Bike Touring Gear List
Bike Touring Gear List
Is there anyone who doesn’t have a packing list for their holiday? And is there anyone who, despite that list, hasn’t, at some point, realized they didn’t pack an essential item, or come home to unpack clothes they never wore. But when you have to carry everything on your bike touring gear list, it’s important to make sure you get that list right.
Of course, these lists can be more of an art than a science. It’s impossible to know if that tool kit will prove essential when you are repairing your bike miles from civilization, or a deadweight that you felt with every painful turn of the smooth and reliable pedals. So, this is not an exhaustive or comprehensive list, but instead a guide to help you frame your packing list.
The basic groups
Taking a suitable, and well-maintained bike as an essential we don’t need to add to the list, the rest of your packing can be categorized (if only for the sake of alliteration!) into five Cs: Clothes, Cooking, Camping, Care, and Carrying.
While what you take in each category will vary, if you make sure each is covered you can, at least, be confident that your bike touring gear list will have the minimum needed for a successful trip.
It is, of course, impossible to plan for every eventuality. Freak weather happens. But be guided by the forecast and general conditions for where you are going.
If the prevalent weather is warm and dry, pack accordingly, there’s no point in taking wet weather gear. Also think about the slight variations. This isn’t the equivalent of taking that wooly pullover to a tropical island, but think about your tolerances if the weather is a bit different. Would you mind riding in a light rain shower, or do you need something if it’s a little chillier?
Generally, you will not have access to laundry, so make sure you have enough spare clothing for the whole trip. And choose materials that dry quickly, so you can at least rinse them and leave them to dry as you camp.
If you are not careful, your cooking equipment can quickly add weight, so choose wisely. Do you really need that portable espresso maker? (No criticism from us if the answer is yes!)
Think about what sort of diet you are happy with, although you might think that cold food is enough, most people find that including a portable stove on their bike touring gear list, so they can have a hot dinner or breakfast, is well worth it. But also think about how you can make your items multitask. You can eat anything out of a bowl, and a spork takes less space and weight than a cutlery set.
You will, of course, need somewhere to sleep. Modern tents are quick to put up and take down, and use lightweight materials, but you will also need to think about size. As anyone who has camped knows, realistically you can usually subtract at least one from the number of people the manufacturer claims the tent sleeps!
If you are choosing a tent, you should also think about what you want to keep in it. Will it just be you sleeping in there, or will you want to bring your kit in overnight too?
Most people will also consider a mattress of some type, either foam or inflatable, as essential. This will not just give you a more comfortable night’s sleep, they also help to insulate you from the ground, helping to keep you warmer as temperatures fall.
This was something of a cheat in that list of five Cs for your bike touring gear list. Use it to think additional comforts, as well caring for you and your gear.
The most obvious is a first aid kit. While the basic contents of this are predictable, things like plasters and bandages, you should also think if you need anything location specific, such as repellents, or any medications for any dangers you might face. The first aid kit won’t replace professional attention, but can make a big different in outcomes.
You should also think about the things you need to make sure you stay safe. A bike GPS, for example, might be essential if you are in an unfamiliar area. While a smartphone can serve many purposes, with perhaps the most important being to call for help in an emergency.
And think about the things you must have to look after everything else. You should have a basic toolkit or multitool in case your bike requires repair, as well as patches and a spare inner tube for your bike. And if your route takes you a long way from towns and habitation, you might want to think about upping the level of tools and spares you take.
You’re also likely to have to think about how you power your devices, since they might be the most important things in your kit. Investing in something like a PedalCell means that you can convert some of the energy from cycling into power. The device is highly efficient, generating enough power to deliver a steady supply through its capacitors to a USB hub charges several devices at once. As well as keeping all your batteries topped up, it provides peace of mind that everything will be charged when you need it.
Finally, you need to be able to carry everything on your bike touring gear list. Invest in high-quality panniers, for both front and back, if required. As well as ensuring you have enough space, make sure they are also waterproof; you don’t want anything thing to get wet, and you certainly don’t want to have to carry the weight of damp clothes around.
And, once you have everything, test it out. Load up your panniers to practice cycling fully loaded, as well as how easily you can find and access everything.
Preparation is not just about lists, but also thinking about the practicalities. So spending time thinking about the situations you will face, good and bad, will help you prepare and develop a list that makes sure you carry exactly what you need, and no more.