Bikepacking Gear Guide: Tent, Clothing, Frame Packs, Food, Water

“GPS is very important, obviously, but be sure you understand your system before heading out,” says Kershaw.

We like the Garmin Edge 1030 Plus ($600 at Garmin, $600 at REI, $600 at Backcountry). The size of a deck of cards, Garmin’s updated Edge debuted in June and is packed with excellent long-haul features. The Garmin’s touchscreen navigation allows you to easily toggle between maps and data even with a wet glove, and its 24 hours of battery life can be doubled by purchasing an additional Garmin Charge Power Pack ($130 at Garmin, $130 at Backcountry). For added safety, it uses incident detection sensors to detect a crash then send an alert to pre-programmed list of contacts. It also has a feature called LiveTrack which adds real-time location viewing so fellow riders can track you if you split up and select friends can follow your route.

Good Shelter

“The ultralight tent versus bivvy versus hammock debate is endless,” says Kershaw. “With a bivvy or hammock you don’t have to deal with poles, but ultralight tents offer a dry place to read at night.”

We like the Copper Spur bikepacking tent from Big Agnes ($400 at Big Agnes, $400 at Amazon). With shorter tent poles that collapse to 12 inches, a footprint that extends beyond the door to allow space to take off bike shoes, and a dedicated storage pocket for a sweaty helmet, this roomy 2 pound, 12-ounce, three-season, one-person tent is worth the extra weight. Plus it jams into a more rugged and versatile stuff sack specially designed for strapping onto your bike.

Sleeping Bag/Pad

“Go as light as you want to,” says Kershaw. “There’s such a wide variety of temperature ranges out there.” Most important, he says, is to find a sleeping bag or pad that packs down and keeps you warm.

We like this bag design from Nemo Equipment. Offered in both men’s Kayu ($340 and up at Backcountry, $340 at Moosejaw) and women’s Aya versions ($340 at Backcountry, $340 at Moosejaw), the bag is a plush ultralight option with 800-fillpower down that’s treated with Nikwax waterproofing. Its contoured hood, zipping “thermogills,” and a waterproof footbed allow for maximal comfort and temperature regulation. The bag comes in 15 and 30-degree versions, and regular and long sizing. Pair it with the 180-gram, insulated Zenbivy Light Mattress Pad ($159 at Zenbivy).


Grayl’s bottle can purify water from streams, springs, and hotel room sinks.

Photograph: Grayl