My Favourite Bikepacking Gear Tips

I’ve had a number of people contact me about aspects of my bikepacking setup so thought I’d do a post on my favourite gear tips.

Bike Tips

Protect Your Frame

Bags—especially those with velcro—will scratch your lovely frame. Tape works fine, but even better are frame protectors which can be much thicker and therefore more robust.



Visibility is a key concern at night time. Also, in many places (e.g. some provinces in Canada) it is a legal requirement to have a rear red reflector, yellow pedal reflectors, and a white forward protector.

Pedals: As a driver I always notice cyclists with the moving reflector pedals. But what do you do if you are running SPD cleat pedals? Well, if they are platform pedals the answer is easy: reflective tape. Below are some photos of my simple setup, before and after. I carry a couple of spare reflector tape pre-cut in my parts kit in case they wear off. You can get this tape at most hardware stores.

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Cranks: In addition to the pedals, I put ‘Lightweights Stealth Tape’ onto the frame and the cranks. This is black and blends in well, but really complements the turning pedal effect.
I also have some on my front forks facing forward and the rear chain stays facing backwards.


This is for being seen from the side. On the wheels I used two types of tape: ‘Lightweights for Wheels’ which are small rectangular reflector tapes which you wrap around your spokes, and the Flectr wheel reflectors which are larger and wrap around the rim.


Finally, I have a white reflector facing forward attached to my K-Lite.


Standardise Your Bolts With T25 TORX

If you are like most cyclists, there is a combination of different bolt sizes on your bike—usually 4 mm and 5 mm hex bolts. I ordered a bunch of stainless steel Torx T25 bolts from Aliexpress and haven’t regretted it. Not only do I need to mainly worry about only one key size, the Torx are much more robust than the hex bolts.


Be Ready For Backup Navigation – With QI Power

I always end up using my phone for navigation. I have yet to have a ride where my Garmin navigation has not failed me. Other times I have been trying to find a hotel on my phone while riding. My backup navigation app is OsmAnd+ and of course Google.

It’s best (and safest) to have in place a backup navigation system. I use a Quadlock which mounts my phone above the stem behind the aero bars.

My phone has Qi remote charging so I use the waterproof recharging quadlock mount. This means that I don’t need to connect a cable through the USB port for charging. Many times on my rides this port has got clogged with water or dirt and caused me problems. Worth the additional extra weight.

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Mounting Water Bottles With Frame Bags

This is the most common question that I get: how do you mount your water bottles on the side of your frame bag?  Here are the step by step instructions.

You start with the aftermarket ‘mount your bottle anywhere’ straps. Topeak make the Versamount and Elite the VIP Cage Holder. Here I’m showing the VIP.


The first thing to check is that the bolts will not be too long for what you plan to mount—this is especially important with carbon frames. Otherwise, there is the potential that they will poke out from the back of the strap. If necessary, cut the bolts. I always thread on a nut before the cut so that the threads can be reinstated by unscrewing the nut.


Start by mounting pairs of the straps as shown below. These will wrap around the frame and once connected you will have the top and bottom mounts. Here the straps have already been trimmed.


I connect the bottle holder to one of the straps and then with a bottle in the holder, I position it a suitable distance behind the bars so that the handlebar bag will not come into contact and tighten it in place. I then connect the other strap and tighten it. The cages are then installed. Here I am using the Specialized side entry cages as they allow you to pull the bottle towards you rather than up towards the handlebar bag.


Put in one of your bottles and then adjust the straps so that they are not too far to one side, or towards the front (or rear). Then go ride your bike to check that the clearance is fine.


Use 1 Litre Water Bottles

Replace the 750 mL (or less) bottles with 1 L bottles. The Zefal Magnum are usually the easiest to get, but they are the ones I like the least: the lid always leaks on me!


Get Additional Water Bottle Clearance

It’s often hard to fit your water bottles within the frame clearances-particularly if you want to mount something above the bottom bracket. The Topeak ‘Alt Position Cage Mounts’ solve this problem by giving you and extra 35 mm to shift the bottles.


Use a Rear Radar Unit

The Garmin Varia or the Magicshine Seemee 508 are essential safety tools for bikepacking. They warn you when a vehicle is approaching and is within 150 m. I hang my Varia off the back of my saddlebag with a Garmin turn mount that is zip tied to a bikepacking strap.

The essential hack for the Varia is to run it from your powerbank once you have discharged the battery. If you turn the Varia on and plug in the powerbank it will turn itself off. Plug the powerbank in first, then turn the Varia on. You will then be able to use the radar while it is being recharged.


