2021 Bikepacking Gear of the Year

In the first installment of our 2021 Bikepacking Awards, we recognize the products that have wowed us the most over the past year. Dig into our top picks with 51 awards in 11 categories, including our Top Five Bikes, Best New Components, Best Camping Gear, and more. Plus, find a list of bikes that are already on our radar for 2022…

There’s no doubt that the pandemic-induced supply chain woes also rippled through the bike industry in a big way throughout 2021. Frankly, there were fewer products released and even fewer new bikes available to test this year. Still, we managed to create 20 in-depth bike reviews and test a number of new bags and gear from big brands and small makers alike. To kick off our seventh annual Bikepacking Awards, the 2021 Gear of the Year roundup brings together a diverse collection of proven products broken into 11 categories. Scroll on to find out what we consider the best products relevant to backcountry cycling, camping, and bikepacking—from tools and apparel to the bikes that have impressed us the most.

Note that several of these products have yet to earn a detailed review on the site, but it’s all equipment we’ve had first-hand experience using and feel confident about recommending. And, although the emphasis is on 2021 products, these awards draw from all the gear we’ve tried and tested this year, regardless of when particular items were released. After all, the latest and greatest isn’t always the best, despite what marketing hype may tell us. It’s all about balance, and bikepacking is as much about gear that stands the test of time as it is about the latest technology.

Bikepacking Gear of The Year

The Bikepacking Gear of The Year award is dedicated to bags and packs that are made specifically for dirt-road touring and bikepacking. There weren’t a lot of new products introduced in this category this year, but there were a few excellent ones. And, the winner is…

Rockgeist Barjam Harness and Horton

Rockgeist Horton and BarJam Harness

Two fantastic pieces of gear were married into a new and improved handlebar carrying system this year: Rockgeist’s BarJam harness and the waterproof Horton accessory bag (formerly from Porcelain Rocket). We’ll be reviewing this system in full soon, but the short of it is that the BarJam uses two machined alloy handlebar brackets, a carbon bar, Voilé straps, and a removable waterproof bag to make one of the most stable ultralight front handlebar systems we’ve used. The Horton is integrated to the harness and adds a nice weatherproof accessory bag for electronics and snacks. Full review here.

$185+ at Rockgeist.com

Other Top Picks

Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR Review

Ortlieb Handlebar-Pack QR

The Handlebar-Pack QR offers 11 liters of storage, weighs 551 grams, and like Ortlieb’s other bike bags, is waterproof via their seam-welded, proprietary PVC-free, PU-coated fabric. It offers a unique attachment system that allows it to attach to only the handlebars and remain stable without the use of a rack or a headtube strap, thus avoiding cable interference. It comes in just one size that’s optimized to fit drop bars around 40cm wide and larger, and that’s part of its beauty. It offers a great solution for riders who don’t have a lot of space in the handlebar area. Read our review here.

$160 at Ortlieb.com

Custom Frame Bags

Rogue Panda Custom Recycled Frame Bag

While most bikepacking bags (frame bags, specifically) are made from X-Pac, there are several fabric options being developed that are less impactful on the environment. Rogue Panda was one of the first companies to use this fabric in their products, offering a recycled fabric from Challenge Outdoor. EPX200 has similar properties to VX21 but is made from 100% recycled polyester, and as with all of Rogue Panda’s products, their custom frame bags are extremely well-made and designed to last for years of hard use and abuse. Check out Neil’s YouTube video review here.

$195+ at RoguePanda.com

Stealth Mountain Panniers

Stealth Mountain Panniers

Handmade to order in New Zealand, Stealth’s Mountain Panniers are smaller than traditional panniers and designed to handle the rigors of mountain biking and bikepacking. The Mountain Panniers attach to most racks using a rattle-free velcro mounting system with an additional lower cam lock buckle to keep things in place. They are sold as a pair, providing up to 16 liters of storage and are simple, compact, tough, and were noteworthy among the bags and gear we tested this year. Find them in our Mini Panniers Index.

$250 at Stealth

Top Five Six Bikepacking Bikes

We tested a fair number of bikes in 2021. We reviewed 20 and have a few more still in the works. Here are six Bikepacking Bikes that really stood out.

