bikepacking gear list on a Salsa Fargo

Bikepacking Gear List – The Basics

Wondering what to bring on a bikepacking trip? We’ve compiled a comprehensive bikepacking gear list to help you do that. This should be used in conjunction with our other guides:

Choosing what to bring on a bikepacking trip depends on a lot of things. To keep things simple we are going to outline a gear list that will be relevant to any bikepacking trip.

Bikepacking Gear List – Gear All Bikepackers Should Have

Blackburn Outpost Frame Bag – See Price
Blackburn Outpost Seat Bag with Dry Bag – See Price

Ibera Waterproof Panniers – See Price
MSR Hubba Hubba – See Price
Kelty Tuck 22F – See Price
Garmin eTrex 32x – See Price
Sea to Summit collapsible cooking set – See Price
Kovea Spider Ultralight Camping Stove – See Price
North Face Thermoball Jacket – See Price
Outdoor Research Helium II ultralight rain jacket – See Price

Bikepacking Gear List in Detail

Let’s dive a little deeper into the items listed in the basic bikepacking gear list above.

Visualizing a bikepacking gear list
Visualizing a bikepacking gear list. Not enough toilet paper…

Bike

Yea, you might need one of these. What’s the best bike for bikepacking? The one you already have. Seriously. If this is your first go at bikepacking, strap some bikepacking bags to your bike, pick a local campground, and ride there. If you think that you want to do it again after that experience, then think about upgrading.

We could go on and on about whether you should use a bike with suspension, whether to get a steel frame, aluminum frame, or carbon fiber frame, wheel size, handlebar type, etc. But for now, we’ll keep it simple and just say use whatever you have.

Bikepacking Bags

The bread and butter of a bikepacking gear list. These are the bags that set bikepacking setups apart from bicycle touring set ups. Sure you can use panniers, but then are you bikepacking or bicycle touring? The short answer is ‘who cares?’ You’re riding your bike. That’s what matters. But for a more pure bikepacking experience, pick up a set of these.

Here are the ‘big three’ bikepacking bags on any bikepacker’s gear list.

  1. Frame Bag – Usually triangular in shape. It fits in the space under your top tube (the main triangle). Excellent for maximizing usage of space. Probably the first or second purchase when purchasing your kit. These are designed to be narrow so as to not interfere with pedaling. You will be surprised at how much stuff you can fit in here. If your frame bag uses the entire space, you won’t be able to mount bottle cages. Some companies make frame bags that are smaller so you can still mount bottle cages. The trade-off being less storage space. The size of the frame bag you buy will depend on the size of your frame.
  2. Seat Bag/Saddle Bag – This is the bag that sits underneath the saddle and attaches to the seat post and saddle rails. These vary widely in size and storage capacity. Some designs are more stable than others in terms of swaying back and forth while riding. Along with the frame bag, we recommend this as the first or second bikepacking bag you buy. The size you buy does not necessarily depend on the type of bike you have.
  3. Handlebar Bag – This is the bag that sits on the front of your handlebars. The size of the bag depends on what kind of bars you have (flat bars vs. drop bars). Also consider how your cables are routed. It’s best to get a handlebar bag that doesn’t compress or make your cables bend awkwardly, as that may cause shifting problems. These bags can also be handelbar harnesses. You can essentially strap anything you want in a harness as long as it can be held in place with the harness straps. With a harness, you can fit any size bag you want onto the handlebars.

Additional bikepacking bags:

  1. Top Tube Bag – These are smaller bags that sit on your top tube, directly behind the steering stem. These are fantastic because they allow easy access to smaller items while you ride. Usually people stuff their phones, wallet, snacks, headlamp, sunglasses, and other items in these. Some people will even flip one of these around and mount it where the top tube meets the seat post for more storage.
  2. Stem Bag – These are also smaller bags that mount onto the steering stem itself. They kind of look and act like cup holders. People will often fill these with snacks or smaller water bottles. Most use a drawstring type enclosure. They’re great for people who want easy, zipperless access to snacks.
  3. Backpack – Whether or not to use a backpack while riding is a hotly debated topic. Some people don’t mind them and like the extra room they offer. Others think they get too sweaty and don’t bother with them. There aren’t any ‘true’ bikepacking backpacks out there, but a good rule of thumb is to try to keep the volume under 20 liters if you choose to use one.
A bike with bikepacking bags and labels
A typical set up with bikepacking bags.

