How to build the perfect bikepacking for your adventure?

by Rsscsports

How to build the perfect bikepacking for your adventure?

Bikepacking is an incredible way to explore the world. Simply pack up all your essentials on a bike and go.

If you are planning a bikepacking adventure or upgrading an existing bikepacking setup, these factors should be kept in mind when making decisions about building or upgrading.

What bicycle do I need for bikepacking?

Every bike can be converted to serve as a bikepacking bike.

Bikepacking's greatest strength lies in its adaptability: any time you are about to set out on an expedition, bikepacking bags can be attached securely onto just about anything in preparation.

Specific features and choices on a bike, such as its geometry or selection of tires and components, can make it more suitable for multi-day tours.

Though some bikes were built specifically with bikepacking in mind, such as offering multiple mounting points for luggage, with just a bit of modification you can adapt your existing bicycle for use during bikepacking rides.

Tyres and Tyres

Why start here? Tyres will play an integral part of your bikepacking experience just as they would for gravel biking or mountain biking.

Your bike type will have an impactful influence on what tyres you select for it. Modern road bikes have clearance for 32mm tires; larger diameter tyres may be found on endurance or all-road bicycles with additional clearance, but for truly luxurious rubber you will require either mountain or gravel bikes.

Your ideal shoe should be durable, puncture-proof and provide suitable grip in all terrain conditions.

Off-road bikepacking can be best undertaken using tubeless tyres to lower the risk of punctures from sharp objects like thorns and stones.

Tubeless tires may still puncture, causing punctures known as snakebites.

Our guide of the best road tyres will help you avoid punctures on your bikepacking adventure.

Gravel bike tyres with wider tread patterns tend to be the top pick for multi-terrain biking, providing comfort with off-road traction and decent speed. Their increased volume also means lower pressure settings - this feature comes especially handy if you plan to spend long days riding your bicycle!

Consider both weather and trail conditions when planning your route. In summertime, for instance, even roads and trails that appear dry can turn into rivers during a thunderstorm.

Fit and Geometry

Bikepacking bikes typically feature an upright riding position compared to race bikes.

This should provide greater comfort on long rides by positioning the rider more upright.

Longer wheelbases with wider, slacker head tubes will help avoid toe overlap on rough terrain and give a more stable feel, particularly when loaded down with bags for bikepacking.

When planning a bikepacking journey where comfort takes precedence over speed, adjusting your bike position to provide for optimal riding can be crucial to its success. Most commonly this can be accomplished by raising your handlebar height.

Handlebars, cockpit and cabin

Riders who spend long hours in the saddle require comfortable hands, wrists, shoulders and necks in order to ride safely.

Some ultra-endurance cyclists use clip-on aerobars for additional hand positions and comfort reduction, thus helping avoid discomfort during their rides.

Bikepacking can also make use of handlebars with striped patterns and wider drops than tops. This provides more stability while descending and also gives more room between the bars for storage of bikepacking bags.

If your bike features flat bars, changing their shape or adding additional hand positions may be worth exploring.

Search for flat handlebars with greater sweep to place your wrists in an ergonomic and upright position, providing more comfort while creating space for handlebar bags.

The Jones H-Bar is an adjustable handlebar designed with various shapes to allow for multiple hand positions and mounting options for bags, lights, GPS bike computers and light bars.

Nitto or Velo Orange handlebar accessory mounts may provide more mounting space.

Bar ends are an effective way of increasing hand positions on flat bars, whether bought individually or integrated into ergonomic grips like those from Ergon.

Mounts Galore

Frame and fork mounting systems have become the latest trend, making it easy to add racks, bags, or cargo cages onto your frame for greater customization and flexibility when setting up your bike.

Now more often than ever before you will find bottle cage bosses under the downtube, top tube and fork legs as well as two pairs on the main triangle of a bike.

Surly Ghost Grappler and other bikepacking-focused bicycles typically include additional mounting points, while endurance road bikes such as Canyon Endurace (new model) may also incorporate this extra flexibility.

Racks and mudguards can be found on hybrid bikes as well as winter road bikes.

Fork mounts can be an invaluable resource when travelling in remote areas and require more water or equipment. Furthermore, these fork mounts offer convenience to riders with limited room under their saddle or between the bars.

