The Dos & Don’ts of Bikepacking

|

Time to read 5 min

So you’ve got an exciting new cycling adventure planned. A long-distance route that requires more than just the very basics – for this route, you might need a tent, sleeping bag, and even a little towel to dry off with after cleansing in wild waters. From the route to the packs, bikepacking trips require a lot of prep work. They’re like a massive puzzle where you try to whittle down the very essentials of life, then figure out how to carry them all on your bike… without breaking your back. It’s a lot.


With bikepacking season now squarely upon us, many female cyclists are no doubt excitedly planning ahead for their epic bike touring adventure. That’s why we give you 10 Dos and Don’ts of Bikepacking to help ease your mind before you set off. 


10 Dos & Don’ts of Bikepacking

1.DO set your own pace. 


Bikepacking isn't a race. This is your adventure, don’t worry about how much road you should or shouldn’t be pedalling in a day. Some days, you’ll wake up ready to pedal for hours, others will be a struggle for you to just get on the bike. Honour your body. Find your rhythm. And remember, take breaks and enjoy the view. And if you absolutely need to... throw your bike on a bus to get through to the next leg. 


2. DON’T forget to fuel & hydrate, obsessively.


The last thing you want to do is hit a wall, or ‘bonk’. That happens when the muscles in your body run out of fuel. As good practice, you should be fueling not only before and after any leg of cycling, but also during. Keep high energy snacks close at hand and get into a rhythm of fuelling every set amount of kilometers or so. 


Also, pro tip: think about using a hydration bladder instead of water bottles. Not only does that free up your bottle cages for extra storage needs, but then you’re also keeping your water supply (and snacks) close at hand. 

3. DO stay open-minded.


Accept the detours and roadblocks that will inevitably come your way. There are so many unforeseen circumstances that you won’t be able to predict or plan around ahead of time. That’s pretty much life. Accept the detour as part of the journey. Re-calibrate, and pedal on.

4. DON’T compromise where it matters.


There are detours, and then there are poor decisions. Things you shouldn’t compromise on are things like good apparel. Invest in cycling gear that is lightweight, breathable, and sun-protective. Don’t forget to pack layers for chilly mornings and drizzly days. Also, don’t forgo padded cycling shorts. A padded seat is never a better option for your body. 

Bikepacking female cyclist
Collage art by @hash_illustrations

THE BEST PADDED CYCLING SHORTS FOR BIKEPACKING

5. DO learn bike mechanics 101.


It’s amazing how many female cyclists aren’t comfortable with bike basics such as changing a tire. This is a skill that you must conquer. Even if you’re bikepacking with someone who does bikes better than you, learning how to do basics like pumping tires, greasing chains, and changing a tire will absolutely empower you on the road ahead. 


Pro Tip: Wanna uplevel your bike basics? Check out this video we put together with the help of a bike mechanic: “ 10 Easy Steps to Tune Up Your Bike


6. DON’T forget your tools.


Now that you know the basics of bike tune ups, it’s even more important to bring the right tools. A small kit that includes essentials like a multi-tool, levers, and bike pump is great. 


Pro tip: think about packing a few zip ties and adding some gorilla tape (wrapped around your pump or frame) for quick DIY fixes in emergencies. 


7. DO bring some comforts.


You are about to embark on a new adventure that will undoubtedly test you both mentally and physically. Knowing that, it’s okay to pack along something that will help settle the nerves at the end of the day like a chocolate bar… or a sneaky water bottle filled with your favourite rosé on ice. 


And for those debating whether or not they should cut their toothbrush handle to save weight? Keep the handle, you’ll thank us later.

8. DON'T overpack.


It goes without saying, the lighter your pack, the easier the road ahead will be. Don’t worry about all those tempting camping doo-dads that fold and collapse down into microscopic proportions. Like the camping pillow, or that super lightweight camping chair. All of these are just extras that you can easily do without.


Also, skincare can get bulky and heavy real fast. Narrow your skin routine down to only the essentials: moisturizer + sun screen in a single combo cream. For cleansing, use the same biodegradable soap that you'll be bringing to wash your body and chamois, either bikepackers' favourite Dr. Bronner's in mini, or soap sheets like these

9. DO test new gear.


Every year, we get cyclists reaching out with unfortunate pictures of their cycling shorts snagged or frayed from friction caused by rubbing against bike packs. This is in fact the number one reason why cycling shorts rip.

So, before you set off on your bikepacking journey, do make sure to field test your packs. Make sure nothing rubs against your skin or your cycling apparel. If there is friction, it will fray (or bleed!).
Bikepacking cycling gear

10. DON'T wear underwear!


This can be a costly mistake. After hours pedaling, the friction from your underwear can cause some serious sores. And yet, even knowing this so many women still set off on bikepacking trips in their underwear thinking that this is a more hygienic solution than re-wearing the same padded cycling shorts day-after-day. Trust us, it’s not. Cycling shorts should be washed and rinsed regularly, and if they are high quality, they should be able to dry overnight if aired out properly. So, please ditch the underwear while cycling!

Conclusion

Bikepacking continues to be a yearly pilgrimage for many cyclists looking for bigger and greater adventures on the open road because there is something so alluring about it. The routes. The packs. And the fact that there is nothing quite like setting off with just the power of your legs, lungs, and a bike to get you there. Wherever the road brings you, enjoy the journey ahead!

Bikepacking women
Collage art by @hash_illustrations

Sun-Protective Jerseys (UPF 50+) ☀️

Don't forget layers! 💦