Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Getting Started with Bikepacking on the Cheap


Bikepacking is a great way to combine your love of cycling and the outdoors. It's a type of adventure travel that involves cycling long distances with all your gear and supplies on your bike. Bikepacking can be done on a variety of terrains, from paved roads to dirt trails, and can range from an overnight trip to weeks or even months on the road. It's a budget-friendly way to travel, as you don't need to pay for accommodation or transportation beyond the cost of your bike and gear. Here are some tips on how to get started with bikepacking on the cheap.

  1. Choose the Right Bike

The first thing you'll need to do is choose the right bike. While you can technically bikepack on any type of bike, a mountain bike or a gravel bike with wider tires will be better suited to handle off-road trails and rough terrain. If you already have a bike, you can make modifications to it, such as adding wider tires, a more comfortable saddle, and a rack or panniers to carry your gear. Alternatively, you can look for a used bike that fits your budget.

  1. Pack Light

One of the biggest advantages of bikepacking is that you have limited space to carry your gear, so you'll need to pack light. Stick to the essentials, such as a lightweight tent, sleeping bag, and cookware. Look for gear that's designed for backpacking or bikepacking, as it's usually lightweight and compact. You can also save money by repurposing gear you already have, such as a lightweight camping stove or a sleeping pad.

  1. Plan Your Route

Before you set off on your bikepacking adventure, plan your route carefully. Look for trails and roads that are suitable for cycling, and make sure you have a good understanding of the terrain and any potential hazards. You can use online maps and route planning tools to help you plan your route. Keep in mind that some campsites and accommodations may be closed or limited due to COVID-19 restrictions, so check ahead and plan accordingly.

  1. Bring Your Own Food

Another way to save money on your bikepacking trip is to bring your own food. Pack lightweight, non-perishable snacks, such as trail mix, energy bars, and jerky, as well as some basic cooking supplies, such as a camping stove and a pot. You can also bring dehydrated meals or pre-cooked meals that can be easily reheated on the stove. Don't forget to bring plenty of water and a water filtration system if you're cycling in remote areas.

  1. Look for Free or Cheap Campsites

Finally, look for free or cheap campsites to stay at along your route. Many national and state parks offer free or low-cost camping options, as do some private campgrounds. You can also look for dispersed camping areas or wild camping spots, but make sure you're following local regulations and leave no trace principles. Consider joining a bikepacking community or forum, where you can connect with other cyclists and get tips on free or cheap camping options in your area.

  1. Invest in Multi-Purpose Gear

To save money and reduce the weight of your gear, look for multi-purpose items that can serve more than one function. For example, a lightweight camping stove can double as a pot stand, or a rain jacket can also serve as a windbreaker. Look for gear that is durable, versatile, and lightweight.

  1. Join a Bikepacking Community

Joining a bikepacking community or forum can be a great way to get tips and advice from experienced cyclists. You can learn about new routes, get gear recommendations, and connect with other cyclists in your area. You may even be able to borrow or rent gear from other cyclists, which can help you save money on your trip.

  1. Choose Your Timing Wisely

The time of year that you choose to bikepack can also impact your budget. High season for camping and travel can be expensive, so consider traveling during shoulder seasons or off-season to save money on accommodation and gear. However, be sure to check the weather conditions and plan accordingly, as some trails and campsites may be closed during certain times of the year.

  1. Practice Leave No Trace Principles

When bikepacking, it's important to practice Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. This includes packing out all of your trash and waste, using designated campsites and fire rings, and avoiding damaging vegetation or wildlife. By following these principles, you can help preserve the environment for future generations and avoid costly fines or penalties.

  1. Plan for Emergencies

Finally, it's important to plan for emergencies when bikepacking. This includes carrying a first aid kit, a repair kit for your bike, and a way to call for help in case of an emergency. Consider investing in a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon, which can be used to signal for help even in areas with no cell service.

Bikepacking can be an affordable and rewarding way to explore the outdoors and travel on a budget. By choosing the right gear, planning your route, and following Leave No Trace principles, you can embark on an unforgettable adventure without breaking the bank.