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    How to choose a bike for bikepacking?

    Robert Ferri
    Robert Ferri
    Apr 30, 2024 10 min
    How to choose a bike for bikepacking?

    While preparing for your next adventure, you might ask yourself, "What kind of bike is best for bikepacking?" Trust us, it is a relevant question because having the right bikepacking bike is crucial. This article will tell you everything you need to know when it comes to how to choose a bike for bikepacking. We will discuss bikes, the trips you plan to go on, and much more.

    Why do you need the right bike for bikepacking?

    which bike for bikepacking
    A good bikepacking bike will make your ride much more enjoyable

    A good bikepacking bike makes a whole difference

    The bike makes such a difference to your trip. The right bike can make the work easy and miles enjoyable, while the wrong bike can turn your adventure into a suffer-fest. The right bike will be comfortable, fun to ride, and able to carry all your goods. 

    When you start bikepacking, the incorrect bike will only cause you problems. Unfortunately, many people end up using the wrong bike and just not getting the right experience from a bikepacking adventure.

    Characteristics of a good bikepacking bike

    The first step is understanding what makes a good bikepacking bike. The right bikepacking bike will have certain characteristics to make it work right for you. Here is what you should be looking for.

    Relaxed geometry

    A relaxed geometry will make it easier to ride because it will offer better comfort.


    When carrying extra load and going on multiple terrains, a durable bike helps.

    Low gearing

    When it comes to adventure cycling the lower your gears go the better.

    Disc brakes

    Disc brakes help you stop faster with extra load and are great for riding off road.

    Ability to carry

    Having a bike that takes the bags or has mounts for luggage does help a lot.

    Good tire clearance

    Larger tires add comfort, help you go on mixed terrains, and make the bike handle well.


    Bikes which are designed to be reliable with basic components are great. 

    Looking for all this in a bike can be challenging. Many people choose to use gravel bikes, endurance road bikes, and hardtail mountain bikes or even a touring bike. All these you will find on our website. Although there is much more to it than you might think, and we will discuss this next in how to choose a bike for bikepacking.

    What route are you going to be taking?

    The next question we recommend asking yourself when discussing how to choose a bike for bikepacking or bike touring is what route you are going to take. We ask this because the bike has to be right for the terrain you are going on. If it is not, you are going to have an awful time. 

    Nobody wants to ride a road bike on a trail or sandy beach. The same goes for a wide-tire mountain bike on smooth tarmac. So next, we are going to break it down into different terrains and the bikes to suit them.

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    When it comes to riding on the road, you will have the best experience on an endurance road bike or a road gravel bike. They are great for smooth terrain, have excellent aerodynamics, and are nice and light without suspension components. 

    To learn more about the type of bike that would suit you, come check out our article on what a gravel bike is.


    For riding off-road, you will want to use a mountain bike, hardtail, full suspension if required, or an off-road gravel bike. These will help you stay in control on challenging sections and also increase comfort with larger tires.

    We also have selected the best gravel bikes for bikepacking.


    Say you are planning to do a little bit of both road and off-road riding. The best solution in this case is to use either a gravel bike or a hardtail mountain bike. They are good for all different types of terrain, and you still have the ability you need. We also have a comprehensive guide on how to choose a gravel bike.

    Snow / Sand

    If you are planning on some really extreme bikepacking on snow or sand, then there is only one bike that will give you an amazing experience, and that is a fat bike. These have large 4” tires, which help hugely on loose terrain and stop you from falling.

    Bikepacking bike
    Off-road gravel bikes are good for all different types of terrain

    How long are you going to be away?

    Next, we need to discuss the duration of the trip you are planning. You would be surprised how bikepackers often overlook the bike's ability to travel very far, be reliable, durable, and have a good carrying capacity.

    Many bikes are not designed for long trips and need regular servicing. For example, some mountain bikes require suspension servicing every 50 to 100 hours, which might only get you a week's bikepacking.

