Here are some things to think about in your preparation to go bikepacking:
Where are you going and how far do you need to, or are able to, travel each day? Are there nice big rollers to climb each day, or is your route flat? How is your fitness level? Have you been training to carry a load of supplies? Do you need to mail yourself some supplies along your route? How many pounds of equipment and supplies do you want to carry on your bicycle? Are you bringing the trail pup? Is he able to carry some of his own supplies? Are you pulling a trailer?
This is a lot, but it’s just the surface of your preparation. This is the stage I am at in my own experience. I’ve not done any bikepacking or backpacking, but have done a bit of camping here and there through my life. I am learning right along with you, but I can share several important things I’ve come across in preparation for my own adventure that need some careful thought applied.
Nutrition and Hydration: What are you going to eat? How are you going to carry it? Do you need cooking supplies? Does it have enough calories to give you the energy you need? Are you traveling with another who can share the load and responsibility? Do you have favorite foods or special diet needs? If you are bring the dog, how much food and water do you need to bring? What kind? Can he carry some of his own?
Route Planning: Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there? How much time do you need? How far do you need to or want to go each day? Do you need a rest day? Which towns do you want to stop in? What sight-seeing do you want to do? Do you have a back-up route should something happen or you run into construction? Do you have a waterproof, non-electronic map with you?
Safety: What are you going to do in case of emergency? What if you get injured? What if Dog gets injured? Do you know when to stop? Are you able to think clearly in a high stress situation? Are you bringing a mobile phone and is there a way to charge it? Do you have proper supplies in your first aid kit for both you and the dog, and do you know how to use them? Have you practiced? Is your helmet young and in good working order? How about your bike? Are you healthy and have you trained enough to be doing this without damaging yourself? Do you have a safe place to be in inclimate/severe weather? Does someone know your route plans and when you will be expected to return?
Items: What do you really need with you? How much does it weigh? Can it be smaller? Is there a lighter weight alternative? Can you get by without that extra pair of socks? Are your clothes weather appropriate? Sleeping bag and pad, too? Can you combine the use of one thing with another? Hammock, or tent? Toiletries? Why on earth would you need to bring two sporks? (I know, they ARE pretty cool.)
Packing: Where does all this crap go? Are you bringing too much? Too little? How frequently do you need to access this item? Is it food or water? Is it in case of emergency? Is it entertainment? Is it waterproof? When your front and rear panniers, seat bag, handlebar bag, frame bag, and snack bag are all packed and full, is it balanced on the bike? While riding, does the bike pull or lean to one side? Do you have control of steering? Is anything rubbing on the bike or your body? Are all the straps tucked in and out of any dangerous areas? Do you need a kickstand? Does the dog have enough space in the trailer? Does he have room to run next to you when possible? Can you drop some weight from the full load without packing too little? Have you trained with this full load?
Are you ready? Dog, too?
Fun Stuff: What do you always need with you? Coffee? Card or board games? A couple of toys for Dog? Book? Raspberries?
There will always be something new to learn about bikepacking. Technology is changing every day and there is always a different way of doing what needs to be done. I have a fantastic group of bikepacking co-workers who can offer advice. They are always happy to help anyone and everyone! Stop in to County Cycles and learn directly from the wise ones!
Training and practice make all the difference.
Friends to help you do too!