Your Complete Bicycle Touring Gear Checklist

In response to my recent post on the 10 Important Items You Should Have, But Might Not Think Of Bringing On Your Bike Tour, reader, Jim Dirlam sent me a checklist that he created to help bicycle travelers pack for their upcoming bicycle touring adventures.

The bicycle touring gear checklist is incredibly detailed and I’ve decided to share it with you (with Jim’s permission of course), as I know it will help many of you who are currently in the process of planning and preparing for your upcoming trips by bike.

As Jim notes in his email to me, this is an updated list of everything one might need on a bike tour, but not necessarily everything one SHOULD bring.

Bicycle Accessories (mounted to bike)

  • Front +/– Rear Rack & Panniers —and/or — Trailer
  • Handlebar Bag (+ mounting bracket)
  • Rain Covers and/or Plastic Bags (for non-waterproof panniers)
  • Trunk (Rack) Bag or PVC Dry Bag* (for rainy tours)
  • Seat / Frame Bag (good for storing tire repair kit)
  • Comfortable Saddle (personal choice—not racing seat!)
  • Handlebar Extensions w/ Paddled Grip Tape
  • Stem Riser / Adjustable Stem (may need if touring w/ mt. bike)
  • Water Bottles+Cages and/or Hydration Pack (i.e. Camelbak )
  • LCD Cycle Computer (w/ new or extra battery)
  • LED Flashing Tail Light
  • LED Head Light (or use camping headlamp)
  • Mirror (mounted on handlebar / helmet)
  • Air Horn / Bell (i.e. Delta AirZound)
  • Multi-mount (i.e. Topeak BarXtender / Minora SpaceGrip)
  • Front + Rear Fenders
  • Bungie Cords / Webbing Straps (2-3)
  • Bike Lock (key/combo cable is sufficient; U-Locks=heavy/overkill)
  • Reflectors (or reflective safety vest or reflective clothes)
  • Dog / Bear Pepper Spray (attach to bike frame)
  • Bike Mojo (i.e. mascot/trinket on bike)—don’t ride without one!

Camping Gear (in various stuff sacks)

  • Tent (1/2 man)+(rainfly;poles;stakes;stuff sacks;ground sheet) or
  • Camping Hammock or Tarp + Tyvek / Poly Ground Sheet
  • Sleeping Bag (15-20F Down / Synthetic) + Compression Sack
  • Sleeping Bag Liner (for mild/cold camping or hostel use)
  • Air Mattress/Pad+Stuff Sack (i.e.Therm-a-Rest; Insul-Mat; Z-rest)
  • Air Pillow (or use extra clothes in stuff sack)
  • Nylon Stuff Sacks (various sizes; for clothes + gear)
  • Backpacking Stove (in stuff bag or cook pot)
  • Fuel Bottle (11–22oz: liquid gas/alcohol or 8oz butane canister)
  • Cook Pot (1-2 liter pot w/ lid; aluminum / titanium)
  • Utensils: Spork / Spoon+Fork+Knife set (lexan / titanium)
  • Insulated Travel Mug (hot coffee in camp/town or to take on bike)
  • Water Filter/UV Purifier/Aqua Mira (for backcountry or int’l travel)
  • Water Tank (i.e.Platypus/MSR: for collecting+pre-filtering+shower)
  • *PVC Dry Bag (handy for keeping large items dry on rack)
  • Portable Camp Chair (i.e. CrazyCreek or ThermaRest chair-kit)
  • Light Backpack / Daypack / Hydrationpack (if doing side hikes)
  • Bike Cover (coated nylon / poly tarp—cut to fit your bike & gear
  • Clothes Pins (6-8; for drying clothes / securing bike cover at night)
  • Mosquito Head Net (used in buggy areas like AK or MN)

Cycling Clothes (usually wearing, unless you ride naked)

