What is Bikepacking?
Bikepacking in essence is the combination of backpacking and bicycle riding.
Similar to cycle touring, bikepacking trips are self-supported with stops at chosen spots along the way for rest and food.
Bikepacking is slightly different to cycle touring, in that the emphasis is on taking the path less travelled to reach your destination.
For this reason, the majority of bikepackers opt for mountain bikes or gravel bikes as their mode of transport. This opens up their options when it comes to route choice and allows them to journey off-road.
Packs instead of racks.
Instead of using panniers and rack systems to carry your gear, bikepacking uses specifically designed bags, strapped directly to the bike frame, handlebars and seat.
This makes things lighter and encourages you to take a minimalist approach when packing for your trip. Check out our bikepacking overnighter gear list for ideas on what essentials to take on your first trip away.
Where to sleep?
When bikepacking there are various options when it comes to bedding down for the night.
One option is to find a nice bed and breakfast to call home for the evening. This allows you to travel super light on your adventure, removing the need to carry food supplies, tent or a sleeping bag.
Another choice is to book in at one of the many campsites throughout the UK. You’ll probably be sharing your sleeping spot with hikers and families but this is a great option if you’re a beginner wanting to kip under the stars with the added security that comes with a designated campsite.
A third slightly more daunting but totally authentic sleeping experience is to travel out to somewhere beautiful and remote to wild camp for the night.
We must note that wild camping in the UK (apart from certain parts of Scotland and on Dartmoor) is technically illegal but there are options for you if you ask the landowners permission.
More info on wild camping can be found here.
Leave no trace.
An important rule to follow whilst bikepacking is to leave no trace.
Take everything you brought with you so your chosen spot remains as beautiful and as un-disturbed as it was when you found it.
By arriving late and leaving early (so as to cause as little disruption as possible) you also get to enjoy beautiful sunsets and supremely satisfying sunrises.
So what is bikepacking?
The bikepacking experience, promotes the freedom of exploring wonderful outdoor spaces with the option of spending an evening or two under the stars. All this partnered with the enjoyment of getting out for an epic bike ride.
If you like getting outdoors, camping with just what you need and riding a mountain bike, then chances are you will love bikepacking!