Going on your first bicycle tour can seem like a scary leap into the unknown. We’ll break it down and help you wrap your head around your first (or next!) bicycle tour with our bikepacking basics. Interested in a guided bike tour? Book one of our guided tours today!
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What is bikepacking?
Bikepacking is the combination of bicycling and backpacking. You take your bike and all the supplies you need and go on an adventure. Some folks like to divide bikepacking and bicycle touring (road bikepacking) into two different categories. Bikepacking tends to be off road and bicycle touring tends to be on-road. Here at Blaze Adventure tours we use the words interchangeably because at the end of the day, no matter what your rig looks like or what terrain you may be covering, you are on a kick-ass adventure. Plus, many of our trips have covered varied terrain.
Why do people bikepack and bicycle tour?
Simply put, bikepacking is the best way to see the world. Outside of a car or train you are able to really experience a trip. You can smell the trees, beaches, and deserts. You can feel the wind on your face and the sun on your neck. The sense of accomplishment each day as you summit the next peak or roll into camp is unparalled by conventional travel. On top of this you are able to travel significant distances that you could not cover on foot. As Dr. K.K. Doty so wisely put it, “Cyclists see considerably more of this beautiful world than any other class of citizens. A good bicycle, well applied, will cure most ills this flesh is heir to.” If you like cycling and travel, get on your bike and try a tour; you won’t regret it.
What kind of bike do I need?
Bicycle Touring can be done on almost any kind of bike. What bike you want to select is highly dependent on where you want to go. Looking for a back-country single track trip? You better have a more traditional bikepacking rig on a mountain bike. For a traditional bikepacking rig, frame and seat bags are most appropriate. Having the weight centered on the bike makes technical riding easier and safer. For a road touring bike setup, rear and front mounted panniers on a rack are the way to go. They offer plenty of room to pack your things and are usually brightly colored so cars can see you. We use Ortlieb panniers. They are sturdy, well made, and very waterproof.
How far do I have to go?
A bikepacking or bicycle touring trip only has one real requirement; you need to sleep out of your home overnight. Some elect to go for a weekend while others ride around the world for months or even years! The distance you cover often depends on the route, terrain, weight you carry, and fitness level of the rider(s). Most people try out bikepacking over a weekend and spend one or two nights out on the road.
How do I plan a route?
Planning a route is a key part of any good trip. Many times the route will make or break the trip. For the basics, check out our article on trip planning. You can find established routes online that can help you get started. We often hear from cyclists that the logistics of planning a trip (and carrying the baggage) is the biggest obstacle stopping them from trying bikepacking. The good news is that a guided tour takes care of all those details for you. You can join us on a beginner trip, a weekend romp, or an epic adventure and find out why bikepacking is the absolute coolest way to travel.
What do I pack?
From ultra-light to bringing the kitchen sink, there are many opinions on what to pack for a bicycle tour. While we do have the comprehensive bicycle touring gear list, you may not need ALL of that equipment for every trip. The basics are this: enough clothing to keep you warm (or cool), enough food to eat, spare parts and tools, a hygiene kit, and some emergency supplies such as a water filter and first aid. Depending on whether or not you’re camping you may also need a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. You don’t need any specific bikepacking clothing, but we do recommend at least two pairs of bike shorts to keep your rear end from getting too sore.
Hit the Road!
There you have it! Having read out bikepacking basics you should be ready to begin planning your adventure. If planning your own trip still sounds intimidating, we would love to have you join us on our guided tours. We also offer tour planning services through our “BeSpoke Tours.” Our experts are glad to help you plan and book your next trip!