Bikepacking & Off-Road Touring

A collection of articles, blog posts, and websites addressing off-road touring, ultralight touring, and bikepacking.

This month, we're celebrating Fat Bike February. We'll be sharing stories, how-to information, and all things fatbike and winter-cycling related on this page. Share your winter cycling adventures and fattest photos by tagging your posts with #FatBikeFeb on Twitter and Instagram

Photo by Aaron Teasdale

Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route GPS Data Release
Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route GPS Data Release

GPS data for our newest route, the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR) is now available. This release continues the trend the paper map started. Where the paper map is a peek at what a redesigned Great Divide Mountain Bike Route map might look like, the GPS data is an iteration of what future GPS data might look like.

Fatbike Buyer's Guide — List of Manufacturers
Fatbike Buyer's Guide — List of Manufacturers

by Nicholas Carman. A rundown of currently available fatbikes ranging from (relatively) budget-friendly to full-custom titanium rigs to get you off the beaten track. 

Idaho Hot Springs: A Backcountry Backstory
Idaho Hot Springs: A Backcountry Backstory

It's been nearly two decades since we commenced research on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, and we've run off-pavement tours for fat-tire enthusiasts since the 1980s. But it took the vision of Adventure Cycling cartographer Casey Greene to add a third element to create what just may be the perfect triad: backcountry, bicycle travel, and natural hot springs. 

Announcing Winners of the Idaho Hot Springs Map Sets!
Announcing Winners of the Idaho Hot Springs Map Sets!

Last week to celebrate the release of our newest mountain-bike route, and our first-ever route featuring singletrack, we announced a giveaway for two complete Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR) map sets. Randomly chosen from the hundreds of comments on last week’s blog post, the winners are ...

Idaho Hot Springs, Singletrack, & Map Giveaway
Idaho Hot Springs, Singletrack, & Map Giveaway

We know you're as excited as we are to get out and ride the Idaho Hot Springs Mountain Bike Route (IHSMBR) this summer. Adventure Cycling Cartographer Casey Greene, creator of the IHSMBR, supplies a closer look at the singletrack options.

Fat Bike February
Fat Bike February

For the second year running, Adventure Cycling Association is celebrating Fat Bike February. You can join in the fun on Instagram, on our blog, and over on our Facebook page.

A Brief History of Fatbikes
A Brief History of Fatbikes

Fatbikes have gained attention as the fastest growing segment of the bicycle industry this year, and for good reason. They've ridden the length of continents, across the snowy state of Alaska in winter, and along unique sections of coastline all around the globe.

Fatbike to the Arctic: How to Prepare
Fatbike to the Arctic: How to Prepare

This winter we will attempt our most ambitious winter cycling trip. We have titled it “Fatbike to the Arctic.” We intend to ride the Iditarod Trail as far as Norton Sound and continue north across the Arctic Circle and on to Kotzebue. If all goes well we will continue on to Point Hope, North America’s longest continually inhabited community.

Winter Touring Tips for Beginners
Winter Touring Tips for Beginners

Winter is coming, and that means adjusting our cycling wardrobes to include some slightly warmer apparel. But just because it's winter, doesn't mean you can't keep touring! Chillier temperatures at night require fluffier sleeping bags and warmer fires. Here are equipment tips for staying warm and toasty on your next overnight ride.

Flat's Where It's At: My 10 Favorite Rail-Trails
Flat's Where It's At: My 10 Favorite Rail-Trails

Media specialist and BikeOvernights.org editor lists his 10 favorite rail-trails.

Under the Tarp
Under the Tarp

On a mountain bike, space is often at a premium. One of the most effective places to cut both space and weight on a bicycle camping trip is your shelter. Even light solo tents usually weigh two to three pounds and take up quite a bit of space. Bivy sacks can feel claustrophobic and don't always provide the best protection from the weather. A great method is to use a SilNylon or polyethylene "tarp," rope, and stakes to construct a barrier from the elements.

