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.
53 thoughts on “Bicycle Touring Gear – My 2015 Packing List”
What type of video camera do you have at present? The videos you are now (March 2015 )showing on you tube are fantastic! Thanks!
What kind of gps do your recommend ?
Is not in your check list but don’t want to use my cell and get all my data will be expensive
I use my smartphone. If you download an offline mapping application (like Maps.me, which is the program I use on my Android smartphone), then you can use your phone’s GPS without using any data. You don’t need a SIM card or anything! It’s free.
Sounds to me like you already have a great GPS in your possession!
I notice you’ve no dishes, pots or stove in your list. No trowel to bury personal waste in stealth campsites. Seems you prefer solar rather than a dynamo hub. Any current converter to support USB charging of your equipment?
That’s right. No dishes and no trowel to bury waste. I’ve found that I don’t need either one. See my previous comments on this page. Also, yes, I prefer solar over dynamo, but I think I might try using both on future bicycle tours because solar alone is not enough for the amount of electricity I burn throurgh on a daily basis with all the videos, photos, and Internet consumption that I do.
Have always toured without a stove ?
Don’t like the sound of packing up and moving on
without at least a cup of tea or coffee . . .
Ha. No, I have not always toured without a stove. I toured with a stove and all the cooking gear, etc during my first 10 years of bicycle touring… and then I realized I rarely used the stuff, it was heavy, it takes up a lot of space on the bike…. and honestly, I don’t enjoy cooking that much anyway. I’m not very good at it! So I just ditched the cooking gear and I haven’t looked back. I haven’t missed it one bit. HONESTLY!
I might carry a camp stove on shorter bike tours in the future, but I don’t know if I would ever carry a camp stove on a longer one of my tours in the future. I just see less and less of a need for it.
Jeans WAY TOO HEAVY. If you must carry jeans ditch the second pair and substitute convertible pants. Substitute large Ziploc bag (1 Gal) or 2 small (quart) for your heavy toiletry kit. Easier to see contents Red panniers are much better for visibility while riding. Slate blue better for stealth camping. I prefer Marmot jackets. Currently use the super mica as a rain jacket. 10 Oz. and comes with pit zips. Ping Pong paddles??? That’s a luxury. Anyone with a table has extra paddles. You’re not playing for the world championship. Check your paddle ego at home. Store your names and addresses of people you meet in the notes section of your smartphone. E-mail a copy to yourself as back-up every week or month when you’re connected to wi-fi. MSR Hubba is a good tent. For about the same weight and a few dollars more i like the Hilleberg Anjan 2. Put it on your short list when you buy a new tent. A leatherman multi-tool is still one of my most valuable possessions. Has a knife also. I don’t see one on here. Half track is a good back pack. i prefer the Deuters with the clip on mesh helmet holder. For all my tools I use a lightweight hanging toiletry bag like the eagle creek. Keeps them all in one place; rolls up; and can hang for easy access when working on your bike. I carry several pairs surgical gloves for working on the bike and/or for extra warmth on those cold days. There you go I probably chopped some decent weight and hopefully gave you some new ideas not just gear by people who sponsor you or give you a kickback for click through sales. As always each list is highly individualized. I think it would be valuable for people to know how much weight you carry. Panniers front and rear plus handlebar bag and other attached devices (solar panel). In short what does all your gear weigh? Enjoy the journey.
Hey Darren, no cooking equipment?? You carry the things I would like to travel with but I’ve been bringing a stove and dinner food…I’m always worried I’ll get caught in some remote place where I can’t get to a restaurant or convenient store…thanks, Earl…love your videos by the way…
Yes, that’s right. No cooking equipment! See my previous comments on this page for why I no longer carry a stove, etc. You would be surprised though how easy it is to prepare a meal (dinner even) without a camp stove. There are lots of cold meals you can prepare!
Interesting no pots, dishes, or stove. Any trowel for burying waste when clean stealth camping? Any sleep sack for hostels?
No, no and no. haha. No cooking gear, no trowel, and no sleep sack (other than my sleeping bag). I tent to avoid hostels if I can. See my previous comments on this page about why I no longer carry cooking equipment with me. Even though some people enjoy the cooking aspect of their travels by bike (http://bicycletouringpro.com/003-tara-alan-bike-camp-cook-food-travel-cookbook/), it’s just not my thing.
