Bikepacking is a thrilling outdoor activity that combines the freedom and simplicity of bike travel with the adventure of camping. It involves carrying your camping equipment and provisions on your bike, and often involves riding off-road in remote areas, making it an immersive way to explore the great outdoors. But with limited space and weight capacity on your bike, packing the right essentials is crucial. In this article, we’ll take a look at what to take bikepacking, so you can be sure you have everything you need for a safe and enjoyable trip.

Preparing for Your Adventure

What is Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a combination of cycling and camping. It involves carrying all the necessary gear and supplies on your bike, allowing you to travel long distances while exploring the great outdoors. Bikepacking can be a challenging but rewarding experience, providing a unique way to connect with nature and push your physical limits.

Choosing the Right Bike

When selecting a bike for bikepacking, it’s important to consider the terrain and distance of your journey. A sturdy, durable bike with wide tires and a comfortable saddle is ideal for off-road adventures. Make sure your bike is properly fitted and that you have the right gear ratios for the terrain you’ll be covering.

Essential Gear

When packing for a bikepacking trip, it’s important to pack light but also include all the necessary gear to ensure your safety and comfort. Here are some essential items to consider:

  • Tent or bivy sack
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Stove and cooking utensils
  • Water filtration system
  • First aid kit
  • Navigation tools (map, compass, GPS)
  • Bike repair kit (extra tubes, tire levers, pump, multi-tool)
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Warm and waterproof clothing
  • Food and snacks

Packing Your Bags

Bikepacking is a unique way to connect with nature and challenge oneself through a combination of cycling and camping. Choosing the right bike, packing essential gear strategically, and prioritizing safety are all key factors in a successful bikepacking trip. Staying fueled and hydrated, properly navigating, and organizing gear are important considerations for a rewarding experience. Overall, bikepacking offers adventure and exploration in the great outdoors for those willing to push their physical limits.

Choosing a Pack

When selecting a pack for your bikepacking trip, it’s important to consider the size and weight capacity of the pack. A frame bag, handlebar bag, seat bag, and top tube bag are all great options for distributing weight evenly on your bike.

Organizing Your Gear

To ensure your gear is easily accessible and organized, it’s important to pack strategically. Use compression sacks to condense bulky items like sleeping bags and clothing. Keep frequently used items like snacks and water bottles within easy reach. And use waterproof stuff sacks or dry bags to protect your gear from the elements.

Packing Tips

When packing for a bikepacking trip, it’s important to keep weight distribution in mind. Pack heavier items towards the bottom of your bags to keep your center of gravity low. And make sure your bags are securely fastened to your bike to prevent any shifting or bouncing during your ride.

On the Road

Safety First

When bikepacking, safety should always be your top priority. Make sure you have a well-stocked first aid kit and know basic bike repair skills. Wear a helmet and reflective clothing to increase your visibility to other cyclists and motorists.


Navigating during a bikepacking trip can be challenging, especially in unfamiliar territory. Always carry a map, compass, and GPS device, and familiarize yourself with the route before setting out. And don’t be afraid to ask locals for directions or advice.

Food and Water

Staying properly fueled and hydrated is crucial during a bikepacking trip. Make sure to carry plenty of water and a water filtration system to refill along the way. Pack high-energy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars, and plan your meals ahead of time to ensure a balanced and nutritious diet.

FAQs – What to Take Bikepacking

What are the essential items to bring for bikepacking?

There are several items that you should consider essential for any bikepacking trip. These include a bike, helmet, tent or shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove, cooking utensils, water filter or purifier, spare inner tubes, patch kit, first aid kit, navigation tools, and appropriate clothing.

How much should I pack for a bikepacking trip?

When it comes to packing for a bikepacking trip, less is often more; the less weight you carry, the more enjoyable the trip will be. It’s recommended that you aim for a total weight between 20-40 pounds, including water and food. Make sure to prioritize essentials like shelter, sleeping gear, food, and water. Consider packing multi-use items to save weight, such as a bandana that can be used as a towel, sun protection, or a pot holder.

How do I pack my gear on my bike?

When packing gear on your bike, proper weight distribution is crucial for comfortable riding and improved handling. The majority of the weight should be on the front and back of the bike, with the heaviest items closest to the bike’s center of gravity. You can use bikepacking-specific bags that attach to the handlebars, frame, and seat post, but dry bags and compression sacks are also effective. Keep the items you’ll need easy to access, such as snacks and a rain jacket, in a top-tube bag or handlebar bag.

What type of food should I bring?

When packing food for a bikepacking trip, consider bringing non-perishable options that are easy to prepare and high in calories. Trail mix, energy bars, and jerky make for great snacks while nut butter, pasta, and soups are quick and easy meal options. Don’t forget to pack food that meets your dietary restrictions or preferences. Consider the time and resources required to cook and prepare your meals, as it can be challenging to find reliable cooking sources in remote locations.

What type of shelter is best for bikepacking?

Choosing the right shelter for your bikepacking trip depends on personal preference and the type of terrain and weather conditions you’ll encounter. Common options include tents, tarps, or bivy shelters. Tents offer the most protection from the elements with the added benefit of privacy, while tarps or bivy shelters are lighter and more compact for easier packing. Make sure to choose a shelter that is appropriate for the climate you’ll be traveling in and that fits your budget and space constraints.


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.