No worries here if your frame or fork does not feature mountings: bikepacking relies on being able to secure bags to your bike without needing mountings.

Frame Material

While any bike will work well for bikepacking, different frame materials have their own distinct set of advantages and disadvantages.

Carbon fibre bikes tend to be lighter than their steel counterparts, which may help when hauling it up steep hills. But be mindful of their recommended maximum system weight limit and especially if your bikepacking bag load exceeds it.

Carbon fibre components like seatposts and handlebars are vulnerable to damage; check with the manufacturer prior to loading up.

Due to their strength, steel and titanium are often seen as ideal materials for bikepacking. Both materials can better withstand the rigorous cycling activities involved with biking pack trips.

Steel road bikes are popular choices among travelers who wish to explore the globe, as their repairs can often be completed quickly using a welder.

Titan road bikes may be immune from this issue; though more costly, they also offer greater corrosion resistance than steel models.

Considering running a front rack? Forks made of steel will offer superior carrying capacities over carbon alternatives.

Aluminum frames are increasingly popular at the lower price points. Although aluminium may provide a rougher ride compared to carbon, steel or titanium bikes, the new alloy frames can make them feel much smoother by simply altering tyre pressure settings.

Maintenance and Servicing

How easy it will be for you to keep and repair your bike depends heavily on where it will be used. Does your model use parts exclusive to certain dealers or are they widely available?

Many long-distance cyclists prefer cable disc brakes over hydraulic ones as it's much simpler to replace cables on the trail rather than have to deal with bleeding brakes.

Hydraulic brakes tend to work better. Which one you select ultimately comes down to personal preference, mechanical ability and where you plan on biking.

Consider what costs will accrue with long-term bikepacking use if you wish to use high-end electronic groupsets such as Shimano's Di2 groupset. Even though they might initially fit within your budget, remember that their parts will eventually wear down over time and require replacement due to wear-and-tear.


Bikepacking requires a wider gearing range than day rides do; therefore you will need to adjust your gearing in order to accommodate for extra loads on your bikepacking tour.

Under-gearing yourself up steep hills is not fun, and neither are your knees likely to appreciate this daily practice.

When approaching hilly courses on your road bike, gearing adjustments may be essential to success. A compact crankset or the largest cassette that your rear derailleur is able to accommodate may be necessary in order to tackle them successfully.

Shimano GRX and SRAM XPLR gearing options as well as Campagnolo Ekar's Ekar gravel gears may provide the appropriate gearing solutions. Prioritize which gearing best meets the requirements for your ride while being as cautious with it as possible.

Shimano or SRAM offer Mullet drivetrains which combine road/gravel components with mountain bike gearing options for increased gear range.

Electronic shifting may be more expensive, but can reduce fatigue from shifting and allow more space on handlebars for your bags. Don't forget your battery charger and any maintenance advice given earlier if traveling outside civilisation!

Some riders choose singlespeed bikes for their low maintenance costs and weight savings; this can be challenging but takes practice to become successful at bikepacking with them.

Dynamo options

Electricity can be an issue when traveling off-grid. When charging up bike lights, computer and phones a battery pack is ideal, however a dynamo system offers greater power.

Dynamo wheels convert kinetic energy to electrical power that can be used for charging USB devices or powering fixed lights.

Ideal for longer trips or commutes during winter when lights can often go uncharged, the light belt is ideal.

Take note of how different dynamos operate at different speeds; therefore, it's essential that you select one suitable for your ride and its intended use. In particular, off-road terrain could warrant choosing one with lower speeds which will limit its capabilities.

Consider where and if an internal dynamo needs to be routed as well as where and how lights or charging ports will be mounted.


Suspension can be an invaluable resource when biking complex MTB bikepacking routes such as the Highland 550 or Colorado Trail.

As you won't be traversing technical terrain, a lightweight cross-country or hardtail mountain bike would be best suited to this experience.

As part of a mountain biking bikepacking setup, increasing pressure on your suspension is the key to successful setups. By loading up with luggage and increasing its weight on top of that, chances of damage to forks or shocks decrease drastically.

Before embarking on your bikepacking trip, make sure your bikepacking bag and bike are compatible.


Your choice of pedals shouldn't only reflect personal taste but also take into account any particular plans that might exist for the bike.

