Contrary to occasional belief, bikepacking has little to do with putting bicycles in bags and a lot more to do with putting bags on bicycles.
But there is nothing new about carryin
g stuff on bikes, nothing new at all. People used bicycles to carry things for as long as there have been bicycles. This is probably because bikes are very well suited to helping man carry loads – just as long as those loads balance!
Recently, the growing popularity of cycling, coupled with the evolution of high quality lightweight gear has allowed that art of carrying to become more refined. In doing so, it’s created an explosion of interest in something a bit special. This… is a good thing.
Why is it good? Well, lets be honest here. Bikepacking is just another way of exploring. It is not better or worse than walking or any other method. But it is different. There is a simple freedom to this synergy of man and machine. It allows the rider to travel further and faster than walking might allow. And then there is the wonderful camaraderie that comes from riding bikes with friends. A special bond forms, it’s hard to explain but it’s definitely real. Experiences like these are the stuff that great adventures are made of! And adventures are fun!
Fun is important here. You may wish to cycle across a continent, take part in the Tour Divide or you may just want a quick means of getting out to a remote camp spot for an after work ‘microadventure’. Whatever the challenge in hand, take your bike and I promise you will return smiling!
How you load and what you take is highly dependant on what and where you are riding. Here I have bivvy and sleeping bag on the bars, heavy items midships and bulky lighter items under the saddle.
Usually, carrying the load on the bike itself give best stability and comfort. On Dartmoor I often carry a small backpack too. This is partly because I usually have a camera with me and prefer to have it safe on me, and partly because when the inevitable ‘hike-a-bike’ starts, and I need to carry the bike, a backpack to rest the frame on goes a long way towards improved comfort as I walk with the bike shouldered.
So how do you start bikepacking? Easy, start simple and small. Don’t be immediately conned into buying expensive gear. Just load a small rucksack and head out! There is loads of advice online as to what to take etc. Fire up google and have a look! Or email me! If you get the bug then that’s the time to invest in some specialised gear – it adds comfort and versatility which only adds to the joy of the experience!
Tempted? Get out there and try it! And have fun!