A bike packing list can be minimal or extensive. It should take into account days in the saddle, miles between stops, and possible combinations of weather. It should include items for the level of comfort you expect and all the tools needed to repair your bike. A bike packing list will also vary depending on what type of bike tour you’re planning. You can’t take everything but it’s a good idea to be as self-sufficient as possible on a bicycle tour.
Two Types of Touring
Some people plan to spend nights in the comfort of hotels or bed and breakfast, with actual beds. Other cyclists plan to sleep in a tent on the ground, and prepare their own food.
Light and Fast Bike Packing List
Basic items are all you need to travel light and fast. All you really need is a credit card. The major advantage of traveling with little or almost no gear, is that you can take your carbon-fiber, or otherwise lightweight road bike and rack up the miles fast. It’s not uncommon to travel 500 miles in a single week traveling light and fast. But there are a few items you need on your bike when traveling light and fast.
- Smaller, nylon bags designed to fit on your handlebars, under your top tube, or behind your saddle are great at holding the essentials on a light and fast tour.
- Credit cards and personal Identification
- Deodorant, soap and shampoo (in case your hotel doesn’t have it), toothbrush and toothpaste
- Warm, lightweight gloves, foldable rain gear and nylon shell or windbreaker
- Leg Warmers: These are good to keep you warm on cooler days without adding bulk
- Extra socks, shorts and jerseys (optional depending on your tour, and if you have room for them)
- Medical kit that includes your prescription meds, along with aspirin, antacids etc. Gauze and items to deal with minor accidents.
- Water-proof maps if not relying on a phone or gps
- TP (toilet paper) or tissues — you never know how much you might need it
On The Road Washing
Light and fast means you cant take much in the way of extra clothing. Small towns across the country often have facilities where you can wash your shorts, jerseys and bodies. Truck stops are good for this, they have showers. Hotels often have laundry facilities also. Utilize them. You can also wash your kit in the sink. To do this, simple body wash or bar soap works fine. Scrub and wring out as good as you can. Then lay out a towel and lay your kit on it minimizing overlap. Then roll it up from one end, like a pumpkin roll. and twist both ends in opposite directions as far as you can go. Then use coat hangers to hang in front of a window or fan ven
Self-Contained Touring Bike Packing List
Self-contained touring includes everything from the fast and light list, but you’ll need considerable more gear. Self-contained, self-sufficient bike touring is a different animal. You need to pack for every imaginable situation, plus all the gear needed to camp.
Start With Panniers
First of all, you’ll need panniers. These additions to your touring bike should be pretty much impervious to rain, snow or mud. The choices in sizes and types are varied, but your panniers should give you the piece of mind that your possessions will be be dry and clean for the duration of your tour. Along with everything you need for camping and day to day life, don’t forget the things you would need on a regular bike ride. Things like:
- Water Bottles or Hydration Pack (Camelbak )
- Lights: LED tail Light and headlight, detachable is nice in campsites
- Frame mount air Pump. Don’t skimp on pumps, get a beefy one that won’t let you down
- Patch kit and tire Levers
- At least two spare tubes
- Presta to Schrader valve adapter. You might not appreciate these until you really need them
- Bicycle multi tool
- Spoke wrench
Depending on how serious your tour is or how much room you have, you can include spare parts to repair your bike on the road. Things that might come in handy include:
- Extra spokes and cables
- Electrical tape
- Chain lube
- Brake pads
- Spare tire
- Spare nuts and bolts
- Chain tool and master links
The bike pacing list for camping gear can be extensive and you should know what works or what you prefer to prepare for your type of touring. Try to get stuff that will stuff into a stuff sack. Here are a few things you will probably need to camp.
- Tent, including all the stuff needed to set it up.
- Poly Ground Sheet — this might double as a rain protector on the road.
- Air Mattress/Sleeping pad
- Air Pillow-optional. You can use clothes in stuff sack as a pillow.
- Lightweight Backpacking Stove
- Fuel Bottle
- Cook pot set
- Utensils: Spork, or spoon, fork and knife set
- Other options for weather-related issues might include plastic tarps and bungee cords.
Off-Bike Clothes and Foul Weather Gear
You may be doing extended stays at campsites or towns. The choices of off-bike clothing are up to you, but you can’t really walk around all the time in your cycling gear. Foul weather gear should include rain jackets and pants, long-sleeved jerseys and thin layer underwear. Again, it depends on your tour, time of year, and climate.
Additions For Her
It’s widely accepted that females aren’t comfortable with a level of cleanliness that most guys adhere to. Guys are more likely to leave certain items out of a bike packing list that may make a tour more comfortable for women. But most items are unisex, and there’s really no reason for guys not to use at least some of them. If you’ve ever traveled by bike with a woman, you’ll recognize some of the items.
- Tank tops and T-shirts: Don’t get anything skin tight, you’ll appreciate the ventilation when it gets hot. Some women prefer cotton, while others hate it. It’s your choice.
- Flip flops or Crocs: Good to have so you can get out of your shoes and wear in showers at campgrounds, laundry rooms, etc.
- Personal hygiene ( not sure if this one even needs mentioned)
- Hand wipes: Again unisex maybe, but women are typically cleaner than guys
- Hand Sanitizer: Again, should be a must in any tour
- Skin lotion: Women just appreciate it more than guys
- Insect Repellent: This one is also unisex, but guys typically forget it
- Extra sports bras and underwear.
A Typical Day
The bike packing list for a bike tour is somewhat personal. Only you know for sure what you need for your individual taste and style. It helps to visualize a typical day on the road and add things to your own list. Start planning and packing ahead of time so you aren’t rushing around last minute; that’s when you forget something essential. A bike tour is super rewarding and allows you to see so much more from a differing perspective. Get out there and have fun.