Interested in Bikepacking? Follow our guide below on our best tips for Bikepacking.

What is Bikepacking?

Mention to your friends that you’re interested in bikepacking, and it will likely turn a head or two; mostly from people who think you’ve coined a new term for something that already exists in its own right: bike touring. So, is there actually any difference?

Bikepacking is centred around adventure: gravel, unpaved, and other off-road surfaces are the wheelhouse that bikepacking trips are built on. To prepare a rig suitable for these kinds of trips, minimalism is a big consideration. Keeping weight to a minimum and ensuring gear is well secured onto either you or your bike will be something you will be grateful for when you’re powering up a sneaky hill that’s appeared out of nowhere or lifting your bike up and over another fallen tree.

 Top Tip | Go with a friend when bikepacking

What Bikepacking gear do I need?

First and foremost, however; just get out there­—to get started, you don’t need to invest in super-expensive gear that is specific to bikepacking. The best bike to get out there on is the one you already own, and that same mantra applies to the gear you already have from previous hiking adventures.

It is important to consider weight distribution on your bike—too much weight at either the front or the back can make it significantly more difficult to stay rubber-side-down when you’re dealing with steeper or more technical trail sections. Trial packs and shakedown rides are your best friend—you’re not going to regret the extra few times you practiced taking everything on and off your bike when it’s dark out, your fingers are frozen, and you’re trying to squeeze everything back into the spots they miraculously came out of.

Weight distribution on bike for bikepacking

What should I pack when Bikepacking?

Less is more. The only thing this doesn’t apply to is snacks because snacks are life. By packing a few extra than you might think you’ll need, you will be able to cover a huge amount of ground on a bike, as riding burns a lot of energy. And it’s a whole lot easier to deal with the challenges that adventures throw at you when you’re not hangry.

As with hiking, taking gear that serves multiple purposes can help cut down on unnecessary double-packing. Wearing layers that perform well in all conditions is a great first step. Merino clothing is a great choice due to its breathable nature, natural anti-microbial properties, and its ability to keep you warm even when it gets wet. Check the weather before you set off and ensure you’ve packed appropriately.

Cold and wet conditions when bikepacking

Make sure you’ve got the capacity to carry more water than you think you might need and an appropriate method of treating any water you might collect along the way. If you’re going near farmland, keep that in mind for any water you collect—particularly if it’s been wet recently and water runoff could be contaminated.

If you’re planning on riding at night, make sure you’ve got adequate lighting and that you’re visible—it’s a lot darker out on the trails compared to a city that has more light pollution. You will also be much more likely to see some of our wonderful native fauna, too!

 Taking a break after a long day of riding

How do I navigate when Bikepacking?

When you’re heading out off-trail or just slightly further away from civilisation, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and know exactly where you’re going. A map and compass are a great failsafe, but only if you can competently and confidently use them. For a techier and more foolproof option, there are several great apps that allow you to download offline maps, either for a manually plotted route or for an uploaded GPX—check out Ride with GPS and Gaia GPS to start with. If you do decide to go down this route, don’t forget that solely relying on a phone app will drain your battery more quickly, which could be a problem if that’s also your only method of communication. You should also play around with the apps to ensure you’re comfortable using them before you go.

It’s always worth considering a PLB or Satellite Messenger Device like a SPOT Gen 4 Messenger, or something that does both like a Garmin inReach Mini 2. Either way, always let someone know where you’re going.

 Bikepacking in Australia

Bring a friend

Sharing at least your first few adventures with a friend can be a great way for you to build up skills on the trail and give you the confidence to explore somewhere you might not be comfortable doing so on your own. That’s not to say that solo adventures are amazing in their own way, but with someone else, you’ll have someone to share the struggles with and will be able to look back on your trip together and (hopefully) laugh.

As with all adventures, ensure you follow Leave No Trace principles to help protect the natural environment we all love to explore. Also, make sure to check out the local regulations and emergency advice before you go!

What are your tips for Bikepacking?

Did we miss some of your top tips for bikepacking? Let us know in the comments below!

About The Author

admin

Some 80 years ago, a young bushwalker's dissatisfaction with the limited and heavy bushwalking equipment available prompted him to design and make his own. Before long, word spread, and Paddy Pallin's lightweight, functional designs were soon in demand among fellow bushwalkers. From its early days the company has concentrated on supplying bushwalkers, travellers and adventurers with the highest quality and most advanced products and knowledge. Since 1930 the company has grown to become Australia's leading supplier of specialist outdoor and travel gear. The company, still owned by the Pallin family, now has thirteen stores throughout Australia as well as online, mail order and corporate sales divisions. We are using our vast wealth of knowledge, and experience, to build an online community where we can share our stories, reviews and tech tips to help you research and plan your next adventure.

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