When it’s time to head out on the bike for days or weeks, you’re gonna need the right gear. And bags. And racks. And a few other little things that will make your adventures easier and more enjoyable.
Here are our top picks for the frame bags, racks, mounts, cooking gear, and other things we personally use on our own bikepacking trips. Everything here has been proven on the road and trail by our editors, and they’ll all make great gifts for your favorite randonneur, bike tourer, or bikepacker!
Frame Bags & Storage
After a saddle bag, the best place for a lot of stuff is a frame bag, and we’ve used the Blackburn Outpost Frame Bag ($33 to $70, available at Competitive Cyclist). It’s not their most expensive version, but it’s the one that expands or contracts to let you choose between running a water bottle or not. It’s easy to get into while riding, has a nice side pocket for cash and cards. Just be sure to check frame size and get the right size bag.
The Sea To Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack ($33-$53, at REI) is the best of both worlds. 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.
If you are looking for bulletproof bikepacking bags, it’s hard to argue with the Ortlieb Waterproof Handlebar Pack QR ($160, at REI) is one of the quickest ways to strap gear to any bar, and their biggest Seat Pack ($175) is guaranteed to keep your gear safe & dry, no matter how wild your adventure gets.
Apidura’s Racing Top Tube Pack ($70 for bolt-on, $60 for straps) is one of the easiest-to-use bags we’ve ever tried with its unique magnetic flap. No zippers or anything else to encumber access while riding, and just flop it over and the magnet guides it to a closed position automatically.
Mounts & Racks
There are lots of ways to carry stuff on your handlebars, but in our experience, the Salsa EXP Series Anything Cradle ($119.99 at Salsa) is one of the best. The mounting bracket keeps the gear off of your bars, cables, and frame, and is strong enough to keep everything from bouncing even on rough terrain. Now compatible with both 31.8mm and 35.0mm bars, the Cradle includes two 30″ long Salsa EXP Series Rubber Straps—perfect for lashing down a sleeping bag.
Handlebar bags make it hard to mount a GPS computer off the front, so we like K-Edge Adjustable Stem Mount ($40 at Amazon) since it places it over the stem. The adjustable angle helps it fit short or angled stems, or just aim it so it’s easy to read.
The Salsa Anything Cage HD ($35 at Salsa) is kinda the go-to accessory on adventure bikes and bikepacking setups. Most bikes made for this kind of exploring even add its 3-bolt mounts to their forks and frames…it’s that popular! Grab two to balance left and right on your fork legs, or throw one under your downtube if it has the mounts.
The Tailfin AeroPack ($430, sold direct) is pricey, 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. 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.
Need more capacity? The Tailfin SFM (Suspension Fork Mount) ($40, sold direct) is a brilliant way to do it. It fits most suspension forks and allows you to carry up to two cages per side, without slipping or marring your fork legs. The carbon version will save you some weight, but the Stainless Steel version is probably more appealing at $40 per pair (a pair is needed for each side of the fork, to get two pairs to keep it balanced!).
Cooking & Eating Gear
There’s a good chance your favorite bikepacker also loves coffee. We love the Kuju Coffee Pocket Pourovers ($22-30 per 10-pack on Amazon) for their simplicity, and for the fact that they make excellent coffee without the hassle of prep or cleanup. 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 ($7 at REI) is a useful combination of 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, look no further than the Sea To Summit X-Pot Kettle ($39.95 for 1.3L or $49.95 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 ($70 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.
Everyday Carry & Small Necessities
If you sweat or poop in the wild, Surviveware Biodegradable Wipes ($10 on Amazon) should pretty much be in every kit, hydration pack, etc.
The Uncharted Supply Co. Triage Kit ($40 on Backcountry) 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 ($15 from Restrap). They are just vinyl stickers to keep from scratching your bike, but they look pretty neat too.
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 N°06 (from just $14 at REI). It has a stainless steel blade, and you can even custom engrave the wood handle or blade of the French-made knives to make a truly unique gift.
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, a high vanadium steel with extremely high wear resistance so it’ll stay sharper, 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 ($38 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.
Clothes & Riding Kit
On the bike, many of us prefer shorts versus bibs for multi-day adventures. The Mission Workshop Pro Short ($195, 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.
Off the bike, the Kitsbow Trail Boxers ($55, available direct in men’s and women’s) are light, breathable way to get out of a chamois. And they dry quickly…so you only really need to bring one (maybe two) pair and just wash ’em along the way.
Space is always at a premium on a bike trip, and Ombraz Sunglasses ($140, 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 suprisingly 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 ($35 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.
Keeping devices charged up is always a concern, but this Ulanzi Battery Handle Grip ($49.95 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, 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! A gift certificate from there helps keep it local and helps your rider get those last-minute snacks, tubes, and accessories we all forget until just before it’s time to roll!