Bikepacking UK

Bikepacking Guide UK: Gear, Trails, Tips, and More!

Bikepacking is about combining the thrill of biking with the freedom of camping. It’s all about testing your limits while you discover new paths and rely on yourself more than ever. This adventure sport takes cycling to new levels, and it offers an exciting mix of exploration, endurance, and self-sufficiency. For those looking to explore the great outdoors on two wheels, bikepacking is a great option for seasoned cyclists, beginners and everyone in between.

What is Bikepacking?

Bikepacking – you load your bike with all the essentials you need for camping and hit the road or trail for a longer journey. You’re on two wheels one minute and by a campfire the next – combining biking thrills with camping chills. Unlike traditional bicycle touring, which often sticks to paved roads and focuses on covering long distances, bikepacking is more about off-road routes, rugged trails, and a closer connection to nature. The goal is not just to get from point A to point B, but to enjoy the journey, discover hidden trails, and tackle the challenges along the way.

The History and Rise of Bikepacking

Bikepacking started as a way for cyclists to explore off-road trails with minimal gear, evolving from traditional bike touring. It grew popular due to advances in bike and camping technology, making it easier to travel light and tackle rough terrains. This sport combines the thrill of biking with the adventure of camping, attracting a growing community of enthusiasts. Today, it is drawing more people to its unique combination of adventure, simplicity and freedom of exploration where the only limits are the ones you set for yourself. 

Bikepacking - biking and camping - adventuro

Types of Bikepacking Adventures

Bikepacking can be adjusted to fit different styles, skill levels and preferences. Choosing the right type of bikepacking adventure can make your cycling experience more enjoyable. Here are a few popular types:

Overnight Trips

Great for beginners, these trips involve biking to a campsite, spending the night, and returning the next day. They’re an easy way to try out bikepacking without committing to a long journey. Enjoy a short break from your routine and experience the basics of bikepacking.

Weekend Getaways

Perfect for those with limited time, weekend trips let you explore further while still being manageable. Plan a route with scenic trails and interesting stops along the way. A weekend adventure gives you a chance to enjoy the outdoors without needing to take time off work.

Extended Expeditions

For the more adventurous, extended bikepacking trips can last a week or more. These journeys take you through different regions or even countries, giving you more time to explore and enjoy different places. Extended trips are great for those who want a longer adventure.

Ultralight Bikepacking

This style focuses on carrying the least amount of gear to maximize speed and distance. It’s perfect for those who want to cover long distances quickly while still enjoying the bikepacking experience. Ultralight bikepacking is good for cyclists who like to travel light and fast.

Group Bikepacking

Group bikepacking is a great way to enjoy the adventure with friends and family. You can find trips through local community groups or online forums. Joining a bikepacking course with an experienced guide is also a good idea, as you’ll get expert help and meet other bikepackers. This makes the experience more fun and less intimidating, especially for beginners. So, gather your loved ones, connect with your local bikepacking community, even your dog, and enjoy a group adventure together.

Gear Essentials for Bikepacking

Gear Essentials for Bikepacking

To make the most out of a bikepacking adventure, you’ll need the right gear, which can take your journey from good to unforgettable. 

  1. Bike: While any bike can be used for bikepacking, mountain bikes, gravel bikes, or fat bikes are often preferred for their durability and versatility on rough terrain.
  2. Bags: Traditional panniers are replaced by frame bags, handlebar rolls, seat packs, and top tube bags. These bags are designed to be lightweight and keep your load and your bike balanced.
  3. Camping Gear: Lightweight and compact camping gear is a must. This includes a tent or bivy sack, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Look for gear that packs down small and won’t weigh you down.
  4. Cooking Supplies: A compact stove, cookware, and food supplies are essential for preparing meals on the go. Dehydrated meals are a popular choice due to their light weight and ease of preparation.
  5. Clothing: Pack versatile clothing suitable for varying weather conditions. Layering is key to staying comfortable, warm and safe. 
  6. Navigation: A GPS device or smartphone with offline maps will help you navigate remote areas. Don’t forget a physical map and compass as backups.
  7. Repair Kit: A basic bike repair kit, including spare tubes, a multi-tool, and a pump, is crucial for handling any mechanical issues that arise.

