What is Bikepacking? How to pack for Off-Pavement Bicycling or Camping?

A lime green bike resting against a tree. "Learn how to get perfect at Bikepacking""

If you are a traveler or a cycling enthusiast like us, you might probably have heard about the term Bikepacking. Well, Bikepacking is one of the recent trends popular among youngsters. It is a great way to reduce boredom and monotony. While the process of packing all the stuff and required necessities for the journey could be tiresome without proper guidance, it will surely be a fun ride when done with an introductory guide on Backpacking. So here we are! With a useful and fulfilled guide to Backpacking – trust us, you are gonna love this!

What is Bikepacking?


Bikepacking is all about the two words from which it is formed- Bike and Packing. Bikepacking refers to the exploration that one does by bicycle. According to bikepacking.com, “bikepacking is the synthesis of all-terrain cycling and self-supported Backpacking. It evokes the freedom of multi-day backcountry hiking and travels off the beaten path but with the range and thrill of riding a nimble bicycle. It’s about venturing further into places less traveled, both near and far, via singletrack trails, gravel, and forgotten dirt roads, carrying the essential gear, and not much more.”

As you might have read, the most fundamental thing about bikepacking is- you’ve guessed it right! A bike, and a bag full of necessary items.

So let us go into detail about what kind of bike and items will suit you on your exciting journey!

The Bikes that you need for Bikepacking


While many bikes are available for different purposes in the industry, the most suitable bike for you might be one with a light but robust frame and a comfortable seat. While we recommend various mountain and BMX bikes for mountainous terrain, a road bike might be a better option for places with a sound road system that comes under plains. Wider and bigger wheels are necessary when you are loading the bike with your backpacks and housing items. A comfortable seat is a must to hover long distances when you constantly rely on your ride to cover long distances. Need a hand in selecting a bike for yourself? Check out the best BMX and Mountain bikes that you can buy right now!

The bags that you need for Bikepacking

Well, there are different types of bags that are used in bikepacking depending upon their shapes, capacities, and positions on the bike. While the bags can be fitted anywhere on a bicycle, we have classified the bags into four categories depending upon the specific positions they hold, namely:

  1. Handlebar Bag
  2. Toptube Bag
  3. Frame Bag
  4. Seat Bag

The name of these bags defines the bike parts where they are aligned into the cycle. Not aware of the essential bike parts? Check out our article on the Basic anatomy of a bike for kids. The bags are of different shapes and sizes and can be customized to store everything from your water bottle to your tent. Talking about the bags themselves, in brief, the Handlebar bags rest upon the bike’s handlebars. While the Toptube bag takes the support of the top tube or the upper part of the bike, the Frame bag sits inside the mainframe of the cycle, attached to the upper three bars of the frame. The Seat bag is connected to the saddle stem of the bike. It is also supported through the saddle fitting. 

Let us discuss about the different types of bags in detail.

1. Handlebar Bag


As we have discussed earlier, the handlebar bag is attached to the upper end of the bike’s handlebar. The handlebar is the most genuine place to fit any supporting accessory into your bike to lift up additional weight. As you might have noticed, bicycle carriers are also installed in attachments with the handlebar. This is because the handlebar lies just above the front suspension. So any fragile item you might carry is safest above the suspension. Also, the handlebars are generally made very sturdy as they bear the total weight of the rider while braking, and all the bike’s components, such as brakes and gearing levers, are attached to it. So heavy items such as your tent can safely stay on your handlebar.
While you are purchasing a Handlebar Bag for your ride, there are some things to keep in mind. First, the Handlebar bag comes in the form of a harness or a roll. While the lighter items can be attached to the handlebar with the help of a roll, heavy items such as tents will require a harness-type handlebar to get along the bicycle. Second, the size of your Handlebar bag should not exceed your handlebar size.

2. Toptube Bags


The Toptube bag is fixed on the top tube of the bicycle’s frame. The bag gains its support from the Toptube of the mainframe. Since the structure of a bike is robust and sturdy, this bag can handle less heavy items other than your tent. The bag mostly comes with a single compartment and single zip. This gives the rider enough area to fill all the belongings in the bag. While purchasing a Toptube bag, it is necessary to determine the quality and strength of your frame’s Toptube since the accessories’ total weight will land on it. Also, ensure that the bag has enough padding and space so that more and more items can fit into the bag.