Tent or Tarp

The type of shelter you choose to include in your list of bikepacking gear depends on your comfort level. Here are the top three bikepacking shelters from most common to least common.

Make sure to check out this post on the best tents for bikepacking for a complete rundown of specific tents.

  1. Tent – The easiest way to get into bikepacking is to go with the tent you already have. Something simple with a couple poles will do just fine. Make sure your tent has some sort of decent rain protection. There’s nothing worse than getting into a tent after riding hours in the rain and finding out your rain fly isn’t waterproof. You’ll also have to assess how to pack your tent on the bike if it’s not an easily-packable ultralight tent.
  2. Ultralight Tent – In our opinion, ultralight tents are the best tents for bikepacking. The outdoor industry is slowly catching on. Some companies have even started making tents specifically for bikepacking. The Big Agnes Bikepack tent series was unveiled at the 2019 Outdoor Retailer show for example. However, something like the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV Ultralight tent for backpacking is just as ideal. These ultralight tents strike an optimal balance between weight, packed size, durability, and comfort. Ultralight materials make it possible to have lightweight rainflys while retaining their waterproofness. Similarly, ultralight tent poles and ultralight tent stakes drastically cut down on your tent’s total weight. The compromise usually comes in the form of price, with these ultralight tents being more expensive than their regular counterparts.
  3. Tarp – For those truly invested in ultralight bikepacking tents, there are minimalist tarp shelters. These are the ultimate in lightweight shelters. They often require only one lightweight pole, and in many cases none at all. When packed up, they nearly disappear, packing down to the size of a water bottle or smaller. However, what you gain in weight and packed size you lose in protection from the elements and ease of set up. Usually, these shelters do not have “floors” or walls. Critters, wind, and some rain can get into the sheltered area. These also require some practice to set up correctly. They rely on proper tensioning of guy lines in order to adequately provide shelter.
REI 2 person tent for bikepacking
Tents like the Big Agnes Fly Creek HV Ultralight are ideal for bikepacking.

Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags for bikepacking are the same as those used for ultralight backpacking. Because these are such bulky items and storage is so limited on bikepacking setups, packed size is more important than weight. For that reason, it is hard to beat the loftiness (how “puffed” up the sleeping bag fill material gets when unpacked) of down sleeping bags. The downside is the fact that down sleeping bags lose their warmth if they get sufficiently wet. We should also note that there are some terrific synthetic materials coming out that give down sleeping bags a run for their money.

Sleeping Pad

After the tent and the sleeping bag, a sleeping pad is the next bulkiest piece of bikepacking gear on our list. Again, packed size is more important than weight (to an extent). Most bikepackers choose an inflatable sleeping pad for bikepacking rather than a folding foam pad. This is simply because of packed size. The risk comes in the form of getting a puncture in the inflatable pad, whcih would make it useless. However, sleeping pad materials are getting tougher and more resistant to punctures, making them preferable to bulky folding sleeping pads.

Helmet

You’ve probably seen bikepackers and folks on bicycle trips riding without helmets. Everyone has their risk tolerance. The use of a helmet has been debated heavily, but it’s never a bad idea to have one with you. That’s why it’s on our list of basic bikepacking gear. With how far helmet technology has come in terms of comfort, ventilation, and style, there isn’t much of a reason not to wear one. This is especially true with bikepacking, since you find yourself primarily offroad. The chances of you coming off the bike are higher than on a road tour. We find that a helmet with a visor is particularly useful to keep the sun’s glare out of your eyes.

man in camp on bikepacking trip
There’s a lot of debate over wearing helmets on a long bike tour, but it’s probably safe to take it off in camp…

Bike Tool Repair Kit

We don’t advise going on any sort of trip without a bike tool kit. At the very least, a basic bike tool kit should be on your overall list of bikepacking gear. Use the following bike tool kit to make sure you are covering your bases.

