Are you planning your very first bicycle trip and worried about leaving something behind? With an endless list of “what ifs” running through your head, it’s impossible to feel prepared. I’ve been there and know this feeling can delay a trip for months or even years. That’s why I’ve put together this bike touring packing list to help you out.
Here you’ll find a list of all the gear Antonio and I bring along on bike trips. I’ve included a few details about certain products and a link to make it super easy for you to tick off your bicycle touring checklist and hit the road.
Of course, what you end up bringing comes down to a few key factors like: where in the world you plan to cycle, the weather conditions you expect to face, and your gear budget.
You might want to go ultra light or the complete opposite and try to squeeze your whole house into panniers. Whatever route you take, it’s your trip so don’t just buy what others use. Packing for bicycle touring is a learning process so use this list as a guide to get you on your way.
1. BIKE AND ACCESSORIES
KOGA WORLD TRAVELER
Our bicycle of choice for touring is the Koga Miyata World Traveler. It’s robust, reliable and the frame is guaranteed for life. Koga’s aren’t cheap but if you invest in one of these beauties you won’t be disappointed. The signature series is fully customizable, so you dream it and Koga builds it.
TUBUS REAR & FRONT RACK
Tubus touring racks are made of high quality metals which means they’re built to carry heavy loads. The last thing you want while on tour is a broken rack! We’ve really put these through the test, carrying heavy gear on unpaved roads and have never had a problem with them. An added bonus is they fit most bikes without needing modification.
At first sight you might think this saddle is way too hard but leather provides a natural give by stretching and flexing so it will break in over time. One of those cushy saddles might seem like a good idea at first but once they wear down, you’ll be riding on hard plastic. Ouch!
BOTTLE CAGES (X3)
Being able to carry a lot of water is a must for tourers, especially if you’re planning a trip to a remote area. While carrying a Camelbak might be a good idea for short rides, having a sweaty back is super uncomfortable for long days on the bike. We use these simple metal bottle cages to carry at least 3 bottles to make sure we don’t run out of water.
You don’t need fancy high tech water bottles for touring. I use one of these bottles that has an auto seal system which is great getting a sip in while riding. You don’t have to suck or squeeze the bottle, just push the button and tilt it up.
HANDLE BAR MIRROR
One of the best safety tools you can have is a mirror. It allows to see how close cars are coming up behind you and decide if you should move off the road. We’ve used bigger mirrors with an adjustable arm before but shake from riding made them completely useless. This small mirror is adjustable and fits on most handle bars.
CATEYE VELO 7 BIKE COMPUTER
You can spend a lot of money on a bike computer but I prefer this simple model. It has a large screen and it’s one button design makes it easy to use and flip through screens. This computer gives you your current, max and average speed along with total distance.
ORTLIEB BACK-ROLLER CLASSIC PANNIERS
These durable, waterproof panniers sit on the rear rack of our bikes. Ortlieb is the go to brand for bicycle tourers because their panniers are excellent quality and easy to repair.
ORTLIEB FRONT-ROLLER CLASSIC
For short tours, you can probably get away with only two rear panniers but for longer ones add two small panniers to the front. We use these bags to store food, tools and cooking gear.
ORTLIEB ULTIMATE 6 HANDLEBAR BAG
This bag stores my camera, sunglasses, wallet, sunscreen and anything else I want to get to quickly. It clips on and off easily, which is great for when you want to run into the store.
KRYPTONITE BIKE LOCK
We use this simple chain lock for added security at night or when running into the super market. The key design is quicker than a combo lock, just make sure you don’t lose the keys!
TOPEAK MORPH BIKE PUMP
The Road Morph bike pump by Topeak is powerful and well built yet lightweight. One of the best features is the foldout footpad which stabilizes the pump against the ground, making it easier to pump.
SPARE TUBES (X2)
We carry at least two spare tubes for longer tours and one for shorter ones. We’ve had bad luck with Presta valves so now we stick to Schrader ones. They’re more durable and you can pump your tires at the gas station.
PATCH KIT & TIRE LEVERS
Being able to change and repair flat tires on the road is a must for bicycle tourists. We carry a few tire levers and a small patch kit. Make sure to check that your kit is well stocked before heading out.
TOPEAK HEXUS II BIKE MULTI TOOL
A multi-tool is one of those must bring items that can save you from being stranded on the side of the road. This Hexus II multi-tool by Topeak has everything you need for on the go repairs. It has 16 tools and is the perfect balance of selection, low weight and compact size.
If you plan to take your bike on a plane or bus to get to your cycling destination, you’ll need to put it in a box. To do this, make sure to pack a pedal wrench to take off and put on the pedals.
To prevent rust and make sure your bike runs smoothly, clean and lube the chain. This is most important after riding in the rain or through mud.
