Updated on February 6, 2020

I love traveling on my bicycle. While I really enjoyed my years of backpacking, I just couldn’t go back to that way of traveling anymore. I’m starting to like simple things, the small pleasures of life.

These days I am way more satisfied when I do more with less, when I count new memories and friends rather than new places. Material objects doesn’t interest me anymore. How I feel and what I experience is what keeps me motivated to travel rather than what I see or where I’ve been.

You can cycle around the world with pretty much any sort of equipment. This is our gear list. But your mindset will determine how far you make it much sooner than the gear you use. I’ve seen people cycling around the world with 300 dollar bikes, cooking on home-made can stoves or camping every single night for months or even years. It’s possible. You only have to be mentally prepared for it.

However, there are still some material possessions I think I couldn’t go bicycle touring without. For me, these are my essentials I simply can’t cycle without.


1. A HAT

I hardly wear my sunglasses but I can’t go anywhere without a hat. It protects my head from the sun which is essential when cycling long hours on sunny days. I’ve used different kinds but my favourite is a soft fiber one that a friend gave to me while cycling in Mexico. It’s water repellent (so it doesn’t get soaked in light rain), I can fold it so it fits on the handlebar bag and it has an attached string so it doesn’t fly again when it’s windy. Being made on a synthetic material, you can wash it easily when it gets too smelly. A perfect companion for any cyclist.



In very few places in the world drivers respect cyclists as they should. For that reason, I consider having a mirror indispensable. In my opinion, it’s even more important than wearing a helmet. There are many different models out there to suit your preferences. Whether it is mounted on the handlebar, helmet or even sunglasses, make sure you get yourself one.



I bet every cyclist will agree on this one. A good saddle means good riding. An uncomfortable one could easily ruin your bicycle trip. My personal choice is the Brooks B17. It can be hard at the beginning but once the saddle has formed to your shape you won’t want anything different. I even ride without padding shorts!



No matter how well you plan the seasons of the area you will be visiting, I can assure you will still get caught in the rain several times. I personally love cycling under the rain. It’s cool and refreshing, especially in the tropics. But if all your gear also gets wet, then it’s not fun. Most of the cyclists I’ve met use Ortlieb panniers and so do I. They are affordable, durable and perform really well.



For more of our top bicycle touring gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides:

Touring Bikes

Bike Handlebar Bags

Touring Tires

Panniers for Touring

Touring Saddles

Fat Bikes

12 Responses

  1. Darren Alff

    I think I could narrow my bicycle touring essentials list down to just two items if I really had to. 1) a good bicycle… and 2) my camera. If I had to list additional items, I think a good hat would be up there on the list… as well as waterproof panniers, as you mentioned.

    • Antonio Cala

      Great tips, specially coming from a bicycle touring legend like you, Darren.
      Would you choose a good bike and not bringing your camera or an average bike with your camera?

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Peter Signorini

    The item “bicycle” always includes a mirror, so it is not something I choose to take or not. The camera is a must-take, as for me, it functions as my visual diary.

    • Antonio Cala

      I agree. My bicycle always includes a mirror. Do you prefer it mounted in your handlebar rather than in your sunglasses or helmet?

  3. Mike Kruger

    I’d put a helmet on the list. But when off the bike, a good hat is a must (and if you don’t get off the bike and hike around a bit, you are missing a lot).

    And don’t get a helmet / eyeglass mirror made of plastic unless you enjoy buying mirrors. Buy a metal one.

    • Antonio Cala

      Hi Mike,
      I always use mirrors mounted on the handlebars and I like the ones made of plastic because it’s harder to break them.
      But I have no experience with those mounted on sunglasses/helmet. Aren’t too heavy the metal ones to have them attached in there?

  4. Tim Todd

    Photography is my Yoga so it would be difficult to leave my Fujifilm X-T1 behind or put it at the top of my list, however, there are many experiences I wish to leave imprinted in my mind and not technology. The visions in my head are worth much more to me than a photograph in my hands. A picture only records where we’ve been and what we’ve seen and can only trigger how we feel and what we experience. An experience without the trigger aid of a photograph has much more meaning in my mind. That being said, I doubt anyone has ever seen me without a camera since 1978.

    What I notice I can’t do without based on this articles criteria are waterproof panniers, navigational items (detailed map, compass, etc.), Tools (I’m a retired bike shop owner/technician), My cozy clothes, and my wife (she balances every moment on the road into a fulfilled adventure).

    • Antonio Cala

      I also find it hard going without the camera. I really appreciate going back to the pictures once the adventure is over and remember the best moments. But said that, I also try to enjoy in first person, and not always through a lens, every moment.