Best Bikes For Bikepacking | PedalChef

Key Takeaways

  • Bikepacking can be a great new excursion to try, with a little planning and preparation.
  • Think about all aspects of your trip before setting off, and equip your bike properly too.
  • Pack your bike for optimum storage while ensuring a reasonably comfortable ride.
  • Don’t overpack, but think about everything you’ll need at every stage of the trip.
  • Choose the bike that will best fit the trip you want to take, then hit the trail!

Have you ever gotten to the end of a great day’s ride on the trail, and wished it didn’t have to end? It might be time to try bikepacking.

We’ve reviewed eight of the best bikes for bikepacking available on the market, including:

  • Surly Disc Trucker
  • Marin Four Corners
  • Salsa Fargo
  • Marin Pine Mountain
  • Santa Cruz Chameleon
  • Tumbleweed Stargazer
  • Chromag Surface Voyager
  • Ibis Ripley

Our goal is to help you have the best bikepacking experience possible, so we’ve covered the latest bikes and planning strategies to get you the most out of your next adventures.



What Is Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a portmanteau of “biking” and “backpacking.” Biking is pretty self-explanatory, and backpacking is simply packing enough gear for a campaign adventure that can fit into a single bag, as opposed to loading a camper with more equipment than you can personally carry.

The intent behind bikepacking is that it combines the best of both worlds. First, you’re able to cover more ground than just hiking because you’re on your favorite bike. Then you can still enjoy all the benefits of camping outdoors.

Best Bikes for Bikepacking

Here are a few solid options to think about if you’re looking to purchase a new bikepacking bike.

Surly Disc Trucker

Surly Disc Trucker
Surly Disc Trucker

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Surly Disc Trucker for $2049 at the Surly Bikes website.

Build and Ride Quality

The Surly Disc Trucker is based off a touring bike frame, which means it has the bones of a long-distance rider while being built for harder trails. There are lots of mounting points for your gear, and the riding position has been tailored for maximum comfort. Shorter chainstays and an easy shifting mechanism make for solid speed management, and the Trucker is equipped with disc brakes for maximum stopping power. You can use the standard 26 inch wheels, or opt for wider versions to handle tougher terrain.

Pros for the Surly Disc Trucker

  • Can buy the full bike or just the frame
  • Plenty of clearance for wider tires
  • Handlebars and stack height make for a very comfortable ride

Cons for the Surly Disc Trucker

  • Heavier than the competition, and more expensive
  • Color choices can be off-putting to some riders
  • Steel frame isn’t as hardy as aluminum
  • Customization may be daunting for novices

Marin Four Corners

Marin Four Corners
Marin Four Corners

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Marin Four Corners for $1,199 exclusively at the Marin website.

Build and Ride Quality

The Marin Four Corners ia solid all-around bike that can handle anything Mother Nature throws at it. It has been consistently well-reviewed for its competency on tough trails and tough climbs. It boasts an aluminum frame, which will hold up to the toughest punishment. At just under 30 pounds, it’s a little on the heavier side, but still manageable. The Four Corners has a 3x9 shifter that never skips a gear, meaning you always have the right speed when you need it. And the mechanical disc brakes will help you stop on a dime if you come up to a particularly tough obstacle. The ride quality is grounded and balanced, meaning you can cover long distances with ease.

Pros for the Marin Four Corners

  • Steel frame makes for a stable ride on any track
  • Solid all-around performer
  • Components are built to last, and are both functional and comfortable

Cons for the Marin Four Corners

  • Heavier than other bikes due to its frame construction
  • It’s slower than others too
  • There was a safety recall in 2021 for the bottom bracket

Salsa Fargo

Salsa Fargo
Salsa Fargo

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Salsa Fargo for $2,649 on the Salsa website.

You can also buy the frame itself in two versions. The steel version is $1,249 and the titanium version is $3,349.

Build and Ride Quality

The Salsa Fargo is available for purchase as a complete bike, or just the frame; this means you can have a trail-ready bike fresh out of the box, or use this frame as a starting point for other customizations you may have in mind. Either way, you can select from the hardy steel frame or the more advanced (and, admittedly, more expensive) titanium frame. The Fargo comes with built-in storage mounts, to make loading up for your bikepacking trip a little easier. It is also designed for use with a rear rack, which makes the ride a bit more manageable. The dropout plates give this bike the possibility of using multiple drivetrains: you can go with a single speed for simplicity, or a shifter for more advanced control. The standard 29 inch tires can also be changed out as desired.

Pros for the Salsa Fargo

  • The 11-speed shifter is easy for novices and trail veterans
  • Geometry has also been finely tuned to maximize performance
  • Cargo holders can be installed quickly and easily

Cons for the Salsa Fargo

  • Mechanical brakes are perfectly functional, but may seem out of date
  • If you’re looking for flash over function, there are very few color options available

Marin Pine Mountain

Marin Pine Mountain
Marin Pine Mountain

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Marin Pine Mountain in two versions: the base 1 model for $1,499, or the advanced 2 model for $2,369. Both are available exclusively from the Trek website.

