Bikepacking has seen exponential growth in recent years. It wasn’t too long ago that riders were forced to use makeshift equipment and modified cross-country bikes to tackle multi-day trips. Now, we are spoilt for choice from both bike and equipment manufacturers, with specialist bags, mounts, frames, wheels and components all available to allow riders go further, faster and for longer. This has helped encourage more riders to take up bikepacking, as has the rise of social media. Budding adventurers are inspired and educated every time they refresh their newsfeed. Stunning images capture the moments and fellow riders are often more than happy to share their tips on equipment and routes.
The beauty of bikepacking, and the biggest appeal for many, is its simplicity. While specialist equipment allows you to travel in more comfort and style, the more adventurous may still choose makeshift equipment that often stands the test of time. In reality, all you need is a bike, food, water and shelter – and you can even leave some of these behind if you opt for the ‘flash-packing’ option! Flash-packing is bikepacking using accommodation and food outlets to lighten your load.
A wise and well-prepared bikepacker will carry a few spares and have contingency plans, but, like on any long trip, there will be compromises and sacrifices to make when you’re planning and packing.
Credit for first four images: Tourism Tropical North Queensland.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro bikepacker or a first-timer about to embark on your maiden voyage, your multi-day epic is bound to be a rollercoaster of emotions. The physical and mental pressures of long days, challenging terrain and heavy loads can push some to their limits. But for those who endure the stresses, the rewards are plenty.
Fortune favours the brave, and those brave enough will have not only bragging rights but also unsurpassed feelings of accomplishment. Any bikepacking trip will be an unforgettable experience – whether it’s a few dozen kays out of the city on an overnighter, or a multi-day epic covering hundreds of clicks – so do yourself a favour and start planning your next. Or your first!
BEST BIKEPACKING TRAILS
- The Mawson Trail, SA: This trail stretches 900km from just north of Adelaide to Blinman in the Flinders Ranges. Due to the long distance, you’ll need at least a few weeks, but if time is limited, shorter versions are possible. The trail utilises 4x4 and farm tracks, backroads and country roads to provide the isolation and adventure you seek; plus there’s plenty of steep sections, rocks and mud to keep even the most die-hard MTBer happy.
- Tasmanian Trail, Tas: As Australia’s smallest state, Tassie is well suited to bikepacking. A loop around the island via road is a popular choice, as is the Tasmanian Trail which runs straight down the guts of the island. The 480km route has plenty of hills, wildlife encounters and, if the weather turns, plenty of mud.
- Lithgow to Mittagong, NSW: The beauty of this trip is the ease of access for Sydney-siders. Jump on a train to Lithgow to start and return on train from Mittagong. At over 200km it’s no walk in the park, but you start much higher than you finish, so there’s more downs than ups along the dirt roads and fire trails. Be sure to drop in and check out the Jenolan and Wombeyan caves.
- The Munda Biddi Trail, WA: Utilising an undeveloped natural corridor of land stretching over 1000km from Mundaring to Albany, this iconic trail is equipped with campsites specifically built for bikepackers and full of beautiful scenery.
- The Goldfields Track, VIC: A 210km point-to-point trail from Ballarat to Bendigo, easily accessible by train from both ends. It’s best suited to MTBs, with its mix of firetrail, dirt roads and stellar single track. Take a detour to the nearby MTB park, La Larr Ba Gauwa, for an additional fix of singletrack goodness.
- Cairns and FNQ, QLD: It’s hard to recommend just one route in and around Cairns. There are trail networks in Port Douglas, Cairns, Mareeba and the Atherton Tablelands. With around 130km separating the two furthest networks and superb scenery in between, it’s possible to link up a huge amount of dedicated MTB trail.
- The Red Centre Adventure Ride, NT: This fully-funded epic-to-be is still a few years from completion. What’s planned is a 200km trail between Alice Springs Desert Park and Glen Helen with options for multi-day and shorter rides, fully supported or self-guided tours and fully independent riding.