What is Bikepacking?

Inside the new concept of off-road cycling and adventure

“Bikepacking is a fresh term, widely regarded as the minimalist, off-the-beaten-track evolution of traditional bike touring-a fusion of multiday backpacking and mountain biking that enables the ultimate freedom,” explains Stefan Amato in the preface of our eponymous title. He points to experienced traveler Frank van Rijn as someone who has managed to encompass this style of cycling: “Fast enough to cover a whole continent in a reasonable time but slow enough to see very many interesting things.”

Founder of travel company Pannier and a household name in the bikepacking world, Amato has been at the forefront of its rise to popularity in recent years. Released this week, Bikepacking is curated to celebrate life in the slow, lesser-known lanes, embracing active travel and the sense of adventure, independence, and freedom at the sport’s core. He suggests the pandemic has made “armchair travelers of all of us,” thus this book has “fueled my wanderlust no end, as I hope it does for you, for when our playgrounds slowly open up again.”

Following the coastal edges of The Netherlands, this route along the Wadden Islands feels like a never-ending journey through beaches. (Photo: Jelle Mul, Bikepacking)
Following the coastal edges of The Netherlands, this route along the Wadden Islands feels like a never-ending journey through beaches. (Photo: Jelle Mul, Bikepacking)

“The term ‘unhurried’ is well-known in the spirit world to amplify an aging process that cannot be forced or sped up. And why should it be? Slow is worth the wait; slow is special,” explains Amato, “Yet, it is only the recent years of adventuring by bike, that I’ve realized the unhurried nature of bikepacking-experiencing and going places, but without much urgency of arrival-is what really makes our pursuit. On a bike there is only so much ground you can cover, only so fast you can ride, and in this current age of “instant,” adventuring into the unknown on a loaded bike with everything you could need is just the tonic.”

Pedal through the paths less known at whatever pace desired, while often arriving by train or a more sustainably conscious mode of transit. The book teaches people how to conquer locality and start adventures at home or overseas. Amato says that “through the last decade that I’ve been involved in the bikepacking scene, I’ve seen the growth in popularity of escaping by bike, and in particular taking the tracks less traveled. I’ve seen modest makers thrive, and the mass market seeps in: bag makers to bike builders, clothing and snack makers, and a surge in events and experiences.” As a writer, guide, and photographer, he is arguably one of the leading voices in the scene and driving force behind this modus of travel.

Featuring routes from over 23 countries from Mexico to Morocco and Austria to Australia, this book is a visual journey into some of the most mesmerizing cycle routes on the planet. It also provides crucial insight on travel packing, trailside fixes, shelter, sustenance, and much more. One of the earliest encyclopedias on the mode of travel and exploration, Bikepacking beautifully pairs stunning photography with rich stories of the scene. Long-distance cycling is more than a method of transportation, it’s a vibrant traveling philosophy. From beginners to veterans, this title documents this lifestyle on two wheels.

Find out more about this adventurous spirit of discovery.

Sign up for the gestalten newsletter below.

Originally published at https://gestalten.com.

Berlin-based publishing house that specializes in developing content for aficionados of cutting-edge creative culture worldwide.