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Travelling in bikepacking mode: what is it and what is it used for?

What is bikepacking? Travelling light, cutting through streams, crossing dirt passes, having fun on rocky routes, breathing the scents of the forest, planting your tent away from civilization, but also travelling along endless paved roads, stopping in a hotel or eating in a trattoria. The word bikepacking refers to those who love travelling by bike without using the racks instead necessary for cycle-tourism. Anyone can travel in bikepacking mode, you just need a bike, your survival equipment that can be put in specific bags and the desire to leave for a real adventure.

Bikepacking equipment: what you need

From a two-day ride by bike on the mountain paths close to your place to a once-in-a-lifetime journey by bike, bikepacking can be practised by anyone loving bikes and adventure. You can leave from home or reach your starting place with any other means of transport, you can cycle for one day or one week, you can arrange yourself to be independent or choose to rely on facilities for eating and sleeping. To practice bikepacking, there is specific equipment which is different to the classic equipment used for "cycle-tourism" with racks and bags: equipment doesn’t affect the shape of the bike in a horizontal way but only vertically.
  1. Handlebar bag: realized to be applied to proper fastenings placed on the bike between handlebar and brakes, this bag is, together with the saddlebag, part of the classic bikepacking equipment. Ideal to contain lightweight objects like a sleeping bag, spare t-shirt, waterproof pants or cagoule, the handlebar bag shouldn’t be overloaded, doesn’t need front luggage racks and can have a maximum capacity of about 20 litres.
  2. Saddle bag: it is an essential part of the equipment for a bikepacking trip. By means of proper straps and buckles, it is possible to fasten the bag, that can reach a capacity of 14 litres, to the saddle of any bike. In the buckles of the saddlebag, you can also transport sandals or a windproof jacket.
  3. Frame bag: since every bike has different geometries and frames, this type of bag should be tailored. You can decide to occupy the whole space available so giving up your water bottle, or to occupy just a part of the frame... anyway, before buying make sure it is compatible with your bike. This bag is suitable for transporting heavier objects like food or the repair kit and the various tools necessary for your trip.
What’s more... if the available space isn’t enough to contain what you want to carry with you, you can decide to leave with a small backpack (be aware: do not overdo loading it since an excessive weight could cause back pains and compromise the success of your adventure) or use three other small bags. The first and the second one can be added to the upper part of the frame to contain snacks or a few objects to keep within reach (these types of bag are also called gas tanks), the third one can be applied to the front fork and can be an additional source for transporting some small but necessary accessories. Some of the abovementioned bags, given their particular geometry, aren’t waterproof and to become waterproof require the addition of further covering. For those who want to save some money and get anyway the same result, even if in a more austere way, I suggest to use plastic bags to place between the bag and the content.32 grande anello sibillini mtb

Travelling in bikepacking mode

Bikepacking is a way of travelling by bike that is particularly suitable for an off-road trail or to travel long distances in tight times. It is indisputable that for some types of adventures is an ideal choice, but it’s also true that for other types is inadequate and unfitting. A practical example to better clarify this statement is our latest trip by bike from Nazca, in Peru to Salta in Argentina. In Bolivia, we travelled the road de la Joya, a very demanding dirt road winding among high altitude lagoons for hundreds of kilometres. You cycle for days among sand, salt lagoons and volcanos, away from civilization and supermarkets and it’s, therefore, necessary to travel in complete autonomy. Moving with racks and bags we managed to transport many kilos of food besides 10 litres of water each, would it have been possible in bikepacking mode?
On the other side travelling by heavily loaded bags along single trails like the Dolomiti di Brenta Bike or the Dolomiti Lagorai Bike in Trentino would be really difficult. For every type of trip the suitable equipment even if each of us is, however, free to decide, also with creativity, how to organize at best his own equipment.03 grande anello sibillini mtb

How much does it cost to travel in bikepacking mode?

The specific equipment for bikepacking isn’t cheap. Bags have a limited capacity but costs anyway are remarkable. The ideal tent to practice bikepacking must be rather small and lightweight and with these two characteristics, you cannot expect to buy it at a reduced price. Generally, bags (always check them carefully!) aren’t totally waterproof and they need an additional equally expensive to become waterproof (excluding the hypothesis of plastic bags!)... So travelling in bikepacking mode totally independently requires a rather high initial investment even if the satisfaction in achieving is unbeatable. The costs of bags vary according to brand, capacity, finishing and model.
Generally, the price of each equipment is approximately the following:
- Saddle bag with capacity from 5 to 20 litres from 130 to 180$,
- Handlebar bag from 2 to 20 litres, from 60 to 150$.
- Frame bags vary according to the size,  from 30 to 60$.
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Veronica Rizzoli

ITA - Correva l'anno 1983 quando ha sorriso per la prima volta alla luce del sole estivo. Da sempre col pallino per l'avventura, ha avuto la fortuna di girare l'Europa e l'Italia con i genitori e poi, per la maturità, si è regalata un viaggio in 2 cavalli da Milano verso la Russia. Al momento giusto ha mollato il lavoro senza alcun rimpianto per volare in Nuova Zelanda dove ha viaggiato per cinque mesi in solitaria. Nel 2007 ha provato per la prima volta l'esperienza di un viaggio in bici e, da quel momento, non ne ha potuto più fare a meno... così, dopo alcune brevi esperienze in Europa, nel 2010 è partita con Leo per un lungo viaggio in bicicletta nel Sud Est asiatico, la prima vera grande avventura insieme! All'Asia sono seguite le Ande, il Marocco, il Sudafrica-Lesotho e #noplansjourney. Se non è in viaggio, vive sul lago d'Iseo! Carpediem e buone pedalate!

EN - It was 1983 when he smiled for the first time in the summer sunlight. Always with a passion for adventure, she had the good fortune to travel around Europe and Italy with her parents and then, for maturity, she took a trip in 2 horses from Milan to Russia. At the right moment he quit his job with no regrets to fly to New Zealand where he traveled for five months alone. In 2007 she tried the experience of a bike trip for the first time and, from that moment on, she couldn't do without it ... so, after some short experiences in Europe, in 2010 she left with Leo for a long cycling trip in South East Asia, the first real great adventure together! Asia was followed by the Andes, Morocco, South Africa-Lesotho and #noplansjourney. If he's not traveling, he lives on Lake Iseo! Carpediem and have good rides!

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