What To Pack For A Year-Long Bicycle Tour

I’m traveling for a year. Yes, a year! And I’m doing it on my bicycle.

It’s called long-distance bicycle touring… and traveling this way requires that you carry just about everything you need on your bicycle with you: clothes, food, toiletries and more! Your bicycle is essentially your home on the road.

Because I’m traveling for so long (and because I’m running the website here at BicycleTouringPro.com while I’m traveling) I’ve got a lot of stuff on my bicycle. I not only have all the basic bicycle touring essentials, such as a tent, digital camera and rain gear, but I’m also lugging around a small arsenal of electronic gadgetry.

The list below is a detailed record of each and every item that I’m currently carrying with me as I bicycle tour around Europe. Clicking on hyperlinked items will take you to either another article on Bicycle Touring Pro where you can read the full review for that item or to an online store where you can purchase that item for yourself. Please note that food and water has not been included in this packing list.

If, after scanning through the list of items shown below, you have any questions for me about what I’ve packed or why I’ve decided to bring a particular piece of gear, clothing or otherwise with me, leave a comment at the very bottom of this page.

Bicycle Touring Basics

This first list of items is the core of my bicycle touring gear list. These are items that practically every bicycle tourist needs.

Bicycle Tools

When you travel by bike, you inevitably need to carry a few bike tools with you. These are the few tools I have in my possession.

Camping Gear

Over the course of the year I will be spending my nights in a number of different places. I’ll be in hotels, hostels, rented apartments and in the homes of friends and strangers I meet along the way. I’m also camping quite a bit, so it is essential that I carry all my own camping equipment.

Cooking Equipment

Because I’m traveling without a camp stove, I either have to eat cold picnic style meals or go out to eat somewhere in order to get a warm meal in me. My kitchen consists of only three small items.

Summer Clothing

When you travel for a year, you need to pack both winter and summer clothing. These are the items I’ve got with me during the spring, summer and fall.

  • Giro Xen Bike Helmet
  • Fox Racing Short-Sleeved MTB Jersey
  • Fox Racing Shorts (I use for walking around in and for riding my bicycle)
  • Jeans
  • T-Shirts (3)
  • Marmot Rain Jacket
  • Patagonia Fleece Jacket
  • Baseball hat (2)
  • Shimano MP56L SPD Shoes
  • Nike Running/Walking Shoes
  • Socks (5) (For both cycling and walking)
  • Underwear (3)
  • Sunglasses

Winter Clothing

My friend in England is storing my winter clothing for me. As soon as the first snow falls (or maybe a little before that) I’ll have her ship these items to me – wherever I am.

  • Patagonia Snow Pants
  • Columbia Snow Jacket
  • Columbia Winter Snow Gloves
  • Beanie
  • Face Mask


Your typical bicycle traveler isn’t going to carry this many electronics. The only reason I have this much stuff is because I am working while I am traveling. I have to run the website here at BicycleTouringPro.com and that involves taking photos, shooting video, storing all the data I’ve collected, and editing everything on my computer. I do not recommend that everyone carry this much stuff.


My toiletries are kept in one small toiletry bag that measures about 3″ x 3″ x 6″. The only thing that doesn’t fit inside this toiletry bag is my camp towel and the emergency roll of toilet paper that I carry – just in case!

  • Toiletry Bag
  • Camp Towel
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Razor
  • Shaving Cream
  • Tweezers
  • Nail Clippers
  • Shampoo
  • Face Wash (3)
  • Sunscreen
  • Safety Pin
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Travel Laundry Soap Packets (3)

Miscellaneous Items

Then there are a few other items that don’t seem to fit into any of the categories above.

  • Small Backpack (used to carry things with me when I am walking around off the bicycle)
  • Passport
  • Wallet
  • Cash & Coins
  • Credit Cards (2)
  • Debit Cards (3)
  • Journal
  • Pens (2)
  • Drawing Pencils (8)
  • Pencil Sharpener
  • Pencil Eraser

Things I’m Not Carrying

Finally, I think it is worth taking the time to point out a few of the items you think I might be carrying, but am not.

  • Stove/Fuel Bottle
  • Cell Phone
  • Bicycle Gloves
  • Bicycle Shorts
  • Racing Jersey
  • Mirror
  • Spare Chain
  • Spare Spokes
  • Bell

Got any questions about my packing list? Leave a question for me in the comments section below and I’ll get back to you just as soon as I can.


51 thoughts on “What To Pack For A Year-Long Bicycle Tour

  1. Scott Harvey says:

    Any particular reason you don’t carry spare spokes, I’ve already had one break when I wasn’t carrying a spare and it was rather annoying.

