Bikepacking Hacks

A list of bikepacking hacks, shortcuts and DIY tricks to help you get out there with stuff you already have…

Share Facebook 0 Twitter Pinterest Google+

By definition, a hack is a trick, shortcut, or novelty method that increases efficiency, and/or decreases cost. Here is a running list of bikepacking hacks that we’ve gathered over the years. Have a hack or DIY trick of your own that’s not listed here? Send us an email (pedalingnowhere at gmail dot com) and include a photo. If it fits, we’ll add it to the list and give you credit.

1. Electrical Tape Cage Mounts

Bikepacking Hacks - Tape Cage Mounts

Save your frame warranty and use tape. This is a must-try method for securing cages (or tubes, or a pump, or a can of beans, or anything for that matter) to your undrilled frame or fork. For a secure mount, use about 2/3 of a roll of electrical tape. The Lezyne power cages work great for this. To protect your frame, apply a little tape where the cage will make contact. The two cages above just lasted three bikepacking trips totaling over 300 miles over the rugged southwest, and they are still intact. Also, tape a spare tube somewhere. The great thing about electrical tape is that is comes off easily without residue.

  • Bikepacking Hacks - Tape Cage Mounts
  • Bikepacking Hacks - Tape Cage Mounts
  • Bikepacking Hacks - Tyvek

2. Strap it to the handlebars.

Bikepacking Hacks - Handlebar Bag

This is the incredibly simple technique enables anyone with a sleeping bag to take a bikepacking trip. Almost any cylindrical object can be strapped up front… a tent, sleeping bag, dry bag, fly rod, etc.; and almost any kind of straps will do. I recommend Salsa straps, or…

3. Voile Straps

Bikepacking Hacks - Straps

Skyler turned me on to these ski touring gems. They are essentially durable rubber straps that can be used to tightly secure absolutely anything to your bike. Here they are shown replacing the cap strap on a Modula oversized cage, but they can also be used to lash a dry bag to the handlebars… or make camp sandals out of tree bark.

  • Bikepacking Hacks - Straps
  • Bikepacking Hacks - Straps
  • Bikepacking Hacks - Straps

4. Drybag Seatbag

bikepacking drybag seatpag

Don’t have a fancy seat bag? Here is a classic gearless dirtbag trick. Use a sturdy dry bag and clip the roll top around the seatpost/seat tube. Then secure the upper portion by wrapping a strap around the seat rails. If you are storing clothes in the dry bag, add an additional strap or include something rigid to prevent it from flopping around. EDIT: Brandon (@dapper_cyclist) shared a photo of his DIY seat bag made from a Salsa Anything Bag using the daisy chain lash-loops to wrap velcro straps to the seat post and rails.

  • bikepacking drybag seatpag
  • bikepacking drybag seatpag
  • bikepacking drybag seatpag

5. Handlebar Tent Poles

Bikepacking Hacks - Tent Poles

This isn’t really a gear replacement hack, unless you are gram counter. But, it’s a perfect trick for camping on slick rock or somewhere that may not be the most tent stake friendly turf. Simply put your bike on its side and run the bike grips through the tent loops.

  • Bikepacking Hacks - Tent Poles
  • Bikepacking Hacks - Tent Poles
  • Bikepacking Hacks - Tent Poles

6. Gorilla Tape Repair Kit

Bikepacking Hacks - Gorilla Tape

A good start to a versatile toolkit is Gorilla Tape. Gorilla tape can repair almost anything, but you can’t really carry a whole roll. Wrap a dozen or so winds around a lighter, or a tire pump.

7. Tinfoil Meal Plan for Two

Bikepacking Hacks - Meals

If a campfire is part of the plan, and weather permits, this is a great menu for an overnighter (no stove or cookware required). It’s back to the basics. Foil packet ingredients: 1 poblano pepper, 1 Serrano, 1 Yellow pepper, a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Other ingredients: a package of tortillas of your choice, 1 can of refried beans, 1 avocado. Step 1: Cut up the peppers and add the packet ingredients to a tinfoil pouch; seal it by rolling the sides 3 or 4 times. Step 2: Toss the packet on a bed of coals. Step 3: Open the can of beans and place it on the coals; allow around 20 or 30 minutes (check beans and stir occasionally… times may vary). Step 4: Slice avocado and construct tacos.

