Bikepackers are a finicky customer to cater too. In addition to having all the wants and desires of traditional mountain bike consumers, we have additional needs that can sometimes overwhelm the neophyte demo tech or hungover pitch man. But as more and more cyclists decide to strap on bags and hit the trail, forward thinking companies with an eye on capturing their share of the market have attempted to up their game. We first noted this trend when Bikepackers Magazine reported from Interbike in Las Vegas last fall. We observed a growing number of bike manufacturers specifically marketing to bikepackers. We checked out custom bikes and bags being sold together and we got to briefly demo some 2015 rides. But that experience left us wondering “how accurately do the sales presentations and slick marketing schemes correlate with a bike’s real ride and actual potential for bikepacking adventures? What’s the truth with these rigs and what really works for a bikepacker looking to buy a new bike? Interested in exploring more, we traveled to Moab to shred as many demos as we could. In between laps at the Brand Trails, we spoke with company reps and tipped back frosty beverages with a plethora of folks. After many conversations, bike rides, product testing, and yes, more beer, we’re not sure we’ve answered our initial question – but three days of camping, riding and laughing in the Utah desert made for some fun evaluations.The most unique bike of the weekend was the Blackjack from Durango Bike Co. While it may not look like your traditional bikepacking rig, this bike has much more to offer then what the eye may see. The Blackjack is of the 29er platform variety, but it comes with a 148 rear spacing, which Sram just announced components for today. This feature allows you to swap your 27.5 plus wheels and will accommodate a 3.25″ tire. It essentially makes it a one bike quiver, for some. As I hopped over the bike, I was drawn to the drops and rough of the trail ahead, it simply ate up everything in my path. Where the bike did not excel as much was the climbs, but this is a trail bike, not a XC bike, so keep that in mind. Overall, this bike is ahead of its time, and should be very popular once it is in production later this year.The ASR Carbon does everything extremely well. This bike climbs like a beast, feels super in control on descents and is a monster when opening it up on the buff. We were all blown away by the stability and balance provided over variable trail conditions and the bike handles the ugliest of chunk like it’s no big thing. Unquestionably, this is the perfect all around bike for full suspension bikepacking applications. Remarkably, the ASR carbon instilled confidence and inspired higher speeds than any other bike ridden at Outerbike. “This bike has changed my perception about gender specific bikes. As a smaller female, I’ve always looked to ride woman’s specific models. The ASR Carbon has definitely proved me wrong!” A big price tag is the one challenge for this big time bike. The Ibis Ripley was a powerhouse for Moab XC riding. The Ripley may seem like “a lot of bike” for the average cross country rider, but when you are on it, it does not feel that way. It has speed and pop, and handles extremely well on varying singletrack. The interesting thing about the Ripley coming from a small frame rider, was that although it is a 29er, you feel as though you are riding in the bike, instead of feeling like you are on top of it. The downside to this bike for bikepacking would be the lack of solid frame space for a bag.The Helion Carbon by GT was another cross country style ride that was offered for demo at Outerbike this year. Although this bike was on the heavy side, the geo was on point for a small frame (rider size 5′ 5.5”). The biggest upside to this ride for bikepacking would be the sheer amount of frame space that the small frame offers for a full suspension bike. Typically as a small frame rider, it is extremely difficult to find a full suspension bike that can accommodate a custom frame bag worth carrying. With the design of the Helion and the low center of gravity rear suspension, you end up with a huge amount of frame space. The unique rear suspension design also gave the ride a smooth flow, killing two birds with one stone. More to come on the sights of Outerbike, stay tuned.