    Considering they are cheap and don’t take up much room why not carry some?


  2. Michael says:

    This may sound like a stupid question with an obvious answer, but how do you transport all your gear to your starting destination, especially if it’s overseas or on the other side of the country? All of my touring has been in the states, and Iโ€™ve always driven to my starting destination and left my car with family or friends. Once I reached my destination I usually rent a car or Penske truck (whichever is cheapest) and drive back to where I left my car. Do you pack one giant bag with all your panniers and gear in that one bag? โ€ฆand what do you do with the giant bag once you start touring? Or do you pack everything in your bike box and just throw it away? Like I said, this might be a stupid question, but Iโ€™m curious what might be the best route to take when starting a tour further away from home, friends, or family.

  3. Andy Hawkins says:

    What an awesome list, thanks for sharing, it answers so many questions that I’ve had about whats needed and whats superfluous when it comes to touring.

    Any plans to release budgeting info for touring, or did I miss that already?

  4. sam prestianni says:

    Hello Darren,

    that is a lot of electronic/photographic gear. Does not having a stove/fuel bottle make it difficult with the meals, I would think you would be limited to what you can cook with the stove.

    Its great that you have made so many friends on your journies from different countries.

    All the best on your tour.


  5. Lowell says:


    We’ve been in contact once or twice over the past couple years. I’m glad to see you continue to add a new list of equipment and cater to different types of rides (long, short, credit, self-supported, etc.) but I think your readers might be interested in knowing why you’re choosing not to carry the items in that last section. Is it a decision you would make on any type of ride or is it because of where you’re going and/or for how long you’re going that you’re choosing not to have these items?

    On my 5 month tour of the United States I took a variety of items, some of which were not necessary but I enjoyed having. I have that list on the website for that adventure, Steeling West, if you or any of your other readers are interested. That being said, your list is all-encompassing and phenomenal and is something I’ll reference before setting off on any tour.

  6. Lee Rogowski says:

    Not including yourself and your bike how much does the gear you are carrying weigh? It would be helpful to me if your itemized packing list also listed the weight of each item.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Lee, I don’t know exactly how much my bike weights (because I haven’t had a chance to weight it all… and because the weight varies from day to day depending on how much food and water I’m carrying), but I would guess that my bicycle with all the stuff mentioned here weighs close to about 95 lbs (or a little over 40 kilos). You should try to get your bicycle to weigh much less than this. I’m carrying a ton of electronics – more electronics than most people should be carrying.

  7. Amy says:

    When traveling with all this gear, what do you do if you need to make a quick stop at a store, to eat, or similar things? Carrying everything with you off your bike seems crazy!

  8. Rick says:

    Great info and given in great detail. The only thing I would advise is for you to rethink the bicycling gloves. You’re working on your website so you’re making your living with your hands. All it takes is one time going ass-over-teakettle and landing on the hands that you stuck out to protect yourself……. and you’ll wish you had protected your hands.
    Have fun anyway!

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      You are right Rick. The main reason for wearing gloves is so that in the event that you take a fall, you won’t scratch up your hands. I’ve never fallen off my touring bike in 12 years, however, so I leave the gloves at home. They just give me bad tan lines and are one more thing to carry. If I were mountain biking or something, the need for gloves is a lot greater. But for touring at slow speeds, it’s unlikely that I will fall and scratch my hands. If I get hit by a car, that’s another story… and if that were to happen I think scratching up my hands would be the least of my worries.

  9. Lisa Carter says:

    No mirror or bell?! How do you manage without a mirror? And I read somewhere that a bell is required in some countries–is this not true? I’ll be ripping mine right off, just say the word!

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      I think a mirror is a great tool for new/inexperienced/timid cyclists. But I think as you become more experienced with cycling in all sorts of conditions, the need for a mirror becomes less and less. I traveled with a mirror on a lot of my early bike tours (because I was new to cycling at the time), but I simply don’t feel that I need a mirror any more. Doesn’t mean I won’t ever use a mirror in the future, but at the moment I just chose not travel with a mirror.

      As for bells, I have heard that mirrors are required in some parts of the world, but I don’t think there are bell police that go around checking bikes to make sure they have bells on them. If I get a ticket for not having a bell on my bike, I’d gladly pay the fee. What a hilarious, stupid story I would have to tell!

  10. Pam Jones says:

    I may have missed it but looking for your solar panel on the list to research it. I have tried two and they didn’t come close to the performance the product was advertised to do.