  • Helmet (proper size & fit) + optional Visor
  • Cycling Jersey or Synthetic T-Shirt (2-3)
  • Cycling Shorts (1-2 — maybe 3 for long tours)
  • Cycling / Synthetic Underwear [Boxer/Briefs + Sports Bras] (2-3)
  • Cycling Gloves (1 pr. / 2 pair if on long tour)
  • Cycling Socks (Synthetic / Wool; 2-3 pr. i.e. Coolmax )
  • Clipless Cycling Shoes (or trail/running shoes if using toe-clips)

Foul-Weather Cycling Clothes (in nylon stuff sack)

  • Long-Sleeve Jersey / Light-Mid Synthetic/Wool Zip Shirt (1)
  • Cycling Long-Tights / Insulated Windpants (1)
  • Rain Jacket + Pants (1 set — waterproof nylon / Gore-Tex )
  • Fall/Winter Gloves / Mittens+Liners (1 pr.)
  • Synthetic Helmet Liner / Sweat Bands / Bandana (1)
  • Helmet Liner / Skull Cap / Fleece or Wool Hat (1)
  • Balaclava / Neoprene Face Mask (1)
  • Arm + Leg Warmers (1+1 pr.)
  • Waterproof Socks (1pr. — i.e. Sealskinz / Gore-Tex )
  • Waterproof Rain Booties / Gaiters (1 pr.)
  • Helmet Cover (1)

Camp + Town Clothes (in nylon stuff sack)

  • Clean Synthetic / Cotton T-Shirt / Collared Travel Shirt (1)
  • Fleece Jacket/Vest or Mid/Heavy L/S Pullover (1)
  • Synthetic Hiking / Running / Swim Shorts (1/1)
  • Synthetic Pants / Convertable Pants/Shorts w/ elastic+belt (1)
  • Synthetic Underwear (1 + clean/dry briefs—off the bike)
  • Base Layer (synthetic long underwear top+bottom—1 set)
  • Synthetic / Wool (warm!) Socks (1 pr.)
  • Baseball Cap / Visor / Sun Hat (1)
  • Sandals / Rubber Clogs / Flip-Flops / Running Shoes (1 pr.)

Food Bag (in zip-lock bags inside nylon stuff sack)

  • 50′ Nylon Cord (for hanging food; carabiner attached+small sack)
  • Meals + Snacks
  • Multi-Spice (i.e. Mrs. Dash ) or Individual Spices (in film canisters)
  • Sports / Energy Drink Mixes (i.e. Gatorade powder)

Documents (in wallet / travel pouch / handlebar bag)

  • Drivers License (or other official photo ID)
  • Passport (if traveling international)
  • ATM / Debit Card
  • Credit Card(s) (w/ bank’s hotline # to call if lost / stolen)
  • Cash (+ extra $20 in $1’s & change—for vending / laundry)
  • Personal / Traveler’s Checks
  • Travel Tickets (airline / train / bus)
  • Photocopies (passport / license; stored in separate place)
  • Emergency Contact Info (on biz card / journal / wrist band)
  • Health +/– Travel Insurance Card
  • Student ID Card / Youth Hostel Card
  • Phone Calling Card
  • Contacts List (family / friends) + Stamps (for postcards)
  • Biz Cards (w/ contact info: name/e-mail/website/address/phone)

Personal Items (usually wearing and/or in handlebar bag)

  • Watch (+ alarm; altimeter; barometer; compass—i.e. Suunto )
  • Sunglasses (+ case; extra lenses; neck strap; cleaning cloth)
  • Contact Lenses (+ lens case; lens solution)
  • Eyeglasses (+ case)
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30+; sweatproof; spray is more convenient)
  • Insect Repellent (25% DEET or alternative)
  • Lip Balm (i.e. Chapstick / Blistex)

Gadgets + Travel Items (in handlebar bag)

