A Guide to Bike Packing

Bikepacking is like back packing, as the name suggests, but on a mountain bike rather than hiking. Routes such as the South Downs Way or West Highland Way are ideal for weekend trips or, for the more adventurous, a week-long coast-to-coast ride. Covering long distances on a bike in the wilds is both challenging and equally rewarding, and a multi-day trip can add an extra dimension to the adventure.

An overnight stay requires some additional camping equipment and when you are carrying it on your back, it goes without saying that you need it to be light. The balance between lightweight and comfort is a difficult one to weigh up, and will be one of personal preference. While some people will insist on having a hot food in the evening and cup of tea in the morning, others will save the weight of a stove and make do with a sandwich and a cold drink.

Of course, if you invest in the right equipment you can have comfort without breaking your back. A good down sleeping bag (like the Lifeventure Downlight) need not break the bank and coupled with sleeping mat such as the Thermarest Neo Air, you’ll be as warm and comfortable as can be. To stay dry, you’ll need a bivi bag or tarp, or even both for maximum comfort. Terranova do a great range.

While water, maps and bike tools may be carried on the bike without hindering the ride and ability to carry the bike if required, panniers are best kept for road rides.  A 30 litre rucksack is best for carrying most of your equipment, but do remember that anything on your back will be pressing on your saddle so make sure that it fits properly and is well padded.

If you decide to take a stove then you’ll need to choose between alcohol, gas or multifuel. Gas is the popular option, however alcohol stoves can save some weight if away for just a couple of nights.

Other equipment that might prove useful would be an inner tube, puncture repair kit, torch, wooly hat and hand sanitiser. Of course don’t forget to leave route information with someone before you leave and take a small first aid kit and in case the unforeseen happens. Bikepacking is like any other outdoor pursuit in that safety should always come first, so be as prepared as you possibly can.

Gear-Zone is one of the UK’s leading online retailers of outdoor clothing and equipment, ranging from men’s 3 in 1 jackets to rucksacks.