I couldn’t help but be enamored of the concept of bikepacking: heading out into the backcountry, riding my bike for days on end, carrying everything that I need to survive, with nowhere else I have to be and nothing else I have to do besides eat, drink, and ride my bike. And apparently, thousands of mountain bikers around the nation, if not the world, are falling in love with the same ideal–bikepacking participation and gear choices are exploding!
Consequently, one of my main goals for the year was to start bikepacking. While a torn ACL over the winter and subsequent recovery hampered my timeframe, during the first weekend of October I was able to finally #rideloaded and venture out into the mountains, hauling all the gear along with me that I needed to survive.
I had the privilege of embarking on my first trip with three friends, all of whom were more experienced bikepackers than I. And two of them are supremely qualified: Neil Beltchenko (who has set four bikepacking course records this year… so far…) and Lindsay Arne of Bikepacker.com. Naturally, I picked up a lot of great tips and tricks along the way. Here are 15 valuable lessons I learned on my first bikepacking trip:
1. Run what you brung: You don’t need a special bike.
As I planned my first trip, I obsessed too much about my bike choice: do I have the optimal bike for bikepacking? What’s the perfect bike for the terrain we’ll be covering? Should I get a different bike for this trip?
At the end of the day I chose my fat bike, because it had more space in the main triangle for bags, and because it’s what I had. Was it the ideal bikepacking rig? Maybe, maybe not–but it did just fine, and I had a great time on it.
The most important thing is just to get out there and start riding!