The Complete Bikepacking Gear List: 7 Packing Essentials

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So, you’re thinking about setting out on a bikepacking adventure?

First off – do it!

Bike touring is a fantastic way to travel, whether you’re exploring a new country or just heading out for a weekend in the wild near your home. You’ll be able to stray far from the beaten track and there’s a massive sense of achievement in completing a bike tour – and unlike most epic journeys, there’s a minimal environmental footprint.

To help you kickstart your adventure, we’ve assembled a comprehensive bikepacking gear list so you can separate the don’t-leave-without-it from the probably-won’t-end-up-using-that!

It might look like a lot of gear to put together, but a lot of it will already be owned by most cyclists – and there’s usually a budget option for the bits that aren’t!

In this guide, we’ll be covering:

  • What’s The Best Type Of Bike For Bikepacking?
  • How Do I Carry My Bike Touring Gear?
  • The Bikepacking Repair Kit
  • Bikepacking First Aid Kit Essentials
  • Bike Touring Clothing
  • Bikepacking Gear List: Toiletries
  • Bike Touring Navigation Gear
  • Optional: Bikepacking Camping Gear

Ready for the lowdown on bikepacking gear essentials?

Let’s get started!

Complete Bikepacking Gear List: Title Image

What’s the best type of bike for bikepacking?

As we mentioned in our Complete Guide To Bike Touring, if you’re starting with a small bikepacking trip the best bike is probably the one you already own!

It can be easy to find reasons to procrastinate setting out on your bikepacking trip, and feeling like you’ve got to invest hundreds of dollars in a shiny new bike is probably one of the chief offenders. If you’re only planning a relatively short, easy trip close to home, and you’ve got a bike that is in decent working order – just get going!

If you’re doing a more ambitious bike tour, however, it’s probably worth investing in a decent bike.

The best type of bike for you depends on the type of bike tour you’re planning. For off-road bikepackers, a mountain bike is usually the best option.

Bikepacking Gear: Mountain Bikes

When deciding on the right mountain bike for your trip, think about your route and what bike characteristics would be useful. For example, a ride across technical, rough trails is best handled on a bike with full suspension, while a route with soft terrain such as sand, snow, or loose gravel will be much easier on a bike with fat, soft tires.

BikeTips Recommends: Trek X-Caliber 8 ($1599)

Trek’s X-Caliber 8 is a great mid-range option for bikepackers looking to invest in some serious gear that can eat the cross-country miles, without remortgaging the house.

A solid hardtail all-rounder, the X-Caliber 8 is well-suited to bikepacking trips as it comes equipped with rack mounts for attaching storage, a 1x Shimano drivetrain for simplicity and reliability, and an overall emphasis on efficiency to help grind out the miles on longer rides. It’s also a great platform for upgrades, as it’s dropper-post and race wheel compatible.

Bikepacking Gear: Touring Bikes

For bicycle tours that stick mostly to paved roads, we’d recommend a touring bike as your best option.

Touring bikes are – unsurprisingly – specifically designed with bike tours in mind. They’re not dissimilar to road bikes (and it’s possible to do a bike tour on a road bike), but there are a few key departures that make touring bikes better adapted for the role.

Touring bikes prioritize durability and comfort, unlike the speed-and-weight-at-all-costs approach of road bikes. They usually feature steel frames, which offer greater strength and stability than the lighter aluminum or carbon typically used for road bike frames.

They normally use wider, fatter tires, lower gearing options, more upright seating positions, and – crucially – attachment points for panniers.

BikeTips Recommends: Trek 520 ($1829)

A staple of bike tours for more than three decades, the 520 is an iconic touring bike that has withstood the test of time to remain one of the best-in-class.

Every aspect of the 520 is optimized for long-range, multi-day riding. Equipped with multiple racks, puncture-resistant tires, tubeless-ready wheels, and a carefully tuned steel frame to provide stability and comfort, the 520 is a tough bike to beat!

The headline addition to recent models of the 520 is mechanical disc brakes, instead of the rim brakes of old. Bikepackers are sometimes wary of rim brakes because they make removing wheels a bit more of a hassle and can be more complex to maintain, but we think that’s a small price to pay for the reassurance of reliable stopping power in all weather conditions.

