Preparing for Bikepacking: What You Need to Know

With the holiday season fast approaching, you’re probably thinking of spending some time on an exciting tour of some exotic place or hanging out with family and friends. If you are the more adventurous type and love the idea of cycling and hiking out in the great outdoors, a bikepacking holiday is right up your alley. If you have some friends who are enthusiastic about cycling, bikepacking may have probably come up ones or twice when brainstorming holiday destinations and ideas.

Bikepacking through beautiful mountain scenery
Stopping to enjoy the mountain scenery

Also known as “rough riding” or “rough stuff” in some parts of Europe, bikepacking is as adventurous as biking tours get. It involves bike riding hours and miles on end, camping, endurance, visiting wondrous places, experiencing new cultures, and meeting new people. For some first-timers, bikepacking is an eye-opening experience. However, before you set off on your thousand-mile biking holiday, here are some things you need to do first – call it the bikepacking 101 guide.

Prepare Physically and Mentally

The first and most important thing is to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the challenge. Whether you’re planning to ride through cities on tarmac roads or through rough terrain in the wilderness, you need to be physically capable of pushing those pedals.

Always expect the unexpected during bikepacking trips
Be prepared and expect the unexpected

While bikepacking, riders can pedal for up to 10 hours a day. This demands a high level of resilience and endurance. Set up a training regimen months or weeks ahead of the trip to ensure that both your physical and mental forms are in good shape.

Take Care of the Logistics

Next, you have to take care of the critical details involved with the trip. First, choose a bikepacking location, most riders usually pick southwest Europe, Northern America, or the Australian Outback. Depending on the time of year, select a location that has good weather, preferably sunny and not too humid.

Cycling in the countryside of Romania
Cycling through the countryside of Romania

After pinning down the location, arrange the travel details. These are things like visas, accommodation, travel insurance, and other requirements for the journey. Remember, some countries may have unique travel requirements, so make sure you have all the necessary information beforehand.

Pack All the Essentials

Once all the paperwork is cleared out, it’s time to attend to your bike and carry-ons. The whole idea of bikepacking is to have everything you need to survive for a couple of days or weeks on you or around your bike. Get some cycling bags and fill them with all the necessary equipment and gadgets.

Packing and preparing for a cycling tour
Packing for a cycling trip

Remember to pack a roadside repair kit, sleeping or camping accommodations, changing clothes, and maybe a rugged and dependable mobile phone. You might be surprised at just how much stuff you can carry comfortably on a bike. But don’t get carried away, pack only the things you absolutely need. The goal is to pack as light as possible but carry as much kit as possible.

Pair of cyclists reached the beach just in time to see beautiful sunrise
Arrived just in time to see the sunrise, woo-hoo!

Enjoy the Ride

Once you’ve done all that, now you are ready to enjoy a fun and memorable adventure. Bikepacking has really taken off these days, with riders exploring newer and even more challenging destinations such as Africa and South Asia. Some organizations and groups have even turned bikepacking into competitive endurance racing events 😉

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

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