Like many outdoor activities, the initial investment for the proper gear can be significant. From various frame bags, motorcycle helmets, seat bags, handlebar bags to the camping equipment needed for overnight trips, you need a lot of “stuff” to make the experience enjoyable. Luckily, most folks who want get into bikepacking already have much of the camping or backpacking gear to get started. So here, we’ll focus on bikepacking specific gear for the bike. One of the main ideas in loading your bike with gear is that you want the heaviest gear as low as possible, typically in a frame bag. People generally put water, food, or other heavy items in the main pocket of a frame bag.
Next is the seat bag. The seat bag usually carries lighter items like a sleeping system and spare clothes underneath the seat and angled up so as not to come in contact with the rear tire. There are several types and sizes. But one of our favorites is the type that is a dry bag integrated into a shell, like the Revelate Designs Terrapin system. This eliminates the need for having the gear inside the seat bag be enclosed in a separate dry bag(s) and consequently reduces weight. The rear wheel tends to kick up lots of mud and water, especially in wet conditions, and having waterproof rear gear storage is key.
The handlebar bag rounds out the big bags for bikepacking. It’s important to have your bike evenly weighted from front to rear. While getting used to riding with some weight up front can take a little time, the evenly distributed weight and cargo space is well worth it. The handlebar bag can be used for tent, clothes, or any of the other myriad of camping gear needed for an overnight trip.
Lastly, there are a number of small cockpit bags for storing snacks, tools, or water bottles. There are numerous types that attach to the stem or handlebar for those on the go needs. There are also small bags that attach to the top tube and seat post. These small bags are great for quick access to nutrition or sunscreen.
Durango Cyclery carries Revelate Designs, Crater Packs, Alpine Luddites, and Blackburn bikepacking bags. We have found these to be the brands to be the most durable, reasonably priced, and with lots of options. Check out their websites for full line ups of bikepacking bags and accessories. Many of these vendors will also make custom frame bags for your unique bike!