Tumbleweed Stargazer Review

Tumbleweed Stargazer

The Tumbleweed Stargazer was a little bit of a sleeper. We didn’t expect a steel drop-bar mountain bike to be too terribly special, but it clearly rose to the top of our list of the best bikes we’ve tried this year. Of course, it has all of the mounting points you could hope for, a substantial frame triangle for fitting a bag, and a very nice roster of specifications. But it also has a lot going on under the hood that makes it a great bike. For one, the tube set seems incredibly well designed, with the right combinations of thicknesses and butting to give it a supple yet responsive ride feel and an incredible balance of agility and long-ride comfort. And of course, Tumbleweed nailed the aesthetics with two nice colorways and classic styling for the graphics. This bike was so good that I bought the frameset I was reviewing. Read the full review here.

Ibis Ripley AF

Ibis Ripley AF

There were a couple full-sussers we liked this year, but the Ripley AF shined through in the end. First of all, its metal, and relatively affordable. Second, it carries over a lot of the great qualities of the carbon Ripley, and then adds to it with a slight slacker head tube. It’s a bike that’s hard to find any flaws with. Like the regular Ripley, it’s a proficient climber, and and even more agile on decent and corners than its carbon sibling. Stay tuned for more thoughts and photos of Virginia’s build soon.

Fairlight Faran 2 Review

Fairlight Faran 2.0

There’s a whole lot to love about the Faran 2.0, which all points back to good design on many levels. Above all else, the tubeset is impressively plush and responsive and built around a highly versatile geometry and suite of provisions. It’s a road bike at heart, but it can play rough and handles most terrain well. And most impressively, it’s very comfortable. Plus, it remains light and not overbuilt, and is a good example of a humble bike at a reasonably approachable price point, despite it being an exemplar of high-end, meticulously considered design. Find the review here.

Tanglefoot Moonshiner Review

Tanglefoot Moonshiner

While so many bicycles these days bend toward being in a hurry of one sort or other, Tanglefoot offers a reminder of what an all-terrain bicycle is. The Moonshiner invites you to pedal abandoned deep woods doubletrack or over a rugged craggy pass, to problem solve up a dry riverbed, to drop down crooked boulder stairs, to meander on country dirt roads, or to flow through the twistiest singletrack. In his upcoming review, Joe Cruz says to “Put aside your assumptions and your on-paper analysis of how this bike should ride.”

Otso Fenrir Review

Otso Fenrir

We’ve been testing the Fenrir for a couple of months now and should have a review up soon. But it definitely deserves a spot on this list. The Fenrir is a rigid, stainless steel mountain bike that is optimized and sized for either drop bars or flat bars, depending on the stem length. It clears plus tires and has a snappy and supple ride quality, reversible dropouts, and loads of other features that automatically make it a great bikepacking bike fit for routes like the Tour Divide or even our Tian Shan Traverse in Kyrgyzstan. Stay tuned for more.

Salsa Timberjack Review

Salsa Timberjack

Believe it or not, the Timberjack is back on the awards list for a second year. Reason being, the TJ was redesigned from the ground up for 2021, with an all-new geometry that made a great bike even better. Both Miles and Neil agree that this is one of the best hardtails they’ve tried over the last couple of years. And at its price point, it’s hard to beat. Find the written review here, and check out the YouTube review here.

Collective Choice

Collective Choice

Again this year, we asked our Bikepacking Collective members what they thought about 2021’s crop of bikes. We sent our members a list of all of the bikes we reviewed this year, and based on over 500 votes, here are their top three bikes.

Tumbleweed Stargazer Review, drop bar gravel

Tumbleweed Stargazer

Once again, the Tumbleweed Stargazer came out on top. The Bikepacking Collective has great taste :-).

Kona Sutra ULTD Review

Kona Sutra ULTD

The Kona Sutra ULTD got high marks in the Bikepacking Collective Choice survey. The ULTD is similar to the former Sutra LTD (which it now replaces as the LTD in the current lineup) but now has internal dropper routing and slight geometry modifications that give it even more mountain bike qualities. Still, it’s a versatile bike that can do everything from carve up your singletrack to tackle multi-day, mixed-terrain bikepacking expeditions. Read the full review here.

