Updated: 17th March 2024

Is a gravel bike the go-to steed for bikepacking adventures? Well, in the grand scheme of things, you could embark on a bikepacking journey with practically any bike you own. Yes, even that dusty two-wheeler in your garage. But does that make it the ideal choice? Not necessarily.

Bikepacking, at least through my lens, is all about loading up your bike with gear and hitting the open road (or trail) for some camping, peppered with lengthy stretches of pedaling in between. While several gravel bikes are indeed up for this challenge, not all make the cut.

So, what transforms a gravel bike into a stellar companion for bikepacking? It boils down to a mix of personal preferences, particularly when balancing the scales of comfort and performance. If you’re anything like me, you’re after a ride that doesn’t compromise on comfort yet still delivers top-notch performance.

The key differentiator among gravel bikes? Geometry. You’ll find some gravel bikes are cut out for cyclocross, zippy and race-ready, while others could be mistaken for touring bikes, leaning towards the “let’s take it easy” side of things. Striking that sweet spot in the middle could lead you to the gravel bike of your bikepacking dreams.

For me, a non-negotiable feature is an upright riding position. Some gravel bikes flirt with road bike geometries, offering lower stack/reach ratios that might not be everyone’s cup of tea. For a truly comfortable, upright posture, I advocate for a gravel bike boasting a stack/reach ratio of 1.5 or higher. This way, you’re set for both comfort and performance, making your bikepacking journey not just doable, but enjoyable.

Gravel race bikes often feature shorter chainstays and wheelbases, optimizing them for speed and agility. On the flip side, gravel bikes designed with bikepacking in mind tend to boast longer chainstays and wheelbases, enhancing their stability and load-carrying capabilities for the long haul.

Below, you’ll find a selection of gravel bikes that excel in racing scenarios more so than in bikepacking adventures.

Following that, we spotlight two standout gravel bikes, each meticulously engineered to thrive on bikepacking journeys. These models exemplify gravel touring specific geometry to deliver comfort, making them ideal companions for your off-road explorations.

Delving into the specifics of their geometries reveals why these bikes shine in the bikepacking arena. They feature extended wheelbases and chainstays, gearing optimized for uphill climbs while loaded with gear, and a taller stack/reach ratio alongside a longer front center measurement.

Below, you’ll find a comparison table showcasing the varied geometry measurements across these bikepacking-optimized gravel bikes.

The bikes highlighted within the red box are tailored for bikepacking, and a glance at the black boxes will show that their measurements tend to be larger, indicating their suitability for bikepacking over gravel racing bikes.

Gravel bikes designed with bikepacking in mind distinguish themselves with notably wider tire clearance. Though you can embark on a bikepacking adventure with a road bike, highlighting the adaptability of nearly any bicycle for such expeditions, the call of wild, uncharted paths makes a strong case for larger tires.

If your journey takes you on single tracks or less-traveled roads, having the capability to fit tires wider than 45c is invaluable. An ideal bikepacking gravel bike is equipped to handle tires up to 2.3″ wide, and certain models with 650b wheels can even accommodate up to 2.5″ tires.

In contrast, gravel bikes tailored for racing typically mount tires between 38 to 42c, whereas those prepped for bikepacking adventures are more likely to come standard with 50mm (approximately 2″ to 2.2″) tires, setting them apart as ready for the rigors of adventure.

Additionally, bikepacking gravel bikes are built with resilience in mind, featuring wheels that are designed to last. While racing gravel bikes may roll on 24-spoke wheels, bikepacking variants are often reinforced with 32-spoke wheels, offering enhanced durability to support the weight of gear and ensure reliability across varied landscapes.

The flared drop handlebars on bikepacking gravel bikes typically come with more degree flare. From 16° to 24° flare, while race gravel bikes may have less, at around 14°. It all depends on different bike builds. But this more flare in the drops makes for more comfort and arm stretch on long rides.

