By Amanda Wilks
Is there anything as freeing as a spontaneous bikepacking trip? There’s just something about throwing a few armfuls of gear into a go-bag and biking out to the nearest secluded stretch of forest trail or mountain path that holds a special allure difficult to overshadow. If you’ve ever been bitten by the travel bug and felt the need to go for a bikepacking trip over a long weekend – or even just an overnight jaunt – having a short list of must-haves can free you up to enjoy your time outdoors without overthinking and stringent planning.
Here are a few things to take along on your next trip to keep your packing simple and your trip fulfilling.
1. Navigation Gear
There’s nothing fun about being lost in the woods. First and foremost, make sure you have a method of pathfinding ready at all times.
Keeping a backup or two isn’t a bad idea, either. If your phone runs out of battery and you can’t use online maps, having a bike computer with GPS and built-in maps can help you out of a potentially harrowing situation. Brush up on the best mountain bike computers in 2018 and don’t neglect bringing along a paper map just in case!
2. More Food than You Think You’ll Need
You could load up on survival bars and make it through the average biking trip just fine, but you’re probably going to enjoy yourself more if you have something tasty to tuck into after a long day’s ride.
Campfire cooking doesn’t have to be a difficult affair if you take some time before your trip to pre-package food in tinfoil that can be tossed right into a campfire to warm up and it’ll almost certainly be more enjoyable than another evening of granola bars and sports drink. Don’t forget to bring water and plenty of it, too.
3. Panniers or Bags
You won’t make it far with your camping gear if you don’t have a way to transport it. Different types of riders might have different preferences between panniers and bikepacking bags but there’s really no wrong answer, just as long as you can fit all of your load into your containers of choice.
Knowing what to put into them is more important than the type you choose, and the above guide gives an idea of what one industrious couple managed to cut out of their bikepacking kits, but don’t be afraid to pack a little extra gear if it gives you extra peace of mind.
4. Weather-Appropriate Clothing
Dressing for the season means anticipating everything the season can throw at you. Colder rides call for more layers that can be easily shed throughout your trip while warm weather might call for lighter, more breathable clothing to keep you cool and also safe from the sun.
No matter what you choose, you should always have a trusty pair of riding shoes to work with and never overlook how handy rain gear can be if there’s even the slightest chance of a shower.
Instagram Photo Credit: 📸 @kenzieschultz
5. Camping Gear
If you’re not planning to stay overnight, you may not find as much use for a sleeping bag or tent, but a proper bikepacking trip is probably going to take some time.
A sleeping bag keeps you warm, your tent keeps you dry, and anything else you pack is a bonus (like a comfortable camp chair for those nights by the fire!). A small range opens up your cooking options if you like to experiment with your culinary boundaries while on the trail. Also, having a water purification system – even as simple as chlorine tablets – can save your bacon if you wind up with a busted water bottle and no vending machines for miles. Make sure you have a reliable firestarter for evening campfires, too.
6. Anything Your Gut Calls For
Generally, feeling content is worth pedaling harder to carry additional gear weight with you. Going to be riding at night? Can’t turn down a strong frame-mounted headlight and some flashlights. Worried about taking a tumble? Bring a first aid kit. Not sure if you’ll be content staring up at the sky at night? Pack a book or two and a reading light.
After all, your bikepacking trip should be tailored to the things you enjoy, not just things you absolutely need to make it through the weekend.
There’s plenty to be said for the fun of going for a last-minute biking trip, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect to pack properly.
Keep your gear together and know what you truly need while getting in tune with nature and you’ll hopefully never experience a soggy evening wishing for a rain poncho.