Why El Jefe Review

Why Cycles El Jefe

The Why Cycles El Jefe is a bikepacking-specific pro model designed in collaboration with Colorado Trail and Arizona Trail multi-winner Jefe Branham. It’s made for going fast, pedaling efficiently, and keeping pace, but it’s a backcountry hardtail at heart. And a really good one at that. It’s a fine bike that ticks a lot of boxes, and definitely deserves a spot on this list. Find the review here.

Best New Component

There were a fair number of products to choose from in the Best New Component category, but the ones that impressed us most might surprise you…

Fillmore Tubeless Valves Review

Fillmore Valves

Simply put, Reserve Wheels reinvented the Presta valve with the new Fillmore tubeless valves, offering an elegant design that doesn’t clog and demystifies seating a tubeless tire with a floor pump. Prior to the Fillmore, Presta valves were just something you had to deal with. They get the job done, but they’re a remnant of past times before tubeless wheels, tires, and modern sealants became commonplace. Fillmore tubeless valves took that to heart, put the word “tubeless” in the product name, and created something that’s far superior for modern tubeless wheels and tires. All of us are sold. Find the review here.

$50 at REI

Other Top Picks

Roval Control Wheels

Roval Carbon Control 29 Wheelset

Roval has been a leader in carbon wheels for quite some time. This year, they released the Roval Control Carbon 29, $1,350 carbon wheels featuring a 29mm internal width rim, DT350 hubs, steel threaded spokes, and a weight of 1,474 grams including tape and valves. I mean, what more could you ask for? The answer to that is durability and a great ride quality, both of which we’ve found in testing these wheels for the last eight months. Stay tuned for a long-term review.

$1,349 at Jenson

trans x jump seat post review

Tranz X Jump Seat Post

Tranz X Jump Seat Post has a number of uses. Pop it on a turn-of-the-millenia steel mtb (think Specialized Rockhopper or similar), and give yourself extra riding confidence when tackling trails. Or, use it on your utility bike, either when you’re loading it up and need some extra stability, or for a cargo steed that’s shared between family members of different heights. Either way, thanks to its cable-less setup and easy to activate lever, it’s super quick to swap out with your rigid post when the situation demands it.

$118 at Transx AMZN

Surly Corner Bar Review

Surly Corner Bar

The Surly Corner Bar is one of a kind, designed to make it super easy to switch from flat bars to drop bars without switching from MTB shifters and brakes. It feels more stable than a normal drop bar, and the reach and leverage on mountain bike controls are surprisingly good. As stated in the review, “Yeah, it’s heavy as all get out. But if that’s not a concern and you want to tinker with the fit and feel of the hardtail or rigid mountain bike that’s collecting dust in your shed, adding a Surly Corner Bar is certain to be an interesting way of mixing things up.”

$99 at Campfire

Top Five Upgrades of 2021

While this category usually represents top-shelf components that are rather pricey, we decided to mix in some that were more literal this year. Still, there are a few high-dollar items that are well-designed and could be a worthwhile investment if you have the extra dough.

Ratio 1x12 Upgrade Kit Review

Ratio Tech 12-speed Upgrade Kit

The Ratio 1×12 Wide Upgrade Kit allows you to easily hack an 11-speed SRAM road shifter to work with a 12-speed Eagle MTB derailleur. We installed and tested one with a well-used Rival 1 mechanical shifter and an equally worn Eagle X01 derailleur and cassette. It’s since been moved to my Stargazer and I’ve been using it ever since. It’s pretty easy to install, works flawlessly, and you get the quick, crisp shifting and excellent gear progression that Eagle is known for, as well as the reliability that comes with it. Read the review here.

$75+ at Ratio Tech

Hope Tech3 E4 brakes, Best brakes for bikepacking

Hope Tech3 E4 brakes

The 4-piston Tech3 E4 is Hope’s enduro/trail brake that we’ve been testing for over 1,600 miles now. These brakes are extremely impressive and are unmatched in the lever feel and modulation department. They were trimmed and installed without the need for a bleed and have been working flawlessly since day one, save a little chirping squeak in the front brake that eventually went away. Their impressive machining, reliability, and superior performance make them my top pick for MTB brakes. Bravo, Hope.

$250 at Jenson

SRAM GX Eagle AXS Review, GX AXS


For the GX Eagle AXS group, SRAM essentially took a group we already loved and added a wireless option that we’ve found to be equally as reliable, intuitive, and well-executed. It essentially has the same guts as the venerable and reliable X01 AXS group that we’ve put thousands of miles on, and it’s slightly more affordable. It’s still an “upgrade” worthy investment, but we’re excited to see SRAM find success with the technology and advance it into a less costly group for those who have the resources. Find our review here.

$443+ at REI Jenson

Pivot Trail 429 Review

Fox 36 Fork

During our test period with the Pivot Trail 429, we had the chance to try out the Fox 36 fork, a heavier and larger stanchion-equipped fork than our preconceptions led us to believe was the better option. However, it was a game-changer, both on the trail and when riding the bike loaded up. It’s noticeably stiffer and holds up throughout long descents. The added stiffness felt much more substantial, stable, and sure in the corners, and it will likely make you second guess counting grams on a trail bike.

$1079 at Jenson

Rapha Powerweave Explore Gravel Shoes

Rapha Powerweave Explore Gravel Shoes

Released this spring, Rapha’s Explore Powerweave gravel shoes have earned their place as Lucas’ go-to shoes for all-day rides in warmer weather. With their minimal weight, roomy toe box, cushy foam insole, and micro-adjustable BOA fit, their exceptional comfort matches their sneakeresque look. All that said, the Explore Powerweave shoes’ eye-watering $350 price tag undoubtedly puts them firmly in the “upgrade” category. Check out our First Look Dispatch here.

$259 (Explore) at REI

Best Tools & Gadgets

For the Best Tools & Gadgets, there are always a lot of great options. This year’s winner is…

Hammerhead Kazoo 2 Bikepacking Review

Hammerhead Karoo 2

We’ve been testing the new Hammerhead Karoo 2 for a while. In short, the UI alone makes this an amazing GPS unit. It’s easy to customize data fields and the interface is like that of a high-end iPhone app. The base maps are also stellar and features such as the drop pin feature set it apart from others. Additionally, Hammerhead’s been consistently updating the software, so we hope it keeps getting better and better. Find the review.

$399 at Backcountry Competitive

Other Top Picks

Wolf Tooth 8-bit-system review

Wolf Tooth 8-Bit System

A few weeks back, Wolf Tooth launched their new 8-Bit System, which completes the toolkit by including a more comprehensive assortment of functions that should help get you out of nearly any sticky mechanical situation out on the trail. The new system is made up of two entirely new tools that pair with the 8-Bit Pack Pliers, available for purchase individually or as the 8-Bit Kit One for all three. We just got our hands on the full kit and the nesting/foldable design is impressive to say the least. The full kit weighs 171g and when nested together measures 146mm x 20mm x 28mm.

$139 at Wolf Tooth

Austere Buckles

After searching for high-quality strap hardware for years, Austere Manufacturing decided to take matters into their own hands and make their own. The end result is an extremely well-designed CNC-machined cam buckle that’s lightweight, impressively strong, and built to last a lifetime. They’re wonderful to handle and grip webbing straps with a bite that’s superior to plastic alternatives. They are like little pieces of beautiful candy that also happen to serve an important purpose for bikepackers. Find the review here.

$25+ at Austere

Art Toolkit Bikepacking Painting

Art Toolkit

The Pocket Art Toolkit’s minimal, lightweight paint set comes included with everything you need – from a miniature palette, room for a small watercolor notebook, and water brush. As artist Emma Bucke summed up in the review, “At just about the same size as a paperback romance novel, it comes equipped with almost everything you need for painting that beautiful sunrise you wake up to on bike tour, or the mushrooms you found on the trail – and later cooked up for breakfast… Everything stays in place exactly as it should, no matter the trails I’m riding.”

$92 at arttoolkit.com

Accessory of the Year

This award is specific to accessories that may not fit into the bikepacking bags category, but are made for bikepacking and/or carrying gear. We normally have a single winner for this award, but it was a little too close to call this time, so we have a tie for the top spot…

Swood Twisted T-Rack Review, Front Racks for Bikepacking

Swood Twisted T-rack

Made in Virginia, the Swood Twisted T-rack mounts under the stem on the steerer and stabilizes top-opening bags by sliding into the webbing loops. It’s an elegant, unique, and minimal design that performed flawlessly on bumpy rooted tracks and keeps the cables neatly tucked behind it. Another perk is that when using Voilé Straps to attach it to the handlebars, it makes the front bag super easy to remove and install, almost like having a quick-release system. Find the full writeup in our front racks roundup.

