Where the Pavement Ends: Tips to Transition from Road Touring to Bikepacking

There’s a new trend brewing in bicycle travel. Of course, it’s nothing new to ride bikes on dirt, and adventurous people have been strapping camping gear to bikes since long before the current bikepacking boom. But as roads grow more crowded and our daily lives more hectic, our collective urge to drop it all and ride off into the middle of nowhere seems to be growing stronger.

Whether you call it bikepacking, dirt-road touring, or gravel grinding, the concept is similar: ride your bike on dirt or gravel instead of pavement. It seems almost a technicality at first until you consider the implications. In the U.S. at least, dirt and gravel lead to the kinds of places pavement rarely does: places with very few vehicles, endless free camping options, and wide-open space as far as the eye can see. These are places that offer solitude and self-reliance.

Though touring in populated areas will always have its charms — more conversations with curious strangers, the smooth rhythm of pedaling on pavement, ready access to pizza and beer — riding remote dirt is alluring in its own way. If you’ve never tried it, there’s no better time. The last few years have seen an explosion in bikepacking route development, information, and gear.

The transition from pavement to off-pavement isn’t as complicated as the gear manufacturers would have you think. With just a bit of planning, your very next ride could be your first bikepacking trip. Here are eight tips for bicycle travelers interested in getting into off-pavement touring and bikepacking.


This is an except from an article I wrote for the Adventure Cycling Association blog. Read the rest right here.

More Bikepacking Resources

If you’re interested in hitting the dirt, here are some other posts you might find helpful:

Creative Ideas for Budget Bikepacking Gear

5 Ways to Pack a Tent on Your Bicycle

How to Carry Enough Water While Bikepacking

About the Author

Hi there, I’m Alissa. I’ve traveled over 17,000 miles by bike and still can’t stop planning my next ride (and helping you plan yours). Pavement and panniers or singletrack and seat bag, I love it all. On my bike I feel free. Learn more or say hi.

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