Over the years we each have developed our own systems, refined them and have gradually found what works for us. With so many folks now wanting to get in on the game we are finding that things we take for granted aren't always obvious to someone who has bought some Revelate Designs gear for their first bikepacking trip (lucky buggers!).
Right then, first things first - bike packing humps your gear! And super fast if you don't think about what you are doing, especially if it’s wet and muddy. Gritty mud (I like some of our granite stuff) gets into the fabric and turns it into sandpaper that a chippy would be proud of (not the fish type). Every bump sands a bit more of that super duper pooper paint job you had specially applied by a paint pigmy. It also humps the fabric and the poor zips you force close when covered in the brown stuff. If you have sold the kid’s dog and your granny’s kidney to buy the dream rig that you polish lovingly after every ride, then you are going to be pretty gutted at the state of it after your first bikepacking trip. Think about getting an adventure bike as a bike that you don't mind giving a beating to. If you want to keep your bike mint then get some Tubus racks, Ortlieb panniers and go road touring in the Alps. And don't get me started on what I think of carbon. If you are happy to use your bikes as an adventure tool and look at loss of paint as a memento of happy trails, then read on.
Another thing we keep getting asked is how big the bags are in litres. What are you lot carrying in them? Ice cream will melt (some of the time) and if you fill them with beer it will leak out of the stitching holes and go flat. Though we can tell you how many bottles of beer you can get in the bags. Andy is doing extensive research on this.
There is plenty of room for your stuff in a Revelate Designs setup. If it doesn't fit, repack it making sure you don't leave space between stuff. Pack your frilly knickers in the gaps between round objects. Iona is doing extensive research on this. If it still doesn't fit - take less stuff, or get rid of that huge DofE sleeping bag and get one of our dinky Criterion sleeping bags and one of our funky Vango Force 10 helium carbon tents - remember: ' tarps for show, tents for a pro!'
That should get you thinking for a bit: I’ll do more specific tips on individual bags when I can summon the will to sit in front of the pc again.