Rout3: Bikepacking Routes Challenge

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Win an awesome bikepacking setup! Here at, we’re thrilled to announce one brand new 2017 Surly Krampus and three fantastic Revelate Designs bags are up for grabs, as well as a slew of other great prizes. All you have to do is plan and ride an amazing three-day bikepacking route within the next three months… Read on for more info on this year’s route building competition.

Bikepacking routes are the crux of They’re why we started this site in the first place and we take pride in managing the first and largest network of bikepacking routes on the web.

We already have a core group of talented route designers and contributors to thank for the wonderful collection of rides on this site. But we’d love more folks to be involved as we grow and improve this resource. We’re calling upon bikepackers with great local knowledge of their own trails and dirt roads. And riders up for the challenge of devising ingenious, inspiring trips for others to experience and enjoy.

To help spur this growth, last year we held our first bikepacking routes competition, concentrating on weekend adventures. We shared the ten best entries over the summer to great success. This year, we’re stepping it up with bigger prizes and a longer timeframe, thanks our site sponsors Revelate Designs and Surly Bikes. We hope you’re up for the Route3 Challenge!

Three is the Magic Number!

As much as we all love both big trips and easily accessible overnighters, there’s a lot to be said for three-day or three-night bikepacks. Such experiences are long enough to glean a real sense of journey and a genuine feeling of escape. Yet with a little extra planning, the three-day timeframe is one that slots within most people’s day to day lives. Plus, it’s long enough to allow the creative freedom to weave together a fantastic, uplifting, and inspiring route.

What are we looking for? In short, we’re after the very best routes you can come up with, accompanied by evocative, inspiring photography and reliable mapping. Routes that share the very best of your favorite local bikepacking destinations with like-minded visitors. Routes infused with beautiful landscapes, fantastic terrain, fascinating history, or great campsites. 3 days/2 nights or 3 nights/4 days… you decide! As ever, our emphasis is on trails, dirt roads, and where necessary, low-traffic pavement. It goes without saying that all routes must be 100% legal. As an example, here’s a link to last year’s winner, by Colt Fetters. Also, two that were runners up, here and here. Note: we expect this year’s routes to be a little longer for a full three or four days, as mentioned.

Routes can be submitted from all over the world. Ultimately, we’ll choose one Best in Show, three Runners-Up, and three Honorable Mentions. Contributors have three months from today to plan, ride, document, and submit your route. We’ll showcase and publish the top seven in August and the winners will each receive a prize package (outlined below), as well as having their bikepacking masterpieces published on In addition, the winning route will have a custom badge designed to help promote and commemorate it.

Win Surly Krampus, Revelate Designs Bags

(1) Rout3 Best in Show*

2017 Surly Krampus

The Surly Krampus is the bike that started the plus tire movement. It’s also a bike that’s helped blaze the trail and been along for the ride on countless bikepacking routes featured this site. In 2017 Surly revamped the frame with some significant improvements. By adding a few bells and whistles, making some parts longer, some bits shorter, and some things slacker, it’s now an even more capable, bikepacking-ready trail-slayer. We’re stoked for the opportunity to hook up one talented winner with one of our all time favorite bikes. A couple standouts on the complete Krampus build kit include a SRAM 1×11 drivetrain, Level brakes, meaty Dirt Wizard tires, and the latest rigid Krampus fork with plenty of brazeons for carrying gear.

Revelate Designs Perfect 3 bikepacking bags

Revelate Designs has been a sponsor of our Bikepacking Routes project since its inception. For the second year in a row, Revelate are offering a full kit to the Best in Show. The Revelate Sweet Roll handlebar is a classic choice amongst bikepackers worldwide – we’ve taken the latest model across Kyrgyzstan and beyond. The Revelate Terrapin seat pack was the first waterproof seat pack on the market and remains one of the best. The Revelate Ranger Frame Pack won Best Bikepacking Bag in our 2016 Gear of The Year. For good reason. The Ranger has evolved over the years and with a new burly zipper for 2017, strategically placed stretch fabric, and all the right tweaks in all the right places, it’s better than ever.

