Photos and Article from Jen Sotolongo, Long Haul Trekkers
Like backpacking, packing for a bikepacking trip is a fine art. When you add a dog to the mix, it becomes even more complicated (and quite a bit heavier!). After spending two years on a cross continental cycle tour with our dog, Sora, we can pack our panniers and Sora’s gear with our eyes closed. Everything goes in the same place and we know right away if something is missing. Each individual has their own system of organization and hopefully our method will give you some insight for packing for your next bikepacking trip with your dog.
For trips up to a month, we use just two panniers each, plus a handlebar bag. We personally use the Arkel Orka 45 waterproof panniers and Arkel handlebar bags. One pannier is dedicated entirely to camping gear, minus our tent, which Dave straps to the top of his rear rack.The other holds our clothes and other miscellaneous gear. Here’s an idea of what we pack where:
Tip: Tie a colorful ribbon to one of your panniers so that when they’re off your bike, you can easily identify which is which.
Pannier #1 Camping Gear
Sleeping bag – Know your body and the temperatures. Are you a hot or cold sleeper? Will the temperature fluctuate where you’re headed?
Sleeping pad – The Therm-a-rest Trail Pro is hands down our favorite air mattress. After two years of use, they’re still going strong. It’s slightly thicker, thus heavier than traditional backpacking sleeping pads, but trust me, it beats waking up on a deflated mattress in the middle of the night. Further, the thicker material better protects against punctures in thorny areas.
Sleeping bag liner – There will be days that you won’t shower, likely for several in a row. It’s much easier to toss a liner into the wash than a bulky sleeping bag. Plus, the liner adds a few degrees of warmth in colder climates.
Pillows – We sacrifice space for comfortable sleep. We each have one inflatable ExPed Air Pillow in addition to larger camping pillows. Dave uses the Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillow and I have the Quixote Synthetic Pillow. To save space, you can simply use your puffy coat and/or bring a stuff sack and pack it with clothes. We found that this didn’t work for us long term.
Pannier #2 Clothes and other Miscellaneous Gear:
For a one to two-season bikepacking trip, we bring along the following clothing:
- Bike shorts x2 pairs
- Cycling jersey or other performance shirt x2
- Socks x4 pairs
- Sports bra x2
- Glove liners
- Everyday clothing x1 or 2
- Underwear x4
- For cold and or wet weather riding:
- Buff or thin cycling beanie
- Long-sleeved shirt x 1
- Puffy coat
- Waterproof rain jacket
- Waterproof booties
- Waterproof gloves
- Hair ties
- Hairbrush + comb
- Dr. Bronner’s travel-sized soap
- First aid kit (adapted to suit a dog as well as human)
- Electronic chargers
- Extra camera batteries + SD card
- Bike tool kit
- Patch kit
- Extra tire
- Water filtration kit, depending on your trip
- Battery pack for USB chargers, if you’re going where you won’t have access to electricity for multiple days.
This is where you put the gear you want most accessible, like your phone, wallet, and camera. We also stash some snacks tucked in the pockets for when hanger strikes. Have your sun protection like chapstick, sunblock, and glasses handy to put on without rifling through bags.
What about Food?
Admittedly, we’re different from most bikepackers, in that I love to cook and prepare healthy meals while we travel, therefore, we tend to carry quite a bit more food than the majority of cyclists.
It really all depends on where you’ll be traveling. If you have easy access to food, you can stop at grocery stores for each meal and/or eat out. In more isolated areas, you’ll have to plan ahead and bring provisions to last until you pass through another town.
Depending on the trip, I’ll bring along a small duffel bag and attach it to the top of my rear rack, otherwise, we store food in any extra space we have in our panniers, with any overflow riding with Sora in the trailer.
In addition to the weight of the trailer itself (23.5 lbs) + your pup (Sora’s 45 lbs), you’ll need to add a few additional pounds to allow for gear.
- At least a week’s worth of food for Sora, stored in a resealable bag, inside a kibble carrier (cause if your dog is like ours, then the food will be gone pretty quickly if it’s easily accessible!).
- Insulated water bottle
- Collapsible silicon water bowl
- Cooling vest – This is a white or silver-colored jacket that helps keeps your dog cool in the heat. Just soak is in water, wring it out and put on your dog to keep her cool.
- Travel bed – Look for one that rolls up small, like a sleeping bag. We love the Kurgo Wander Loft Bed.
- Brush – You’ll be thankful you brought this after all the fur you find in your tent the next morning.
- Jacket, if your dog tends to get cold at night
- Rexspecs – Dogs need eye protection too! They are prone to diseases caused by the sun, so consider protection especially for beach, high altitude, or snow excursions.
- Toys – if your dog likes fetch, that’s a great way to get her some exercise off the bike. Otherwise a treat dispensing toy like a Kong is a great way to keep your pup entertained while you’re setting up camp.
And there you have it—an inside peek to what we bring along on our bikepacking adventures!