Few self-propelled adventures cover as much ground as a good bikepacking trip. Bringing the right gear is key, and finding the sweet spot between “too much” and “not enough” is critical. Our advice? Resist the urge to overpack, but don’t skimp on essentials.
Where you’re headed will impact what you bring. Consider this checklist as a starting point for bikepacking, and a foundation to build from. You’ll find as you become more experienced, you’ll dial in your set-up. If extreme temps or terrain are in order, adjust this list accordingly. Safe riding!
Make sure your bike is tuned up and safe to ride. Check all bolts for tightness, inflate tires, inspect tires for damage, ensure wheels are trued, etc. In terms of packs, there's no hard rule for how many to bring; two packs is likely the minimum, with three being popular.
- A bicycle – depending on where you’re headed, the bike you’re currently riding will probably do the trick
- Bikepacking bags, enough to carry gear for your length of trip
- Front light that’s powerful enough to see in low light conditions
- Rear light
- Lock (optional – keep it lightweight if you bring one)
- Ski straps to lash gear on
Bike repair gear
Don’t hold back on repair essentials. The further out you’re going, the more prepared you need to be in case of a mechanical.
- Tubes (at least 3; triple-check they’re the right size for your tire and rims)
- Pump that easily inflates tires to at least 60 PSI without too much effort
- Tire levers (at least 2)
- Multi-tool with hex keys from 2–6mm, Phillips and flathead screwdrivers, T25 torx head, and chain breaker
- Spoke wrench
- Chain lube (wet or dry)
- Extra chain master link
- Extra chain links – ask a shop, they should have something
- Spare derailleur hanger – do your research here; it will be specific to your bike
- Tubeless sealant and tire plugs, if running a tubeless setup
- CO2 cartridges and inflator, if running a tubeless setup (optional if you run tubes)
- Duct tape
- Pocket knife
- Zip ties
- If you’re heading way out, you may also want to bring an extra tire, spare spokes with correctly sized nipples, brake cables and shifter cables
Clothing to ride in
A cotton tee and jorts might fit the bill for short journeys but will quickly get uncomfortable during long days on the bike.
- Moisture wicking jersey or breathable shirt
- Padded riding shorts and/or liner
- Cycling shoes – clipless shoes or a durable, supportive pair of trail runners
- Socks (1–2 thin merino or synthetic pairs, plus a thicker pair for shoulder seasons)
- Packable jacket for wind and rain protection
- Neck gaiter that doubles as headwear in a pinch
- Cap that fits under your helmet
- Base layer (optional, depending on conditions)
- Cycling gloves and thin liner gloves for cold morning starts
- Knee/leg and arm warmers
Clothing for off the bike
Few things are sweeter than changing out of dank riding kit into fresh camp clothes.
- Thick wool socks (1–2 pairs)
- Underwear (1–2 pairs)
- Long and/or short sleeved shirt
- Pants, packable and breathable (no jeans!)
- Down or synthetic insulated jacket
- Packable sandals or casual shoes
Plan ahead and be sure to bring essentials for route finding and navigation. A GPS computer is highly recommended, and have backup navigation tools ready.
- GPS computer (optional, but extremely useful for planning and following routes)
- GPS computer charging cord
- Compass and map – bring even if you have a GPS (and know how to use them)
- Phone and charging items
- Power bank (1–2, depending on duration)
- Personal locator beacon or emergency communication device (optional, but good to have if headed off grid)
- Park passes and permits
Shelter and sleep
- Tent, bivy or hammock – for most cases, bring a tent. But if you're confident in the weather and your ability to rough it, a hammock or bivy works.
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Pillow (optional, but stuffing a jacket into a t-shirt also works)
Cooking and food
Save weight by going for a simple single burner stove. Avoid lugging plates or bowls; a mug pulls double duty.
- Food – create a food plan (don’t forget coffee)
- Snacks – bars, gels, anything high-calorie that won’t spoil or get crushed in your bags
- Lightweight stove
- Fuel for stove
- Lighter or waterproof matches
- Dish scrubby (cut a sponge in half, or even into a quarter)
Be prepared. A couple water bottles generally won’t cut it, unless you’re confident you’ll be close to drinking water sources constantly.
- Water bottles (2–3 in bottle cages or jersey, plus large Nalgene-like or packable bottle)
- Water bladder if bottles aren’t your style; for drier climates and extended tours, this is usually a must
- Water filter/water treatment system
- Hydration tablets/mix
Freshening up in the evenings and mornings can make a trip far more enjoyable. Still, bring only what you need, and don’t be afraid of getting a little grubby.
- Chamois cream and skin repair gel
- Toothpaste (small amount)
- Toilet paper
- Deodorant (optional)
- Biodegradable soap
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
- Menstrual products
- Small travel towel – doubles as a dish drying cloth
- Ear plugs
- Cash, cards and ID for any stops along the way
- Boredom combatants – books, playing cards, journal with pencil, etc.
- Headlamp with extra batteries
- Personal first aid kit with blister care
- Knife (one with a safety locking blade)
- Bear spray and/or bear bangers
- Bug spray
- Repair kits for sleeping pads, tents and stoves; include duct tape and repair tape
- Trip plan left with friend or family
Remember: leave no trace! Pack out anything and everything you bring (including garbage), and leave every camp site or snack stop better than you found it.