Like “gravel bikes” and “adventure bikes”, bikepacking is one of the new buzzwords in the cycling world. Some argue its just the new name for cycle touring and in many way it is but others argue its a little bit more subtle than that.
Traditional cycle touring involves carrying a significant amount of luggage usually in panniers (front and rear), bar bags and handle bar bags. Often specialist touring bikes are used such as the Dawes Galaxy. Due to the weight of a fully loaded touring bike routes are often limited to roads or tracks with a decent surface.
In contrast, bikepacking generally involves taking a more minimalist approach (less kit) to travelling by bike. The aim is to keep the bike as light as possible and so luggage is carried on bags strapped to the bike frame, handlebars, seatpost etc.
The popularity of gravel bikes and adventure bikes have seen a big increase in bike packing. These bikes can be taken off road on routes where a traditional cycle tourer may struggle opening up a many off routes and tracks for the cycle adventurer. You dont need a gravel bike or adventure bike to go bike packing. Mountain bikes are often used.
A whole new bike packing industry has sprung up supplying frame bags, saddle bags and bar bags.
Many people are now looking at using e-bikes for touring purposes although does present some issues such as where to charge the battery. See our Cycle Touring on an E-Bike page.