SHIMANO SPARE BRAKE PADS
If you’re planning a long bike tour be sure to bring some spare brake pads. While you might find them in local bike shops, they might not carry good quality ones and you’ll end up wearing them down fast.
OTHER TOOLS & SPARES
- Spare Nuts & Bolts
- Adjustable Wrench
- Spoke Wrench
- Spare Spokes
- Duct Tape
- Bungy Cords
3. CAMPING GEAR
MSR MUTHA HUBBA
Our tent of choice for bicycle touring is the MSR Mutha Hubba. It’s light, airy and freestanding (great for those improvised camping spots). We carry the 3-person version because it has plenty of room to store gear inside if the weather turns bad. Want some tips for buying the right tent for you? Check out our post about how to choose a tent for your next adventure.
ROBENS CAUCASUS 900
For cold weather camping we use a Robens Caucasus 900 sleeping bag. It’s very warm and comfortable. I’m a cold sleeper so I always bring this bag unless we plan a tour in the tropics. Check out our post about how to choose a sleeping bag for what to consider before buying yours.
ROBENS AIR IMPACT 3.8
When we first started touring, we roughed it with a foam mat. As headed into colder weather we decided to give this Robens air mat a try. It’s not the lightest option out there but I haven’t slept better while camping in my life. Want some tips for buying the right pad for you? Check out our post about how to choose a sleeping mat.
SLEEPING BAG LINER
A sleeping bag liner keeps your bag from getting dirty and adds a bit of warmth. It’s also handy for warm weather when it’s too hot for a sleeping bag.
We use a head torch to get around camp and read in the tent at night. This Black Diamond ReVolt is USB rechargeable so you don’t have to worry about changing the batteries. If you want a powerful model, check out these 12 brightest headlamps for camping trips.
FIRST AID KIT
We always carry a few first aid items like bandages, gauze and ointment. For remote tours we carry a more extensive kit and some medicines for headaches, stomach problems and muscle cramps.
MSR DRAGONFLY STOVE
We carry a MSR Dragonfly Stove. It has the most adjustable flame of any liquid fuel burning stove which allows for cooking more gourmet meals. It burns just about any kind of fuel, which is handy if you’re planning a remote tour.
STOVE REPAIR KIT
If you’re planning a remote tour, don’t leave without home without a stove repair kit. We’ve had the stove break on us in the middle of nowhere and without the spare tools it would have been impossible to fix.
Don’t forget to bring a way to light your stove. We usually carry a few of these mini BIC lighters.
PRIMUS LITECH POTS & PANS
These are our second set of pots & pans we’ve had for touring. The Primus LiTech cookware set has a non stick coating which is great for stir-frys. It’s also much lighter than our previous stainless steel set.
After breaking all of our high tech cutlery we don’t mind carrying a bit of extra weight to have “normal” utensils. This set is made of lightweight stainless steel making it great for traveling.
We bring an ordinary sponge and dish soap to wash up after meals. One of the most useful pieces of kit we have is this Gotoob squeeze bottle which has yet to leak after years of use. They’re also handy to store cooking oil.
If you plan on touring in a country that you can’t drink the tap water, bring along one of these UV light water purifiers. We’ve been using the SteriPEN Ultra for over a year now and find it much more eco and budget friendly than buying bottled water. You can read our review here. This water purifier is an excellent addition to your bicycle touring packing list.
GERBER FOLDING KNIFE
This simple blade is great for chopping veggies and everyday use. I prefer it over a multi tool because it’s much lighter and I never use all those little features anyway.
4. CLOTHING & PERSONAL ITEMS
ICEBREAKER MERINO WOOL T-SHIRT
Rather than a cycling jersy, I prefer to wear a normal t-shirt. For cooler temperatures I pack this Icebreaker merino wool shirt. Merino is light and dries quick.
SOMBRIO WINDY PASS II SHORTS
For warm weather cycling I use these Sombrio shorts. They’re comfortable and aren’t baggy like other mountain bike style shorts. They come with a detachable mesh liner which makes it easy to wash and it dries quick.
GIRO CYCLING GLOVES
Cycling gloves add some padding, help keep your hands clean and also protect you from the sun.
ARC’TERYX COVERT HOODY
This fleece hoody from Arc’teryx keeps me warm while walking around town. It’s the perfect weight for chilly days and breathable enough to wear while on a hiking side trip. If you’re planning a tour in a very cold part of the world, think about buying your fleece up a size to have room for extra layers.
ARC’TERYX BETA SL RAIN JACKET
A good rain jacket is one of the most important pieces of gear for any outdoor trip. It keeps you dry when it’s raining and is also great to protect you from the wind during a long decent. I use this Arc’teryx SL jacket, it was more than I was planning to spend but it has proved to be worth the investment. It’s very breathable so it rarely feels to hot when I wear it cycling. Find out how to go about picking the right one for you by reading our post about how to choose the best rain jacket.
