Bikepacking Versus Bike Touring – What’s The Difference?

In the recent issue of Kootenay Mountain Culture magazine we feature a story about writer Andrew Finley’s experience bikepacking the Purcell Range in British Columbia. Here are the differences between bikepacking and bike touring.

Bike Touring – Like cruising in your RV, only sweatier

• The first person to bike tour around the world was Englishman Thomas Stevens , from 1884 to 1886. He used a penny farthing with a small bag attached to his handlebars.

• Today, most touring bikes are sturdier versions of road bikes with numerous attachments points for front and rear racks and panniers. This set-up allows the rider to carry 80 litres of gear – similar to a large backpack – without compromising stability.

• In recent years, some touring bikes have become beefier and have had bikepacking equipment incorporated into them, like triangle-shaped frame bags. But the road-bike geometry and bag layout still make riding singletrack a scary proposition.

BikePacking – Like mountain biking, only heavier.

• Ten years ago, few people knew what bikepacking was, but with lighter bike frames and new bag designs, the sport is seeing a surge in popularity.

• Bikepackers typically use their existing mountain bikes, and they outfit them with streamlines bags that are smaller than saddlebags, limiting them to ultralight camping gear. Wearing a backpack is not a great idea because the extra weight will ravage your butt after a few days.

• Bikepacking requires load precision: heavy items like food typically go on the middle of the bike, while sleeping bag, pad, and other light items go in the handlebar bag or under your seat.

Share your thoughts on this post