Bikepacking Predictions 2016… what the future may hold.

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From a dropper post seat pack to a rainy Tour Divide—we’ve pulled 12 predictions straight from our crystal ball to forecast trends, happenings, and gear innovations for bikepacking in 2016…

Earlier this year, we were contacted by Outside Magazine to share thoughts and gear recommendations for their year-end issue and the Outside Guide to 2016. When the magazine hit the shelves in December, we were excited to see bikepacking front and center with the contentious title, ‘Bikepacking Will Displace Backpacking’. Which got us communing with our own inner soothsayer for what’s to come in the next year. Seance over, here’s our 12 intrepid predictions for bikepacking in 2016…

1. Wilderness Areas will allow bikepacking.

Our top slot goes to a very wishful prediction. For over three decades, bikepackers have been banned from designated Wilderness Areas in the US. That may soon change. Support organizations such as the Sustainable Trails Coalition and follow along as they tackle access to Wilderness via the Human Powered Wildlands Travel Management Act of 2015.

2. Someone will ride the entire Eastern Divide Route.

OK, it’s not even a route yet, but most of the pieces are falling into place. Stay tuned for our upcoming state by state update, and watch out for the pioneering bikepackers who are the first to complete it.

Bikepacking the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail - VMBT

3. A dropper specific seat pack will be announced.

We’ve heard whispers of a prototype seat pack tailored around a hydraulic dropper seatpost. Then there’s Gabe Amadeus’ DIY solution shown below, used on the Three Sisters Three Rivers route. Given all the hype around super-ultralight full-suspension bikepacking in 2015, it’s no wonder why. 2016 is the year, stay tuned.

2016 Kona Hei Hei DL Trail, Bikepacking, Full-suspension

4. Drop-bar adventure rigs will be announced by every major company.

As you’ve probably noticed, this is already happening. And it’s not a dying trend. Companies that haven’t yet released a drop-bar adventure bike will surely jump on the bandwagon next year. Forget pavement; expect more spandex-clad roadies to don overshorts and hit the gravel for ‘all-road’ overnighters.

Steamboat Ralleye

5. Tour Divides around the World

Inspired by the ever growing popularity and awareness of the GDMBR, 2016 will see a proliferation of national bikepacking routes around the world, concocted by local experts keen to showcase their country’s potential. Aside from the US, such trans-country rides already exist in Ecuador, England and New Zealand, as well as long distance routes like 2016’s inaugural Tuscany Trail, and Spain’s Trans-Andalus. Expect others to follow suit. The dream of circling the globe on trail and dirt is getting closer…

6. A waterproof framebag will be released.

After all, it already exists in a custom form; Revelate created a waterproof frame bag for Bjørn Olson’s attempted traverse of the Alaska coastline. And in a step in the same direction, Porcelain Rocket released a roll-top framebag. But next year, look for someone to take it to the next level soon, and make a fully sealed, monsoon-proof production frame bag.

Bikepacking Framebag

7. More big bag manufacturers will get into bikepacking.

Traditional touring companies, such as Arkel and Blackburn, have been seen jumping the fence to graze in bikepacking pastures. Look for more big brands doing the same, creating an ever wider variety of ultralight, bikepacking specific gear.

8. Family Bikepacking will become a thing.

It already is for a few folks. With gear like the Weehoo iGo, the Tout Terrain Singletrailer, and quality seats from Yepp and Thule, ‘tykepacking’ is bound to tempt bike-loving parents into family adventures. Stay tuned for our upcoming Guide to Family Bikepacking, and check out our first family specific route on Aspen Ridge.

family bikepacking in Salida, CO

9. Instagraming bikepackers will replace their slingshots with hand-made guns.

Evidenced via Instagram, 2015 saw a niche slingshot resurgence amongst bikepackers. For 2016, the committed will adopt superior wrist-bracing slingshots ($10 from any hunting store); the fashionistas will turn their attention elsewhere. Crossbows? Nah. Hand-made guns? Maybe. OK, we kid, but it’s fun to give a nod to the year of slingshots.

10. 27.5+ will be the new fat.

There’s little doubt that 27.5+ is a compelling tire size for bikepacking: added floatation, confidence-inspiring traction, reduced weight over 29+, a more manageable diameter for everyone, and room for full suspension designs are just a few of the reasons why. Expect ever more 27.5+ bikes and tire options. And, in case that’s not enough, keep your eyes peeled for a 27.5” fat bike in 2016.

Jamis Dragonslayer, 27.5+ Bikepacking, 650+, B+

11. The Tour Divide will be a rainy one.

With all the random weather spawned by El Niño and our planet’s spiralling climate change, there’s no telling what the conditions will be like in 2016. But don’t let our quack weather-prediction stop you. Check Josh Kato’s packlist; he was ready for anything.

12. will hit 100 routes.

This is an easy one. We already have 72 routes in the database right now; look for more great rides to add to your bucket list, and additional bells and whistles on the routes pages. Underpinned by greater access – and more familiarity – with the likes of GPS technology and Google Earth, the future is looking rosy for great places to ride!

