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Best Bikepacking Bikes for 2021

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We’ve spent hundreds of hours researching many cyclocross, gravel, and super-gravel bikes to put together this list of the very best bikes for bikepacking on the market. Our top recommendation is the Trek Crockett 5 Disc – a lightweight bike designed with cross-specific details with a best-in-class SRAM Rival 1×11 drivetrain. We also have some more budget-friendly options by Cannondale, Diamondback, and Salsa.


-Best Overall Bike for Bikepacking-

Trek Crockett 5 Disc


  • 300 Series Alpha Aluminum frame
  • Internal Cable Management system
  • Ready for touring and bikepacking
  • 1×11 drivetrain

We’re not sure if the sale is still on, but if it is, you could pick up this Crockett 5 Disc bike, once retailing for around $2,000 for $1,600. Even if you can’t find the deal, you’ll still want to consider this product.

Called the “perfect introduction to the world of cyclocross,” this ultra-sleek matt Dnister black bicycle is engineered for the discriminating rider, offering a 1×11 drivetrain and sporting frame that is so easy to lift and carry, your mates won’t have to listen to you whine continually.

Whether you’re shopping for your work commute or intend to frequent the most challenging gravel trail on the planet, this bike could be your game changer!


-Best Budget Bike for Bikepacking-

Cannondale Topstone Sora 2020


  • SmartForm C2 Alloy frame
  • Shimano Sora 2 x 9 mechanical drivetrain
  • Mechanical Disc Brakes
  • StraightShot internal cable routing

If the aforementioned Crockett, even on sale, doesn’t quite make it on your personal bike buying budget scale, this $1,250 Cannondale could make the cut. Available in small, medium, large and extra-large, we’re not exactly sure about the name of the color (Mantis) but it sure is pretty.

Engineered to accelerate your work commute or navigate roads less traveled, the Sora 2020, says manufacturer Cannondale, “was born to roll and roam.” The aluminum frame is both strong and lightweight, but if you require more than 18 gears, you’re going to have to look elsewhere.

The wheel size is 700c and this bike can accommodate tires up to 42mm wide. If you’re into extras, you get mounts for 3 water bottles with this model. In a conclusion, I must say that the Cannondale Topstone Sora 2020 is one of the best if not the best bikepacking bikes.

Read more: Cannondale Topstone 4 Review


-Best for Big Climbs-

Diamondback HAANJO 5C EXP CARBON


  • Carbon frame with endurance geometry
  • DB gravel performance full-monologue carbon fork
  • Shimano 3×9 drivetrain
  • TRP Spire C mechanical disc brakes

If getting the right fit has been a problem for you in the past, you’ll be delighted to know that this $2,000 Haanjo carbon bike comes in three sizes: 50cm, 53cm and 56cm, so your height issues could be history.

This 21-pound Diamondback cycle is specifically designed to get riders “off the beaten track”—especially if the track in question is so rugged and challenging, it invites abuse.

This matte brown bicycle offers a light, tough carbon fiber frame and fork with thru axles front and rear. According to this bike’s product description, shoppers can look forward to “stout 27.5 inch HED Tomcat wheels shod with forgiving 650×47c tires.”

Have previous rides left you in a lurch when you could least afford to get your hands on replacement parts? This cycle’s bar-end shifters could deliver the reliability you’ve been craving.

Read more: Touring Bike vs. Road Bike


-Best Women’s Bikepacking Bike-

Diamondback HAANJENN 2


  • Women-specific aluminum frame and fork
  • 2×9 Shimano drivetrain
  • Tektro Lyra Flat Mount Mechanical Disc
  • DB Performance womens road saddle

You’ll have to choose between “black” and “matte black,” but otherwise, deciding to acquire this Diamondback model could save you money—MRP is just $800–and you can expect it to deliver on style, plus four size options (S, M, L, XL).

Advertised as a popular women’s alternative road bike, you get all of the extras, even if you’re shopping on a budget. They include: disc brakes, endurance geometry and fully butted 6061-T6 alloy construction.

An ideal selection for folks who “just want one bike they can ride everywhere,” the Haanjenn 2 is a fun gravel bike, agile road bike or your one-bike solution for commuting during the week and playing on the weekend.


-Best Value for The Money-

Salsa Journeyman Claris


  • Light 6061-T6 aluminum frame
  • Mounts for rear racks and fenders
  • Fast and efficient 700c wheels with 37mm tires
  • Shimano Claris 2×8 drivetrain

You don’t have to like burritos and tacos to fall for the spicy Journeyman Claris, available in two wildly offbeat colors: copper and orange.

