It’s summer, the sun is out...don’t you just want to get on your bike and ride, ride, ride like the wind as far as your legs can take you? Perhaps you would even like to travel into the forest and, you know, stay there. Well guess what, you can! Although we recommend a small amount of preparation first. Also, you should probably come home eventually or people will start to worry.
WHERE AM I?
While not strictly necessary, knowing where you’re going can help. Here in Portland, we’re lucky that we have many great trails to explore. All across the country, the Rails to Trails program has helped convert defunct rail lines into scenic multi-use trails.
Bikes and nature have always gone hand-in-hand
Having a good map is indispensable in planning your trip. The first step is getting out of town. The Portland Bike There! map is a fave of ours. Did you know you can get bike directions on Google Maps? From our experience they are fairly decent, but it’s always a good idea to confirm your route by looking at a bike map or talking to experienced riders. Provided you have decent cell reception, you can use your Google Maps directions for turn-by-turn navigation, but remember to always stay alert and tuned in to the sounds of your surroundings.
From paved roads and trails, you can jump off into any number of adventures along gravel roads and singletrack trails. You can also travel by car or public transport to your jumping off point. Google Maps is a great way to plan a multi-strategy carfree trip. If going into the wilderness, you’ll want to bring a good USGS topo map, and GPS is always a good idea.
Make new friends in the forest!
WHAT TO BRING
The gear needed for bike camping is quite similar to that needed to navigate the wilderness on foot, with the addition of bike-specific items like tire repair kit, multi tool, and bike-friendly footwear. Whether going out for a day or a week, start with the Ten Essentials. REI’s backcountry packing list is a great resource for any outdoor adventuring.
Carrying your camping gear can be accomplished with a variety of bags and packs. A back rack with panniers can hold heavy or bulky items. Some bikepackers prefer a frame bag for heavier items, especially when riding a narrow singletrack trail. A daypack and handlebar bags are great for snacks and frequently used items. Beware of carrying too much weight on your back; in addition to making you sweaty and uncomfortable, it can throw off your center of gravity.
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