Flat pedals may be preferable when going on casual tours or visiting cultural sights by bike, as you can step off your bike easily to walk around in casual shoes and explore your surroundings.

Unless efficiency is your top priority, clipless mountain bike pedals may be the superior choice. Mountain biking shoes allow for easier walking while road cycling shoes have exposed cleats that make walking much more difficult.

If you prefer clip-in pedals but experience hotspots on long rides, platform clipless pedals or trail pedals could be a good solution for you.


Our buyer's saddle guide goes into further depth about selecting the appropriate saddle.

Bikepackers often experience saddle sores when riding long distances on their bicycle, so selecting an appropriate saddle is vital to enjoying an enjoyable journey.

Consider that due to the unique body position required for bikepacking bikes, what may feel comfortable may not necessarily be optimal over multiple rides.

Considerations for shorter riders

Shorter riders sometimes struggle to fit bikepacking bags due to their smaller frames.

Reduce the capacity of bar bags while creating less room over the rear wheel for seatpost Cycling bag storage.

Small capacity bike bags may help maximize your limited space, but they won't provide enough room to store all of the gear required for longer bikepacking trips.

Your capacity can be expanded using fork-mounted luggage such as a cargo cage with dry bags or bikepacking bag specially designed to attach to the fork of your bike. In addition, this gives more space for bottle water storage if running a framebag.

Under certain conditions, you may find yourself needing to employ a rack system - whether traditional bolt-on racks and panniers or something more innovative like Tailfin aluminium rack.


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What exactly is bikepacking, and how does it differ from traditional bike touring?

Bikepacking involves carrying lightweight gear on your bike for multi-day adventures, often on off-road trails or remote areas. Unlike traditional bike touring, which typically involves paved roads and heavier panniers, bikepacking emphasizes off-road exploration and uses specialized lightweight gear like frame bags, saddlebags, and handlebar bags.

What essential gear do I need for a bikepacking adventure?

Essential gear for bikepacking includes a lightweight tent or shelter, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove and cooking gear, water filtration system, navigation tools (such as GPS or maps), repair kit, clothing suitable for various weather conditions, and bike-specific tools and spare parts.

How do I choose the right bike for bikepacking?

Look for a bike with sturdy construction, comfortable geometry for long rides, mounts for racks and water bottles, and clearance for wider tires. Many bikepackers prefer gravel bikes, mountain bikes, or touring bikes for their versatility and durability on rough terrain.

What are the best practices for packing my gear efficiently on my bike?

Distribute weight evenly between front and rear bags, keeping heavier items closer to the bike's center of gravity. Pack items you'll need during the day (like snacks, rain gear, and tools) in easily accessible locations, and use compression sacks or straps to secure bulky items.

How do I plan a bikepacking route, and what factors should I consider?

Research potential routes based on distance, terrain, water sources, camping opportunities, and points of interest. Consider your fitness level, skill level, and the season/weather conditions when choosing a route, and be sure to check for any permits or regulations in the area.

What are some safety tips for bikepacking in remote areas?

Tell someone your itinerary and expected return time, carry a first aid kit and emergency supplies (like a satellite communication device), be prepared for changes in weather or trail conditions, and familiarize yourself with basic wilderness navigation and survival skills.

How do I handle food and water logistics during a bikepacking trip?

Plan meals and snacks that are lightweight, calorie-dense, and easy to prepare. Research water sources along your route and carry a filtration system or purification tablets to ensure safe drinking water.

What should I do if I encounter mechanical issues or bike maintenance problems on the trail?

Carry a basic repair kit with tools and spare parts (like tubes, tire levers, and chain links), and practice basic bike maintenance skills before your trip. Consider taking a bike maintenance course or carrying a comprehensive repair manual for troubleshooting.

How can I minimize my environmental impact while bikepacking?

Follow Leave No Trace principles, pack out all trash and waste, stay on designated trails, avoid disturbing wildlife, and minimize campfire impact by using established fire rings or portable stoves.

What are some recommended destinations or routes for beginner bikepackers?

Look for beginner-friendly routes with well-maintained trails, moderate terrain, accessible water sources, and established campsites. National parks, state parks, and designated bikepacking routes like the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route or the TransAmerica Trail often offer great options for beginners.