  • Cell Phone + Charger
  • LED Headlamp + Batteries
  • Digital Camera; Memory Cards; Charger; Case (+ accessories)
  • Extra Battery; Card Reader; Mini Tripod; Screen Shield; Lens
  • iPod / mp3 Player (Radio; Recorder + Earphones; Charger)
  • GPS (+ charger / batteries / bar mount — i.e. Garmin; Magellan )
  • USB Flash Drive (for photos; maps; waypts; bookmarks; contacts)
  • USB mini cable (for uploading photos, etc.)
  • PDA / Pocket-Mail Device (becoming obsolete)
  • Laptop Computer (+ carry case; charger; accessories, etc.)
  • NOAA Weather Radio (handy for long/remote tours)
  • 2-Way Radio (i.e. Motorola; handy for group / SAG tours)
  • Maps (in case/zip-lock—i.e. AdventureCyc /Rand McNally /AAA )
  • Guidebook (in zip-lock; i.e. Lonely Planet ; Frommer’s )
  • Pen (2) + Sharpie (black marker) + Highlighter (for marking maps)
  • Journal (small notebook—or voice recording device)
  • Reading Book / Magazine
  • Small Padlock (for hostel lockers—if using)
  • Binoculars

Bike Tools + Spare Parts (in pouch or zip-lock)

  • Air Pump (mini / mid size; pack in bag instead of on bike frame)
  • Patch Kit + Tire Levers
  • Spare Tubes 1-2 (+ 1 spare tube for trailer if using)
  • Presta / Schrader Valve Adapter (1-2)
  • Tire Pressure Gauge
  • Degreaser (Gunk or biodegradable kind)
  • Chain Lube (Pedros , White Lightning , etc.)
  • Spokes (3-6; 3 sizes—specific to your wheel)
  • QR Axle
  • Trailer QR Axle + Retaining Pins (if using trailer)
  • Brake Pads (specific to your bike)
  • Spare Tire (folding bead—for bike or trailer)
  • Brake/Shift Cable
  • Nuts + Bolts + Bailing Wire (specifically for racks, brakes, etc.)
  • Hose Clamps + Carriage Bolts (for repairing blown shocks, etc.)
  • Replacement Cleats + Hardware (SPD=2 bolt / Look=3 bolt)
  • Shop Rag (Bandana/Handy Wipes—for cleaning greasy hands)
  • Bicycle Multi-Tool (i.e. Topeak Alien II )—or indiv tools below:
  • Screwdrivers; Wrenches: 2-10mm Allen; Spoke; Pedal; Cresent)
  • Chain Tool + Spare Link(s)
  • Cassette / Freewheel Removal Tool
  • Basic Knowledge of Bike Repair (or manual / downloaded info)

Additional Repair Items (in pouch or zip-lock)

  • Multi-Tool / Pocket Knife (i.e. Leatherman /Swiss Army /Gerber )
  • Duct Tape & Electrical Tape (small roll; 1+ yd.)
  • Plastic Zip Ties (various sizes)
  • Glue / Liquid Thread Lock (Crazy / Gorilla / Loctite —small tube)
  • Batteries (AAA: for headlamps; bike LEDs; AA: camera; etc.)
  • Plastic Bags: (zip-lock / compactor / garbage—different sizes)
  • Bite/Flow Valve (for hydration bladder—if using)
  • Air Mattress Patch Kit (or use bike patch kit)
  • Sewing Kit (needle; thread; buttons; small safety pins, etc.)
  • Folding Sewing Scissors (or use multi-tool / knife)
  • Safety Pins (4-5; large)
  • Shoe Laces (or cut pieces from nylon cord)
  • Zipper Pulls (can substitute w/ small zip ties)
  • Rubber Bands (4-5; heavy-duty)
  • Seam Sealer (small tube)

Toiletries (in travel pouch or zip-lock)

