This is likely the first of a number of Wheelmen posts for those planning on a campaign and what they need to get their shit (gear) together. There are no perfect solutions, so use this as a bit of a starter. For real advice ask other Crusty’s that have been before you.
The big question is what sort of bags do you want to invest in. I don’t have a preference, realistically I think it gets down to a few things: what you want to ride (single track, trail or road), how long you’re going for (an overnight or a lifetime), and finally your budget (cents or dollars).
The big noise for the last number of years is Bikepacking, which although cool, doesn’t really work for me. For one it’s more for gnarly’s, where I’m more of a crusty and prefer a trail to a single track mountain path. Secondly I tend to go longer than a weekend, so need a few more creature comforts. And finally anatomy, I have a neck issue so can’t ride with a backpack for long (ala bikepacking).
What I’ve gone for is a bit of a rack and pannier hybrid, light weight gear and small bags for a multi-week campaign. If you want to know more about my spec’ have a looksee at The gear. But this was built for my preferences after a load of research.
Use this table (below) as a bit of a (relative) guide and take a look at links for a little more inspiration. Beyond that lean on your Wheelmen network for recommendations.
Beyond planning for what you want to do, it may be useful to work backwards based on what you want to carry. So here is a list I’ve developed over time for a multi-week campaign.