bikepacking vs backpacking

Bikepacking VS Backpacking

If you love the outdoors and you’re trying to decide between bikepacking vs backpacking, it really boils down to one question: Do you want to walk the entire time or ride your bike? Although the two activities are similar in many ways, there are some major differences, and it is these differences you need to know before you decide which one is best for you.

When you backpack, you normally only need one backpack, while bikepacking usually requires packing your gear in a few different bags specifically made to mount to your bike. These can include a saddle bag that goes directly behind the seat, another that sits inside the frame, and a third one that sits on the front and is usually shaped like a roll called a handlebar bag.

bikepacking and bike touring tips for beginners

Some bikepackers put bags in other locations as well, but keep in mind that the more bags you have, the heavier your bike is going to be. Best of all, most of these bags can be attached to any type of bike since there really isn’t any hardware to be mounted to your frame.

Backpacking and bikepacking trails can often share the same routes, but that isn’t always the case. Some trails, in fact, either do not allow bikes or are too cumbersome or awkward to go through when you’re riding a bike. 

If you have to cross streams or climb over trees, for example, riding a bike might not be accommodating, although some stream crossings can be pretty fun on a bike. Fortunately, most trails have websites that let people know about this ahead of time, allowing you to decide which trail you need.

In addition, if you decide to switch from backpacking to bikepacking or vice versa, you’ll likely be able to use most of the gear you already have, which means getting all of the gear and supplies you’ll need won’t be nearly as expensive as you might think. This is good to know because after all, you shouldn’t have to spend tons of money just to get prepared for either bikepacking or backpacking.

bikepacking gear list

Bikepacking vs backpacking. Because both often involve long treks and even overnight camping, it’s crucial that your gear and supplies are well-made and sturdy enough to last. Don’t just leap into either without having the right equipment on hand. Both can be extremely dangerous and having the right gear could save your life.



  • You can go further into the backcountry
  • It can be a lot cheaper


  • Very limited packing space
  • The heavy bag is always on your back
  • Takes longer to cover the same amount of terrain


  • You can cover more ground
  • More options for carrying more gear


  • Much more expensive
  • Requires more gear
  • Limited to places you can ride