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Bikepacking essentials

Bikepacking essentials

If you fancy a holiday that combines camping, a bit of adventure and bikes, then bikepacking might be exactly what you're looking for. It doesn't have to combine all those things, of course (although bikes are a bit of an essential) because bikepacking can take whatever shape you want it to. Either way, if you're thinking of going all in for a bikepacking hoilday, here are a few things you'll need to think about. 

Frame bags/Panniers

Sure, backpacks are great, but have you ever tried riding a bike with a bag on your back for hours? It’s not all that much fun and can be a one-way ticket to back pain if you try and carry too much. That’s why frame bags are pretty much essential for any bikepacking trip. You have to pedal the bike, so why not let the bike do the carrying too?

Bags come in a host of different varieties, from those that fit into the main triangle of the frame to others that hang from the bars, are mounted on the seatpost or even small ones that sit on the top tube. Before you buy any, though, make sure that your frame/finishing kit (that’s bars, stem, seatpost, etc) are rated to carry extra weight. The last thing you want to do is damage the bike by hanging too much weight from it. This likely won’t be an issue with a steel bike, but if you’re using a carbon one then definitely check. 

The other thing you’ll want to do is make sure that those bags are waterproof, especially if you’re bikepacking in the UK. Even with mudguards, riding in the rain can thoroughly soak everything through and you really don’t want to get where your heading and find that everything you’ve brought is sodden. 

Both Pro and Madison offer a range of bags for your bike/frame, and remember that panniers can be just as helpful (and even more so if you’re taking a lot of stuff as they generally have a larger capacity than frame bags). Make the bike do the work, not your back. 

Spare tyres, tubes or a Dynaplug

The number one way to ruin any bike-related holiday is by failing to prepare for punctures. Despite what many non-cyclists think, punctures don’t actually happen all that often but when they do  you can be sure it’s a bad time (not that there’s ever a good time for a puncture, but we’ve changed more in the rain than seems reasonable or fair). 

If you’re off on a genuinely multi-day adventure, it’s sensible to have a whole variety of puncture rectification mechanisms with you whether that’s spare tyres, spare inner tubes, tubeless repair systems or anything else you can think of. 

Spare tyres make sense, because it’s the punctures that can’t be repaired that’ll hit you hardest and for that you’ll need to change the tyre. 

Inner tubes essentially depend on whether you’re running your tyres tubeless or not, but the pessimists among you (aka the sensible people) might want to chuck an inner tube or two in with the rest of their stuff regardless because it’s always wise to have a contingency plan. 

If you are planning on running tubeless, taking some kit of portable inflator makes sense because seating a tubeless tyre without the right tools is something that’s probably not going to happen. The milKit Booster is perfect as it fits in a bottle cage and can be charged up whenever you need it. The essential bit of kit for tubeless, though, is the Dynaplug repair system. They come in a few different varieties, but Dynaplug is basically a tool that uses viscoelastic cores to plug holes in your tubeless tyres and let you carry on riding. It's quick, simple and effective. 

You absolutely do not need anywhere near this many tool for bikepacking. Don't worry.

Tools

Right up there with puncture spares, tools are absolutely essential for almost any bike ride. Make sure you have tools for every thing your bike needs. That means having the right hex or torx keys for every single bolt on your bike, even the ones you think are never going to need adjustment. To be fair, that’s probably only about four different tools, but still. 

Tyre levers are another good shout, because not everybody has the knack - or the hand power - to remove and remount tyres using their bare hands (especially if you’re tired). Another absolute essential is a chain tool, whether that’s as part of a multitool or a standalone device. Even worse than punctures, a broken chain is a real day wrecker and if you don’t have the right stuff to fix it then it’s a long walk to wherever you’re heading. Make sure you practise using that tool, though, you don’t want the first time you use it to be when the pressure’s on to fix that chain.

Cooking and eating equipment

This one is entirely dependent on how you want to do your bikepacking trip, but if you’re planning on camping then you’ll probably want to eat and, chances are, you’re going to want something hot at some point. 

As well as a portable stove you’ll need some kind of utensils, a plate, a mug and whatnot. LifeVenture specialise in kit like that and everything is made from titanium so it’s both strong and lightweight. But they also havea  range of plastic kit if you fancy something a little less fancy but a little more cost effective. 

Portable charger

If you want to go bikepacking and leave your phone and the World behind, then that’s fair enough and we respect that (although a phone is great for emergencies so maybe just leave it turned off). But if you don’t - or if you have other things that might need charging, a portable charger is a must. 

They come in a variety of sizes and capacities, but Outdoor Tech have a whole variety of them - including the Turtle Shell, a portable speaker that also works as a charging bank if you fancy a trip with an added soundtrack. Outdoor Tech's kit is waterproof, too, which makes it perfect for using outside (something that you may have guessed from their name). 

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