  • New Revelate Ranger Frame Bag
  • 2017 Surly Krampus
  • Revelate Terrapin V2

(3) Rout3 Runners-up*

Given how hard it was to choose last year’s winner, for 2017 we’re offering 3 runners-up a second tier prize package:

  • 1 Revelate Designs MagTank: This is Revelate Designs’ interesting new take on the top tube bag, check out our review here.
  • 1 Surly Tool Bag: A little ditty sack for your tools and spares.
  • stuff: One Ride. Camp. Repeat. t-shirt; dark gray with skull on front and badge on back. A Ride. Camp. Repeat. patch kit — includes three patches and stickers.
  • Grab Bag Bonus prize: Something from the vaults; could be a bag, might be a new pair of tires! It’ll be good though.
  • Revelate Mag-Tank Review, top-tube bag, gas tank
  • Surly Tool Bag
  • t-shirt

(3) Rout3 Honorable Mentions*

And because we appreciate how much hard work goes into creating a great route, we have a further collection of prizes to offer too…

  • 1 Revelate Designs MagTank: This is Revelate Designs’ interesting new take on the top tube bag, check out our review here.
  • Three patches
  • Revelate Mag-Tank Review, top-tube bag, gas tank
  • Patches

Tips for creating a good weekend bikepacking route

There’s an art to creating the ideal 3-day/3-night time capsule of a route. It’s about balancing challenges and reward, and placing the perfect rest stops and campsites in the middle. What makes it special? Scenic campsites, places to eat, breweries, epic trails, killer downhills, and cultural/historical places of interest. Maybe there are hot springs or swimming holes along the way. Check out our detailed Bikepacking Route Planning Guide here. There are also few hints to the perfect recipe here, but also take into account these tips and rules:

  • 50-300 miles (128-322km) is a pretty good gauge for route length; but it should take 3 days/2nights, or 3 nights/4 days to complete.
  • Factors that affect the length include the technical nature of the trails and total climbing elevation. We don’t mind hike-a-bikes when they connect places that would otherwise be impossible to reach, but keep them within reason.
  • Gravel, singletrack, or fat bike specific routes are acceptable; but routes should be comprised of 60% unpaved surface (give or take some, depending on rationale). Or at least, we prefer routes in which well over half the time spent riding is off pavement.
  • Use Points of Interest (POIs). Basing routes around particular sights or stops is a fun approach. How about breweries, historical landmarks, hot springs, swimming holes, or scenic viewpoints?
  • Create a rhythm. Starting a route with a climb, and finishing with a climb isn’t always a fun approach. Space out the suffering to reward ratio.
  • Use greenways. Tie in a greenway or cycle specific path to the route. Anything that helps avoid traffic is welcome in our book.
  • Place a good campsite. And place it in a spot where it will be natural to end a day’s ride. Having these types of milestones helps balance the route.
  • Watch the resupply points. It’s good practice to plan where the resupply points are in relation to distance; the same goes for drinkable or filterable water.
  • Keep it legal.And it goes without saying that every route we publish must be legally accessible. Each and every road and trail must allow bicycles. Keep the same in mind for campsites.
  • Consider where it starts and ends. Making a loop from a safe starting point is always a good idea, but if your route is linear in nature, think about ways of making it accessible via public transportation; or, have good spots to park cars for a shuttle.

Routes will be judged based on several factors including the above concepts, quality of photography, and general inspirational radness. If you can think up a good route name, so much the better!

To submit a route, click here and fill out the form. Include a link to at least 10 sample photographs (we prefer Google Drive), a link to the map (we prefer RideWithGPS), and a 150-300 word description. If your route is selected, requirements for the published route include at least 20 quality photographs of the route (30-40 is preferable), final copy and bullet points (we’ll provide a template). Here are a few more things to consider while documenting your ride:

Is the route one you’d ‘write home about’?

There are countless potential bikepacking routes in the world. We’re looking for high quality, well conceived routes — the best routes that are worth the travel time and expense to get there – such as the Kokopelli Trail in Colorado/Utah, Arizona’s Black Canyon Trail, the Green Mountain Gravel Growler in Vermont, or New Mexico’s Chama Charmer. They can be themed around singletrack, challenging or otherwise, or forest roads and gravel. But just because they’re hard or have never been done before… doesn’t necessarily make them great routes!

