The Tweeks Cycles Bike-Packing Guide

two men drinking coffee sitting next to tent with their bikes

Bike-packing and gravel
riding have exploded in the cycle industry in the past few years. While riders
have been out in the wilds camping and adventuring with their bikes for years,
there has definitely been an upward trend in popularity with more and more
people strapping gear to their bikes and heading off into the wilderness.

It’s a great way of
letting off steam and escaping the day to day monotony of modern life: no work,
no social media, just you with your bike and the great outdoors. If you’ve been
considering going on your own bike-packing adventure, our bike-packing guide
will point you in the right direction, so you can get out there and enjoy being
out in the wild.

What are the best bikes for bike-packing adventures?

woman pushing her bike through a lake

The beauty of bike packing
is that unlike other disciplines of cycling you can do it on pretty much any
bike; your trusty mountain
and even some road
will do the job with little to no modifications required, but
that hasn’t stopped the influx of new bikes designed specifically for the job

This new breed of bikes
is perfect for escaping the 9 to 5 and getting out in the hills to help you
truly get in touch with nature. Bikes like the GT
, Cube
and Scott
Speedster Gravel
feature bigger tyres, more relaxed geometry and
disc brakes making them perfect for logging as many miles as your legs can
muster. Many also come with mudguard and rack mounts, making them even more
suited to touring and bike packing duties. The MTB-inspired features also make
them great fun on singletrack, so you can get your thrills as well as enjoying
a cruise through the country side.

While these bikes are
ideal for exploring, as mentioned earlier, there is nothing stopping you using
your existing bike for exploring out in the wild. A few of the staff members at
Tweeks Towers have had a crack at bike packing with their weapons of choice
ranging from hybrid
right up to 160mm travel full suspension mountain bikes! If
you want to use your current bike, it may be worth investing in a few small
tweaks to make life a little easier.

What tyres should I choose?

close up of a vittoria terrene zero tyre

Tyres are one area where
the gravel and bike-packing rage has had a real impact. Gravel
are perfect for bike-packing, offering additional puncture
protection and fast-rolling tread patterns that still deliver enough grip on
varied surfaces. Vittoria’s
Terreno Dry
and Terreno
are both ideally suited to bike-packing, with fast-rolling
treads that grip well on a range of surfaces.

The Maxxis
and Re-Fuse
are two more prime examples of versatile tyres that just love to ridden for
mile after mile on a multitude of surfaces. These brilliant tyres are available
in both 700c and 27.5-inch wheel sizes, so whether you have a road bike, hybrid
or mountain bike there’ll be a tyre that will fit your bike!

What else do I need?

close up of sram grip tape

With tyres taken care of,
you’ll want to ensure you’re comfortable on the bike, as you’re likely to be in
the saddle for a number of hours. Saddles are a personal choice, but one of the
most universally loved is the Fabric
. Supremely comfortable and fantastic value, the Scoop is a
real favourite here at Tweeks Towers.

Your hands will likely be
in for a bumpy ride for hour after hour, so having comfortable grips or bar
tape that can allow multiple hand positions is a must. Thicker bar tapes such
as Fizik’s
Vento Solocush
and Lizard
Skins DSP 3.2mm tape
offer additional vibration damping thanks to
their thicker, softer construction. It’s not unheard of for riders to double
wrap their bar tape on bigger bike-packing missions in the search for ultimate
comfort! For mountain bikes, ergonomically shaped grips like Ergon’s GA3
and Fabric’s
Ergo Grips
are designed to take some of the strain of your hands and
allow multiple hand positions to help you get comfortable when logging big

What’s the best way to carry all my cycling and camping gear?

a bike full of camping gear

So you’ve got your bike
sorted and you’re comfortable, but what about all that camping gear and food
you’ll need to take with you? In days gone by pannier racks were the preferred
choice of touring and bike-packing riders, but the latest breed of frame,
saddle and handlebar bags are changing that. These bags can fit to pretty much
any bike and offer heaps of storage space for all the gear you’ll need on an
over-night or multi-day epic out in the wild.

Massive frame, handlebar
and saddle bags such as Blackburn’s
series are extremely popular, while Topeak’s
BackLoader Seat Pack
and FrontLoader
Handlebar Bag
are both designed purely for bike-packing use, with
huge carrying capacities and rugged construction designed to go the distance.
Topeak even have your overnight accommodation sorted with their innovative Bikeamper
, which neatly rolls up on your handlebar and is held in place
with your bike!

Now you’ve got everything
you need to get started, you can head out into the hills or moors and
reacquaint yourself with Mother Nature. Bike-packing is massively popular for a
reason; it’s relaxing, fun and allows you to escape any vices in your day to
day life that can drag you down. It’s an easy way to feel good about life again
and any excuse to get out on the bike is a winner in our book!