The predictions above were a group effort from Logan Watts, Cass Gilbert, and Skyler Des Roches. Is there anything you divine will happen in 2016? Or indeed, anything you’d like to see next year? Let us know in the comments below!

  • Michael McKenzie

    I would love to see bikepacking hit the midwest with trail built in the Northshore!

  • Mike Jandora

    I intend to contribute to #8. With lil’ kids it’s hard to get away for a week long bro-fest, so I’ll have to take’m with me.

    Also, I’ll be working to patch together and trans-MN; Boundary Waters to Iowa.

  • Jonathan Hayward

    #4- Some great new rigs are on the horizon! #8- Already on my agenda for 2016, it will be great to do a couple of weekend rides with my boys. #12- More and more great routes popping up all the time, I hope to see my route the Alberta Rockies 700 on that list ;) already almost 40 planning on joking the first full run of the route this coming June.

  • Josh Klein

    #10 I am currently riding a 27.5 fat production bike and loving it. More tire options certainly would be nice though.

  • Zach Bonzer

    Please do this. There’s so much lacking for routes in the Midwest.

  • (Logan)

    Sounds like a plan, Mike! Keep me posted.

  • (Logan)

    The Alberta Rockies 700 sounds burly, and good.

  • Michael McKenzie

    Please do! We are definitely in need of some bikepacking in the Midwest!

  • Brad

    Great post. Been fun to see the progress of the sport and pedaling nowhere / Here’s to more adventures! Perhaps 2016 holds another random encounter on the trails.



  • Nate Nykamp

    I’ve taken a look into doing a SW to NE crossing of Minnesota. Actually a pretty flat ride until you get into the Arrowhead. Lots of rollers, nowhere to hide from a headwind. Around 570ish. Here’s a very rough draft: . A more scenic route would be along the Mississippi corridor and then along the North Shore, but I’m a native of the SW corner, so I’ve got to start there. :)

  • BS

    All those sound awesome!

  • Lewy

    I want to get in on #8 as my son is now 9mths old. But will probably wait unil he is a about 18mths. And as for #6, my Bike Bag Dude bag is pretty close to waterproof. It’s been through some pretty big rain storms and was dry after being submerged for about 5 minutes on Monday.

  • (Logan)

    The Big Bend route. Check out the map on the routes page…


    theres lots of opportunities in kansas flint hills area. I did a little 170 mile route, gravel ( a wee bit of paved) and dirt road from junction city to kansas city. probably about 10,000 feet of elevation gain. you just gotta look at google maps and get out there!

  • mikeetheviking

    Open Carry is going live here in Texas this friday…. I can just imagine a group of filthy bikepackers rolling into town after spending a week on the trail with guns strapped to their hips. Looks like all the bag makers will be producing “X-PAC Holsters” :), I’d love to see waterproof BB’s and hubs, This would ease the penalties of trashing good bike parts while river and coastline exploring. (we can land on the moon and return home but can’t make waterproof hubs? c’mon guys) I’m also hoping we see frame materials developed that are even lighter and stronger and less costly to manufacture. I feel within our lifetime we will see batteries that will be 2x or 4x more powerful than lithium ion. I know having an electric system may be cheesy….. but rememeber we were all walking or riding horses 100 years ago:) Having a super small-super strong battery/motor system will simply take you farther/faster and would be a great backup in case of emergency….could save a life… TO THE FUTURE WE GO!

  • Mike Jandora

    Your map is set to private so I cant see it. But, my plan was to find a mostly gravel rout from Grand Portage along the wester border. There are so many parks and camping spots along the way I should be able to do short days so the kids don’t get too restless.

  • Mike Jandora

    Will do.

  • Nate Nykamp
  • Forrest Smith

    #8 will hopefully be true for me — the hard part for me is finding good places for it. I’m visiting family in the Pacific Northwest currently, and I’m salivating at the options for bikepacking up here — having a harder time finding good stuff in Southern California, but I’ll keep at it.

    Having a child has been a route to greater appreciation for biking in general for me. My wife and I have always been into hiking and backpacking, even doing some longer stuff like the PCT and Colorado Trail, but now with a child, bikepacking seems like a good option for incorporating the little one into adventures. I can see ‘tykepacking’ increasing in popularity as those who love adventure discover it as a good family option.

  • Dan Celis

    As a prediction for the near future, I see that bike packing is gaining popularity in Europe. So companies like ortlieb will also come with waterproof bags and European bikebuilders will come with specific bikes.

  • Eugenio Gambari

    Really loving the contents of this website!
    What bike is the one in the picture number 4??

  • (Logan)

    Thanks Eugenio! That’s the Niner RLT.

  • Jon

    #2 is pretty exciting. I’m working on a route through the NC mountains using mostly forest service roads. Going out to try a 2 night stretch in a couple weeks, just south of Asheville and not too far off your Beer Route.

  • (Logan)

    Yeah, I agree on the batteries; we are trying to keep things charged in Uganda right now…

  • Mark

    Can we get more info on the eastern divide route?

  • Sean

    My friends and I did our first bikepacking trip this summer in Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada. Three days point to point on an old rail line with the rails and ties removed. Can’t wait to do more this summer.

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