  1. Multitool – A quality multitool that includes multiple allen wrenches (2mm, 2.5mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm), T-25 torx bit, 2 open ended wrenches (8mm and 10mm), screwdrivers (phillips head and flathead), spoke wrenches (#1, #2, #3, #4), and a chain tool.
  2. Extra Chain Links – You’ll want a few spare links in case your chain breaks. A good option is to get a few Shimano Quick Links or KMC Missing Links.
  3. Pliers – A small set of pliers can make a huge difference for grasping slippery cables or pulling thorns out of tubes.
  4. Knife – In terms of repairs, a small, light knife is always handy for cutting zip ties. Beyond that, the knife should be a part of anyone’s kit if they’re going to be out in the wild for more than a day.
  5. Zip Ties – An essential addition to any tool kit. Bikepacking bags use a lot of straps to lash onto the bike’s frame. If one of these straps tears, zip ties can be a good temporary fix to get you through the rest of the tour.
  6. Duct Tape – What kind of tool kit would this be without duct tape? We prefer Gorilla Tape for its tenacity. Don’t skimp out and buy cheap duct tape. It is almost useless for what it is meant for. For storage, wrap a foot or two worth of tape around your down tube or the body of your tire pump.
  7. Cloth Rag – It’s easy to forget how greasy a chain is until you have to handle it. Once you get that grease on your hands, it’s hard to remove. It’s especially important to keep your hands grease-free if you’re going to be touching food later. To avoid all this, bring a small rag that you can use to clean components or wipe your hands off with. Some people also like to pack a set of nitrile gloves. This is a great idea, though we find them too fragile to use more than once.
  8. Chain Lube – This is also a lesson you’ll learn the hard way. A properly lubricated chain makes a huge difference. Chain lube does a few things. It keeps you from going insane by silencing a noisy chain. It also extends the life of your chain, sprockets, and cassette. Finally, it makes the entire drive chain more efficient by reducing friction between chain and gear teeth and between the chain links themselves. A Teflon-based lubricant in a portable 4 oz. bottle is all you need.

Tire Repair Kit

It goes without saying that the following tire repair kit is critical in any bikepacking gear list. Even daily rides should have most of these. Make sure you practice patching and fixing a tube or tire before you leave on a trip. These aren’t worth having on your bikepacking gear list if you don’t know how to use them.

  1. Pump – These generally come in two varieties: High Volume (HV) and High Pressure (HP). Both will work for any tire to get you back on the road, but each have their strengths. The easy way to decide is: If you have wide mountain bike tires (wider than 2” or so), go with the High Volume pump. If your tires are narrower than 2”, go with the High Pressure pump. Topeak and Lezyne both make reliable pumps in these styles. Pumps normally come with an adapter to fit both Schrader valves (shorter and wider) and Presta valves (longer and narrower).
  2. Tire Patch Kit – Most tire patch kits for bicycles are self-adhering (meaning no extra patch glue to carry around). Practice putting a couple of these on a tube and preparing the surface (scratched lightly with a piece of sandpaper) before you actually get your first flat.
  3. Tire Levers – Though some people like to show off by removing a tire with only one lever, bring two anyway. It’s much easier, they’re cheap (if nylon), and they weigh next to nothing. The difficulty of installing and removing a bicycle tire depends on the type of tire, but the process is the same. Some people carry a little bit of talc powder in a Ziploc bag to prinkle into the inside of the tire when reinstalling. This prevents the tube from getting pinched between the tire and the lip of the wheel during the mounting process.
  4. Spare Tubes – If you’re running your tires using tubes, this is essential. Sometimes a puncture just can’t be fixed with a patch. And sometimes your tube has accumulated so many patches, it’s best just to replace it. Or you’ve just straight up run out of patches (riding in a desert full of goat heads and thorns can do that!). Finally, even if you’re running a tubeless set up, it’s good to have a tube in case a gash is simply too big for the sealant to work.

First Aid Kit

If you’re going to bother taking care of your bike, you should probably take care of yourself as well. A well thought out kit is important. As with your bike tool repair kit, know how to use the items in your first aid kit. You can put one of these together yourself, but there are also plenty of prepackaged first aid kits out there. Use the following first aid kit list to put your own together. No matter how your bikepacking gear list changes, this should always be part of it.