  • Travel Towel (i.e. MSR Pack/Towl or chamois)
  • Washcloth (i.e. bandana or
  • Soap / Shampoo; (i.e. Mtn/Camp Suds / Dr. Bonner’s )
  • Deodorant (travel size)
  • Toothbrush + Toothpaste + Floss or Floss-Sticks
  • Toilet Paper (small roll in zip-lock) or Handy/Baby Wipes
  • Hand Sanitizer (i.e. Purell )
  • Skin Cream (i.e. Noxema or Aloe Vera)—good for wind/sunburn
  • Nail Clippers + Nail File
  • Tweezers
  • Hair Brush / Comb
  • Hair Ties ‘Scrunchies’ (for long hair)
  • Disposible Razor (+ shaving cream)—or substitute
  • Compact Mirror (for contact lens wearers)—or use bike mirror
  • Woman’s Hygiene Products
  • Ear Plugs (for sound sleeping in woods, hostels, etc.)
  • Prophylactic (i.e. condoms)—maybe you’ll get lucky!
  • Prescription Medication
  • Multi-Vitamins

First-Aid / Other Toiltries (in pouch or zip-lock)

  • Band-Aids (assorted sizes & shapes)
  • First-Aid Ointment (i.e. Neosporin )
  • Adhesive First-Aid Tape
  • Moleskin / Blister Bandages
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Compress / Gause Pads (med / large size)
  • Ibroprophen (i.e. Advil ) / Aspirin (i.e. Bayer )
  • Anti-Chafing Balm (i.e. Vaseline —for saddle sores)
  • Anti-Itch Cream (i.e. Hydrocortisone)
  • Muscle Relief Cream (i.e. Icy-Hot, Sports Cream )
  • Foot Powder (i.e. Gold Bond )
  • Anti-Diahearreal Tabs (i.e. Imodium AD )
  • Antihistimine Tablets (i.e. Benadryl )
  • Zinc Tablets (i.e. Airborne )—cold prevention
  • Sports Injury Cloth Bandage
  • Neoprene Knee / Ankle Wrap

Survival Items (in pouch or zip-lock)

  • Lighter (butane / disposible) + Storm Matches
  • Compass (on handlebar / watch / hand)
  • Whistle
  • Emergency Space (mylar) Blanket
  • Personal Locator Beacon (i.e. SPOT; ACR Terrafix/Microfix)

43 thoughts on “Your Complete Bicycle Touring Gear Checklist

  1. Jim Dirlam says:

    Darren, thanks for posting. Just wanted to point out that the gear list that is posted above is actually version 4, but that’s OK, as you have the most recent PDF list (v5) available for download via the hyperlink… v4 & v5 are nearly identical, as I corrected a few errors (i.e. “Helmet Liner” repeated, etc.)

    There’s many “gear lists” out there, but they always seemed to be missing something or weren’t specific to bike touring. With that said, unless one is embarking on a world tour or to remote regions, not everything on the list is needed, and many times might be overkill… Your legs will thank you with a “less is more” attitude! Also, I listed some specific product brands as examples, although I’m not endorsing those products in any way. If anyone thinks I missed anything on this list, let me or Darren know… Happy Touring!

  2. Jaron says:

    Darren, I just saw your Twitter post asking for questions. Hopefully this gear checklist is relevant to my situation. I’m planning my first tour and I don’t know how much storage space I’m really going to need, so I don’t want to overbuy (size of pannier and quantity of panniers/ bags). I’m trying to go ultralight and minimalist and still keep the cost down while using quality goods. The only item I have so far is a Marmot synthetic baselayer, which weighs under 6 oz. I have a wish list for the rest of the gear, but am still flexible on what exactly I’ll be using. When a pannier is described by its volume in liters, all I can think of is “how many 2 liters of Coke will I have in gear?” Is there a better way to figure out how much space you really need without already having the gear or doing crazy measuring? My trip will be from Kansas City to Washington, DC and then over to the Atlantic Ocean and take place in June. My 1980’s Bianchi Grizzly has fender/rack eyelets on the front and back. Thanks.

