Gravel bikes have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more and more cyclists have discovered the joy of off-road riding. One of the many ways in which people are using these versatile machines is for bikepacking – the art of combining cycling and camping to create a unique and adventurous way> of traveling. In this article, we will explore whether or not gravel bikes are a good choice for bikepacking, and what advantages and disadvantages they offer over other types of bicycles.

Understanding Bikepacking

Bikepacking is an adventurous way of traveling long distances with a bicycle, carrying all the necessary gear and supplies on the bike itself. It’s an excellent way to explore the outdoors and nature while also keeping fit and healthy. The concept of bikepacking has been around for a long time, but it has gained more popularity in recent years.

Bikepacking can be done on any type of bike, but there are specific bikes designed explicitly for bikepacking, such as gravel bikes. Gravel bikes have become increasingly popular among bikepackers due to their versatility and ability to handle challenging terrain. But the question remains, are gravel bikes good for bikepacking?

The Benefits of Gravel Bikes for Bikepacking

Gravel bikes are designed to handle a wide range of terrain, from smooth roads to rough and rocky trails. They are built with wider tires, which provide more stability and grip on uneven surfaces. This makes them an excellent choice for bikepacking, as they can handle different types of terrain and conditions.

Gravel bikes also have a more relaxed frame geometry, which makes them more comfortable to ride over long distances. This is essential for bikepacking, where riders spend hours on the bike carrying heavy loads. The relaxed geometry helps reduce fatigue and allows riders to ride for longer periods without getting tired quickly.

Gravel bikes also have more mounting points for racks and bags, which is crucial for bikepackers. These mounting points allow riders to carry all the necessary gear and supplies for their adventure, such as tents, sleeping bags, food, and water. This means riders can travel long distances without worrying about running out of supplies or having to carry extra weight on their backs.

The Drawbacks of Gravel Bikes for Bikepacking

While gravel bikes have many benefits for bikepacking, they also have some drawbacks. One of the main drawbacks of gravel bikes is their weight. Gravel bikes are heavier than other types of bikes, and this can make them more challenging to ride, especially on steep climbs.

Another drawback of gravel bikes is their limited speed. Gravel bikes are not designed for speed, and they can be slower than other types of bikes, such as road bikes. This can be frustrating for riders who want to cover long distances quickly.

Gravel bikes also have narrower tires than mountain bikes, which can make them less stable on rough terrain. This means riders need to be more careful when riding on rocky or uneven surfaces, as they can be more prone to accidents and falls.

FAQs – Are Gravel Bikes Good for Bikepacking

What is a gravel bike?

A gravel bike, also known as an adventure bike, is a versatile bike designed to tackle various terrain types, ranging from unpaved roads, loose gravel, and even singletrack trails. These bikes have wider tires, a more relaxed frame geometry, and additional mounting points that allow for hauling extra gear during long rides.

Can I use a gravel bike for bikepacking?

Yes, gravel bikes are a great option for bikepacking. They are ideal for long-distance adventures on mixed terrain types, such as rough roads, gravel paths, and dirt trails. Gravel bikes are designed to handle the rigors of bikepacking and offer additional features, such as multiple mounting points for extra gear, which makes them perfect for multi-day trips.

What are some benefits of using a gravel bike for bikepacking?

Gravel bikes offer several advantages for bikepacking, especially if you plan to ride on mixed terrain. They are equipped with wider tires that provide more traction and stability on rough roads and trails. Moreover, the relaxed frame geometry and comfortable handlebars allow you to maintain an upright position, reducing fatigue on longer rides. The additional mounting points also offer more storage options, which is essential for carrying camping gear, food, and water.

Can I customize my gravel bike for bikepacking?

Yes, many gravel bikes are highly customizable, allowing you to personalize them to meet your specific needs for bikepacking. Some popular modifications include adding a rack and panniers for additional storage, installing fenders to protect against mud and debris, and changing the tires to suit your terrain needs. Moreover, many bike manufacturers offer various frame sizes, allowing you to choose the correct size that fits your body type and preferences.

Are there any downsides to using a gravel bike for bikepacking?

One possible downside to using a gravel bike for bikepacking is that they are not designed for high-speed racing or aggressive riding on technical terrain. Although they can handle some trails, they are not as capable as a mountain bike. Additionally, gravel bikes may be heavier than road bikes due to their extra features and may present a challenge if you need to carry the bike over rough terrain.


By Frank

Frank Thompson, a seasoned cyclist and bike aficionado, has been passionate about all things bicycle-related since his childhood. Born and raised in the beautiful Seattle, Frank has spent countless hours exploring the winding trails, scenic roads, and vibrant urban landscapes on two wheels. With over 20 years of experience in the cycling world, Frank has garnered an extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics, maintenance, and customization. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Frank pursued a career in the bicycle industry, working with renowned bike manufacturers and local bike shops. His expertise led him to become a sought-after consultant for professional cyclists, weekend warriors, and bike enthusiasts alike. Throughout the years, he has also volunteered with various cycling advocacy groups, promoting safe and accessible cycling infrastructure in the community. Frank's passion for cycling extends beyond his professional life, as he has participated in numerous local and international bike races and charity events. His love for adventure has taken him on several memorable cycling expeditions, from the breathtaking mountain trails of the Rockies to the picturesque coastal roads of the Mediterranean. As a valued contributor to West Seattle Cyclery, Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with our readers through informative articles, how-to guides, and gear reviews. Always eager to help fellow cyclists, Frank is dedicated to making the world of cycling more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. When he's not busy tinkering with bikes or writing for the blog, you can find him exploring new routes, coaching beginner cyclists, or spending quality time with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Buddy.