Bikepacking: how to organize your bike trip?

Do you want to explore your region, your country, or even abroad by bike? Bikepacking is for you. Travel light while engaging in a sport that complements running very well. How to organize your bikepacking trip? Here are our tips to make you a real bikepacker.

Bikepacking VS cycle touring

First of all, what differentiates bikepacking from cycle touring? To be honest… not much! The principle remains the same: travel with your bike over several days or weeks. However, bikepacking is more adventure-oriented. The routes taken are paths and trails. Cycle touring is more commonly done on roads.

In bikepacking, everything is optimized: storage (bags), the bike… Bikepackers generally carry less than cycle tourists.

Going on a bikepacking adventure

If you’re embarking on your first bikepacking experience, you’ll probably make mistakes, forget equipment, or take too much. We give you some main tips to succeed in this first adventure. However, don’t forget to adapt these tips based on the duration of your adventure and the routes you will take.

Going on an adventure also means paying attention to the weather. If you’re not constrained by specific dates, you can leave when the weather is favorable (cloudy, sunny, bearable heat…). If you are bound by dates, that doesn’t stop you from checking the conditions. You can adapt the equipment you take and your route (water points, places to sleep…).

Plan your route

For a successful bikepacking adventure, it is necessary to plan your route! Simply because if you plan a 500km route, you won’t need the same equipment as if you plan to do 1000km.

There are other advantages to mapping out your route before you leave: knowing the different resupply points, the distance and elevation of each stage, where to sleep, anticipating closed roads… Some bikepackers use this adventure to discover the places they pass through. You can plan shorter stages, leave early in the morning and arrive in the afternoon to have time to explore the stage town in the evening.

You can map your route on apps and then export a GPX file to load into your watch or bike computer.

Choosing your bikepacking bike

As previously mentioned, the goal of bikepacking is to be self-sufficient and light. Therefore, choosing the right bike is crucial. During this adventure, you will take roads, paths, trails, and you might even cross small streams!

The perfect bikepacker bike is rather light, comfortable, and versatile. Currently, gravel bikes are the most suitable for this type of adventure. The thicker the tires, the more terrain you can cover, but you will have more grip on paved surfaces.

Don’t forget to add storage bags to your bike.

Which bikepacking bags to choose?

Depending on the route you have planned, you will need more or less equipment. It also depends on the region you are heading to (humid, hot, temperate…).

Unlike cycle tourists, bikepackers do not use racks or baskets but lightweight bags specifically designed for this activity. There are three key locations to install your bags: the seat post, the handlebars, and the frame. The size of a bag is expressed in liters (L).

A little tip: prefer to buy waterproof bags. 😉

Checklist for your bikepacking adventure

Here’s a list of equipment you can pack in your bags for your next bikepacking project. Adapt this list according to your route, the weather, the size of your bags, etc :

  • For the bike: helmet, bags, inner tube, pump, multi-tool, lights, tire levers, repair kit…
  • For sleeping: tent, hammock, tarp, sleeping bag, pillow… 
  • For eating: stove, fuel, lighter, container, cutlery… 
  • For clothing: cycling shorts, cycling jersey, arm warmers, cap, socks, underwear, waterproof jackets and pants, warm clothes… 
  • For hygiene: toothpaste, toothbrush, toilet paper, sunscreen… 
  • For first aid: small kit with bandages, disinfectant, tick remover, scissors, bandages… 
  • For navigation: GPS (watch or bike computer) with the route, mobile phone, external battery, charger, extra batteries, map…

You are ready for this new bikepacking adventure. Good luck with this new experience that will complement your race training! Find our tips on our social media.

Avatar photo
Mailis Durif-VarambonMailis grew up in the mountains, where she went hiking and biking every weekend. She loves outdoor activities where she can relax at the end of the day. At RunMotion Coach, she is responsible for communication management.