    • Pat says:

      For “Ultra minimalist touring”
      1. you wouldn’t use panniers or a rack, and stick with a backpacking set up. But I know this question was asked in 2010.
      2. Buy a reasonable to small size pannier. This will force you to only pack as much as you can fit inside. The more storage capacity you have the more things you will pack, but when your limited then you get creative.
      3. There is also room for a full size tent or large bag on the handle bars. Just gotta figure out how you want to strap it.

      4. Now adays there are A TON of affordable options. But when I first started, I threw on an aluminum rack, zip ties, bungiee cords and just used whatever backpack or bag I had laying around and strapped her on the rack. I even read of people using kitty litter tubs. Bungee cord bag onto the handlebar and your set.

      5. How to pack ultra light? Only bring what you can wear and have to use. I think underwear and socks are the only clothing you would need 2 pairs of. Otherwise no need to double up on shirts, shorts or pants. only 1 of each if you have to bring it. Just wash your clothes a lot, thats life on the road.
      Camping set up is probably the largest volume and weight.
      Food, go no stove only cold foods
      Tech/camera- this can weigh the most. between gear and batterys. Just make sure you use if you bring it. I bring 2x Bat of each and bring a battery + solar to charge.
      bike tools- dont cheap out on weight on tubes, patches and neccessary tools for your loaction. Better safe than sorry, but beyond basics. at most a chain breaker, but idk how to put a chain back together so I’m not sure why i bring one.
      Dish wash soap for everything

      Clothes and camp set up is probably the biggest weight. I still pack to be comfortable and extra warm in case. Id rather be warm and heavy than the alternative. BUT you can always BUY more layers so bring the minimum to below average.


  3. Darren Alff says:

    Jaron, that’s a good question. I think the best way to know what size panniers to get is to pack up all the stuff you think you are going to need for your trip and bundle it all together. Remember how big that pile looks. Then try and find some panniers at your local REI or sporting goods store and see which panniers you think will hold all the stuff you have packed. Remember though that you need to have some extra space inside your panniers for extra food and water you might pick up along the way, as well as an additional items/souvenirs you might acquire while on your travels.

    When I bought my first set of panniers I just got the largest set Lone Peak made because I knew that I could always ride with less stuff than the panniers held… and I knew I’d have the room needed if I did want to pick up some additional stuff along the way. Does that make sense?

  4. Jim says:

    Jaron, Darren’s suggestion is a wise idea assuming you find a local store, before buying them. (Easier said than done.) If you cannot find any to test fit, I would be more concerned with getting quality bags, rather then too concerned with size. Volume runs from about 600cu to well over 3,000 cu inches. Most pairs are approx 1,500-3,000 cu in. Jandd Expeditions (6,800+cu) are enormous. Since I don’t know how much gear you’re hauling, and if I had to guess, I’d get at least 1,500cu bags up front and at least 2,500cu on rear.

    On 2 tours, I used Lone Peaks P-400s (2,500cu” pr.) on the rear rack, LP bar bag, but no front panniers, as I didn’t have any. I thought the P-400s were small; had to bungee my tent, sleeping bag & foam pad above the rack, plus a small daypack above all that which made for a back heavy ride. I don’t recommend touring with a “rear only” setup as it put a lot of stress on your back wheel. Since then I’ve been using a BOB trailer (holds a ton), but I recently got some Axiom Champlain & Lasalle panniers. I haven’t tried the Lasalles yet, but they are 40L/2440 cubic inches and intend to use them up front. (They’re for front/rear.) I’ve used the Champlains over a weekend ride—huge, but still needed a little room for a tent and food bag (and since I want to have the top of my rear rack totally free of gear—rare for bike tourists!) Remember, you can always haul less stuff in larger panniers; you’ll be strapping extra shit over your bike if you get small bags. As Darren said, you want to leave some spare room for food, water, and gifts. (A food bag can easily take up half to 1 whole small/med pannier; and I always find myself picking a few T-shirts, etc along the way.) I recommend you go with (medium) front + (med/large) rear panniers + handlebar bag setup, which allow you to carry everything in panniers, and you may still have room inside your panniers, if you go light as you said.

