Bikepacking combines mountain biking and camping, allowing for multi-day excursions into those wild and untouched places beyond the trail markers. Unlike traditional pannier setups, recent innovations in pack technology have allowed for lightweight setups. Now, you can modify your existing bike to carry gear from the saddle to handlebars and everywhere in between. If you've already got a bike, you're halfway there. Use the guide below for an introduction into the basic bag options and their specific functions.

Bags & Packs

1. Seat Pack: Think of this as a compression stuff sack for your heaviest odds and ends (like food and tools) that's strapped underneath your saddle. Most bags can be rolled or cinched down when carrying smaller loads. These packs use modern materials to create a stable design that can be quickly removed from the seat post. Some manufacturers utilize a frame beneath the bag to add stability while others simply hang from the seat.

2. Frame Bag: Not only is this bag aerodynamic, it makes use of the empty space within your bike's frame (a great place to stash items you need quick access to: first aid-kit, snacks and layers). Frame bags connect to the seat, down and top tubes, usually with Velcro. Traditional frame bags relied (and still do) on zippers; however, some manufacturers are using roll-top designs. Most bags also feature smaller storage pockets along the side for those smaller items. 

3. Handlebar Bag: Packing weight up front directly affects your steering and can be tricky to mount through the housing of your cockpit accessories. However, if done correctly, it's the perfect place to stack on lighter, bulky items like a sleeping bag and tent. When selecting a handlebar bag, you have two style choices: a bag that is strapped to the bars as a single piece or a harness system, which allows for dry bags. 

4. Top Tube Bag: These multi-function bags attach to the stem and fork (depending on style) and offer a great location for electronics, food and water. While some top tube bags offer multiple compartments, others provide a single compartment to store your day’s calories. 

5. Stem Bag: These little wonders attach along the side of your bike's stem like an oversized beer coozie. This is a great spot for a water bottle or granola bar. Most bags come with an elastic cord to cinch the top closed. Like many bikepacking bags, some stem bags offer more features than others depending on how much you're looking to spend and the functionality you're after.