Gravel bikes by nature tend to have underperforming climbing gears. They are not the best for climbing steep hills while the bike is loaded. They seem to be more orientated for speed on the flats and downhill, with all-road conditions.

But if you choose wisely you can find relatively good climbing gears on some 1x and 2x gravel setups. The better climbing gravel bikes that I have come across tend to have about 22″ climbing gear which is still not 18″ MTB territory.

This is what makes MTB’s a more ideal bikepacking bike. You can slowly slog up hills with an easy climbing gear even on a loaded bike.

The Ideal Bikepacking Bike

Unfortunately a “gravel bike” is not really considered the ideal bikepacking bike. If you want a rig that is dedicated to bikepacking you may want to look into hardtail mountain bikes. Some make the point that the flat bar offers better mounting options and it is part true that the flat bar offers nice and upright riding comfort.

But don’t get me wrong you can find some gravel bikes that have all of the above criteria to make it more bikepacking capable.

Here is some more reading about some of the gravel bikes we recommend for adventure cycling. This article takes a look at some of the Best Gravel Bikes For Touring. Which can be loosely related to bikepacking, however, the main difference is these bikes in this article are best suited to carry a rear rack with panniers.

I am personally a big fan of steel gravel bikes, this material is strong and forgiving when put to the test on bikepacking adventures.

On a budget? Want to find a bikepacking gravel bike but don’t want to spend all your hard-earned coin? Bikes like the 2021 Poseidon Redwood are the perfect option!

Can you ride a gravel bike on Singletrack?

It depends on your skill level and the type of gravel bike. I would not recommend riding a gravel bike with 45 mm or slimmer tires.

Even 50mm with tube setup you can expect punctures, especially on more gnarly singletrack sections.

It is very possible to ride on easier singletrack.

If you want a challenge riding gravel bikes on singletrack can be fun! But again it is ideal to ride a gravel bike, that has clearance for 2.2 or 2.3″ MTB tires.

Which helps tremendously with absorbing singletrack vibrations.

If you want to explore mostly steep, rocky, single-track terrains while bikepacking then a hardtail or full-suspension MTB is your best bet. However, if you plan to ride a 33/33/33 mix of road, gravel, and some single-track, a “well-equipped” gravel bike is a plausible option! Meaning a gravel bike with all the above criteria.

Best Bikepacking Gravel Bikes For Going Fast With Your Camping Gear!

These bikes are ideal for those of you looking to go on fast bikepacking trips with your gear. This bike needs a stable geometry but also offers some agility for going fast and covering large distances if you want to crank out the miles!

Salsa Cutthroat

Drop-bar mountain bike, ultra-endurance mixed surface machine, tour divide inspire, bikepacking rig.

The Salsa Cutthroat is your ultimate fast-touring bike!

Built with the ability to ride comfortably over huge distances with gear it is one of the best bikes we can recommend in this carbon touring bike category!

It is said that you can fit 2.4″ tires with heaps of clearance for mud.

This bike also fits the list to be a bike that can pretty much take you anywhere and also take you there fast!

You also get all the mounting options one needs for a bikepacking trip.

3T Exploro

We put this bike in the fast category. But it could have fit nicely in all three categories. 

Looking for one of the most aero gravel bikes on the market?

Check out the 3T Exploro! The main idea behind this bike is to combine road bike speed and mountain bike toughness.

So you can explore off-the-beat tracks and have the speed.

The 3T Exploro MAX option which comes with a 650b x 57c wheelset but has a whopping tire clearance for 61mm RAM 650b tires. The Exploro Max Eagle AXS 1x has a capable gear range of 23″ climbing gear and 104.67″ largest gear.

Wilier Jena

With prices as low as €3,000 for their 105 groupset option.

The frame alone weighs in at only 1kg!

Wilier says that the Jena was designed to give you more freedom of choice when you go out for a ride.

Ideal for performance on dirt roads and single track, or adventure, exploration, and bikepacking.

