The wild outdoors, camping by bike.

Updated: Sep 8, 2018


Over the years camping has become easier with the evolution into an era of compact, specialized and lightweight camping products. One man tents, bikepacking bags and small lightweight gas stove options has seen Mountain Bikepacking become a global growing sport.

Now more than ever it is possible to pack all the gear you need onto your mountain bike and set off on an adventure route. Completing longer distances compared to backpacking you can now experience more in the same space of time. I think that is really great :)

In this article I share what to take on a bikepacking adventure ride. Handlebar and saddle bags are great for storing and carrying my camping gear, clothes and tools. First let's look at what items will form part of your camp site. I've also included some examples of products and pricing:



1. Bikepacking Bags - bags are great for carrying the stuff you need for a great trip. Handlebar, Frame and Saddle bags are used for storing your camping equipment, clothes, tools and gadgets. For those long trips food can also be stored in these bags.

  • Handlebar Bag

  • Tied to your bikes handlebars.

  • Frame Bag

  • Fits inside your bikes frame. As this bag will take up the space allowed for water bottles you will need a fork/shock water bottle solution to accommodate your water bottles.

  • Saddle Bag

  • Ties to your saddle and seat post. If you have a carbon seat post familiarize yourself with its weight carrying capability before using a saddle bag.



2. Tents - A one man or two man tent will do the job.  I use a one man tent as it is 500 g lighter than the two man tent. The two man tent is more cost effective as it is cheaper by almost 50% and you can buy it from almost any supermarket.

One man tents save on space by about 1/3 compared to a two man tent. It does not seem much, but it changes how you pack your bags in a big way. You will now be able to pack your one man tent and sleeping bag all in the handlebar bag. This is not possible when using a two man tent.

  • One Man Tent - Highlander Blackthorn 1

  • Retailer - Canvas and Tent

  • Price - around 790 ZAR 

  • Weight - 1.5 kg

  • 10 000 mm - water column

  • Two Man Tent - Camp Master Camp Dome 200

  • Retailer - Makro

  • Price - around 350 ZAR

  • Weight - 2 kg

  • 2000 mm - water column



3. Camping Mattress - For a sense of comfort you can use a compact self inflatable mattress. The guiding rule is the smaller the better. Anything bigger than 280 mm in length will not fit in the bags.

  • Mattress -  K-way Compact Self Inflating Mattress

  • Retailer - Cape Union Mart

  • Price - around 399 ZAR

  • Weight - 600 g

4. Sleeping Bags - There are many compact sleeping bags on the market, but purpose and cost led me to use the Columbia.

  • Sleeping Bag - Columbia Reactor omni-heat

  • Retailer - Trappers Trader

  • Price - around 1,200 ZAR

  • Weight - around 500 g

5. Pillows - I find that inflatable pillows are not the most comfortable, but decided to sacrifice comfort for size and went with the smallest one I could find. The Trail inflatable pillow.

  • Pillow - Trail Inflatable Pillow

  • Retailer - Mr Price Home

  • Price - around 50 ZAR

  • Weight - around 150 g



Packing suggestions for XC Owl bikepacking bags. 

  • Handlebar Bag: One Man Tent + Sleeping Bag + Pillow + small items

  • Handlebar Bag: Two Man Tent + Pillow

  • Saddle Bag: Mattress + Camp Chair + Clothes + Cutlery + small items

  • Saddle Bag: Sleeping Bag + Mattress + small items (when using the two man tent)

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Bikepacking Adventure Routes