My Tour Divide riding buddy Michael Arenberg shared this photo of him mounting radar on his drop bars. To each their own!


Permanently Fix Your Computer Mount

I use the Garmin half-turn mount for my Edge 1030 on a Profile Design computer mount affixed to the aero bars. These Garmin mounts are normally held on by rubber bands but over time they lose their elasticity. So I have affixed the mount permanently using Loctite Kintsuglue which is an epoxy putty. No more problems with my Garmin moving around on bumpy roads. To show my anally retentive OCD nature, I also put in a small stainless steel screw through where the Profile Design mount connects to the aero bar. Everything is now held firmly in place.


Mounting Your Light

When racing across Canada in 2022 the 3d printed plastic mount for my K-Lite failed after about 8,000 km of riding. Solved the problem with cable ties but it was a real nuisance.  I’ve since come up with a better solution that works with both the K-Lite and Sinewave Beacons based on metal Go-Pro mounts—and would work with others as well.

Aliexpress has an amazing variety of Go-Pro mount adapters. I bought one of these which I connected to the bottom of the K-Lite on the aluminium fin facing backwards.


On the mounting bridge between your aero bars (or whatever you are using) you then have one of the triple mounts like this:


Below are some photos of my setup with this approach. Note that I have a slightly different adapter to the above on my bridge as it was in my parts box.




Powering Your Gear

Get a 3 AMP AC Power Adapter

We carry a lot of devices these days and need to recharge them quickly. Check out the power rating on your AC power adapter because some are 1 AMP while others may be 3 AMPs or more. Go for the highest rating you can to reduce charging time.


If you take a computer/tablet with you, get yourself an M-BEAT 45W power adapter. This lets you charge your computer/tablet and also has USB outlets. Has different AC plug configurations for travelling to different countries.


Ditch Cables and Use Adapters

I need to keep my Garmin 945 watch charged as well as my tablet. Rather than have two custom cables I have a USB-C cable adapter for each device (below left is my Garmin; below right my Microsoft Surface). This means that my phone USB-C cable can now charge three different types of devices. These are readily available for most devices on Aliexpress.


Use a Pass-Through Power Bank

The power banks carried by most bikepackers are not ‘pass through’ power banks. This means that they cannot charge devices while they are being recharged themselves. If you have a dynamo, you also want one which will take a very small charge continuously. Enter the Voltaic V50 USB power bank. This 12,800 mAh power bank works with dynamos and will recharge your devices at the same time as topping itself up. So when I check into a motel I plug in the Voltaic along with all my devices and in the morning everything is fully charged.

This has a USB-C input (as well as micro-USB) so recharges at 3 AMPs. Fits comfortably in my gas tank bag.


Adam Rice on reading my blog suggested that a better value charger—with built in QI charging for the phone—is the Anker PowerCore III 10K. Apparently works with dynamos and charges the most finicky devices. It’s not available in New Zealand so will grab one when I’m in the USA next.

Colour Code Your Charging Cables

I use either different coloured cables, or coloured electrical tape, to identify the different types of cables that I use: Green = Garmin 1030 Edge; Red = Cell Phone; Black = Garmin Varia; White = V50 charge input.

I have a triple adapter cable tied to the V50 in the photo below since the V50 only has 2 ports and I need at least 3. The Velcro wrapped around the V50 is used to hold it to the side of my Blackburn gas tank bag.


When Using a Dynamo Charge the Power Bank

I have always used splitters to allow me to charge multiple devices at the same time from my dynamo. However, I have it on good authority (Matt from who is the USA distributor for K-Lite products) that this is the wrong way to do things. So now I:

  • Let the devices run on their own batteries until they are low at which time I plug them into the power bank to recharge
  • Connect the dynamo to the power bank so it has a continuous charge going in
  • Run my K-Lite Qube blinking lights at all time from the dynamo

Here is Matt’s advice, slightly edited:

The dynamo only produces so much current. At max output, say around 12 – 15mph if you’re on 29er / 700c wheels or a bit lower if you’re on 27.5” / 650c / 26”, it will kick out just over 3W of power at a variable AC voltage. Assuming you have the ULTRA lamp turned off, and 100% of that power is going into the Dual USB charger, it will rectify the variable voltage to 5V and invert the AC to DC. At full output, the amount of current available at 5V DC is approximately 0.6 Amps. The Qube draws so little, 20 – 40mA, so take 0.02 – 0.04A away from your 0.6A and you have .56A – .58A to work with assuming you’re riding with the Qube blinking.

Assuming [the Voltaic 12.8Ah power bank is] at a zero percent charge, and if there are no other devices except your Qube plugged into your dual USB charger, it will take … { (12.8Ah / .58A) = 22.1 hours and (12.8Ah / .56A) = 22.9 hours}  of continuous riding to go from zero to a full charge.