8. Make a Hop-can stove.

Bike touring stoves

An classic worth mentioning here, again. Build a lightweight alcohol stove from your favorite beverage can. Here’s how.

9. Cheap (and packable) Fuel Flask

Bikepacking Hacks - Fuel

One piece of kit that’s always bothered me is the fuel can. Fortunately, when using an alcohol as fuel, anything plastic will do. The REI Oval Poly Bottle makes a fine vessel which may be packed where there’s an extra bit of space. And so far, we’ve never had one spring a leak. The Oval Poly Bottles come in 8oz and 4oz sizes and are $2.00 and $1.75 respectively.

10. Tyvek ground sheet

Bikepacking Hacks - Tyvek

In case you haven’t already ran across this fairly well known DIY trick… Tyvek makes a great ground cloth for either under the tent, or as a bag barrier for sleeping under the stars. It’s usually pretty cheap, especially if you can find some at a local construction site.

11. MYOG

DIY Framebag - bikepacking Krampus

Making Your Own Gear is not always going to save money, but if you are counting dollars, the frame bag is probably the easiest and most approachable. Check out this tutorial.

12. Spare parts in the tubes

Spokes in seat tube - packing for bike touring

For long-distance bikepacking trips, you may want to carry spare spokes, cables, and other parts. Hollow tubes are good spot to stash this stuff (that will hopefully never see the light of day). Thanks to Cassidy Knight for pointing out the idea of using the handlebars as a vessel for spare cables. Above is a photo of spoke storage in the seat tube using a small piece of foam to secure them.

13. Two-wheeled Tarp Shelter

Bikepacking Tarp Shelter

Here’s a great hack sent in by Brandon Davis (@dapper_cyclist): Don’t have a tent? All you need is several feet of rope or line, an 8×10 foot (or larger) tarp, and 4 stakes (Brandon used kebab skewers as tent stakes for these photos).

  • Bikepacking Tarp Shelter
  • Bikepacking Tarp Shelter
  • Bikepacking Tarp Shelter

14. Water Bladder Cooler

Beer in water bladder with ice

Have a cold beer (or two) on night one of your trip. We got this tip from the ultra-pros over at… probably conceived by Dirty the dirtbag professional. Beer first, water second. 1. Toss a beer or two in your water bladder (cans are preferable: crush and carry out); 2. add ice; 3. then a little water; 3. ride; 4. enjoy a cold post-ride beer at camp.

Have a hack or DIY trick of your own that’s not listed here? Send us an email (pedalingnowhere at gmail dot com) and include a photo. If it fits, we’ll add it to the list and give you credit.

  • Cassidy Knight

    Running extra cables inside your handle bars, putting extra spokes and nipples inside your seat tube.

  • Thanks, done! I happened to have a photo of spokes in the seat tube. Using the handlebar for cables is a great idea…

  • That dry bag under the seatpost is brilliant! Love the featured image for this post haha. Thanks for the tips!

  • Thanks Brad! Those sandals were made in reaction to some nasty goatheads around camp that evening…

  • inseguitore

    Great tips, especially that seat bag. As for Tyvek, there are oodles of sites on eBay where you can order a 9′ x whatever piece of it. I paid around $14 for a 9′ x 5′ sheet that included tie loops. Of course, free is always best…

  • Bob Jenkins

    Storing gear in the seatpost/handlebar is absolutely genius. Thanks for the tip.

  • Simon

    Do you think using the electrical tape for Salsa anything cage mounts would work or do you think they would be too heavy?

  • I do, with an excess of tape (maybe a whole roll per cage), but it depends what you plan on carrying in it. Also, you’ll have to plan where to tape in order to accommodate the straps…

  • Thanks! Yeah, I’ve also ordered pieces from eBay…

  • Bob Jenkins

    Aside from cost, is there any benefit to using electrical tape instead of gorilla tape? Seems like you would need less.

  • Gorilla tape leaves a sticky residue, electrical tape can be removed without much of any nasty stuff left behind.

  • Ultraclyde

    12GA shotgun shells (spent, of course) fit inside the end of most handlebars if wrapped with a little bit of electrical tape to keep them snug. If 12GA is too big you can use 20GA but your reputation may suffer. They make a great place to stash a few waterproof matches, a little cash, or your emergency q-tips. Plus they look cool as bar plugs.