  1. Absorbent compress dressings (x2)
  2. Band-Aids of various sizes
  3. Adhesive cloth tape
  4. Antibiotic ointment
  5. Antiseptic/alcohol wipes
  6. Aspirin/Ibuprofen
  7. Antihistamine tablets (for allergic reactions)
  8. Emergency blanket
  9. Non-latex gloves (x2)
  10. Sterile gauze pads
  11. Tweezers

Sunglasses

Not too much to be said about these except that you should find a pair that is comfortable to wear even while wearing a helmet. Make sure they’re not only comfortable when you first put them on, but that they remain comfortable even after hours of wearing them.

Also note that sunglasses aren’t only meant to protect your eyes from the sun. Having some sort of eye protection is crucial when you hit 10-15 mph or more. Not only do your eyes start watering like crazy because of the wind, but a bug impact directly to the eye can be incredibly painful, not to mention dangerous.

Sun Protection

People’s opinions vary a lot on sunscreen, but the fact is excessive exposure to sun is damaging. Protect yourself with sunscreen. Honestly, it should be part of any gear list, bikepacking or otherwise. If you’re not a fan of sunscreen, look into long sleeve shirts with UV protection or wide brim cycling hats. Future you will thank you.

Navigation

This can take a few different forms. Which you choose depends on a lot of things. But here is a good overview of the options.

  1. GPS Device – This is the obvious choice. Bicycle GPS devices and bike computers come in all varieties. They are generally fairly reliable, accurate, and easily mounted to handlebars. Opinions vary on the one to get, as each model has a particular user interface, map-type, ease of use, battery life etc. One particularly popular set of devices used by many bikepackers and tourers is the Garmin eTrex 20x and Garmin eTrex 30x. Garmin has since come out with updated versions in 2019: the eTrex 22x and eTrex 32x. See our comparison between these eTrex GPS units here. Whichever GPS you choose will take some time to master and learn the ins and outs. But once you’ve done that you will love having the GPS with you.
  2. Smartphone Apps – Apps like GaiaGPS for Android and iPhones have come a long way in the few years since they were released. They’re cheap ($20), have tons of features, and don’t require you to get a separate, dedicated GPS. Instead, they use the GPS in your phone. Another huge benefit is that you can download whichever section of the map you want directly to your phone so that these sections are available to use even if your phone is in airplane mode. The array of maps offered by these apps is also astounding, ranging from satellite views to topo maps. The one thing to keep in mind is that you’re putting all of your eggs in one basket. If your phone fails, you’re out a phone and your navigation device. It should also be noted that smartphones generally don’t have great battery life, so having an external battery becomes more important. Finally, remember that these apps are still relatively new, so they can sometimes be buggy and crash. Stability is getting better every day though.   
  3. Paper Maps Paper maps are the obvious choice, but they are quickly becoming obsolete with the advent of smartphones and GPS apps like GaiaGPS and Google Maps. Still, a good paper map of a local area, state park, or national park can provide excellent detail. Oftentimes they’re only available once you’re on site (a ranger station for example), but it doesn’t hurt to scour the internet for one beforehand.
smartphone gps app for bikepacking
If you bikepack with a GPS app for your smartphone, bring some kind of backup like a paper map.

Cooking Set

This isn’t necessary to put on a list of basic bikepacking gear, per se. But, if we’re talking about a bikepacking route where you’ll be camping, you’ll probably be wanting to make the experience more authentic by cooking. Or you might just want to boil some water for coffee in the morning.

Cooking sets for ultralight backpacking are very relevant to bikepacking because of their lightweight components. However, even an ultralight cooking pot, bowls, and cups can be awkward to pack. This is more easily done in a backpack, but it gets complicated (or impossible) in a bikepacking frame bag. To solve this, we’re huge fans of the Sea to Summit collapsible cooking sets. These use food-grade silicone and pack down to nearly nothing, making them fit easily into a frame bag.

