• Europes biggest bike selection

    What is bikepacking?

    Robert Ferri
    Robert Ferri
    Apr 19, 2024 13 min
    What is bikepacking?

    Ah, bikepacking... Everyone talks about it, everyone wants to give it a try. And yes, bikepacking is a great way to escape from day-to-day life into the wild and enjoy a minimalist approach to a cycling holiday or adventure. It is just you, your bike, and the open roads and trails. But what is bikepacking after all? Why has it become so popular in recent years, and what do you need to know before getting started? Robbie will help you see things more clearly and, why not, start preparing your next bikepacking adventure.

    Robbie Ferri, our copywriter and bikepacking expert, holds the world record for the number of countries crossed in 7 days by bikepacking.

    Let's start with the start... What is bikepacking?

    What bikepacking means?

    Bikepacking is basically backpacking with a bike. The term bikepacking is nowadays widely used. It is the process of getting your bike, adding bags and kit, and going on an adventure. It is a fantastic way to escape daily life, explore places you want to see, or even challenge yourself to big miles.

    Bikepacking is a fantastic way to escape daily life

    How long is a bikepacking trip?

    Bikepacking could be an overnight camping adventure or an around-the-world trip. You do not need to sleep rough on the side of the road to be considered a bikepacker, nor do you need to stay in campsites or hotels. 

    Who invented bikepacking?

    Cycling in the past decade has changed immensely. Not only do we have more types of bikes and technology than we ever thought we were going to, but cycling has gone from not just a form of sport but a great way to have amazing adventures. One of the most recent big developments in cycling over the past decade has been the popularity of bikepacking.

    "I believe bikepacking was never really founded, it just happened." Robbie Ferri

    Although many people claim to know the original founder of bikepacking, it is hard to give one name. We believe it was never really founded, it just happened. People have been grabbing their bikes, throwing bags on, and riding mile after mile for many years. We just now refer to it as bikepacking or bike camping. 

    You can also have a look at our article on how to choose a bike for bikepacking.
    bike packing equipment
    Ultimately, opting for bike travel feels like the most natural choice

    What kind of people are bikepacking?

    Bikepacking is for everyone

    When it comes to bikepacking, there are no boundaries. It is a community that welcomes everyone, regardless of age, gender, or background. You will see older couples on electric bikes, young people choosing bikepacking over traditional getaways, and even families pedaling their way to unforgettable holidays. Bikepacking is for everyone. It is an amazing way to travel and there is so much to see with a view from two wheels.

    Find your future bikepacking bike on the buycycle App!

    👉 👈

    Even the pro give it a try

    We are even seeing world tour professionals such as Lachlan Morton take to the bike for epic bikepacking adventures, including setting course records and designing long routes around chasing the Tour de France.

    bikepacking in winter
    Yes, you can ride (almost) everywhere with a bike

    Pros and cons of bikepacking

    Pros and Cons of Bikepacking


    • Environmentally friendly
    • Keeps you in great shape
    • You pick where your adventure takes you
    • You can pretty much eat as much as you want
    • Lots of events available worldwide
    • Nearly any bike works for it
    • Bike camping is so much fun
    • It is not an expensive hobby
    • You are going to make some amazing friends
    • Your Instagram will look amazing


    • Your legs might feel tired after a long day
    • You are dependent on the weather
    • You get through tires and chains quickly
    • You might enjoy it too much and take up a life on the road
    beautiful sunset in bikepacking
    Be ready for the best sunset while bikepacking

    Bikepacking vs bike touring vs ultra cycling 

    It is all about traveling by bike

    People who are new to bicycle camping or learning about it often ask what the difference between bikepacking, bike touring, and ulta cycling is. This is a very valid question because they are all very similar.

    Ultimately, they are all forms of long-distance cycling. Though many cyclists see them in different ways and have very different opinions, here are most people's thoughts on the differences and our interpretation. 

    We have made a special selection of the best gravel bikes to start bikepacking.

    What is the difference between bikepacking and touring?

    Bike touring, compared to bikepacking, is often seen as taking more equipment, going on longer tours, such as one week to up to three months, and also as a way of life living on the road and a budget way of exploring if you are not in a rush.

