Author:
Timo Dillenberger

Tips, Tricks and Packing list

Bikepacking with the Gravel Bike - Dos and Don'ts

Gravelbikes are perfect to cover long distances in nature - if packed right. ISPO.com gives tips on how to save space and weight with proper bikepacking.

With the properly packed bike, fun and safety increase.
With the properly packed bike, fun and safety increase.

As little as possible, as much as necessary. This is the credo when packing a gravel bike. Always ask yourself the question: What can I leave out if necessary? Which equipment saves space and weight?

And: The placement of the luggage on the bike has a direct effect on the ride. Many gravel bikes have, for example, eyelets or threads for a rear carrier. However, smaller pockets all around the bike maintain the weight stability important for off-road use and take presssure off the frame.

Sure: It's more fun on the bike without a tent, cooking equipment and all the provisions. However, the flexibility in the choice of route and its length is limited considerably without all these. A mini tent, in which the wheel becomes a tent pole at the same time, can help - like the "bikecamper" by Topeak. This not only saves up to 1.5 kilograms of luggage, but also provides effective theft protection for your bike at night.

Topeak's camping solution makes the bike part of the tent.
Topeak's camping solution makes the bike part of the tent.

Ortlieb Provides Compact Bags

Manufacturers such as the ISPO Award winner Ortlieb also offer compact bags for saddle, frame, handlebar and fork with a surprisingly small packing size.

With gravel bikes it comes now and then to carrying passages. The important thing here is to push everything heavy deep into the pockets. In this way strong oscillating and rocking movements can be prevented.

Avoid Heavy Bagpacks

With drinking bottles, the classic fixed points on the frame should be reconsidered. On the one hand, the bottles there prevent the bike from being easily shouldered, on the other hand, special bottles with protected drinking valves are required in the terrain. Small drinking backpacks or even better "Hydration Vests" can help.

A 1.5 litre hydration bladder with hose on the back, two soft bottles and an abundance of small and easily accessible pockets around the upper body keep drinks, bars, tools or electronics close to the body. They are less shaken up, can freeze hard in winter and are always easy to reach. Another plus point: the bike bags can remain closed in the "free field". The contents remain dry and clean.

Careful: Heavy backpacks change the posture on the bike in such a way that muscular problems can quickly occur, even if the backpack feels good.

Basic Rules for Bikepacking

The one method to load the gravel bike doesn't exist. However, some basic rules prevent unpleasant surprises:

  • Supreme rule: Seat position and pedalling movement must not be changed for the luggage. If something is in the way, it has to give way to the driver.
  • Attach a maximum of about one third of the luggage to the handlebar and fork so as not to interfere with the steering.
  • Load as deeply as possible to keep the centre of gravity dynamic.
  • Before each start, check briefly for tightness. If you have taken something from a bag, it can be more unstable and protrude into spokes, brakes or cranks.
  • The heavier an object is, the closer it should be to the centre of the bike. Even inside a bag, it is important to pack massive items towards the center.
  • Pay attention to the width. Gravel routes can lead through narrow rock or undergrowth passages, the bags should not be wider than the handlebars.
  • Attention with handlebar bags on the gravel bike: If the bag is too wide or not firmly secured, the fingertips can be squeezed or the brake levers blocked.

Packing List for Bikepacking on a Gravel Bike

The necessary equipment is quite individual, depending on the driver and the planned tour. The more variable individual items are, the less you have to take with you. You should think of the following groups of equipment:

  • Clothing for all probable conditions
  • Tools and repair material, especially for tyres and chains
  • small bandages and during long tours buttocks cream and sun protection
  • compact toiletries like a microfibre towel
  • (Emergency) lighting and or reflective clothing in case the schedule gets out of hand.
  • Wallet, preferably waterproof or in zip bag with ID, emergency contact, cash card, cash depending on the region and coins e.g. for vending machines or the (self)-washing line
  • An old toothbrush and dry lubricant (collects less sand than oil) is sufficient for bike maintenance.
  • Attention: Gravel bikes often have "tubeless"Tyres that require special pumps! An adapter from Sclaverand to car valve is also helpful for refilling at petrol stations.

Other Practical Gadgets for Bikepacking:

  • Multitool with bike tools
  • Cable tie / Tape
  • Powerbank incl. cable
  • Long gloves to protect against scrub and ground contact
  • Sunglasses with interchangeable lenses
  • 2 - 4 light lashing straps
  • Bicycle lock (depending on accommodation)
  • Water-soluble Minaraldrinks, if there is "only" water on the way
  • Emergency bars or gels against starvation branches
  • A map with a rough route in case the electric navigation fails.
  • A whistle for emergencies in remote places
Author:
Timo Dillenberger
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