    As for brands, Axiom or Lone Peaks are a solid choice for budget buyers. (I found Axiom ( to be a steal (quality&value!) and they are way better quality than Nashbar or Performance bike brands (stay away from those.) I can vouch for either, although I haven’t done a long tour with the Axioms yet. If you have the scratch and want to make an investment in the best gear, go for Arkels, but they are very $$$. I recently got fed up with a Nashbar bag and got an Arkel bar bag—the best! (I hate when gear fails on tour.) If you want high quality AND want/need waterproof, get Ortliebs. They’re world popular for a reason, although you give up organizing convenience of pockets.

    If you have time/patience, you might find some killer gear deals on Craigslist (I did) or ebay. Otherwise, check out (Arkel, Ortlieb, Vaude) or (great price on Axoim) or (Lone Peak & Ortlieb). Also REI, EMS, or your LBS…

  5. Jim says:

    PS: The quality of your racks and pannier attachment system is AS (if not more) important then the bags themselves. (Ask any seasoned tourer this). Lone Peak have sturdy (but plastic hooks) that only mount to small diameter round tubing. Axoim use rubber-coated metal hooks that fit on most racks but are not as easy to use as LP’s bags. Arkel & Ortlieb have the best attachments, which is partly why they cost more.

  6. Jack says:

    One more thing I have found essential: a list of bike shops complete with phone numbers and hours of operation along your planned route. Ride safe!

  7. Ian Tavendale says:

    Any idea what weight is average for carrying on a bike my wife and I plan on cycling from Singapore as far through Asia as we can get in 2 years and have no idea what weight is normal to carry day after day.
    Any assistance would be appreciated.


  8. Jimbo says:

    Good idea, Jack. I needed to use many repair shops on my tours, and used to collect biz cards from them even though I probably never be back to them. I also suppose if one uses one the newer cell phones, they could get that kind of info on demand…assuming you had cell service…

  9. Siavash says:

    thanks for informations!…my friend gave me a tent but i think it’s small,(Bivak C.A.M.P) Do you think it’s good for a long trip or I should by a new one?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      The tent looks good, but if you think it’s too small, it very well might be. In other words: if you are uncomfortable inside it…. and you think you’ll be uncomfortable inside the tent for days on end, then yes, you might want to get another/larger tent.

      This sort of tent can be used for long hauls, but small tents like this are usually meant just as back-up tents in the case of an emergency, foul weather, etc.

  10. Jimbo says:

    In my experience and opinion, a bivy type tent is better for long-distance hiking and backpacking than for bike touring. The size and weight of a bivy are obviously attractive features, but in day-to-day application for bike touring, you’ll appreciate a tent with a bit more elbow room. Ever set up a bivy in a rainstorm, then try to wrestle out of wet clothes without touching the tent walls? It’s not fun! And sometimes the ground is too hard to stake down in. Assuming you’re going solo, I recommend a 2-man, freestanding tent you can sit up in. Little chance you’ll notice the extra 2-3 pounds of weight as long as you keep your overall gear weight down to a reasonable total.

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      I agree with you Jimbo. When it comes to longer tours, I feel it is more important to be comfortable than it is to worry about a couple extra pounds of weight on your bike. This sort of small bivy tent can work fine for shorter trips. But for a longer tour you are going to want a tent that feels a bit more like home.

  11. Dalton Winslow says:

    Great list– really not a lot of fluff. With the newest fabrics it’s easy to travel very light and launder stuff easily. Cotton is just too heavy, bulky, and takes too long to dry.
    A few tips from many, many summers on tour. A small folding umbrella can get you out of your tent vestibule dry and back in dry. It can roll into your pad or whatever is over your back rack while riding. I’ve actually stopped and “deployed” the umbrella in a downpour when no cover was in sight and stayed relatively dry.
    A large (area) but very worn (threadbare, thin) beach towel will cover you out of the shower, dry easily, and even allow a parking lot (Frenchie quick-change) wardrobe alteration in a pinch. Go for low-bulk, large area.

