14 Essentials for Your Next 'Bikepacking' Trip from 14 Essentials for Your Next 'Bikepacking' Trip
14 Essentials for Your Next 'Bikepacking' Trip
Backpacking can still be considered somewhat sexy, but it’s certainly not as novel as it once was. Everyone from baby boomers to Gen Y’s gap-year crowd and even Hollywood (hello, Wild?) knows someone who has done it. On the contrary, drop the word “bikepacking” into a conversation with your coworkers and unless you work in a bike shop, you’ll probably see at least one deer in the headlights.
It’s okay. This hybrid of biking and camping hasn’t gone mainstream yet—especially since a lot of bikepacking takes place on backcountry trails and rural roads. But since May is National Bike Month, there’s no time like the present to take your bike out for a spin and a sleepover. Skip the packing-from-scratch headache and see here for some gear that you’ll want to take along for the ride.
Unless your bikepacking trip is designed to be a digital detox, you’ll have your phone. This mount is made of expandable silicone and can securely cradle any smartphone (including the iPhone 6+) with or without a case. Unlike mounts with straps that limit phone functionality, Handleband is designed so you have access to your entire screen while you’re riding. It’s incredibly easy to reposition and remove, and as a bonus feature, its aluminum base can be used as a bottle opener.
Dakine Nomad Hydration Pack
While you never want to pack a bunch of weight around on your back, Darren Alff, the Bicycle Touring Pro, notes that it’s no fun to rely on panniers or handlebar bags for on-foot excursions. So go with a smaller backpack like the Nomad which is designed for wearing both on and off the bike. Its molded back panel with air channel ventilation, breathable shoulder straps and a removable hip belt ensure enhanced ergonomics. Functional features include a hydration reservoir, helmet carrier and fleece-lined sunglasses and phone pockets.
Sunglasses can make or break a rider’s day. With the Pivlock Arena’s frameless design that allows for maximum top-to-bottom and peripheral vision, it’s hard to find an excuse to hate on what you don’t see. These shades come with three different colored carbonic (think incredibly impact resistant) lenses so you can match them to the current light conditions. Each lens offers 100% protection from UVA/B/C rays and has hydroleophobic coating; in other words, it repels dirt and contact with water and grease won’t leave annoying streaks. Megol in the nosepiece and adjustable nose pads mean the likelihood of these wraparound shades slipping off your face is nil.
A convenient buckle attachment makes these bibs a bikepacker’s best friend, and perhaps, the easiest bibs to get in and out of on the market. As with all bibs they lack a waistband and the uncomfortable elastic that can restrict blood flow and cause nasty chafing. Another reason to go with bibs vs. traditional shorts? The chamois is more likely not to slip and cause saddle sores. Multi-directional stretching, moisture-wicking Lycra makes this look as smart as it is streamlined. Despite being black, even on the sunniest days these bibs remain cool to the touch thanks to coldblack® finish fabric technology that reflects heat and provides 50+ UPF sun protection.
Boom Jacket Bluetooth Speakers
For the bikepacker whose vice is loud beats, this brand new wireless Bluetooth speaker with 40 hours of battery life isn’t a foolish thing to bring, it’s a no-brainer. To say the Boom Jacket is waterproof would be an understatement. You can drop it in a lake, and it will float its way back to playing your favorite song or training podcast. These speakers are incredibly bust-proof too; just ask the engineers who put them through fire and bullet tests.
Bananas are the classic go-to carbs for the bike-minded among us. If you don’t have access to a fresh bunch at your next stop or know of a foolproof way for packing them, bring Barnana. These chewy banana bites began as a family secret in Southern Brazil until the family’s triathlete son took them north to Southern California. Today, bikepackers can rely on these super potassium snacks to satisfy their sweet tooth and keep their blood sugar levels happy. Barnana bananas are dehydrated in a way that their natural enzymes and nutrition density aren’t sacrificed. All four flavors are organic, NON GMO, gluten-free, vegetarian and high in fiber.
Go with a GoPro to capture the frontal perspective of your bikepacking trip, but rely on a rear-mounted light and camera combo for peace of mind when it comes to safety and knowing what the drivers behind you are doing. Replace and upgrade your taillight with the Fly6 LED light which has a built-in HD camera featuring 720p video and audio recording. The pre-installed memory card captures 30 frames per second and stores up to six hours of footage while the light provides 30-lumens and has continuous and blinking modes. Recharging is easy with the mini USB charging cable along with all the do-dads you need to secure the Fly6 to your seatpost.
