The Yin and Yang of Bikepacking

At the top of Georgia Pass on the Colorado Trail. Rider: Greg Heil. Photo: Mike Harris

Yin

Bikepacking is a complicated endeavor. Not only do you need a mountain bike and all of the accessories required to not have a horrible time riding, but you also need to own basically all of the gear that’s required for spending the night in the woods.
People complain all the time about how expensive mountain bikes are, but high end backpacking gear is pretty damn expensive too.
Basically, you need the amount of equipment required for two expensive sports. But then determining how to mesh that gear together, to use the one to carry the other, is a feat unto itself. That process requires its own set of equipment.
Once you have the equipment, figuring out how to optimize it for your own purposes is a never-ending process. After three short bikepacking trips, I’m still working to refine and perfect my setup.

Yang

On the other hand, the process of bikepacking is extremely simple. You wake up, tear down camp, feed yourself, put your gear on your bike, and ride. Then you push and pedal your bike down your chosen trail as fast or as slow as you’d like.
When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re thirsty, you drink. When you need to answer the call of nature, you take care of business. When you reach a refreshing-looking stream, you decide if you should refill your water reservoir or not.
And when you’ve decided that you’ve had enough for the day, you look for a suitable spot to set up your tent and unroll your sleeping bag.
You feed yourself, drink a little whiskey, and the next day, you do it all over again.