Pro Cycling Tips: A Beginners Guide to Bikepacking

With the Fyxation Tour de Chequamegon right around the corner I thought I’d give you a run-down of the essential gear you will need for this north woods tour. This will also act as a guide for beginners that are looking to get into bikepacking. The set up I’ll be talking about is my current “light” set up for trips less than three days and with re-supply stops. This list changes depending on weather and distance; keep in mind this is just a guide.

Currently my gear list includes the following which has been broken down by purpose:


  • Eureka Spitfire 1 person tent
  • Tent footprint (2 dollar space blanket available at most outdoor stores, I use this because it’s cheaper, lighter, and just as sturdy as an ultralight tent footprint)
  • Thermarest prolite sleeping pad (utilizes memory foam so you don’t have to blow it all the way up and is a bit warmer)
  • Mountain hardwear lamina z spark sleeping bag (synthetic fill which will keep you warmer when wet, rated to 34F)

Sleeping Clothes:

  • Craft Baselayer tights designed for winter sports (lightweight, packable, and toasty warm)
  • Smartwool wool socks (keep your tootsies warm at night)
  • Smartwool mid layer sweater

Camp Kitchen:

  • Dangly mug (Because how else would anyone know you’re #bikepacking right?)
  • Jetboil zip with french press attachment
  • Dehydrated meal(s) for dinner(s)
  • Instant oatmeal with dehydrated peanut butter and blueberries for breakfast
  • A plastic spoon I got from a fast food restaurant
  • And coffee duh

Extras and Essentials:

  • Lighter or waterproof matches or both for extra safety
  • Fire starters if you’re in an area that allows campfires
  • Knife
  • Headlamp
  • Bike lights
  • Knee warmers/leg warmers and arm warmers
  • Bibs and jersey
  • Sunglasses for looking cool and keeping your retinas from being incinerated
  • Socks
  • Rain jacket
  • Ride snacks
  • Phone charger
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Flat kit
  • Book
  • Water (currently using a 3 liter reservoir in my frame bag and 2 liters in my backpack this varies depending on conditions and resupply points)
  • Toiletries
  • Napkins (for pooping and cleaning up)
  • Bug dope
  • Sunscreen
  • Dangly cycling brand trucker hat for extra #bikepacking irony points

*To be extra safe in bear country; if your campsite does not have a bear box bring some rope and a carabiner to hang a bear bag. Check with your destination on how to store your food.

How to get all this stuff on your bike

This varies on what you want accessible, how you prefer your weight distribution, and just where things fit the best. The way I do things is in no way the only way. Do some testing. Ride your bike to work with all the goodies on it. Fill your bike up with groceries. Do your long weekend ride loaded. All this will give you an idea of what works best for you but for now here’s how I do it.

I like to keep the weight low and centered. This tends to keep the bike handling the same as if it were unloaded. I’ll work my way from the front of the bike to the back.

On the fork:

On either side of my Fyxation Sparta fork I have two Salsa Anything Cages (not a recommended set up as I am only using 2 of the 3 required bolts but I like to live dangerously) a Blackburn Outpost Cargo Cage would be more appropriate. To those, I lash my sleeping mat and sleeping bag (these are lightweight and do not affect the handling of the bike). They are housed in water resistant stuff sacks to keep ‘em dry.

In the frame from the top down:

On the top tube I have a Revelate Gas Tank which carries all my ride snacks and sunscreen and whatever else I can jam in there. Sometimes I add my lighter so that I know where it is and that it will stay dry if the wet stuff decides to start falling from the sky. In the top of my Revelate Full Frame Bag I have my stove shoved all the way forward to stay out of the track of my knees, book, headlamp, dinner, and flat kit; on the left side I have a small slim pouch that I put my napkins in in case of a nature break. In the lower compartment I have 3 liters of water and the coffee and french press attachment (which I double bag because it’s extra smelly).


In the seatpost bag I stuff my tent, sleeping clothes, and camp shoes in (pro tip put the poles on the bottom to help add support then the rain fly then the tent then the tent footprint, this way when you unpack them, they will be in the correct assembly order.)


Sometimes when I run out of room or need more water I bring a hydration pack. In there I usually put things I will need for riding such as knee warmers, arm warmers, rain jacket, and extra snacks. It is also a convenient place for my glasses tooth brush and contact solution/case.

I hope this has helped you break down what you need and how to fit it onto your bike. This is just a guide; remember to try out your set-up and change things as needed. Weather really is the determining factor for what type of clothes and gear to bring. The way I pack things changes constantly so don’t get too stuck on trying to replicate what I or anyone else has told you, do what works best for you.

The one thing that you should keep in mind when choosing gear is to look for gear or clothing that serves multiple purposes, try not to fill your packs with single purpose items. Feel free to leave your essential gear in the comments and let us know what you think. Hopefully we’ll see your smiling faces on October 13th!

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