A cyclist walks her heavily-packed bike through a forest.

How Do I Carry My Bike Touring Gear?

Storage space is essential for every bikepacking gear list.

In an ideal world, you want to have enough on-bike storage that you can ride without a backpack – but this isn’t always possible, especially if you need to carry camping gear too.

You can find cycling bags that attach to just about every part of your bike, and the prices can vary widely.

In general, paying more will get you lightweight gear and better waterproofing (our recommendations mostly sit around the upper-middle price range) – but there are still plenty of worthwhile options that won’t break the bank if you shop around!

Here’s our rundown of 4 essential types of bikepacking storage space.

#1. Panniers

The tried-and-tested cycling storage solution, panniers are bags that attach to racks at the front or rear of your bike.

Panniers give you the most capacity of any of these storage options, but their weight and bulk mean they’re not ideal if you’re trying to kit out a nimble off-roader for technical trails.

BikeTips Recommends: Ortlieb Back-Roller Classic ($200)

Super tough and waterproof due to their nylon-reinforced material, easily repaired, and simple to open and close, the Ortliebs are a favorite of bike tourers and commuters the world over. They’re also backed by a five-year guarantee as standard.

#2. Seat Pack

Seat packs attach to your seat post, protruding backward from behind your saddle. They usually won’t fit alongside a rack and pannier setup, but they’re lighter and nimbler.

BikeTips Recommends: Ortlieb 16.5L Seat Pack ($180)

Another Ortlieb offering, this seat pack provides a whopping 16.5L of storage and ticks all the boxes in terms of waterproofing and durability, at a mid-range price point. Also available in a smaller 11L version.

#3. Frame Pack

Frame packs allow you to use the bike’s triangle for storage. Because they often need to be custom-made for each bike, frame packs can get very expensive – although there are still some worthwhile universal options available.

BikeTips Recommends: Revelate Hopper Frame Bag ($85)

With a 4L capacity and a magnetic closing system that allows the bag to be opened and closed with one hand on the move, the Revelate Hopper is a great universal frame pack option.

#4. Handlebar Pack

Handlebar packs are a great place to store long, awkward, bulky items – especially tents. Handlebar packs should be kept as light as possible, or handling will

BikeTips Recommends: Ortlieb 9L Handlebar Pack ($145)

This pack delivers all the quality and durability you’d expect from Ortlieb, while its narrow 16-inch width makes it compatible for bikepackers riding with drop handlebars.

A cyclist adjusts their brakes on a heavily-laden bike in front of a mountain range.

The Bikepacking Repair Kit

Building a bikepacking repair kit is a trade-off between weight, space, and necessity.

These are our 7 essentials that should be in your repair kit for every bike tour.

  • #3: Inner Tube Patch Kit
  • #5: Pliers
  • #7: Heavy-Duty Adhesive Tape
A woman sitting in the grass applies a band-aid from a first aid kit.

Bikepacking First Aid Kit Essentials

You’ll usually find it’s cheaper (and less hassle) to buy a pre-packaged first aid kit instead of building your own – but not all first aid kits were created equal!

Here are 8 absolute essentials to make sure your kit includes (and to add if it doesn’t):

  • Tweezers
  • Band-Aids
  • Painkillers
  • Gauze Bandage
  • Sterile Non-Adhesive Pads
  • Fabric Adhesive Tape
  • Irrigation Syringe (20 cc)
  • Safety Pins

If you’re going into the wilderness or a country where you can’t be sure of clean water, it’s also a good idea to bring water purification tablets or filters.

A cyclist loaded with bike touring gear admires the view of a mountain range.

Bike Touring Clothing

The clothing you need to take will depend on the climate you’re bikepacking in, but there are a few essentials that should be brought on every trip:

  • Waterproof Layers
  • Insulation Layers for the evenings, even if you’re traveling in a hot climate

Bikepacking Gear List: Toiletries

  • Chamois Cream – paired with cycling shorts this is your best defense against chafing.
  • Sunscreen
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Toothbrush and Toothpaste
  • Toilet Paper – rip out the cardboard tube to save space.
  • Period Products if you need them.
  • Bin Bags
  • Deodorant – avoid antiperspirants as you need to be able to sweat!