Cooking Stove

Ultralight stoves for backpacking are also very relevant for this item. There is a huge array of choices here. However, choosing a stove that will be compatible with the type of fuel available along your route is how you’ll want to make your decision. Liquid fuel stoves include the versatile MSR Whisperlite. Canister stoves include the MSR Pocket Rocket or, our favorite, the Kovea Spider Stove. See below for some more insight into choosing cooking fuel.

Cooking Fuel

The availability of cooking fuel will ultimately dictate the stove you bring with you. In some countries, it is more difficult to find the disposable isobutane/isopropane fuel canisters that are so popular amongst backpackers and in ultralight camping. Especially true in the USA and Europe. If that’s the case, you might want to consider something more versatile like the MSR WhisperLite which can burn liquid fuels like white gas (naptha), kerosene, diesel, and even gasoline (as a last resort).

These multifuel stoves also hold an advantage over canister-type stoves in that they can be used at much colder temperatures. Definitely something to research if you’re going to be bikepacking in cold areas or at altitude.

Packing dinner in a thermos on a bikepacking trip
On shorter trips, pack your dinner in a Thermos to avoid taking your entire cooking kit with you.

Shoes

Kind of obvious to include on your list of bikepacking gear. The big debate comes from choosing between clipless cycling shoes and normal shoes with no clips. Yes, the ‘clip’ terminology is confusing.

Clipless shoes are used with clipless pedals, where the shoe is attached to the pedal. They are nice because they allow you to pull up on the pedals as well as push down. This means more efficient power transfer throughout your pedal stroke. On technical trails they also make sure you don’t go flying off your pedals in rough terrain.

Normal shoes, on the other hand, are used with flat pedals. The advantage of these is that they’re potentially more comfortable to walk in. That’s important, as it’s something you might be doing more often than you think while bikepacking.

With that said, clipless bikepacking shoes that are specifically designed to be comfortable for walking are available. Also consider whether you want waterproof shoes or not. When raining, and in cold conditions, these are certainly nice to have. However, once it gets warm, these risk getting way too hot, no matter how breathable they claim to be. A pair of simple waterproof overboots paired with non-waterproof cycling shoes is our favorite strategy. This is an especially good idea for rides where you’ll experience a wide range of weather conditions.

Clothes

Another area where there are as many opinions as there are cyclists in the world. Ultimately the clothes you wear depend on the conditions you expect to encounter on the trip, the length of the ride, and what you think is comfortable. You’ll see a wide range of clothes amongst bikepackers. Some opt for full on cycling gear like padded cycling shorts and tight-fitting cycling jerseys. Others ride in a flannel shirt, a pair of jeans, and flip flops. In our opinion, we think any bikepacking trip should balance comfort, weight, and flexibility. To do that, we need to think in terms of layers: base layer, warm layer (soft shell), rain layer (hard shell). With that in mind, here is the gear we think makes a good bikepacking clothing list.

