There are so many ways to get away from it all and enjoy a vacation. Whatever gets you the most excited is the way to go. Bikepacking is becoming a very popular vacation activity because of how it encompasses so many different travel aspects. If you are interested in day hiking or thru-hiking then bikepacking can satisfy either of those interests.
It’s great for people who want to see both sides of a place from the tourist sites to everything that nature has to offer surrounding the area. It is ideal for those who love to camp but also love to be moving around. There is a lot that you need to know to get started, however. In this article, we will cover what those essentials are so you can hit the road as soon as possible.
The type of gear you need
What you need is going to be very similar to camping or thru-hiking when you get ready to go bikepacking. In fact, avid hikers probably already have a lot of the necessary things to get started. For those that don’t then you need to know what the must-have items are.
The key is to make sure that you have what you need to hike, camp, and ride a bike. The keys to remember are to have items that serve dual purposes so that you can save room.
For instance, if you plan to do some trail hiking in addition to riding the bike, you should have some Nordic Walking sticks. These will help you maintain stability while on uneven terrain. Bonus points are awarded if they are the Hike ‘n Strike 950,000 as it also offers you self-defence options in case you have to fend off some wild animals.
Determine what kind of bikepacking you will be doing. For example, some people will be camping out and need a tent and camping supplies. Others will want to stay at hotels or hostels at their destination. Decide on the type of lodging you need to understand what needs to be packed.
Since you will be riding a bike, you should make sure to have what you need to ride safely. A helmet is essential and really non-negotiable especially if you plan to ride on rough terrain or in traffic. You should also have a repair kit to fix a flat tire or to fix things like your brakes or if a chain comes off. Luckily, there are kits available that contain everything you need in a small package.
How to pack
The way you pack is going to have a huge bearing on how well your trip goes. You could not pack enough in which case your trip is frustrating since you are not equipped for the challenges you face. Or, you could overpack and end up weighing yourself down and struggling to enjoy the trip.
There is also the fact that you have to pack in an organised way so that you are built for speed and efficiency. What that means is that you should have things broken down into categories so you can keep them separate. Have a backpack that contains your clothing and accessories that you will wear on your body. Some other bags should have camping or hiking equipment that you could put on panniers, for instance. Then, have the things you need for your bike somewhere else. This will prevent you from needing to break open and spread out all of your bags to find a specific thing.
Plan your route
Although it sounds like fun to be totally spontaneous and just ride where the winds take you, the smart way to go is to plan out your route well. This will prevent a lot of surprises that could derail your trip.
The idea is to know what to expect so you can plan out how things will go. You’ll get a lot more out of it this way. If you are planning to stay in hotels or hostels along the way then planning is essential. You have to make sure to book ahead and you have to know that you’ll arrive on time and in decent condition.
Even if you are camping you do have to think about where you will stop to pitch your tent. Doing this in pitch-black darkness is not fun so make sure you arrive when there is still enough light to set up a camp.
It also helps to have an idea of what weather to expect at that time of year. When you are starting to plan out your trip you will have to think about what conditions to expect. This will impact your travel and what you pack so it is best to understand this ahead of time.
The kind of bike you need
The type of bike will also heavily factor in how much you enjoy your trip. There isn’t a certain type that works for everybody. Rather, it is important to think about a few factors that will make it the best type for your needs.
A mountain bike is a logical choice for many but it depends on the type of terrain you will mainly be riding on. It’s great when you are on a trail as it has good suspension so it is comfortable to ride. However, if most of your route is on a paved road then this will not be as comfortable a ride and it could be more difficult to pedal.
For those that will be riding on different types of terrain, a hybrid mountain and street bike is going to work best. The key to whichever type of bike you get is that it should be lightweight and comfortable.
When you are properly outfitted for the type of conditions you’re likely to face then you will get a lot out of the experience. Bikepacking is a lot of fun and a great challenge but only when you are prepared for it.
Featured image: Marek Piwnicki/Unsplash