Have you ever considered taking a bikepacking trip alone? If so, there are a few things to take into consideration. Having personal experience with this, I can see how you may have some questions or concerns. Bikepacking alone has its pros and cons and so does partnering up or going with a group.
When trying to decide if you should have some friends in tow or go it alone, it ultimately depends on a few things; safety, experience level, where you are going, and your comfort level. Once you’ve evaluated these scenarios, you can go from there.
First off, if you have thought about going on a solo trip and are having some fear, anxiety, or reservations about going unaccompanied, it’s probably not a good idea to head off on your own.
Unless you’re unable to find someone to go with, or your mate canceled at the last minute, I’d recommend taking someone with you. The reason is, if you are going to be experiencing anxiety or discomfort because you’re all alone, then the trip probably won’t be very enjoyable. Maybe start with an overnight visit to a familiar place close to home
Safety is the number one consideration when trying to decide whether or not you should embark on a solo trip. While incidents and accidents from bikepacking are relatively rare, (I could only find one incident) there are a few things to think about when putting safety first.
- How safe is the trail? Is the ride on a nice smooth fire road or a gnarly single track with all kinds of potential hazards? You may want to pair up if there’s an increased potential for accidents or injury.
- Will you be camping in an area that’s safe from human and animal predators? If the area you plan on visiting is questionable regarding humans or animals that may be a threat, take a friend just in case. Some camping areas can become inhabited by transients or wildlife like bears looking for food.
- How safe is your bike? If your bike is not road-worthy or in good shape, it’s probably not a good idea to go it alone. It’s nice to have someone around if something goes awry.
Experience level should also be a primary consideration if you’re thinking about bikepacking alone. If you are not at all familiar with how to use your bike, gear, or the terrain of the trail for that matter, it may be best to have someone tag along.
Having someone around in case you suddenly find you need 2 people to set up a tent or have forgotten something important will make things much more pleasurable. Ask yourself these questions:
- How experienced are you with your bike?
- How experienced are you with your gear?
- How experienced are you on that particular trail?
Where are you going?
It’s one thing to go out to your favorite weekend spot alone, but it’s a whole different story if you’re planning to be out for several days. Here are a few questions you should think about when evaluating the “where” part of your trip.
- Are you going somewhere where there will be others using the trail? This automatically makes it safer in case of accidents or confusion about the trail.
- Are you going somewhere with cell service? If you’re thinking of going solo, you may be wanting a break from your phone, but it’s good to know if you need something in an emergency you can make a call.
- Are you going somewhere you are familiar with? If you have never been on the trail or path you plan on taking, it’s a good idea to do a trial run to check the terrain or bring someone familiar with the area. No one likes surprises on the trail.
The pros and cons of bikepacking alone.
- You can go at your own pace.
- You can be flexible as far as when and where to camp?
- You can have some time for relaxing or self-reflection without interruption.
- If you’re alone and there’s an accident or injury, you may not have help.
- More weight! Sharing gear like stoves and water filters can greatly reduce your weight.
- No one to talk to. Some people like the company of others and may feel lonely without someone there.
Making the right choice.
Bikepacking with friends can enhance your ride in many ways, but if you’re like me, a solo trip is sometimes the perfect respite. There’s nothing like being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, without having to consider another human. But for some, it can get lonely out there.
On a recent long ride, I was able to experience the best of both, giving me plenty of insight. I rode with 2 friends who turned out to be a lot slower than I was which led to frustrating wait times. I decided that I would go it alone and meet them at camp each night. This was a great way to enjoy myself on a semi-solo trip.
On that same trip, one of my friends got injured so both of my buddies bailed halfway through the ride. I decided to continue on solo. I had planned an initial itinerary and made sure I stuck to it so people would know where I was in case something happened. I tried to stay in the vicinity of other cyclists in case I needed help with something.
Ultimately, I enjoyed the group experience, semi-solo ride, and going it alone. It most certainly will depend on your comfort level. Again, if going solo makes you nervous or anxious, go with a partner or group. If you’re itching to be alone on your ride, be sure to consider the pros and cons of both scenarios before making your ultimate decision.