Planning Your Route

One of the best parts of bikepacking is the freedom to choose your own route. It’s all about creating your own adventure. Whether you prefer well-established bikepacking trails or creating your own path, the options are endless. When planning your route, consider the following:

  • Distance and Terrain: Assess your fitness level and choose a route that matches your abilities. Start with shorter trips and gradually build up to more challenging routes.
  • Water and Resupply Points: Plan for access to water and places to restock on food and supplies. Remote areas may require careful planning to ensure you have enough resources.
  • Weather: Check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions. Pack accordingly and always have a contingency plan.

Tips for a Successful Bikepacking Trip

  1. Test Your Gear: Before heading out on a long trip, test your gear on shorter rides. This helps you get comfortable with your setup and identify any adjustments needed.
  2. Stay Hydrated and Fueled: Keep your energy levels up by staying hydrated and eating regularly. Carry a mix of high-energy snacks and balanced meals.
  3. Safety First: Always prioritize safety. Share your route with someone, carry a first aid kit, and be aware of your surroundings.
  4. Enjoy the Journey: Bikepacking is about the experience, not just the destination. Take time to enjoy the scenery, connect with fellow adventurers, and enjoy the sense of freedom.
Bikepacking Guide

Environmental and Ethical Considerations

When bikepacking, it’s important to be mindful of our impact on the environment and local communities. Here are some key points to consider:

Leave No Trace Principles

Following Leave No Trace principles helps minimize our environmental impact. These guidelines include packing out all trash, camping only in designated areas, and staying on established trails. By following these principles, we can help preserve the natural beauty of the places we visit and ensure they stay unaffected for future adventurers.

Respect for Wildlife and Local Communities

Always observe animals from a distance and avoid disturbing their habitats. When passing through local communities, be considerate of their customs and way of life. Engage with locals respectfully, support local businesses, and leave a positive impression. By showing respect for both wildlife and people, we can foster goodwill and ensure that bikepacking remains a positive experience for everyone involved.

By being responsible and respectful, we can enjoy our bikepacking adventures while protecting the environment and supporting the communities we encounter along the way.

Bikepacking Communities and Events

Joining a community or participating in an event can enhance your bikepacking experience. 

Online Communities

Online communities are a great resource for bikepackers. Websites, forums, and social media groups are places where bikepackers share tips, routes, and experiences. Examples include and Reddit’s bikepacking subreddit. These platforms provide useful information and support, whether you’re looking for gear recommendations, route advice, or just want to connect with fellow adventurers.

Events and Races in the UK

The UK offers a variety of bikepacking events for different experience levels:

  1. The Highland Trail 550: A tough 550-mile route through Scotland’s rugged terrain, ideal for experienced bikepackers looking for a challenge.
  2. The Dales Divide: A 600 km coast-to-coast route across northern England, featuring the beautiful landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors.
  3. The Trans Cambrian Way: This route crosses Wales from the English border to the Irish Sea, offering a mix of challenging trails and scenic views. Organized events on this route often include support from other riders.
  4. The Dorset Gravel Dash: A more relaxed event combining bikepacking with social activities, featuring gravel and off-road routes along the Dorset coast and countryside.
  5. The Dirty Reiver: A gravel race in Northumberland’s Kielder Forest, with distances up to 200 km, providing a taste of bikepacking with a variety of terrains.

By joining the bikepacking community and participating in these UK events, you can learn more, stay motivated, and make new friends who share your passion for adventure on two wheels.

Hit the road!

Bikepacking offers a unique and rewarding way to explore the world on two wheels. With the right gear, planning, and mindset, you can begin an adventure that combines the best of biking and camping. If you’re looking for solitude in the wilderness or companionship on a group ride, bikepacking provides endless opportunities for discovery and personal growth. So, gear up, hit the trail, and let the adventure begin!

For latest tips, courses, trips and inspiration, check out adventuro and start planning your next bikepacking journey today!

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Writer and Marketer

I am a keen adventure sports enthusiast and have been mountain biking and kayaking around the world for many years!

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