If you split out the USB charger, so that it’s charging something else in addition to the V50, the current will be cut in half, and it will take longer. Likewise, if you use the Voltaic’s “pass through charging” feature, it will also take longer.  Either way, 22+ hours is a solid two days worth of riding during the daytime, and that’s a lot.

What I typically do when I’m touring during the day is that I make sure the front lamp is turned off, and I actively charge whichever device is lowest, and if everything in my bike cockpit is above 50%, I will charge my battery. Moving the cords and checking the charging states of my devices helps kill some of the boredom. I end up with a lot of direct battery charging time. Then when I’m riding at night, I have the lamp on, and the Qube flashing, and if I need a bit of charging, I’ll use the battery to charge that device or if it’s something that draws a low amount of current, like my GPS, I might charge that directly from the USB charger rather than from the battery.

Even if you’re charging nothing else, it would take [about 5.6] hours of continuous riding to move the charging indicator in the V50 from one LED to two LEDs.

When I’m out on tour, I ride with a 5000mAh battery lashed to my bars and with another battery of varying size tucked deep in my bag for an emergency. With active management of current in the cockpit, the combination of switching charging cords across devices and the small battery is generally enough to keep my devices going without stopping in town to charge. There’s trouble though when I’m not able to maintain a decent pace either due to health, weather or surface conditions, and that’s where the emergency battery comes into play.

Charge Your Di2 While Riding

More than once I’ve charged my Di2 at a hotel and in my muddled state I’ve not connected it properly so have had an issue. I’ve now taken to charging it while riding so that I can keep an eye on the progress. I use a velcro cable organiser which is long enough that I can wrap it around the handlebars while charging. It plugs into the Garmin power cable from the power bank and I can ensure that the orange light is lit while charging.


Externally mount your Di2 Battery

My Di2 battery is normally mounted in the seat post. With the Ergon CF All Road seat post, there is no internal space for the battery so I have a metal tab taped to the battery which then connects to the screw at the bottom of the seat post. 

If you are running a single speed, the Di2 internal junction box will have a spare port. So I ran a second battery cable from this port out behind the head set and into my frame bag. This means that I can have the Di2 battery either in the seat or in my frame bag. Why bother? I have 5 separate flights on my upcoming trip (Nelson-Krakow; Lisbon-Copenhagen; Bilund-London; Athens-Washington D.C.; Washington D.C.-Nelson) and you have to take the battery out of the bike before they will take it on the plane. Much easier to deal with when the batter is accessible in my frame bag!

Ditch the SPOT GPS Lithium Batteries

The SPOT GPS which we use for tracking in rides like this use the Energizer Ultimate Lithium AAA batteries which last about 5 days. These are not always readily available—particularly in remote places like rural Canada. I use ‘Eneloop Pro’ rechargeable batteries. I take two sets of four batteries, and recharge them using a USB recharger. These batteries would last about 3-4 days of riding before needing to be changed out.  This is now my go to power approach for SPOT GPS’ since the lithium batteries are not cheap. And it’s better for the environment.


One caveat with the batteries. When I tried recharging them from my power bank or the dynamo on the bike they recharged too quickly compared to when plugged into the mains. So I ensured that I recharged them when staying in motels. It is on my list to find a similar small recharger which will do four batteries at once.


Get an Apple Air Tag

These are not expensive and if your bike is stolen you at least have a hope of it being found again. You can get holders to have them behind your water bottles or under the seat but I prefer to hide it in the lining of one of my bike bags. I expect that thieves are starting to look for these Air Tag holders. If like me you have not become a Borg and succumbed to the Apple eco-system, you will need a friend to set them up as they don’t work with Android. They will also need to help if your bike is nicked.


Take a Bike Lock

I’m of the view that a lock will not stop a thief, but it will at least keep an honest person honest. The two that I use depending on the situation are the Otto Lock or the TiGr lock. The former is a band which is easy to use; the latter is larger and has to go in a bike bag.



Lock Your Wheels

I replace my quick release through axles with a hex through axle. To make it even more difficult I also use the tiny Hexlox. This is a magnetised insert which goes into the place where your hex key would go to undo the wheels. You have a custom key which removes it. I was sceptical at first, but they really do work!


Hide Backup ID on Your Bike

In case you get robbed or lose your wallet, it’s really important to have extra photo ID as without it, many hotels will not let you in. I hide mine under the base cover in my gas tank bag. You’ll also see my emergency key for my lock, and this is where I store my backup Hexlox key.



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