    I also noticed you don’t have a cell phone any particular reason? I use mine here at home for maps and places to eat and things nearby. When in Canada I just used it at the free wi-fi places and no roaming charges wrote down the information and I was good to go.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:


      I’m using the Voltaic Fuse to charge up my iPod, GoPro video camera and SLR camera batteries http://bicycletouringpro.com/voltaic-fuse I highly recommend it.

      The reason I don’t have a cell phone in more of a personal thing. I barely ever use my cell phone when I am at home. I don’t have a smart phone with Internet, maps or any of that. My cell makes phone calls and that is all it does. If I brought that cell phone overseas with me, I’d have to pay enormous fees just to use it over here. So, because I rarely ever use my cell phone anyway… and because it costs so much to travel internationally with a cell phone, I decided to travel without a cell phone at all… and just get by with using Skype to make International phone calls.

      If you have a smart phone and you want to use it on your bike tours, it can be a great tool. It just depends on where you are going in the world and how you want to use that smart phone for checking maps, connecting with friends and family, watching movies, checking email, etc, etc, etc.

  11. Eric Strehlow says:

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for the information. I’ve always been very active, but have never thought about doing a bike tour until recently. Now more than ever, at age 42, I feel the need to have at least one good adventure per year. Missing my annual backpacking trip with the guys didn’t help the mental state.
    I thought I would start with my first tour on the West coast going North to South on Hwy 101. I am going to shoot for this tour next summer.I have a lot of the camping gear, however I do not have the touring bike. Co-Motion Pangea sounds like the way to go. I like the idea of being able to go on or off road. With regards to your gear list, the item I don’t think I could go without would be my alcohol stove. Also, seems like a water filter could come in handy, but that might be my backpacker in me.
    If one is not eating out, the food list can be challenging. Any thoughts on food items that suitable for a bike tour? I also would probably elect to camp majority of the time. Any pearls of wisdom on that?



    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:


      I’ve cycled the Pacific Coastline twice, so I know quite a bit about that route. It is nice to have a camp stove with you, but not 100% necessary. The water filter for the Pacific Coastline is completely unnecessary. There are plenty of places to get clean drinking water along the way. And as for food, well, I typically eat very much the same way on the road as I do when I am at home. I recommend you take the same approach on your bike tour. If you can find the foods you like while traveling by bike (not always possible in some parts of the world), you can usually make the same or similar meals as you do when you are at home.

  12. Robert says:

    How do you manage that nothing is stolen from your bike when you go a little distance away from your bike?
    For example on the road is interesting stuff to see but you can’t get (in) there with the bike?

  13. Bicycle Touring Pro says:

    Hi Cinda,

    1) I chose to travel without a stove because I am already carrying too much stuff and I knew that in Europe I wouldn’t necessarily NEED a stove in order to eat each day. Having been to Europe several times before, I knew that finding food each day would not be difficult. I took a stove with me on my previous Europe tours and hardly ever used it. Whether you bring a stove or not depends on where you are going in the world, what you plan to eat, and how/where you plan to eat each day.

    2) I am using the larger Ortlieb handlebar bag. And yes, I carry my SLR camera and iPod (I’m not carrying an iPad) in the handlebar bag.

    3) The Voltaic solar charger is amazing for the electronic devices that I am currently carrying. I love it! I’ve gone for weeks without plugging my iPod or cameras into a wall. Pretty cool! The charger, however, does not work to charge my laptop. That’s the only thing it can’t charge! I sure wish it could. You need a much larger panel for that.

    4) As for what lock I recommend… that is a good question. I have been trying to figure that out. I don’t know right now. I’ve been looking for a good lock to recommend to people but I just haven’t found it yet.

  14. Tyson says:

    Hi Darren,

    A rear view mirror is an essential piece of equipment on a bicycle tour regardless of ones experience or skills. The mirror really has little to do with the riders experience and everything to do with their ability to monitor approaching traffic from behind. You never know when a drunk driver, teenage texter, or otherwise distracted motorist doesn’t see you and isn’t moving off the white line. With a mirror you can see this happening and move off the road edge to avoid being run over. It is even more critical to have when traveling on highways in foreign countries where one isn’t familiar with the driving habits of the local populous. In Argentina, for example, there are no shoulders anywhere, 60mph is the typical speed, and thanks to an attitude known as ‘machismo’ the drivers WILL NOT slow down and wait until it is safe to pass. They expect the bicycle to get out of the way as it is the slower and smaller vehicle and if you don’t they’ll squeeze by you at 60mph’s within inches of your handle bars. Not a very comfortable feeling. That is just one example, but a mirror has seriously saved my life in more than a few situations is several countries throughout the western hemisphere. A person wouldn’t drive a car without a rear view so why would someone feel it is safe to ride a bike without one? I suggest a helmet mounted mirror as it is more convenient and doesn’t suffer from vibration and getting knocked out of alignment constantly like most handle bar mounted mirrors do.
    Anyway, this post isn’t intended to convince you as you’ve already made up your mind, it is more of a word of warning or piece of advice for your readers and less experience cyclists.

  15. Ole Andersen says:

    About cell phone and price: Buy a call card, fx Vodaphone or other local brand, in the country you happen to be in and it will not cost you a fortune.

  16. Allan Robins says:

    Currently cycling in the UK, heading to Europe mid-November, where I hope to be till mid 2013. I have a few comments on your omissions:
    1. Mirror: I’m neither new, nor inexperienced, nor timid, and I rode without a mirror for quite a while. However, having bought one, I find it invaluable, especially to see what sort of clearance motorists approaching from behind are going to give you. Hearing can’t tell you everything, and I’d rather not have to look around to see what’s coming. And it’s hard to hear another cyclist!
    2. Bell: don’t have, but I have a terrific horn. No, nothing to do with that, and don’t be filthy. It’s a large klaxon that came with the bike (Vivente Randonneur) and I love it. It’s polite to let people on a shared path know you’re coming, and the horn does a great job. A bell also does a fair job: I’ve been alerted to passing cyclists by their bell several times on my current trip.
    3. Stove: I use mine all the time. Standard breakfast is instant porridge and tea, all on the MSR pocket rocket. Dinner usually couscous with some kind of fish or beans, and at least one veg (usually canned, I have to admit). I find this a great comfort, even when it’s warm, as it has been lately in the UK
    4. Bike gloves: I wear mine all the time. It’s the padding. My hands get very sore without them. I also have a full finger pair that I wore a few times in Scotland. They made a significant difference to keeping my warm.
    5. Mobile phone: I see your point as it’s not a smart phone, but mine is and it’s very handy. Also good for keeping in touch with loved ones back home. I got a pay as you go SIM here, which is 10 quid a month and comes with 500 Mb of internet. Definitely worth it.
    Otherwise, your list is fairly similar to mine, though with even more electronic stuff (I thought I had a lot!). I have a Thermarest mattress which is terrific, and I also have a ukulele. That’s because I can’t fit a guitar on my bike. It’s been great so far!
    All the best

  17. Allan Robins says:

    Oh, sorry, the other little luxury that has been great is my little Kobo E-reader. I’m catching up on all the classics: the last one was Beowulf, and I’m now reading Bleak House, which is great! Light, skinny, and miserly on juice: I haven’t had to charge it in 11 weeks.

    I am interested in your charger. I have a dynamo hub for the front light, and I wish I had a device to connect to it to charge my devices. It’s a source of constant irritation that all that day time pedalling is producing wasted power

  18. ML Deruaz says:

    Thanks for the interesting photos and comments. . .

    thought I’d mention that actually there are bell police- in Ottawa, Canada. Not all the time, but they’ll go on a one week binge where they’ll ticket everyone riding the bike paths without a bell!

    re cell phone discussion- our experience is a few years back we bought the cheapest cell phone I could find in Switzerland, and wherever we are touring we buy a 10 euro sim card (lasts long enough for booking accomodation or getting info) and now we pass it back and forth between friends and family going to Europe- has been very handy.

  19. Norm says:

    Hello Darren,

    Really enjoying U’r Bike touring Adventures while meeting new people & pictures of scenery around the world” ‘wonderful job sir.

    Glad to be reading you acknowledge taking way to much gear along…looks to me like you could outfit an entire army with all that gear ๐Ÿ˜‰


  20. Russ says:

    i was surprised not to see any evidence of medical supplies. dressings antiseptics etc. Is this merely because your traveling in Europe and feel such things wil be readily available?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      I’m not carrying any kind of first aid kit because I’ve been bicycle touring for more than 12 years and although I have carried a first aid kit in the past, I have never once used it. I don’t think I ever will. (In fact, I’ve never used a first aid kit in my entire life (either on the bike or off it)). If I get hurt, my plan is to get to a doctor/hospital as soon as I can. Or I’ll be hurt so bad that I probably can’t fix myself anyways.

  21. Wendy says:

    Wow, my first aid kit gets lots of use, but the size and contents of the kit I take varies with my destination. I’ve trussed up broken arms, cleaned up cuts & scratches, and everything in between.

