Considered the next generation of cycle touring, bikepacking is appealing to a massive range of cyclists. Its popularity has led to there being even more kit options and ride resources available. We at Velo Domestique want to help you get started with bikepacking and experience the exciting sense of adventure it has to offer.
Unless you know exactly when you’ll need something, you probably don’t need it. This is not to say don’t take every single essential you may need in an emergency. It just means you might not need that 3rd spare t-shirt and perhaps the swim shorts can stay at home (Lycra dries pretty fast, or you could always go in the nude).
Stay Close to Home
There are few feelings more satisfying than cycling away from your home and off on a self-supported adventure. In places you already know well, your debut bikepacking adventure is less likely to give you an overwhelming amount of surprises. Despite this, you’ll be surprised how many exciting journeys you can create, piecing together routes you already know. Making some short, local trips will help you build the knowledge and confidence you will need to explore new places.
Spare Straps/Cable Ties
Gravel/off-road/dirt riding all involves bumps. It’s a great way to explore places off the beaten track, but it doesn’t half shake you about a bit. Even the fanciest bits of kit tend to rattle off every once in a while. You may find you need to carry a piece of a companions gear or even a road beer. Straps are your saviour in what could otherwise be pretty frustrating situations. Keep a couple spare as even a few cable ties will get you out of a jam.
If like us, your first time bikepacking is in the UK, you can pretty much guarantee you won’t be able to guarantee the weather. However, wherever you’re headed, it’s a good idea to prepare for anything. Carrying layers means you can store them in more accessible places. Have a waterproof shell strapped to your bar bag, a lightweight down jacket at the top of your saddlebag along with shades and suncream. This will keep you covered for most weather eventualities.
Not only do you feel like you’re on holiday when you slide them on but most flip-flops are also lightweight, comfortable and dry quickly. Standing around in your soggy cycling shoes you’ve spent all day in is not a satisfying experience. Sandals of any kind can be bungeed to the top (or bottom) of your saddle bag without taking up valuable bag space.
Bikepacking can seem like an expensive hobby to get into when you look at the amount of kit some people are using. However, the beauty of bikepacking is that it combines cycling and camping, two things you probably have some equipment for. Using straps a sleeping bag or roll mat can be mounted to your forks, a lightweight tent on your bars, you can even attach dry bags in place of specific bikepacking gear. Kit is available to fit a range of budgets, but if you’re starting out, it’s worth using what you have already where possible.
Well Maintained Bicycle
Pretty essential for almost any ride, however, when bikepacking having your bike in good working order can be the difference between an exciting adventure and an arduous challenge. Take the time to give your bike a once over before setting off:
– tyre pressure
– headset and bottom bracket play
– lubricating your chain
Make sure you know some necessary roadside maintenance in case of an emergency, as well as having the right tools for the job.
Keep these seven things in mind when you’re about to start planning your first bike packing adventure, and you’ll be onto a winner.
If you’d like to get involved in a social bikepacking weekend, perfect for those just getting started, check out Brother Cycles, Brother in the Wild event: an awesome two-day shred around The New Forest with camping, beer and good food. Stay tuned for details of the 2019 edition.
Feel free to ask our staff for advice on kit, parts and rides that will help you get your adventures underway. See you out there