Bikepacking 101- Choosing the Right Gear

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.

Revelate Designs Terrapin system

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!

Bikepacking 101- Choosing the Right Bike

For those thinking about picking up a bikepacking rig, it may be difficult to decide what kind of bike best suits your needs, but you need to remember that picking the right bike is as important as stretching with the URBNFit exercise balls before a trip. Hardtail? Full suspension? 29er? 27.5 Plus? Steel? There are so many choices out there today that we thought we would try to make it just a bit easier to narrow the choices by touching on some of the big ideas. If you are looking for the best bike, you should see this.

Let’s begin with the type of frame. There are some benefits and draw backs to both hardtails and full suspension bikes. Hardtails have a more efficient pedal stroke and tend to have more storage space on the frame for a nice-sized bag or even a rear rack and pannier setup. Full suspension bikes ride very nicely and provide some relief after really long days in the saddle. They also make descents with a lot of weight on your bike much easier. A 14 hour day in the saddle is rough on any kind off bike…

Now lets talk wheel size. Most folks in the bikepacking world tend to gravitate toward 29er wheels because they seems to be the most efficient all around size. Whether on long flats or challenging obstacles, the 29er is up to the challenge. The newest wheel size, 27.5 plus is also really taking off due to the lower pressure you can run in these big tires (3.0) and the crazy traction they provide on loose and technical trails. The 27.5 plus can also be swapped with a 29er wheel set as the dimensions are the same. That makes a 27.5 plus bike really two bikes, if you choose to invest in a 29er wheel set you can pick and choose which would be the best choice for a given trail.

Frame material is really personal preference and/or dictated by budget and your environment. Steel has a great feel but could rust if not maintained in a wet environment. Aluminum is light, tough, and won’t rust. Carbon is even lighter and stronger, but very expensive.

I’ve just tried to touch on a few aspects of choosing a bikepacking rig, but I hope it’s been helpful. Some of our favorites around Durango Cyclery for bikepacking shredders are the Devinci Marshall 27.5 Plus full suspension, the Surly Karate Monkey 27.5 plus, the Devinci Cobain (very reasonably priced hardtail) 27.5 plus, and the Devinci Django 29er. Stop by for a demo! Hope to see you on the trail.

Surly Karate Monkey 27.5 plus

Your Bike Shop For Bikepacking In Durango Colorado

Durango is one of the best places in the country for bikepacking adventures. The Colorado Trail and Continental Divide offer some of the most beautiful and challenging bikepacking terrain that is right in our backyard. Durango Cyclery has all the gear you’ll need for an epic bikepacking trip. We have frame, handlebar, and seat bags by Revelate Designs, Alpine Luddites, and Crater Packs. And of course, we stock a number of mountain bikes that are ideal for bikepacking like the Surly Karate Monkey, Devinci Marshall and Kobain. And our staff are highly experienced and ready to offer expert advice for all your gear and route questions. Get out there!