3. Frame Bag


Frame bag lets the rider store the necessary items between the bike’s frame. This bag primarily intends to carry the heavier items of the cycle due to its low center of gravity and support from all three tubes of the frame. This bag is generally connected to the upper three tubes through straps and comes in various sizes. Some bags of this category might fit perfectly between your frame while some may be bigger than it. Therefore it is advised to always look for a Frame Bag that suits the dimension of your bike’s structure. Most of the Frame Bags come with one main pocket and several secondary pockets, which means there is an involvement of many chains in this bag. Therefore, one must be careful with the quality of chains that are being used in the bag. There should be a regular check-up of the bag’s condition to see if it can carry the same weight as earlier or whether the bag’s weight should be reduced. 

The small pockets of the bag are generally handy for storing small items such as keys, a lighter, or a wallet. While the sizeable primary pocket can be used to store clothing or anything that requires more space.

4. Seat Bag


The Seat bag is strapped onto the saddle and saddle stem of the bike. It can be defined as a pointy structure inclined opposite to the bicycle. This bag can be used to store lighter items that one has, such as eating articles. The thing that you need to be really careful about is whether these bags are waterproof. This is because the Seat Bag constantly faces the open sky on your bicycle. Another problem that riders face is the flapping of the Seat Bag behind them. This can be solved by using a small loop-shaped rack that binds the bag to the bike’s stem.

The Items that you might want to Pack

While there is no limit on the amount and size of accessories you need for the bikepacking, it might not be a wise choice to pack a load of items on your journey, as you’ll be carrying them across the terrain on your bike. Here, to help you, we have classified the articles that you will need into three categories:

  1. The Necessities
  2. The Requirements
  3. The Luxury

We’ll be discussing the three categories in detail.



1. The necessities 

The necessities contain the items that are pretty necessary for your travel. The importance of these things can be stated by the fact that you will not be able to continue your journey without these items.

The list of these items contains commodities such as:

  • Shelter- The tent is of foremost importance if you plan to stay in the terrain for one or more nights.
  • Bike Repair tools- In case your bike gets a little rough, you’ll need these tools such as spare tubes, a screwdriver set, and an air pump to fix your bike.
  • Water Purification system- Since you will probably be in a no-man land, it is crucial to have a source of purifying water with you. Purification tablets, a water filter, and a reasonably big bottle to store water will do the work.
  • First-Aid supplies and medicine box- A medicine box can be a lifesaver if you get any illness during the course of your journey, and a first aid kit is necessary when you are going through rough terrain.
  • Lighter or matches- It is beneficial to keep a source of fire beside you while camping. It wards off any wild animal and various insects apart from giving warmth. You must keep your matches and lighter in a waterproof pocket.
  • Map and a compass- One can lose the sense of direction in a forest or any off-pavement terrain. Therefore, one must keep a map of the area they are going for Bikepacking and a compass to maintain a sense of direction.

2. The requirements

The requirements are those articles that are really important for your comfort, but in any extreme situation, one can deal with the problem without their use. They are somewhat a little less important than the necessary items, as, without the necessities, you might not be able to complete your journey, but without the requirements, you will complete your journey, although with difficulty.

The list of these items contains items such as:

  • Sleeping bags- Sleeping bags are much-needed articles if you want to spend your night in a tent. They provide you with a sense of comfort and safety. A night of healthy sleep is a must to continue the journey ahead confidently.
  • Packaged food and cooking utensils- Packaged food is essential if the terrain in which you are Bikepacking does not have good food sources. Dependence on nature or any other human is not good while you are alone on a Bikepacking track. Of course, you will require a utensil to cook the packaged food.
  • Clothing- You might want to pack up an extra pair of clothing with you, as the ones you are wearing may get quite dirty or wet. Comfortable undergarments, a couple of T-shirts, and pajamas will be appropriate for a night camp.
  • Hygiene and Toiletries- If you are planning to Bikepack for a longer time, it is advised to keep a set of toilet soap, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and toilet papers with you. For women, menstrual pads, peeing funnel, and a sanitation towel will come in handy in Off-Pavement Bicycling.

3. The luxury

The luxury contains the list of those items that are neither necessary nor required for your journey. These items are just for your liking. While the list of these items can be very long, one must not forget that the bigger the number of items on your bike, the heavier your bike will become. Therefore here is the list of some things that you might consider carrying to your adventure:

  • Sunglasses
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Watch
  • A torch or a flashlight
  • Sunscreen or lotion
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Cellphone
  • Credit/Debit card and an Identity Card 

Final Verdict

So, here we are! After discussing all about the packing for Off-Pavement bicycling, we hope this article will have helped you from the basics to the minute details of the packing. If you’ve any questions other than this, feel free to comment and ask us about them. See you next time! Adios!


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