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Bike Trail to Whitewater: 7 Tips for Successful Bikerafting

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Pedal, paddle, pack, repeat. Few activities will help you navigate the most remote wilderness more swiftly than bikerafting. But how exactly does it work? Here are 7 tips to get you in the game.

After 10 days and nearly 250 miles of mountain biking, camping, packrafting — even escaping a hungry grizzly bear along the way — Colin Arisman and crew emerged from the Canada wilds with more than a few stories.

Their adventure along the Sacred Headwaters hinged on the ability to navigate the forest and river quickly and safely. For this, the trio traveled by land and water with carbon fiber mountain bikes and inflatable packrafts.

Bikerafting can be the key to an incredible backcountry journey. Here are seven tips Arisman recommends to get underway, whether you’re just starting out, or a seasoned bikerafter.

Go Light

Arisman recommends that all the gear you’re taking combined weighs less than 40 lbs. Obviously, the bike can take up a lot of this weight, so it’s probably worth investing in a lightweight frame, like carbon fiber or titanium.

Also, remember to weigh all your gear, including the bike and yourself to make sure it’s under the rated limit of the packraft.

feature image bikerafting sacred headwaters

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Bring Waterproof Bags

As a bikepacking adventure, most of the gear will be stowed in various bike bags. Opt for frame, handlebar, and seat-post bags that won’t soak through and leave you setting up wet gear when you camp.

Test Before You Go

Do NOT try out any gear for the first time on the trip. Before embarking, be sure to test everything you’re bringing in your backyard or somewhere safe. Manufacturer defects do happen, and finding that out in the backcountry can be catastrophic.

Know Local Hazards

Take a tip from the Boy Scouts: Always be prepared. Spend time learning about any dangers endemic to the area you’ll be bikerafting. Essentials like bear spray and first aid may vary based on your location.

Bring a Repair Kit

When in the backcountry, you’re responsible for keeping yourself on the go. Bring everything necessary to repair flats, tears, or broken paddles.

Bring Lots of Straps

Backcountry trails are bumpy. And whitewater is tumultuous. Straps and tie-downs are key to keeping your gear with you at all times.

Emergency Satellite Messengers

Again, always be prepared. When all else fails and you need to call for help, cell service might not be an option. Arisman recommends satellite messengers like SPOT GPS or DeLorme inReach.

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