Build and Ride Quality

The Marin Pine Mountain is unique in that there are two models available. The main upgrades between the base and the advanced model is a tougher frame, better travel on the forks, a more complex drivetrain, and better brakes. That being said, both variants have a solid steel frame which can hold up under duress on tough trails. They are also hardtail models, which means that the back end is locked for steadier handling in the rear. There are lots of built-in mounts to allow for maximum storage, and the geometry on this bike is built for the ideal combination of comfort and agility. The 29 inch tires can easily be swapped out for tubeless versions, which is a plus when you plan on tackling more difficult terrain.

Pros for the Marin Pine Mountain

  • Great bike for loading up all the right bikepacking equipment
  • A great deal that doesn’t rely on flash
  • A great workhorse for those that want to get out as quickly (and safely) as possible

Cons for the Marin Pine Mountain

  • Larger tires can make this bike a bit heavier than others
  • The ride is somewhat less stable
  • Downhill grades can waver, and loose gravel makes for a wobbly ride

Santa Cruz Chameleon

Santa Cruz Chameleon
Santa Cruz Chameleon

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Santa Cruz Chameleon for $2,399 from Brands Cycle & Fitness or Another Bike Shop, or from $2,599 (and more, depending on the desired configuration options) directly from the Santa Cruz website.

Build and Ride Quality

The beauty of the Santa Cruz Chameleon - especially if you purchase directly from the manufacturer - is that you can fully customize this bike to suit your needs. You can pick from different component options based on the type of bike you want. As an example, you can have both wheels fitted with 29 inch tires, or have a mixed installation; you can also choose between a single speed setup or a drivetrain with a shifter. The progressive geometry offers a blend of speed and comfort on longer rides, and the aluminum frame will hold up during tough excursions. It also boasts sturdy pack mounts, so your gear won’t go flying when you grab some air. Finally, the seating position is high but comfortable, giving you maximum control and comfort on longer rides.

Pros for the Santa Cruz Chameleon

  • Descents and high-speed straights are where this bike shines
  • Solid brakes
  • Cargo mounts are also versatile

Cons for the Santa Cruz Chameleon

  • May be overpriced for the quality you get
  • Geometry can make riders feel less confident
  • Lack of a dropper post may turn some away
  • Climbs can be more difficult
  • Tires may not fit the bill for advanced trails

Tumbleweed Stargazer

Tumbleweed Stargazer
Tumbleweed Stargazer

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Tumbleweed Stargazer for $2,000 exclusively from the Tumbleweed website. However, the price will go up to $3,875 for a fully-stocked build, and the lead time is a bit longer for those orders.

Build and Ride Quality

The Tumbleweed Stargazer is, at its core, a touring bike, which means it’s perfect for rides where you want to cover maximum distance. You can buy either the frame by itself, or a full build; but the price will go up significantly with extra kit added on. The tire size can be swapped out, which is a great option if you want a single bike that can tackle multiple kinds of terrain. It features a steel tubeset for the frame, but it’s been engineered to stay relatively lightweight. The cable routing is on the outside, but some users think this provides easier maintenance access.

Pros for the Tumbleweed Stargazer

  • Hits top marks across the board - versatility, component quality, weight, speed, etc.

Cons for the Tumbleweed Stargazer

  • Very little to complain about besides the price point

Chromag Surface Voyager

Chromag Surface Voyager
Chromag Surface Voyager

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Chromag Surface Voyager for $2,121 at the following retailers:

Build and Ride Quality

The Chromag Surface Voyager is built for the toughest tracks out there. Its steel tubing will hold up under the toughest strains, and it has an impressive 140 millimeters of travel in its front fork. The geometry is built so that it’s easy to shift your weight between level ground and steeper climbs or descents. The Chromag line also offers custom paint jobs, a unique entry in this field which also means that your order might be delayed slightly. You will also need to install extra rack mounts, as some of these conveniences have been stripped out to focus on performance.

Pros for the Chromag Surface Voyager

  • Incredibly well-balanced
  • Perfect for bikepacking with lots of space for a hefty frame bag
  • Handmade from high-quality components
  • Plenty of tire clearance

Cons for the Surly Disc Trucker

  • It is a bit heavier
  • Better craftmanship equals higher prices
  • Built in small batches, so you may be on a waiting list for a while with this one

Ibis Ripley

Ibis Ripley
Ibis Ripley

Price and Where to Buy

You can buy the Ibis Ripley frame for $3,499 directly from the Ibis website, or upgrade to increasingly more advanced bike setups for up to $11,499. Variants are also available from retailers like Jenson USA for as little as $3,999.

Build and Ride Quality

The Ibis Ripley is certainly one of the more expensive models out there, but you do get higher quality components and the ability to customize your bike if you order straight from the manufacturer. Advanced components like a hardy carbon fiber frame will hold up for decades, and it’s crafted with longer geometry to accommodate different types of rides. The 29 inch tires provide plenty of control, and the travel between both forks is at least 120 millimeters, which means you’ll be able to take sharp turns and jostles with ease. The mounts are also removable if you don’t need them on one trip, and can be reinstalled for when you do.

