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The Best Gifts for Bikepackers & The Bikepacking Curious

Best gifts for bikepackers
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Whether heading out for a quick sub 24hr overnighter, a weekend credit card touring, or a week-long ultra-endurance race – the right bikepacking gear can make or break your adventure. Beyond the bike… bags, racks, sleeping kit, and a lot of small essentials can make bikepacking more enjoyable. Here are our top picks for the best gifts for bikepackers including frame bags, racks, mounts, cooking gear, and other things we use on our own bikepacking trips.

Everything here has been proven on- and off-road by our editors. And they’ll all make great gifts for your favorite randonneur, bike tourer, or bikepacker!

Best Gifts for Bikepackers – On-Bike Bags

The oversized saddlebag is probably the core of a true bikepacking setup, and it’s something almost every bikepacker already has, but…

If you are shopping for a new bikepacker or someone looking to step up their game, the 13L waterproof Ortlieb Seat Pack QR ($195 at Amazon) is quite unique. This saddlebag only fits on conventional-railed saddles and takes a minute to figure out how to mount its quick release. But once you put it on your bike, you’ll wonder why more bags aren’t attached like this. It’s also one of the most stable setups whether half empty or stuffed full. It builds in a useful fender. And it’s one of the best to fit on a dropper seatpost. Ortlieb’s Handlebar Pack QR ($160, at REI) is another great way to quickly strap gear onto and off the other end of the bike.

After a saddle bag, the best place for a lot of stuff is a frame bag. We really like the smaller Apidura Backcountry Frame Pack ($65-108, sold direct), which comes in 1L & 2L sizes that you can even fit onto some mountain bikes. And they don’t get in the way of your regular water bottle cages on moist bikes. The Backcountry packs are light, waterproof & durable, and can be had in all sizes. There are even bigger 2.5-6L Full Frame Packs if you are looking to carry more gear.

The new Tailfin Top Tube Pack ($60-80, sold direct) is a smaller and more affordable way to carry gear on the bike. What it does really well, is a modular mount that either straps-on or bolts directly to your toptube, creating one of the most stable & secure connections to the bike that we’ve tested. It comes in 2 opening styles and 3 sizes. Our team prefers the smallest ones to minimize rubbing onto your legs. (The biggest version is almost comically oversized.)

The Sea To Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack (from $27.96, at Amazon) offers a great balance of two of bikepacking’s core requirements: water protection & low weight. It’s an extremely light compression stuff sack, and it’s waterproof short of full submersion. Plus, the eVent bottom panel replaces bulky air release valves, with an air-permeable base that lets out the air as you compress the bag, but won’t let it back in. Available in five sizes from 6L to 30L.

Mounts & Racks

Bikepacking may be a “rackless” philosophy to modern touring, but still many racks, mounts & cages help us carry our gear more securely.

The Tailfin AeroPack ($430, sold direct) is pricey, for sure. But it’s an all-in-one bikepacking rack & bag system that is light and packed with clever features, especially for use on a full-suspension mountain bike where there are few good options. Thanks to two sets of bushings and pivots, the rack moves with your bike’s suspension, allowing for sway-free packing that won’t hold you back on the trail. The alloy version includes accessory mounts for panniers, bottles, or, yep, an Anything Cage. The included 20L waterproof bag sits on top, but the rack itself will hold up to 27kg and 66L of total storage, which means room for all your gear.

The Salsa Anything Cage HD ($35 at REI) is pretty much a benchmark for carrying bikepacking gear. It even has given us the name for the 3-bolt set of triple braze-on mounts that you’ll find on almost all gravel and adventure bikes these days – from fork legs to under the downtube. Grab two to balance left & right on the fork, or throw one in front of your bottom to keep gear weight low if you have the space.

If you aren’t yet sold on a full handlebar bag setup or prefer the versatility of dry bags, the new Musguard Handlebar Harness ($49, sold direct) might be right up your alley. This simple & light recycled plastic harness can carry everything from a sleeping bag, a tent, a stuff sack of gear, or even a bundle of tinder for your campfire. And then, you can just roll it up out of the way when there’s nothing left to haul. 

This little Restrap Bumper Bar ($60, sold direct) is a combination of a miniature rack and protection for your headtube & cables. Designed to keep loaded-down handlebar bags from bouncing against your external cables, headtube, or rubbing your front tire, it simply slips in between headset spacers under your stem. Plus, it doubles as a mountain point for lights, accessories, or can even carry a small tool bag or rain jacket on its own.

Bikepackers often realize that handlebar bags make it hard to mount a cycling computer off the front, so we like K-Edge Adjustable Stem Mount ($40 at Amazon) since it places it your GPS over the stem. The adjustable angle helps it fit short or angled stems, or just aim it so it’s easy to read.

Transitioning Off the Bike

One of the real secrets of bikepacking is time off the bike can be just as important as riding. Whether that’s popping into a shop to refuel, lounging around camp, or literally struggling up climbs too steep & rough to pedal. That’s where specialized transition gear will save your butt.

