What's the best way to load up a bicycle for bikepacking or touring? The choice between panniers and bikepacking bags is getting more complicated lately as the lines have been blurring. Here's what to consider when choosing between bikepacking bags, panniers, or a blend of both styles for your next bike trip.

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Rack and Panniers

Panniers are convenient for larger amounts of cargo, simpler to shop for, easier to pack, and can be more affordable than bikepacking bags.  But, traditional panniers can be awkward on rugged trails and their size can lead to overpacking.   Small bikepacking-style panniers, or two panniers only, can be a good compromise.

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Bikepacking Bags

Bikepacking bags are great for rugged riding because they're small, streamlined, resilient, and distribute weight close to the bike frame.  But bikepacking bags are also more complicated to choose, harder to pack, and can be more expensive than a simple rear rack and pannier setup. 

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Mix and Match

Can't choose? Hybrid setups are very common and can offer the best of both worlds.  Try bikepacking bags in front and rack and panniers in the back, or perhaps the other way around.  Or look for a minimalist rack and small panniers designed for rugged riding.

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Side-by-Side Comparison

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Wondering which setup is cheapest, lightest, or holds the most?

That's not all! Learn more from the full post on Exploring Wild:

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