Pros for the Ibis Ripley

  • One of the lightest and strongest trail bikes available
  • Highly responsive handling
  • Instantaneous power delivery
  • Wheels are solid
  • Rack mounts are perfectly placed
  • Travel forks keep you stable on most tracks

Cons for the Ibis Ripley

  • Very expensive, although you do get a great return on your investment
  • Some have complained about it being smaller than other bikes
  • Rare mentions of getting thrown from the bike due to the seating arrangement

How to Plan the Perfect Bikepacking Trip

Types of Bikepacking Trips

Along with biking or traditional hiking and camping trips, the nice thing about bikepacking is that you set the pace. You are in complete control of where you will go, how long you want to go for, and what you will do when you get there.

First, you should think about what kind of trip you want to go on. The simplest bikepacking trips can be completed in less than 24 hours. Once you’ve got a few of these trips under your belt, you can start to plan longer trips. You’ll get a feel for what supplies are most critical to have on hand, or if you’re traveling longer distances you can think about where to resupply along the way. Some even plan massive cross-country trips that can last for weeks at a time.

How to Prepare for a Bikepacking Trip

The appeal of the open road - or an open trail - may seem like a carefree approach to your day, but a lot of thought and planning goes into a successful bikepacking trip.

There are lots of options for aspiring bikepackers out there, with thousands of trails available at different lengths and difficulty levels. You can easily pick the one that’s right for you.

Also, think about where you’re going to stop. A bikepacking trip will inherently have some kind of stops built into the trip, whether for grabbing a quick meal or for setting up camp. Once you have your route and trip planned, you can pack the right equipment and supplies. Carefully map out your route, so you know where you’re going.

Beyond these practical considerations, also think about what you’d like to see and do along the way - after all, a bikepacking trip should be fun!

What to Pack for Bikepacking?

Backpacking and Bikepacking Gear

There are lots of options available for campers of all stripes. At the most basic, however, you’ll need to make sure you have some kind of shelter, usually a lightweight tent (which can be found in lots of sizes and styles) and a sleeping bag so you’re not stuck on the ground all night long.

Also think about what you’ll need to wear. Most riders will know what to wear while biking during normal weather conditions, but you might need to pack some rain gear or cold weather gear since you’ll be out and about for more than just a few hours.

Your stomach will start to growl after a hard day on the trail, so food and water is essential. Make sure you have an ample water supply, or a bottle that can be refilled at key points along the way. Bring the right foods to keep you fueled up and energized; there are plenty of ready-to-eat options, or you can pack a light stove and fuel supply to cook your meals at your campsite.

Bike Modifications and Packing Systems

Before you hit the trail, you will likely need to modify your bike slightly to account for everything you’ll need to bring. Traditional backpackers can carry everything in one massive pack, but that’s not practical on a bike. You’ll need to split up your gear in the most efficient way to transport everything with you.

The three most basic areas to pack your gear are on the handlebars, behind the seat, and within the lower frame. If this seems too daunting or too heavy, some simple strategies can help you maximize the space you have available. Keep your lightest items, like clothing and sleeping bags, at the top of your bike; handlebar bags and seat bags will do the trick nicely here. Then, a pack secured to the lower frame can handle your heavier items, like food, cooking gear, and other supplies.

If you really want to up your game, you can also purchase a top-of-frame bag that can keep some frequently-used items handy; this way you don’t have to undo your entire setup at every stop. There are also compact cargo racks available for smaller bags on your stem and fork. A separate bottle cage can keep your water bottle within easy reach at all times; and if you’re experienced enough, you can keep some items in a lightweight backpack that’s adjusted for maximum maneuverability while riding.

Most of these packs and racks are light enough to not hamper your ride quality too much, but you should think about what will be most essential instead of overpacking and making the load too burdensome. Don’t try to buy all of these packs at once, especially if you’ve never gone bikepacking before. Instead, try opting for a simpler trip and a few key pieces of gear, then grow your collection from there.

Bike Repair Kit

It’s important to not overlook the benefits a bike repair kit can offer, especially on an extended trip. You don’t even need a full workshop of equipment and backup parts; just a few simple tools and spare supplies can make the difference between arriving on time and potentially being stranded.

What Kind of Bike Do I Need for Bikepacking?

Most bikers know that there are different kinds of bikes for different needs. Choosing the right bike for bikepacking will set you on the right track (no pun intended) from the word “go.”

Road bikes and speed-based performance bikes won’t cut it on the trails; these bikes are built for simple cruising around the neighborhood, or at the very least on paved roads. Performance bikes are also not built to handle the rough terrain and punishing environments that bikepackers will undoubtedly face.

For this type of trip, you’ll need to look at a mountain or cross-country bike. Cross-country bikes are built to handle longer distances, so if you’re bikepacking from established highways or lighter tracks, this would be a perfectly good option. However, for the roughest trips out there, a mountain bike will get you the most versatility and offer the greatest variety of trails and destinations.

Most mountain bikes feature lighter frames that can withstand the punishment of a rough track. They can also have wider and grippier tires, to tackle gravel or wet trails with ease. They are also specially tuned to handle climbs, descents, and flat surfaces equally well.


Danny Lawson

Danny Lawson

Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.

Read More About Danny Lawson