Bikepacking Basics for Dummies

‘What in the world is bikepacking?’ This may be you first thought after hearing the mashed-up name of this new outdoor activity. But the name doesn’t lie- it truly is a combination of backpacking and mountain biking, plus so much more. A bikepacker combines the minimalist camping style of one who backpacks through terrain while camping, but does so on a mountain bike, opening up new terrain and further distances than previously achievable on foot.

How do I bikepack?

This may be your next question. says that the best bike for bikepacking is the one you already have. If you have a mountain bike that you find comfortable, then that’s your best bet to use while bikepacking. The sport requires long hours in the saddle, so comfort is key. You also may need small packs that you can attach under the seat and handlebars, along with water bottle cages so that your back doesn’t take all of the pressure from your gear. You’ll also need the same things you would need for backpacking: a light tent, food supply, lightweight but protective clothes and appropriate footwear for both biking and the terrain.

What variety is there to Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is as diverse as its backpacking cousin, with every trip made by the adventurer to their own tastes. But generally speaking, bikebacking can be divided into two groups: multi-day mountain bikepacking, and expedition and dirt touring. Multi-day mountain bikepacking is the classic version: just light gear, a mountain bike, and a trail chosen by the bikepacker. These expeditions can be a 40 mile, sub-24 hour spin, or a multi-week tour of thousands of miles. Expedition and dirt touring is the more extreme version. Typically they are done overseas on remote and more difficult terrain, allowing the bikepacker to get to the heart of wild spaces much faster than traditional backpacking.

Now that you know something more about bikepacking, it’s time to get out there and do it! is a great reference for newcomers on routes, gear, and general advice on how to enter the bikepacking world. This extreme sport just provides another way the modern explorer can get out there and experience the wildness of the mountain.

by Laurence Fox Hopper