  12. A says:

    Do not store cooking spices in film cannisters! They are filled with nasty chemicals! This goes for medicine, food, or anything you plan on ingesting.

    Happy pedaling 🙂

  13. Cody says:

    How much should my bike and trailer weigh fully loaded? I am planning on biking from Minnesota to Washington State. I weigh around 150 lbs and don’t want to bring to much or curse myself for not enough.

  14. Yannick McLeod says:

    Hey guys,
    I am about to undertake my first big bike trip in August across the entirety of Japan (about 3000k). It’ll take me about 50-60 days. It’s been good reading through the comments and browsing through the list of essentials just to get a rough idea of what I might need, but I am still pretty clueless as to what exactly to bring (specifically, how much extra clothing is appropriate?) and what size panniers to get. I’m hearing 2500 cu. is good for size, but I can’t get my head around what that can actually physically pack. I am most definitely a beginner, and any help/advice would be well appreciated!



  15. Roman says:


    You don’t need much… pretty much 90% of all bike tourers pack way too much and go super slow on the road. Your vacation will be better the lighter you go. You will ride faster and have more time to explore places.

    Buy yourself medium-sized rear bags (Jandd or Ortlieb) and a handlebar bag. Don’t overpack. If you need extra clothing on the trip, buy it in Japan as needed. If you need extra repairs on your bike, take it to a shop. The list posted in the article by Jim is simply overkill. An extra tire? Is he biking in Siberia?
    Pedal wrench? That weighs over 1/2 pound! You can buy one cheaply at a hardware store if and when you need it. To summarize tools, you shouldn’t need more than a compact allen wrench set, tire irons, a spare tube + patch kit, and a pump. Don’t forget you’ll be in the birthplace of Shimano! Don’t over think the problem of what to take. Be light, be fast, and bring your credit card.


  16. Happy bill says:

    Thanks for the super list. It’s a great place to start.
    One thing I will add is that sometimes people start looking at the distance of the trip and start thinking “omg, what might happen in 500 miles” I often ask how many miles they have trained? 2-3 thousand is a round answer. To which I ask how many mechanicals have you had in that time.
    Pack lighter.


  17. Jack says:


    Could i use your list on my website? I’m trying to pool extensive resources on cycle touring info in one place free of charge to everyone. Your list is by far the most thorough and user friendly i’ve found!


  18. Martin James says:

    Hi Darren,
    Any feedback on the Thule racks? I have no braze on’s for racks or guards. I am hoping to do a trip through Slovenia and Italy – Light!…. These look ideal as the racks and luggage should remove the need for ‘Fenders’ and hold enough weight for what I need.

    Looking Good!


  19. John Roukes says:

    Awesome site with tons of great info.
    I am just starting to get ready to tour Maine, if it ever stops snowing, and need all the help I can get.


  20. Trevor says:

    Everybody wants to take too much stuff, the whole point of this is to get away from it all, leave the junk behind, relax enjoy, unless your in the middle of no where and will be for a long time you will be fine with less.
    Stuff is what kills us all! Take what you will use and leave the rest, if need be you can always check back into to so called reality and hit a store. Other wise chill everybody with all the stff.
    The FlyingFletchmam

  21. troublemonkey says:

    Trevor and Yannick are right, what is the point of an adventure if you’re not testing your comfort zone? Having an exhaustive list is marvellous to work from, but less really is more. I tour on an outdated folding bike with racks I’ve cobbled together myself and panniers from a dodgy dutch company that cost me a tenner. I get the ‘oh I have the best kit therefore I’m having a better experience than you’ thing, but a month, nay 3 days in and you wont give a toss about all that elitist stuff.

