Looking for an eco-friendly alternative to car camping? Bike camping, or bike touring, can be one of the most physically demanding as well as rewarding ways to experience the outdoors. Climbing hills while towing 40-50 pounds of camping gear has the potential to exhaust, but the freedom that the bicycle affords and the contemplation that it fosters is worth the effort. Nevertheless, bike touring is not as simple as just hopping on your beach cruiser with a backpack and peddling off into the wilderness, as a considerable amount of preparation is essential.
We spoke with Raymond Bridge, the author of Bike Touring: The Sierra Club Guide to Travel on Two Wheels, to learn how to plan a successful bike camping trip.
Know your bike
Bridge says that perhaps the most important preparation for bike camping is knowing your bike and knowing when something is wrong. For beginners, "The main thing is to do a lot of riding around home first," said Bridge. "You need to be fairly familiar with your bike, because if you need to make adjustments, it's helpful to know what you're doing."
Get the right gear
Not all bikes are made for bike touring, and it's extremely helpful to have rear bike rack with panniers. You'll want to put your most cumbersome camping equipment here, such as tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. It's also possible to strap some equipment to your front handlebars, but using a rear bike rack is safer and makes handling easier.