It might still be soggy under your tyres, but summer will be here before you know it. Formulate a plan now and make this the year you see as much of the world as possible. Pack light and travel far with the latest bikepacking gear, and you'll make unlocking the wilderness a lot easier. So from rationalising what to pack to working out how to carry it, read on for our compact guide to escaping by bicycle.
Understanding bikepacking bags
Bikepacking bags strap directly to the bicycle without the need for racks or mounts. Generally consisting of three parts, a saddle pack, frame bag, and handlebar roll, each is suited to carrying different items. Light and compact, they work best with similarly minimalist camping gear.
Restrap's waterproof saddle packs come in various sizes. Allowing you to pick how much space you need, larger versions feature a separate holster and drybag. Allowing you to easily detach your luggage from the bicycle, the smaller versions benefit from being incredibly light. Often the largest of a rider's three bags, saddle packs are an ideal home for medium weight items like cooking equipment, food, or the fabric parts of your tent.
Magnetic straps and attachments make Restrap's bar bag extremely quick to attach. Sitting atop a military-grade Cordura drybag, the system's holster includes Fidlock mounts for a removable stash pouch. A perfect place to keep snacks or other articles you want quickly to hand, it will also save you having to rummage through the rest of your items. In general, bar bags are ideal for carrying light but bulky items like sleeping bags, mats, or warm clothing.
At the heart of any tripartite bikepacking system, a frame bag is also a great item to use alone. In common with its peers, Restrap's frame bag does very little to affect the handling or aerodynamics of your bicycle. Also having the benefit of being the easiest to access of the three most commonly used styles of bikepacking bag, it's also fantastically useful on shorter rides and makes a great place to keep tools, tent poles, or emergency rations.
How to be successful at bikepacking
Pack light and you'll go further and have more fun. If riding as a group, start by coordinating to ensure you're not duplicating items. Then go through your kit list and remove anything you can do without. Tailor your cull to the route and conditions. Do you need food and cooking gear, or will you be able to forage scraps from cafes and pubs? Is the weather sure to be warm, or will you need extra socks? Decide and chop accordingly.
Choose the right gear
A down sleeping bag is pretty much essential for bikepacking as anything synthetic is unlikely to cram down small enough to carry. When searching for one, pay attention to the temperature rating and look out for models that use ethically sourced down. We particularly like this Robens Serac 300 sleeping bag which is comfortable down to 2°C, a feature we've tested more often than we'd have liked.
Yes, sleeping out under the stars in a bivvy bag makes you tough. Still, a tent doesn't weigh much once split up and divvied out. Providing insurance against unexpected weather, we're not alone in our love of the MSR Hubba Hubba. Still, that doesn't mean it's any less fantastic. Light, relatively spacious, and very strong, experience tells us this two-person model will just about fit three, assuming you're prepared to cuddle up.
Helping you shake off a fuzzy head come morning, coffee is crucial to starting the day on the right foot. The espresso blend from Workshop coffee provides a suitably delicious and compact caffeine.
Don't forget the map
A GPS is all well and good, but what are you going to do when the battery runs out? A more reliable and charming alternative is a combination of the relevant OS map and a Cicerone guide to add a bit of local colour.
Attach a mug to the back of your bike
Are you even bikepacking if you don't have an enamel mug dangling raffishly off your saddlebag? This model fits the bill nicely…
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