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Bikepacking conundrum - seeking advice

Hello all,

I am going to be bikepacking the Colorado trail in late June.  I have most of my bags and gear sorted out but there are a couple of things that I could use some advice on.  I have backpacked extensively and I am an avid mountain biker so what better than merge two of my passions?

I plan on doing a couple of shake down trips in Michigan where I live prior to the trip.  

Knowing that there will be a lot of 'hike a bike' sections I am torn by what pedal/ shoe combination to use.  Al ittle history I was one of the early adopters of clip in pedal in the mid 90's and have not looked back since.  In fact I cannot imagine mountain biking while not clipped in.

From my research it seems that I have 2 options.  Find the softest flexing SPD compatible shoes and stay clipless or go with a comfortable hiking shoe and flats.  It seems like either way will be great in some parts and not so great in other parts.  I am looking for folks with real experience to guide me to the right choice.  (the people I am going with are not much help as a couple are going clipless and a couple are using flats and both sides argue passionately about their choice be right)

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12 Replies

Edit: Mt. "Zefal" not Zepal!


Good topic, I would stay ‘clipped’ in personally. I think (and it’s just my opinion) that it helps on long rides day after day to keep legs, knees and ankles in the right place. A 75 mile ride with your foot to the side of a flat pedal could spell disaster for the next morning, and rest of trip

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Hey there, just throwing my experience in the mix. I did a bikepacking trip on Mount St. Helens last year which included plenty of hike a bike sections. I have deity flat aluminum pedals and shimano flat bottom shoes, sorry don't remember the model, and I am very glad I didn't go with SPDs. on the steep sections, if you try to rush it and then bail, clipless would be difficult IMO. If my shoes had tread better suited for hiking the dirt inclines, that would've been perfecto. If you're used to riding MTB clipless, might not be a big deal for you but as far as pushing your bike up real steep sections, you'll want some tread on those shoes so you don't slip. 

Happy Trails my friends.