It is able to adapt to the many needs that gravel biking can have and is designed to be a reactive and easy-to-handle bike, with a racing-comfort geometry design.

Salsa Warbird

If you want one of the lightest gravel bikes on the market for riding as fast as possible the Salsa Warbird is your best pick.

Their fully specced out, top-of-the-line Warbird weighs in at 18.2 lb or 8.26 kg and is priced at $6,999.

The bike is ideal for gravel racing, but would also make a perfect fast touring and bikepacking gravel bike.

You are limited to 650b x 51mm tires.

Which doesn’t make this bike as capable for going pretty much anywhere you want.

It might be a better option if you want to stick to exploring gravel roads only

Best All-Rounder Gravel Bikepacking Bikes

These bikes can take you just about everywhere.

But are limited only by tire clearance.

They work well as bikes for commuting, racing, and bikepacking!

If you are looking to spend your money on one bike that can be used for a range of sub-categories these are worth checking out.

Marin Headlands 2

Marin makes some great quality gravel bikes for budget prices!

Not all bikes are designed for adventures both on and off the road.

Whether you are a long-distance commuter or a weekend gravel grinder, the new Marin Headlands is a bike you’re going to love.

Marin took everything they learned from their Gestalt X line of aluminum gravel bikes and incorporated that knowledge into a new line of full-carbon adventure bikes.

The Headlands is Marin’s lightest beyond-road bike to date. 

Priced at $2,649.99. You get tire clearance for up to 700c x 45 or 650b x 50 making it an ideal all-rounder.

Cannondale Topstone

The Carbon Topstone by Cannondale has to be one of the most off-road capable and on-road comfortable gravel bikes.

Available in a collection of different builds from the Lefty which is a front suspension gravel bike to the standard Topstone 2, 3, or 4 with the BallisTec carbon frameset with Kingpin suspension.

Which is a thru-axle pivot in the seat tube allowing the entire back of the frame to flex.

If you opt for the Lefty bikes these could pretty much be a gravel bike for going everywhere. Women gravel bike options also.

GT Grade

Built for road and gravel the all-new GT Grade Carbon Expert features that unique Triple Triangle carbon frame.

The distinctive looks may not be for everyone, also it does have external cable routing.

But you get mounts galore, especially thanks to the fork.

We recommend taking a closer look at this bike if you are after a budget-friendly carbon gravel bike that is very much capable and fun to ride.

You get triple mounting on the forks, and top tube mounting for extra gear.

Fuji Jari

Ideal for racing, gravel riding, and bikepacking.

The Fuji Jari’s C15 frame comes in at under 1000 grams. Which they claim to be “the world’s first one-piece construction gravel bike frame”.

The small attention to detail makes this bike stand out, with the armor shield under the downtube which guards against road debris, and a Mylar wrap on the headtube stopping abrasions from handlebar bags.

The stock 700x43c tires are rather skinny for my liking, but you can fit up to 700 x 47c or 27.5 x 2.2” tires.

It even comes with its custom-made, heavy-duty bento box or top tube bag.

The rear stay micro-suspension also gives the bike 15mm of vertical flex to help dampen that road chatter.

Jamis Renegade

A performance gravel bike, one that blends speed and control together to give you a bike that is just at home on road rides and bikepacking trips on more technical terrain.

With clearance for up to 700 x 50 or 650 x 2″. With all the mounting points for racks, fenders and bikepacking bags.

Starting from $2,599 for the C2, weighing 21.0 lbs / 9.5 kg.

Designed for speed on all kinds of surfaces. Dropper post compatible.

Trek Checkpoint

This has to be one of the most sold gravel bikes on the market.

Every gravel grinder and their dog seem to have one.

So that means they are a great carbon gravel bike option than, right?

The main feature of the Checkpoint is the lightweight OCLV Carbon frame with IsoSpeed, a decoupler at the top tube/seat tube junction that provides additional compliance over rough terrain so you can stay stronger for longer.

