It’s 2015… and this is my 15th year in a row of bicycle touring all around the world. Last year I cycled across 14 countries in Asia, Europe, and North America… and now I’m back in Europe for another epic year of bicycle touring.
Because I’m so frequently asked about the gear, clothing, and equipment I use on my bike tours, I thought I would take a moment to share with you a detailed list of each and every item I am currently carrying with me on my travels.
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 bike and gear you should use, how to get yourself (and your bicycle/gear) to the start of a bike tour, what to expect once you hit the road, plus a whole lot more.
After reading through my list of bicycle touring gear, be sure to read my comments at this end of this article to learn how my equipment has changed over the last year and why I’ve made these various changes to the gear that I use.
Co-Motion Pangea Touring Bicycle
The Co-Motion Pangea is my main bicycle touring vehicle and the most important piece of equipment that I own. This on-road, off-road touring bike can be split in half with the use of S&S couplers, allowing me to fly the bike for free and easily transport the bike on buses, boats and trains with minimal effort.
Shimano SPD Pedals
SPD pedals allow me to clip my cycling shoes to my bicycle and pedal with greater power and control. This type of pedal must be used with an accompanying set of SPD shoes.
Axiom Journey Rear Rack
This lightweight aluminum rack is not really designed for super heavy loads or extremely long distances, but I’ve been using it for the last several years and have had few problems with it.
Arkel AC LowRider Front Rack
I’ve been using the Arkel AC LowRider Rack on the front of my touring bicycle for more than five years now and it has never let me down. Built strong, but very lightweight. Highly recommended!
Planet Bike Front & Rear Fenders
These inexpensive plastic and metal fenders will help to protect me, my bicycle and my gear from rain, mud and other road debris. The fenders found on my bicycle at the moment are designed for the 26 inch tires found on my touring bike.
3 Water Bottle Cages
My touring bicycle is equipped with mounts for three water bottle cages, maximizing the amount of water I can carry.
3 Water Bottles
You can spend a lot of money on fancy water bottles, but you don’t really need anything special. I use white or clear water bottles (rather than black or dark colored bottles) in order to keep the temperature of my water down when cycling in hot weather.
Ortlieb Bike-Packer Plus Rear Panniers
These large, waterproof panniers sit on the rear rack of my bicycle and carry all my camping and electronic equipment. I got new panniers this year, swapping my old red Ortlieb panniers for their new slate blue color.
Ortlieb Sport-Packer Plus Front Panniers
These two smaller waterproof panniers sit on the front rack of my touring bicycle and carry all the food, toiletries and clothing that I need for my travels. Once again, I’ve changed my panniers this year – from red to blue.
Ortlieb Ultimate6 Plus Handlebar Bag
This wonderful, waterproof handlebar bag sits on the front of my bicycle and carries my camera, wallet, navigational instruments (smartphone), and a number of other small accessories.
Knog Blinder Circle – 4-LED USB Bicycle Head Light
The Knog Blinder 4 is a USB rechargeable bicycle light that has four super bright LEDs that pump out up to 80 Lumens of light in 5 different modes (Steady, Fast Flash,Organic Flash 1, Organic Flash 2, Eco flash).
Moon Comet – USB Rear Bicycle Light
The Moon Comet Rear Light features a 1 piece COB LED that generates 30 lumens of light. This innovative USB rechargeable light comes standard with a seat post and saddle rail bracket.
Avenir Keyed Cable Lock
I’ve been using this relatively lightweight cable lock for more than 11 years and it has worked wonderfully on my travels. Unfortunately, it this lock is no longer in production and can not be purchased anywhere online.
20 Inch Bungee Cord
I use a single 20 inch bungee cord to secure my tripod, tent poles and solar panel on the rear rack of my bicycle.
Axiom EnforceAir Pro Road Bike Pump
The EnforceAir Pro Road bike pump from Axiom is a long, powerful and lightweight bicycle pump that functions as a floor pump when in use.
I carry a very generic bicycle multi-tool. There is nothing special about it. It has all the Allen wrench sizes that are found on my touring bicycle.
Pedal / S&S Coupler Wrench
This is a special pedal / S&S coupler wrench that comes with Co-Motion Co-Pilot bicycles. The wrench allows you to install/remove your pedals and to open and close the S&S couplers on the bicycle’s frame.
