The weather is great, the weekend is long, and nature is tugging at your heart. So going on bike camping aka bikepacking, is the best course of action. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, it generally refers to going camping with your trusty bike, serving as your mode of transportation. You can bike from one place to another or just camp at a specific destination as you please.
Why You Should Go Bike Camping?
The better question is, why not? If the appeal of enjoying the beautiful scenery while cycling great distances does not seal the deal already, then the economic aspect of the trip surely will. You will save money on gas and still carry all camping gear without having to walk long distances. It is an absolute win-win situation.
With bikes, you can set up camp at one place and then venture out farther along the camping territory, which would otherwise have been impossible to travel by foot. If you have kids, bring them along on the adventure using a bike trailer or child bike seat.
Carrying camping essentials is absolutely necessary, but try to pack in only the necessities. Remember that cycling is much harder than driving your car. Cycling itself requires considerable physical exertion; you don’t want to add to the burden with excessive luggage.
If you are still leaning in towards heavier carry-ons, it is better to have a bike trailer that evenly distributes the weight and is more comfortable to ride with.
Bike Camping With Some Power
If you are worried that bikepacking will be mutiny on your poor calves, then fret not! E-bikes will save the day for you. With e-bikes, camping and biking couldn’t be easier. The electric motor with pedal assist will make the toughest trail a cakewalk, and you can comfortably carry heavy luggage for your trip.
Practice Wildlife Safety
Cycling while surrounded by the beauty of nature is a blissful experience. However, not all of nature is scenic and peaceful. Check whether your camping destination or nearby sites have any animal alerts.
You should be wary of wild animals like bears and snakes. Be informed of the animals native to the area so that any accidental encounters will make for a majestic yet safe experience.
Bring Your Bike To The Mechanic
If your beloved mountain bike has been in the darkness under your shed for a while, it is better that you let a mechanic do a health check on it before you are off for your camping trip.
You don’t want your bike to break down in the middle of the wilderness, miles away from nearby help services. Get your bike fine-tuned and get extra gear and accessories fitted by a professional at least one week before your trip.
Know Your Site!
Spontaneous camping trips are an adventure in themselves, however, it is always wise to be on the side of caution. In the wild, anything can go wrong. Hence, it is essential that you are aware of your destination site and not head in blind.
Beginners should select a site that has running water, an outdoor grill, tent sites, as well as a campsite shop for any essentials you have missed or in order to buy food.
Plan Your Route
Going off the grid is fun if you are a seasoned mountain bike rider who is used to bikepacking. However, for a beginner, it is ideal that your routes are well planned out, and be sure to carry a GPS and maps to guide you on the way.
Bring A Good Tent
A good tent can be the difference between an amazing camping experience and a disastrous one. Pack a good quality tent that is waterproof, hole-proof and lightweight, and most importantly, spacious. The last thing you want on your trip is to be cold in a cramped tent in the middle of the wilderness.
Clothing Shelters You, Too!
The right gear is just as essential as your biking and camping gear in order to ride smoothly. You should wear lightweight, easy-to-dry clothes. It is best to wear multiple layers to stave off the frigid nights in your tent.
Carry Extra Water
Always carry more water than you intend to. Drinking water is a boon that is hard to come by when you go off the grid. You can never overpack water. Cycling requires considerable physical exertion, and the relentless mountain trails will only make you more parched.
Cooking and Snacking
Cooking on camp is a fun experience but not an absolute necessity if you aren’t a picky eater. If you can survive on energy bars, beef jerky, dry cake, and fruits, who is to deny your culinary choices? Nonetheless, it is always better to carry more food and water than regret not having enough.
In Case Of Emergencies
Emergencies don’t announce before happening, so it is ideal to be prepared. Pack in extra lights, first aid kits, and signaling devices to be prepared to handle the worst-case scenarios.
With some planning and bike accessories, you can carry all that you need and more for your bikepacking. For example, you can place the sleeping bag and tent with the help of a bike rack on the front and back, respectively. With four panniers on each side of the rack, you can pack in smaller essentials like cooking gear, food, and even clothes.
Handlebars which are small bags attached to the handles can be used to carry essential items for quick and easy reach. This can include your wallet, maps, compass, GPS, and even a rain jacket.
You can never be over-prepared for emergencies. Store your multi-cycling tools, such as a pump, and tube in the seat bag located right under your seat.
Additionally, you can secure a backpack or duffle bag with bungee cords to your bike rack to carry more camping gear. Use your hip pack to carry small water bottles, energy drinks, and snacks for the journey.
Remember to keep the weight evenly distributed between the front and the back. Finally, pack your panniers with the heaviest items at the bottom for better balance.
Biking With Kids
Biking with your kids will be among your most cherished memories. A little planning and care can make the experience both enjoyable and safe.
Make sure that you planned the entire route, including rests (you will need plenty of those!). Opt for an easy trail that the kids can easily travel on and bring lots of snacks for the journey. Most importantly, focus on having fun and enjoying the journey itself. Kids don’t care about distance or speed or reaching a specific destination.
Finally, keep an open mind to unplanned situations, after all, kids are spontaneous by nature.
Before the bike camping excursion, it is always ideal to have practice runs with your bike. Practice setting up your tent, test out your gear, and set up a makeshift camp in your backyard to have a better feel of how things work. You will also understand better on items you really need and what problems you are likely to encounter.
Finally, the most important piece of advice, enjoy your bike camping and encourage your friends to join you. Camping is best enjoyed as a group. There is no better bliss than enjoying nature’s bounty in good company.