A carbon gravel bike made for epic all-road adventures.

Salsa Vaya GRX 600

Featured in our gravel bikes for touring article

It comes with a high-quality Shimano GRX gravel groupset.

Made from Triple-butted, Sanko chromoly steel and a carbon fork.

The bike is powered by a Shimano RX600-11, 46/30t, and Shimano HG700 11-speed, 11-34t rear cassette.

Providing a gear inch range of 24.18″ to 114.87″ or 475%.

Comes with 700c x 38 mm tires and fits 700c x 50mm tires or 700c x 45mm tires with fenders. 

Priced at $2,299.00

Bombtrack Hook EXT

This has to be one of my favorite bikes on the list.

It is a truly capable adventure bike. Up there with the likes of the Salsa Fargo but not quite as much tire clearance.

Bombtrack describes this bike as the one to take you to wild places fast! With all the mounting eyelets you could need, forks, top-tube, rear rack, and bottles.

You are all set for an epic bike adventure on this rig! It comes with clearance for up to 650B x 52C or 700C x 40C tires.

Canyon Grizl

Made specifically for gravel bike bikepacking! All Grizl models come equipped with wide 45 mm rubber with clearance to take up to 50 mm.

Canyon has done a great job only including a balance with the right number of practical frame and fork mounts you’ll actually use.

Apidura offers collaboration bags for your gear, that are fully waterproof highly durable packs tailored to the Grizl.

Best Bikepacking Gravel Bikes For Going Anywhere!

These bikes are your ultimate adventuring gravel bikes!

With larger tire clearance you can take these bikes on gnarly singletrack and explore even further than other gravel bikes with limited tire clearance.

Consider these bikes as drop bar mountain bikes.

The bikes in this list have 2.1″ tire clearance or wider!

Just a heads up 2.1″ is a decent tire clearance for a gravel bike.

But I have only had first-hand experience riding a gravel bike with 2.3″ tires on some really gnarly terrain, which holds up very well.

But generally anything over 2.0″ is getting into travel anywhere territory.

Salsa Fargo

The Salsa Fargo is a truly capable adventure/touring bike.

Ideal for trail riding and dirt road touring. Coming with 29″ x 2.6″ Maxxis Ikon tires. It has those wide enough tires to truly take you just about anywhere.

With a super upright stack/reach, long chainstay, and large trail, all purpose-built to be ridden under a load.

My mate has a 2016 one of these and it is still going strong!

Such an epic adventure gravel bikepacking bike!

It merges the lines with being a touring bike. But it boasts the largest tire clearance out of all these bikes, so if you are choosing bikes based on clearance, this might be the one for you.

All-City Gorilla Monsoon

The Gorilla Monsoon is a beast of a bike.

Translated to “Monster Cross-bike’ the Monsoon is one of those bikes that allow you to take it pretty much anywhere, from road riding to bikepacking gnarly terrain.

Basically a beefed-up all-rounder. According to All-City, this steed can do it all. “Want to do mixed pavement and single-track rides? Put in long days off-road? Do some fire road touring? Camping? Ride across the continent? No problem.”

Check out our overview of the bike here.

Curve GXR “Kevin”

The Kevin is available as a frameset.

You can also order a complete bike, but only based on availability.

You may need to contact Curve if you are interested in this rig. A titanium gravel bike built for adventure!

To make the Kevin, Curve had to take the fun of a cyclocross bike, fused in some adventure feels, and rolled it into one neat do-it-all package that can take you anywhere.

You get the option for 700c or 650B. With 700c wheels with 28–45mm tires for Road/Gravel/Cyclocross or go full HellCat with 650b (27.5”) wheels running 1.8–2.2” tires. 

Frameset starts at $3,999 Aud

Curve GMX

Getting into the drop bar mountain bike category the GMX by Curve offers up to 2.4” tire clearance for a 29er setup.

