Here it is! My 2016 bike tour packing list – complete with every single item I chose to carry with me on my cycling adventures this year in Portugal, Spain, France, Andorra, Norway and Sweden.
Feel free to use this packing list as a guideline for your own bicycle touring adventures… or see my book, “The Bicycle Touring Blueprint” for more information on what to pack, how heavy your bicycle should be, what type of bicycle and gear you should be using, how to get yourself and your bicycle/gear to the start of your bike tour, what to expect once you hit the road, how to find free and cheap places to stay each night, and a whole lot more.
After you’ve taken a look at the detailed bike tour packing list below, be sure to watch the video at the end of this article. The video will give you an opportunity to see all of my bicycle touring gear for yourself, see how much it all weighs, and see how I pack my bike/gear for air travel.
Finally, the video comes with an important warning that you should not pack like I am packing here. I am carrying far more electronics than the average bicycle tourist needs to carry – because I need those electronics to do my work here on the Internet as the Bicycle Touring Pro. You, however, should pack much lighter. So, use this packing list as a loose guideline for your own bicycle touring adventures, but certainly not as something that should be emulated exactly.
The Co-Motion Pangea is the same touring bicycle I’ve been riding since 2012. I’ve ridden this bike across more than 40 different countries all around the world and it’s the bike I chose to use yet again on my cycling adventures this year in Europe.
I ride with a pair of SPD shoes, which require a special set of SPD pedals. These pedals give me more power on the up and down-stroke as I ride.
This was my first time using this particular bike rack and it worked out well. The Axiom DLX Streamliner has a narrower profile than other rear bike racks, which reduces the space at the top of the rack for carrying gear, but otherwise it’s a good, inexpensive bike rack.
I’ve been using this same front bike rack on my bicycle touring expeditions all around the world for the last 12+ years. The Arkel AC Lowrider is a very good front bike rack that I would highly recommend.
There’s nothing fancy about my fenders. They are cheap plastic 26 inch fenders produced by Planet Bike.
I’ve got three of these water bottle cages mounted to the frame of my touring bicycle.
It’s pretty difficult to find a bicycle water bottle that isn’t plastered with logos, but I managed to find a few clear plastic water bottles that work well for my cycling adventures.
The Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus panniers are my favorite bicycle touring bags. They’re large enough to carry all my gear, completely waterproof, and good looking. The pannier is shown here with a shoulder strap, but I don’t pack or carry that strap with me when I’m touring.
Ortlieb Sport-Packer Plus panniers are perfect, waterproof bicycle touring panniers. Once again, the product is shown here with the included shoulder strap, but I do not pack or carry this strap while I am on the road.
I can’t imagine bicycle touring without my Ortlieb Ultimate6 Handlebar Bag, which I use to carry my wallet, cameras, and various bicycle tools.
I’ve been using this Knog Blinder Circle USB bike light for several years now and it continues to function well for my travels by bike. I rarely use it on the bicycle (mostly just for cycling through tunnels), but I do use it quite often as a light for the inside of my tent in the evenings.
This was my first time using the Blackburn Central 50 rear bicycle light and itt worked well for me. The battery lasts quite a while and I never had any other problems with the light during my travels.
The Blackburn Atom SL 4.0 bicycle computer was a new addition to my packing list this year. The battery on the sensor died after just one month on the road, but that was easily replaced and the computer as a whole has been working flawlessly ever since.
I use this short bungee cord to carry my tripod (and other miscellaneous items I might pick up along the way) on the top of my rear bicycle rack.
The Lezyne Sport Drive HV hand pump is an inexpensive bicycle pump, but it has worked flawlessly for my travels in Europe this year. It’s compact, lightweight and easy to use.
I bought myself a new multi-tool this year after my old one had become worn. The Origin 8 wooden multi-tool is a little on the heavy side, but it has all the Allen wrenches, screwdrivers, and such that I need.
This is the same small (but not very light) pedal/S&S coupler wrench that I’ve been carrying with me for the last five years. I use the wrench to install and remove my pedals, as well as to tighten and loosen the S&S couplers that allow me to split my bicycle in half. See my review of the Co-Motion Co-Pilot travel case for more information on how this works.
My fenders have a small 10 mm nut that is used to hold the fenders in place over the tires. Therefore, I have to carry this small wrench with me in the event that these nuts should ever come loose or need adjustment.
Rack, fender and water bottle screws are notorious for wiggling loose during the long days of cycling on a bicycle tour. That’s why I always carry at least two or three extra rack screws with me – just in case.
In the event of a flat tire, I always have at least one spare bike tube on me at all times.
The Big Agnes Copper Spur UL is a small, lightweight tent that feels pretty big inside once you set it up. I bought this tent because of how small and light it is and it’s turned out to be my favorite bicycle touring tent ever. Highly recommended!
