the Trans-America Trail—the cob-rough, dirt-and-gravel path across the U.S. adored by off-road motorcyclists.
Bikepacking, in which the bike serves as both steed and pack mule along dirt single- and doubletrack—is one of the hottest trends in cycling. Statistics are elusive, but the anecdotes of bikepacking’s exploding popularity are many. For example, the Tour Divide, the famed 2,745-mile, self-supported knobby-tire course through the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Alberta, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, went from 17 riders in 2008 to 185 in 2016 (though not everyone goes the distance).
Large gear manufacturers are stepping up, too, joining niche brands in making equipment that’s stout enough to outfit a multi-day trip, but light enough that riders won’t curse themselves for bringing so much. Giant and Ortlieb now make bikepacking-specific bags, and California’s Blackburn Design can barely keep up with demand for its handlebar bags and seat packs. “It’s very redeeming,” says Robin Sansom, Blackburn’s brand manager. “You know that these products are being used for something joyful and extraordinary.” This summer, industry titan Specialized rolled out the Sequoia, the second bikepacking-ready model in its Adventure line, and unveiled a collection of packs, clothing, and accessories made specifically for the long haul.