your gear on the bike and set off.  Many cyclists of all ages are already bikepacking and having a lot of fun. You can be one of them today!

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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