this post is a collaboration with Outnorth and contains affiliate links
Biking has really exploded this year, so much so that bike manufacturers are backlogged! This is one of the good things that has come from the pandemic and travel bans: People have had to explore other ways to enjoy summer in their own home and in more solitary, social distance-safe ways. I rarely travel abroad in the summer though, as Sweden is the perfect place to enjoy a staycation. We have the freedom to roam, amazing nature, cozy towns and lovely lakes being nearby basically regardless of where in the country we live.
So this summer me, Dan and our friend Kim decided to try bikepacking for the first time and we went for a weekend trip to a nearby river we’ve been to before. It’s a lovely place to camp at and not too far away from Sundsvall so it was a good first bikepacking trip. We enjoyed the country side views on the way there and stopped for snacks at a small lake (almost went for a swim) before reaching our destination.
There are many different systems for packing when it comes to bikepacking, and it’s important to think about being able to bring only what you really need in a way that does not disrupt the balance of the bike or weight too much. You should try not to bring more than needed for the days you will be gone for. Plan for filling up water and buying food along the way, you don’t need to carry all of that from the starting point.
I am currently using the Thule Tour Rack – a package holder that is very flexible for biking adventure. It sits in our bike storage and is very easy to attach when it’s time to head off and it fits most models regardless of if you have a race bike, mountain bike, commuter bike or gravel bike. You can also choose if you would like to have it at the front or back of the bike. Once it’s on it’s easy to attach stuff to it. Mine sits at the back of the bike, a heavy load in the front is not ideal. Then there are of course many different bike bags and choosing what to use all depends on how you plan on attaching them, how long you plan to be away and just what you prefer really.
The bags I use are the VAUDE Comyou Back Single side panniers right now because of how well made they are and because of the fact that they’re sustainably produced. VAUDE is one of Europes most environmentally friendly maker of outdoor gear within mountain sports, biking and bags and backpacks. My bags have bamboo handles, a big open compartment with a small zipped pocked inside for storing smaller things. They have reflective parts so that I’m visible even in bad weather or when it’s dark and the durable fabric is PVC free and waterproof.
A different system of packing is using bags that you attach by your handle bars, on the frame of the bike and at the back behind the saddle. These bags are smaller but help spread the weight more evenly across the bike.
Tip: You should pack the heaviest stuff in the bag that’s attached to the frame!
My friend Kim uses this way on her race bike to stay more light weight and balanced. Dan decided to use this system without having bags for it, he simply used Paracord and his knowledge of knots to attach the tent to the bike frame, sleeping pad on the handle bar and a dry bag with his clothes under the saddle. I had our camp stove and food in my bags.
Once we arrived at our destination it was easy to park my bike, take the bags of and carry them down to the beach to set up camp. After doing that we just enjoyed nature and the fact that we got there using our own bodies. We chatted for a bit and played some board games. Then some fishermen arrived and we chatted with them and watched them fish for a bit.
Slowly but steadily we’ve been investing in good, more lightweight gear both when it comes to our cooking equipment as well as sleeping setup which I can highly recommend. Because if like us, you enjoy hiking, camping or traveling by bike a lot and would like to do it more lightweight gear that does not take up much space makes all the difference. It costs a little bit more but being able to bring less and travel lighter will affect how hard it is and how you’ll feel afterwards. It’s also very likely that you won’t head out nearly as often because of how cumbersome it will be if your gear is big and heavy.
After a while it was time to make dinner. Kim has a super small stove setup that just attaches to a gas canister and we use the MSR Dragonfly as it saves space for us by fitting into our pot. As for food I can’t recommend the Norwegian brand Real Turmat enough, it’s by far the best freeze dried food I’ve ever had! They have a huge variety of flavours and a good selection of their food is vegetarian, vegan or lactose free.
Dinner was enjoyed calmly and quietly while we watched the fly fishers in the river. Then it was time to go and set up our tents. Me and Dan use the MSR Hubba Hubba which is a very spacious tent for one person, and very cozy and lagom for two.
We set up on the beach away from the fishermen as the evening is the prime fishing time and we did not want to disturb them. Once our tents we’re up we made a fire and just sat by the warmth and chatted and read for a bit before going to bed.
We woke up early to some huge bird making the strangest noise I’ve heard in a long time. But being close to the sounds of nature is part of the charm of camping. The night had been slightly colder than expected so I will get a liner for my sleeping bag since I have some fall camping planned. But the sun was shining and I was happy to get up, stick my feet in the warm sand and make some coffee!
I always travel with my X-Brew Coffee Dripper. It packs up flat and has a reusable stainless steel filter. When it’s time to make coffee I just unfold it, put it over my cup and add some coffee that I then pour hot water over. It feels pretty luxurious to be able to make really good tasting coffee while camping.
After a slow morning with coffee and oatmeal it was time to take down camp and continue forward to our next stop on our weekend trip. After a short bike ride we had lunch at a lovely café and then spent a night at a friends place since it was raining heavily that evening.
On our last day we biked around 30km to get back home which felt hard but at the same time not as hard as I thought it would. Coming home I jumped in the shower and marvelled at the fact that I had been away for a weekend, carrying all that I needed and the only transport I used was my own body moving my bike forward. What an amazing thing! I definitely enjoyed bike packing and will do that a lot more next summer.
Maybe this inspired you to try it out as well?