Mini Adjustable Wrench
I carry a very small adjustable wrench for the bolts on my fenders and for any additional repairs that might need to be made to my bicycle’s racks, cables, panniers, etc.
Spare Rack Screws
I always carry a few extra rack screws in case the screws holding my racks, fenders, or water bottle cages rattle their way out of the bicycle frame.
Patch Kit & Tire Levers
I carry two tire levers and a small, lightweight patch kit on all of my bicycle tours. This kit allows me to repair flat tubes and patch tube punctures.
I carry at least one or two spare tubes on all of my bicycle tours. I use 26 inch Presta tubes in my touring bicycle wheels.
MSR Hubba 1-Man Tent
You’ll be hard pressed to find a lighter or more compact tent than the MSR Hubba. This 1-person tent is the perfect size for bicycle touring and will keep you safe and dry during your cycle touring adventures.
Vaude Sove Sleeping Pad
After destroying more than five expensive Exped and McKinley sleeping pads over the last two years, I’m now using and experimenting with a Vaude Sove inflatable sleeping pad to sleep on each night.
The North Face Cat’s Meow Sleeping Bag
I’ve been using the Cat’s Meow sleeping bag on my colder bicycle tours for years on end now. It’s not the smallest sleeping bag in the world, but is has a good balance between size and warmth. It’s just small enough to fit inside one of my bicycle’s rear panniers.
I carry a small folding knife with me. I don’t use this for personal protection (although I could use if that way if I had to). Instead, I use the knife mainly for spreading jam on break, cutting up apples and preparing my meals on the road.
Instead of carrying a heavy fork and spoon, I carry this lightweight titanium spork instead.
In order to start fires in my camp each night I carry a small, mini BIC lighter. I prefer a brightly colored lighter so it is easy to find inside my panniers and around camp.
Giro Xen Helmet
This is an excellent, lightweight bike helmet with a sun visor in the front and easily adjustable head straps in the back.
Fox Racing MTB Jersey
I like to wear cycling clothes that don’t make me look like a cyclist. The loose MTB jerseys from Fox Racing allows me to step off the bicycle at the end of the day and blend in with the people around me, no matter where I am in the world. I’m carrying two jerseys with me on this tour.
Rather than cycle and walk around in spandex or Lycra, I choose to wear a regular pair of shorts made by Fox Racing. I have two pairs of these, which I can wear on or off the bike.
Columbia Rain Jacket
To protect me from the elements and keep me dry in rain and snow, I will be wearing a lightweight Columbia rain jacket that packs up relatively small inside my panniers when it isn’t being used.
Patagonia Fleece Jacket
This fleece jacket from Patagonia keeps me warm and allows me to walk around in style without making me look like a cyclist.
North Face Rain Pants
I’m expecting to spend several days this year riding in both light and heavy rain storms… and I expect these waterproof rain pants to come in handy on my travels.
Shimano SH-MT43L Shoes
These SPD shoes by Shimano were designed for mountain biking, but work great for bicycle touring as well.
New Balance Walking/Running Shoes
Because I am traveling for so long, I am bringing a pair of walking/running shoes with me in addition to my SPD cycling shoes. Having a pair of walking shoes makes my time off the bike much more comfortable.
This year I’ve upgraded from one pair of jeans to two! I’ve done this largely because I’ve been in colder climates (in Poland, Ukraine, etc.) and because I’m planning to do some paragliding in Romania, and I need to wear pants each day for this activity.
I will have 4 different T-shirts with me at anyone time (1 to sleep in and 3 to walk around/cycle in). I purposely select T-shirts with no logos or artwork on them.
I’ve got a pair of lightweight North Face gloves. I don’t use them on a daily basis and they aren’t designed specifically for cycling. I use the gloves mainly to keep my hands warm when walking or cycling in chilly (but not freezing) temperatures – and also when paragliding.
Winter Snow Gloves
Because of my wintertime bike ride across Poland, Ukraine and Romania, I picked up a cheap pair of thick winter gloves. I’ll use them for the first 500+ miles of my bike tour this year, and then either throw them away, give them away to someone who can use them more than I can, or mail them back home so I can use them at some point in the future.