Available as a frameset from Curve Cycling in Australia.

For riding long and rough, fast off-road touring and weekend jaunts in the bush.

The GMX has an oversize triangle to make room for frame bags and 1L water bottles. The BP fork features triple M5 mounts for Rocket Pooches or similar oversize cages.

Salsa Journeyman/Journeyer

The Journeyman is Salsa’s entry-level gravel bike option. Now discontinued, the Journeyer has taken its place as a younger sibling!

As Salsa says, “The Journeyman provides features the cycling enthusiast is looking for to take on their first gravel race or their first ramble down that old ‘B’ road.”

The Journeyman does come in two different tire/wheel sizes (700c x 37mm or 650b x 2.1″). 

Read our review of The Journeyman here

The bike’s Claris setup features the FSA Tempo Adventure, 46/30t crank and SunRace 8-speed, 11-34t cassette.

When we calculated the gear inches accounting for the WTB Nano 27.5 x 2.1″ Comp tires. The result was; 25.52″ for the climbing gear up to 121.23″ for the largest gears.

With ratios of 0.88 to 4.18. When it comes to the Journeyman’s geometry, the stack/reach ratio is 1.54 (getting very close to that upright and comfortable riding position for long days in the saddle).

The trail is 64 mm making it feel predictable at the front and the chainstay length is 440 mm, making it rather chill and ride like an all-rounder in the rear.

Masi Giramondo

The Masi Giramondo has to be one of the best touring/gravel bikepacking bikes when it comes to value for money.

As a budget-friendly option, it offers a 3×10 Shimano Deore setup.

Yes, not the most high-tech but functionality, yes!

An all-steel bike with 650B wheels or you can opt for the 700c option.

And all for under $1,200 you cannot go wrong.

Along with bar-end shifters, you get that old-school touring bike feel.

But also so many options to mount gear.

Poseidon Redwood

Could this be the one? A gravel/adventure bike, just what I like! Here at Cycle Travel Overload we are all about adventure cycling.

This could be the budget gravel bike to take you on some epic adventures.

Well, let’s take a look at the details!

This bike has taken on the Poseidon X geometry but has been amped up so you can eat up gravel with enough tire to absorb the vibrations. Allowing for 27.5 wheels with enough clearance for 2.5″ tires. Taking the cake for the largest tire clearance gravel bike!

The build features a 6061 Double Butted Hydroformed Aluminum frame and 6061 Aluminum Fork – Tapered Steer 1 1/8″ – 1 1/2″ fork.

Powered by a 1 x 10 Advent X groupset.

This means a Prowheel 38t Narrow Wide Crank with a Microshift 11-48T Advent X cassette.

Giving you an incredible 21.88″ granny gear and a 95.54″ highest gear. Also putting it near the top as the best gravel bike for bikepacking thanks to this gearing!

Combining to make a 0.79 : 3.45 gear ratio.

The stack/reach ratio is around 1.48 which is not the most upright. You get a chill feel at the rear with a 440mm chainstay. 

It has the potential to take you on some rad adventures for only $879.99!

With mounting options on the fork and those Poseidon Adventure Bars with 24 Degree Flare for extra comfort when shredding!!

Breezer RADAR Expert

This is Breezer’s do-it-all bike for tackling any terrain.

Equipped with 45mm all-condition tires, wide-range gearing, rack & fender mounts, and compact geometry.

Capacity up to 29 x 2.2″ MTB tires. Wide-range Shimano 2×9 drivetrain with 46/30T crank, with TRP disc brakes. 

Priced at $969.00

Diamondback Haanjo

This Diamondback Haanjo 5C EXP Carbon gravel bike again has upper mid-range components.

With the 2 x 10 Deore, Tiagra groupset, Praxis Cadet, Direct Mount, 46/36T crank and Praxis Cadet, Direct Mount, 46/36T cassette.