Darren are you carrying anything on top of your rear rack between your panniers? Also could you indicate which pannier you carry what equipment front, back outside or inside to be able to get a perspective of weight distribution? Have you seen any recumbent while you are touring? I’m looking at moving to a recumbent and still being able to continue touring. Or does the co-motion you are riding come with upright handle bars?
Travel Safe !! Doug
1) Watch this video to see how I pack up my bicycle and what I carry on the top of my rear rack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mo0PoYTR-p4
2) No, I have not seen any recumbent touring bicycles in years. I’ve seen a few in the past on my bike tours in the USA, but since I started touring overseas, I don’t know if I’ve seen a single one.
Do you have a physical address to which I can send a donation? I’m sorry, but having just surfaced from a year of identity theft nightmares, I just don’t do money over the interweb. But I’d like to contribute.
Yes, thanks so much. I do have a physical address where you can mail a donation. Here’s the address:
Bicycle Touring Pro
3287 Corby Avenue
Camarillo, CA 93010
United States of America
Thanks so much! I really, really appreciate it.
For more than a year now I’ve been enjoying your newsletter. You don’t include a stove or any other cook gear than a spork & folding knife. Do you buy all of your main meals (other than simple lunches/snacks)? While I’m sure this would make for wonderful experiences with the people & cultures along your routes isn’t it expensive? Thanks for the encouragement & knowledge that is helping me & many others to turn dreams into realities. Sam
You’re right. During my first 10 years of bicycle touring I carried a stove with me… because that is what all the other bicycle tourists were doing at the time. But then, once I started carrying so many electronics with me (for work, etc) I decided I was carrying too much stuff and that something had to go. It was then that I decided that carrying a camp stove and all the necessary cooking apparel took up a lot of room and was not that important to me… so I tried to go without it. And what I realized is that I did not miss it at all. I’ve found it super easy to make cold, picnic-style lunches most of the time while I’m bicycle touring… and to get warm meals at restaurants, etc along the way whenever I can / want. And no, you would think that eating out would be expensive… and it certainly is in SOME parts of the world. But in many parts of the world, I’ve found eating out to be LESS expensive than trying to prepare the same meal on my own. Plus, it takes up way less of my time. That’s one of the things I love most about not carrying a camp stove with me on my bike tours – I save so much time!
What goggles do you use? Also, what color lens do you use for day/morning riding?
I don’t know what kind of goggles I have to be honest. It doesn’t matter really. They are just cheap ski goggles. The lenses don’t matter either. I just use whatever lens it comes with. The goggles are more about keeping snow and water out of your eyes as you ride… and protecting you from the elements.
Hi Darren, I’ve been following you for some time now. Always interesting and enjoyable. I’d like to make a donation, but how do we do it from the UK? Your site requests zip-codes. Can you make it more user friendly for us oldies – over 60’s? Stay safe and keep writing. Chinek…
Thanks so much for writing… and for wanting to make a donation. Yes, you can donate here via PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=ZM7Q27RNF6M7S (The form is super easy to fill out). Or if you like, you can mail a check to the following address:
Bicycle Touring Pro
3287 Corby Avenue
Camarillo, CA 93010
United States of America
Thanks in advance for your support. I really, really appreciate it.
Thanks for the list! What do you think of the Vaude Sove so far? I have some back problems, so I need to buy a really comfortable pad that is also durable and packable. I thought the Sea to Summit pad was going to be the answer. It’s comfy, easy to inflate/deflate…and loud! Every time I shifted it sounded like somebody opening a crinkly candy wrapper in the quiet moment of the movie. Neither of us slept a wink all night! Could the Vaude Sove be my answer?
So far the Vaude Sove is performing really well. No complains thus far. But I would say that the thicker air mattresses would probably be more comfortable for someone with back problems, etc. It’s unfortunate, however, that I can’t find any such mattress that will not pop on me after extended use. That’s the main problem I see with those mattresses at this point.
A ping pong paddle??? Really??? Is your ego that big that you can’t play with one locally supplied?
