1. Bike It is important to make sure you are setting out on a bike that will suite the trails you are going to ride – whether it is a hardtail, full suspension, rigid, single speed, fat bike, 29+, road, etc. Be sure your bike is dialed – your suspension should be set for your weight, your gears and brakes should be working properly.  Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to have a bike that is on the lighter side, although it is not necessary. 2. Bags Will your frame fit a custom frame bag? If not, you can use saddle, handlebar, top tube bags as well as a backpack. How many bags you need for your trip is dependent on how much you want to bring, climate, and duration of your trip. 3. Trails Map out a route for your trip. Find a region you are interested in exploring and go for it. You can either do a loop or set up a shuttle. Your route can be either on road or singletrack. 4. Navigation There are a lot of elements that go along with navigation on route. This is because it is one of the most important aspects of bikepacking. First, choose if you want to use paper maps or GPS. If you are using a GPS, get used to using it weeks before hand so that you aren’t dealing with learning electronics on the trail, also so you don’t get lost.  If you want to free ball it – go for it. We would suggest you plan ahead for your re-supplies and water stops. Also, plan ahead for camping stops. Be aware of the land you are on – do not ride in wilderness areas or private property. 5. Realistic Goal For your first time bikepacking, set a realistic goal for yourself. Know your ability. You do not need to go 500 miles, an overnight is sometimes the best option.  
6. Knowledge of Basic Trailside Maintenance Do you know how to change a flat? Do you know how to fix a slashed sidewall? Broken chain? Broken derailleur? Learn the basics. 7. The Right Gear Be sure to choose the right clothing for your environment. On that note, bring sunscreen!  Ride the right tires for the terrain (easier said than done.) Pick your sleep system. Will you bring a full tent? A bivy? A hammock? You will be sitting on your ass for a long time – it is important that you choose the right saddle. Also, that you have a saddle that is broken in. Bikepacking often times includes a considerable amount of hike-a-bike (HAB) – it is important that you choose the right shoes. Your everyday cycling shoes or road bike shoes may not be the answer.  You may want to carry a SPOT device or other personal locating beacon for your safety. Lastly, batteries or alternatives means to charge your electronics. 8. Basic Camping Skills Know how to cook a meal in the wilderness. Be aware of surrounding wildlife. Use leave no trace principles while camping and pack out your trash. 9. Lights Although you may not plan to ride at night, always be prepared with at least a headlamp in case you must ride at night. It will also be helpful while camping. 10. Food Pack enough calories! Depending on your route and distance, you could be burning upwards of 10,000 calories a day. Plan your re-supply points for food based on what you are carrying and how far you a riding on a certain day.

One Comment

  1. Bonus Item: First Aid Skills. Check out a wilderness first aid course at REI or nols.edu. Can’t be too prepared.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *