Bikepacking - Exploring the Roads Less Cycled is a carefully designed and produced coffee-table type book, which has a strong chance of inspiring bikepacking adventures - for either a novice or a seasoned adventure rider. It's a mix of practical advice, stories, photography and accompanying routes, with hand-drawn maps creating a mix of helpful information and inspiration.
- Bombtrack Hook EXT review
- The best value hardtail mountain bikes you can buy for under £700
- Double Divide: Gravelling from Inverness to Manchester
Bikepacking - Exploring the Roads Less Cycled Review - Technical details
At its purposefully sized 22.5 × 29cm dimensions, with a full-colour hardcover and stitch bound 288 pages, Bikepacking - Exploring the Roads Less Cycled is a heavyweight book. It feels considered and is very nicely designed inside.
Using a matt finish, uncoated paper stock on the cover, and a smoother stock for the internal pages makes the photography and maps a pleasure to look at. It's great to look through and to admire on the shelf or table.
Bought together by Stefan Amato, there are 39 stories of bikepacking from all over the world. With a mix of people telling their adventures, each story or 'route' has imagery and a map, with some practical details if you aim to follow in the tyre tracks.
It's obviously fully intended to be read through and returned to as a visual treat. All the photography is well-considered and reflects each journey in a considered and involving way.
Bikepacking - Exploring the Roads Less Cycled Review -Reading through
I really enjoyed reading through the book - whilst bikepacking isn't my main riding focus, the book acts as a catalyst to encourage riding and exploring - a springboard to adventures either from the door and more involved travelling and multi-day adventuring.
Reading through each trip, the different voices and stories tell anecdotes, and details of the various geographic locations, coupled with the lovely photography. I like the mixed tones of voice, with the adventures being visually recorded by a selection of photographers, but mainly the riders themselves. It feels very natural and realistic.
The ethos of the book is about being in your surroundings and not just passing through with getting to an endpoint in mind. It embraces the challenges of this type of riding and encourages exploration, but at a slower and accepting pace - really seeing where you are and what's around.
What's really good is the depth of knowledge, varied voices, and useful 'how-to' pages for solo, group, family, etc., bike packing rides. There is something useful for everyone in here.
I would think some people might be put off by the presentation of the routes - in as much as it's glossy, not gritty. I think that misses the point - it's not meant to be a guidebook, with lots of details of exactly where and how to do each ride, but more a starting point for adventure.
I found inspiration and that wanderlust feeling of wanting to be out in the hills, on the bike with the vaguest of routes and destination. For me, I'd keep returning to the book, and I'm pretty sure it'll get lent out to friends as a useful and beautiful book if you have even the slightest interest in bike packing.
Bikepacking - Exploring the Roads Less Cycled Review - final thoughts
The best thing about the book was how it opened up potential. On a practical level, it'll tell you everything you need to get started and some handy tips to make the first, 10th or 30th trip better or easier, or just help confirm the knowledge. But deeper than that is the pictures, the stories and the gaps between when you can see yourself out riding. Anything that encourages people out the door, to explore, to see the world by bike and take it all in is worth so much.
The book doesn't shy away from the grit, hardships and adventure of bikepacking, but it makes it accessible as well - it's not all suffering and desperation and certainly doesn't have to be. It's about facilitating getting out there and providing a heap of reasons to do that.
With it all pulled together in a cohesive, thoughtful way, with beautiful images of landscapes, bikes and people, Bikepacking - Exploring the Roads Less Cycled captures the 'soul' for want of a better word, of bike packing and, to a degree, pretty much shows one of the many reasons we like to get out on the bike.
With its price at £35, it's a worthy investment for winter evenings planning summer adventures or even winter adventures. It'd be a great purchase as a gift - to yourself or a fellow bike packer at whatever stage they may be.