I don’t know why you think carrying a ping-pong paddle has anything to do with ego. I carry a ping-pong paddle because I enjoy playing table-tennis… and I’m far beyond just being an amateur ping-pong player who picks up a paddle occasionally at parties. I think you said what you did… because you don’t know anything about professional ping-pong.
I’ve played in tournaments, I take lessons from professional coaches, etc… and just like so many other sports… you can’t perform well if you are playing with someone else’s paddle. Imagine a professional baseball player trying to catch a ball with someone else’s glove. Or a bowler trying to get a strike with a ball he’s never thrown before. It’s the same thing for me here. Professional level ping-pong paddles are not all the same. There are different woods, different rubbers, different shapes, etc. And each paddle is customized to the individual player. This is why I carry my own ping-pong paddle.
Plus, in the places where I play while I’m traveling (table tennis clubs, etc) there are rarely ever spare paddles available. EVERYONE brings their own paddle… because they know that serious ping-pong players have their own paddle. 🙂
I hope you understand where I’m coming from now. I’m not just playing ping-pong at bars or something. This is a much more serious sport for me.
Thank you so much for this information. I hesitate to buy the Ortlieb bag because of the cumbersome attachment setup and once on, there is no place for a headlamp which is needed for night riding. Do you have a work-around for this, or anyone else.
I don’t understand what you mean by “cumbersome attachment setup.” Are you talking about the Ortlieb handlebar bag? Or the panniers? If you are talking about the handlebar bag, then yes, I understand what you are talking about. It is a little difficult to get on and off the bike. And the cable that goes with the handlebar bag must be replaced regularly if you are constantly putting the handlebar bag mount on and off the bike. But most cyclists will not remove that handlebar bag very often. Once you get it on… leave it on! And as for the fact that there is no place to mount the light, you are correct. The handlebar bag does block the top of your handlebars from being used for a light. I get around this while I am on tour simply by not using a front light. In all my 15+ years of bicycle touring, I’ve probably only used my front light a handful of times… because I don’t ride at night! If I do need to ride at night (which almost never happens), I can mount my front light to the side of my drop handlebars (on the left-hand side). Or, if you are carrying a headlamp with you, just strap the light to your head and continue cycling! That’s the best option in my opinion. Use a headlamp!
Hey Darren, I really look forward to your articles and videos. Its refreshing to see someone that is inspired to do what they like and share it with other people. I am very impressed with the amount of video and photography equipment it takes for you make it happen. Thanks!
Thanks so much Jeff.
First of all, thanks for the positive comments. It really means a lot.
Secondly, yes, I would love to meet up when I get to Denmark and Sweden later this summer. Where in Denmark and Sweden do you live? Please message me again once I get closer to your area. It would be great if we could make a meetup happen.
Hi Darren, grateful for the information and inspiration. I’m going to buy a 6 foot keyed cable lock like the one you’ve been using. Is yours a 12mm cable? Thank you so much for sharing the art and science of bicycle touring!
Yes, mine is probably in the 12 mm range. Maybe 12 to 16 mm?
What are your thoughts about carrying a chain repair tool?
If you’re talking about the little tool that is included on many bicycle multi-tools that allows you to easily attach and detatch a chain link… then yes, that’s fine to bring along on a bike tour. I’ve used that maybe once in my 15 years of bicycle touring all around the world. If you are talking about anything larger or more complex than that, I would probably think twice about it. Why not just carry a spare chain instead? It’s probably lighter than carrying a separate tool that you’ll very likely never end up using.
thanks for your videos and articles. Did you carry lube for the chain, and do you do regular cleaning of chain and cog? How about spare spokes, are they needed?
Yes, I lube and clean the chain regularly. And yes, I do carry a couple spare spokes, but in 15 years of bicycle touring I have only actually needed them one time (when one of my spokes broke in either Colorado or Wyoming (I can’t remember where exactly)).
i will travel in folding bicycle in all sounth america in december . You don ´t leave with you shoes waterproof? why?