I always carry a hat with me on my bicycle tours. I use it mainly for my time off the bike – to cover the bad hairdo created by wearing a bike helmet.
I am carrying about 4 pairs of black, ankle-length socks with me. These are the socks I cycle and walk around in during the day. I choose black socks because they hide dirt well. I also have a warmer, thicker pair of socks that I sleep in at night.
A personal choice more than anything else, I am carrying 4 pairs of underwear on this year’s long-distance bicycle tour.
Sunglasses & Case
I’ve got a pair of Nike sunglasses I am carrying in a hard plastic case, carried inside my handlebar bag.
While I probably won’t use this much during this particular bike tour, I’m bringing it along anyway. It is lightweight and can do a lot to keep you warm in your tent or on your bike if the weather gets chilly.
13″ MacBook Pro Laptop Computer
Without this computer, I would not be able to travel for as long as I do (sometimes for months on end), nor would I be able to do so much work on BicycleTouringPro.com during my bicycle tours.
Padded Laptop Case
I bought my laptop case so long ago, I don’t know what brand or model it is. But it is important because I carry my most valuable piece of electronic gear inside of it.
Voltaic Fuse 6 Watt Solar Panel
This small, but powerful solar panel will make it possible for me to recharge my smartphone each day so that I can continue cycling for days on end without every having to access the power grid.
Travel Smart All-in-One Power Adapter
When traveling internationally, I have to carry this in order to plug my electronics into the wall and recharge them. This adapter has a built in USB charger on its side as well.
Canon T2i Digital SLR Camera (+ 4 Batteries)
My photos have gotten so much better since I started carrying an SLR camera. It’s a lot larger than a point and shoot camera (or the low-res camera built into my smartphone), but this type of camera forces you to think before you snap a photo… and the end result is a lot better because of that. Along with the camera I am also carrying a battery charger and three spare batteries.
Lowepro SLR Camera Soft Case
My SLR camera is carried inside this padded case. This case fits inside my handlebar bag and is also used when carrying the camera off the bike and in my backpack. I don’t use the shoulder strap that comes with this case.
Canon EF 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM Standard Zoom Lens
This is the main lens I have on my camera most of the time and, therefore, the lens I use for most of my photos.
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 Camera Lens
I use this lens for portraits and close-up shots. This lens is super sharp!
Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 Wide-Angle Camera Lens
I’ve never used this lens on my bicycle tours before, but I’m bringing it along because I think it will be great for photographing the narrow streets and alleys I know I will encounter all across Europe and Asia.
Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini (Unlocked)
I will be using this internationally unlocked Samsung Galaxy smartphone to call home, make arrangements with people I meet on my travels and connect to the Internet during my travels. I’ll mainly use it to listen to music while I am cycling and as a navigational aid. This is the first time I’ve ever used a smartphone on a bicycle tour, so we’ll see how it goes!
GoPro Hero Video Camera
This is the small sports camera I use to record my actions shots from the road. It’s not a very good camera for recording your entire bike trip on – due to it’s fish-eye lens, but it’s great for recording certain shots on the bike. See my GoPro videos on YouTube for several examples of this camera at work.
GoPro Chesty Chest Harness
In order to shoot relatively smooth cycling videos with my GoPro video camera, I use the GoPro Chesty Chest Harness. This bra-like contraption allows me to ride my bike with my GoPro video camera mounted on my chest and gives an almost real-life perspective of what it is like to bicycle around the world.
This is one of my most used pieces of gear because when I travel by myself I am constantly listening to music, podcasts, language-learning tapes and more.
Western Digital 1 TB External Hard Drives
I carry two of these external hard drives with me so I can backup all my photos. Each hard drive carries a single copy of each of my photos, so if one hard drive dies I have another hard drive storing the same images. I also back up all my photos onto Flickr.com.
Columbia Half-Track Backpack
I carry this small, lightweight backpack with me. I store my laptop and other electronic items inside the backpack when I am on the bike, and use the backpack when walking around on foot. The backpack is stored inside one of my rear panniers when I am on the bike.
Sony VCT-60AV Tripod & Case
Because I travel by myself much of the time, I carry a tripod so I can get photos of me actually riding my bicycle during my tours.
I use an inexpensive toiletry case that I purchased from Walmart to hold all of my toiletries. Nothing special.