jack the bike rack

Jack the Rack

Jack the Rack is a unique rack made from a single piece of cold-formed 304 stainless steel rod with a 420-denier fabric platform. It has two high-strength straps that are used to attach it to the bike, cantilevering it over the front wheel. One threads under the stem, which holds the rack up and keeps it from rotating down toward the tire, and the other goes around the steerer tube, which keeps the rack from rotating upwards. It’s compatible with about any bike you could imagine, and the fact that it’s rated for loads up to 5kg (11 pounds) means it’s also quite capable. Find the full review here.

Other Top Picks

drjon strapdeck mission control g-funk

Drj0n G Funk Handlebar system, Mission Control, and Barnacles

Weighing in at just 61 grams, the G-Funk system combines two 3D-printed DrJ0n products—the DeWidget G-Funk Clamp and DeWidget Strap Deck—to create a secure platform for mounting a lightweight drybag to your handlebars – along with the CNC-machined Mission Control, with its Wahoo/Garmin and light mounts. Building on that, DrJ0n’s Barnacles use a similar design to the G-Funk Clamps, providing a low-profile mounting option for bottle and cargo cages all across your frame and fork.

£55 at Wildcat.cc

Evoc Hip Pack Capture 7L review

EVOC Hip Pack Capture 7L

It’s hard to beat the accessibility and vibration protection of a hip pack for carrying a camera while out on a bikepacking ride. The EVOC Hip Pack Capture 7L is the first purpose-made hip pack we’ve tried and was designed for carrying larger camera gear. This pack easily fits a full-frame mirrorless or DSLR and an extra lens—and then some. Plus, the well-designed vented back and large strap wings make for a comfortable haul. It also has a built-in rainfly. All in all, we’re quite impressed. See more on our guide to carrying a camera.

$100 at EVOC AMZN

Tailfin Suspension Fork Mount Bikepacking

Tailfin SFM

We’ve been impressed with Tailfin’s growing range of bikepacking gear over the last few years. The new Tailfin Suspension Fork Mount allows you to carry additional cargo cages, water bottle cages, or even both at the same time on a suspension fork, a duty often placed on hose clamps or gaffer tape hacks. Who would have thought that such a high level of engineering would be directed toward attaching a water bottle cage to a fork! “The Tailfin Suspension Fork Mount is so well executed that it’s hard to imagine a safer or more effective way of carrying H20 and cargo (or both) to the front end of your hardtail or full susser.” Read the review here.

$65 at Tailfin

Camping Gear of the Year

This award goes to the camping gear we’ve tested in 2021 that has proven to be reliable and outstanding in its class.

Tarptent Double Rainbow Li Review

Tarptent Double Rainbow Li

Tarptent’s Double Rainbow has been a longstanding, affordable favorite in the backpacking and bikepacking communities. The newer Dyneema version, the Double Rainbow Li, is spacious enough to house two large adults in complete comfort, yet with its 425g weight saving, it’s so ridiculously light that it’s worthy of reaching for on a solo trip, too – even more so if you’re tall, as it will fit solo bikepackers up to 6’5″ in comfort. Yes, it’s a significant investment, so keep in mind that the sil-nylon version is still a great option. Read the full review here.

Other Top Picks

Ultralight Camp Chairs for backpacking and bikepacking

Hyperlite Ultralight Tarp

When you’re camping in a rainforest—or in my case, Pisgah in summer—having a tarp is a must. Camping in the rain is never ideal, but sitting under a tarp (and not in the confines of a tent) actually allows you to enjoy the forest in foul weather. All that said, making room for heavy tarp isn’t always in the cards. The Hyperlite Ultralight Flat Tarp packs up to the size of a beer can, and at ~250 grams, it adds nearly nothing to your pack weight. It’s not cheap, but if you’re traveling long term in a rainy environment or going on regular bikefishing outings in a rainforest, and have the coin, it’s a worthy addition to the kit.

$389 at HyperliteMountainGear.com

Big Sky Soul 1P

Big Sky Soul 1P Bikepack

The Big Sky Soul 1P tent is offered as a bikepacking version with tiny 12″ folding pole segments, a double wall/freestanding construction, and weighs in at just over two pounds. Miles has been testing it out for the better part of a year and it’s quickly becoming one of his favourite shelters. It packs down small, has lots of room for a one-person tent, and held up to some pretty serious weather on Vancouver Island this fall. It retails for just $280 USD, which is quite competitive, and Big Sky International is working on an updated design that we’ll be getting our hands on soon. Stay tuned for an in-depth, long-term review.

$280 at Big Sky

Sea to Summit Pillow

Sea to Summit Aeros Pillow

A comfy inflatable pillow is a must for many of us. Having that extra cush and support after a long day of pedaling makes for a better night’s sleep. The Sea to Summit Aeros is one of the better options we’ve tried in a while. It’s lightweight, packs small, and has a loftier stature than many other options, and for side sleepers, that makes for less shoulder pressure and ultimately less arm numbness and tossing and turning in the night. The plush fleece facing is also a nice touch.

$45+ at REI Backcountry

Best in Bikepacking Kitchen

This award category is designated for packable food, recipes, or camp kitchen utensils that have impressed us in 2021.

Compostable and Biodegradable Meal Packaging

There’s no arguing that the best course of action to combat plastic waste while bikepacking is to make your own food and stow it in reusable packaging. However, we also realize that’s not always an option. Fortunately, there are a lot of smaller brands heeding the call and making meals for bikepacking and backpacking that are packaged in compostable and/or biodegradable packaging. We’ve already reviewed some of Fernweh’s range last year and we’re working on a feature article and roundup featuring 10 companies, so stay tuned.

Other Top Picks



Someone pointed out the tiny, light, and $16 BRS 3000T stove and recommended we try it. I’ve been using one for several months now, and it’s pretty impressive for its diminutive, 24 gram size… and the fact that it’s simple and only $16 (only available on Amazon, as far as I can tell) makes it even more interesting. It’s loud, and not the best simmerer, but for the money, it’s hard to beat.

$16 at AMZN

Low-Waste Recipes

Cass and Emma have been adding to the Low-Waste Bikepacking initiative with several new recipes this year, to supplement last year’s popular Energy Balls. Check out the easy-to-make Full Power Vegan Cookie Dough and Emma’s delicious Gracious Granola. If you’re looking to make your own trail food and cut down on plastic waste, roll up your sleeves and dig in here.

Jetboil Stash Review

JetBoil Stash

The Jetboil Stash is the brand’s lightest and most compact cooking system to date, with the entire kit weighing just over 200g. The all-in-one system includes a 0.8L aluminum pot, plastic lid/strainer, stove, and Jetboil’s fuel stabilizer, all in a nearly rattle-free and unique packable design. Overall, we’re quite impressed with it. Find Miles’ review here.

$135 at REI

Outdoor Apparel of The Year

While the Outdoor Apparel of The Year award is normally reserved for clothing and outwear, there were a surprising number of shoes that rose to the top this year. So, we decided to temporarily change this category to represent our favorite footwear of 2021.

Five Ten Trailcross

Five Ten Trailcross

Both Cass and I have been testing two versions of the Five Ten Trailcross shoes throughout 2021. We’ve both been quite impressed. As Cass summed up in his review of the Trailcross Mid Pro, after breaking them in, “they might just have become my very favourite bikepacking shoes, simply because they’re so capable on the bike and comfortable off it.” So far, I can make the same claim for the slightly less burly TrailCross XT.

$120+ at REI

Best Clipless Shoes for Bikepacking, Specialized Rime 2.0

Specialized Rime 2.0

Performing highly in all areas of hiking, biking, comfort, and protection, the Specialized Rime 2.0 won Virginia’s vote as the best clipless bikepacking shoes in a very contentious and considered group. The latest Rime is well-built, very durable, and offers all the right protection, too. Find the roundup here.

$169 at Backcountry

Other Top Picks

Bedrock 3d Cairn

Bedrock 3D Cairn Sandals

The new Cairn 3D Pro is the latest step in the evolution of Bedrock’s lightweight, highly adjustable sandals, built for long days of riding, hiking, or whatever else you get up to. Cairn 3Ds were improved over the original version with a grippier and more robust rubber sole. And, the rubber is impressively sticky, even for fishing in slippery rivers. Over in Mexico, Cass has been equally impressed, using them for a full rainy season in Oaxaca, riding, running, wading, and just traipsing about in them every day.

