With a fully loaded setup, I did my first bicycle tour. All I fairly had idea about were two panniers each at the front and rear rack and some bottle mounts that could be fixed here and there. Back then I dreamt of lighter options to replace the traditional pannier setup considering the ease while riding on roads with more of gravel than tarmac but 'hello pocket'.
With the evolution of Bikepacking bags I no more need to stick with the same bulky setup when I plan to tour the world. I've met human tendencies a number of times - ending up noticing, how even an inch of extra space never goes unused incase you have any no matter how light you wish to travel. So I believe having minimal space helps in just carrying necessities and the list of "things I might need" stays back at home. In India this genre of cycling is yet at it's baby steps as the availability of gears is still limited.
Bikepacking surely is a great outdoor adventure activity but planning the same in India can be very difficult at first. Route selection, gear availability, finding good company aren't all easy.
What do you need to get started ?
To start with Bikepacking you need a bike and it can be any kind of bike Hardtail, full suspension, rigid frame. I've a plus size bike which is good for gravel, single tracks routes. It need not be a special bike, but it should be good enough for backcountry trails. If you're just starting out a hardtail could be a good option. You could choose from a wide variety of adventure bike companies such as Surly Karate Monkey, Troll, Ogre, Marin Pine Mountain, Psynyde bikes and the list goes on.
Once the bike is finalised you look for options to carry our luggage.
To be able to carry your belongings to extreme outdoor places simply tying gears with bungee cords won't do, you'll only end up getting frustrated at some point.
So mainly there are 3 types of bikepacking bags: - Seat-tube bags or Seat pack
- Full Frame bags and
- Handlebar bags
Oveja Negra™ | www.ovejanegrabikepacking.com
Seat-tube bags are also known as saddle bags which are mounted under the saddle using straps, they're available in various sizes from 8-18L. This system is very helpful as it eliminates the need of mounting rear rack for short trips.
Full Frame bags take the heaviest load when packing for a tour. As the name depicts the frame bag is fit at the triangle in the frame of your cycle. There's no accurate size available for every cycle frame hence you might need to go for customisation.
Handlebar bags are strapped on the handlebar using a mounting system called a harness, a lot of companies give you the option to purchase the harness and dry bags separately.
Incase you feel unsure of what goes where while packing for your upcoming bikepacking tour take this has a guide to help yourself set-off. If there's still something puzzling you, why not say hi to us instead? :D Route
'Going where the wind takes you' might not help this time. After all you'll need a place to go!Deciding the route is where you're most likely going to use 40% of your efforts. 'I usually decide my route using the satellite mode on Google Maps or check for some backpacking, trekking routes accessible to mountain bikers. Don't forget to carry a map of and to your destination.
Gear and skills to survive in the wild
Having all the essentials but not knowing how to use them would only make you land in a helpless situation. Learn how to pitch a tent before hand, learn how to pack everything, learn to cook food for survival, you should know how to fix your bike and always carry extra spare parts for casualties. Always carry some essentials such as a multitool, hunting knife (does come handy in a lot other ways than just going too literal), flashlights, emergency kits (includes first aid), cellphone.
I remember how had 3 punctures back to back within a kilometre on my first tour! More than fixing the puncture what took the most time (an hour) was tucking back all the gears using bungee cords! So practise before hand and try not losing wits.
How to pack everything ?
I follow this wonderful guide I found over Instagram.
Ready to roll!
Availability of gears in India As bikepacking goes mainstream there are a lot of new brands which shifted to making bikepacking bags with modern designs. In India, finding these bags is hard luck as most of the products are unavailable or can only be availed on special orders that comes with the downside of paying extra money because of International currency differences. Hopefully we might get blessed one day. For now these bags are limitedly available and are very expensive for most of the Indian consumers.
We're happy to share the news that Premium brands like Ortlieb, Surly, Porcelain rocket are finally available in India at the Happy Earth store in Bangalore where all your touring gear and accessory needs would be met.
List of available bikepacking products in India :
Ortlieb bikepacking bags at WizBiker, Bums on the saddle, Happy Earth. Porcelain Rocket bags at Happy Earth. Surly bikes and bags available at Happy Earth Cycliste Seat Sack available at Viaterra.in Roswheel attack series available on Alixpress.com