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M Light and Fast Packs for Bikepacking

by David Chenault

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Article Summary:

Backpacks are as important for bikepacking as they are for backpacking. In some respects, perhaps more so. Descending technical singletrack where a crash can mean serious injury is difficult enough, doing so while carrying gear to camp out in freezing temperatures and calories for 300 miles of riding can be even more so, unless the proper gear is deployed. This article is part of a series, discussing the state of the art in lightweight bikepacking and the major parts of a lightweight bikepacking carry system. The first article in the series was an Introduction to Lightweight Bikepacking, the second is this article, and the third a discussion of Rackless Carry Systems for Bikepacking.

Gear wise, lightweight backpacking is akin to lightweight backpacking in many respects. As discussed in the introductory article, light applies to both the weight of the gear and to the philosophy which a rider employees when planning and going on trips. As the carry system article will explain, the core gear for lightweight backpacking is directly applicable to bikepacking, with only a little specialization required. Bikepacking, especially technical bikepacking and hellbiking, usually require both a lightweight and compact load for success. In modern bikepacking, lightweight is a given, a prerequisite to a whole approach which has opened up new worlds for riding. There is an acute limit on the size and weight of a pack which can be sustainably carried while mountain biking. Too heavy a pack throws a rider off balance during technical riding, and subjects the muscles of the body and the butt-saddle interface to too much stress. Too large a pack interferes with the movement of riding, especially the range of motion while wearing a helmet.

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