Route photography

Inspiring, high-quality photography is important to us at Your route needs to include photos taken on a decent camera (a step above a mobile phone). Photos should cover several aspects of the route including trail shots, riding shots, camping photos, and other interesting details (see below for specifics).

GPS File

An unbroken GPS file of the full route is required for submission. We use RideWithGPS for embedding, so it’s preferable for you to load your route onto RWGPS, add POIs (Points Of Interest), and send us the link. Keep in mind that you can also tweak the GPX on RWGPS, or just fully record it using a Garmin or other device.

*Contest Rules: We’ve tried to keep it simple for this one. The competition is open to anyone, anywhere in the world. Submissions are due at 11:59PM EST on August 17th, 2017. Within the US, all shipping costs are covered. However, should overseas shipping/taxes/duty exceed the values set below, winners are responsible for covering additional costs. Grand Prize included shipping value US$75; Runners-Up included shipping/duty/tax value US$25; Honorable Mentions included shipping/duty/tax value US$25. In joining this competition, please ride at your own risk; neither LLC, Surly Bikes, nor Revelate Designs are responsible for your actions as they pertain to this contest. Minimum 20 entries required; we reserve the right to extend dates.


Thanks to Gabriel Amadeus for the main photo…

  • John Coconis

    Nice bike however I want less people on these pristine trails. Nature should mean more than self exposure. You’ll probably not share this.

  • It’s not about self-exposure, John. Part of the point of encouraging new routes to be created is that as the popularity of bikepacking grows (which it will), having more options for people to explore will take the impact off more popular routes. In addition, taking photography of trails and places accessible with a bicycle only heightens people’s appreciation of nature. And, last but not least, the act of creating a route, exploring maps, and connecting trails and public land helps raise awareness to the issues that our public lands face.

  • P.S. We had some pretty long discussions about these points back when we started creating and publishing routes a few years ago. These were the concerns we addressed before pulling the trigger on our bikepacking routes project (which now features hundreds of routes worldwide). I feel strongly that getting people out into nature on a bicycle over multiple days has a positive impact on advocacy for land, trails, and nature as a whole.

  • John Coconis

    And there is no financial gain from you guys adding content to your page. How much money is donated to conservation? I have never read an article on your page that actually outlines LNT practices in remote wilderness. True interest would be on preservation not public interest and dollars/pounds.

  • Link at bottom of every page and in a lot of routes: … and for the sake of argument, I will be completely transparent. After hosting/dev fees, and paying contributors, I took home a small four-figure salary from this website last year; that’s after putting on average 40-50 hours per week into it. If/when this website becomes profitable, I would be very much interested in supporting advocacy groups and such. If you can’t appreciate what goes into this site, and you think it needs more content around a certain subject. Do something about it. We publish content written by members of the bikepacking community all the time. Contribute something real. We are happy to publish content about environmental ethics, responsibility, land use advocacy and awareness, etc. That would be far more beneficial than typing in unbacked and pointed comments.

  • John Coconis

    I also dedicate 40,50,60 hours to projects on the weekly that yields no money. I was wrong about LNT; I missed this article. You did have to go back two years… The love for bikepacking/backpacking comes from over 2 decades of experience. I made my life based on education and conservation. Sometimes the right thing to do isn’t the easiest. My content will remain mine. I am a photographer and have been offered money for photos. I have declined. You used the word “real” but I’ve read some these articles, some do not come across that way. Anybody who has half the experience that I do would know this too.

  • I am sorry you feel that way. I humbly put a lot of effort into maintaining genuine and original content across this site. I will add that I find it disappointing when readers are willing to belittle rather than put an effort into contributing content that would speak to the issues that concern them.

  • James Baker

    Logan, Love the site. Love your work. Keep it up. John as Logan said–submit something to him about your cause and get it out there. Stop complaining

  • John Coconis

    I’m sorry a little truth hurts your feelings…

  • Rick

    Awesome contest Logan! Inspiring others to get out and explore is one thing, but inspiring others to inspire others is adventure inception. I’m looking forward to hearing about the trips that come out of this.