$125 at REI

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit Review

Pearl Izumi X-Alp Summit

The X-Alp Summit is positioned as a shoe for all-day mountain bike adventures. Fully redesigned from the ground up, the X-Alp Summit shoe is $50 cheaper than the X-ALP Elevate, but gets some trickle-down tech from it, including a grippy Vibram ECOSTEP rubber outsole built for hike-a-bikes. Following his positive review of the slightly less burly X-Alp Launch, Neil took the X-Alp Summit on the hiking-intensive Colorado Trail Race and came back with a glowing review. Watch it here.

$113 at REI

Specialized Rime Flat Shoe

Specialized Rime Flat

It’s hard to argue the fact that Specialized makes some of the most well-reviewed shoes on the market. Their new Rime Flat Shoes are the brand’s first riding shoe designed specifically with hiking in mind, striking a balance between on-bike stiffness and off-bike comfort. Rime Flats fall more in line with the “hike, bike, repeat” mantra bikepackers are known for, and we’re incredibly impressed. Find the review here.

$139 at Backcountry

Most Interesting Bikes for 2022

We announced over 80 new bikes in 2021… that’s not quite as many as past years due to the bike industry shortage and greater supply chain issues, but still a fair number. While we can’t test them all, we try to get our hands on some of them for review. Of the many bikes that will be on the market in 2022 (hopefully), the five below have most piqued our interest. All feature something interesting, different, especially well thought through, or are just worthy of debate!

Chromag Surface Voyager

Chromag Surface Voyager

The new Chromag Surface Voyager is a completely redesigned version of the standard Surface. It’s positioned as an aggressive hardtail adventure bike and looks perfect for some rough and rowdy backcountry singletrack trips. The Surface Voyager is now loaded with features that bikepackers will surely appreciate, including externally routed cables, multiple mounts inside the main triangle, top tube and downtube mounts (a first for Chromag), and rear rack mounts. Read the Dispatch here.

Pelago Stavanger

Pelago Stavanger

Helsinki-based Pelago Bicycles recently announced a fresh version of their Stavanger, which received a number of bikepacking-friendly updates, including larger tire clearance (room for up to 700 x 50mm or 650B x 57mm tires), more mounts, and a 1×11 Shimano GRX build. They call it an “off-the-hook off-the-grid do-it-all machine for the human being.” Learn more about the new Pelago Stavanger here.

Ibis Exie

Ibis Exie

Ibis’ new Exie is a cross-country bike with a sub-2,000g (4.4lb) frame, which they claim offers the perfect combination of pedaling efficiency and downhill performance. Designed, built, and tested in their solar-powered Santa Cruz factory, there’s certainly a lot to like about it, and it looks like it might make a great bikepacking crossover bike for those who like dual-squish bikes. Find details here.

Stayer Groadinger OMG

Stayer Groadinger OMG

Just when it seemed that gone were the days of do-anything 29 x 3″ rigid bikes, Stayer introduced the Groadinger OMG, a built-to-order semi-custom mountain bike based around a Chromoly Steel frame, rigid fork, and massive 3″ tire clearance. It looks fantastic and we look forward to testing it. Details in our Dispatch here.

Mason Raw

Mason RAW

Long in the works and refined based on extensive feedback from world-class ultra-endurance bikepackers such as Josh Ibbett and Angus Young, the team at Mason say the RAW makes for a “fast, engaging, and spirited ride,” with geometry that’s “modern and progressive enough to provide stability at speed and manageable handling on the limit whilst remaining lively and involving at all speeds.” We’re excited to try it out. Find details in our Dispatch.

Find more from our 2021 Bikepacking Awards, including honors for the best Photography, Video, and Creative work, as well as the best routes and most influential individuals of the year.

If you’re interested in purchasing any of these products, please support your local bike shop and buy from them when possible. If you can’t, or they’re only obtainable online, we’ve provided links to manufacturers and stores where they are currently available; some of these retailers offer a meager referral fee, which helps support this platform. This has no bearing on the review or selection.

More Gear of the Year

Find more past Bikepacking Gear of the Year roundups here:


Bikepacking Gear


bikepacking-awards  gear-of-the-year  

Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.