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How To Go Bikepacking on a Budget

Updated On: May 30, 2023

Exploring nature is excellent for mental health and a fun adventure for people who love traveling. While hiking is a great outlet for many, other nature enthusiasts want something more challenging. Backpacking is the next step up, as it requires travelers to be self-sustaining. However, backpacking is still done on foot, so you don't get very far. If distance matters to you, a fantastic alternative is bikepacking.

What Is Bikepacking?

As you may have guessed, bikepacking is backpacking on a bike. Bikepackers still have to be self-sufficient — in fact, they may have to be even more so. Backpackers typically wear large backpacks containing everything they need. Bikepackers, on the other hand, have several smaller bags that must fit on their bike frames, limiting what they can carry.

What Is the Most Affordable Bike for Bikepacking?

While affordability is always a factor in purchasing a bike, you must also consider the type of bicycle best suited for your terrain. For example, models differ for pavement and off-roading.

Planning a Bikepacking Trip on a Budget

You can buy pricey gear for bikepacking, but the truth is that you don't need a lot of money to chase adventure. In fact, many bikepackers make their own gear or repurpose items to cut costs. For example, a fanny pack makes a perfect handlebar bag.

Additionally, you can save by researching your route beforehand. If you're traveling a trail, look for free campsites to spend the night. If you're headed through a town, look for complimentary amenities:

  • Use Wi-Fi at coffee shops
  • Get coffee at Visitors' Centers
  • Recharge mobile devices at public libraries

How To Pack for Bikepacking

The number one tip for bikepack packing is to stay light. The heavier your bags, the more energy you need to carry them. At the end of the day, you'll be worn out.

To keep your bags light, only take what you absolutely need. For example, you only need one change of clothes, if that. If the weather is cold or rain is in the forecast, you may need a jacket, but other than that, you can get away with surprisingly little.

How To Bikepack Without a Bag

Wearing a backpack on a bike can be awkward, as the shifting weight may throw you off balance. Instead, consider panniers and racks. If you plan correctly, you can fit four or five items on your bike frame.

Saving Money on Food & Shelter During Your Bikepacking Journey

One of the biggest challenges when bikepacking is packing food. Meals ready to eat, or MREs, are perfect for off-roading, but they can get expensive. Some sporting goods stores offer dehydrated food for hikers, but you run into the same problem. Fortunately, you can make your own kits for much less. The following are excellent ways to stay energized on the trail without breaking the bank:

  • Box mac and cheese
  • Ramen with additives
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Nuts and dried fruits

If you're experienced with the outdoors, you can also forage for berries, nuts, fruits and mushrooms. Keep in mind that some plants are poisonous to humans, so only take this route if you know what you're doing.

How Far Do People Typically Bikepack?

The distance you bikepack depends on the terrain and your experience. For example, novices riding on pavement usually cover 24 to 40 miles daily, while experienced bikepackers can cover 35 to 50 miles on a rugged trail. When setting your route, be realistic about your abilities, and don't forget to include the time required to set up camp.

Bikepacking is a great way to see the world while exercising. If you're interested, start looking for a good bike. Seek something dependable and in your price range.


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