I’ve used dozens of different sleeping pads and mats over the years, but the Vaude Sove is, by far, the best sleeping pad I’ve ever used. It’s perfect for summer bike touring, but not ideal for winter cycling expeditions.
This small, lightweight sleeping bag is ideal for a summertime bicycle touring expedition. The Marmot Always Summer sleeping bag is insulated with down, so even in the cooler nights of spring and summer, this sleeping bag will likely keep you warm.
This small folding knife is carried in my handlebar bag and can be accessed quickly if need be. But the main purpose for this knife is for food preparation.
A lightweight titanium spork is the only kitchen utensil I’m carrying on my bike tours these days (unless you count my folding knife, of course).
I’ve been using the Giro Xen bike helmet for years and years now. I’ve never actually had to use it (thank goodness), but it fits well and I like the large sun visor in the front, which helps to keep the sun out of my eyes as I ride.
I carried two different short-sleeved Fox mountain bike jerseys with me on my bike tour this year – in addition to a single long-sleeved jersey from the same company.
I bought this long-sleeved cycling jersey from Fox, thinking that I would rarely, if ever, wear it, but it turned out to be my favorite cycling jersey that I wore this year. The jersey is light enough that I could wear it even in hot weather, and because it is long-sleeved, it helped to keep the sun from burning my arms.
I don’t ride in a pair of special bicycle shorts. I just cycle in a pair of black Volcolm shorts – like the kind you might find at your local surf/skate shop.
The REI Rhyolite rain jacket is stylish and super compact. It’s very lightweight and can be squeezed into any empty spaces you might have inside your panniers, but it isn’t very warm, so it needs to be used in conjunction with a much warmer, insulating jacket.
This black fleece jacket from Patagonia has been my go-to jacket for more than five years now. Not only does it keep me warm in cool weather (both on and off the bike), but after five years of heavy use, it still looks nearly brand new.
I’ve got a basic set of North Face rain pants. I rarely cycle in these pants actually, and use them more at night to sleep in than for any other purpose.
The Giro Grynd SPD bicycle shoes are lightweight and stylish – exactly what I was looking for in a good pair of bicycle touring shoes. Unfortunately, the material used on the sole of the shoes wore out very quickly (after only 3 months of touring), so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them until that design problem has been fixed.
In addition to the shoes that I wear while pedaling my bike each day, I also chose to travel with a pair of lightweight running shoes from Nike. There’s nothing special about these shoes. They just fit me well and they’re good for walking around in.
Off the bike, this is the one and only pair of pants that I wear. They are a lightweight pair of black jeans. Because they are black, they work well in both formal and informal environments.
Nothing special here. I carry just a couple T-shirts with me on my bike tours. One of these T-shirts I use to sleep in and the others are worn when I am exploring off the bike.
Because I knew I would be cycling in Arctic Norway and Sweden this summer, I knew I needed to have at least a thin, lightweight pair of gloves with me… and I’m sure glad I had these gloves once I got to Scandinavia. I needed them!
As soon as my bike helmet comes off my head, I immediately place this Fox Flex 45 baseball cap onto the top of my head. It’s 100% necessary for covering up helmet hair after a long day in the saddle.
I started my bike tour this year with 5 pairs of black socks, but I lost two pairs and quickly realized that 3 pairs of socks was enough.
I rotate between the pairs of underwear I carry – with one pair almost constantly being in the process of being cleaned or dried.
I don’t know exactly what model of sunglasses I have, but I do know they are made by Nike. They do a good job of blocking out the sun, but they pinch the back of my head and fall off my nose rather easily. I wouldn’t recommend them… and I’m in the process of trying to find a new pair of sunglasses.
The big addition to my bicycle touring gear list this year is the addition of the DJI Phantom 4 Quadcopter (or drone). Carrying the drone, remote controller, battery charger and spare propellers was not a lot of fun (because it’s pretty large and weights quite a bit), but I was able to fit the drone inside one of my rear panniers and carry it with me for the entire 3 months I was in Europe. Watch the videos from my bike tour in Europe this year and you’ll see that the Phantom 4 got me some spectacular photos and videos from my travels!
Because I’m not just bicycle touring, but working from the road as well, I carry my MacBook Pro laptop computer and charger with me. It’s pretty heavy, but I’m grateful to have it when the time comes for me to sit down and do my work.
My computer is probably the most important item that I own. That’s why, when I’m bicycle touring, I do everything I can to try and protect it. And that includes wrapping the computer in a padded laptop case and then placing that case into my padded backpack inside one of my rear panniers.
As an American traveling in Europe, it’s necessary for me to carry a power adapter like this one in order to charge all of the electronics I’m carrying with me. I like this Travel Smart All-in-One Power Adapter because it has a USB charger on its side, which makes it easy for me to recharge my smartphone, GoPro video camera and bike lights.