  1. Underwear (2 pairs) – These can be two pairs of regular underwear, or one pair of regular underwear and one pair of padded cycling shorts. Carrying padded cycling shorts is personal preference. However, if you’re going to be spending entire days on the saddle, they’re a solid investment. They prevent nasty blisters and rashes. Saddle sores can really ruin a ride! We suggest a normal pair of underwear that you can change into once in camp, since since cycling shorts aren’t exactly comfortable to walk around in. This also gives you the chance to wash the pair you’re not wearing. One last note: avoid cotton! Something like ExOfficio’s line of mesh travel underwear uses synthetics that don’t absorb moisture, stay surprisingly odor-free, and are quick drying and easy to wash.
  2. Socks (2 pairs) ­­– As with underwear, bring two pairs. One for riding, and one for changing into while you wash the other or if the other pair is wet. Again, avoid cotton. We would also avoid synthetic materials for socks. Feet are loaded with so many bacteria that spandex/nylon-based socks quickly pick up odors. This happens even if they claim to be anti-microbial. Instead, wool is hands down the material of choice. You might think this is absurd, since wool can be itchy. However, Merino wool has revolutionized wool in terms of comfort. Don’t believe us? Check out Why Merino Wool is the Best Base Layer.
  3. Gloves (1 pair) – These serve two purposes: warmth and protection. Keeping your hands and fingers warm in the morning is all about comfort. There’s no substitute for a lightweight pair of cycling gloves or simple polypropylene glove liners. However, gloves are also useful in giving the skin of your palms and fingers a break. Unless you’re Evil Knievel, you’ll spend all day on your handlebars, which can lead to annoying and painful callouses. It doesn’t hurt to bring a pair of gloves to prevent that.
  4. Shirt (x1) – You might rather have two, but this is a bare minimum checklist, so one should do. Make it a long-sleeve shirt if you run cold. This is up to you, but we again highly recommend a Merino wool-based piece. The short of it is, wool keeps you warm when temperatures are cold. It keeps you cool when temperatures are warm. It doesn’t stink even when drenched in sweat. Finally, it keeps its warmth even when wet.
  5. Pants or Shorts (x1) – The bare minimum is one pair obviously. Your butt spends all day in these and your thighs will be moving around in them constantly, so make sure they’re able to put up with all that movement. Even though we said people do these trips in jeans, they may not be the best choice for longer rides. Cycling shorts and pants are designed so that you are not sitting on any seams. That makes a huge difference when spending days on end in your saddle. Pants with a stretchy fabric that can be rolled up may be a good idea if cold weather is in the forecast. Also consider that you’ll be spending time in camp wearing these. Generally, it’ll be cooler at night and in the morning, so pants can give you a little extra warmth before you get the blood flowing on the bike.
  6. Warm Top (x1) – There are plenty of options out there when talking about soft shells for cycling. We like The North Face Thermoball, for example. We find that insulated down jackets or insulated synthetic jackets are the way to go. Cotton is not efficient in terms of warmth and is very heavy. Fleece is nice, but doesn’t pack down well at all. Down jackets and synthetic jackets for hiking, backpacking, or mountaineering are all very well suited for bikepacking. As a rule of thumb, remember the following. If you’ll be sweating a lot while riding, but need a jacket to stay warm, choose a synthetic jacket. It retains its heat even when wet. If you’ll be removing your jacket as soon as you start sweating, get a down jacket. Down loses its ability to hold heat when wet. That said, some down jacket technology mimics sleeping bag down insulation. By this we mean there are many down jackets that are treated to retain heat even when wet. Whether to get a hooded down or synthetic jacket is up to you. We like them because of how much of a difference the hood makes in terms of warmth.    
  7. Rain Top (x1) – Even if there’s no rain in the forecast, weather can change quickly. A hard shell (also known as a rain shell), like the Outdoor Research Helium II, is important. There’s hardly a reason to not take rain gear because of how light and packable it has become. Rain gear isn’t only useful for wet conditions though. It is also very useful for keeping warm in windy conditions when paired with an insulating layer. Even though insulated down and synthetic jackets are great for warmth, they are generally not very good at resisting wind. Throwing an ultralight rain jacket over these layers will keep the wind at bay and prevent your body heat from escaping from those warm layers. One thing to note is that rain shells don’t breathe very well, so you probably don’t want to be doing too much activity in them or else you will become drenched in your own sweat. One way rain jackets try to mitigate this is by include pit zips (zippers that run along your arm pits). These are great to help ventilate, especially on a bike where your arms are extended forward and creating plenty of space for air flow to take moisture away. We highly recommend a rain jacket with pit zips for this reason.
  8. Rain Pants (x1) – Some people don’t bring these and accept the fact that the lower half of their bodies will get wet. We like to bring a pair of lightweight rain pants with full length zippers. They give you wind protection in addition to rain protection, so they can be worn in camp to provide a little extra warmth. We also recommend the full-length zippers for two reasons. First, you can open up the sides while riding to allow for as much or as little ventilation as you want. You’ll still be keeping the majority of the rain off. Second, the full length zippers make it extremely easy to take these on and off. As with many items, the easier it is to use, the more likely you are to use it. Rain pants aren’t much use to you if they stay in your pack because you’d rather get wet than try to battle your way into them. Keep it simple and easy.
mountains at sunset during a desert bikepacking trip
Bikepacking in the desert can get cold at night, even if it’s hot during the day. A layering system is especially good in these environments.

Food

We’ve got an entire article on Bikepacking Food Ideas, but here’s a quick list to include with your other bikepacking gear.