    Bikepacking is often seen as a quicker way of doing bike touring. You generally carry less equipment, often go on shorter trips, or even just go away for an overnighter compared to bike touring.

    Ultra cycling vs. bikepacking

    When cyclists speak about ultra cycling, they are generally speaking about either bikepacking races or taking on very long-distance cycling challenges. You have races that could be as much as 4000 km or as little as 300 km, and they can be supported or self-supported. 

    For many people, bikepacking is unsupported ultra cycling. You generally use similar bikes, bags, and kit list. You just have to ride quicker, and it is more of a challenge event than a holiday or break on the bike. 

    Ultra-cycling pushes bikepacking to the extreme

    Why is bikepacking such a big deal?

    Bikepacking, in recent years, took off much more than anyone could have expected. Not only was long-distance cycling becoming more popular, but people wanted to find a way to go on an adventure without committing to a full-on bike tour. 

    We have a huge selection of gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes ready for purchase on our shop.

    A quick escape from the daily-life

    At a time when society has only accelerated in recent years, bikepacking is a way of escaping for a day or two, going out of time without having to go very far. You can simply leave home and jump on your bike to feel the tension of the week slip away.

    The need to go faster and push back the limits

    However, the fast, ultra-light bikepacking that has recently developed is not just an escape from today's society, but a reflection of it. Even in their spare time, many people need to continue to strive for performance and speed. That is what bikepacking is all about: going fast, going far fast, performing well.

    bikepacking road
    The call of the road

    Bikepacking is accessible

    Bikepacking is not only a thrilling adventure but also easily accessible. It can be done on almost any bike, and the necessary bags are not too expensive. As long as you know how to ride a bike, you are ready to start your bikepacking journey. 

    When the world was hit with travel restrictions in the early 2020s, people were in search of a way to explore without venturing too far from home or breaking the bank. Bikepacking emerged as the perfect solution, showcasing its adaptability and resilience in challenging times. It is a flexible and cost-effective way to experience the world around us, even when circumstances are less than ideal.

    bikepacking break
    You do not need much to start bikepacking

    What are the bikes and equipment of a bikepacker?

    Having a comfortable and reliable bike

    It is important to have a bike that holds up. If you have any doubts about the reliability of your own bike, it might be worth considering buying a new or used one. You can also read our guide on where to buy a bike. Investing in a new bike or second hand bike is a great way to start bikepacking. It means you can be on the right bike straight away and stops you having to make sacrifices on comfort and carrying ability.

    We have a huge selection of gravel bikes, mountain bikes, and road bikes ready for purchase on our shop.
    light bikepacking
    A light bikepacking set up on a road bike

    Gravel, MTB, enduro... or simply road bikes

    Many bikepackers tend to use whatever bike they have and enjoy riding. The most popular bikepacking bikes are generally gravel bikes, hardtail mountain bikes, or endurance road bikes. Touring bikes can also be an interesting choice. These offer a good mix of comfort and ability and are often equipped with frame attachments for adding a luggage rack and bags.

    We also have a comprehensive article on What is a gravel bike? and How to choose a gravel bike.

    Bikepackers love to use aero bars to have another position where the pressure can be taken off the back but also because they are great for hanging extra stuff off and mounting a Garmin and your lighting right in front of you.

    bikepacking mtb
    A heavier set up on a mountain bike for a desert bikepacking adventure

    Lightweight and minimalist equipment to load the bike

    Having the right equipment goes a long way toward getting the most out of bicycle camping. What sets bikepacking apart from other forms of bicycle travel is its minimalist and fast aspect. So, the bikepacker's equipment is reduced to the essentials, lightweight and practical.

    The most needed equipment is bags to help you carry all of your bikepacking kit. Here are some examples of popular bikepacking bags most people use.

    • Saddle bags
    • Handlebar bags
    • Frame bags
    • Top tube bags
    • Food pouches
    • Fork bags

    You will use these bags when bikepacking to carry all of your kit. The best bikepacking bags are very light and adaptable to going on most kinds of bikes and have many budget and high-end options. 

    gravel bike bikepacking
    A classical bikepacking set up on a gravel bike

    Bikepacking essentials for a successful trip!

