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.
Cooking Gear – Since we’re two people, we usually split the cooking gear between our two camping panniers. Dave will carry the fuel bottle in one of his three water bottle holders on his bike, along with the stove and cook set. I carry the kitchen set and utensils. Don’t forget to add a lighter to your kitchen set!
Pannier #2 Clothes and other Miscellaneous Gear:
For a one to two-season bikepacking trip, we bring along the following clothing:
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.
Tail Wagon: 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.
And there you have it—an inside peek to what we bring along on our bikepacking adventures!