This small, lightweight towel is perfect for bicycle touring. It takes up very little space and dries quickly.
You gotta keep your mouth clean – even when cycling around the world.
Toothbrush & Toothpaste
You gotta keep your mouth clean – even when cycling around the world.
Razor & Shaving Cream
This is for my face – not my legs. Ha!
On longer bike tours, it is essential to carry a small pair of nail clippers.
I carry a small, lightweight set of tweezers, not only for personal hygiene, but also to pick thorns and glass out of my tires, shoes, feet, etc.
Travel Size Shampoo & Lotion
Shampoo to wash my hair and lotion to care for my skin (and occasional sunburns).
I’ll apply sunscreen two or three times per day if it is especially hot and sunny.
Blow your nose and wipe your butt. It’s good to carry at least one-half roll of toilet paper with you at all times – especially if you plan to camp.
Soap & Travel Case
To keep my body clean, I carry a single bar of soap and a plastic case in which the soap is stored.
An essential when traveling internationally, my passport is one of my most protected personal items.
Zippered Travel Wallet
I carry all my cash, credit and debit cards in a zippered wallet. The zipper makes me feel better because I don’t have to worry about anything falling out during my travels.
Ping-Pong Paddle, 3 Balls & Case
I’ve never brought a ping-pong paddle with me on any of my bicycle tours in the past, but I want to make an effort on this trip to stop and play ping-pong with as may strangers as I can. If you play ping-pong and I will be in your part of the world, please contact me. I’d love to play a game or two with you!
Journal & Pens
Finally, I have a small journal and two pens with me so I can keep a journal about my travels and write down the names, email addresses and phone numbers of any people I might meet along the way.
So, there you have it! That’s everything I’m carrying with me on my bicycle tours this year.
Get 5 more bike tour packing lists like this one and learn more about the gear I recommend for self-supported bicycle touring inside my book, The Bicycle Touring Blueprint.
What Changes Have I Made This Year?
The truth is, I haven’t changed much in regards to what I’m carrying on my bike tour this year compared to what I used on my 2014 bicycle touring expeditions. I’ve changed my panniers – but not because the old ones wore out or had anything wrong with them. Instead, I simply changed from red Ortlieb panniers… to blue Ortlieb panniers. I’ve had red panniers on my bicycle for more than a decade, so I felt that it was time for a change.
I’ve gotten rid of my battery powered headlamp (which was useful for reading in bed at night) and replaced it with a a USB rechargable bike light. This light won’t be nearly as useful for camp-related activities, but it will certainly be a lot safer for on-the-road use (especially during the winter leg of my travels this year). I’ve also swapped out my old AAA battery powered rear bike light for a new USB rechargeable light (which I can power now, like the front light, with my Voltaic solar charger.)
While I do need a new tent (my current one is more than 3 years old and has been heavily used during that time), I’ve yet to find a new one that I like, so I’m going to use my MSR Hubba tent for another month or two and then try and secure a new one in Romania – before I head north and begin my bicycle touring adventures in Scandinavia.
Finally, I’ve picked up a few small pieces of winter cycling apparel – such as winter snow gloves and winter ski goggles. The first part of my travels this year are going to require that I cycled across Poland, Ukraine and Romania during the late winter/early spring. I don’t know what kind of conditions I am going to run into during this leg of the journey (there could easily be snow, ice and sub-freezing temperatures), so I wanted to make sure that I was prepared. Once I complete this leg of my bike tour, I’ll likely ditch this gear in an attempt to lighten my load ever so slightly.
But other than that, the gear I’m using in 2015 is pretty much the same stuff that I used during my travels by bike in 2014. I’m stilling wearing the same clothes, still riding the same bicycle, still sleeping in the same sleeping bag, and still shooting with the same camera. My smartphone is still running strong, my Voltaic solar panel is working great, and I am feeling strong. I’m ready for another epic year of bicycle touring around the world!
In Conclusion: My 2015 Bike Tour Packing List
So, there you have it! That’s everything I’m packing with me on this year’s big bicycle touring adventure. If you have any questions for me about my packing list this year, feel free to leave a comment below. And if you think I might be able to help you plan, prepare for, or execute a bicycle touring adventure of your own, please see this page for more information on how to plan, pack and prepare for your own incredible bicycle touring adventures.