Tyke Packing (Bike Packing with Kids!) for StayCation Cycling Holidays
What is it about a mini-adventure that brings great excitement to kids? The simple sense of absolute freedom!
It’s a great way to spend quality time with your family and most of our greatest memories on bikes have been from these bikepacking experiences, especially when it doesn’t go quite to plan ;-)
You don’t need to go far or for too long in the saddle, even a day trip with a picnic is great fun especially if you can involve all the family with the planning and packing. Overnight stays can be the next step-up, either self-sufficient in friendly campsites or 'glamping' pods. Bed and Breakfast is also another option if you want to travel as light as possible.
Where shall we go?
There are plenty of online resources to help you plan where to ride. It may be wise to stick to bridleways, byways, green lanes and smaller unclassified roads to avoid most of the traffic, especially with younger children in tow.
- Sustrans have plenty of ideas with an interactive UK map showing National Cycle Network routes: CLICK HERE
- CyclingUK has a guide showing local routes in different counties/regions with Cycle A-Way tours: CLICK HERE
10 Top Cycling Tour Route Ideas...
- Loughrigg Fell (Lake District) (20 Miles)
- Kennet and Avon Canal (Bristol to Reading) (20 miles)
- Grafham Water (23 miles)
- The Taff Trail - Wales (55 miles)
- The Great Glen Way - Scotland (73 miles)
- West highland way - Scotland ( 93 miles)
- South Downs Way (100 miles)
- Thames Valley Route (London to Oxford) (100 miles)
- Devon Coast to Coast (Ilfracombe to Plymouth) (100 miles)
- Trans Pennine Trail (207 miles)
You can use the classic pink OS maps to find you way around, or a cycling route planning app on your phone. We like to use a combination of the two when out and about exploring the trails.
In the UK, the Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 Explorer range is the most detailed map which shows things like contours and streams. If you’re biking, this is the best scale to take with you: CLICK HERE
If you prefer more of a sat-nav style system, the 'Komoot' app is a great route planning system for exploring roads and off road routes. You can see the elevation and surface breakdown in advance, it is also available as a mobile app. We’ve been using it to plan our own cycling trips and show a map on screen along with turn by turn instructions for hands free navigation: CLICK HERE
'Bikemap' is similar, but more suitable for road rides. However it does feature heat maps for your chosen area, which show where other cyclists tend to ride. This is useful to find those quiet lanes along with routes others have completed, which may give you some ideas for where to ride: CLICK HERE
Guide to the best Bike Packing kit...
A few tips on gear related to family bikepacking and trips with kids, to help the next generation of bikepackers...
It's so important to have the right clothing for the job, like correct 'child-specific' pads in their shorts for comfort on longer rides or sweat wicking jerseys for hot days. Rain capes, warm-up tights (zip-up leggings that you can put on without removing shoes) and thermal socks, arm warmers and shoe covers for colder weather. Even proper children's cycling sunglasses for every light level you may encounter. Thankfully we have developed the lot!
The HUP evo is a versatile bike to explore the great outdoors, able to cope with tarmac, gravel trails, hard packed clay bridleways or old railways. The full sized 650b or 700c wheels (you can build with either) makes off-road riding much easier, especially for smaller riders. It's also more practical with everyone on the same wheel/tyre size: CLICK HERE
Remember, cycling off-road is easier with wider, grippier tyres. 650b wheels are a good choice, as the bike becomes so much more off-road capable when under load, as you can run a wider tyre than the 700c options: CLICK HERE
Simply strap on a few waterproof bags, fill them with essential spare clothes and tools, make sure you have enough water and food, and you’re good to go. Bikepacking bags are minimalist compared to the old fashioned rack-and-pannier setup and they are usually waterproof and very durable.
There are a few different types to choose from, each is best for a different type of load. You don’t need to have all of them, just enough to carry what you plan to take. Try not to carry a lot of weight on your back. Instead, most of the weight should be placed on your bike if possible. They only exception should be a hydration pack, for those longer, Summer adventures: CLICK HERE
Gravel drop handlebars are also popular, the slight 'flare' of the bars improving off-road handling and creating more space for a handlebar bag too. Another popular option is to use Flat Handlebars, again giving more space and a more comfortable riding position for longer rides: CLICK HERE
Don’t forget, bikepacking is all about freedom and adventure. You can make it up as you go along, exploring roads, bridleways or tracks, just keep an eye on the time, keep hydrated and have enough snacks to be self-sufficient.