    A weekend

    For a weekend ride, you can get away with taking very little. If you are only planning on one or two nights, then you can take a minimal kit, especially if you are going to stay in hotels. You can use a performance bike like the Rose Backroad FF, which might require more regular servicing and does not have a huge carrying capacity.

    A week or two

    If you are going away for a week or two, you will need your bike to be more durable, easier to fix on the road, and have a larger carrying capacity. Bikepacking is tough on a bike, and weeks of it can quickly wear out components and apply a lot more pressure to the frame and forks it might not be used to.

    Several weeks, months

    If you plan on going away for months at a time, you will want a very simple bikepacking bike with easy-to-repair components that are straightforward to source. You will need to be carrying a lot more, so it needs to be very durable, and it has to be able to accommodate more bags in different places.

    bikepacking gear
    You won't bring the same equipment for a weekend as you would for several months

    What is your priority?

    Next, we need to discuss your priorities as this is important when it comes to how to choose a bike for bikepacking. What will your adventure be about, and what challenges will you set yourself while traveling away? This is a very important factor in picking the right bike for you. 


    If you want to go fast and speed is your main priority, you will need a bike that matches that. This could be a bikepacking race or event, or you might have set yourself a personal challenge to get from one place to another with minimal stops and rest.

    In this case, you are going to need a bike that leans more toward the racing side of cycling. You will benefit from carbon fiber and carrying only the bare essentials. Your bike will still need a certain level of comfort, but you could save up to two hours from the higher average speed you hold.

    A road bike or a light gravel bike is a good option for speed


    When it comes to bikepacking, many people start thinking a quick bike is the best option. They think they can travel fast and spend less time on the bike. This is very rarely the best option, and a bike made for comfort that is slower is the solution for many.

    A steel bike with a relaxed geometry and a saddle that prioritises comfort makes a big difference. Being able to sit on the bike longer each day means you have to work harder but often travel further. Yes, your kit will weigh more, and so will your bike, but it makes the experience much better.

    bikepacking bike
    A steel bike, a relaxed geometry and a good saddle make a big difference

    A mix of both

    Another option is to have a mix of both. Adding extra weight to the bike is not a problem, provided it gives you extra comfort. That heavier saddle, those wider tires, and materials such as steel or titanium with more flexibility go a long way. Comfort should always be your top priority, when it comes to what kind of bike for bikepacking.

    What gear do you already have?

    Before jumping into buying a new bike, if you are new to bikepacking, then consider what you already have. Many bikes can be turned into bikepacking bikes, and something that will work could be sitting in your shed at home. 

    Is your current bike an option?

    Bikepacking bike
    You may be able to use your current bike for bikepacking

    Your current bike could tick many of the boxes we spoke about earlier, such as disc brakes, relaxed geometry, and larger tire clearance. If it is missing a few characteristics, it might not be ideal, but it will still get you out enjoying an adventure. Returning to the characteristics we spoke of earlier and seeing if a current bike will work is a good start. 

    Consider buying second hand

    If you want to get the best bikepacking experience, you have the option of getting a second-hand bike from buycycle. You will not have to pay full retail, and you will get a great bike perfect for bikepacking and the adventures you want to go on. You can learn more in our comprehensive guide on where to buy a bike.

    Come check out our comprehensive list of bikepacking gear to properly prepare for your next journey.

    Picking the correct bike

    Now you know how to choose a bike for bikepacking, which will make your search much easier. A great way to find the right bike for you is to use the filter system on buycycle.

    You might find yourself with different bikes depending on the adventure you want to do. Going for an all round bike such as a gravel bike or hardail mountain bike is a great way to have a bike for multiple trips and adventures. You can even make the route around the bike you have.

    It is very important that it has the right characteristics and you also want a bike that you feel proud to ride and is the correct size for you. When it turns up, having a bike fit will go a very long way too.

    Bikepacking bike
    What will be your next bikepacking bike?