Packing for a touring trip can be a daunting experience- especially for those unaccustomed to packing light for multi-day expeditions. That shouldn’t stop you from experiencing the excitement and adventure of cycle-touring. This guide will teach you how to pack your bags for multiple days on the road- all the equipment, clothing, and supplies.
First though, some questions to ask yourself about your touring goals:
Are you on or offroad?
If your tour takes you offroad, consider packing with Topeak’s Bikepacking line of bags. These bags do not require racks to use, and are more compact and stable, making riding easier in rough terrain. They don’t run the same damage risks when riding offroad for extended periods of time, and can be fitted to standard mountain bikes.
If your tour is primarily on-road, standard rack-and-pannier set-ups will allow you to carry your gear lower on the bike (lowering your center of gravity) and pack more overall. Using a pannier rack limits your bikes off-road capability, but provides a solid place to attach high-volume bags.
Are you camping and cooking?
If you’re touring from hotel to hotel, you can pack considerably lighter. ‘Credit card touring’ is a great option for first timers who want to enjoy the journey unencumbered by weighty bags.
For those choosing to camp and cook for themselves, preparing for all possible weather conditions is key.
A sample packing list:
The Important Stuff
A bike, like a Norco Search XR, is ideal for all touring conditions!
A helmet, like iXS’ Trail RS evo, will keep you comfortable and safe for the long-haul.
A backpack, Like Ergon’s BA3, can be a great way to carry tools, small items, and water close at hand.
A seat bag, like Axiom’s Granfondo H2O is a sneaky way to get a bit more storage space. Consider this a great place to pack your tools (see below).
A handlebar bag can carry your camera, and gives you a place for maps, allowing you to follow your route as you go.
On those racks, you will carry the bulk of your provisions. Axiom Cycling Gear make bags in sizes from 25 to 55 litres, offering a huge range of options to pack as little or as much as you want. Keep in mind that you want to limit your total gear weight to under 50 pounds if possible. Keep the load balanced between both sides of the bike, and keeping heavier items on the front panniers will increase stability.
Accessories for your bike
Bring a good headlight/taillight. If you want a battery operated option, the Topeak Highlight Beamer Combo will provide the light you need to keep you safe, and runs on AA batteries found pretty much everywhere. If you have recharging options, a light like Serfas’ E-Lume 650 is much brighter, and can be recharged using a USB connection or standard A/C plug.
Good fenders are a must. There’s nothing worse than riding with a wet butt- now imagine doing that for hours, as you ride to your next planned stop. Axiom Rainrunner fenders will prevent that.
A solid bike lock will give you peace of mind.
A bike computer like Wahoo’s Elemnt is your best bet if you’re worried about getting lost, or if you just don’t want to be limited by your route. With access to more satellites than most other bike computers, you’ll have GPS signal even in super remote areas.
Water storage! Water bottles are an absolute must!
Tools! Make sure that you have a means of inflating your tires (a small pump/CO2 inflator is a great bet!), spare tubes and tires, a full multitool, and cable-ties or nylon straps. Some extra nuts and bolts are a good idea as well, as well as a short length of chain and two quick-links. Bringing spare spokes is also recommended, though roadside spoke replacements can be very complicated. Other roadside repairs, such as shifting adjustments are much simpler.
A small tent, bedroll or sleeping pad, and a good sleeping bag are important if you’re planning to camp along your route. Consult your nearest camping store to find items that are light and packable as possible!
A good baselayer, made of a wicking and breathable fabric, will keep you comfortable and help in temperature regulation.
Padded shorts. More than one pair. The exact number is up to you, and will be based on the length of your tour.
Gloves! Consider half-finger options if you’re planning for a warm-weather tour, but remember than mornings and evenings get cold wherever you’re travelling! For more glove choice info, check out this article.
A waterproof jacket. This is possibly the most important garment, and one where you should plan to invest the most money. A good jacket, like Endura’s MT500 will keep you dry and warm, without making you overheat on warmer days.
A lightweight windbreaker. A good backup jacket, and one that is easier to access (can fit in your handlebar bag) for sunny days when a long descent cools you off.
There are a long list of personal items which we prefer to bring when camping, hiking, or travelling. Since everyone’s needs vary so much, we will leave this section up to you. We hope this article can help you in planning your next adventure by bike. There are so many resources out there to make planning and executing your next cycle touring adventure easier. Don’t forget to check in with your local LTP Sports dealer, and check out www.adventurecycling.org for more touring advice!