19th December 2017 / Comments (0)

Bikepacking – essentials

In the last of this bikepacking mini series from Scott Cornish, we will look at some of the ‘must haves’, packing your bike, what to expect (bike handling) and some useful resources.


  • Duct Tape – wrapped round your pump
  • Mat Repair kit
  • All the normal spares you’d expect to take for your bike. (If you are running tubeless tyres, consider taking a 100ml bottle of sealant as well as spares tubes, along with a valve extraction tool.)
  • Elastic Bands – for wrapping around opened food bags etc
  • Zip Lock Bags – for food or for keeping things dry
  • Leatherman Wave – a personal indulgence. It may be heavy but it is a highly versatile tool for any eventuality.
  • Spork
  • Sudocreme
  • Chamois Cream. (Keep the creams in a ziplock bag to minimise bulk and weight.)
  • Baby wipes – for personal hygiene. (Remember to take these home and dispose of sensibly. They are not biodegradable.)
  • External Battery Pack – to recharge your phone, GPS etc. This is a low cost option and is ideal for beginners and saves you getting into the whole dynamo hub thing.

Some of the small, useful items for your bikepacking essentials

Packing your bags

I usually carry all my sleeping gear in the 13L dry bag. The Neolite thermaest packs down small enough to wrap around the sleeping bag which is in it’s stuff bag which in turn, sits in the dry bag. The merino gear can be packed around it.

I attach the 2L bag on the front of the 13L bag. This carries arm/knee warmers, cycling cap, waterproof gloves, (cut down) toothbrush, toothpaste, spork, money and passport. The Gore Shakedry jacket sits under the top straps. If you are riding with a tent, the poles slot nicely under the front harness straps.

Sleeping mat and sleeping bag in the dry bag up front

The rear dry bag holds the rest of the clothing, a travel towel, the tent or bivvy and the footwear, which is attached to the outside.

Top Tip : I prefer to keep all the gear that does not have to be kept dry, or heavier items such as food, mug, stove/fuel etc in the frame bag. This helps keep the weight centred for better bike handling.

Keep the pump, cereal bars and other food in your back pockets, as you normally would.

If you plan to use refuges or hostels en route, I’d take a bivvy bag. If you are going to be out in the open for several days, or where there are no other shelter options, I recommend taking the tent. Do not underestimate the weather. A tent will keep you dry if it turns wet.

Bike Handling

Once loaded up, your bike will handle differently. Expect it to be less responsive, particularly off road.

bikepacking clothing

Top Tip: It is easier to ride with weight up front so you ‘push’ it along rather than loading up the back and ‘pulling’ it.

Before heading out into the wilderness, take your fully loaded bike out for a few test spins. A few miles up the road will not prepare you for a rocky descent so make sure you test your bike over appropriate terrain.

Expect to weight the bike differently on descents and into turns. Don’t worry if your gear shifts about a bit, this is quite normal. You can spend time adjusting straps at the trail side. You aren’t in a race so take your time.

The First Trip

On your first trip you will end up taking more gear than you need. The more experienced you become, the less stuff you will use.

It goes without saying that first time out, don’t try and do a multi day epic. Start off with a night trip and work up to the longer multi-day rides.

Bikepacking is all about having fun. You can use almost any type of bike, you can ride alone or with mates and you can decide whether to use bothies or shelters or indeed to sleep under the stars. Believe me, spontaneous over nighters are as much fun as big trips.

bikepacking, night time stop over


Looking for inspiration?

Mountain Bothies UK 

Mountain Bike Routes UK


If you are up for more organised events, I can’t recommend either of these enough:


Tour de la Resistance – a shorter (out and back) option from Talloires on the shores of Lake Annecy.

The options are endless. Make up your own route or follow a pre set course, it is up to you. There is something wholly liberating about the self sufficiency of bikepacking. Adventure is out there just waiting for you.

Make 2018 the year you make that first step….




Last modified: 17th January 2018

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