Want to get into bikepacking? It’s not as hard as you think.
Any mountain bike is capable of bikepacking. You don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars on a special bike for a few nights of trailside slumber. Nor do you need to set out on a weeklong expedition to get a taste of bikepacking.
A decent daypack and your regular rig loaded with handlebar and seat bags from Revelate Designs is my preferred setup for hauling gear. Adding a bit more pressure in your tires and suspension will accommodate the weight and still offer a supple ride. If you really want a svelte setup, check out Durango’s Bedrock Bags or Flagstaff’s Rogue Panda Designs for a custom-made satchel to attach to your frame.
A logistical hurdle is shuttling bikes and people before and after the ride. For our trip, we found a perfect route and a simple solution on the Colorado Trail: taking the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad into the mountains from Durango, then riding 80 miles of Colorado Trail back to town. The train is bike-friendly, but has limited space. Be sure to call ahead of time and arrange bike transport in one of the cargo cars.
The possibilities open up when you can break up a daunting A to B with a night or two of rest. Longer endeavors might require a stop in civilization for supplies or a food cache dropped ahead of time unless you truly crave freeze-dried meals.
So often we only see the trail and mountains in the middle of day, yet early mornings and evenings are when these landscapes come alive. So rarely do we get to see such wild places in different light. The ability to pull off the trail, indulge in the environment and sleep wherever is quite possibly the most beautiful part of bikepacking.
Wild and Free
The mountains are lined with opportunities: a web of singletrack, jeep road and occasional pavement where one can easily string along a series of paths. The elevation and distances present formidable challenges especially when your bike nearly doubles in weight. Straightforward rides like a section of the Colorado Trail are easy to access, but knowing you have a camp on wheels will soon change the way you look at a map.
With the right gear, a good travel plan and a dose of grit you can ride into the sunset.
This post originally appeared on adventurepro.us in September 2017.