Rapha's Guide To Bikepacking
All you need to know ahead of your next off-road adventure.24 June 2022
Many of these tips and tricks came from some of Rapha’s very own. Contributions were from the following, who certainly know a thing or two about off-road exploration…
Sourcing & Production Manager
Ultra-endurance racer and regular weekend bivvier.
Front End Developer
Off-road explorer with an occasional need for speed.
Senior Product Engineer
A true gravel grinder and all-terrain adventurer.
Proficient bikepacker and overnighter aficionado.
FOLLOW A ROUTE
Whilst setting off without a plan sounds fun in theory, the realities of an undecided route can quickly turn an unplanned adventure into an unsuccessful one. Of course you should always leave room for a little off-the-cuff exploring, but it’s important to make sure you’re not venturing into the complete unknown.
Work out whether you’re an A to B or closed loop kind of person. They both have their benefits but if you’re taking a linear approach, be sure to sort your transport at the end of the road. If it involves taking public transport, make sure they accept bikes.
If possible, try to plan a rough area in which to sleep in advance of arriving there. Leaving your camping spot entirely up to luck can result in some dodgy pitches and stressful searches in the dark.
Download a route-planning app to plot your own route or find one someone else has shared. If you plot your own, pay attention to the route’s elevation, it can be easy to miss when looking at a map and really mess with timings.
TAKE ALL YOU NEED
Packing light is the first rule of bikepacking, but sometimes a few little luxuries are worth their weight. You should be able to lift your bike with bags on, but unless you’re going cross country or taking part in a race, a few extra grams can’t hurt.
Pack a perfume sample – they’re much lighter than deodorant and a quick spritz can really lift the spirits after a long day in the saddle.
Save your socks and helmet from daytime dampness by storing them in your bag overnight.
Take a couple of multi-use Voile Straps – their uses are limitless and they take up next to no space so make sure you’ve got a couple spare.
carry a spork.
LEAVE NO TRACE
It may seem obvious but the magic of bikepacking relies on the natural beauty of the places we ride in. And the best way to preserve it is to leave the landscape exactly how you found it. Here’s a few of our favourite tips and tricks on leaving no trace and reducing your waste.
Try decanting any food you bring into reusable containers to reduce any waste or rubbish. Our top tip is to use an old hummus pot to carry your oats for a hearty breakfast.
What’s the best way to cut down on buying packaged foods? Eat natural ones. Foraging is a great way to get a no-waste snack, and keep up energy levels. Download a plant identification app before you go and discover some natural food sources.
Pack in, pack out. A favourite mantra for bikepacking mavens. Keep track of everything you unpack at camp, and make sure it's all packed up with again when you leave. Whatever goes out, must go in again.
EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED
It’s the least anticipated moments that are often the most memorable. The best way to prepare for an off-road adventure, is to simply be ready for anything. These essential items will help you handle the unexpected on the tracks less travelled.
You’re going nowhere with a broken chain so take a chain tool and a spare link.
Zip ties can be used to hold racks and bottle cages in place if a bolt rattles loose.
As well as patches, take a tyre boot to repair and inflate after a puncture.
No rear derailleur = no gears.
Don’t go single speed, take a spare mech hanger.
Most importantly, take an adaptable approach to your trip.
Mindset is everything.
ENJOY THE RIDE
It can be easy to get caught up in the finer details of your day; reaching your sleeping spot, sticking to a planned schedule or whether you’ve picked the perfect route. Make sure you stop and take stock, spend some time stationary to have a proper look around.
Factor time into your schedule for stops. There’s nothing worse than having to skip out on the perfect swim spot or pass up on a freshly baked pastry because time won't allow it.
Focus on the scenery, not the stats. Bikepacking is the perfect way to connect with your surroundings, so ignore the computer.
You’ll be back at the day job soon. So just remember, even if times get tough on the trail, it’s a privilege to be pedalling.