If you are going to a part of the world where you expect it to rain (or where you might have to wade through water on a regular basis), then yes, you might want to look into some waterproofing for your shoes. But for most people, there is no need for waterproof shoes or shoe covers – especially if you are talking about summer bicycle touring. But if you are traveling in the spring, autumn and especially in the winter, then yes, you will need to consider waterproof shoes or waterproof shoe covers. For more info, please see http://www.wintercyclingbook.com
You write about your solar panel that “make it possible for me to recharge my smartphone each day …” is this panel enough for recharing only 1 phone a day? how about photocameras, macbook and etc.?
Yes, for this particular solar panel, it’s really only enough to charge a smartphone in 1 day. You should read this article to learn more about this particular solar panel: http://bicycletouringpro.com/solar-phone-charger-voltaic-fuse-6-watt-review/
And you might want to read this one is you are interested in charging a laptop computer or larger electronic devices: http://bicycletouringpro.com/a-solar-panel-for-changing-laptops-tablets-camera-batteries-smartphones-and-more/
Any consideration of carrying a small first aid kit? Such as ointments, bandages for abrasions, and other small misc. items.
I carried a first aid kit on my first several years of bicycle touring, never used the kit even once, and haven’t ever needed it since. I do carry toiletries with me, however, and that is my first aid kit basically. But no, I’ve never (in 16+ years) needed a first aid kit.
I love reading about the things others pack while touring. Our stuff is very similar; however the only thing I find very different is the key lock. I much prepare a combination lock. Last year after walking through a wonderful rhododendron park north of Helsinki, one of the friends I was with, when we got to our bikes, realized he had lost his key………..
Darren, which bike saddle do you use? Last year I went on a 330 mile, 3.5 day tour ( I only had 22 pounds on the 26 pound bike.) I did almost 100 miles a day which wore me out and I had terrible saddle sores. Any suggestions? Also, what do you consider a good mileage per day on the loaded bike?
Hi Jeremy, I’m currently using a Selle Italia Nekkar Flow saddle on my Co-Motion Pangea touring bicycle. I like it!
As far as daily mileage goes: read/listen to this – http://bicycletouringpro.com/bike-tour-planning-how-far-should-you-plan-to-cycle-each-day/ Daily distance is very much a person thing though… and it depends where you are in the world, what the terrain is like, how much gear you’re carrying, what your goals are, etc. I’ve done 150+ miles in a day… and I’ve done days where I barely covered 6 miles. Both days were equally challenging. So it just depends!
Now that I’ve been bicycle touring for over 17 years, I’m doing much shorter daily distances than I did in the past – just because I’ve discovered that I enjoy myself more when I have the time and freedom to stop and smell the roses along my route – rather than feeling rushed to cover a certain distance.
How much gear weight is considered light touring vs heavy touring? I think my gear weighs around 30 lbs or so and am at the point I need to start thinking about a bike but am not sure how rugged a bike I need. I plan to ride mainly on paved roads.
That’s a good question Sara, and it’s something I talk about briefly inside “The Essential Guide To Touring Bicycles.” There isn’t really a particular weight at which you are no longer participating in “light touring.” Instead, it is more about the manner in which you choose to pack. For the most part, light touring is when you pack with only two panniers on the back of your bicycle. This may include some extra gear mounted to your rear rack… and even a handlebar. But as soon as you mount a front rack and start carrying two front panniers, you are no longer participating in light touring. Now you are doing a fully-loaded bike tour. So, you see, it’s not really about weight. It’s more about the style in which you choose to pack. And like I discuss inside “The Essential Guide To Touring Bicycles,” there are different types of bicycles made for different types of bicycle touring. The more panniers you have and the more weight you carry, the more important it becomes to have a proper touring bicycle – built for the type of bike tour you are participating in.
I do carry insect repellent usually – especially in places like this. But I don’t know if carrying bear repellent in Nordic Europe is necessary. I had bear spray on my recent bike tour in Alaska, but never used it or even saw a bear. It might be worth carrying, but I’m going back to Nordic Norway myself this summer and I don’t plan to carry any bear spray. I do have insect repellent packed though! The mosquitoes in Finland are the worst I’ve ever experienced anywhere in the world!
Most helpful gear list for touring ever!
Can you make the images clickable? Sometimes I was not able to tell which is which on the picture, and I was not insightful enough to tell it from the list.
Over time, I got a lot of inspiration from your gear list and reviews, and all proved to be very useful. So thanks a lot for sharing it!
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