With 650b x 47 c tires and mechanical disc brakes.

With a 1.54 stack/reach ratio it is perfect for longer days in the saddle.

With a more upright position on the handlebars. It is rather quick in the rear thanks to the 430 mm chainstay length.

Then you get a 72 mm trail this is with a medium-sized frame.

Which is in the high end for gravel bikes.

Meaning it will feel stable in the front and on the edge of being sluggish. This bike is a great option if you want to go bikepacking on your carbon gravel bike, priced at $2,000

State Bicycle Co 4130 All-Road

A full-fledged Chromoly steel gravel bike at a delicious price tag!

You can run slicks or knobby tires for 700c and 650b wheels, depending on where you want to ride. With a versatile front fork with many cargo cage braze-ons for all the hauling you need. 

Featuring State Bicycle Co’s own 1 x 11 drivetrain, which gives you a 42 t front crank and 11-42 at the rear. With the 650b x 2.1″ tires, this results in a climbing gear of 27.19″, which is somewhat limited for a gravel bike. 

But this might be the smart choice for a bargain price of $899.99 if you plan to ride long, straight gravel roads. 

I struggled to find accurate information on this bike’s geometry. But some owners recommend this for a bikepacking bike. The long rear end helps it track straight and not feel twitchy. 

The 42-tooth crank at the front is too large, in my opinion. And I would change it out for a smaller one, say 36t, to get better climbing results. Other than that an excellent pickup for such a low price. 

Ghost Fire Road Rage

The ultimate do it all bike. Allowing you to get in a ton of kilometers on paved or gravel trails or venture down new paths, over rocks and roots, to discover the country.

Pack your gear and spend the night in the woods or race your mates. It’s all possible with the good-looking Ghost Fire Road Rage Road gravel bike.

Ibis Hakka MX GRX

We published an in-depth review of this bike if you want to read more.

The new Ibis Hakka MX is a serious contender in a wide range of cycling styles and landscapes. It’s built to handle technical terrain with ease, while still tackling smoother, high-speed roads with grace and stability.

You can run 700c tires up to 40mm wide, or even run 650b’s with up to a 2.1” tire.

The clean internal cable routing is built to accommodate a wide range of drivetrain systems, and will even suit a dropper post with no problem.

The drive-side chainstay has been lowered to increase chainring clearance and still keeps the rear end short for snappy handling

Bearclaw Thunderhawk

This is definitely a great option! Just look at this thing it is a weapon of a bike!

It is available in two models; the high-end Force 1 with Hydraulic Disc brakes and the Rival 1 with Mechanical Disc brakes.

Put in Bearclaw’s words the “Thunderhawk lends itself as a performance-minded 650b road plus bike that’s equipped to handle all road adventure rides, mixed-terrain endurance races, gravel grinders, and long bikepacking trips.”

You get all the rack, fender, and other mounting options you could dream of and the bike fits up to 700x50c (29×1.9″) or 650x60c (27.5×2.35″) tires.

Crust Bombora

This has to be one of the most hipster-looking monster cross bikes out there.

It is only available as a frameset from Crust Bikes. So many options to build it out into a ultimate supple 650B gravel machine, like the one pictured above!

Kona Sutra LTD

Last but not least is the Kona Sytra LTD, this is my personal gravel/touring bike of choice!

I have had experience riding this bike and it rolls like a dream on so really rough terrains. Such a supple bike, I really cannot get over how nice it rides!

The vision Sutra had for this bike was for them to design a drop bar bike that felt like a mountain bike and rode like a mountain bike but had the speed of a road bike.

And that is what they have accomplished! It is a great bike that merges between a mountain bike and a touring/gravel bike! 

About The Author



Codey Orgill, a seasoned bicycle adventurer, has been exploring the world on two wheels for over 10 years. Since embarking on his initial cycling journey, Codey Orgill has traversed numerous countries, experiencing a series of epic adventures.