Published: May 18th 2024

Cycle touring is more than a mode of travel—it’s a lifestyle, a journey of self-discovery, and a celebration of the world around us. While traditional road touring has its charm, mixed terrain cycle touring—an adventurous blend of roads, gravel paths, single tracks, and everything in between—offers a unique way to experience the world. Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist looking for a new challenge or a novice eager to explore beyond the tarmac, this guide will help you embrace the thrill of mixed terrain cycle touring.

What is Mixed Terrain Cycle Touring?

Mixed terrain cycle touring, often referred to as “bikepacking” or “gravel touring,” involves travelling on various types of surfaces. Unlike traditional touring, which usually sticks to paved roads, mixed terrain touring takes you onto gravel paths, forest trails, mountain tracks, and even through fields and rivers. This diversity in routes provides a richer, more immersive experience of the landscape.

Why Choose Mixed Terrain?

1. Adventure and Exploration: Mixed terrain touring is perfect for adventurers at heart. The varied landscapes and unpredictable paths offer an exciting, ever-changing journey that keeps you engaged and intrigued.

2. Connection with Nature: By venturing off-road, you immerse yourself in nature. The peace of remote trails, the beauty of untouched landscapes, and the sounds of wildlife create a deep connection with the natural world.

3. Flexibility and Freedom: Mixed terrain touring allows for greater flexibility in route planning. You can weave through a combination of roads, trails, and paths, tailoring your journey to your preferences and the conditions you encounter.

4. Challenge and Fitness: The diverse terrain poses physical and mental challenges that can enhance your fitness and cycling skills. It’s a great way to push your limits and achieve a sense of accomplishment.

Essential Gear for Mixed Terrain Cycle Touring

To fully enjoy the mixed terrain experience, having the right gear is crucial:

 1. The Bike

– Gravel Bike: Designed for mixed terrain, gravel bikes are versatile and comfortable. They feature wider tires, a sturdy frame, and stable geometry.

– Mountain Bike: Suitable for more rugged trails and technical descents, mountain bikes offer excellent control and durability.

– Touring Bike with Modifications: If you already own a touring bike, consider modifying it with wider tires and stronger wheels for off-road capability.

 2. Tyres

– Wide, Knobby Tires: These provide better grip and stability on loose surfaces.

– Tubeless Setup: Reduces the risk of flats and allows for lower tire pressures, improving comfort and traction.

 3. Navigation Tools

– GPS Device: Essential for navigating remote areas where traditional maps might not suffice.

– Maps and Compass: Reliable backups in case of technology failure.

 4. Camping Gear

– Lightweight Tent or Bivvy: Choose based on your preference for comfort versus minimalism.

– Sleeping Bag and Pad: Ensure they’re suitable for the temperatures you’ll encounter.

– Cooking Equipment: A compact stove, lightweight cookware, and a reliable food supply are vital.

 5. Clothing

– Layering System: Versatile layers allow you to adjust to changing weather conditions.

– Waterproof Gear: Essential for protection against rain and mud.

 Planning Your Route

 1. Research and Preparation

– Study Maps and Trails: Look for mixed terrain routes that match your skill level and interests.

– Local Advice: Seek recommendations from local cyclists or online forums.

 2. Flexibility

– Prepare for Detours: Mixed terrain touring often involves unexpected challenges. Be ready to adapt your route as needed.

– Check Weather Conditions: Weather can significantly impact off-road trails. Plan accordingly.

 3. Safety First

– Inform Others: Let someone know your planned route and expected return.

– Carry a First Aid Kit: Be prepared for minor injuries or issues.

Embracing the Journey

Mixed terrain cycle touring is as much about the journey as the destination. Embrace the unpredictability, the physical challenges, and the solitude of remote trails. Take time to appreciate the landscapes, the local cultures, and the small moments of joy that come from a hard day’s ride and a night under the stars.

Stories from the Trail

Share your experiences and learn from others. The mixed terrain touring community is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration. Join forums, attend events, and connect with fellow adventurers.


Mixed terrain cycle touring opens up a world of adventure and discovery. It challenges you physically and mentally, rewards you with breathtaking scenery, and offers a deep connection with the environment. Whether you’re crossing mountain ranges, exploring forest trails, or navigating remote gravel paths, every ride is a story waiting to be told. So gear up, map out your route, and let the adventure begin.