PATAGONIA RAIN PANTS
If you’re going on a short tour, you might not need rain pants. However, I’ve found them a must for rainy & cold destinations so they’re worth packing if you plan to cycle in the winter. I use these Patagonia rain pants which pack small and are comfortable enough to cycle in.
MERRELL SIREN EDGE SHOES
Rather than using clips and wearing cycling shoes, I prefer to wear normal shoes. These Merrell hiking shoes are very light and comfortable. They also have a grippy Vibram sole which is great for short day hike side trips.
OTHER CLOTHES & PERSONAL ITEMS
- Casual Clothes
- Swim Suit
- Sunglasses & Case
- Spare batteries
- Toiletry bag
- Moisturizor / body lotion
- Wet Wipes
- Lip Balm
- Insect Repellent
- Tissues and/ or toilet paper
- Nail Clippers
- Zip Lock Plastic Bags
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Travel Towel
- Passport or ID
- Passport Wallet
- Small Combo Lock
- Journal & Pens
MACBOOK AIR 13″
The decision to bring a laptop on tour or not is up to you. I work online so it’s a must. It’s also nice to watch movies on a rainy day and check in with family and friends while on a longer tour.
I use a simple padded laptop case from Case Logic to protect my computer while on the road.
SONY A6000 MIRRORLESS CAMERA
The Sony a6000 is my camera of choice for traveling. It’s small and compact but takes high quality pictures. If it were to break tomorrow, I would buy it again. Check out our post about how to choose the best camera for travel.
For more of our top bicycle touring gear recommendations, check out these popular buyer's guides:
Interesting list and I see we have a few things in common! Although we packed a lot more ( http://www.bicycle-junkies.com/resources/packlist ). Soon we will start bike packing and this lightweight pack list will come in handy. Thanks for sharing and happy 2016!
Hey Bicycle Junkies…Happy New Year to you guys too 😀 We used to carry a lot of toys (an inflatable boat, a guitar and even a set of scuba kit each at one point!) but have since slimmed down the load. Thanks for sharing your list! I love all the pictures.
I think we packed a lot more than you, and slowly shed it as the months went by. It’s amazing how similar your list is to what we packed. Same panniers, same racks, same laptop – even the same folding knife!
One thing I’m really happy we went a different way on is the camp stove. I have always hated the fussiness of the MSR Whisperlight – I find that it’s either falling over, needing to be pumped, or breaking… instead we took the Trangia alcohol stove, which is just so much easier to use in all conditions. The only drawback is that it can be a little harder to find fuel depending on where you are in the world.
Our list was way longer in the beginning as well but when I created this list, I wanted it to be a resource for people just starting out and thought they could add their own creature comforts on top 🙂 We wasted a lot of time and money buying gear and there were a ton of things we ended up giving away. Isn’t it funny how so many tourers have nearly the same basic set up with Ortlieb panniers, brooks saddle…etc.
We just switched over to the Dragonfly after our Primus Omnifuel crapped out on us. It was tough to get the hang of using it but now we’re happy with how it runs. Once we get out of South America we might look into other options like the Trangia..I’ve also had my eye one a Jet Boil for a quick meal or cup of coffee.
Is there anything essential you would add to this list?
Hi Amanda, so ask the pictures you upload are shot with the Sony A6000?
Hi Daniele, yes, the pictures you see on this site are shot with the Sony A6000.
Great! Did you have a DSLR before to compare? I have a Canon 6D at the moment, but it would be nice to scale down bulk and weight a bit!
Yes, Antonio had a Canon 1000D but we started using the a6000 so much that he sent his camera home! The Sony’s are a great little camera, we love it. If we upgrade we’ll look at getting the a7. If you type into the search of this site: best camera for travel you’ll get to an article I wrote about it (along with some other models) Let me know if you have any questions before you buy 🙂
Hi Andrea! I’ve been following your blog and Instagram for a while, thanks for all the amazing info and pictures. I’m planning my first bike touring trip now, and this list was a great way to double check I haven’t forgotten anything important and am bringing approximately the right amount of stuff. Thanks again!
Hi Leslie, happy to hear you like the photos and find the info useful 🙂 How exciting you’re about to set off! Where are you headed?
A key question when bicycle touring is about accommodation and I and many others usually stay in B & B’s or small local hotels. This means I am not carrying the camping items (although I have on one ride) for a lighter ride. Also on my list I take a few maps, one of my cycling friends carried a GPS otherwise it is similar to yours.. I only carry 2 rear panniers (6 kg each) and one handlebar bag for a typical 3 week trip. The 2 most important things that determine what to pack are destination (i.e. Europe vs a remote destination) and accommodation (camp, B & B’s).