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Advice and Tips

Barebones Bikepacking – Bikepacking light


Barebones bikepacking essentially means, taking as little equipment as possible, and enjoying your bikepacking trip on the bare necessities. A UK bikepacking kit list can be minimised massively but choosing the right month to adventure. 

Who doesn’t love a bikepacking trip, but we all know the arduous task of packing-unpacking and repeating, is somewhat of a nightmare, so why not go lightweight and spend less time playing bag tetris. 

The easiest way to do it, is take as little stuff as possible. You don’t need a tent, you can bivvy – there are various brands selling these and doing a little research on them is a great start. It’s possible to make your trip a little fancier and enjoy the luxuries of hotel rooms, fresh bedding, warm showers, and food on hand, while being in a lovely warm environment. You should put some serious thought into your bikepacking kit list when doing a barebones bikepacking trip.

bikepacker by matt grayson

Why choose barebones bikepacking? 

A lighter bike is a faster bike, a faster bike is a more enjoyable ride – and we have all tried to lug a big old rucksack up a hefty climb, on some sort of commute and realised how much of a difference it makes – in a bad way. 

You could trial a new bike setup, it might mean you can go with a 1x chainring and less packed weight means you won’t need quite as many gears to get up the climbs. A 1x setup will also save you some weight. In true cycling style, mechanicals will undoubtedly have crossed your path, but less gears means less potential mechanical problems. 

It’s in our nature as humans to overpack and over prepare for most things, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to follow suit on the bike, but we want to give you the opportunity to experience barebones bikepacking in a better light, whether you’re bikepacking kit list is UK based, European or further afield – barebones is the way forward. 


Firstly, it’s much more glamorous, as mentioned above. You can use it as an opportunity to book yourself into some snazzy hotels. A clean you, is a fresh and happy you. This gives you a chance to experience different cultures and find some hotels in the middle of nowhere, you might find yourself in a parish town and getting involved in their regular evening prayers – who knows!

However, barebones backpacking could change the time of year you’re looking to start your adventure, i.e., lightweight means you’d be looking to take less clothes – therefore a summer adventure is likely to be preferable, especially if you’re planning your bikepacking kit list for the UK, you don’t want to be risking a winter trip and hypothermia.  

barebones bikepacking set up

Bags, bags, and more bags 

There are so many bag options out there, so how do you decide? Firstly, you need to know what you’re looking for, consider some of the following

  • Do you want them to look good i.e., various colours?
  • Seriously waterproof – we’d recommend finding the most waterproof bags, just in case
  • Lightweight 
  • What types of bags do you want i.e., pannier bags or frame bags?
  • Is cost something to consider
stopping for food during trip

However, with all that in mind, let’s continue with the running theme of lightweight. Think about how you keep a bikepacking steed fast – it all boils down to trying to keep it as aero as possible, you know you’ll have additional weight, so optimize the advantages you can. 

Avoid panniers for a barebones backpacking trip. They’re not aero, not lightweight, provide another potential mechanical issue and generally create space you don’t need. Frame bags are the most ideal, you can get various frame bags – some fit in the triangle, on the top tube, under your downtube, bar bags, saddle packs, and Tailfin even do bags that attach to your fork. 

Recommended brands for the above list

Each brand has a variety of bags to choose from with different price ranges, well designed and produced for adventurers. 

rider in summer weather

Barebones Bikepacking Kit List Essentials 

Packing is never an easy task, no matter how much space you have, but there are some items you can’t go without. 

Firstly, a first aid kit is something you don’t want to be caught without; chances are you won’t need it. However, if you’re bikepacking and you’re in the middle of nowhere, it could help to have one, on the off chance there’s an incident. Recommended items – in bite sized quantities

  • Medical tape 
  • A pair of medical gloves
  • Butterfly closure strips 
  • Dressing 
  • Antibiotic ointment 
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pain relief and ibuprofen 
  • Small utility tool 

These items ought to patch you up until you can get to civilization to have any issues checked over, cleaned properly, and dressed. 

riding through spain with friends

Clothing items

Clothing items – keep it limited and essential, remember lightweight. You can hand wash your clothes in a sink or river if need be. In fact, lots of people will only have one set of kit and a set of casual clothes on their bikepacking kit list. Maximum items for example

  • Two sets of shorts, jersey’s/tops, socks
  • A rain jacket – potentially a packable down jacket if you’re doing it in chillier months 
  • Spare pair of shoes – flip flops/sliders are easy to attach to the outside of your bag
  • A bivvy 
  • A towel 

Having some basic equipment with you is also important, to keep you on the road. Consider items such as; a multi-tool with a chain tool on it, a spare tyre – you never know what terrain you might come across, inner tubes – you can never have enough but, make sure you have the correct length valves for your rims, lights – front and rear are imperative for safety, or getting a few extra hours in as the light disappears and a charger pack, that way you only need to make sure the pack is charged, rather than every individual item when you find somewhere to stop. 

barebones bikepacking set up

Food for barebones bikepacking

Fuelling is more important than you might think. If you get that wrong, you could mess up your schedule – due to needing more rest from ‘bonking’. Although, chances are you can buy your ‘meals’ on the go – find yourself a local supermarket if you don’t want cooked food from a restaurant. Then, all you need to take is ‘ride’ food i.e., bars, gels, rice cake, Haribo sweets, you can make yourself some small jam sandwiches each day and hydration tablets to keep you moving. 

Finally, if you’re concerned about being able to pack everything into limited bags, bungee cords are a fantastic bit of equipment, allowing you to strap things to the outside of your bags – also handy for drying kit on the move. 

Cover your bikepacking adventure

Since 2019, Bikmo also offers adventure sports travel insurance, to cover all possible aspects of your adventures. For all of our biking enthusiasts who are looking to cover their whole trip. Including emergency medical and repatriation expenses, trip cancellation, baggage damage and so much more!

With 3 levels of travel cover to choose from, and some optional extras, your single trip or an annual multi-trip policy will give you the peace of mind to enjoy your adventure.

Whether travelling alone or with the family. In the UK, Europe or Worldwide. You can choose the level of activity cover you need to meet your holiday travel insurance requirements.