Poll a group of bikepackers on the best time of day to ride and most likely, morning will be the most popular answer. An earlier start often translates into less traffic and slower wind speeds, but the downside is the cooler temps. Invest in warm, lightweight layers like the sleek, puffy Fontana (pictured here) or Fahrenheit jacket with a DWR coating and the ability to compress down into an internal zipper pocket—making it compact enough to fit in the back pocket of your jersey. It’s also a good idea to have a Hincapie Sportswear long-sleeved jersey boasting QuadroHot fabric and a Gel-Gripper elastic hem that keeps the jersey from riding up and exposing bare skin.
Don’t believe the myth that gloves are only for colder months. Even in the summer, this extra layer for your hands is essential. Whether off-roading it on a hut-to-hut trip or flying down Route 66, all bikepackers can benefit from Hincapie Sportswear’s Signature Gloves featuring strategically located foam inserts to ease tension at pressure points. Sweat is a given on hot and humid days, but with these gloves you’ll maintain a better bar grip and furthermore, the moisture-wicking fabric will prevent sweat from sneaking down onto your shifters. Plus they allow for better shock absorption and in the event of a crash, consider them to be armor against one of every rider’s worst nightmares: road rash.
Novara Nucleus Deluxe Pannier
French for breadbaskets, panniers have been used by cyclists for more than a century. Modern panniers come in every style, shape and size and are often customizable, but a good starting point is REI’s Nucleus Deluxe Pannier which is ideal for weekenders who want a user-friendly experience. They come with an easy-to-use rack and self-locking attachment brackets and are made of a water-resistant fabric. In the case of a downpour, riders can reach down and easily employ a raincover conveniently stowed in a top pocket. Additional smart storage includes a waterproof pocket for valuables, a fully padded interior pocket for electronics and an exterior pocket—perfect for storing dirty tools.
Old Man Mountain Racks
Handmade in Santa Barbara, these racks are arguably among the best out there. In fact, OMM was the first company to make cargo racks for full suspension bikes—an idea that was birthed in 1996 after too many frustrating bike-camping trips where every piece of gear had to be carried in a backpack. Almost 20 years later, versatility is a huge selling point for these racks that work with both rigid and suspension forks and fit massive 29-inch mountain bikes, road bikes and even fat bikes. The Pioneer (pictured here) and Sherpa racks are perfect for off-road exploits while the Ultimate LowRider is ideal for road biking.
oldmanmountain.com; starting at $149.00
Rattlesnake SL1 mtnGLO
Bikepacking would just be bike riding if it didn’t involve a sleepover. Every backcountry or budget-friendly bikepacker needs a tent, and since it’s a ride-it-in, ride-it-out kind of thing, the lighter the better. And lighter doesn’t only mean lightweight. This new tent from Big Agnes is a part of its game-changing mtnGlo Collection featuring built-in patent-pending LED lights that turn on with the click of a button. This particular model is a 2015 Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s Choice, and it’s perfect for a solo cyclist looking for a tent to use in spring, summer and fall. With all of its accessories it weighs in at 3.7 lbs, but its trail weight can be as light as 3 lbs.
For bikepackers who spend hours on end in a helmet, comfort and quality are key. Reasons to love this lid include its sophisticated ventilation system that was perfected after extensive testing in a wind-tunnel simulator. This model marries a lightweight look and feel with easily adjustable straps, and its agION antimicrobial pads wick sweat away and get rid of odors. Before you even begin to think about packing your bags, pick up this non-negotiable (because you should wear a brain bucket even if you’re just cruising to the beach) at Trek bicycle retailers nationwide.
X-Project 1.0 Cycling Shoes
Since you’re limited to the number of pairs you can pack, choose your shoes wisely. This higher end SPD-compatible mountain biking shoe comes with a higher price point, but if you plan on having to hoof it a few times a day, it’s a wise investment. Patent-pending carbon plate technology means riders have optimal performance on the pedals, and when walking is in order, enough flexibility to accommodate the foot’s range of motion. Plus there’s no need to worry about laces or uneven foot retention; the shoe’s micro-adjustable boa reel tightens equally from both sides of your foot and makes it beyond easy to get a precise fit.