What is bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a new, emerging trend among eco-tourists and cycling enthusiasts. When air traffic was grounded and all places were closed due to the pandemic, people woke up to the opportunities offered by outdoor activities, especially cycling, which combines ecology while keeping your distance from other people. Bikepacking shares some of the characteristics of touring cycling, which involves being on the road for at least one night, but the difference between these cycling sub-genres is that touring cycling is mainly on roads, while bikepacking is off-road cycling with an off-road mentality, such as narrow forest trails and dirt and gravel roads. Just like hiking you are carrying your gear with you in frame bags attached to your bike.

The charm of bikepacking lies in its freedom and unhurriedness. The wind in your face, the unknown path ahead. Your own will, your own time. You’re free of schedules, hotel reservations, your own bike and carrying your accommodation with you. On a bike, you’re free to go at your own pace, wherever you want on our vast trail network. With a fat bike you can go off the asphalt and cycle on the paths allowed for cycling and pitch a tent wherever you like, within the limits of everyone’s rights.

When to come to Lapland for bikepacking?

In my opinion, early June is the best time to go cycling in Lapland, as it is still quiet, with few other tourists and few mosquitoes, and most of the snow has already melted and temperatures are suitable for cycling. The days are not yet hot and there is light almost around the clock, with the midnight sun just around the corner.

What equipment can you start with?

Nowadays, bikes have evolved enormously and the choice has increased, so there is plenty to choose from on the market, sometimes too much to choose from. But never mind, you can start bikepacking on almost any bike, but the best option would be a fatbike, a bike with oversized tyres, which on average are around 3.8″/97mm. Other options could be a full rigid mountain bike or a curved-horn gravel bike, which is best suited to dirt roads and easy trails.

But fortunately, bikepacking is a low-threshold hobby, because if you just want to try it out or don’t want to lug your own bike and gear up north, there’s always the option of renting! This way you don’t have to make an investment right from the start if you’re not sure if bikepacking is your thing. Lapland North’s local bike rental companies for example Roll Outdoors in Kiilopää rents out a whole set of bikes and equipment bags. This makes it much easier to set off on a trip without having to worry about transporting your bikes and large items to Lapland. And that’s not all! At the same time as you rent a bike from Roll Outdoors, you can ask the rental manager Raili for route tips, as she knows the best routes in Lapland like the back of her hand.

In addition to a bike and a cycling helmet, the most important pieces of equipment are waterproof bags that can be attached to the handlebars, frame and saddle. The main features of these bags are easy removability, durability and weight. As all the gear has to be carried on the back of the bike, this effectively limits the amount of goods, which is sometimes a good thing as you can only take what you need. A heavy bike is harder to pedal and more cumbersome. Nowadays, camping equipment has evolved to such an extent that it fits into a small space without compromising the functionality of the equipment and, thanks to its lightness, does not weigh too much at the bottom of the bag.

Bikepacking is a great way to see and experience Lapland in its entirety. It is easy to get started and there are certainly routes in Lapland suitable for all levels of cyclists. Just give it a try!

Writer: Miia Heikkala, nature guide student, Sámi educational centre, Inari.

Get to know the biking possibilities in northernmost Lapland