Bikepacking blends all the benefits of minimalist camping and mountain biking to give you an unbeatable sense of freedom and adventure. You simply take your bike, add all of the gear you need to camp, and set off exploring! For the best bikepacking experience, it’s essential that you put together the right kit. Whether you’re on a budget or after the latest hi-tech gear, New Zealand is one of the best places to explore on a bike. Keep reading to get your bikepacking gear sorted!
When it comes to bikepacking, almost any type of bike will work. With a few small adjustments to your current bike, you can be all set up for your next adventure. Hardtail mountain bikes are generally considered one of the best options for beginner bikepacking as their off-road capable rigid frame can support heavy loads, while their tough and grippy tyres can help you tackle any terrain. Hardtail mountain bikes are extremely versatile and come at an affordable price. They usually come with disc brakes which offer excellent braking control and power in any weather, especially if you’re carrying a heavy load. While mountain bikes are preferred for those who like to take their adventures further off-road. If you prefer to mix road with off-road, you may be interested in an adventure road bike, these bikes often have drop-bars and lightweight efficient designs, with sturdier gravel specific components and more mounting points for accessories compared to traditional road bikes. Ultimately, you will want a bike that will make your life easier, giving you a comfortable ride and requiring minimal maintenance while you’re travelling long distances across varying terrain.
Cycling bags are an essential part of any bikepacking kit, and the combinations are endless. You can build your setup to suit your situation, with saddle bags, frame bags including handlebar bags and top tube bags, backpacks, hydration packs, and pannier bags all being great options. Bikepackers often carry the same gear as backpackers, plus some tools and spare parts. The benefit of bikepacking is that you can carry your gear on your bike, as you don’t want to carry large loads on your back for days at a time while you ride. For a balanced ride, load your bike up evenly and make sure your kit is as low as possible for improved handling, comfort, and enjoyment. Bikepacking bags are a great investment as they increase the amount you can carry and they fit your bike with ease, reducing any annoying rattling sounds when you are enjoying the peaceful quiet of the great outdoors! The key is to minimize how many items you’re taking so that you can simply enjoy your bike riding.
When it comes to the essentials of bikepacking, it depends on what type of journey you're after. Are you embarking on a multi-day bike tour, or just a single day bikepacking trip? To start with, think of the basics you need for everyday life no matter where you are. Food, water, shelter, and clothing are a good place to start. Food is fuel when you're bikepacking and it’s one area where you can get away with packing more than you need. Pack long-lasting foods that will power your rides such as dried fruit, nuts, granola, canned meats, vegetables, and stews. You should also take advantage of specialist cycling nutrition products like gels and bars that will give you a powerful energy boost without taking up much space in your pack. Shelter is critical to an enjoyable multi-day bikepacking trip. Start with a reliable and waterproof sleeping bag and pillow or sleeping pad, then build out your sleeping kit from there. You can use a tent or hammock for shelter but if you want to sleep under the stars you're all set to go with just your sleeping bag. Water can be carried in several different ways while bikepacking. The most simple and convenient way to carry water is by adding some lightweight bottle cages and water bottes to your bike to take the weight off your body. The other option is a hydration pack, giving you access to water at any time. Quality riding clothing will help keep you warm, cool, dry, and comfortable. You want reliable, moisture-wicking, and versatile clothing layers that you can easily add or remove depending on the weather. The list of clothing options is seemingly endless, including arm and leg warmers, base layers, gloves, jackets, vests, cycling jerseys, knicks, shorts, socks, shoes, headwear, and sunglasses. How you tackle this is dependent on you and your environment.
There is no end to the accessories you can take on your bikepacking adventure, but in our experience the following items are most helpful! 1. Navigation is an essential part of bikepacking. Whether you want to use a GPS Bike Computer or a physical map, it's important to have a route mapped out so you don't end up lost. 2. Lights are essential on any bike, however when you're bikepacking it's more about seeing than being seen. A powerful light that can double as a flashlight when removed is always handy. 3. Bikes maintenance kits are essential, but it can get difficult when deciding what to bring. Start with a puncture repair kit and spare tubes, a pump for inflation, and multi-tool, then expand to add a chain tool and extra chain links if you have space. While you're at it, add a repair kit for yourself, you never know when you'll need a medical kit on your bike ride.