Here’s How to Carry Camping Gear On Your Bike
TLDR: We’ve got the details on how to pack for your next backpacking/camping trip (Hint: good bike bags and packing light will carry you far).
You never know what you’re going to experience when you’re pedaling through the forest, camping gear strapped in, and the world laid out before you, unknown, and ready to discover.
Bikepacking is one of the most engaging and challenging outdoor experiences. And while day trips are great, many bikepackers — including you if you find yourself here — might be more inclined to stay a while. But to take a multi-day trip, you’ll need camping gear. And with camping gear, comes a dilemma: how to pile everything onto your bike so it all fits.
After all, it’s not just majestic unexpected experiences — like observing a hawk flying above during a quiet moment alone — that you will have when out in the wild. You also will likely encounter your fair share of harrowing experiences, like being stuck in a thunderstorm, or being eaten alive by mosquitos. And you need to bring enough gear to prepare for anything that happens.
So, with that said, we’re here to prepare you with the following 5 steps to take to prepare yourself for your next bike camping adventure.
Step 1: Choose Easily Portable Camping Gear
Camping gear comes in many different shapes, sizes, and varieties, from small and large tents to low-profile sleeping bags to thermoses and canteens. In fact, when you take a multi-day bikepacking adventure, you should be sure to bring some of the following essentials with you:
- A sleeping bag
- A tent
- A sleeping bag and/or sleeping pad
- Cooking gear and nonperishable foods
- Water — a hydration pack or feed bag works well
- First aid kit and emergency supplies (flashlight, flares, satellite communicator)
- Clothing, toiletries, & personal hygiene items
- Entertainment supplies (i.e. books/journals)
- …And more
In choosing all of the above, try to find the lightest, smallest, most portable items you can that will still meet your needs. When it comes to bikepacking, portability is key.
Step 2: Choose Your Bike Carefully
Okay, so maybe you already have a bike and you’re not about to buy a new one. We get that. But, on the other hand, if you’re new to bikepacking, you will want to find a bike with:
- A high degree of durability (sturdy construction)
- Plenty of mounting points for bike bags and gear
- A good suspension system and gears
- Relatively wide tires for navigating difficult terrain
- A comfortable seat (many bikepackers choose to upgrade from a stock seat)
Step 3: Purchase Quality Bikepacking Bags & Accessories
If your bike is the heart of bikepacking, what you carry your gear is like the circulatory system. Most bikepackers use bike bags to carry camping gear on their bike. But not all bike bags are alike. So choose wisely!
If you’re getting piecemeal (individual) bags separately, be sure that you’ve got enough room to carry everything put together.
The beauty of the Kokpelli Durango Bike Bag series is that all individual bike bags are designed to work together, with the needs and required capacity of bikepackers in mind. You can choose between standalone bags if you like, or buy the whole system — the choice is yours.
Step 4: Learn How to Pack Gear Strategically
Packing skills come in handy when figuring out the best way to carry camping gear. In fact, while there really is no “best” way, you’ll want to make sure that you make the most of all of your bike bags and pack things to maximize space.
Step 5: Don’t Neglect Safety
Space comes at a premium when carrying camping gear on a bike. But you never want to put yourself or others at risk to save a bit of space. So don’t forget essential safety gear, like a first aid kit — and, if you’ll be packrafting, a raft repair kit.
If you’re looking for quality bike bags to fit in everything but the kitchen sink, check out Kokopelli’s entire Durango Bikepacking Bag Series here.