  • Ian Vorster

    Logan, this thread is tending toward the age-old editorial challenge – reflected in kayaking, climbing, fly fishing and other magazines as well: publicize a route and risk overuse, or publicize a route because with awareness comes protection. For the most part the de facto solution for that would be if you don’t want to publicize a route, don’t write about it, keep it secret – nobody will know how many secret routes are out there, but I suspect there are many. And if you don’t mind making the route known, do it under standard wilderness principles, which clearly does.Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks Ian! Agreed. The popularity of bikepacking doesn’t quite compare to most other sports at this time, so I don’t think overuse or trail abuse from other bikepackers is an issue. Especially now that there is much more to choose from beyond the GDMBR and the Oregon Outback. In my experience, it’s quite surprising to meet other bikepackers on the trail, and usually a welcome encounter. But even as bikepacking gains popularity, I think its growth is a good thing for the bike industry as a whole; instead of the promotion and marketing of cycling from an ‘extreme sport’ perspective (a culture in cycling that might resemble that of motocross to the outside world), I think a more “outdoors”-focused image and marketing platform is a welcome change… both from a wilderness and public land use perspective, and for trail advocacy. With that said, part of our goal and responsibility is to provide more opportunities to get people out on bikes to experience places that are a whole lot more than a series of rock gardens, berms and jumps.

  • Thanks Rick! We’ve gotten 3 or 4 so far… I’m hoping to see 20-30 submissions when it’s all said and done! Should be exciting.

  • Jesse

    I’m curious to know what work you’re doing in education/conservation. Also interested in your experience, as you seem to be presenting yourself as a professional.

    I hear your point – I’ve struggled with the same issue on this website and others. GPS tracks rub me the wrong way. But, if you’re really looking to point a finger, why not point it at MTB Project and TrailForks?

    The counterpoint is remarkably valid right now. With the current threats facing public land, wilderness, and wildlife, I am grateful that “nature” is at an all time high in popularity. If a small percentage of those who become interested in the outdoors become allies in the fight for conservation, it’s a net positive.

  • Gregory Dyas

    I think John Coconis is just a wanker for no reason, and the guy who runs this fairly-awesome site’s too nice & accomodating to tell him so. I don’t have such hangups. Nobody’s making you visit the site Coconis, you leech, so if you find its existence offensive you may leave at any time.

  • Gregory Dyas

    If anything I want people out there riding with me on these trails and roads. They’re not hidden impenetrable secrets, and use will encourage more love for the area’s natural beauty.

  • John Coconis

    I think you’re ignorant, intolerant, and closed minded. How’s that working for you now in the UK? It’s easy to chastise alternate opinions. You’re really emotional.

  • Idle Prentice

    Absolutely, Gregory. I never mind meeting other cyclists out in the woods. It’s always a fun addition to the day. “Natives only” is a primitive way to view the world.

  • N5500

    Hey, I did this route multiple times in different seasons. Can I include pics from different seasons for different views?

  • Absolutely!

  • N5500

    Hey, I just filled the form. How do I add pics and points along the map, and where do I type the highlights, Food/H20, etc.?

  • Jerry Duford

    When will we know more about the winners?

  • There are 6 judges looking at the 16 best entries we narrowed down from 42 total… hopefully next week!

  • Paolo Goglia Unchained

    @@bikepackingcom:disqus @@loganwatts:disqus
    is this still open?
    I would like to submit a story and route, but my GPS track is divided in single days. The reason is that all my devices where charged by “solar light” on a daily basis…when sun allows here in Estonia, north Europe. Would I be able to submit a route made like this? or can I make a new route from my computer after the trip?
    Keep the work up, this site is awesome!

  • The contest is closed and we are currently judging entries. However, you can still submit your route for possible publication: … regarding stitching the days together, that is doable. Try RideWithGPS, GPS Visualizer, or several other similar tools….

  • Paolo Goglia Unchained

    I will ok, thanks for the answer

  • N5500

    Any updates?

  • N5500

    Hello? Were the results announced?

  • We still have a couple to announce. You can see all of the ones that have been published so far here: