Bikepacking: Going Long And Taking It With You- Part I

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new series on Bikepacking. Grannygear is setting up one of his personal rigs as a bikepacking rig. Here he takes us on his two wheeled adventure. Let’s join in………

If you have traveled the country side enough, especially in the summer months on the family vacation, etc, you likely have seen someone on a loaded touring bicycle pedaling along the highway. That vision typically looks more like the first pic than the second one. The average touring bike experience involves racks, panniers (saddle bags), and lots of stuff. Obviously the first pic shows an individual that is trying to be very self sufficient in a very uncertain environment, hence the spare tires, etc. But still, even the average touring bike can be pretty well buried in gear, and venturing off road with a bike like that is not an easy task. Singletrack? Maybe, but all that hangy-down and sticky-out stuff will be impaled, caught, bashed and pummeled into submission on a technical trail. Forget portaging. And, even if you could do it, and folks have of course, it would not be anywhere close to the free wheeling and fun experience that piloting a mountain bike down a great trail can be.

This is not bikepacking

This is not bikepacking

This is bikepacking

This is bikepacking

Bikepacking is all about less ‘stuff’, no racks, no panniers. Specially built softbags are used to carry a minimum amount of supplies and gear, and when combined with a large hydration pack or a small backpack, enable a radical transformation for the adventuring cyclist. Singletrack is still fun. The bike remains a nimble conveyance, not a beast of burden. The rewards of being lighter and sleeker are obvious. What are the downsides to this approach? Well, carrying less means having less: Less clothes, less kitchen-ware, perhaps less comfort. How much less is acceptable? Are we all supposed to camp on Tyvek sheets and pads of bubble wrap cut to fit our body shape like some crime scene chalk outline? Does bikepacking mean we travel like the Spartans on a road trip?

We are going to be taking a look at this relatively new approach to getting off road overnight on a bike. We will speak with a founder of the genre, see where he got his inspiration from, and get a bike fit for a set of custom bags. The adventure will continue as we get our gear set up, see what works and what does not, and take some overnighters under the stars.

Stay tuned. We are going bikepacking.



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