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Bikes, backpacks, and bears?! (Oh my…)

Posted by Frost River

Bikes, backpacks, and bears?! (Oh my…)
"The pursuit of adventure can take on many forms. However, few adventures combine the beauty and solace of nature and wildlife with the thrill of biking and the self-reliance of backpacking."

Meet the sport of bikepacking

Are you a backpacker looking to add more miles to your adventures? Maybe you’re a mountain biker seeking more time out in nature. Or perhaps you are a novice explorer, looking for the outdoor sport that has it all. No matter which category best describes you, we have a sneaking feeling that bikepacking will check off more than one person’s boxes of adventure-seeking.

Combining the sports of biking and backpacking, bikepacking is a fresh take on outdoor adventuring that allows you to go further, see more, and recharge your soul in nature. Bikepacking can be a single overnight adventure close to home or a cross-country excursion that gives you the gift of seeing the backcountry in a whole new light. Paved, gravel, dirt, or singletrack trails are all fair game when it comes to this human-powered sport.

Man riding a mountain bike with Frost River bikepacks on a bridge.

The best bikes for bikepacking

The best bike for starting out in this combo-adventure-pack sport is the one you already own. If you own multiple bikes or are in the market for a new one, it’s best to consider comfort and how you feel while riding that matters most. After all, if you’ll be climbing up stoic hills and digging deep across miles and miles of terrain, you’re going to want to put your comfort above all else.

While many choose an all-terrain bike, like a mountain bike or gravel bike, some bikepackers also choose to use a road bike. It all comes down to what terrain you plan on pedaling over, and which bike can take you the furthest comfortably.

An easy way to upgrade your bike without breaking the bank is to invest in a new saddle that offers additional padding and shock protection for your body type.

The back of a mountain bike highlighting Frost River canvas bike bags.

How & What to pack

Balance. Bikepacking is all about balancing your gear and packing as light as possible—not only to save your body from pedaling extra weight but also to help your bike perform as best as it can. You may need to experiment with different packs and even different camping gear to find the right combination (and balance) that fits your trip, your bike, and your own personal abilities.

Why not just wear a backpack? Why invest in special bikepacking accessories and packs? Again, the answer is because it can impact your overall balance on your bike. Your center of gravity and your bike’s center of gravity is extremely important to maximize your experience.

Man pulling gear out of front canvas bike bag on a mountain bag.

So how do you pack your bike properly? We’re glad you asked! Follow this simple guide below for a quick and easy way to get packing for your bikepacking adventure:


  • Great for carrying heavy items
  • Tents, cooking equipment, food, and water fit great in a pannier pack
  • Clothes, sleeping bags, and pads also fit nicely in a pannier pack
  • Just remember to distribute the weight evenly on both sides of the panniers
  • Check out our Hwy 61 Bike Panniers with an expandable roll-top to fit just about anything

Handlebar Bags

  • Keep anything light and that you need while riding in here
  • Keys, wallet, phone, snacks, maps, and other objects you want readily available
  • Try our Sawbill Trail Handlebar Bag that doubles as a small shoulder bag

Tube Bags

  • Good for other travel necessities you may need on the trail
  • Bike repair tools, spare tires, bike pump, leatherman, flint/steel, fire starters, and a tire patch or five
  • Our Trezona Tube Bag is a tried and true favorite here at Frost River
Bear standing on all fours in the forest.

Trail Trivia

Did you know that you have a higher chance of being hit by a car than being attacked by a bear? That being said, biking in nature means coming across wildlife—and sometimes that can mean surprising a bear, especially when coming around a bend or bush. Make sure if you’re in bear country, especially during their more active times before hibernation, to carry bear spray on your person at all times. After all, while you might be a fast biker, there’s no out biking a bear who tops out at 30 MPH.

When & Where to go

This may very well be the hardest choice you have to make when planning your bikepacking adventure. While a trip on a paved local path may be easier to start on, more epic long weekend or backcountry biking opportunities are limitless. We recommend a loop trip—it allows you to park one car in one place, giving you a full outdoor experience with the convenience of pedaling back to your car at the end of a grueling bikepacking trip and saving you time having to backtrack to your vehicle.

Wherever you choose to go, make sure you’re either on a well-marked path with signs, bring a compass and a map, or a GPS device of sorts for a stress-free trek into the wild on your bike.

Season and time of year will also affect your bikepacking trip. Depending on where you live and what season it is, your hours of daylight for biking and setting up camp will vary. Make sure you plan accordingly and give yourself plenty of time to arrive at designated campsites ahead of sunset to set up and cook yourself a well-earned meal.

Mileage also matters when planning your trip. Depending on your skill level, you’ll want to find a route that accommodates your physical abilities to bike a certain amount of miles in one day—while allotting for all the scenic views you’ll stop to take in, meals, breaks, and camp chores before sunset.

Wherever you choose to venture out on your trusty metal steed, you’re sure to have an epic time that you’ll not soon forget!

Man riding a mountain bike on a gravel road with a Frost River canvas backpack.

How to pack a pannier pack

Worried about how to use and pack your panniers? Watch the video below to see how to pack for a quick, overnight getaway on your bike.



Designed to strap to the bars of a bicycle, the Sawbill Trail Handlebar Bag can carry whatever small stuff you want to keep handy on a cruise. Waxed canvas construction with leather straps to secure to the bars—it's just big enough for the essentials without overburdening your handlebars. On each end is a riveted brass ring to use to help stabilize the Sawbill on a bumpy ride, or to use the bag as a small shoulder satchel.

This handcrafted product is available in field tan and hunter orange.

The Trezona Trail Top Tube Bag attaches to the frame of the bike with leather straps and solid brass hardware. This product is made in the USA at Frost River from waxed canvas.

Our Trezona Trail Top Tube Bag allows you to securely stow gear inside the bike frame. Two sizes are available with universal leather and brass attachment straps to fit a variety of frames. Two compartments close with coil zippers with storm flaps to offer storage of flat items like a map and a wallet on one side, while higher volume gear can be stashed on the other (which utilizes the full volume of the bag. The Small Trezona will carry 5 12oz. cans (it’s up to the person packing to figure out what to do with the sixth…) the Large will hold 7 cans or equivalent of other stuff.

Our Rolltop Panniers named after the iconic route makes a great addition, and add plenty of cargo space to a bike. The expandable top allows you to return with more than what you left. Waxed canvas encourages rides no matter the weather. The universal fit is quick to put on and quick to take off and will work with nearly any bike equipped with a rack, even if there's another bag on the rack. An internal frame sheet is included, to keep the bags off the spokes. It’s a perfect set-up for touring, cruising, bike camping, or just grabbing some groceries at the store on your way home. Wherever you’re headed, these panniers will really haul!

The Highway 61 Panniers are made of waxed canvas, premium leather, and solid brass hardware. This unique product has a rolltop feature to allow for storage flexibility. This product is made in America at Frost River.