Updated: Jul 21
Now there’s a reason that ‘Bikepacking’ and ‘Backpacking’ are very similar words. You can see where I’m going with this right…?
Bikepacking to me is this: The ability to travel by bike whilst carrying your shelter, clothes, food and water, and any technology or mechanical items you feel you need to ensure your trip will be able to continue should unforeseen circumstances occur.
Now don’t get me wrong, having a huge crash and snapping your frame is going to bring your Bikepacking adventure to a fairly abrupt ending. I like to carry quite a bit with me but even I’m not equipped with a spare bike!
Quick question! Do you like the following – Cycling? Camping? Exploring? If the answer is yes then there’s a good chance that Bikepacking might be exactly what you’re looking for. If the answer is no you’ve done well to read this far!
Bikepacking can be an overnight trip for one to a scenic spot you’ve wanted to visit for a while, it can be a weekend away for a group of friends who want to explore a new area, it can be a multi-day / multi-week trip across a country, it can even be a ‘leave it all behind’ around the world adventure.
This is the joy of Bikepacking right here. Having the ability to travel at a speed far quicker than walking / hiking and still get to the lesser known areas to see nature at it’s finest. Could you do all of the above with a big Backpack and a decent pair of boots? Yes. Could you see as many places on the same time scale? No. The fact that the bike is taking the strain of all your bags is also a massive factor to consider.
Bikes have gears to help you when you’re loaded up. Last time I checked my back and legs were the same as they’ve always been!
Bikepacking in my world has allowed me to keep my passion for cycling at a time in my life where I had to leave behind other areas of my cycling. No more Zwift training plans and no disappearing on my fancy road bike whenever I got the urge. I still have road rides now and again, I commute to work on my bike and take a slightly longer route than needed to keep the legs fresh, but the KOM hunting, suffer loving, cyclist that I once was has taken a back seat.
Now I’m on the smaller end of the Bikepacking spectrum at present (I have plans!) where I tend to plan a night or two away, clear the date in the diary with my wife so we can sort childcare etc, and then spend the week before my trip getting all excited as I lay all my gear out in the garage and start arranging it as neatly as I can into my Ortlieb bags. It’s like Christmas for me. That level of planning and organisation so that when the time comes to saddle up I know I’m prepared, I know where I’m going (well Komoot does…), and I know that barring some sort of mini disaster I’m going to finish my day somewhere quiet, peaceful, ideally with a view, and tuck into whatever food I’ve picked up en route or whatever I’ve brought along to cook.
Home Sweet Home
If anything described above has given you that little spark of an idea, a little tickle in your gut where your inner explorer has reared its head, or you’ve remembered a lovely little location you’ve heard about then my advice is this – make a plan. Nothing crazy, nothing that requires you to remortgage your house, just a little plan containing the following details:
Where am I going?
How am I getting there?
When am I going?
What will I need?
What don’t I need?
Simple. This list obviously needs breaking down as there’s a lot of subsections to each point. However, over the coming days / weeks I’ll be posting about each of these points and breaking them down into bitesize chunks in an effort to get you a step closer to saddling up and starting your first Bikepacking adventure.
A great Bikepacking trip doesn’t happen without a plan, at least not in my mind. There’s plenty to do before that first pedal stroke but getting everything in order will do two things: Put your mind at ease about the ‘what ifs’ and it will allow you to enjoy the journey. Pitching up camp and settling down for the night is awesome but it’s the journey and the route that got you there that you’ll really remember.
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