My Canon T2i DSLR camera is getting pretty old and can now be purchased for only $215 USD, but it has produced some amazing bike tour photos for me over the years. I carry the camera in my handlebar bag so I can quickly snap photos from the road.
In order to protect my DSLR camera, I carry it in this Lowepro SLR Camera soft case. The product is shown here with both a shoulder strap and a hand grip, but I cut them both off (to save weight) and don’t use either one of them.
This is the lens I use for most of my bicycle touring and travel photos. It doesn’t produce the sharpest images in the world, but its zoom lens makes it the most useful of all the DSLR camera lenses I’m carrying.
When the situation is right, I will pull out my Canon 50 mm lens and use it to take some really high-quality photos. This is a fixed lens, which produces super sharp images, but can really only be used in certain situations.
For landscape photos, interior hotel room images, and video blogging, this is the lens I resort to first. It has a slight bubble to the image that is noticeable in videos, but not so much in still images.
The Canon Powershot ELPH 350 HS is my go-to camera for video blogging.The vast majority of my videos this year were shot on the small, lightweight point-and-shoot camera.
For mapping out my route, listening to music/podcasts, learning foreign languages and simply entertaining myself, my Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone is my best bicycle touring tool.
My GoPro Hero video camera rides in my handlebar bag and is always within easy reach. I rarely use the camera, however, as its only good for certain types of shots (i.e. mainly shots of me riding on the bike, in the rain or through crowded city streets).
In addition to the GoPro video camera itself, I use this short plastic helmet/selfie stick to easily grip and carry the GoPro while I’m riding. Without this plastic handle, it would be very difficult to use my GoPro in any meaningful way.
Thing strange contraption allows me to ride my bicycle and film hands-free with my GoPro video camera. The GoPro Chesty chest mount produces a very specific type of riding shot, which I’ve found to be most useful and interesting when descending large hills and mountains. Click here to see a video shot with the GoPro Chesty.
When I crawl into my tent at night, the first thing I usually do is plug my earphones in and start listening to a podcast. On occasion I will cycle with the earphones in my ears, but that rarely ever happens.
All of the photos and videos I shoot on my bicycle touring adventures is stored on this single Western Digital 2 TB hard drive. During my 3 months in Europe this summer, I shot a little more than 1 TB worth of photos and videos.
I spend a lot of time off the bike when I’m traveling, and I like to have a backpack to carry my things around in during these moments. The Columbia Half-Track Packpack is also super useful for grocery shopping.
I rarely use my Sony VCT-60AV tripod, which I carry on the top of my bicycle’s rear rack and secured in place with a short bungee cord. However, when I do want to snap a photo of myself, I’m happy to have my tripod at hand.
All of my toiletries are carried in this single REI toiletry case. I have not listed the individual toiletries that I carried, but I will tell you that for this particular trip, I did not pack a camp towel… and it turns out I rarely ever needed it.
As an international traveler, I don’t go anywhere now without my passport.
I bought my Buxton zippered travel wallet at Staples several years ago and have been using it as my go-to bicycle touring wallet. I like the fact that it is zippered, so I don’t have to worry about my cash, credit cards or ID falling out.
Finally, I chose to travel this year with a lightweight journal and a single ballpoint pen. While my smartphone can be used for all sorts of note-taking, there are certain times when a good old-fashioned pen and paper are exactly what you need.
So, there you have it! That is my complete 2016 bike tour packing list. That is everything I chose to carry with me on my bicycle tour in Portugal, Spain, France, Andorra, Norway and Sweden during the summer of 2016. Click here to see how this gear list compares to what I carried on my 2015 bicycle touring expedition.
Then, watch the video below for an even more detailed look at what I packed on my 2016 bike tour in Europe.
Please note that if you watch this video, there are a few items I removed from my bags at the very last minute – just to make my bike a little lighter. Items like my DSLR viewfinder and my keyed cable lock were removed at the last minute and I did not use them at all on my travels this year. That’s right! I traveled for three months across Europe… and I didn’t have a bike lock. Turns out, I never really needed it!
Finally, I feel the need to repeat myself by saying that you probably should not pack exactly like I’ve done here. I am carrying way more electronics than most bicycle tourists will ever need to carry. The only reason I’m carrying a drone, computer, and multiple high-end camera gear is because I use these electronics for my work as the Bicycle Touring Pro.
With everything on this 2016 bike tour packing list packed on my bicycle, my bike weighs close to 100 lbs. And trust me, that’s a lot of weight to be carrying around with you. Don’t pack like this unless you absolutely must!
If you want to see a good lightweight packing list, please see this article or pick up a copy of “The Bicycle Touring Blueprint,” which contains several different packing lists that you can use to plan and prepare for your own incredible bicycle touring adventures.
If you have any questions or comments about anything I’ve mentioned in this article, please leave a comment below and I will respond to you just as soon as I possibly can.