Over the past couple of years you have most likely read a bikepacking trip report, watched a bikepacking video, or seen bikepacking gear reviews while trolling your social media. Perhaps you have visited your local bike shop and seen a bikepacking kit strapped to an adventure-ready rig. We’re willing to bet that many of you who are reading this have never been bikepacking – well, there is no better time than now.

2016 will be the year where you will load a backpack up with your tent and camping essentials, and head out on an overnighter. Maybe you will plan an elaborate trip with your local riding crew, or even buy a plane ticket to take part in one of the many bikepacking events that are happening across the world. If you are still on the fence, we have compiled a list of reasons to entice you to ride outside the box and go bikepacking.

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1. It is really fun, honestly. The first and number one reason we do recreational activities is because we enjoy them, and bikepacking is no different. You will experience some highs and lows, you will challenge yourself both mentally and physically, but you will end the experience feeling extremely accomplished. Biking from camp site to camp site, whether you have an itinerary or not, is simply awesome!

2. Bikepacking Events. Between group rides, bikepacking primers, seminars and races, bikepacking does not have to be done alone. Many local and regional groups have put together annual bikepacking trips, and I’m sure they would love for you to join. Those same people are putting on info sessions in local bike shops to give you the 411 on bikepacking. With the rapid growth of the sport, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the community.

Brendan and Mary Collier speaking to racers before the 2015 Stagecoach 400.
Brendan and Mary Collier speaking to racers before the 2015 Stagecoach 400.

3. Bikepacking Races. Imagine this, you line up with a bunch of like-minded individuals, some of them you know, and others you don’t. You all take off together with the same GPX file and follow the same route. You ride hard, fast, slow, or mellow, but you will likely ride with someone during the day, maybe even throughout your whole ride. You eat burgers and fries, have beers, and some how get back on your bike.  You fall asleep with the stars as your evening canopy. You wake up and do it again. These events are supposed to test your limits. You are trying to get from A to B as fast as you can – but in the end it is your own ride, and your own life-changing experience.

4. Meet new cyclists. Some of you may have friends that bikepack, others may not. In fact, a lot of people refrain from getting started with bikepacking because they don’t want to go alone. Contact your local mountain bike club, or use your online resources such as local bikepacking Facebook groups. You won’t know who your next adventure companion will be unless you branch out.

 A sloppy day turned to sunshine and rainbows. Something you can expect on your bikepacking trip.

A sloppy day turned to sunshine and rainbows. Something you can expect on your bikepacking trip.

5. Bring the adventure out in you. We have said it before, the body is capable of so much more than you think. The hard part is getting motivated. Many of you have experience with riding all day, perhaps on road or dirt. Bikepacking does not need to be an all day excursion, start short and and work on the overnight aspect. After your first night out, you will be longing for more adventure on your next ride.

6. Use that camping gear. Most people that consider bikepacking either love mountain biking and want to expand their long rides with overnighters. Others already have some adventure experience, whether it be backpacking or camping. So if you already have some of the gear why not put it to use and combine a couple of your favorite hobbies.

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7. You already have a bike. Similar to camping gear, most of you already have a bike ready to go on a bikepacking trip. The bike you have will likely do the trick, whether it is an enduro bike, hardtail or something in-between. There is no wrong bike for bikepacking.

8. Support small business. There are over fifty bikepacking bag manufactures on our bikepacking index page. Many of them are one-person businesses that produce quality bike luggage for off road travel. Better yet, you can find many of these companies locally in your state or region. Buying from them will stimulate your local economy. These people are the bread and butter of the bikepacking industry, show them some love. 

Get that map out and go play!
Get that map out and go play!

9. Route availability. There is a large number of bikepacking routes available with ample information to make your trip planning seamless. Put them to use. These routes have been developed by locals and enthusiasts, and vary in difficulty and distance. If you are looking for more spontaneity there is likely a route close to home that you can make up with a topo map and a little bit of planning.

10. You are getting older. At your wise age you may feel like you are too old to start something new, but bikepacking is for everyone. Cycling is not necessarily a sport of the youth, nor is bikepacking. So don’t use that as an excuse – 2016 is the year to get started.

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5 Comments

  1. Can’t wait to try bikepacking hopefully this summer or the next!

  2. Great thoughts and ideas to inspire for this year.

  3. Bikepacking so far has filled a void for me. When my wife and I decided to start a family I knew that my days of XC racing were coming to an end. So for almost a year I really had no focus to my riding and I lost a lot of my edge. Then I found bikepacking. It is a sport within a sport that becomes what you make it. Instead of spending every weekend at a race I take a few bikepacking trips a year. There is a whole different mindset to this side of the sport. Heading off into the unknown, out of contact, with only the things that you can carry bring new light into what I am capable of achieving. No longer is the focus purely on just how fast I can get there but instead how far can I go, how hard can I push and be able to do it day after day for 100’s of miles. Instead of riding lap upon lap I can cover a sometimes a whole state seeing the beauty it has to offer. So far it’s really opened my eyes to where I want my mountain bike to take me.

    • I couldn’t have said it better myself Jason. I started doing endurance XC races to get the most from my time away from my family and slowly added bikepacking bags onto my rig for the races (to keep going without stopping in the pits) until I started focusing primarily upon bikepacking trips. With family time being precious, its nice to see my 6 and 8 year old sons asking when we can do a trip together. Soon, I tell them. Sooner than I think.

  4. How many times have I tried to convince myself that bikepacking is not right for me? A lot, it seems. But fresh out of college, I know that bikepacking is the outlet for my independence and drive and love of nature. I have never done a trip and am planning a year trip after I graduate. Cheers!

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