Our favorite this year for the most unique (and niche) piece of bikepacking gear is the Restrap Hike-A-Bike Harness ($80, sold direct). It’s literally just a set of padded backpack straps for your bike. Because sometimes you have to hike-a-bike. And sometimes it’s just so steep and long that you wish you didn’t have to push your bike anymore. So, strap it to your back. Not everyone needs this. But if you’re always afraid when your favorite bikepacker plans the route, you know they would put this thing to good use. 

Another very different but also adaptable on- & off-bike solution from the UK-bagmaker is the new Restrap Utility Hip Pack ($143, sold direct). Strap it around your waist for 6L of waterproof roll-top storage with a couple of small mesh side pockets. Or fold the waist belt behind the ingenious padded back panel and it transforms into a small handlebar bag.

If you are looking for something more universal in appeal, look no further than the Apidura Packable Musette ($44, sold direct). Almost every cyclist has some of these common cotton shoulder bags. But this feature-packed little Apidura bag is lighter and highly water-resistant. It packs down so small in its own pocket that it will always be there out of the way on the bike. Then it has plenty of room inside for a quick grocery/snack run. plus, it has a velcro top flap to keep goodies inside and a cross strap to get it stable for the ride to camp for dinner & drinks:

And when you get to camp, break out the Quoc Restrap Sandals ($130, sold direct)). After all day in cycling shoes, these lightweight packable sandals are the perfect way to let your tired feet breathe. Pack them over your saddle bag with the QR hooks on the mid-foot straps. And transition from classic 3-strap sandals to slip-on slides with the creative rear strap design.

Another big part of transitioning on & off the bikepacking bike is having a few pieces of clothing that work in camp, while riding, and when popping into the store for mid-adventure supplies. For cool weather, I really like the simple lightweight Ornot Alpha Daily Vest ($186, sold direct). It features my favorite fuzzy Polartec Alpha Direct insulation on the inside that’s super cozy, wicks well, and dries fast. Perfect for riding in worsening weather, or as an extra layer to stay comfortable after you stop pedaling for warmth. Plus, the rest of its fabrics are also bluesign-certified fabrics, it’s made in the USA, and weighs just 285g.

And for a bit more protection from cold weather, try this unique Ibex Wool Aire Hoodie ($285, sold direct) lightweight hooded jacket. Most puffy jackets we encounter are either down (doesn’t do well in the rain or when you sweat a lot while riding) or synthetic stuffing mimicking down (never seems to be warm enough.) But the Ibex Hoodie fills its puffy baffles to keep you warm with a proprietary expanded merino wool insulation. Crazy, right… a wool puffy jacket? It also is bluesign-certified and gets a PFC-free shell that’s water and wind-resistant to keep the weather out. And it still manages to weigh only 322g, and pack down into its chest pocket. Perfect for when you have to carry it all day on the bike to stay warm when you stop riding, or when the clouds roll in.

Best Gifts for Bikepackers – Cooking & Eating Gear

There’s a good chance your favorite bikepacker also loves coffee. We still love the Kuju Coffee Pocket Pourovers ($14.95 per 6-pack at REI) for their simplicity, and for the fact that they make excellent coffee without the hassle of prep or cleanup. They also have a longer shelf life than regular coffee due to the single-serve design (handy if your bikepacking adventures don’t happen that often). They’re ethically sourced and come in light, medium, dark, and single-origin varieties.

It might not have the cachet of a titanium spork, but the HumanGear GoBites Duo ($8 at REI) is a useful combination of a spoon and fork. Better yet, when you combine the two, it makes for an extra-long utensil, perfect for getting to the bottom of those dehydrated meal pouches without getting your hands dirty. When you’re done, the BPA-, PC- and phthalate-free high-temp nylon cleans up easily and stores compactly.

For dehydrated meals and making hot beverages at camp, the Sea To Summit X-Pot Kettle is the best pot to boil water ($45 for 1.3L or $55 for 2L, sold direct). Extremely light, and collapsing to nearly flat, it takes up minimal room in your kit and boils water extremely fast thanks to the hard anodized 6063-T6 aluminum base. The BPA-free, food-grade, heat-resistant silicone upper handles boiling water well, just don’t let the flames from your camp stove flare up the side of the kettle.

There are tons of options when it comes to camp stoves, but the MSR PocketRocket Deluxe Stove ($80 at REI) is ultra-light, reliable, and powerful. Better yet, it has an integrated push-start ignition so you aren’t forced to wave a lighter overtop of the stove as you crank up the gas. It weighs just 83g and is compatible with standard 80/20 blend canisters of isobutane and propane.

Best Gifts for Bikepackers – Everyday Carry & Necessities

If you sweat or poop in the wild, Surviveware Biodegradable Wipes ($15 on Amazon) should pretty much be in every kit, hydration pack, etc.

The Uncharted Supply Co. Triage Kit ($40 on Competitive Cyclist) is another must-have. It’s tiny but has the essentials packed into a tough waterproof pouch with just enough room to fit a few custom extras you might need (like meds).

Before you strap on a set of bikepacking bags, stick on a Restrap Bicycle Protection Kit ($12 from Chain Reaction). They are just vinyl stickers to keep from scratching your bike, but they look pretty neat too. Restrap Fast Straps ($15-20 at Chain Reaction) are then a secure way to actually strap gear to the bike, made of tough non-stretch Hypalon with locking buckles.

