Have you ever tried bikepacking for yourself?
To grab your bike, pack the most important things, strap them to your bike and just start your adventure?
Bikepacking has already become a trend in recent years, and in 2020, it became even more popular due to social distancing and travel restrictions. Holidays at home and discovering your surroundings from a new perspective away from larger groups was often the only option to enjoy at least a few days of holiday feeling this summer. So it is the perfect time to take a closer look at the idea of bike packing – where does it come from, which bike is suitable and what should be considered when packing?
Let’s start with the basics – the bike. The good message: bikepacking is not limited to one type of bike. You can start your adventure with any type of bike. However, some bikes are better suited for certain adventures than others.
The Gravel Bike
While the cross bike has a long tradition in Europe, the gravel bike is a more recent phenomenon. The bikes have different technical details and dimensions, but combine the intention to transfer the dynamics and speed of the road bike to cross country. The crosser is suitable for difficult, short and challenging courses, while the gravel bike is suitable for gravel roads and longer tours due to its more pleasant geometry, more tyre and transmission width. This makes it clear that the gravel bike is at home on tracks that are “unridable” with a road bike and too “boring” for a mountain bike. Perfect for all those who want to get away from the road and its dangers, and prefer to explore the country on forest and field tracks. Just getting out of the city and enjoying the beauty of nature. This is why the gravel bike is one of the most popular bikes among bikepackers.
The Road Bike
The road bike is loved for its performance. All components and features of the road bike are designed for high speeds; the tyres are slim and inflated at high pressure, the handlebars are mounted low and the bike is stiff and light. At first it all seems far away from the idea of bikepacking. But it is not really, because the first bike races took place under conditions that were very similar to today’s “self-support races”: Bad roads, a high level of self-support and very long distances. Meanwhile, there are even the first official self-support road races. So the road bike can also be used for bikepacking, although you should pay more attention to paved roads when planning the route.
The Mountain Bike
In modern bikepacking, the mountain bike is the central focus. By definition, the mountain bike is stable and all-terrain, making it perfect for tours that go through rough terrain. With a mountain bike you can ride along any track, no matter how rough, and there are no limits to your exploration of nature.
Bikepacking has its origins in the long distance mountain bike races in the USA, the so-called “self-support races”. Often the route stages to the next town could not be completed in one day, so the riders were looking for an easy and safe way to carry their equipment and provisions without losing speed and mobility. This is how bikepacking developed – a completely new and unique form of cycling.
And this brings us to the second essential part of bikepacking:
The luggage depends heavily on the individual tour, because bikepacking offers an incredible number of individual possibilities. Explore the beauty of nature on your own doorstep for a day, enjoy the near surroundings of your home for the weekend or set off for an adventure and discover completely new areas for a longer period of time – everything is possible with bikepacking. There are plenty of exciting destinations: the local recovery area outside the city or the nearest lake are perfect starting points.
The equipment for the first overnighter can be put together entirely from your own home. This may be a bit heavier and more voluminous, but that hardly reduces the bikepacking fun. If you go on tours with less luggage often, you automatically improve your packing list, sort out unnecessary items and replace unsuitable equipment. There are numerous possibilities for storing your luggage. From the classic saddle bag to the handlebar bag, frame or top tube bags, as well as other possibilities for attaching luggage to the fork or down tube.
Today, there are many manufacturers of bags made of waterproof material, because a surprising rain shower is not unusal during an outdoor adventure. Which bag is most suitable for you, depends on the chosen bike and its geometry. When packing, you should remember to stow heavy items closer to the bike and balance the load. This keeps you more agile when riding and is more fun.
Of course, it is very important to have enough water with you on each tour. With the TWIST system, a bottle can easily be attached under the frame bag or is a great addition to the top tube. With the help of the magnetic-mechanical system, the bottle can be easily removed and reattached to the frame even while riding.
In addition, some tools are useful on the tours, so small breakdowns can be repaired directly and the adventure doesn’t have to end early. Useful tools are:
– tyre levers
– mini pump
– two spare tubes
– chain oil
– chain lock
– shift cable
– patch kit incl. tube and tyre patches
– brake pads and small screw selection
The cageless TWIST toolbox offers space for all tools and essentials that are necessary for the tour and can be easily attached to the bike base or uni base. The water-repellent material keeps tools and essentials dry inside. This also allows for the toolbox to be attached to the bottom of the down tube and the space is used efficiently.
Even though autumn is approaching fast, the leaves are turning golden brown, the weather is getting rainy and windy and the days are getting shorter, this does not stop the bikepacking adventure. However, there are a few things you should keep in mind when bikepacking in autumn. The choice of the right clothing is important. As the weather becomes more uncomfortable, it is important to protect yourself from the outside elements and take wind- and waterproof clothing with you. Also a dry set of extra clothes should always be packed. Furthermore, luggage should be stowed in waterproof bags or alternatively in light, waterproof dry bags.
Since the days are shorter and are sometimes greyer during the day, good lights are equally important.
If you do not want to miss sleeping outside even in autumn, make sure the tent is waterproof and set up your camp on a protected spot.
As an alternative, many German forests offer simple weather shelters, which are also good temporary overnight accommodation.
If you do feel like having a shower and a dry place to stay overnight, the platform Warmshowers offers you the opportunity to find a place to stay with like-minded people.
Well, all that’s left to do now is to pack up and plan the route, get your bike out of the storage and start your autumn adventure – well-equipped and facing the elements head-on!