Bikepacking is a unique and exciting way to explore the great outdoors. It combines the adventure of backpacking with the freedom of cycling, allowing you to cover greater distances and see more of the world around you. But with so many different types of bikes available, how do you choose the best one for your off-road bikepacking adventure? In this article, we’ll explore the key features and considerations to keep in mind when selecting the best bike for bikepacking off road.

Bikepacking is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, and it requires a reliable bike that can handle off-road terrain. Finding the best bike for bikepacking off road can seem daunting, but with the right information, it can be easier than you think! In this article, we will explore some of the top bikes for bikepacking off road and what makes them great. Whether you’re a seasoned bikepacker or just starting out, this guide will help you find the perfect bike for your next adventure.

Understanding Bikepacking

Before we dive into the specifics of bike selection, it’s important to understand what bikepacking is and why it’s so popular. At its core, bikepacking is a form of self-supported travel that involves carrying all of your gear on your bike as you cycle from place to place. This can include everything from your tent and sleeping bag to your food and clothing.

Bikepacking is an excellent way to explore the great outdoors, as it allows you to cover more ground than traditional backpacking while still experiencing the thrill of adventure and self-sufficiency. But in order to enjoy the full benefits of bikepacking, you need the right bike.

Key Features to Look for in a Bikepacking Bike

When selecting a bike for bikepacking off road, there are several key features to keep in mind. Here are some of the most important:

1. Frame Material

The material of your bike’s frame is one of the most important factors to consider when selecting a bike for bikepacking off road. Steel frames are durable and provide a smooth, comfortable ride, while aluminum frames are lighter and more affordable but can be less comfortable on rough terrain. Carbon fiber frames are the lightest and offer the most shock absorption, but they’re also the most expensive.

2. Tire Size and Type

The size and type of tires you choose for your bike are also crucial for off-road bikepacking adventures. Wider tires provide greater stability and traction on rough terrain, while narrower tires are faster and more efficient on smoother surfaces. Additionally, tubeless tires can prevent flats and reduce the weight of your bike.

3. Gearing

The gearing of your bike is another important consideration. You’ll want a bike with a wide range of gears to help you tackle steep hills and rough terrain. Look for bikes with at least 20 gears and a low gear ratio to make off-road climbs more manageable.

4. Brakes

When it comes to off-road bikepacking, you’ll want to have reliable brakes that can handle steep descents and sudden stops. Disc brakes are the most popular choice, as they provide greater stopping power and work well in wet and muddy conditions.

5. Mounting Points

Finally, you’ll want to look for a bike that has plenty of mounting points for your gear. This includes mounting points for racks, panniers, and water bottles, as well as frame bags and handlebar bags. The more mounting points your bike has, the more gear you’ll be able to carry with you on your adventure.

Types of Bikepacking Bikes

Now that we’ve covered the key features to look for in a bikepacking bike, let’s explore some of the different types of bikes available.

1. Mountain Bikes

Mountain bikes are a popular choice for off-road bikepacking adventures, as they’re designed to handle rough terrain and steep climbs. They typically have wider tires, suspension systems, and a more upright riding position, which can make them more comfortable on longer rides. However, they can also be heavier and less efficient than other types of bikes.

2. Gravel Bikes

Gravel bikes are a newer type of bike that’s designed for off-road cycling on gravel roads and dirt paths. They’re similar to road bikes but have wider tires, more relaxed geometry, and greater clearance for mud and debris. Gravel bikes are a good choice for bikepacking off road, as they offer a good balance of speed and stability.

3. Touring Bikes

Touring bikes are designed for long-distance cycling and are well-suited for bikepacking adventures. They typically have a more relaxed geometry, wider tires, and plenty of mounting points for gear. However, they can be heavier and less maneuverable than other types of bikes.

FAQs – Best Bike for Bikepacking Off Road

What should I consider when looking for the best bike for off-road bikepacking?

When searching for the best bike for off-road bikepacking, one should consider several factors, such as the terrain, distance, and weather conditions. An ideal bike for off-road bikepacking should have wide tires with sturdy tread patterns to handle the rough terrain, a strong frame to carry the added weight of supplies, and a comfortable saddle to reduce fatigue on longer rides. Additionally, the bike should have a good suspension system to absorb vibrations and shock. When considering a bike, also consider the size and the adjust-ability of the frame to ensure a proper fit.

What type of bike is ideal for off-road bikepacking?

While it varies according to personal preferences and terrain, a good bike for off-road bikepacking would be a mountain bike, a fat bike, or a gravel bike. A mountain bike is versatile and can handle almost any terrain, while fat bikes have wide tires that provide excellent traction in any conditions, whether snow, sand, or mud. And a gravel bike offers a comfortable and smooth ride and is a suitable option for those looking for an adventure but with less technical difficulty.

What is the importance of a good suspension system for an off-road bikepacking bike?

There are a few reasons why a good suspension system is essential for an off-road bikepacking bike. Firstly, it smooths out the ride, reducing fatigue and making long journeys more comfortable. Secondly, a good suspension system helps maintain tire contact with the ground, improving traction, and handling on uneven and rough terrain. Moreover, it helps protect the rider from bumps and vibrations, reducing the risk of injury or damage to the bike itself.

Is it necessary to have a specific kind of seat for an off-road bikepacking bike?

Yes, it is crucial to have a suitable saddle for an off-road bikepacking bike. The ideal seat should be comfortable over long distances and rugged terrain, preventing soreness and pain. It should also be durable and designed to handle the rigors of off-road biking. Several types of saddles are specifically designed for off-road biking, such as those that have a wider shape and extra padding to ensure greater comfort, just like those in the Brooks B17 or the WTB Volt models.

How much should I expect to pay for a good off-road bikepacking bike?

The price of an off-road bikepacking bike can vary depending on several factors such as the material, brand, and features of the bike. In general, it’s likely that you will pay anywhere from $1,500 to $5,000. However, keep in mind that you can always get second-hand or refurbished bikes at a lower price. It is essential to invest in a good quality bike since it will considerably impact your safety and enjoyment of the trip.


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.