Backpackers interested in doing some backcountry exploration on two wheels already have a head start. For the most part, backpacking gear translates right over to a bike, and skills like setting up camp, backcountry cooking, and gear organization are all the same, which means the best bikepacking gear is the backpacking gear that you probably already have.
The differences start, however, is where all that gear gets packed. On a typical bikepacking rig, bags generally strap to the handlebars, seat post, and within the bike’s frame triangle. Once you find bags (look at options from Revelate Designs and Blackburn, among others) that fit your particular bike, it’s time to start loading them up with these bikepacking essentials.
BIKE: Niner RLT 9
Bikes come in a massive range of features and stats and an even larger range of prices. The RLT 9 combines the comfort and light weight of a road bike with rideability and ruggedness of a gravel crusher, for a price that won’t force you to take out a second mortgage. A carbon fork dampens the ride on rocky forest roads.
$2,150-$4,600; 23.1 lbs (depending on tires); ninerbikes.com
TENT: Hyperlite Ultamid 2
While backpackers are more concerned about limiting weight as much as possible, thanks to the limited space in bike bags, good gear for bikepacking puts a larger premium on volume. The floorless Ultamid packs into a 8.6×5.5×6 stuff sack, perfect for jamming into long and narrow seat post or handle bar bags, and can fit yourself and at least two of your companions, or you and your bike, which may feel like a more important tent mate. It’s super pricey for a tent of this form, but it’s the best weight-to-volume bargain you’ll find anywhere.
$735; 1 lb. 2.7 oz; hyperlitemountaingear.com
MULTITOOL: Blackburn Tradesman Multitool
If something breaks a couple days down a random gravel road, having the ability to get yourself rolling again is critical. The Trademan packs almost all the tools you could need into a lightweight package. Hex and Torx keys are standard, but a chain-breaking tool, backup quick links, and a clever quick link remover will keep you from worrying about your chain.
$30; 4.8 oz; blackburndesign.com
LUBE: Chamois Butt’r
A good cyclist will never leave home without this, especially if they’re riding hundreds of miles over the course of a few days without regular showers. The non-greasy skin lube will keep chafing in your chamois to a minimum.
$18/8 oz. tube; chamoisbuttr.com
SNACK HOLDER: Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag
The best bikepacking gear keep your snacks within arms reach at all times. This small cinch bag attaches to your handlebars and stem and is just big enough to fit a 1-liter Nalgene’s worth of snacks or easy-access items like your phone or camera. Open and close it with one hand so you can grab a bar without needing to stop.
$49; 3.7 oz; revelatedesigns.com
STRAPS: Voile Nylon Buckle Straps
Not just good for skiers, these rubber straps are gold for backpackers as well. Attach water bottles, jackets, tent poles and other bikepacking gear to your frame or bag packs, without needing to worry about the soft-yet-durable nylon buckle scraping the paint on your bike. You can never have too many of these.