Top Bike Packing Travel Tips for a Great Cycling Holiday

By Camille Poire | BLOG

Jul 23
top bike packing travel tips for a great cycling holiday

Many nature lovers like bike packing over the holidays or while on vacation. It allows them to visit new places and to take in different scenery. You can ride your bike on gravel, single tracks, or roads. It is necessary to pack essential gear before you start your backpacking trip. At times, it is tricky to ride solo in adverse weather. So, it is advisable to consider the weight of all your equipment. The following are six bike packing travel tips to help you have a memorable cycling holiday.

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Understand Cycling Rules

Each country has clear traffic rules. Normally, cycling laws differ from those for motorized vehicles. Moreover, various locations in the same country might have different rules. So, it is advisable to read and understand the cycling rules in the country or state that you intend to tour.

For instance, the United States recorded about 500,000 cycling traffic injuries in 2013. Out of these, 900 victims lost their lives. So, it is wise to ride defensively and to expect to encounter traffic near you.

Carry your health insurance card with you, especially if you are touring a new state. Emergency contact and information, such as a list of your medical allergies, can come in handy in case an emergency occurs.

Check your insurance coverage to ensure that it can pay your medical bills if you get injured while bike packing. Or, you can buy an international medical plan or travel insurance from reputable companies if you want to tour another country.

Carry the Right Bikepacking Gear

bike packing travel tips tent camping

The following items make up essential bike packing gear:

  • Tent: Carry a tent that can withstand harsh weather for several days. It is prudent to pack a light double-walled tent that is suitable for backpacking. You can pitch it quickly and it offers protection against elements such as dust. Or, you can carry hammocks and tarp tents if you will camp in an area that has many trees.
  • Bags and racks: Don't carry items that will make you more flexible while riding. Instead, buy heavy-duty waterproof panniers such as Ortlieb panniers. They are available in many shops that sell bikepacking gear. But, you will need to fix a rack on your bike to carry panniers.
  • Clothing: Put on padded shorts to cover your legs and thick gloves to cover your hands. Always remember to wear a helmet throughout your bike packing tour.
  • Sleeping pad: Buy the right sleeping bag or pad to keep you warm at night. Consider the temperature rating and weight of the sleeping pad. It is important to have extra shelter besides using the pad.
  • Bike tools: Pack duct tape, brake cables, chain tool, cycling multi-tool, a 6-inch adjustable wrench, replacement chain links, spare tubes, a spoke wrench, and tire levers in your tool kit.
  • Cookware: Wood burning stoves are necessary if you want to tour a forest. Follow the fire restrictions in your target location. For example, wood stoves are prohibited in deserts.

Hone Your Riding Skills

Of course, it's essential to make sure you're comfortable on a bicycle before setting out on a cycling holiday. But riding a bike is not the only skill that is useful to master. Polishing up your first aid skills is one of the bikepacking holiday tips that renowned bikepackers give.

Don't forget to include a medical kit when packing your gear. You might have to enroll in a local first aid class or take an online course. Learn how to light a fire and carry waterproof matches. Also, it is important to learn how to maintain a bike.

Prepare Your Bike

bike with panniers for cycling holiday

One of the more obvious bike packing travel tips is to choose a bike that you can ride comfortably. Panniers and racks require dedicated bikes. You can improvise an easy way to carry gear instead of making costly adjustments to your bike. You might have to change your suspension and tires if your equipment is bulky. Also, it is prudent to adjust the gearing of your bike if you are planning to go on a long-term bikepacking trip.

Fix a comfortable saddle and double wrap the bar tape. You can fit ergonomic grips and ride while in an upright position to avoid straining your lower back muscles. An ideal bike should have functional lights and a GPS device to help you determine your current location.

Find a Nice Route

Many websites provide good resources for choosing the right bike route. For example, a few to note are Bikepacking and The Adventure Cycling Association. Choose a gravel road or moderate trail if you are going on one of your first bikepacking trips.

Distribute Gear Appropriately and Go for Backyard Test Runs

Once you've picked the right gear, prepared your bike, and found an awesome route, the last step is to distribute the gear appropriately and to go for a backyard test run.

You should load the bike fully during the test run to get a true feel for what sensations you'll have in real conditions. For example, you can do it at night once you arrive home from work and pedal for 8 miles into a nearby hill or mountain. Spend the night there as you ponder how to balance the gear on your bike.

cycling holiday bike packing travel tips

Reduce the load on your back and handlebars. The seat bag and frame can carry most of the gear. It is difficult to steer properly if you overload the handlebars. So, it is important to reduce the weight upfront to have enjoyable descents.

Final Words

Overall, experienced bikepackers recommend training vigorously before you start a bikepacking trip. In addition, make sure to buy the right gear and to inspect your bike.

It is also prudent to check the latest weather update for your bike packing location. Understand the rules of the road, and find a nice route where you can have a thrilling experience. You can bike pack solo, with a group of friends, or with family.

Have you ever been on a cycling holiday? Are you planning one? I'd love to hear your top bike packing travel tips, so let me know in a comment below!

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About the Author

Hey, I'm Camille! I'm a 30-something "ex-French" girl turned world explorer. In 2013, I quit my life to travel the world - and I haven’t stopped since! I have lived in the UK, South Korea, Thailand, and Colombia, and have visited 50+ countries as a location-independent travel writer and affiliate marketer. I like sleeping in hammocks, riding scooters, eating all the foods, and scaring my mother trying adventure sports! I now share this journey with my nomadic boyfriend Mr B, with whom I recently bought a home base in the mountains of Bansko, Bulgaria.

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