    When it comes to bikepacking, there are some essentials that you are not able to go without. We have seen a lot of people at events make errors and have to finish early because they did not have the right essentials. If you would like to get started with bikepacking, you can read our guide on how to start bikepacking or our ultimate bikepacking gear list. But this shorter list will give you an idea of what you will not want to leave the house without:

    • Extra clothing for all possible conditions.
    • Spares such as inner tubes, repair kits, and a derailleur hanger.
    • A good multi-tool and anything else you need, such as small chain pliers. 
    • Cash, card, and a mobile phone in case of emergencies. 
    • Food and water to ensure you can fuel yourself for big miles. 
    • Lighting for riding at night and also in the day.
    • A helmet in case of accidents and high-vis clothing.
    • Bikepacking accessories to help along the way
    • Lightweight camping gear (tent or bivy, sleeping bags, etc)
    It is good to learn about choosing the right shelter for you as there’s a lot of different systems with bikepacking tents, sleeping bags, bivvy bags, and even hammocks.
    Many bikepackers decide to sleep in a lightweight tent

    Is bikepacking for you?

    Now you are probably wondering, is bikepacking for you? If you made it this far down the article there is a strong possibility it is and we highly recommend it to be tried by everyone. Here is some final thoughts.

    Are you adventurous enough?

    Bikepacking can be intimidating, and there is a lot to think about when you first want to start. However, you shouldn’t be intimidated by it at all. It’s an incredible amount of fun, and it just takes time to build up the confidence to get going. 

    You might feel like you need to be more adventurous to start with, but that comes in time, and before you know it, the challenges you take on are much bigger than you ever thought you could tackle. It just becomes natural after a while.

    bikepacker repairing his bike
    You might have to repair your bike yourself!

    The questions you need to ask yourself before you start

    It is easy to want to jump on the bike straight away and head for an adventure, but there are questions that you need to ask yourself before doing this. Here’s what I recommend questioning before going out the door.

    • Do others and I know where I am going?
    • Do I have everything I need for lots of possible situations?
    • Does everything work properly, and is it charged?
    • Am I making the trip as safe as I possibly can with a helmet and staying visible?
    Ready to start? Then have a look at the most famous bikepacking routes of instagram.

    Ride alone or with others?

    Riding with others is a great way to learn bikepacking and make something special from a trip, but riding alone is something pretty amazing too. They both offer a very different experience from one another and should both be experienced. 

    Many riders prefer being alone compared to others, but there are also people who prefer to be in a group. It is all about personal preference.

    bikepacking couple
    Sharing a bikepacking adventure with a loved one is a unique memory for life

    Time to choose your next bikepacking route...

    There are amazing bikepacking routes all over the world. Not only is there an amazing community of route builders and events popping up everywhere but you can even make your own using applications such as Komoot or Ride With GPS. 

    Some of the most famous bikepacking routes you might encounter while researching are The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, The Highland Trail 550, King Alfred Way, and The Arizona Trail. Many people use Europe's EuroVelo Network or routes. But don't forget that the greatest adventures can start on your doorstep. The important thing is to get going. Which route will be your next?

    If you love riding bikes, exploring, and adventure, then bikepacking is definitely for you. For many cyclists, it is a small escape from general life where you get to do something you love. Make sure to check out buycycle for that new bike that is going to take you on your next adventures.

    Will that be you?

    Bikepacking FAQs
    How do you train for bikepacking?
    Depending on the time you have spare you might choose long hours on the bike or short sharp sessions. There is a lot of ways to train it comes down to personal preference and a few other factors. 
    Solo or group bikepacking?
    Both solo and group bikepacking are a lot of fun. Solo for escaping the world and groups for connecting with new people.
    Nutrition and meals for bikepacking?
    Eating the right foods goes a long way to help you bikepacking as you will be burning a lot of calories. The biggest challenge is finding small quantity, high calorie foods to travel with. 
    Why no panniers for bikepacking?
    In bikepacking, riders opt for lightweight, compact bags over traditional panniers. These purpose-built bags attach directly to the bike frame, handlebars, or seat post, offering better balance and maneuverability on rugged trails. Their streamlined design reduces wind resistance and withstands rough terrain, making them ideal for off-road adventures.