Off-road and Online: Bikepacking.net
Off-road and Online: Bikepacking.net

Who makes the smallest pack-size solo tent? If you're traveling lightweight and only carrying two pairs of shorts maximum, how do you prevent saddle sores? What's the weather like on the Colorado Trail in August? Find out!

Bikepacking Routes East of the Rockies
Bikepacking Routes East of the Rockies

While the Rocky Mountains and West Coast have a greater range of possibilities for long-distance trail rides than other regions, there also are good options for dirt touring with mountain bikes in the Midwest and eastern United States. The following article details five routes to get off the highway and into a new adventure.

Top 10 Places to Bikepack in the American West
Top 10 Places to Bikepack in the American West

It's the end of the year, which seems to me to be a great time to make a list. The following is a list of the top 10 routes on which to take a mountain bike trip in the American West.

Fast Food on the Trail
Fast Food on the Trail

I’m just going to admit up front that I think hot camp food is overrated. It’s messy, time-intensive, and often less appetizing than most people are willing to admit (Freeze-dried entrees are not tasty. They’re just not.) Yes, if you have the time, it can be fun to cook up a big elaborate meal on the trail. And yes, hot food does warm the soul after a long day in the saddle (until it’s time to do the dishes.) But sometimes it’s also nice leave the stove, fuel, and mess kit at home and save time, space and arguably weight by packing cold meals (unless you eat only freeze-dried food).

Tent or Bivy?
Tent or Bivy?

When I’m traveling by bicycle, I like to keep camping as simple as possible. Especially when I’m traveling alone, I try to maximize my time on the bike and minimize the time I spend doing “camp chores.” For this reason, I usually opt to eat sandwiches over cooking an evening meal, don’t usually build fires, and don’t like to spend time constructing elaborate shelters.

Fitting Bags for Trails
Fitting Bags for Trails

There was a time when most bikepackers were literally backpackers with bikes, hoisting top-heavy, backbreaking loads on their shoulders while riding mountain bikes through the woods. These days, mountain bikers have several different options for hauling camping gear, from traditional racks and panniers to trailers. However, racks and panniers are more difficult to adapt to suspension systems on mountain bikes, and also increase the profile of the bike, which can make it more difficult to maneuver through tight singletrack and heavily forested trails. Trailers are more versatile, but also add another layer of difficulty and weight to technical terrain. Also, as with any mechanical component, racks and trailers are just another thing that can break or otherwise fail — a problem you want to avoid when traveling far away from civilization.

Go Light, Go Long
Go Light, Go Long

For decades, climbers and backpackers have embraced “ultralight” as a strategy for moving faster and farther on difficult terrain. And while cyclists are constantly trying to shave grams, bicycle travelers have been much slower to jump on the lightweight bandwagon. This could be because many of us don’t really care that our extra-large air mattresses and portable espresso makers are slowing us down on the hills when it means a comfy night’s sleep and energized morning. But for others, the image of a loaded cyclist laboring up a hill, face strained beyond recognition beneath the weight of four bulging panniers and a trailer, is daunting enough to discourage the idea of a multi-day ride. Add technical terrain, such as singletrack trails, rocky jeep roads, and muddy logging routes to the mix, and it’s no wonder that mountain biking has long been a single-day affair. That’s all changing with the growing trend of “bikepacking,” whose enthusiasts understand that one can’t clear the gnarly stuff with a trailer swinging from their rear wheel, but they can pare their belongings down to a manageable size.

Hail the Rail-Trails!
Hail the Rail-Trails!

Adventure Cycling member Bob Youker of Bethesda, Maryland, is a former World Bank employee and current cheerleader of all things rail-trail. He emails me on a fairly regular basis, telling me about trails he's recently ridden and urging me to promote them. I guess his efforts work, because here I go ...

Choosing a Bike for the Great Divide

by Larry Diskin. If you are planning to go a long way on the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, you will depend a great deal on your gear. There are few services such as bike shops, outdoor stores, hospitals, and commercial accommodations available on the route. Since there are few opportunities to purchase equipment or have repairs done, you will depend largely on what you bring with you. Careful selection of equipment will pay off during the trip.