If sizing has been an issue in the past, you’ll have 6 choices that range from 50cm to 59.5cm, but the $949 price tag remains the same, no matter which one suits your body.

This Salsa bike has 16 gears, mountable frame set for rear or fender attachment, 700c wheels and 37mm tires.

Aluminum tubing and fork deliver generous tire clearance, so even if you decide to replace those tires with ones measuring 50mm wide, your ride won’t be impaired.


How to choose the best bikepacking bike

Are you aware that the English language has added the word “bikepacking” to many vocabularies? It’s true. Bicycling.com says so, and if they insist, we agree.

Call it by any name, and you’ll find this to be a cycling activity that doesn’t get any better—just as long as you don’t stuff your biking backpack with so much weight, you look more like a Sherpa on a bike than a fun-seeker! Need the right bike?

Who doesn’t?

Here you have nine things to consider when shopping for bikepacking bike:

Tires

Sales of fat tire bikes have been trending since 2005 and there is no sign that this is diminishing. Fat tire bikes are inflated to pressure under 10psi, so you roll over rugged trails while avoiding sinking into mud, snow or sand.

Drop bars

They offer more hand positions, an aerodynamic advantage, get you up hills more expeditiously and they can get riders through narrower spots in traffic. Cover more ground faster and look cool while you do it!

Frame Material

Experts recommend Chromoly steel, carbon fiber, aluminum, and titanium. The objective is the lightest bike on the planet that’s crafted of the sturdiest materials.

Style

Select from these 4 types of bikes if your goal is bikepacking: Cross-country, Trail, Enduro/All Mountain and Downhill. If you already own one, you’re good to go.

Fit

You won’t ride it if it doesn’t feel good! Go for a bike brand with the greatest number of sizing options.

Wheel size

The larger the better to enable riders to roll over obstacles more adroitly and comfortably.

Clearance

Clearance for bigger tires is critical. The folks at Surly recommend clearance that’s roomy enough to fit “humungous tires” unless you like a ride that leaves your body feeling sore all over.

Accessories

Mounts for water bottles, baskets, and bags are essential, as well as at least one pair of heavily-padded bike shorts for reasons we don’t have to explain.

Budget

It goes without saying that price can mean the difference between purchasing a bike and staring through the window of a bike store drooling over what you can’t afford.


Benefits of riding a super gravel bike for backpacking

Biker pushes his bicycle up in high Caucasus mountains

Confused by terminology that includes gravel riding and gravel grinding because the terms “cover so much territory that it’s almost meaningless?” Don’t be.

There are myriad ways to describe a gravel bike and they’re probably all correct. But it’s the performance you enjoy on a bike designed for gravel that explains the reason these bikes are so unique.

Super gravel bikes come with different tire and wheel sizes. They handle differently and come in varying gear ratios and braking types. These bikes are not just durable but engineered to carry equipment-—like a fully-stuffed backpack for example.

Gravel bikes are made to distribute weight more evenly and the more tricked out a gravel bike is, the more ways you’ll be able to tote the stuff you need for your adventure, in addition to that fact that you will enjoy these important personal benefits:

  • You’re out of traffic so you are more likely to avoid close vehicle calls
  • If you do encounter motorists, they tend to drive slower on gravel
  • Gravel bikes are getting safer by the day thanks to upgraded parts and innovations
  • You can frequent unimproved roads on a regular basis and because cost savings are immeasurable, more local governments are paving with gravel
  • Own your speed more vigorously and joyously with every pedal depression. For control freaks, there is no better feeling than riding a gravel bike
  • Price points are growing wider; more manufacturers than ever are making gravel bikes
  • The accessory market continues to grow and expand. Who knows what the next cycling short innovation will be? Perhaps you’ll be able to pad more than just your butt!

What to keep in your backpack to keep your gravel bike going

You can also check our extensive bicycle touring checklist for more stuff you would ever need.

Editors’ Recommendations:

About Alek Asaduryan

Alek Asaduryan is the founder of YesCycling and has been riding bikes and in the cycling industry since 1991. Since then, his mission is to make cycling more accessible to everyone. And each year, he continues to help more people to achieve that. When he's not out riding his beloved fitness bike, Alek reports on news, gear, guides, and all things cycling related.