    One thing I always travel with now is a mini pillow, just can’t seem to do without it ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Bill Bruno says:

    Here are a few things I don’t see how you’re not taking with you —

    mirror — Find I use it to see what’s xoming up and idf there’s a driver followings all traffic laws
    Also, if you bring a razor, you’ll need a mirror Also to see oneself (face, top of head) after an injury

    clothing made for bicycling —— valuable when it comes to washing. Bicycle shorts, tights, shirts, and socks drys quickly

    medication —- although you may not need it, readers must bring more than enough required pills prescribed by doctors. For disorders, for instance.

    cell phone —- don’t care for one either; but, maybe I’ll be in some injury when no one is available and cannot make it to another phone. Can call 9-1-1.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:


      I do have a small mirror now that I carry with me to see what I look like. However, I am not using a bicycle mirror on this particular tour. I simply chose not to use one on this particular tour.

      I never wear tighty, sporty bicycle clothes. Never. But I am wearing mountain bike shorts and a Fox Racing mountain bike jersey.

      I don’t take any medication (although, yes, some people do)

      And again, I chose not to travel with a cell phone as a personal choice. Nowadays it seems crazy to travel without a phone, but people 15 years ago weren’t traveling with phones. How do you think they did it? They went without! But yes, having a cell phone can be a nice thing to carry if you are worried about personal safety or in the event of an emergency, etc. Not 100% necessary, but nice in some instances.

  23. Vinh says:

    How do you make your front fenders work with the Arkel AC Lowrider front rack? Do you use the same lower braze-on for both? A close-up picture of your setup would be really appreciated.

    Thanks for the great website!

  24. Greg says:

    How did you mount a water bottle cage under the down tube on the Pangea Co-Pilot with the coupling in the way? The photo you put in your article about the Pangea didn’t show any but I see you carrying a bottle down there is subsequent photos of your trip.
    Other photos I’ve seen of the PC-P on Flickr are sans bottle cage attachment there.
    I bought a Surly Trucker Deluxe for long distance touring which does not include braze-on’s in this area due to the coupling.
    I’d like to carry a fuel bottle down there though.
    Was yours an aftermarket fix or did Co-Motion figure how to work them in down there?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Greg, the Co-Motion Pangea comes with three water bottle mounts. It isn’t something I added myself. The bike came that designed that way. Many actual touring bicycles come with three water bottle mounts. Some of the cheaper touring bicycles (like the Fuji and Surly) don’t come with this feature because it costs more money to add an additional set of braze-ons. However, this is one of many features that makes a true touring bicycle different from so many of the other bicycles that you can purchase.

  25. Tobster says:

    im a professional travel photographer and hobbiest bike tourer. Mate dont you find u have excessive overkill 2x1tb drive and 6 x16 sd cards, image of that canon would be 5-10mb max per image, thats 100000 images per drive….. being very conservative….so 2drives a heap of cards not to mention the hard drive in the puter… OVERKILL maybe. Also ditch the tripods, they are useless… improvise ๐Ÿ™‚ T

  26. Sanjiban Banerjee says:

    Nice list but what about first aid kit and medicines. I am sure you carry those ?

  27. JimG says:

    Nice list and comments. Thanks for sharing and providing feedback.

    I carry a few feet of duct tape folded. It has come in handy numerous times. Mostly for other peoples troubles though. It also good for taping a broken spoke out of the way until you can get it repaired.

    Cheers and continue to enjoy the road,

  28. Raditya says:

    On the things you didn’t carry along the trip, I agree with you on mirror and bell. When I did my trip last year, it lasted two weeks and reached 600-700 km around Central & East Java. I used no mirror and bell. If we want to move to the opposite side of the road, I think it’s better to stop for a while and wait until the traffic less. So mirror is not too useful.
    But you don’t carry cell phone. Then how do you contact your friends or relations if you reach their place or area?! Thanks.

  29. Donald says:

    I was reading your comments about water bottle mounts and wanted to add that Surly Long Haul Trucker does come with three water bottle mounts just like the Co-Motion Pangea !
    Thanks and keep up the great work..

  30. Charley says:

    Have you ever tried a different lowrider front rack besides the Arkel? Maybe something like the Tubus Tara or Ergo. The Tubus racks look like they might be a bit lower of a lowrider. How do you like the Arkel lowrider? Is it low enough?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      I’ve not tried the Tara or the Ergo. I’d like to eventually, just to compare. The Arkel rack is awesome though. I’ve been using that same rack for more than 10 years now… and it is still going strong.

  31. ray allen says:

    I agree with the people who think that you should carry spare spokes. I also have a Unior cassette tool that weights just a few grams and lets me remove the cassette lockring so that I can replace a broken spoke on the drive side of the rear wheel.

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