Some products and accessories are just not very functional or reliable for bikepacking. And while these products may be great for your daily rides, there’s a specific reason why they might not work very well for backpacking.
So in this post, I’m going to share ten products that fit that description. Let’s do it.
All right, so the first one is multi-tools or small multi-tools that don’t get the job done. Multi-tools are great because they do hold a ton of different tools on them. The problem is they’re typically minimal tools, or they’re not very long.
These tiny minor hex keys can be troublesome when you’re trying to adjust your bike, especially in hard-to-reach areas. So that’s why it’s not a bad idea to carry full-size hex or Torx keys and a full-size chain breaker.
They’ll give you more leverage, they’re a lot easier to get to hard-to-reach areas, and they don’t add up too much in space or weight.
Typically I’d carry the hex keys that would need to fix my bike. So the standard size is 3, 4, 5, and 6, and a T25.
All right, so the next step is CO2; while it can be great for day rides and especially when you’re trying to receipt a tubeless tire or something like that, but you definitely shouldn’t rely on it. Not to mention CO2 is heavy, and it doesn’t work very well with tubeless systems.
So I rarely ever carry CO2, but I do have this Big Air. It used to be called Big Air, and now MSW produces it. It’s like a propane mixture. So I’ll use this for really stubborn tires. If I’m looking to reseat the tire after, say, stitching a sidewall. But really, I’m relying on my hand pump in a quality hand pump at that.
Tan Sidewall Tires (lightweight tires)
So with the popularity of gum sidewalls or tan sidewalls, we’ve realized that these tires seep sealant or dry out sealant much faster than a standard black sidewall does. Most of these tan sidewall tires are much lighter and don’t have nearly as much flat protection.
So, for this reason alone, we try to steer clear of tan sidewall tires. There are some exceptions out there, but for the most part, we like to stay away.
So what I do look for is durable, sidewall, flat protection. And sure, it might be a little bit heavier, and I might not get as much of supple ride quality. With these more durable tires, I can run slightly lower tire pressures that give me that flexible ride quality anyways.
Super Knobby Tires
While the latest Maxxis DHR Plus or this Teravail Kessel might be great for cornering on your local trails for your daily rides, the reality is you’re likely not going to be pushing those corners nearly as hard while bikepacking.
For bikepacking, we like to consider a tire or tire combination that rolls a little bit better than something like this. As the miles add up, having a faster rolling tire, both front and rear, will save your legs in the long run.
I’m not going to get into tires and tire combinations in this post, but there are some fantastic tire combinations and tires for bikepacking out there.
Grav Grav Race Shoes
So, you know those new gravel race shoes? They’re all shiny; they’re super, super stiff, they’re are made for adventure.
Don’t bring those shoes on your backpacking trip. More times than not, those shoes are way too stiff for bikepacking. They’re not going to be comfortable for multiple days. And that means they’re super lightweight. And they’re not that durable.
We like to consider flat shoes or a clipless system that not only flexes well that has a little bit of tread and, of course, some comfort for all-day riding.
So this one might be a little bit more obvious, but regular old cotton T-shirts. I know plenty of you probably use a cotton T-shirt for just an hour-long day ride, and that’s fine.
Cotton doesn’t dry out that well, and (sniffs) over an extended period can be stinky. So we like to use a wicking shirt or a more practical option, especially for all-day riding, is a merino wool T-shirt.
Merino wool has more insulating properties, and it just doesn’t stink. (sniffs) (sighs) And typically, they look pretty cool.
Another shirt I’m not particularly eager to use is those jerseys or cycling jerseys because they have pockets in the back, and I tend to fill them up with way too much stuff, and I don’t need that stuff back there.
And I find that I’m more comfortable in something a little bit more loose-fitting, especially over a multi-day trip. Let me guess; I bet some of you use one of these on your day rides. I know I do from time to time. The upside with a backpack gives you more storage space. And I know some people need more storage space.
If you have a small frame or not much storage on your shelf, or if you’re just a shorter rider on a smaller bike. The downside here is that these bags can carry a lot of stuff. And that means that there’s a lot more weight on your shoulders.
And that also means there’s a lot more weight on your sit bones. And when you have more weight on your sit bones, you’re probably going to deal with more, you know, issues down there.
So this backpack has a 3-liter bladder in it. That’s heavy. So if you have to carry gear, consider taking water and the heavy items on the frame and the bike and the lighter things in the bag.
Trail Database Apps
So I’m willing to bet that some of you have used or seen a screen like this. This is the trail Forex app, or you’ve probably used MTB Project. Those apps are great for mountain biking. You can figure out the trail you’re on, how difficult the course is, how much climbing it has. What have you?
So while I love these apps, I’m not particularly eager to rely on them for my backpacking trips. Typically what I’ll do is build my route on Ride with GPS or Gaia. And that way, I can upload the GPX file to my GPS unit.
So I can follow the direction on my GPS instead of taking out my phone and opening up the app and trying to figure out if I can connect these two trails. These apps are great resources, but I’m not particularly eager to rely on them.
The beauty of bikepacking is typically, and you’re planning a little bit more in advance. Because of that planning time, it allows you to reduce the use of single-use packaging, and it will enable you to make your snacks or meals from the bulk items section of your grocery store or whatever’s in your fridge.
Finally, I’m going to give you one of the most significant pieces of advice that were given to me when I first started backpacking. Using products that you’re unfamiliar with, new products, things that you’re just not sure how they’re going to work out in the field, leave them at home.
Using what you’re comfortable with and what you know will help avoid those miserable situations. So that about does it, but now it’s time to hear from you all.
So what specific product or accessory do you use on your backpacking trips that you probably wouldn’t consider using on your day rides? Leave a comment in the comments section below.