  22. Jim says:

    If you get a decent tent, sleeping bag and pad, and ditch the U lock, I have found that clothing by comparison weighs a lot. Synthetics and wool offer a lot of warmth and drying ability for the weight.
    In regards to locks, think about how you will ensure security. If you carry a heavy three to four pound U lock, you’ll still have to take all of your stuff off the bike or risk it being lifted.
    On the other hand, I use a medium thickness three foot cable with an aluminum lock (steel shackle). Then I never leave the bike unsupervised for more than a few minutes (if solo touring). I park in front of the window where I eat, take it in to markets (tell them you are on a long trip and can’t risk the outside area), and sometimes park and lock briefly in front of a market. Add some security by threading your helmet straps through rear wheel spokes.
    Your levels of security are:
    1. Keep it with you.
    2. Keep it in your sight.
    3. Leave it with someone you trust. Ask those in a nearby outside dining table to “please tackle anyone who takes my bike”. They love it.
    4. Leave locked for only a few minutes.

  23. Kadim says:

    Hi Darren. I am wanting to take on a 3-4 month bicycle tour beginning early April. It will be from NYC-Montreal-Toronto-Chicago-Minneapolis-Winnipeg-Calgary-and-Vancouver. I have a Giant Anyroad1 (do you think this is a feasible bike to take for the tour?) Also, my front fork is carbon-fiber, what kind of front rack would you recommend to use with the Ortlieb panniers? And my last question, the list in this post is pretty comprehensive, thanks for the share/it’s really helpful, but would you be able to list the top ten items that are absolutely essential for the trip other than the basics?

    • Bicycle Touring Pro says:

      Hi Kadim,

      1. I don’t think any bike with a carbon fork is a good idea for a bike tour as long as the one you are planning. I’ve had other Bicycle Touring Pro readers try to tour with carbon frames, forks, etc… and it doesn’t end well much of the time. Carbon bikes are not made for touring – they are made to carry you and nothing else. I suggest you read “The Essential Guide To Touring Bicycles” and pick up a copy of “The Bicycle Touring Blueprint.” Those two books will teach you everything you need to know for your upcoming trip – which bike to use, what gear you need, which items are essential and which are not, how to plan a safe and enjoyable route, how to find safe places to sleep each night, etc, etc, etc. That’s where I would start!

  24. Austin says:

    My wife and I will be embarking on our cross country ride when I’m retired. We will be using a pull behind and panniers. We will be packing on the heavy side because we don’t have a timeline. If we only get 30 miles in a day then so what and if we really like a place we might stay for a few days. We will be riding bikes with pedal assist to make sure our retirement cruise is more enjoyable than grueling but we will make sure to pack a wine key and buy local wine when we get to California. All of the insight on this page has helped us pack but everyone’s journey is different. We know we are going to pack and haul a lot but this is our retirement and we want to enjoy it at our place with our luxuries.

  25. Gina Goldie says:

    Thanks for such a thorough list. I’ve done lots of backpacking and multiple day river trips, but I’m embarking on my first long-distance road bike trip. This is a fantastic list… not everyone will need or want to bring everything, but what a great tool you’ve provided to customize my own list from! Thank-you!!!

  26. Rod barratt says:

    Hi Jim, I used to do a ton of tripping on bike (Now mainly kayak!) and I don’t anymore. A friend of mine is doing the long one. She asked me about what I would bring. She had all the main stuff. One thing I suggested which I found to be a big help for its size was a ‘wheel lock’, small gizmo that fits on tube just behind front wheel, and when you lean your bike a giant something you click it into position against the tire and it ‘locks’ the front wheel to stop it from the inevitable wheel twist and subsequent crashing down of the loaded bike. She hadn’t heard of this and when I have looked it up I cannot find this (although there are some higher tech versions that go on handlebars). Wondering if you know about these and if you know if source or at least what it is being referred to as currently. I’m pretty sure the one I have I got either through mountain equipment in the early days or Bloor cycle in Toronto Ont.

  27. james williams says:

    My plan is to travel the world on bike and foot and camp where ever i can safely, is there any information on groups that do it, and i need to know the legality of this

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