Want to escape from the world on your mountain bike? Then you'll be needing these...
There is no feeling in the world like leaving on a bikepacking trip. Slamming the door on a car you know you won’t be seeing again for several days, immersing yourself in a world only dreamt about from your desk.
Travelling with the minimum of kit to keep you comfortable is a challenge in itself and needs careful choices but, luckily for this generation of adventurers, there are a few companies now supplying ‘off the peg’ adventure gear.
UK-based Alpkit has been specialising in lightweight backpacking gear for years but has recently turned its focus to bikepacking-specific gear too.
Big-hitters like Specialized have realised the potential of this growing niche, with its excellent range of luggage now available from local dealers. Between the two of them you can fully kit yourself out. We cleared their shelves and went feral for a few days.
1. Alpkit Pipedream 400 Sleeping Bag
Rated down to around -4°C, the 400 is an excellent compromise bag for autumn through to spring in the UK. If the temperature drops below freezing we find wearing a few more layers to bed helps get a comfy night. The hydrophobic down used helps when conditions are damp. Pretty much always, then.
2. Alpkit Numo Sleeping Mat
Inflatable mats are the answer to all bikepacker’s dreams — the Numo is a light sleeping mat that is not only super-comfortable (when the temperature is above freezing), but folds down to the size of a large drinks can and weighs nothing. If you cut corners anywhere on your bikepacking shopping list, don’t do it here.
3. Alpkit Hunka Bivvy
The Hunka is a basic drawcord bivvy bag that just does the job. If the weather is foul you will definitely want a tarp over you as it doesn’t seal completely.
4. Rab Siltarp 2
A versatile and extremely light tarp that can be stretched between trees, beside dry stone walls or even across bike wheels to make a simple shelter to keep the rain off. Worth its weight in gold when you’ve been in the rain all day and just want a break when making your dinner. This one’s by Rab, but Alpkit does a very similar version called the Rig.
5. Alpkit Titanium MitiMug 650 and Tifoon spork
Anything that can double up in use on a bikepacking trip is gold, so being able to cook in, eat and drink from the well-proportioned Mitimug 650 makes it indispensable. The Tifoon covers every utensil requirement and, although it doesn’t fold for storage, neither does it fold down your shirt when eating.
6. Alpkit Kraku Gas Stove
Tiny, light and folding into the MitiMug 650 alongside a 100g canister, this miniature wonder is a titanium gem of a stove. Despite dimensions it also packs a punch, so you won’t be waiting long for your first brew of the day.
7. Petzl Reactik Plus head torch
Although not the lightest or most compact, the impressive light and burn time on the Reactik Plus means it can be used for night missions on the bike too, and is indispensable on long winter nights in the bivvy. You can control output and tinker through the Bluetooth app on your smartphone too, passing some happy hours with a hipflask under the stars.
8. Packtowl Luxe
We take the terry-looped Luxe version of the Packtowl as it is positively luxurious, and used for everything round camp. The hand size is fine and can even stretch to drying your whole body after a dip in the river.
9. Specialized FatBoy SE
Fatbikes are superb for their simplicity out on the trail; no suspension, just big old tyres to soak up the trail buzz and compensate for the technical capability you may have lost by strapping all this gear to your bars and frame. You might find that you move a bit more slowly than usual, but on the plus side it all helps to just sink into the bikepacking groove.
10. Specialized Burra Burra Bikepacking Luggage
You need somewhere to stow all this kit and the Burra Burra is one solution from the Big S. Choose from a whole kit of handlebar harness, seat pack, frame pack, top tube accessory pack and even bags that fit in bottle cages. Other brands offering similar are out there, such as Ortlieb, Alpkit, Blackburn, Wildcat, Revelate and many more.
11. Sweet Protection Nutshell Jacket
When you get to camp, whether its summer or winter, you are going to chill as the sun goes down. A good insulated jacket will make those delicious moments as the day closes, whisky in hand, just a little bit more comfortable. The Nutshell has a synthetic fill, making it less susceptible to the inevitable damp of life on the road.