Bikepacking gear has grown significantly from the supply-side of the cycling industry over the past five years due to the activity’s inclusive nature. With the growth of resources like, brands creating bikes targeted toward gravel and off-road bike touring, and the growing interest in affordable and sustainable tourism, bikepacking has helped to bring many more people into the sport of cycling.

So what helps to make your bikepacking experience better? Having a plan and having the proper gear will greatly improve your bikepacking experience regardless of whether you're heading out for a quick overnighter or embarking on a months-long expedition.

Related: The Best Adventure Bikes

Why not panniers?
This is a common question I hear from some of my non-bikepacking friends as they question my lightweight setup. Bikepacking bags offer the user the ability to adapt the setup to your own personal needs and preferences, the idea with bikepacking-specific gear is the ability to actually take your loaded bike on a wider range of terrains, meaning get off of the dirt roads and jeep trails and onto the lesser traveled singletrack. Bikepacking bags are designed to give you the ability to maneuver your bike over challenging trails and terrain without being overly cumbersome or rattling loose, as panniers can in some instances.

By strategically positioning your cargo, bikepacking bags allow you to pack a decent amount of gear onto your bike without hampering your ability to go off-road. In place of panniers, many bikepacking rigs sport full or half-size frame bags, large saddlebags strapped to your saddle and seatpost, and handlebar bags. These are the main styles of bags. Riders may also carry a backpack, which for long days, is not optimal but sometimes necessary.

The Best Bikepacking Gear
This list is by no means exhaustive. It is intended to give first-time bike bikepackers a list of quality products that will allow them to strategically carry weight on their bike. So, what are some of our favorite products for bikepacking?

Revelate Spinelock Seat Bag

Revelate was one of the brands that pioneered modern bikepacking bags and it is still one of the top manufacturers. Revelate's latest seat bag, the Spinelock, is one of the most stable, lowest-profile waterproof seat bags available.

Integrating what Revelate explains as “user tested and approved features” like a one-way air purge valve, rear light slots, loop and bungee deck, and an external plastic bottom with a new patented attachment system. Stability was the driving element in the design process of this bag and if you’re looking for something you can pack and forget, the Spinelock is a great choice.

Available in two size options, the Spinelock 16L is the largest and is perfect for longer trips, cold-weather adventures, or if you just have a hard time leaving behind some necessities. For smaller riders with minimal seat/tire clearance, or uber-lightweight riders going on warmer weather adventures, the smaller 10L option might be a better choice for you.

Price: $185.00

EVOC BOA Handlebar Pack

German pack maker EVOC recently jumped into the bikepacking realm with a more European approach to design and functionality. Designed around minimalist bikepacking, the line of products integrate into small packing solutions for riders who may opt to stay in huts or hostels, which is a great option in the densely developed Alps region of Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and France. EVOC’s BOA handlebar pack is constructed using waterproof fabric and is attached using the sleek BOA lashing system. If you only need to carry a change of clothes and snacks for the day, this handlebar pack is a great choice for stashing lighter items.

Price: $150

Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 Tent

A reliable shelter can either be a true necessity or an utter waste of space depending on your trip plans. If you’re like me and looking to get out in the wild places and stay there during your tours, a lightweight, packable shelter is an important consideration to keep you comfortable and dry out in the woods. The Big Agnes Copper Spur is designed as an ultralight bikepacking tent built for on and off-road adventures with a recent redesign featuring more interior volume and using stronger, lighter, more sustainably-sourced fabrics. The Copper Spur HV UL Bikepack tent is enhanced and equipped with functions you need for two-wheeled travel, plus a few extras like the awning-style vestibule TipLok Tent Buckles to simplify setup. This tent also offers an included bar mount packing system that works pretty well. (I personally prefer to spread the tent out in a few different places on my bike, though.)

Price: $499

Life Straw Gravity Water Filter

For $55, this gravity water filtration system packs down reasonably small and also includes an additional bag for your camp hydration needs. It protects against 99.999999% of bacteria (including E.coli, Salmonella), 99.999% of parasites (including Giardia and Cryptosporidium), 99.999% of microplastics, lead and other heavy metals, chlorine, organic chemical matter, dirt, sand, and cloudiness, and improves taste. It can be used in four ways: as a personal straw filter, with the included gravity bag, as an in-line filter with most hydration packs, or attached to most disposable water bottles. A long-lasting membrane microfilter lasts up to 500 gallons (2,000 L); replaceable activated carbon + ion exchange filter lasts up to 26 gallons (100 L) Plus, Lifestraw gives back: one purchase, one child, one year of safe water.

Price: $54.95

JetBoil Flash Cooking System

This compact rocket of a stove is the most efficient way to heat up water for quick and easy meals out on the trail. Packing down to about the size of a quart jar (7.1 x 4.1 inches), the Jetboil boils 16 fl. Oz. of water in 100 seconds making for quick and easy meal or hot beverage prep. Weighing 13.1oz or 371g and retailing at $109, it’s a great way to eat delicious hot food out on the trail without having to pack too much extra.

Price: $109

Good To-Go Freeze Dried Meals

When I’m headed out for an adventure, I’m often surprised by how quickly my bags fill up. Between warm layers, camping gear, water, and a stove, but don’t let your food cache suffer due to lack of space. Good To-Go makes the most delicious freeze-dried meals that are light and pack down small while still serving up great flavors like Thai Curry, Herbed Mushroom Risotto, and Indian Korma. At about $7 a serving, they are priced well compared to other freeze-dried options but offer up the most tongue tantalizing flavors.

Price: $6.50-$14.00

Alpine Start Instant Coffee

As a main staple in daily life, I’d rather not skimp on coffee when I’m out on the trail. Thanks to many adventurers also being coffee snobs, brands like First Ascent have dialed in the instant coffee game. Packing amazing flavor profiles into easy to use instant coffee packets. Just add hot water and you’ll be enjoying that morning brew before you can count to ten. At $30 for a 16 pack of coffee, they aren’t cheap, but if you love a flavorful cup of coffee from a brand that values where their beans come from the First Ascent Expedition packs should be on your packing list for your next outing.

Price: $9-$25 depending on the number of servings

Voile Rubber Straps

I’ve been on many trips where I inevitably acquiring more stuff along the way, whether it’s food or souvenirs, I rarely have room in my bags. Initially designed as ski straps, Voile’s original straps came out back in 1984, and are the best in the business of strapping gear to your adventure bike. Great for strapping down sleeping bags, dry bags, Nalgene bottles, fuel bottles, sleeping pads, bread, beer, skis, and more.

Price: $17.00

Custom Frame Bags
There is an ever-growing number of custom bag manufacturers popping up to help supply the growing niche market of riders looking for frame bags perfectly-sized to their frames and specific needs. The great thing about this option is that it guarantees you will get a bag designed around your planned adventure. Brands like Oveja Negra, Crater Packs, Bedrock Bags, RockGeist, Rogue Panda, and the list goes on...

If you’d like some recommendations, this thread over in Mtbr's Bikepacking Forum has some great information. Prices range from $100-$250 for a custom bag but it will be something that lives with your rig for many years to come.

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