  • Emergency q-tips round out a good kit. Thanks, send pics…

  • Daniel

    Sometimes it’s just a few words that make a difference, Seatpost for spokes, fantastic, got anymore gems.

  • Jake Dean

    Have been using a three-strap stuff sack for a seat bag for my last few trips, but the electrical taped cage is something I will definitely try out. I like the shelter idea as well, seems like if you need to get out of the elements in a hurry, it would do the trick.

  • Daniel

    Amazing tips!
    the first hack is already one I didnt thought about, I would put an old inner tube under the cage to protect it instead of the tape.

    I would like to see a hack to get the best rear rack for bikes without the mount on the bottom.

  • A better (as in lighter, waterproof, more packable) alternative to tyvek groundsheets is polycro groundsheets, AKA heat shrink film. Buy a large window insulation kit at your local hardware store and cut a sheet to size.

    My 4×8 sheet weighs about 2.5 oz, is surprisingly durable (60-ish nights so far and I’ll probably retire it soon but it’s still trucking), and cheap.

  • Vik Banerjee

    Hose clamps instead of electrical tape are more secure and removable in 30 seconds when you are back home. A few wraps of tape around the fork keep the clamps from damaging the paint and can be left on between trips without much notice.

  • Lewy

    I have been using large cable ties to hold my bottles on my forks. They still move a little so I will try electical tape as well.

  • Sean

    Recently found Camco Twist It hose clamps in the RV repair section of my local hardware store. no tools required, 3″ size. Great for securing fuel bottles too.

  • Jason

    I’ve used the electrical tape cage mount on 2 trips now. Works awesome. Holds much better than the hose clamps.

  • Josh Henry

    Kerry (the kLite dude) has recently introduced these handy mounts for the anything cage, as well as a similar mount for a standard 2-bolt cage.!product/prd1/4389523035/triple-hole-cage-adapter

  • Chris King

    Several companies make racks that mount through the skewer – even come with extra long skewers

  • Mitch

    Is anyone that you know of currently making a shelter integrating the bike as the support for the structure? Or is it all DIY at this point in time?

  • Pica Piedra

    Check out Old Man Mountain racks for this feature. I met the owner on a recent tour when I was in the area. Really good dude. Small scale operation. Great product.

  • Voila straps work great for putting things in non-standard places on folding bikes too!

  • Voile straps work great for putting things on non-standard locations on folding bikes too!

  • aaron

    seems kinda silly to do this on a bike that has two unused cargo racks on it.

  • Ronan

    Electrical tape stretches and springs back where gorilla tape would tear

  • Alison Kennedy

    Check out Acepac at page 49
    They have a shelter that attaches between two bikes, haven’t used it but saw it in their catalogue the other day!

  • Do you think an anything cage on a carbon fork using this method would be safe? Has anyone tried it?

  • Julius

    That is where I stored my cash on a South America trip. A wine cork fits a 272 seatpost perfectly…

  • Jacob boyer-pomerance

    Strap things on your bike with dead or alive tubes, easy to tie and untie and the cheapest thing on the market.

  • Steven B
  • John Miller

    What are dead or alive tubes?

  • John Miller

    Good to know

  • John Miller

    Old tubes make dandy straps – I made a storage space out of a sturdy plastic returnable coke bottle (common in Mexico and Central America) by cutting of the top, stuffing it with a rolled up rain jacket or whatever, and more or less sealing it with the off cut top. The tubes are really grippy and held it in place strong for ages.

  • John Miller

    Also used old inner tubes to strap down a spare tyre, and made a netting to hold stuff in gaps in the frame, as seen on the left, below the frame bag.

  • Jacob boyer-pomerance

    PUnctured or not ~~

  • John Miller

    Oh. Do the new tubes not perish at all and become more likely to puncture if they’ve been left out in the elements like that?

  • Elliotfrancis Rowe

    They will definitely perish, I had some old inner tubes as handle bar wrap, lasted a couple of months on a tour before it perished badly.

  • Josiah

    Has anybody here camped in a little crevasse like that before? I’m wondering about animal visitors during the night. Like if anything commutes through at night?

Share This

others did. Support us and pass it along...

Follow Us

and join the conversation.