Riding all day in wet weather, an Ass Savers Win Wing Gravel ($28 at Amazon) fender does a surprisingly good job of keeping your butt dry, and you happy. Many bikepackers think they don’t need a fender since their massive saddlebag keeps a lot of road spray off their rear ends. But then, when you go to unpack your gear you find a wet, muddy mess you have to dig through to get your dry clothes. The Win Wing keeps your bags and body clean while being one of the few solutions up to the stresses of off-road bikepacking and still compatible with big bags.

Every bikepacker needs a camp knife they can rely on, and we have two favorites on either end of the price spectrum. The simple & secure twist-locking Opinel No. 8 (from just $18 at REI). It has a stainless steel blade and beechwood handle. There are even smaller versions for weight weenie bikepackers.

The Benchmade 535-3 Bugout ($300 from Blade HQ) everyday carry folding knife is just 57.27g thanks to its milled carbon fiber handle. It sheds weight, not features, though, giving you the same 3.24″ drop point blade made of CPM-S90V, high vanadium steel with extremely high wear resistance so it’ll stay sharper, for longer. If you’re counting grams but don’t want to give up rugged functionality, this is the EDC knife you want for every cycling adventure. Did we mention it’s carbon-freakin’-fiber?

The Silky Saw Pocketboy 130 ($40 from Amazon) is a compact, lightweight saw that’ll cut through any branch or log with ease. Use it to clear a path or make firewood, it’s a fantastic tool for any adventure.

Best Gift for Bikepackers – Clothes & Riding Kit

On the bike, many of us prefer shorts versus bibs for multi-day adventures. The Mission Workshop Pro Short ($205, available direct in men’s and women’s) have great support, comfy and supportive materials, and small side pockets over Dyneema side panels that’ll hold up to a wipeout. Reflective hits keep you safer, too.

A lot of us also like to bikepack in less pro-cyclist-looking gear. So, often classic cycling jerseys are out. And loose fit technical t-shirts are in. But… that means you lose pocket space – even with all the cargo shorts. Enter, the Apidura Expedition Waist Belt ($50, sold direct). It’s essentially an ultra-low-profile mesh hip pack that gives you back the lost rear pocket storage space from a good old-fashioned jersey. https://bikerumor.com/tiny-apidura-expedition-waist-belt-adds-jersey-pockets-to-any-riding-kit/

Space is always at a premium on a bike trip, and Ombraz Sunglasses ($150, sold direct) have great polarized lenses, but ditch the arms so you can tuck them just about anywhere without worrying about breaking them. And yes, they’re surprisingly comfortable and stay put way, way better than you’d think.

A cap is key, and there are three we like: The Chrome Cycling Cap ($25 at Chrome Industries) is hyper-reflective, waterproof, and just a bit looser than most, so it won’t constrict your brain like so many others, making it super comfortable on all-day rides. If your bikepacker is headed off to a hot & sunny locale, the Detour Cloud Cap ($28 from Ass Savers) adds a tail flap to keep the sun off their neck. And for off-the-bike, the Tommy Breeze Trucker Caps ($34, sold direct) hide that helmet hair with fun, friendly designs that always get a compliment.

And if they are headed out on a long on-road adventure that will stretch into the night, try the Apidura Packable Visibility Vest ($58, sold direct). Without limiting their movement or overly flapping in the breeze, it will make sure they are seen whether riding between Paris-Brest and back, or racing the Transcontinental. Or just an evening commute home from work.

Anything else?

How about The Bikepacker’s Guide ($20 at Bikepacking Roots) as a helpful how-to? Now in its 2nd edition, this guidebook breaks down trip-planning and on-tour skills that will make bikepacking more enjoyable. Plus, route pacing/ride duration estimators and 4 key packing checklists will help your trip go off without a hitch, whether for newbies or seasoned adventurers. An added bonus, proceeds from the sale of the guide support continued route development, maintenance, and advocacy via Bikepacking Roots. https://bikerumor.com/how-to-bikepack-2nd-edition-bikepackers-guide-available-now/

Keeping devices charged up is always a concern, but this Ulanzi Battery Handle Grip ($50 on Amazon) solves those problems and more. It packs a massive 10,000mAh battery inside, letting you charge two devices (phone, GPS, lights, etc.) with its USB-A and USB-C ports, but that’s just the beginning. It’s a camera grip with a tripod base and has 1/4-20 and GoPro mounts, which makes it great for setting up sunrise time-lapses, selfies, or just letting it hold your phone while you watch some YouTube. The slim shape makes it easy to stuff in a frame bag or handlebar bag, too!

As always, don’t forget your Local Bike Shop! Gift certificates from a local shop can be some of the best gifts for bike packers since they help to keep it local and help your rider get those last-minute snacks, tubes, and accessories we all forget until just before it’s time to roll!

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Billy Chowder Pony
Billy Chowder Pony
7 months ago

The Chrome hat is made of cotton and lists nothing about being waterproof on their site.

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