  1. Credit Card Touring – No, don’t eat your credit cards. Credit card touring refers to tours where food, water, and lodging will be readily available all along the route. Shelter and food don’t have to be packed on the bike because you can stop anywhere and use your credit card to get either one. This is mainly applicable to bicycle touring, but some of the less remote bikepacking routes can be done this way too.
  2. Snacks Riding bikes burns calories. Riding bikes all day, every day, uphill, in the backcountry burns A LOT of calories. The snacks you bring are the fuel your body will rely on day after day. Some things to remember when it comes to bikepacking snacks:
    1. Snacks that are protein rich and fatty are the way to go. Nuts, cheese, and chocolate are good examples.
    1. Extremely sugary snacks like candy can give you a short term boost, but can also make you crash pretty hard. Be mindful of this.
    1. Keep the snacks accessible so you can eat while you ride. Having a steady stream of calories coming in keeps you from entering the dreaded calorie deficient state. Those are hard to recover from.
    1. Energy gels can work well, but make sure you know how your body reacts to these before you go on a trip. You don’t want to find out that you’re unable to hold down a caffeine-laden energy shot when you’re 20 miles from anywhere. You might be spending the next few hours behind a tree looking nervously at your vanishing roll of toilet paper.
  3. Dehydrated Meals You can find these at any outdoor gear store or online. You’re not just limited to Mountain House Rice and Chicken anymore. There are a huge number of options out there now, including vegetarian and vegan options. These dehydrated meals are specifically prepared for calorie-intensive activities like ultralight backpacking, camping, mountaineering, bicycle touring, and bikepacking. This means they’re usually protein and sodium-rich in order to help your muscles recover and to replenish the salts you lose through sweating. For those of you who still feel constrained to these premade packages, companies like Harmony House sell entire dehydrated meal kits with individually packaged ingredients so you can create your own recipe. The beauty of this is that you can really load up on vegetables. Veggies are something long backpacking and cycling tours often lack because of how difficult it is to keep them fresh.
  4. Do-It-Yourself Food DIY snack mixes are a great idea once you really start knowing what you like. Buy the ingredients in bulk, save money, and only include what you enjoy. Adding a dehydrator to your preparation process makes the possibilities almost limitless. Check out our Bikepacking Food Ideas for some easy DIY snack and dehydrated meal ideas.

Water

How to carry water on a bikepacking trip is a little different than on an ultralight backpacking trip, though there are some similarities. Water bottles are the obvious option, but they can be bulky, and take up a lot of space. And if they’re empty, that space is wasted.

We prefer collapsible water bottles like the ones Platypus makes. They’re light, you can stash them anywhere, and they take no space when empty. Others will opt for a water bladder like the ones popularized by CamelBak. These can be stored in a backpack, but we prefer to store them in the frame bag, and run the drinking tube up to the stem, where it can be clipped in place. This keeps weight off your back and lowers the overall center of gravity of rider and bike, which improves the overall feel of the ride.

Where to get your water is the other question. Conventional water filters made for backpacking like the popular MSR MiniWorks EX are slightly awkward to pack. Even if the MSR MiniWorks EX is one of the best water filters for backpacking, a better option for bikepacking might be the Sawyer Squeeze. It takes up much less space and can be packed into any bikepacking bag.

Toiletries

This varies from person to person. However, we dare you to use a bikepacking gear check list that doesn’t include toilet paper.

  1. Toothbrush
  2. Toothpaste – Travel size.
  3. Toilet Paper – You probably won’t need the whole roll… but take a little more than you think you’ll need. If you need an explanation why, you haven’t learned the less the hard way… yet.
  4. Hand Sanitizer – Travel size.

Summary

There you have it. A complete bikepacking gear list covering the bare minimum. If you made it this far, you should have a much better idea about what bikepackers have stuffed into those odd looking bikepacking bags. When you break it down into a neat list of gear, planning a bikepacking trip becomes much more doable.

But let’s also reiterate that time shouldn’t be spent on deciding between expensive gear. Instead, aim to get out and JUST GO, even it’s with the basics. Take this bikepacking gear list with you as you prep for your next trip and be confident that you are going prepared.

Happy riding!

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