One year ago i stumbled across the term “bikepacking”. It’s essentially a concept that encourages the cyclist to carry little more than a backpacker. The result is an incredibly light and agile set up that allows the rider to navigate far more challenging and remote terrains than your standard touring bike.
One year later and I’m completely hooked. I love the go anywhere appeal and the bare essential pack list, whilst the off-road routes provide a sense of adventure that you simply do not get on the roads. Im not the only one obsessed, it seems the cycling world has gone mad for this refreshing approach to bicycle touring. Companies such as Salsa and Surly have seen an absolute boom in sales. Both brands offer a more sophisticated and rugged approach to the long established dropped bar tourer. With bikes made for tarmac, dirt, rock, snow and sand there’s almost definitely going to be a model to suit your needs. Furthermore, both companies embellish these crank tanks with more braze-ons than the traditional tourer, allowing you to create your perfect rig.
Further still, bikepacking generally avoids standard panniers and instead opts for a more ingenious set up. This often consists of little more than a central frame bag, rear stuff sack/saddle bag and handlebar bag (see pictures and links provided below for more details). Lets face it, if these cyclists can do extensive tours on such minimal kit, we have a lot to learn. After all, who doesn’t wan’t a lighter set up!?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should all head for the hills, dump all our kit and live off the land…..although that does sound very appealing! Instead, I’m simply paying tribute to a style of riding that really does offer a fresh and exciting approach to bicycle touring. Although I have not yet planned an off-road tour, I have began a process of weight reduction on my bike. Hopefully this will see it transform from the touring tank I explored France and the UK with, into a high speed, partial to a bit of dirt, rocket ship that I’ll be riding the length of Italy on in May/June 2015.
Bikepacking resources have blossomed in recent years and it seems that the individuals that partake in this cycling revolution have also initiated a watershed in the way bicycle touring is presented. Their sites are beaautttiful, with incredible photos, videos, exquisitely written blog entries, routes, pack lists, gear reviews and even beer recommendations. These individuals, in my opinion, have really captured peoples imaginations. Their sites are not only incredibly informative, they’re seriously cool and undoubtedly appeal to the younger generations in a way bicycle touring simply has not in the past. I for one have been completely won over, check out these amazing sites and I’m sure you will be too.
Check out these short bikepacking films....