Not long ago, I used to hop on my bike and have the same thought: I need a change. One day I would complain about the excessive weight of my bikepacking bags, and the following day I would lament the inconvenience of accessing my gear. This frustration weighed on me, as I was in the process of planning a major ride: a journey aimed to unite the two major jungles of the Americas, from the Maya Jungle to the Amazon, cycling through lush landscapes to emphasize the importance of nature conservation. Starting in Mexico, our mission was to raise awareness about preserving these unique ecosystems. I really needed a bikepacking setup that was going to work.
After doing some research, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bag maker based in Latin America—Choike Bags. As Israel (the creator behind Choike) and I connected through social media, I was impressed by his responsiveness and genuine willingness to answer my questions; and when I shared our trip with him, he was eager to join us. His approachability and support made it clear that Choike was more than just a brand: it was a community built on passion and shared values. Since then, my life has undergone a transformation with a completely new bikepacking setup where everything is exactly where it should be.
Early on, I expected Israel to discuss the bike bags I needed—down to every detail. Instead, he started telling me about the ñandú. "It's a Patagonian bird similar to an ostrich," Israel says, "but smaller. It roams freely across the southern plains. The word 'Choike' refers to its native name. The desire to move freely and feel connected to our natural surroundings is what inspires us."
I continued asking questions, wanted to learn more. Our conversations revolved around people: "We [at Choike] feel that the idea goes beyond ourselves," Israel expressed. "It encompasses a community of individuals who, like us, have a deep passion for traveling on bicycles. It is these people who give life to this concept, and we firmly believe in them and their dreams." With that final statement, everything fell into place.
As I researched what bags would be best for my journey, thousands of results appeared. It was overwhelming. I asked Israel about his dream bag and if he had already managed to create it. "When we started, one of our first challenges was to create a seat bag stable enough that you wouldn't feel its movement even during a descent on a mountain trail. When we managed to achieve this goal, we set ourselves new ones, like making the bag completely waterproof or minimizing the weight to enhance the performance of ultra-cyclists. Our challenges have always been ambitious, but we gradually accomplished them through effort and perseverance."
I learned about the constant innovation that Israel strives for, despite the challenge of manufacturing from a country far from the northern hemisphere, where most adventure products seem to be made. Like a bikepacking journey, his work becomes an endeavor: in the name of technical craftsmanship, he has made the most of the available resources, and each design optimizes the use of materials.
As we make our way through the beauty of South America, Israel tells us that his country's mountains are not for everyone. "Chile is a country located in rugged and isolated territory. We have the Andes mountain range with enormous mountains, the Pacific Ocean, vast deserts, rainforests, fjords, the plains of Patagonia... in short, we have a very diverse landscape that is wonderful to explore and discover, but technically very challenging. The rigors of nature are felt in many different ways, and the equipment one carries must meet the requirements imposed by our nature."
Israel has no doubt that Chile's geography is closely related to the performance of their products. "The most beautiful trails to ride are made of dirt and rocks, which forces us to make equipment that is lighter, stable, and highly resistant to vibrations." For my part, I have already witnessed the qualities he speaks of—and they have been thoroughly tested on the paths I have traveled. "The desert requires us to use durable materials resistant to abrasion and sunlight. And Patagonia, where wind and rain reign, challenges us to make bags that are also waterproof and aerodynamic enough to pedal against strong winds."
After a year of riding, my frustrating setup had taught me to travel with patience: after all, some people travel by bike with plastic buckets tied to the frame. But when I met other travelers with organized and balanced setups, I saw how much easier things could be. In Columbia, a region much more mountainous than Central America, I decided to change the way I interacted with my bike.
In Choike, I found what I was looking for, a creator committed to the needs of an adventure cyclist. Each idea that the Choike team has is brought to life using technical, lightweight, and durable materials. Likewise, all the bags are tested by Israel or another cyclist from the community on the best gravel and mountain bike trails in the Andes. Being a Latin brand at the forefront of bikepacking bags is one of the many reasons that has made Choike a source of pride among bikepackers in this part of the world.
My full Choike setup includes handlebar bags, front fork bags, rear panniers, a custom frame bag and a seat bag. Incorporating this new setup into my journey through Latin America has been a turning point. The products Israel sent me are as alive as I am on the bike. Communication with Choike is constant, and if I believe something can be improved, I have no problem suggesting changes for them to consider. This relationship is a quality that very few brands have, and something we should all value.
After much bike-bag talk, Israel and I started discussing more about our trip. A year ago, my partner and I set off from Mexico to reach the Amazon: fueled by awe-inspiring nature we made the journey in hopes of spreading a broader message of respect and love for the environment. After successfully reaching the Amazon, we have decided to continue our cycling expedition by descending through the Andes mountain range. It's a challenge that requires a different approach, and thanks to the work of Choike, it's becoming more manageable.
With many kilometers to go, I ask Israel for route recommendations. Without hesitation, he encourages me to stay away from major roads: "The fun lies in the alternative paths and small trails….The altiplano routes in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile are majestic and exceptionally beautiful, with their vast salt flats and towering mountains reaching over six thousand meters." Further south, the geography becomes rugged, and many cyclists choose to continue through the Carretera Austral. As a Chilean, Israel ensures that "traveling south through the southern Andes and Patagonia on a network of roads that winds through the mountains between Chile and Argentina, you can reach Tierra del Fuego."
Choike is part of the journey I'm undertaking. And as a cyclist, I love being a part of a bikepacking bags brand. "We love seeing people share their travel experiences with us. We feel like we're traveling with you when we see our creations—which carry our time, work, and affection—reaching such beautiful and remote places. And although they are physical objects, they have facilitated the development of the experience of so many trips, and that is something very spiritual. The connection we feel fills us with satisfaction and drives us to give our best every day." Although I haven't known Israel for long, he has always supported and congratulated us. He has even expressed words of affection and encouragement.
Thank you, Israel, for your work and for encouraging so many people to keep going.