Bike Touring Navigation Gear

  • Mobile Phone – vital both for navigation and in case of emergencies.
  • Portable Charger – invest in a solar-powered charger for peace of mind.
  • Navigation Apps – especially important if you’re bikepacking away from roads. We’d recommend GAIA GPS, which is an old favorite with mountain bikers!
  • Backup Options – if you’re heading deep into the wilderness, play it safe and bring a paper map, compass, and locator beacon in case disaster strikes with your phone. Sometimes the old ways are the most dependable!
A camper stood by his tent admiring the view of a misty valley at sunset.

Optional: Bikepacking Camping Gear

If you’re planning on camping during your bikepacking adventure, you’ll need to invest in some decent equipment.

Camping gear is an area where you really do get what you pay for. Better-quality equipment will be lighter, warmer, more waterproof, and more durable. You’ll regret saving a few dollars when you spend your nights shivering in a leaky tent!

Here are the four essentials to pack for camping on a bike tour:

#1. Tent

This one’s pretty self-explanatory!

BikeTips Recommends: MSR Hubba Hubba 2 ($479)

Previously known as the NX, the Hubba is probably the most recommended tent for bikepackers out there. It’s popular for its ample headroom, generous covered luggage space, light weight, and compact packing size.

It’s not the cheapest option, but for serious bikepackers we’d argue it delivers the most bang-for-buck. We’d recommend going for the 2-person size, which is only marginally heavier than the single.

#2. Sleeping Bag

The sleeping bag that’s best for your trip will depend on the climate you’re bikepacking in, but if in doubt we’d always advise you to err on the side of caution by opting for a warmer one!

BikeTips Recommends: REI Co-Op Magma 30 ($349)

A high-quality sleeping bag at a mid-range price point, the Magma’s goose-down insulation provides a temperature rating of 30°F despite weighing just 561 grams.

For hot, summer bikepacking you might be able to get away with cheaper options, but for any rider looking to make more of an investment, the Magma is tough to beat.

#3. Camping Mat

Some bikepackers forgo a camping mat to save weight and space – but we’d advise against it.

Not only will a good night’s rest help you recover in time for the next day’s ride, but a camping mat also provides an added layer of insulation from the ground on cold nights.

BikeTips Recommends: Sea To Summit Ultralight Air Mat ($119)

Despite weighing just 400g, the Ultralight Air Mat is wider than most competitors in its class and features a handy dual-action valve to make inflating and deflating a piece of cake.

It’s also cheaper than competitors such as the Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XLite ($180).

#4. Camping Stove

If you’re bikepacking any longer than a day or two, hot meals – and therefore a camping stove – are essential.

There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right type of stove, including the availability of fuel in the area you’re traveling, international restrictions, safety, and environmental concerns. Rather than recommend a specific stove, we’d advise checking out this guide from CleverHiker so you can make an informed choice about the best type of stove for your trip.

And always bring along a spork for a foolproof cutlery solution!

A group of cyclists pause in front of a snow-capped mountain range.

Hit The Road!

Now you know what to include on your bikepacking gear list, it’s time to hit the road (or trail) for yourself!

This might look like a dauntingly long list, but if you’re into outdoor activities you’ll probably already own the bulk of it.

And if not, there are decent budget options available for most of the items on this list. If you discover a passion for bikepacking you can always upgrade later – but for now, the most important thing is just to get up and go!

Found this article useful? Find more from the BikeTips experts below!

Rory McAllister

Rory McAllister

Editor
One of the BikeTips editors, Rory has enjoyed a lifelong love affair with cycling. Though he’s always game to hurtle down an MTB trail or dive into the backcountry wilderness, Rory’s real passion is bike touring on Europe’s sprawling roads with his old cycling mates. Their most recent adventure was a ride from London to the Italian Alps; the next trip is already in the works!

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